NFL Week 17 Primer Late Games

Here are snapshot previews of the late games with playoff implications on Sunday.


Chad Pennington
Dolphins (10-5) at Jets (9-6), 4:15PM ET CBS
Things got hairy last week for the Dolphins in Kansas City, but their win over the Chiefs put them in position to make the playoffs (not to mention win the AFC East) with a win over the Jets. The problem is that they haven’t had much success in the Meadowlands this decade and the conditions are going to be cold and nasty. Still, they’re playing a Jets team that has lacked fire over the past couple of weeks, while quarterback Brett Favre has recently admitted that he’s at less than perfect health. A win would be the ultimate revenge for Chad Pennington, who has a bad taste in his mouth from the way the team pitched him in the dumpster right after they traded for Favre. Pennington felt that he gave a lot to a Jets’ fan base and organization that didn’t return the favor. So expect a very motivated Chad to show up in Jersey on Sunday and one with revenge on his mind. Miami’s offense got back on track last week in Kansas City, but their defense took a step back after allowing the Chiefs to rack up 31 points. Before last week, the Dolphins had limited their three previous opponents to 9, 3 and 12 points, respectively. Hurt or not, Favre is going to come out fired up considering this might be his final game. This should be a great battle.

Broncos (8-7) at Chargers (7-8), 8:15PM ET NBC
The Broncos have completely crapped the bed the past two weeks, losing to both Carolina and Buffalo to set up a must-win situation in San Diego to win the AFC West. The problem is that the Chargers have won three in a row to put themselves in position to win the division with a victory. San Diego’s offense is seemingly back on track, racking up 41, 22 and 34 points respectively in their last three games. Phillip Rivers is having an MVP-like season and should have no problem moving the ball against a Denver defense that has been shredded for most of the season. But the Chargers need LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles to be effective in order to keep the offense balanced. The defense, which has played dramatically better since Ron Rivera took over at coordinator, also needs to step up against a Broncos’ offense that is averaging almost 280 passing yards per game. Winner takes all in this matchup, although it appears that Denver has already blown its chance. A Charger win would be sweet justice after they lost to the Broncos earlier this season thanks in part to Ed Hochuli’s blown call.

Wade Phillips
Cowboys (9-6) at Eagles (8-6-1), 4:15PM ET FOX
There’s a bit of a stink surrendering this game because by kickoff, the Eagles will already know whether or not they’re playing for a playoff spot. Philly needs Tampa Bay, Chicago and Minnesota all to lose in order to have a shot at the postseason. Since it’s unlikely that all three teams lose, the Eagles will have to settle for the role of spoiler in this game. The Cowboys control their own destiny. If they win, they’ll clinch the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. If they lose, they’re done. According to Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips’ job is not on the line this Sunday. But things could change if the Cowboys are embarrassed by a division rival with the postseason on the line. Despite what Jones says, Phillips better come up with a way to slow down Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook they way Washington did last Sunday, or else he could be heading to the unemployment line.

Jaguars (5-10) at Ravens (10-5), 4:15PM ET CBS
The Ravens need just one more victory to put a cap on an amazing year. They should get that victory, too, because they’re playing a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has lost four of their last five games. Although they showed spunk in almost beating the Colts last Thursday night, they won’t be able to move the ball on a motivated Baltimore defense. As long as rookie quarterback Joe Flacco doesn’t succumb to the pressures of facing a must-win situation, the Ravens should be fine. The Jaguars can’t run the ball behind a depleted offensive line and if Baltimore can beat the Cowboys on the road and in the final game at Texas Stadium, they should have no issues with a hapless Jacksonville squad.

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