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It is December and we are now in the fourth quarter of the 2016 NFL regular season.
That means it is now late enough in the year that we can talk about playoff races.
The schedule makers saved the best for last in NFL Week 14. On Sunday night Dallas is at the New York Giants in an NFC East showdown. Then on Monday night the Ravens and Patriots square off in a battle of division leading AFC rivals.
Week 15 brings a test to the theory that pro football has become over saturated. The NFL will televise games on four days next week. With college football finished with the exception of bowl games and playoffs, the NFL is now free to include Saturdays on their schedule. Don’t get too excited about that proposition though. Our first Saturday game of the NFL season takes place at Exit 16W in New Jersey, with the Jets hosting Miami. If you are so inclined to tune in, the game will be available on the NFL Network.
NFL fans are treated to five games between a pair of teams with winning records in Week 13. KC at Atlanta and Miami at Baltimore in the early time slot compete with the Rams at Patriots, and then Buffalo at Oakland and Giants at Pittsburgh are a pair of compelling late games.
Congratulations to the New York Jets. Gang Green has accomplished what many thought was impossible: Team Bowles is an underdog to the San Francisco 49ers.
Two days after the fourth anniversary of the Butt Fumble, the Patriots and Jets meet again. Gang Green has already lost more games this season than they did in all of 2015, and are listed as 7½-point underdogs even though they are at home in New Jersey. That spread is tied as the highest of all games being played Sunday; the other is Buffalo at home over the stumbling Jacksonville Jaguars.
In terms of television coverage the Pats-Jets game will be televised by CBS in the northeast, from New England as far west as Indiana and Kentucky, and along the Atlantic seaboard to DC and Norfolk, Virginia.
Week 12 features five division games, two of which are part of the Thanksgiving Day triple header. NFC rivalries start Turkey Day, commencing with Minnesota at Detroit and then followed by Washington at Dallas. Sunday finishes with two AFC rivalry games that swapped places for Sunday Night Football. Originally the Patriots were scheduled to play the Jets on NBC. Thanks to Gang Green’s totaling more losses in their first ten games than they compiled in all of 2015, that game was removed from prime time. The Chiefs and Broncos both have seven victories already, tied for the most in the AFC with New England and Oakland. End result is that Kansas City at Denver will be the showcase game on Sunday night
Super Bowl 49 was arguably the most exciting and memorable championship game in the history of the National Football League. On Sunday NFL fans will be treated to a rematch of that epic event as the Seattle Seahawks travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. Currently these two clubs are favorites to represent their respective conferences at NRG Stadium in Houston on February 5 for Super Bowl 51.
The best game features the reigning Super Bowl champs versus a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs for 14 years. Denver travels to Oakland in a battle of AFC West rivals on Sunday night. Both clubs are 6-2, tied for the division lead – and one game behind the Patriots for home field in the AFC playoff race. The Raiders won the last meeting in December to snap an eight game losing streak to the Broncos.
As one would expect, there was not much of any positive takeaways from Buffalo writers or fans in the aftermath of the Bills loss to the Patriots on Sunday. Optimism was high in western New York after a four-game winning streak. After losses to the Dolphins and Pats and a game at Seattle on tap next week the mood their has taken a 180-degree turn.
In this edition TB12 honored Rob Gronkowski for setting a career franchise record 69th touchdown reception. I am not sure if Gronk is supposed to be a scientist, chef or both, but the score on the bottom of the picture says it all.
Week 8 is highlighted by a chance for the New England Patriots to avenge their only loss of the 2016 season. The Pats travel to Buffalo seeking their fourth straight win while the Bills look to rebound from last week’s loss to Miami.
There are plenty of division rivalry games in Week Nine. The November schedule starts with Atlanta at Tampa Bay on Thursday 11/3. The Bucs shocked the Falcons 31-24 back in Week One at Atlanta. The Falcons rebounded to win four straight – including back-to-back victories over last season’s Super Bowl participants – but have lost their last two games.
Elsewhere Pittsburgh is at Baltimore for their biannual AFC North slugfest
The 6-1 New England Patriots and 4-3 Buffalo Bills renew their rivalry in Week 8. The AFC East clubs meet for the 114th time since the American Football League’s inception in 1960. The Patriots lead the series 69-43-1 and would love to avenge their sole loss on the 2016 season. The game kicks off at 1:00 pm eastern time at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York.
On Monday the Patriots were listed as 6½ point road favorites.
5-1 New England will travel to Pittsburgh to face the 4-2 Steelers at Heinz Field in the marquee game of NFL Week 7. The Patriots are favored by 7.