After 17 weeks, the NFL is moving on to its second season, with 12 teams still holding hopes for a Super Bowl title.
In a year dominated by the Patriots' pursuit of perfection, New England is a key storyline entering the posteason ... but not the only story to watch.
Can the Patriots go 19-0?
Yes, of course. The bigger question, is can anyone beat them? And that answer is probably no. The Giants played their best game of the season Saturday night and still lost 38-35. The Colts, Jaguars and Chargers have the best chance of knocking off the perfect Patriots in the AFC playoffs, and perhaps Dallas can hang with New England in the Super Bowl. But it seems very likely the Patriots will go 19-0 and be the story of the century.
Can the Redskins continue to win in memory of Sean Taylor?
No one in the NFC playoffs wants to play the Redskins, who are inspired by Taylor's death. The Seattle Seahawks should be very afraid this weekend, because Washington is playing inspired football. Just ask Dallas, which got flattened by 21 points in a game Washington had to win — and 21 was Taylor's jersey number.
Will Brett Favre call it a career if he leads the Packers to the Super Bowl?
If that happens, it would be the story of the year and perhaps the decade, rivaling the Patriots' perfect run. There would be no greater way for him to leave than on a winning note, a la Michael Jordan and John Elway.
Favre's "will I retire or will I not?" saga grew tiresome in the last offseason, but looking back, it was worth the headache because the Packers quarterback has given us one of the great swan songs of all time. Green Bay tied its franchise record with its 13th win Sunday, and no team is looking forward to playing in the cold at Lambeau Field in the playoffs.
Can Terrell Owens lead Dallas to a Super Bowl win and bring back the glory Days to Big D?
That would be a huge story as well. And it could happen.
Behind New England, Dallas has to be considered the favorite to win it all, and if the Cowboys do win the Super Bowl, Owens will play a big part.
He was outstanding in his only Super Bowl appearance in a loss to New England while with Philadelphia, and that came after a miraculous recovering from a broken leg. And hmm, Owens is "iffy" for the first playoff game again this season, still healing from a high ankle sprain. Sound familiar?
Can the Colts knock off Patriots and repeat as Super Bowl champs?
The Colts were a major story last season when they finally won it all and validated coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning. Now they are flying under the radar because of all the attention that is being heaped on the Patriots.
The Colts probably won't beat the Patriots -- after all, they lost at home to New England earlier this season — but if they do, it will be one of the great reminders to never forget about a champion.
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
Featured analysis from Week 17
Celizic: Finally, a glimmer of hope for other playoff teams -- the Giants gave a blueprint on how to beat the Patriots. Pressure Tom Brady, double-team Randy Moss, run the ball, get a big play on special teams and stay aggressive.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Chudzinski: 'Too early' to name a QB
Following Thursday's OTA, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski speaks to the media about his team’s brewing quarterback controversy. He feels the competition will aid in each QB’s progression as a passer, but he isn’t ready to name a starter for Week 1.
Week 17 star
With a spot in the history books on the line and the Giants playing as if nothing was more important than keeping the Patriots from it, Tom Brady proved once again why his one of the game’s best players. His Patriots faced a 12-point deficit in the third quarter, but Brady was undaunted. He completed 32-of-42 passes for 356 yards and threw 2 TD passes and 0 interceptions in leading the Pats to a 38-35 victory and a 16-0-0 regular-season record. Brady finished the regular season with an NFL-record 50 TD passes. — Steve Silverman
Week 17 standouts | Click here for more
|1. T. Brady, Patriots||32||42||356||2|
|2. D. McNabb, Eagles||29||41||345||1|
|1. J. Lewis, Browns||26||128||4.9||0|
|2. D. Rhodes, Raiders||29||122||4.2||1|
|1. L. Fitzgerald, Cardinals||11||171||15.5||2|
|2. M. Jones, Jaguars||8||138||17.2||1|
NFL playoff schedule
?Redskins at Seahawks, 4:30 p.m.
?Jaguars at Steelers, 8 p.m.
?Giants at Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
?Titans at Chargers, 4:30 p.m.
All times ET
After the terrible debacle fans and the NFL had to endure with the soap opera of the Patriots, I think it would be fitting that Super Bowl 43 be played between the Cowboys and the Steelers. It will be highly watched and appreciated. NFL would restore some class again. — Posted by Italian Stallion