The NFL is entering the home stretch of the 2012 regular season. Every single game has meaning for each team in the league. Teams at this point are trying to play for seed, play for a spot in the playoffs or simply playing for better draft position. With that said, what games should you make a point to watch this week?
Cincinnati At Philadelphia
The Thursday night game this week provides fans with some intrigue. If the Bengals lose, they go into their game the following week against Pittsburgh with a lot on the line. If Philly loses, it could cost Andy Reid his job once and for all. Nick Foles is going to be trying to build off of his last second victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Indianapolis At Houston
The Texans take on the Colts in a game that both teams probably figured would be meaningless. However, the Colts still have an outside shot at winning their division should things shake out correctly over the final three weeks of the regular season. A win against the Texans would be a good start for a team that is looking to build momentum for a possible playoff run. A win against the Texans would most likely clinch a playoff spot for the Colts just a year after finishing 2-14.
Denver At Baltimore
The Broncos have clinched the AFC West title. The Ravens are looking to finally close the deal in the AFC North. With a victory, the Ravens can finally start looking ahead to the playoffs after losses in their previous two games. It will be important for the Broncos to keep featuring both of their running backs to keep the Ravens defense guessing all day. If that happens, Manning should be able to beat the Ravens secondary at will.
Pittsburgh At Dallas
The Steelers suffered a bad loss to the Chargers last Sunday. They can still make the playoffs with wins down the stretch, but how will they overcome the fact that Big Ben was not himself on Sunday? Is that a harbinger of things to come? Dallas should be feeling some momentum after a big win in Cincinnati on Sunday. This game could go either way.
Tampa Bay At New Orleans
This game features two teams that are on the fringes of the NFC playoff race. With a lot of help, the Saints may be able to finish 8-8 and make the playoffs. However, the more realistic scenario is that the Saints play spoiler the rest of the way. The Bucs are sitting at 6-7 after a tough loss to Philly on Sunday. They need to win out and hope that a lot of teams collapse down the stretch.
Green Bay At Chicago
If Green Bay wins, they have a lock on the NFC North. If Green Bay loses, they lose both control of the division and possibly a chance to even make the playoffs. That is how close things are in the NFC right now. The good news for the Packers is that they have all of their defensive pieces playing well while the Bears defense is struggling just a bit. The good news for the Bears is that Jay Cutler should be ready to play on Sunday in the most important game of the season so far for both teams.
San Francisco At New England
This is going to be the best game of the week. The vaunted Niners defense is going to be facing one of the best quarterbacks in the game today. The unstoppable force is going to meet the immovable object in this game. Which team is going to bend first? That is the question that will be on the minds of every single person who tunes in. Oh yea, playoff seeding is on the line here as well. The Patriots could very well be the number one seed in the AFC after this game.
There are a lot of potentially great games this week. You might need an extra TV to keep track of all the scores and highlights that are going to be produced on a regular basis on Sunday as well as the games being played on Thursday and Monday. As fantasy football seasons come to an end, there is going to be a rooting interest for everyone this week.
This is a guest post submitted by Don Phan. Don currently writes sports content for blogs part-time and is with Fanatics Inc. full-time as a marketing associate. Fanatics is a leading retailer of NFL merchandise and is a premier source for officially licensed Super Bowl NFL gear.