NFL Sunday Week 17 Games Ranked By Watchability

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Each week this season, OutKick will get you primed for an NFL Sunday on the couch by telling you which games deserve the most attention. For Week 17, here we go…

NFL Sunday Games Worth Watching From Opening Kick Until Final Whistle

  • Miami Dolphins (8-7) at New England Patriots (7-8), 1:00pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: Tua Tagovailoa won’t play in this game thanks to suffering another concussion, so it’s the Teddy Bridgewater show for Miami. We don’t know if Tua will play again this season, so the Dolphins might need to get used to seeing how Teddy B. runs the offense.

A win for the Dolphins eliminates the Patriots from playoff contention and puts Miami firmly in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card spot. You KNOW how badly the Dolphins want to knock Bill Belichick, dirty Mac Jones and the New England Patriots out out of the playoffs. Especially with a backup quarterback. Obviously, that means the Patriots desperately need to win. That desperation, plus a divisional rivalry, makes this the early afternoon game to watch, despite a not-so-sexy QB matchup.

  • Minnesota Vikings (12-3) at Green Bay Packers (7-8), 4:25pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: OutKick’s Armando Salguero wrote a detailed piece on why this is the Game of the Week, which you can read here.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) at Baltimore Ravens (10-5), 8:20pm (NBC)

Main storyline: The NFL moved the Rams-Chargers matchup — which will get to in a minute — out of this spot to put in Steelers-Ravens. Earlier this season, the Chargers-Dolphins on Sunday Night Football did terribly in terms of ratings, so it’s not surprising the NFL would move out a team like LA for a team like Pittsburgh. The interesting thing to note, though, is that this game doesn’t really mean all that much. It’s strange to have a Steelers-Ravens game in Week 17 with very little on the line, but that’s the case here.

The Steelers are practically eliminated, though there is a very convoluted path where they can technically sneak in. The Ravens have already clinched, with only their seeding in question. They can still win the AFC North, but the game against current division leader Cincinnati next week will play more heavily into that equation. But, it’s a rather intense rivalry game late in the season with some playoff implications. Good enough, especially with some of the other contests on this NFL Sunday slate.

It's hard to look too far down your nose at a late season NFL Sunday matchup between the Ravens and Steelers.
It’s hard to look too far down your nose at a late season NFL Sunday matchup between the Ravens and Steelers. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Games To Flip To During Commercials Of Better NFL Sunday Games

  • New Orleans Saints (6-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-2), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main storyline: The Saints are technically still alive, but just barely. They have to win this game, win next week and hope Tampa Bay loses both of their games to win the NFC South. There are some wonky scenarios where they can technically get a Wild Card spot, but that’s unlikely. Philadelphia can clinch the #1 seed in the NFC with a win, and that matters quite a bit. Jalen Hurts might play this week, which also adds some intrigue to this contest. The Eagles are fun to watch, the Saints are not, but the playoff implications afford this one a second-tier slotting.

  • Carolina Panthers (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main storyline: Tampa Bay can clinch the division title with a win. If Carolina wins, they only need to win again next week and THEY clinch the division. A lot on the line, including a division title. So why doesn’t this make the top tier? Because the NFC South is a joke. Carolina is 3-1 since Sam Darnold returned, but they’re not much fun to watch. Tampa is just … yuck. They should have lost to Arizona last week in what was a horribly uninteresting game until about the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. I have to keep an eye on it because it’s my job, but I’m not excited about it.

  • New York Jets (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (7-8), 4:05pm (FOX)

Main storyline: This is a pretty big game, in terms of playoff implications, because both of these teams are fighting to lose in the Wild Card round. Seattle looked like a revelation early in the season with a rejuvenated Geno Smith, but as I have predicted several times, he turned back into Geno Smith. Eight years of tape don’t lie. Mike White is back in for Zach Wilson, and that makes the Jets quite a bit more entertaining. It’s a game I’ll have one eye on, but I can’t commit to locking into this one when Vikings/Packers is on at the same time.

Who ever thought we'd be this excited to see Mike White on an NFL Sunday?
Who ever thought we’d be this excited to see Mike White on an NFL Sunday? What a world! (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

I Guess It’s OK If This Game Pops Up On NFL RedZone

  • Chicago Bears (3-10) at Detroit Lions (7-8), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: The Lions continue to battle for a playoff spot and I think all casual fans are pulling for that. Plus, neither of these teams play much defense and the game is being played in a dome. This contest should be a high-scoring affair between two divisional rivals with at least some playoff implications on the line. The perfect NFL RedZone game.

  • Los Angeles Rams (5-10) at Los Angeles Chargers (9-6), 4:25pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: With the Chargers locking up a playoff berth last week, there’s nothing of real note on the line here. Hopefully, that keeps my guy Brandon Staley around long-term. But the Rams did show up last week and beat the brakes off the hapless Denver Broncos, so that’s something. And, if I’m the Chargers, I’m trying to win my final two games to hopefully get into the #5 seed in the AFC. That means a date with the AFC South winner, either Tennessee or Jacksonville, rather than a trip to Cincinnati, Kansas City, Buffalo or Baltimore. That’s enough to keep me somewhat interested in this game, at least compared to some of the other slop on this NFL Sunday.

Happy to see Brandon Staley get the Chargers to the playoffs.
Happy to see Brandon Staley get the Chargers to the playoffs. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

If You’re A Fan Of These Teams, I Guess You Might Care. But I Don’t.

  • Cleveland Browns (6-9) at Washington Commanders (7-7-1), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: It’s weird to have a game with playoff implications on the line so far down, but here we are. A win for Washington moves them to 51% playoff chances, while a loss drops them to 7%, according to FiveThirtyEight. Despite that, I just can’t advocate for watching this football game. Deshaun Watson has been pretty terrible in his return to the NFL, but the Browns have managed to go 2-2. Washington is now going back to Carson Wentz, who has pretty much always been terrible.

  • Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1) at New York Giants (8-6-1), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: This game has some minor playoff implications, but not a ton. The Giants are practically in, but they can clinch with a win here. Even a loss doesn’t take them under 70% to make the playoffs, so no need to be glued to the TV. Plus, it’s Nick Foles vs. Daniel Jones. I’m not sure how to make that sound very interesting.

  • Denver Broncos (4-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-3), 1:00pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: The Chiefs need a win and a Bills loss to get into the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the AFC. Buffalo has to travel to Cincinnati on Monday Night Football, so that’s certainly a possibility. The last time these two teams met, it actually turned into a pretty exciting affair, despite Kansas City taking a 27-0 lead.

Still, now Kansas City is at home, they’re two-touchdown favorites and the Broncos just gave up 51 points to Baker Mayfield and the Rams, nearly had a fight on their own sideline before starting one with the other sideline, and then fired their head coach. I guess if there’s a fight, that would be interesting. I’m not watching this game and hoping for that, though. I’ll see the highlights on Twitter.

Last time the Chiefs and Broncos met on an NFL Sunday, it was an exciting game. I don't have those opes for this one.
Last time these teams met on an NFL Sunday, it was an exciting game. I don’t have those opes for this one. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
  • San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-9), 4:05pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: Not much on the line here. The 49ers are just trying to figure out their seeding in the NFC. Technically, they can still get to #1 but the odds are very long. The Raiders are considering benching Derek Carr in what turned into a lost season. There’s not much draw here.

If These Games Show Up On My TV, I’m Punting It Off My Back Deck

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) at Houston Texans (2-12-1), 1:00pm (CBS)

Main Storyline: The Jacksonville Jaguars are playing for nothing, despite their head coach saying that every game is important. That’s factually inaccurate. This game is of 0 relevance.

Houston needs to lose to keep the inside track for the #1 pick. If that’s the major draw for a match, I’m out.

  • Arizona Cardinals (4-11) at Atlanta Falcons (5-10), 1:00pm (FOX)

Main Storyline: I’m not sure I can properly explain just how uninteresting this game is. I’m not even going to try.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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