NFL Hash Marks: What's the scenario? - - The News for South Mississippi

NFL Hash Marks: What's the scenario?

Giants-Washington and Packers-Lions will determine the final two playoff teams in the NFC on Sunday. (Source: AP/Bill Kostroun/Nam Y. Huh/Jeffrey Phelps/Brad Penner) Giants-Washington and Packers-Lions will determine the final two playoff teams in the NFC on Sunday. (Source: AP/Bill Kostroun/Nam Y. Huh/Jeffrey Phelps/Brad Penner)

(RNN) - Auld acquaintance be forgot. Win-loss records are not.

It's a new year on the calendar, but NFL teams in the final Sunday of the regular season have to deal with the havoc wrought in 2016. That leaves only a few Week 17 games that matter - a couple of playoff spots and some position toggling remain to be decided.

#BucWild - Tampa Bay is technically a contender like Breitbart is technically news. Here's the scenario for the 8-7 Buccaneers to get into the playoffs:

  • The Bucs beat the Panthers.
  • The Lions beat the Packers.
  • The Giants tie Washington.

This gets Tampa in a tie for the final Wild Card spot with Green Bay and eliminates Washington - which, again, must tie. But the Bucs are still behind the Pack in the "strength of record" and "strength of schedule" tiebreaks, so they need these things to happen to gain the advantage:

  • The Chiefs beat the Broncos.
  • The 49ers beat the Seahawks.
  • The Titans beat the Texans.
  • The Colts beat the Jaguars.
  • Kathy Griffin beats Anderson Cooper.
  • The Cowboys beat the Eagles.

One of those might not be true.

#BushLeague - The Bills' Reggie Bush has negative yards for the season. No running back with 10-plus carries has ever achieved such an awful thing, but Bush is on pace - 12 attempts, minus-3 yards.

That would be more embarrassing than getting caught shoplifting at Belk before the Belk Bowl with a Belk gift card in your pocket.

#Browns - Victory! Cleveland avoided an 0-16 season with its first win Sunday, and it retained the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick when the 49ers won their second game of the year. Is Trubisky the next name on the Browns QB-list jersey? Nope, it got retired this year.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

There's not much to play for in the AFC, with all the playoff teams set. But the No. 1 seed is still up for grabs - Patriots (13-2) get it with a win, Raiders get it with a win and a Pats loss.

Matt Moore is the flipper for the Dolphins (10-5) again, with starting QB Ryan Tannehill still out for injury. Hopeful Miamians remain … well, hopeful … that Tannehill can get back from partial ACL and MCL tears in time for their Wild Card game next week.

Expect Tom Brady to start for New England with a win still meaningful, but he may get pulled if the score gets lopsided either way. But it's Bill Belichick coaching the team, and he literally doesn't know the meaning of "rest some players."

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.

Derek Carr's injury is only a slightly bigger loss for Raiders (12-3) fans than it is for football fans in general. The QB had an MVP-caliber season and is one of the more accurate deep-ball throwers in the League, but his broken leg puts him out for the playoffs.

That leaves Matt McGloin leading Oakland. But first, he gets the NFL's top pass defense in the Broncos (8-7), so welcome to the show, kid. The Broncos won’t be defending their Super Bowl title this year, but it's not due to their defense - they gave up the fewest yards per play, the fewest passing TDs and were third with 40 sacks.

Oakland will get a break from facing defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who is having back surgery. They will not get a reprieve from Von Miller, who is one back of the NFL sack crown with 13.5 this season - maybe one more dance?

Oakland's first-round bye is not guaranteed, either. A loss to Denver and a Chiefs win would give the AFC No. 2 seed to Kansas City.

New York Giants at Washington (EXPLICIT), 4:25 p.m.

The New York Giants (10-5) have secured their spot in a Wild Card game, but the Washington Most Racist Name In Sports (8-6-1) can still get in, too, with a win - provided Packers-Lions doesn't end in a tie.

It would be the first time the (EXPLICIT) made the payoffs two years in a row since '91 and '92, and give them a shot at their first playoff win since 2005. That has nothing to do with this game, but it's fun to again point out how pathetic the once-great Washington franchise has been under owner Dan Snyder.

The Giants have nothing to play for, they are the No. 5 seed win or lose. Coach Ben McAdoo said his usual starters will be playing but stopped short of declaring they'll finish the game. That could give Washington could catch a break in the second half against a bunch of backups.

Washington QB Kirk Cousins wouldn't mind, and it may give him a better shot of getting the 370 yards he needs to break the 5,000 yards passing mark this season.

Sunday Night Football: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 8:30 p.m.

Going into Sunday, one game involves two teams with their playoff lives on the line. The winner is the NFC North champ; they'll know by kickoff if Washington won and the loser is out.

Aaron Rodgers of the Packers (9-6) and the Lions' (9-6) Matthew Stafford have the best arguments for MVP, if judging by the "how bad does their team stink without them?" metric. Guys like Brady, Carr, Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell and Dallas' Prescott and Elliott are all great, but Green Bay and Detroit struggle to win five games this year without their QBs.

Detroit has gotten by with a defense that didn't stun with statistics but kept scores in reach, but the dam broke when they allowed 42 against Dallas. The Lions offense got stifled by a 3-2 defensive front that masked where its pass rushers were coming from, so Green Bay may try a similar tactic to see if it works again.

Rodgers has willed his team from a 4-6 record into winners of five straight, and he hasn't thrown a pick since Week 10. Converted receiver Ty Montgomery has been a solid substitute at running back after the team lost its top two to injury.

In an NFC where the favorites (Cowboys) are so dependent on rookies, there's a strong chance for either of these teams to go far if they scratch their way into postseason play.

Hash Marks, formerly NFL of the Week, is a preview/analysis of games and a satirical look at the entire NFL Universe - the players, coaches, owners, fans and media. For more sports and other news, follow @MattQuillenRNN on Twitter.

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