The final games of the regular season are upon us. In the past, these games have been hard to predict because teams have widely varying incentives to win. Some teams are fighting for their playoff lives, some have locked it up, and others might be trying to lose (or not trying especially hard to win) to lock up their draft position. This year the NFL tried to change that by making all week 17 games be in-division, and thus more important to playoff standing. But, as things are now, the Patriots are locked in and could sit their whole team, Atlanta is virtually locked in (technically they could fall to the fifth seed, but they’re playing Carolina), and Philadelphia is locked into their 3-seed. Atlanta can’t sit their starters, but they shouldn’t have to try real hard either. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, the Jets, Chicago, and New Orleans are all going to the playoffs with the only question being what seed they get. The teams still playing for their lives consists of Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Green Bay, the Giants, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Seattle. I haven’t looked thoroughly at past years, but these numbers seem roughly normal to me.
With the last week of the season also comes the last predictions of the (regular) season. Enjoy!