NFL Week 17 picks
Ravens (8-7) @ Bengals (10-5)
The result of this game could shake up the AFC standings. The Bengals have clinched the AFC North, but can work their way up to the two seed with a first-round bye. They need a win, a Patriots loss, and a Colts loss in order to do so, which is highly unlikely. The Bengals will have home field in their first playoff game with a win or loss, but a win would likely secure them to play the sixth seed instead of the Chiefs. The Ravens are playing for so much more and they have their playoff lives on the line. A win and a Dolphins loss gets the Ravens back to the playoffs, and allows them to defend their Super Bowl title. Expect Joe Flacco to carry them to a win Sunday as they will be doing some scoreboard watching as well.
RAVENS BY 3
Browns (4-11) @ Steelers (7-8)
It’s been a roller coaster season for the Steelers, but they come into week 17 with a shot to make the playoffs at 8-8. They need a win, a Ravens loss, a Dolphins loss, and a Chargers loss to get in. A lot needs to happen, but crazier things have happened. Don’t expect them to get all those results to fall in place, but look for the Steelers to dominate in front of their home fans against a Browns team that can
STEELERS BY 7
Panthers (11-4) @ Falcons (4-11)
The Panthers just need a win and they will clinch the NFC South, the number two seed, and a first-round bye. It’s pretty amazing how good the Panthers have been, led by their second-ranked defense. Cam Newton has been terrific in his third season, and he will head to Atlanta and give his team a week off. It will be very interesting to see what this Panthers team will do in the playoffs. No upset in the works this week.
PANTHERS BY 10
Lions (7-8) @ Vikings (4-10-1)
The Lions have fallen to irrelevancy with a disastrous collapse to end the season. They were in perfect position to win the NFC North, but now have been eliminated from playoff contention, losing three straight and five of their last six. This game won’t matter, but it will get the Vikings a better draft pick with a loss.
LIONS BY 3
Texans (2-13) @ Titans (6-9)
The Texans will lock up the first pick in the draft with their 14th straight loss. It’s crazy to think they started 2-0 and haven’t won since. Clowney or Manziel?
TITANS BY 3
Jaguars (4-11) @ Colts (10-5)
The Colts clinched this division in what seems like months ago. They haven’t had much competition whatsoever. They are playing for seeding right now, which could be very important in a wide-open AFC. They can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Jaguars, a Patriots loss, and a Bengals loss. That will be unlikely, but they can also go from the four seed to three if they win and the Bengals lose. They may want to stay where they are so they can play the Chiefs, who they beat handedly in Kansas City last week, 23-7. They will win this one easily and do a little scoreboard watching to find out who they play next week.
COLTS BY 10
Jets (7-8) @ Dolphins (8-7)
The Dolphins are still in good position to make the playoffs despite an embarrassing 19-0 loss to the Bills last week. If they can beat the 7-8 Jets in South Beach and get a Ravens loss on the road to the Bengals as well as a Chargers win over the Chiefs, they will be the sixth seed. The problem is that Ryan Tannehill looked lost last week, and the Jets are playing for Rex Ryan’s job. Gang Green looked good last week in a win against the Browns, and expect them to play spoiler in Miami. The Dolphins essentially ended the Jets playoff hopes when the two teams battled at the Meadowlands a couple weeks ago. The Jets will get revenge this time and send the Dolphins packing on a last-second field goal.
JETS BY 1
Redskins (3-12) @ Giants (6-9)
The Giants have to show some pride to end the season. They will sneak by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, meaning Washington will likely be the number two pick in the draft. Bye bye Mike Shanahan.
GIANTS BY 3
Bills (6-9) @ Patriots (11-4)
If the Bills go to Foxboro and beat the Patriots in week 17, go buy yourself a plethora of lottery tickets. A win will secure the Patriots the two seed and a first-round bye and can get home-field throughout with a win and a Broncos loss. This Patriots team has battle adversity and injuries all season. They will ride high into their bye with a win at home against the Bills.
PATRIOTS BY 7
Packers (7-7-1) @ Bears (8-7)
Aaron Rodgers is back and that’s the only reason to pick the Packers in this game. The difference between Rodgers and Matt Flynn is off the charts. With how bad the Bears defense is playing, the only way they win this game is if Rodgers gets hurt early and Flynn is forced into the game. Randall Cobb is also back on the field, making this Packers offense a force once again. Despite the Bears being at home, I think Rodgers is ready to fire away and this game could be a classic. In the end, the Packers squeak by with a win and become a threat in the NFC playoffs with their superstar back at the helm.
PACKERS BY 3
Broncos (12-3) @ Raiders (4-11)
The Broncos will cruise to the one seed and home-field throughout with a dominant win over the Raiders. They should win easy and get the week off on a bye.
BRONCOS BY 14
Chiefs (11-4) @ Chargers (8-7)
The Chargers remain alive in the playoff race, but they’ll need a win and some help. They will need a Ravens loss and a Dolphins loss to become the sixth seed. This could have been a tougher game, but the Chiefs are playing for nothing because they are already locked up as the fifth seed. They should be benching their starters, which means the Chargers should win this game. Those two games will be over by the time they kickoff, so if they get the results they need, this could turn into a win and in game. If San Diego can get in, they could be a threat to do some damage.
CHARGERS BY 3
Bucs (4-11) @ Saints (10-5)
The Bucs could really help out the Cardinals if they can pull an upset in New Orleans. Don’t bank on it. The Saints are a championship team at home in the SuperDome and a win and a 49ers loss would get them the five seed. There is no scenario where I see the Bucs winning this game, unless Sean Payton decides to rest his starters. Saints win big.
SAINTS BY 10
49ers (11-4) @ Cardinals (10-5)
The Cardinals could end up being the only 11-5 team to not make the playoffs. Bruce Arians has done a terrific job with a team that nobody expected to be this good. The only way the Cardinals get in is if they win and the Saints lose to the Bucs. They have to beat a 49ers team that isn’t losing right now. Their offense is healthy and dangerous and their defense has been forcing turnovers. This one will be tight, but the 49ers secure the number five seed and the Cardinals miss out on the playoffs after a tremendous season.
49ERS BY 3
Rams (7-8) @ Seahawks (12-3)
Seahawks will breeze past the Rams at home, win the NFC West, and secure the one seed with home-field throughout the playoffs. Book it.
SEAHAWKS BY 14
Sunday Night Football:
Eagles (9-6) @ Cowboys (8-7)
This game could have been a whole lot more interesting, but then it was announced Tony Romo is out for the season. Is Kyle Orton a bad backup quarterback? No. But is he Nick Foles? Nope. Foles has emerged as one of the best in the NFL this season and will carry the Eagles to a NFC East title in Dallas. The Cowboys will need to run the football, which could be a plus for them the way DeMarco Murray has played this season. It’s impossible to see how a brutal Cowboys defense will stop the high-octane Eagles offense. If Romo were to play, this game would be a toss up. Without him, they got no shot. Another season, another Cowboys collapse. Maybe next year.
EAGLES BY 7