from the NFL:
It’s the final push for NFL teams as the regular season ends on Sunday, January 1. All 16 games in Week 17 are division contests.
With one week to go, there are still 16 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
And for the 16th consecutive year, at least five teams will qualify for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. San Francisco, Houston and Detroit are already in. Joining those clubs will be the NFC East winner (New York Giants/Dallas) and the AFC West champion (Denver/Oakland). And a sixth club could potentially come from the AFC’s last remaining Wild Card spot (Cincinnati/Oakland/Tennessee).
In the AFC, four of the six playoff spots have been secured – New England (AFC East, first-round bye), Houston (AFC South), Baltimore (playoff berth) and Pittsburgh (playoff berth). The Patriots can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win or losses by both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Two division titles are still on the line in the AFC – the North and the West.
Baltimore wins the AFC North and secures a first-round bye with a victory or a Pittsburgh loss. The Ravens also gain home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and a Patriots loss. Pittsburgh wins the AFC North and secures a first-round bye with a victory and a Baltimore loss. The Steelers also gain home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and losses by the Ravens and Patriots.
Denver wins the AFC West with a victory or an Oakland loss. Oakland clinches the division with a win and a Denver loss.
There are still four clubs alive for the AFC’s final Wild Card spot – Cincinnati (9-6), Oakland (8-7), Tennessee (8-7) and the New York Jets (8-7).
Five of the six playoff teams and three of the four divisions have been determined in the NFC – Green Bay (NFC North, home-field advantage), San Francisco (NFC West), New Orleans (NFC South), Detroit (playoff berth) and Atlanta (playoff berth).
The NFC East division title will be on the line in Week 17 when the New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys (NBC, 8:20 PM ET). Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re out.
“You want to put yourself in position for games like this,” says Giants guard Chris Snee. “This is when the playmakers step up and when the good teams prove themselves. We just have to go out and beat a team that was a tough game the first time we played them.”
San Francisco clinches a first-round bye with a win or a New Orleans loss. The Saints secure the first-round bye with a victory and a 49ers loss
Cowboys at Giants: It’s win and you’re in. The 2011 regular season concludes on Sunday night with the NFC East division title on the line. The winner of the game will clinch the division and host a Wild Card contest next week. The loser’s season is over.
“At the beginning of the year, our goals were to win the division, make the playoffs and ultimately keep winning once we’re there,” says Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin. “Having those in front of us right now is big and we’re focused on it.”
In Week 14, the two teams met in a game that went down to the very end as New York’s Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a game-tying field goal attempt in the contest’s final seconds to give the Giants a 37-34 victory. New York scored 15 points in the game’s final minutes to erase a 12-point deficit.
“We learned they’re a great team and a fighting team,” says Giants safety Antrel Rolle. “We’re both fighting for the same thing at this point. Backs are against the wall. The best man continues and the loser goes home. That’s the way both teams are definitely going to approach this game.”