Back in August, there was mild optimism about the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Both figured to hover near a winning record and be on the fringe of the playoff discussion. Fast forward to Week 17 of the NFL and the NFC East rivals are in serious contention for the postseason.
The squads square off this Sunday, 30 December, at 1pm on Fox in an epic clash between two surging teams. Both quarterbacks, Tony Romo of the Cowboys and Robert Griffin III of the Redskins, have been clutch late in the season to overcome bad starts.
While a shoot-out would be exciting, more than likely it will be a defensive battle. Either team winning and clinching a playoff spot is a surprise. Gut instinct points to Griffin III joining fellow top draft pick Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs courtesy of a three-point victory.
The final slate of regular season games offers some interesting contests. Luck’s Colts square off with the Houston Texans at 1pm on CBS while the Baltimore Ravens battle the Cincinnati Bengals at 1pm on CBS.
Luck was kept in check against the Texans the first time around, with only 186 passing yards. A big reason why he struggled was a dogged pass rush, orchestrated by defensive player of the year favourite J.J. Watt with his three sacks.
Houston and its belligerent defence has proven to be for real all season. Odds are the Texans will threat Sunday’s game as playoff tune-up to win by 14 points.
Baltimore crushed Cincy in its season opener back in September but both sides have drastically changed. The Ravens defence has faltered and the Cincy offence is rolling. Momentum favours Andy Dalton’s Bengals but the smart bet is for Joe Flacco’s Ravens to show fortitude and win by six points.