What a great day to be an NFL fan

December 28, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

If you’re looking for the “juice” in being a sports fan – the payoff, if you will – today is that day. All of the affection, all of the combine coverage, draft coverage, training camp coverage, PSLs, tailgating and Sundays spent at the game or in front of the TV comes down to one day.

Today. It all either pays off – or crushes us – later today. And, wow, what a great schedule of games and interesting side stories in so many places.

Can the Detroit Lions stave off the eternal damnation of 0-16 by beating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field? (Kinda reminds me of the Week 16 “Kenneth Sims Bowl” in late 1981 between the Colts and the Patriots. We kindly called it the “Stupor Bowl.” And the Colts STILL drafted two stiffs in Johnnie Cooks and Art Schlichter in the worst draft class in NFL history!)

Will the New York Giants lay down for the Minnesota Vikings or will the Bears be able to win in Houston and sneak in?

Will Carolina be able to go into the Superdome and bring back an NFC South title? Or will Atlanta win an unlikely division title by beating the Rams at home?

Does the Eagles-Cowboys game have any value at all?

And in the AFC, it all begins with the Patriots and their ability to go to Buffalo – where it’s 60 degrees this morning – and force the Ravens to win the late game. The Jets-Dolphins game bums me out because I wish I could watch it!

And one thing for sure: we’ll all get to come home tonight and watch the Broncos and Chargers settle the score for the AFC West. (If the Ravens don’t make the playoffs, I’ll be crying, vomiting and screaming at 8 p.m. and I suppose I won’t give a damn about the AFC West!)

Two sidelights: the 2009 NFL schedule and the April draft order will also be affected by all of the outcomes. As you can see below, the Ravens’ home schedule is set for next year but the final roadtrip will be determined by who finishes in second place in the AFC East (New York, New England or Miami).

Kansas City

San Diego
Green Bay
2nd place AFC East

As for the draft, the Ravens could draft as high as 16th or as low as 22nd.

Enjoy the pigskin today. I just hope there is a tomorrow for the Ravens!

P.S. Here are my predictions for seedings at the end of the day:

1. Tennessee

2. Pittsburgh

3. N.Y. Jets

4. San Diego

5. Indianapolis

6. Baltimore

And in the NFC:

1. N.Y. Giants

2. Carolina

3. Chicago

4. Arizona

5. Atlanta

6. Tampa Bay

(These NFC teams really suck, huh?)