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Games to Watch – Week 16

Last week, we were treated to plenty of good football and more snow.  The NFL playoff picture continues to take shape while most of the fantasy leagues are already in the playoffs.  Meanwhile, there’s talk of a new concept in nationally televised football.  It’s no secret that the past couple of seasons have been chock full of surprising teams (both good and bad).  The folks at ABC are tired of trying to predict the “Games to Watch” months in advance and coming up on the short end of the scheduling stick.  One of the options being discussed is having multiple Monday Night games.  While this doesn’t guarantee good games, like a flexible schedule would, it does improve the odds of having a quality, meaningful match up on Monday night as the season progresses.  I’m sure the discussion will go on well into the off-season.  In the mean time, interestingly enough, you’ll notice the MNF game is absent from this week’s Games to Watch.  Anyway, let’s see which games the ABC execs may wish they had picked…


Top Shelf


Denver at Indianapolis                               Sun. December 21 @ 8:30pm ET on ESPN


Summary:  Plenty of (very different) playoff implications for two teams that are fun to watch.


Hot Tip:  Mike Vanderjagt.  Seriously, with Manning, James, and Harrison around, he hasn’t gone wrong all year. (Same as last week).


Indianapolis has been in this spot 3 weeks in a row.  Last week’s game vs. Atlanta may have turned into a slaughter but you have to agree that Indy is fun to watch.  This week they take on a team that is fighting for its post-season life.  The Broncos need some help from Baltimore or Cincy but with a loss by either of them and a Denver win, they’re in.  Denver plays Green Bay next week and would rather have a playoff spot wrapped up by then.  They’ve got their work cut out for them and Clinton Portis remains Questionable.  This one will be good without him but if hee does play, it’ll make it even more interesting.


Also on Tap


Kansas City at Minnesota                          Sat. December 20 @ 5:15pm ET on CBS


Summary:  Big play teams playing on Saturday afternoon.


Hot Tip:  Michael Bennett takes a shot at that weak KC rushing D.


There should be plenty of offense in this one.  Both teams are used to racking up the points and both still have something to fight for.  Interesting note in this game…it’s Minnesota that is in control of its destiny (albeit not as bright a destiny as KC).  If they win their last 2 games, they take the NFC North no matter what Green bay does.  KC can’t wrap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs without some help from New England.  So there’s plenty on the line for both of these teams on this first Saturday of the football season.  Tune in to see which team makes the most of it.


Cincinnati at St. Louis                                 Sun. December 21 @ 1:00pm ET on CBS


Summary:  Cincy playing for their post-season life versus St. Louis playing for a first round bye.


Hot Tip: Chad Johnson will be fun to watch whether he generates another fine or not.

The AFC has actually been fun to watch this year.  The battle between Cincy and Baltimore has generated some unusual conversations.  The Titans will likely play the AFC North winner in Round 1 and it’s been a long time since we’ve considered playing Baltimore the better option.  It’s been a loooong time since anyone has had any anxiety about playing Cincinnati.  Talking about surprises, the Rams are playing for a first round bye?!  They’ve certainly been rolling right along but a first round bye?  It could happen but it won’t be easy…just ask San Francisco who scored 38 points against Cincinnati last week and still lost.  The Johnson’s are putting up some huge numbers and Jon Kitna is supporting them both with his great decision making ability.  The Rams may find themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing catch up.  That would definitely be fun to watch.

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