There are many decisions which Roger Goodell should be scrutinized for during his tenure as commander in chief of the National Football League. It should also therefore be duly noted that his office should be commended for the manner in which they have tweaked the scheduling of regular season games at the end of the seson.

The first factor that has worked out very well is very much over looked. The decision to schedule almost exclusively games between team division rivals was a brilliant maneuver. Teams do indeed lay down at the end of the season, but it is by far less likely to happen between two teams that face each other twice every year, including the next season, than it is between teams that won’t see each other agin for another three or four years.

The second factor is the timing of the games. All games are played on the same day, and because of that any game can be moved to an earlier or later time slot. There is no possibility of a Thursday night game eliminating a team that is playing early on Sunday, who in turn benches as many starters as possible in their early Sunday game, the result of which makes a late Sunday afternoon game meaningless – you get the picture.

The final game of the 2011 regular season is for all purposes a playoff game – or a play-in game, if you will. The winner gets to continue on; they are in the playoffs as division winner. For the loser the only question is which is worse: eight months of hearing ‘one and done’, or eight months of realizing those mocked ‘one and done’ teams had a better year than your team did.



Redskins at Eagles
This game opened with Philadelphia being 6.5 point favorites, and I jumped on that. Normally I’ll stay away from any opening line for 24 or even 48 hours regardless of how tempting, because I figure (a) somebody knows something I don’t, or (b) I really need to analyze the teams and the data before jumping to a conclusion.
Philadelphia -6½, under 45½,

Buccaneers at Falcons
I’ve done pretty well going against Tampa Bay all season, I’m not going to stop now.
Atlanta -10, over 45

49ers at Rams
San Francisco -9, under 34½,

Bears at Vikings
Why is Minnesota favored?
Chicago +2½, over 41

Lions at Packers
This is one of several games I don’t feel strongly about because at least one of the teams has nothing to play for.
Green bay +6, over 41½

Panthers at Saints
New Orleans -7, under 54½

Titans at Texans
Houston +2, under 39

Ravens at Bengals
Baltimore +2, under 38

Steelers at Browns
Pittsburgh -7, over 32½

Colts at Jaguars
Jacksonville -3, under 37

Jets at Dolphins
Wouldn’t it be sweet if all the other games the Jets needed to go their way did go their way – but the lost this game?
Miami -3, under 39½

Bills at Patriots
Buffalo +10½, over 49
Pats 31, Bills 20

Chargers at Raiders
Oakland -2½, under 48½

Chiefs at Broncos
Denver -2, over 37

Seahawks at Cardinals
Seattle +3, over 41

Cowboys at Giants
New York -3, over 46½


Happy New Year!