Buffalo, New York
Here are five things to watch as the NFL enters the final weekend of the regular season.
Damar Hamlin’s phenomenal support will go even higher when the final regular season games begin.
There may be some uncertainty, doubts and concerns about players taking to the court for the first time since a Buffalo Bills linebacker suffered a life-threatening injury during their game earlier this week. There will be a lot of emotion visible, and any signs of injuries will be met with great anxiety.
However, Bills coach Sean McDermott said the games this weekend will represent a “celebration of life,” as Hamlin has shown continued signs of progress. NFL players and fans will see this #3 marked in Buffalo Bills Blue or Red on the 30-yard lines at stadiums across the country. Players will wear “Love for Damar 3” jerseys before the game, and Bills players will also receive a #3 patch on their jerseys game.
Summit battle conference: We may see history. For the first time, a conference title game is being played on neutral site.
A Buffalo Bills game with the Cincinnati Bengals in which Hamlin was injured would not be completed. This means that the two teams will finish the regular season one game short of the other teams in the playoffs, affecting their ability to secure home advantage should they advance to the AFC Championship game. Therefore, if either or both of these teams make it to the title game, depending on the different circumstances, we could see the title game being played at a neutral site. The Kansas City Chiefs lead the conference at 13-3. The Bills are at 12-3 and the Bengals are at 11-4.
Scratching to enter: The New England Patriots will be in the driver’s seat for the final spot in the AFC Championship Game. If they beat the Bills, the Patriots are in, but they’re going to have to do it on a very emotional day in Buffalo. If they lost, the Miami Dolphins would get their first slot into last place with a home win over the New York Jets.
If the Patriots and Dolphins both fall, the Pittsburgh Steelers will jump all the way to the seventh and final spot if they beat the Cleveland Browns at home. It also means that head coach Mike Tomlin will not have a losing season for the first time in his 16-year career.
The AFC South title was on the line Saturday night in Jacksonville. The hot Jaguars host the reeling Tennessee Titans. The winner secures the fourth seed and hosts the first round match next week.
The Philadelphia Eagles are hoping it will be a magical third time for them to clinch the NFC East and the top seed in the NFC Playoffs. To do that, they need to beat the New York Giants who are already the sixth seed and will start the playoffs on the road. If the Eagles fall again, the Dallas Cowboys take the NFC East crown with a win over the Washington Leaders and the Eagles will slide to the wild card.
The seventh and final spot is a three-team race between the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks. The Packers and Lions play each other Sunday night at Lambeau Field. For Green Bay, it’s simple: Earn and you share. The Lions and Seahawks both need a win and some help to join the postseason party.
The end of each season means there is one last chance for players to get their name in the record books. Let’s start with QB’s.
Patrick Mahomes needs 430 yards of passing to break the single-season record of 5,477 set by Peyton Manning in 2013.
Tom Brady needs just one completion to break the all-time single-season record for most completions in a season of 485 events set in 2021 by… Tom Brady. Surprise!
Justin Jefferson needs 194 yards to break the single-season record of 1,964 yards set by Calvin Johnson in 2012. The Minnesota Vikings have topped the mark once this season, against the Lions in Week 4.
Ryan Stonehouse has a chance to become the best single season punter of all time. The Titans star could break the record for highest kicking average in a season of 51.4 yards set by Sammy Baugh all the way back in 1940. Stonehouse currently averages 53 yards per punt.
The final game of the regular season is huge not only for players on playoff contending teams, but also for players who can make large amounts of money in incentives, sometimes with a single catch. Here are some of those players according to fantasy football analyst and sports bettor Sal Vitry.
Christian Kirk needs two catches for a $500,000 bonus, and 91 yards for a $500,000 bonus.
Zay Jones needs two catches for a $250,000 bonus, and 98 yards for a $500,000 bonus.
Zadarius Smith needs one sack to earn $750,000.
Preston Smith needs 1.5 sacks to earn $1 million
Tyler Higbee needs 13 receiving yards to earn the $500,000 bonus.
Gerald Everett needs five catches to get $250,000.
Everett has hit more than 5 catches in 50% of his games.
Jamal Williams needs six rushing yards to reach 1,000, which will earn him a $250,000 bonus.