Which NFL groups may obtain some Christmas cheer?

It’s gift-giving season, the time of 12 months if you both get one thing you requested for, one thing you did not, or perhaps, if you have not been good, nothing in any respect.   

So it goes within the Nationwide Soccer League, too, the place this 12 months there are extra parcels than ordinary stacked up round professional soccer’s metaphoric familial tree, and in an abundance of instances the identical current awaits as soon as the pigskin-colored wrapping has been torn off.   

The new merchandise being bestowed throughout the league as Yuletide flows?   

Alternative.   

For all however a naughty few who’ve misbehaved their means out of rivalry, hope lingers in numerous kinds, because of this unconventional, unpredictable and parity-heavy marketing campaign the place playoff posts aplenty are nonetheless up for grabs.   

The prospect to resurrect a season is in some instances deserved, in others most likely a lot much less so, however both means, right here it’s, a weekend stuffed with soccer coming in simply as Santa clocks on for an extra time shift, and every part to play for.   

So long as you’ve 5 wins or extra up to now – and all however six squads meet that standards – playoff soccer stays a authentic risk. But the charms of Noel take numerous kinds.    

For some, the present of hope is like receiving a lottery ticket on Christmas morning; a pleasant gesture, all-but-guaranteed to end in nothing. It is like that for the Pittsburgh Steelers, still in the hunt but needing a baffling combination of a dozen results – three of their own wins being just the start of it – to gatecrash the field.   

What do you get for the man who has everything? Or for the man who makes $50 million a year? For Aaron Rodgers, it might be that the best gift of all is this, the sliver of a chance to launch the Green Bay Packers an improbable postseason return even after all the dismal developments of the year and a two-month stretch that realized just a single win.   

“So, we’ve won two and just about everything we needed to happen 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 pour it on the Dolphins on Christmas Day?

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

Those who never saw this coming might be the ones who enjoy it the most. The Detroit Lions, resurgent from 1-6 to 7-7, are well and truly in the conversation. At the top of November, not even uber-optimist Dan Campbell could have been so bold as to scribble down this kind of outcome on his wish list and send it off to the elves.   

The Jacksonville Jaguars are gleeful too, having taken their own uplift, mixed it with the Tennessee Titans’ stunning collapse, and find themselves on the doorstep of what would be an accelerated version of the Trevor Lawrence progress timeline.   

The Lions and Jaguars have surged when they needed to and have shown appropriate form for a postseason contender. Other teams haven’t, but are still in the frame.   

Among those, inconceivably, are the New York Jets, once again abysmal on Thursday, with the only relief coming when fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler was brought on to replace Zach Wilson.    

They looked like a team going nowhere and they’ve lost four straight. Win the last two, however, and there’s a better than even chance they’ll be going to the postseason.   

Renewed cheer and the persistence of possibility is what was intended when the NFL added the seventh postseason spot in each conference. On this evidence, it is hard to argue with the logic. Everyone likes gifts, and what better time than this?   

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

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

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

For some, there is the chance to wrap up the accomplishment of a postseason berth – in fancy paper and ribbon, presumably – with one more win, or even one result elsewhere falling kindly. That’s how it is for the Baltimore Ravens, who could end the Falcons’ dwindling chances (1 p.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 kind of Christmas gift is that it’s only a good one to receive if it works out, otherwise it just evaporates into nothing and gets forgotten like all those ill-fitting clothes, unopened CDs, disappointing calendars and second-rate candy of years gone by.   

Opportunity teases that good things can happen – but in most cases only if you win – which for all the permutations is still what it’s all about. 

Which is why Lawrence was sat smiling in a Christmas sweater as early as Thursday night, his part in the festive slate already accomplished. 

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


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