Two NFC showdowns, one for the North title and one for the East crown.

A returning star quarterback in Green Bay and, quite possibly, a sidelined one in Dallas.

A pair of the NFL's most heated rivalries determining playoff spots.


One thing the NFL absolutely got right in recent years was making all Week 17 games between division teams. It's worked again with the Eagles visiting the Cowboys in the Sunday night game, a little while after the Packers and Bears settle the score in their sector.

"Wouldn't want it any other way," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "This is what you fight for, an opportunity to be in the playoffs. That's what's in front of us. Everybody's well aware of the great history between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears."

And McCarthy gets back Aaron Rodgers, who missed seven games and most of an eighth because of a broken left collarbone suffered against the Bears.

"We're in it," said Rodgers, who saw the Packers go 2-5-1 without him. "You know we have a chance against our rivals, and what a better way than to go down there and get some redemption and host a home playoff game."

While Rodgers comes back, the Cowboys will be without Tony Romo, who damaged his back in a tight win at Washington last Sunday. Kyle Orton will step in as Dallas plays a winner-take-all finale against a division opponent.

"Everything we are and we have accomplished over the last few years, that you believe in and you hold on to, is because of him," said tight end Jason Witten, the franchise leader in catches who came into the league with Romo in 2003. "What he creates week in and week out, day in and day out, I don't think you look at a couple of plays and determine. I think that would be foolish for anybody to do that."

Philadelphia (9-6) at Dallas (8-7)

Green Bay (7-7-1) at Chicago (8-7)

The Eagles have been the more balanced team, with a defense that pretty much improved as the season progressed, and a sensational offense. And they will have their quarterback: Nick Foles leads the league with a 118.8 rating, has 25 TDs and two interceptions, and is healthy.

They also have LeSean McCoy, who can become the first Philadelphia running back to lead the league in rushing since Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren in 1949.

"I don't care who's quarterbacking, who's playing," Foles said of the challenge on Sunday night. "If you're not up for that, I don't know if you'll ever be up to play football."

Orton last started a game in 2011 with Kansas City.

At Soldier Field, both teams will be searching for a semblance of defense in one of the most meaningful meetings of the 187-game (and counting) rivalry. Chicago ranks 29th, Green Bay 26th on defense.

"Sometimes we're in the right place, but we're just not winning the one-on-ones or you missed a tackle," Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.

New York (7-8) at Miami (8-7)

Baltimore (8-7) at Cincinnati (10-5)

Cleveland (4-11) at Pittsburgh (7-8)

Kansas City (11-4) at San Diego (8-7)

Four teams chasing the final AFC wild card. Who has the edge?

Miami, because it's at home against a team it easily handled earlier, might be the one. But the Jets will play hard, sensing a win might be enough to save the job of the coach the players adore, Rex Ryan.

So Baltimore, with its championship pedigree, fits the role. Except the Bengals are undefeated at home and still have a shot at the No. 2 overall seed.