The second half of what amounts to the NFC East-NFC North Challenge goes on Monday Night Football. The Dallas Cowboys go on the road to meet the Chicago Bears (8:30 PM ET, NBC). The Cowboys have to keep pace in the East with the Philadelphia Eagles, who knocked off the Detroit Lions on Sunday. That same result opens the door for the Bears to pull back even with the Lions in the North.
NFL Week 14 Sunday’s slate is expected to be marked by some inclimate weather in the East and Midwest, but that won’t affect the two showcase games of the day. There’s big divisional battles on hand in the NFC as teams continue their push for home playoff games and first round byes, and no game is bigger than the one down in the Bayou on prime-time
The MAC football championship will be settled on Friday night in Detroit, when Northern Illinois meets Bowling Green at Ford Field (8 PM ET, ESPN2). It’ s not too much to say this might be the most significant game in the history of this conference, and might not be even too much to call it the best matchup of all the championship games that college football fans have to choose from in this greatest weekend of the year.
I went to play around with ESPN’s Playoff Machine, the tool that allows you to pick the remaining games on the NFL schedule and then it automatically calibrates all the tiebreakers and sets up the NFL playoff picture in the aftermath of NFL Week 13.
My approach was conservative. I took whatever I felt would be the chalk pick in a game–if the teams seemed fairly even, I just deferred to the home team and I didn’t pick any upsets. Here’s how the results came out…
(6)Pittsburgh at (3)Cincinnati
(5)Kansas City at (4)Indianapolis
Will it turn out that a fluke of the schedule ends up being what decides who wins the Super Bowl this coming February in New York? It’s well possible–certainly the consensus view is that it will at least decide the NFC champ. The Seattle Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) with the winner taking the inside track to the #1 seed.