Most of us have a few more days of indulgence before we get serious about trimming the holiday fat, but we can get things started with this week’s NFL slate. While Sunday’s schedule is fully loaded and fully bloated (no Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nighters), we can help you push some items off your plate, so that you can concentrate on what’s really important this week — paying way too much money for mildly enjoyable New Year’s Eve celebrations. Many games have absolutely no meaning this Sunday, and we implore you to simply ignore them. There is, quite literally, nothing to see here.

 

Indeed, moderation is the name of the game in Week 17. The same cannot be said for Wednesday night and Thursday morning. All we ask is that you keep the ibuprofen handy, drink plenty of fluids, and heed our advice to cut down on your NFL consumption in these dog days of December. Let’s simply say no to the empty calories of our football diet, and rejoice in never having to hear about the 2014 New York Jets or Tampa Bay Buccaneers again. Gosh, that feels good!

 

We do, however, fully endorse taking a peak at the games that do matter in Week 17, as we all look ahead to what we hope is a fulfilling beginning to 2015 and give thanks that we are ringing in the new year anywhere else but Times Square.

 

It may not be as undeniably awesome as Pitbull’s New Year’s Eve Revolution, but here’s what we think are some pretty good warm-up acts for Mr. Worldwide.

 

Let’s Get this Polka Party Started:
The Lions head to Lambeau Field with the NFC North title on the line, and that’s an unabashed recipe for disaster for Detroit. For the better part of two decades, their performances in Green Bay can be summed up thusly: they always, always lose. It is a historic track record of NFL ineptitude, the likes of which would make the Raiders extremely jealous. A Packers victory won’t change our thoughts about either team — namely, Green Bay is really good, Detroit is kinda sorta. Should the Lions cobble together a win, however, our minds will be blown. The quirky sidebar story to this matchup is that the Cowboys will likely have to play both of these teams in consecutive playoff weeks. It’s just a matter of who visits Dallas in the Wildcard round and who gets the bye.

 

King of the North:
With apologies to Rob Stark, the AFC King of the North will be determined by the Bengals and Steelers game of thrones. While Andy Dalton ginger beard would make Ned Stark proud, Ben Roethlisberger should be protecting the wall. The Steelers seem well-positioned to be the disruptive agents in the AFC playoff picture. Patriots and Broncos fans are understandably wary of Pittsburgh, who is a trendy darkhorse to reach the Super Bowl. Of course, consistency continues to be something that Cincy and Pittsburgh like to eschew, but somebody has to win this one. It will be the final regular season game of the 2014, and we’re excited to see the Bengals flop on the big stage one last time.

 

Cheers to Mediocrity:
Whichever way it ends, it will be a fitting one for the NFC South. The winner of the Falcons vs. Panthers game will claim the division and will become the least deserving playoff participant ever. This has been the division of detritus all season long, and it is tough to root for either of these teams to make the playoffs. Frankly, we wish they wouldn’t. Atlanta has displayed a modicum of competence over the past few weeks, and that should be enough to sneak past Charlotte. If you decide to watch this game, we suggest you do so with one eye closed, which seems to be the exact method both teams employ when running their offenses.

 

Chasing the Chargers:
San Diego is the other member of the win-and-your-in Week 17 fraternity. On the other hand, nothing the Chargers do is every easy or particularly appealing. Kansas City is still clinging to post-season hope, but their anemic offense will likely be even anemic-ier with backup QB Chase Daniels at the helm. While it would be very Chargers-like to somehow find a way to lose, the Chiefs have used the last month of the season to repeatedly demonstrate they’re not good at football. We’re rooting for the Chiefs because we like the chaos that would ensue should such a victory take place (Baltimore and Houston would suddenly have hope of snatching the final playoff spot), but we’re preparing for another few weeks of uninspiring San Diego performances.

 

On that note, have a wonderful New Year, and let’s come back strong for the post-season. Tweet me @endbadly.