The playoffs are upon us soon, and most of the playoff teams have cemented themselves in the postseason. Week 17 is usually irrelevant for all but a few teams, but it’s fun to pick the games anyway. But first, let’s recap Week 16.
BAL 23 – IND 16. The Ravens are now likely a playoff team, after beating the Colts and seeing the Titans and Bills lose. Because the Steelers can never beat the Pats on the road, and the Jags have no playoff experience, the Ravens may very well be the 2nd biggest threat in the AFC. As for the Colts… we’ll see what they do with that high draft pick.
MIN 16 – GB 0. The Vikings beat a Rodgers-less squad to practically lock up a first-round bye. They wouldn’t have home-field advantage if they played the Eagles in the NFC Championship, but those guys don’t have Carson Wentz. This could finally be the year for the Vikings. No playoff meltdowns. As for the Packers, they may have to release Aaron Rodgers for the way they handled his injury situation. That would be disastrous, though it’s unlikely. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21863467/teams-complain-nfl-green-bay-packers-violated-ir-rule-think-aaron-rodgers-released
LAR 27 – TEN 23. The two Jeff Fisher squads met up, with the Rams once again winning. Todd Gurley looks like an absolute beast, and he will truly be a weapon heading into the playoffs. The Rams secured the NFC West this week, while the Jags secured the AFC South. The Titans will have to sneak in as a 9-7 Wild Card team and beat the Jags.
NE 37 – BUF 16. Well what do you know, another call went in favor of the Patriots. Still, it looked like the Bills could win until late in the third quarter, when the Pats began an onslaught of their divisional “rival”. I knew picking Buffalo was stupid. Still, the Bills have a decent chance of making the postseason for the first time in my lifetime. They have to beat the Dolphins, and two of these three teams need to lose (Titans, Ravens, Chargers). It can happen.
CHI 20 – CLE 3. This game had some folks saying “Here’s where the Browns finally win one”. I wasn’t buying it. The Browns are now one game away from the 0-16 parade hitting Cleveland, or as clevelandbrowns.com put it “Browns hope to avoid wrong side of history”. http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/news/article-5/Browns-hope-to-avoid-wrong-side-of-history-after-loss-in-Chicago/8713a72f-b6dc-436d-a7a5-ebda8f1628da
NO 23 – ATL 13. The Saints marched into the playoffs, though it’s between them and the Panthers to see who wins the NFC South division title. The duo of Ingram and Kamara is working flawlessly for the Saints, as they’re the first team since 1975 to have two running backs make the Pro Bowl the same year. Having a “butt-ception” from Marshon Lattimore helps, too. As for the Falcons, your playoff hopes are still strong, but the Seahawks are in if they win and you lose. This week 17 madness happened to the Jets two years ago, so don’t let it happen to you.
Photo courtesy of: Butch Dill/AP.
CIN 26 – DET 17. While it sure looks like Marvin Lewis is heading out of Cincy, maybe it’s time for the Lions to fire Jim Caldwell. They need a new coach to lead them, as the NFC appears to be strong for years to come. As of now, they’re pretenders, not contenders. Cincy is now 6-9, and appears to be heading for back-to-back disappointing seasons. They need o-line help in the draft/free agency. Cedric Ogbuehi is a bust.
CAR 22 – TB 19. While it looked like Tampa may have played spoiler, the Panthers locked up a playoff berth and rebounded from a disappointing 2016 season. I have said it a few times in my previous articles; look out for the Panthers. They’re playing in an NFC with little playoff experience, while they have put together a Super Bowl run before. As for the Bucs, congrats for keeping it close. But you need to fire Koetter, much like the Giants fired Ben McAdope.
KC 29 – MIA 13. The Chiefs are now AFC West champions, as they defeated the Dolphins, who had negligible playoff aspirations heading into the game. Kansas City defeated the Pats in Foxborough early in the season, and if they want a shot at the Super Bowl, they’ll likely have to do it again.
WAS 27 – DEN 11. In what may be the last home game of Kirk Cousins’s Washington career, he had a good game against a woeful Broncos squad. Both these teams could be among the 8 to 10 squads looking for a QB in round 1 of the 2018 draft. It’s gonna be wild.
LAC 14 – NYJ 7. The Chargers won ugly against the Bryce Petty-led Jets. Petty’s passer rating is below 50 in both of the full games he’s started since McCown went down. As for the Chargers, you still have a 31% chance of making the playoffs, according to fivethirtyeight.com. The Bills starting Nathan Peterman against you may ultimately come back to haunt them.
SF 44 – JAC 33. There’s a reason I was hesitant to pick the Jags, and that reason was Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G may have completely screwed over a high draft pick for the Niners, but he has given them plenty of hope for the future, as Garoppolo tore up one of the league’s best defenses. Garoppolo is so great, he helped make this game achieve “Scorigami”. https://twitter.com/NFL_Scorigami/status/945089922599473153
SEA 21 – DAL 12. Dez Bryant has gone from arguably a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL to a clown. The Cowboys need to get rid of him this offseason and find a new WR in the draft/free agency. Dak Prescott throwing an ugly pick 6 didn’t help either, and Dallas is officially out of the playoffs. Seattle is still alive in the postseason chase, as they recovered from an ugly L last week. They should be able to take care of business against the Cards, but will the Panthers go on the road to beat Atlanta?
ARZ 23 – NYG 0. I was out with my family on Christmas Eve, and the restaurant I was at was playing the Cowboys-Seahawks game. I didn’t even bother to ask them to turn on the Giants game (even though I am a NY Giants fan). What was the point? I went home and saw they lost 23-0. Just another terrible chapter in a disastrous Giants season. Larry Fitzgerald tore up the Giants secondary, and I really hope he gets to play another year. He’s one of my favorite players in the NFL.
PIT 34 – HOU 6. I had the Steelers winning 34-14 in my prediction article, but the Texans continued to suffer injuries, to the point where there QB was a guy I had never heard of. At least you have this catch, Texans fans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS7VihegrhU
PHI 19 – OAK 10. While the Eagles may have held on to victory here, Nick Foles looked less than stellar against a defense that wasn’t the Giants. However, the Eagles defense stepped up and carried them to victory. Either way, the Eagles have worries on both sides of the ball heading into the postseason.
Now, time to get into my last non-playoff picks of the year.
GB @ DET. Well, both teams are out of playoff contention and the game is relatively meaningless. Give me the Lions to win it 27-16 I suppose.
CHI @ MIN. The Vikings still haven’t completely locked up the #2 seed, as the Panthers have a very slight chance of taking it. Minnesota will need to take care of business against a lesser team here, and they should do just that. Vikings win 23-17.
HOU @ IND. Both teams have had rough years where they saw their teams get demolished by injuries at the QB position. However, I’m picking the Texans solely because of how awesome DeAndre Hopkins can be with anyone throwing him the ball. Because the Colts are 6 point favorites, this is my upset of the week. Houston wins 21-20.
CLE @ PIT. Well, it looks like the Steelers are having some sympathy for their Ohioan rival by resting their starters. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000900079/article/ben-roethlisberger-leveon-bell-to-rest-for-steelers All 3 of the killer Bs will be out of this game. Does that mean the Browns win a game? No, it doesn’t. Steelers win 26-20, Browns get a special place in history with the ’08 Lions.
NYJ @ NE. While they may have a first-round bye locked up, if the Steelers beat Cleveland and the Pats lose to the Jets, Pittsburgh has the #1 seed. The Pats obviously want the playoffs to go through Foxborough, and so it appears they’re playing their starters today. That means they should beat the Jets quite easily, 30-16.
WAS @ NYG. Hopefully my Giants can stay at #2 in the draft here and appreciate the art of tanking. Rumor has it that new GM Dave Gettleman will accept a big trade for what should be a very valuable pick. Anyway, the Skins should win here 28-20. The Giants releasing Bobby Hart and benching Ereck Flowers shows that guys in the locker room have quit, and this team just needs a complete overhaul next year. 2018 can’t come soon enough.
DAL @ PHI. The Eagles look like they’re going to be playing most of their starters, for at least a portion of the game. A 14-2 season would be quite an accomplishment for Philly, and I feel like they’ll still be playing to win today. Eagles win 26-23.
JAC @ TEN. Jacksonville is probably frustrated after losing to the Niners last week, and though this game has no effect on their playoff destiny, they should want to take down a division rival in the Titans. If the Titans still make the playoffs despite a loss in this game, it sure seems like they’d be a one and done team. I trust Jacksonville’s defense to take down a struggling Tennessee offense, and the Jags should win this one 21-16.
BUF @ MIA. The Bills have a shot at postseason football, and they will be playing for that today. While Miami was able to stun the Pats, I trust Buffalo to take down Smokin’ Jay and the Phins. Give me the Bills to win 26-16.
CIN @ BAL. The simplest scenario for the Bills to make the postseason is for them to win and for Baltimore to lose. They’ll certainly be looking up at the “out of town” scoreboard for this game. However, the Ravens should be able to take care of business against Cincinnati. While the Bengals may have won last week, they’re still a mediocre team that needs an overhaul. Baltimore wins 28-23.
OAK @ LAC. The Chargers are another team fighting for their playoff lives. The team that they’re playing against scored 10 points last week, as their offense has failed to meet expectations this year. Against a great pass rush like the Chargers, the Raiders will take an L here. Bolts win 27-21.
ARZ @ SEA. My general formula for picking teams that can effect their playoff destiny this week is that I pick them to win (Tennessee has been the exception, as they are on an ugly losing streak). While Arizona may have gotten their first shutout win since the 90s last week, that was against the freaking Giants. Seattle should take care of business here, 30-20.
SF @ LAR. It looks like Sean McVay will be resting his starters this week, which means that Jimmy G has a golden opportunity to continue his undefeated streak as the Niners starter. San Francisco should win here under the guidance of Garoppolo, and win 28-17.
CAR @ ATL. The scenario is simple for Atlanta, they win and they’re in. The bad news is they’re playing a Carolina team that is on fire. The good news is they’re playing at home, and the scenario where the Panthers claim the second seed will likely already be dashed by a Vikings win earlier in the day. The Falcons want to redeem themselves, and will sneak into the playoffs, winning 30-24.
KC @ DEN. Even if the Chiefs lose this game, they would still have the division locked up at 9-7. They seem to be aware of this, and they’re seeing what they got in Patrick Mahomes. While the Broncos offense may stink, Mahomes is going up against a tough Denver defense. In a low-scoring game, the Broncos should win 13-10.
NO @ TB. Simply put, the Saints still want to lock up the division, and they should be able to do that against the Bucs. Their running attack and defense have been a great compliment to Brees all year, and they should win 30-17 in my lock of the week.
My Pick Record Last Week: 13-3
My Pick Record This Season: 151-90