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NFL's most intriguing games down the stretch

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Pats being on track for home field is bad news for rest of AFC (1:48)

Ryan Clark talks about what worked for the Patriots against the 49ers and what having home field could mean for New England. (1:48)

Television ratings have been down for NFL games, but some of the best remaining matchups fall on holidays. The ratings of those games will be worth following.

The good news for commissioner Roger Goodell is two divisions that typically get good ratings have the most teams battling for playoff spots. The NFC East has been a good ratings draw, thanks to its tradition and rivalries, and also because all four teams are in big markets. And three AFC West teams could make the playoffs.

To preview the most intriguing games, I'm putting Week 17 aside. Goodell made sure years ago that the final week of the season would be filled with 16 divisional games with the hopes of division races being tight so that those games dictate playoff seeding. But you don't know until that final week what they will mean, so we'll leave those out.

One factor in determining the best remaining games: Some teams already are running away with their division. The Patriots, Seahawks and Cowboys all have at least two-game leads.

Another thing to watch: There aren't many matchups between two top quarterbacks. The Russell Wilson-Tom Brady matchup drew 22.5 million fans last Sunday night. But many of the top quarterbacks playing for the rest of the season are on losing teams -- Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton and Aaron Rodgers. Great quarterback matchups are ratings draws, but it appears to be different if the teams are losing. The Dalton-Eli Manning game last Monday night drew a 7.9 rating -- 0.7 below a Bengals-Texans game last season.

Here's how I rank the games to watch down the stretch.


1. Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Sunday, Nov. 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET

The Chiefs have a great chance to win the AFC West, thanks in part to their win in Oakland. This a matchup of two great defenses and two great coaches.