HomeSportsWhich NFL teams could receive some Christmas cheer?

Which NFL teams could receive some Christmas cheer?

It is gift-giving season, the time of year when you either get something you asked for, something you didn’t, or maybe, if you haven’t been good, nothing at all.   

So it goes in the National Football League, too, where this year there are more parcels than usual stacked up around pro football’s metaphoric familial tree, and in an abundance of cases the same present awaits once the pigskin-colored wrapping has been torn off.   

The hot item being bestowed across the league as Yuletide flows?   


For all but a naughty few who have misbehaved their way out of contention, hope lingers in various forms, thanks to this unconventional, unpredictable and parity-heavy campaign where playoff posts aplenty are still up for grabs.   

The chance to resurrect a season is in some cases deserved, in others probably much less so, but either way, here it is, a weekend full of football coming in just as Santa clocks on for an overtime shift, and everything to play for.   

As long as you have five wins or more to this point – and all but six squads meet that criteria – playoff football remains a legitimate possibility. Yet the charms of Noel take various 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. It’s like that for the Pittsburgh Steelers, still in the hunt but needing a baffling combination of a dozen results – three of their own wins being just the start of it – to gatecrash 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 that the best gift of all is this, the sliver of a chance to launch the Green Bay Packers an improbable postseason return even after all the dismal developments of the year and a two-month stretch that realized just a single win.   

“So, we’ve won two and just about everything we needed to happen has gone our way,” Rodgers told reporters. “Just about, right? Things are looking up.”     

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.   

NFL Week 16: Will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers pour it on the Dolphins on Christmas Day?

Those who never saw this coming might be the ones who enjoy it the most. The Detroit Lions, resurgent from 1-6 to 7-7, are well and truly in the conversation. At the top of November, not even uber-optimist Dan Campbell could have been so bold as to scribble down this kind of outcome on his wish list and send it off to the elves.   

The Jacksonville Jaguars are gleeful too, having taken their own uplift, mixed it with the Tennessee Titans‘ stunning collapse, and find themselves on the doorstep of what would be an accelerated version of the Trevor Lawrence progress timeline.   

The Lions and Jaguars have surged when they needed to and have shown appropriate 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 on Thursday, with the only relief coming when fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler was brought on to replace Zach Wilson.    

They looked like a team going nowhere and they’ve lost four straight. Win the last two, however, and there’s a better than even chance they’ll be going to the postseason.   

Renewed cheer and the persistence of possibility is what was intended when the NFL added the seventh postseason spot in each conference. On this evidence, it is hard to argue with the logic. Everyone likes gifts, and what better time than this?   

In the NFC South, there is a happy parcel for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, front-runner to claim a home playoff game despite a turbulent and mostly unsatisfying season. The largesse extends, however, to everyone else in the same division, New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina all 5-9, are very much aware that opportunity is theirs, too.    

NFL Week 16: Should you take the Ravens this weekend against the Falcons?

For some, there is the chance to wrap up the accomplishment of a postseason berth – in fancy paper and ribbon, presumably – with one more win, or even one result elsewhere falling kindly. That’s how it is for the Baltimore Ravens, who could end the Falcons‘ dwindling chances (1 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app) and keep pressure on the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.   

The thing to remember about this particular kind of Christmas gift is that it’s only a good one to receive if it works out, otherwise it just evaporates into nothing and gets forgotten like all those ill-fitting clothes, unopened CDs, disappointing calendars and second-rate candy of years gone by.   

Opportunity teases that good things can happen – but in most cases only if you win – which for all the permutations is still what it’s all about. 

Which is why Lawrence was sat smiling in a Christmas sweater as early as Thursday night, his part in the festive slate already accomplished. 

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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