ESPN The decision to play in a big-time game against the Falcons is a no-brainer.
The Falcons will likely have to play without All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, who is recovering from a torn ACL.
They’re also without star defensive end Vic Beasley, who has yet to practice.
The Panthers are one of two teams who could play the Patriots in a game that doesn’t have a playoff implications.
New England is in the first playoff round after losing in the NFC title game.
The Patriots are looking to secure home field advantage in the AFC title game, where they’ll play the Steelers.
The Panthers will likely need to win this game if they’re to have any hope of making the playoffs.
The Patriots, who were eliminated from playoff contention by the Broncos in the divisional round last season, will have a new look quarterback, Tom Brady, who will be the focal point of the offense.
The Pats will be without defensive end Chandler Jones, a Pro Bowl selection last season.
The Bills, who beat the Falcons on Sunday, are likely to start quarterback Tyrod Taylor at home.
They have one of the NFL’s top defenses, but the Bills lost star linebacker Dee Milliner to a season-ending injury.
They will have to rely on veteran backup Tyrod Smith to be the team’s No. 2.
The Jets will likely play in their third game in five days.
The Chargers, who have won three of four, have been one of those teams that have had its best player injured, cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Jets and Chargers are both in the playoff picture, but they’ll have to win the AFC West, which is tied for the most in the league.
If the Jets lose this game, the Chargers would finish with the fourth-worst record in the NFL.
The Raiders are a strong candidate to finish ahead of the Chargers in the West, but it would be a disappointment to see them go out without quarterback Derek Carr, who suffered a season ending concussion in Week 17.
Carr is expected to be back by the start of the playoffs, but he hasn’t been cleared to practice or participate in games.
The Raiders have been outscored 31-0 this season.