FOX Sports Insider
It’s the season of giving, the time of year when you get something you asked for, something you didn’t, or maybe, if you haven’t been good, nothing at all.
It also happens in the National Football League, where this year there are more packages than usual stacked around the metaphorical pro football family tree, and in many cases the same gift awaits when the wrapping is ripped off. pigskin color.
The item being awarded around the league as Christmas rolls around?
For all but a mischievous few, who have misbehaved their way out of contention, hope lingers in various forms, thanks to this unconventional, unpredictable and very even campaign, where there are still plenty of places to playoffs at stake.
The chance to resurrect a season in some cases is deserved, in others probably much less so, but anyway, here it is, a football-filled weekend arrives just as Santa Claus is doing an overtime shift and all for play.
As long as you have five or more wins so far, and all but six teams meet that criteria, playoff football remains a legitimate possibility. However, Noel’s charms take many forms.
For some, the gift of hope is like receiving a lottery ticket on Christmas morning; a nice gesture, all but guaranteed to result in nothing. So it is for the Pittsburgh Steelers, still in the hunt but needing a bewildering combination of a dozen results (three of their own wins are just the start) to crack the field.
What do you get for the man who has everything? Or for the man who makes $50 million a year? For Aaron Rodgers, it might be the best gift of all, the part of the opportunity to launch the Green Bay Packers with an unlikely return to the postseason, even after all the sad developments of the year and d ‘a stretch of two months that he only noticed. unique victory
“So we’ve won two and pretty much everything we’ve needed has gone our way,” Rodgers told reporters. “Precisely, aren’t they? Things are better.”
Next up is the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Day (1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), where Rodgers will hope to continue the Pack’s mini-rescue act.
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Those who never saw it coming may be the ones who enjoy it the most. The Detroit Lions, who have rebounded from 1-6 to 7-7, are very much in the conversation. At the top of November, not even super-optimist Dan Campbell could have been bold enough to write this kind of result on his wish list and send it to the elves.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are also happy, having taken their own rise mixed in with the stunning collapse of the Tennessee Titans and are on the doorstep of what would be an accelerated version of Trevor Lawrence’s streak of progress.
The Lions and Jaguars have stepped up when they needed to and have shown the right form for a postseason contender. Other teams haven’t, but are still in the frame.
Among those, inconceivably, are the New York Jets, once again abysmal Thursday, with the only relief when fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler was hired to replace Zach Wilson.
They looked like a team going nowhere and have lost four in a row. Win the last two, though, and there’s a better chance of a couple going to the postseason.
The renewed joy and persistence of possibility is what was intended when the NFL added a seventh postseason berth to each conference. With this evidence, it’s hard to argue with logic. Everyone loves gifts, and what better time than now?
In the NFC South, there’s a happy package for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the favorite to claim a home playoff game despite a turbulent and mostly unsatisfying season. The generosity extends, however, to everyone else in the same division, New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina, all 5-9, well aware that the opportunity is theirs, too.
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For some, there’s a chance to wrap up clinching a postseason berth — on fancy paper and tape, presumably — with one more win, or even a result that falls kindly elsewhere. So is the Baltimore Ravens, who could end the Falcons’ dwindling chances (1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App) and keep the pressure on the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.
The thing to remember about this kind of Christmas present is that it’s only good to get if it works, otherwise it evaporates into nothingness and is forgotten like all those ill-fitting clothes, unopened CDs, disappointing calendars and seconds … rate candies from past years.
Chance teases that good things can happen, but in most cases only if you win, which by all means is still what it’s all about.
Which is why Lawrence was sitting smiling in a Christmas jumper on Thursday night, his part on the festive board already done.
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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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