Back when the NFL schedule was initially released, the immediate reaction was, "Well, the lockout's going to wipe out the whole season anyway." Once the lockout was settled, you couldn't help but notice a delicious matchup: the Jets playing the Giants on Christmas Eve. It seems like that game matters more than anyone could have possibly suspected. But it doesn't — not really.
The Daily News's Gary Myers says in the paper this morning that this year's game might end up being the most important Jets–Giants game since 1969, aruging that both teams are in the position that, if they win out, they'll make the playoffs. Winning out isn't an option for both of them.
But almost every scenario we put in ESPN's Playoff Machine implies that the outcome of the game does not matter at all. The way tiebreakers fall out, whether or not the Giants still finish with the No. 4 seed in the NFC and the Jets finish with the No. 6 seed in the AFC has little to do with the Christmas Eve game. (Including perhaps the most likely scenario.) If the Jets and Giants win all their other games, they're both in, save for a sudden resurgence by the Raiders. And the game might be entirely meaningless for the Giants, actually; win or lose, their whole season is gonna come down to the home game against the Cowboys.
In fact, if the Jets and Giants both win this coming week (against the Eagles and Redskins, respectively), and the Lions beat the Raiders (essentially eliminating them as a competitor for the last AFC playoff spot) the game is entirely meaningless. Both teams do indeed have to win out. Except against each other.