Which NFL teams can receive Christmas cheer?

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

So it goes in the National Football League, where this year there are more packages than usual stuck around the metaphorical family tree of pro football, and in a large number of cases, the same gift remains when the envelope is of the color of torn pigskin. .

The hot item being given across the range as Yuletide rolls around?

For all but the daring few who have misbehaved from contention, there is hope in various forms, thanks to this unconventional, unpredictable and parity-heavy campaign in which plenty of play-off jobs remain to be paid.

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

As long as you have five or more wins to this point – and all but six squads meet that criteria – playoff football remains a legitimate possibility. But Noel has different kinds of magic.

For some, the gift of hope is like getting a lottery ticket on Christmas morning; a nice sign, all but guaranteed to lead to nothing. So it is for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are still in the hunt but need a baffling combination of a dozen results – three of their own wins being the first – to crack the field.

What do you get for the man who has everything? Or for the guy who makes $50 million a year? For Aaron Rodgers, this might be the best gift of all, the chance to send the Green Bay Packers back on an incredible season even after the terrible developments of the year and a two-month stretch that left which was not there either. individual victory.

“So we’ve won two and pretty much everything we wanted 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 spill it on the Dolphins on Christmas Day?

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

Perhaps the people who never saw this coming are the ones who enjoy it the most. The Detroit Lions, going from 1-6 to 7-7, are well and truly in the conversation. On the same subject : Carolina Panthers hire NFL’s first transgender cheerleader. At the top of November, even the uber-optimist Dan Campbell couldn’t be bold enough to write this kind of result on his wish list and send it to the elves.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are also excited, having built their own rise, mixed it with the spectacular fall of the Tennessee Titans, and are on the doorstep of an accelerated version of Trevor Lawrence’s progression timeline.

Both the Lions and the Jaguars stepped up when they needed to and showed the right form for a postseason contender. Other teams haven’t, but they’re still in the frame.

Among them, especially, are the New York Jets, once again abysmal on Thursday, with the only relief coming when fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler was brought forward instead of Zach Wilson.

They looked like a team going nowhere, and have lost four straight. Win the latter two, though, and there’s a better-than-even chance they’ll be heading to the postseason.

The renewed cheer and persistence of possibility is what was intended when the NFL clinched the seventh postseason spot in each conference. Given this, it’s hard to argue with logic. Everyone likes gifts, and what better time than now?

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

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

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For some, the postseason might be wrapping up – in fancy paper and ribbon, I guess – with one more win, or even one more fall in kind. That’s how it is for the Baltimore Ravens, who could end the Falcons’ dwindling chances (1 p. On the same subject : NCAA Tournament: Indiana cheerleaders explain why they came to the rescue to save the wedge ball.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 type of Christmas gift is that it is only a good gift if it succeeds or if it consumes nothing and is forgotten like all those ill-fitting clothes, unopened CDs, disappointing calendars and seconds. rate candy of past years.

Chance suggests that good things can happen – but in most cases only if you win – that’s for all the ramifications still involved.

That’s why Lawrence sat smiling in a Christmas jumper as early as Thursday night, his part in the festive slate already fulfilled.

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

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