Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Terez Paylor, Kimberley A. Martin and Charles Robinson select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Two premium teams? Check.
Rivalry game? Check.
Huge playoff seeding implications? Check.
This game checks every box for a clear-cut, must-watch NFL game, and it should be a doozy as the winner wins the NFC West.
While Seattle is coming off a stunning loss to a 5-9-1 Cardinals team, they'll bounce back this weekend, especially given the emotional boost from the return of running back Marshawn Lynch.
San Francisco, meanwhile, did a nice job bouncing back from a stunning loss of their own to the Falcons a couple weeks ago, and I expect them to put forth their best effort on Sunday night.
This should be a slugfest, with the team making the fewest mistakes winning.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
This battle of backups comes with big playoff implications.
Mike Tomlin has weathered just about every storm you could think of this year, but there’s one final hurdle still left for the Steelers to clear. If Pittsburgh can defeat Baltimore — and the Titans lose or tie the Texans — the Steelers’ unlikely push toward the postseason will be complete. That would be an unlikely feat for a team that lost Ben Roethlisberger, started the season 1-4 and is now laying its playoff hopes at the feet of embattled backup Duck Hodges.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have been cruising all season behind MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson. But while starters rest on Sunday, former Heisman Trophy-winner and No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III will get his moment in the sun.
The Ravens are the better overall team, but with so many Baltimore players already ruled out, don’t sleep on the Steelers. Especially their defense.
The question is: Will Pittsburgh’s offense be able to put up enough points to seal a victory?
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
For intents and purposes, this is the start of the NFL’s playoff season. If the Eagles win, they’re into the postseason regardless of what Dallas does. If they lose, they’ll need an extremely unlikely home loss by the Cowboys to a banged-up Washington Redskins team.
Not only could the Eagles get into the postseason, they could be gifted a home playoff game as the NFC East champions.
The 4-11 Giants can’t be seen as pushovers in this one. Not only are the Eagles continuing to struggle with a significant swath of injuries, but New York is coming off an emotional overtime win last week that featured five Daniel Jones touchdown passes and 279 yards rushing and receiving by Saquon Barkley.
New York’s Pat Shurmur is also coaching for his job at this point, and a win over the Eagles in this kind of situation would give Giants ownership a little more to think about.
You can bet the Cowboys will be scoreboard watching on this one, too.
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