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SPORTS ON TV: NFL playoffs start Saturday | Sports | lufkindailynews.com

Parity or parody?

That is the question that describes the NFL these days.

Is the equal playing field in today’s NFL based on a collection of good teams chasing a title or is it simply a comedy of errors that equals out in allowing even below-average teams a chance at winning the Super Bowl?

I tend to think the answer is closer to the latter in this instance.

My wife and kids would be the first to tell you I watch entirely too much football on any given Sunday afternoon. What I don’t see is just a ton of good football.

Being a fan of the Cowboys, I’m hard-pressed to say their 9-6 record is a product of extraordinary coaching mixed with good talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

However, in today’s climate, they’re division champs and just a win or two away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

They won’t win it, but that would be a discussion for another time.

They’re hardly alone among a laundry list of teams that will start the playoffs on Saturday looking to turn average seasons into ones that end in the Super Bowl.

The Ravens currently have a hard time completing forward passes but have been referred to as “a team nobody wants to play.” I’m not sure if that’s a compliment to the Ravens or an insult to the rest of the AFC.

The Vikings are likely headed to the playoffs two weeks after firing their offensive coordinator while either the Colts or Titans will join the playoff party as well.

None of those teams is likely to strike a ton of fear into the legitimate Super Bowl contenders like the Saints, Chiefs and Patriots. However, in the current climate of the most popular sport in America, anything can happen.

The NFL playoff schedule will be announced later tonight with games taking place on Saturday and Jan. 6 on NBC, FOX and CBS.

Here is a look at the rest of what the week holds along with how the playoff picture will be cleared up today.

Pro football: Jacksonville at Houston, noon, today, CBS: Despite a nine-game winning streak earlier in the season, the Texans still need this one in order to win the division. A loss would move Houston into the wild card and put them on the road for the playoff opener.

Pro football: Cleveland at Baltimore, 3:25 p.m., today, CBS: Baltimore can lock up the AFC Central with a win today, although Baker Mayfield and the Browns have other plans. Even though Cleveland is out of the playoff picture, it can go from winless to a winning season with a win in Baltimore.

Pro football: Indianapolis at Tennessee, 7:20 p.m., today, NBC: It’s win and they’re in for the Colts and Titans. The winner of this game will head to the playoffs as either a wild card or a division winner while the loser will be at home for New Year’s Day.

College football: Gator Bowl: N.C. State at Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m., today, ESPN: The last college game of the calendar season features the Aggies going up against the Wolf Pack. While little is on the line, the Aggies would love to build upon their thriller over LSU with another win to cap off Jimbo Fisher’s first season in College Station.

College football: Fiesta Bowl: LSU vs. UCF, noon, Tuesday, ESPN: A major obstacle stands in the way of UCF and its second straight undefeated season. However, as it proved with a win over Auburn last season, an upset over an SEC team isn’t out of the question.

College football: Rose Bowl: Texas vs. Georgia, 7:45 p.m., Tuesday, ESPN: This may seem like a mismatch on paper, although the Longhorns would love to cap a turnaround season with a 10th win over an SEC program.

Pro basketball: Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers, 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, ESPN: LeBron’s injury on Christmas Day is the lone cloud on what has been a strong season in L.A. They’ll look to keep up that charge against a Thunder team that is among the best in the NBA West.

Pro basketball: Houston at Golden State, 9:30 p.m., Thursday, TNT: A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals features a Rockets squad that took weeks to recover from a slow start. Meanwhile, Golden State seems to be going through the motions on the way to another title.

Josh Havard’s email address is jhavard@lufkindailynews.com.

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