Week 17 of the NFL season is always the most dramatic. Dec. 29 will be no different, as every NFL team will be in action, and all but three game will have some playoff implications. Two games are winner-take-all battles for division titles – yet the one between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will be the only one where a quarterback returns from injury.
The return of Aaron Rodgers has listed the 7-7-1 Packers from underdogs to road favorites against the 8-7 Bears. After first getting injured against Chicago in Green Bay eight weeks ago, Rodgers now looks to get revenge by knocking the Bears out of the postseason. Despite going 2-5-1 without him, the Packers are still in position to do just that.
An 8-7-1 team can win a division and host a playoff game in the NFC, while the Arizona Cardinals could well go 11-5 and miss the playoffs altogether. Of course, now that the Packers have Rodgers, they may well be no ordinary 8-7-1 team if they manage to get in. However, they have to get in and take care of the Bears first.
Chicago is not in a good place right now, as it was destroyed by the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 22 when it could have won the division early, and is still unsure if Jay Cutler gives it a better shot to win than Josh McCown. Both the Packers and Bears have had quarterback upheaval all season, but are now getting their No. 1 starters back when it counts – albeit under vastly different circumstances and expectations.
While the Eagles’ NFC East title game with the Tony Romo less Dallas Cowboys closes out the regular season, Rodgers gives the Packers-Bears’ showdown the added suspense that the Eagles and Cowboys lost. Still, there is plenty of suspense all around in the regular season’s finale Sunday.
The accompanying slideshows lists the top games of Week 17, and what is at stake for one or both teams involved.