The Jets and Ravens control their fates -- win and they're in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Eagles and Cowboys play for the NFC East title, and the Steelers' playoff hopes are on life support.
The New York Jets might have some thank-you notes to write -- especially if Cincinnati lies down Sunday the way Indianapolis did -- but don't expect their players to apologize if qualifying for the NFL postseason required only that they beat two squads of second-stringers.
"I am not apologizing for jack," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said. "I didn't apologize for losing three last-second games this year. I didn't make excuses for losing some of the tough games that we lost."
Down deep, the Jets have to be surprised their playoff hopes still have a pulse. Less than two weeks ago, after a loss to Atlanta, even Coach Rex Ryan thought his team had been eliminated -- only to later learn there was still a mathematical possibility to keep the season alive.
New York's victory over the undefeated Colts on Sunday simplified the math, a game in which first-year Indianapolis Coach Jim Caldwell made the controversial decision to pull Peyton Manning in the third quarter when his team was nursing a five-point lead.
The Jets will secure a wild-card berth if they can win at home against the Bengals, who, like the Colts, cannot change their seeding and therefore are likely to rest their top players. Because of the heightened stakes for the Jets, the game has been switched to Sunday night.
Scott, for one, is taking nothing for granted. That's why he said he didn't completely relax even when the Colts replaced Manning with rookie Curtis Painter, who had never taken an NFL snap.
"You're asking a man that [Buffalo's] Ryan Fitzpatrick came out and got it done against us," he said. "So I don't let down against anybody. Have we earned the right to look down on anybody?
"I don't care if they would have brought my nephew out there. You've got to get it done."
Where Eagles dare
The NFC East will be decided in Dallas, where Philadelphia finishes the regular season with a classic divisional match up against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys, who have not won a playoff game in 13 years, have enjoyed an uncharacteristically strong December this year, winning three of four and getting outstanding play from quarterback Tony Romo.
Can they keep that momentum against a Philadelphia team that has scored more points than any in club history?
The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who play at Miami, are in serious peril of missing the playoffs. They need a lot of help to keep their hopes alive.
The most clear-cut way for them to lock down a wild-card spot is if they beat the Dolphins, Houston loses at home to New England, and either the Jets or the Baltimore Ravens (at Oakland) lose.
Playing for pride
If the Ravens win, they're in. That's no simple task, though, as they have to travel across the country to face Oakland, and the Raiders can be very dangerous. Four of the Raiders' five victories this season have come against Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Denver.
And remember, with nothing but pride on the line, the Raiders won their finale at Tampa Bay last season, knocking the Buccaneers out of the playoff picture.