I'll be honest; of the games that NBC could pluck, via flexible scheduling, I thought the Steelers and Bengals would be a shoe-in. Now, the justification from the league (or NBC, not quite sure) is that they want two "potential" playoff teams. The Bengals are still in the hunt (shockingly). But the Steelers rolled over like Rover and are officially eliminated. So with that logic in mind, the Bengals/Steelers were eliminated as a possibility.
So who would play Sunday Night's game was obvious. The league (or network) picked the Packers/Bears. Totally not a misprint.
Let's examine this for a moment. First, the Bears can't win anything else. They've won homefield advantage and have nothing else to play for. Starters will probably sit after a few series' or a half -- we're already downgrading the quality of the game. The Packers? Sure, they could make it -- with plenty of help. Not only would the Bengals/Steelers game be highly entertaining, but if there's a case that the Jets lose, then everyone could watch the ultra-intense Bengals team try to beat their hated rivals in a must-win situation for a playoff berth. My point here is that the game they're selecting isn't all that great and revolves around a single person.
The reasoning behind this decision is one man -- the potential retirement of Brett Favre playing potentially his final game of his career. I agree. I'll believe it when I see it. I have nothing against Favre and feel honored I got to see him play his entire career unlike many legendary players in NFL history. But let's be honest; it's because of Favre that the league (or network) picked a game with a subpar team and a team that has nothing to lose except starters.
If you don't agree, take other games into account that could follow their "playoff teams" prerequisite.
The Titans play the Patriots. New England can still make the #3 seed with a win and Colts loss. That means the Patriots could host the #6 seed. Put yourself in their situation. Would you rather host the Broncos or the Bengals/Jets? The Titans are still a lot of help away from a playoff berth also. And who hasn't been impressed with the Titans six-game winning streak improving their 2-7 start to assure a non-losing season? Vince Young's record as a starter is 8-4 -- and two of those losses were by a combined two points (one point per game).
The Chiefs play the Jaguars. This really depends on what happens between the Jets and the Bengals in their respective games. So by the time this game rolls around, this could be meaningless. But if the Jets, Bengals and Titans lose, then the winner of this game wins the #6 seed. Not only that, but this game would still be more entertaining than the Brett Favre see-ya-next-year-even-though-we're-talking-about-your-retirement game.
The Panthers play the Saints. Interestingly enough, if the Packers and Giants lose, the Panthers are in. That just explains how awful the NFC is. I mean seriously, the Panthers?! But the Saints too have something to play for -- a first-round bye.
These are all games with teams that are still alive in the playoffs with a more compelling story line than "will he or won't he" games that Favre plays with the media.