Week 16 (December 23):
- Tentative game: Tampa Bay @ San Francisco
- Prospects: Very problematic, even with the Bucs’ success, which just makes it look lopsided. Tell me NBC and the NFL won’t settle for 8-5 v. 3-10.
- Protected games according to AA: Texans-Colts (CBS) and Packers-Bears (FOX).
- Other possible games mentioned on Wednesday’s Watch and their records: Lions (6-7) v. Chiefs (4-9); Giants (9-4) v. Bills (7-6); Ravens (4-9) v. Seahawks (9-4); Redskins (6-7) v. Vikings (7-6); Eagles (5-8) v. Saints (5-7); Browns (8-5) v. Bengals (5-8).
- Impact of Monday Night Football: The Saints can conceivably improve to 6-7 with a win, but it would still lag behind Skins-Vikings and Giants-Bills.
- Analysis: Not only does Giants-Bills benefit from the Bills winning, it also benefits from not looking as lopsided as I originally thought. Skins-Vikings is the only other halfway decent game.
- Final prediction: New York Giants @ Buffalo Bills.
- Actual selection: Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings. I take two things from this. One is that NBC and the NFL did see Giants-Bills as being awfully lopsided. Another is that they may see the Vikings as speeding ahead a little, since they’ve been on fire of late. But I might want to discount both. Selecting the Giants would have had no effect on Week 17, since the Giants are on NFL Network that week, but it would have kept NBC from selecting any other team with five primetime appearances. Only three teams fall into that category, but they include the Colts, who have a game very much in the running on that night.