12 things: Week 17 storylines
What to expect -- and not to expect -- from the NFL's final regular-season games
At 11-4, the Bears have already clinched a playoff bye. Now they have to weigh the risk of an injury to someone such as Jay Cutler (7-1 in his past eight starts) against the outside chance that they could still grab the No. 1 seed overall in the NFC. (That's not likely since the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons would have to lose and the Bears would have to beat the Packers at home, where they are 6-1 and have outscored opponents 124-40 in their past three games.)
Yet while Cutler insists he's going to play until the bitter end in Lambeau, Bears coach Lovie Smith sounds more like he's planning to do the safe, smart thing and shut things down early. A move that would, of course, greatly benefit the Packers, who make the playoffs with a win on Sunday.
Yes, that means the Bears are more than likely going to help their hated rivals make the playoffs.
That, folks, is the messed up world of Week 17, the NFL's second exhibition season. This is a place where fantasy football teams, Las Vegas lines and all common sense gets blown to smithereens, as teams with nothing to play for square off against teams with everything to lose.
Here's my best guess as to how -- and why -- things will play out in the regular season finale.
To read more of David Flemings storylines to watch for Week 17, including whether or not he believes the Eagles, Chiefs and Falcons should rest their starters, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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