NFL Game Rankings: Week 17

12/27/13 in NFL   |   BlakeLovell   |   86 respect

Oct 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY SportsIt doesn't get much better than the final week of the season in the NFL. For some teams, playoff spots have been locked up regardless of what happens this week. For other teams, they've been out of the playoff race since mid-October.

And then there are those teams who are fighting for their playoff lives. That's why this week will be fun. So, let's look at the five best games on this week's schedule and see how they could affect the playoff bracket:

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at New Orleans Saints (10-5) - 4:25 PM ET, FOX

There are a couple of teams that desperately need the Bucs to somehow win this game. Of course, that's much easier said than done. The formula for the Saints is quite simple -- win and you're in. If New Orleans can do that, and have Carolina lose, they would clinch the NFC South and get the much-needed first round bye. If Tampa Bay can pull out of the victory, it would be the first loss this season for the Saints at the Superdome. So yeah....Tampa's chances are not good here.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) - 1 PM ET, CBS

We'll start with the easy part. The Bengals have already wrapped up a playoff spot and the NFC North. However, they can also be recipients of a first round bye if they win this game and the Patriots lose their game to the Bills. Simple enough, right? For the Ravens, it's a little more complicated. There are numerous scenarios that could play out between the four teams (BAL, MIA, SD, and PIT) that are fighting for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Baltimore can't control what happens in the other games, but even though a loss could still technically get them in the playoffs, winning and getting some help will be what the Ravens need in Cincy.

3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5) - 4:25 PM ET, FOX

Think about this for a second: the Cardinals could win this game to finish at 11-5 and still miss the playoffs. We've come along way since the days of the NFC West being the worst division in football, huh? Winning this game won't be enough to get Bruce Arians' team into the post-season. They need the Bucs to beat the Saints in New Orleans, which as we've already discussed, will be quite the challenging feat. For the Niners, a win and a Seattle loss to St. Louis gives San Fran the division and a bye. Even better, a Niners win and a loss from the Seahawks and Panthers gives Colin Kaepernick and company home-field advantage.

2. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7) - 4:25 PM ET, FOX

The NFC North will be decided on a cold Sunday evening in Chicago. Probably not the first time that phrase has ever been said. But, that's exactly what will happen as the Bears and Packers go head-to-head with a division crown and playoff spot on the line. The Bears failed miserably in their first attempt to win the division, as they were walloped 54-11 last week in Philly. Green Bay gets a nice boost in confidence with Aaron Rodgers returning at quarterback, so this showdown should be a ton of fun.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7) - 8:30 PM ET, NBC

The Eagles and Cowboys will meet on the final week of the season to determine who will make the playoffs. Definitely not the first time that's been said either. Heading into the game, all the talk has been the injury to Tony Romo. After claims that he would miss the rest of the season due to a herniated disc in his back, Jason Garrett stated that he would not rule him out of this game. Garrett can say what he wants, but all signs point to Romo not playing, which means that Kyle Orton would get the start for the Cowboys. Who knows what to expect in this one. Throw the records out the window, and as Terrell Owens would say, get your popcorn ready. With everything on the line, this will be a fight to the finish in Dallas.

Which game are you most looking forward to in Week 17? Let us know by commenting below! For more NFL talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!
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