Week 17 of the NFL season is here, and intrigue hides at every turn. The Vikings and Packers play each other for the NFC North title, the Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a victory, and the Colts are all but eliminated from the playoffs....but they can squeak in with a miracle. Barring that miracle, the Texans will be a playoff team after starting four different quarterbacks this season and losing Arian Foster to injury. On the other end of the spectrum, the Titans can secure the first overall pick in the NFL draft with a loss. The Browns are also contending for the first pick, and will have the second pick at worst. After this week, we'll know where most teams are picking in the 2016 draft. We'll see what coaches are canned on Black Monday, and we'll know every opponent for every team in 2016 after the week is over. We'll be continuing our picks through the playoffs, but it's been a great year so far, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read our columns this year. Excited for this week? Here are some picks!
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills. The Jets are playing for a playoff berth. The Bills are playing to upset Rex Ryan's old team. The Jets are firing on all cylinders right now, the Bills are extremely inconsistent. I think the Jets win this one and slip into the playoffs. Final score: New York Jets 27, Buffalo Bills 14.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots. This game is in New England, and Miami is one of the more inconsistent teams in football this season. Even though the Patriots might rest starters this week, Belichick will probably still do enough to defeat a divisional rival and ensure the #1 seed. Patriots win. Final score: New England Patriots 35, Miami Dolphins 14.
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons. This is a game that could go either way; both the Saints and Falcons have been good at times this year. Both teams have also struggled mightily at times this season. I'm going to give Atlanta the edge at home. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 24, New Orleans Saints 17.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals. This year, the old Browns and the new Browns are both at the bottom of the AFC North. The Bengals handled the new Browns (Cleveland) this season, and will continue to handle the team formerly known as the Browns (the Ravens) this season, even with AJ McCarron under center. Baltimore just has no offense left as a result of a plethora of injuries. Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 35, Baltimore Ravens 14.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns. This game projects to be a blowout; Pittsburgh is still playing for a playoff berth, and is capable of beating even good teams like Cincinnati. The Browns don't appear to be capable of beating a dead horse. Pittsburgh wins this one, easily. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Cleveland Browns 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans. The Jaguars and Texans have both found their identities down the stretch this season. Houston is looking like a playoff caliber team, even without a franchise quarterback, and the Jaguars look like they have the pieces in place to contend very soon. That being said, Houston wins this one and heads into the postseason on a high note. Final score: Houston Texans 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 14.
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans. I feel uncomfortable picking the Colts to win anything right now, but a Colts win would help both of these teams immensely, the Colts need a win to cling to near impossible playoff odds, and a loss helps the Titans secure the #1 overall pick. Indy wins this one. Final score: Indianapolis Colts 35, Tennessee Titans 27.
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins are on a hot streak right now, and the Cowboys look terrible. This week, the NFC East champion Redskins will defeat their divisional rivals in Dallas. Final score: Washington Redskins 14, Dallas Cowboys 7.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants. The Eagles will most likely be a team in disarray this week following the firing of their head coach Chip Kelly. This helps give the Giants the edge at home, especially with WR Odell Beckham Jr. returning from suspension. Giants win. Final score: New York Giants 21, Philadelphia Eagles 17.
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears. Flip a coin; this matchup could go either way. That being said though, the Bears will be playing at Soldier Field in what could be Matt Forte's final game with the team, and this team is just unlucky enough to win this week and hurt themselves in the 2016 draft. Bears win. Final score: Chicago Bears 24, Detroit Lions 22.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers. This should actually be a pretty decent game. Jameis Winston is finding his footing in the NFL and the Buccaneers are coming together as a team. The Panthers are still a far better team though, and that will help them win this one at home. Final score: Carolina Panthers 28, Tampa Buccaneers 17.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs. This is another game that is tough to call. The Raiders have some great pieces in place and look like they might be able to return to the playoffs soon. The Chiefs have been on a huge hot-streak late in the year. I think the Chiefs remain hot and pull off a win. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 17, Oakland Raiders 14.
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos looked beatable last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, especially in the first half. Under Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati is notoriously bad at finishing out games in the second half, especially in prime time. If San Diego can get out to an early lead and keep up their momentum, they could defeat a Denver team that has struggled at times in the second half of games. I'm going with the upset. Chargers win. Final score: San Diego Chargers 21, Denver Broncos 20.
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals. This could be the game of the week. Two playoff teams facing off of each other. The Seahawks have been hot lately, but the Cardinals have been elite for most of the season. I'm not sure how this game will play out, but it will be extremely competitive and extremely close. I'm going to give the Cardinals a very slight edge at home. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 14, Seattle Seahawks 10.
St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers. Both of these teams are struggling badly. However, even with Gurley dinged up, the Rams are a better team than the 49ers, and should hold on to win this one. Final score: St. Louis Rams 10, San Francisco 49ers 7.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers. This is definitely the most intriguing game this week, and will decide whether the Vikings or Packers play a home playoff game; the winner of this matchup wins the division, and the loser becomes a wildcard. The Packers have been up and down all season, but the Vikings have been solid as of late. Vikings win this game, and the division. Final score: Vikings 24, Packers 18.
--Mike B. (144-97).
Jets (10-5) @ Bills (7-9): Well the Jets win and they are in. The Bills though hate the Jets and more so for Rex Ryan, why would he want his former team and his replacement to make the playoffs with a team that in my opinion isn’t as truly good as the team he is coaching right now? This game is going to have so many interesting elements, it could be already Rex’s last game as the Bills head coach and oddly enough I am hearing they don’t want to sign Tyrod? I have no idea what these morons are thinking up there, it is so simple release Rex hire me or Hue Jackson and give Tyrod a 4 year extension then just draft him a WR that will stay healthy and let him actually throw the ball. I think the Jets are lucky Fitzpatrick has been the leader they needed this year as he almost looks like Trent Dilfer, by that I mean he is doing what he needs to do to put his team in position to win but not doing anything flashy either. I really am torn here, but I think that Todd Bowles is the way better head coach and will find a way to get his team into the playoffs. Jets win 24 – 19 over the Bills.
Patriots (12-3) @ Dolphins (5-10): Eh this game is going to be boring. The Patriots know if they win they clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs and they will obviously be playing for that. They won’t be resting anyone knowing they have a bye week next week in the first round. The Dolphins are playing for nothing except for a better draft spot if they lose so I don’t think they would be too upset with a loss here. Patriots win 35 – 23 over the Dolphins.
Saints (6-9) @ Falcons (8-7): This game has no playoff indications and it will be just a classic NFC South rivalry game. The Falcons started this season like world beaters and then have completely collapsed while the Saints were a joke and have been back and forth since then. This game is not easy to pick but two bad defenses against Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, Julio Jones and Brandin Cooks this game will be fun for the offenses. I think the Falcons have the X-Factor though that wins them this game. The beast himself Devonta Freeman makes the difference. Falcons win 37 – 31 over the Saints.
Ravens (5-10) @ Bengals (11-4): OK who in this world saw last week’s Ravens win coming? Nobody did, that game alone to me showed that Ryan Mallet can be a good NFL QB with the right system. I mean he took a Ravens team with no real number one RB or WR or TE and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers with Antonio Brown and Big Ben. I mean heck even Martavius Bryant is better then what the Ravens have left at WR, and DeAngelo Williams is better than Buck Allen. If the Steelers miss the playoffs because of their hated rivals I think the Ravens will call this season a winning season with all their injuries. Now the Bengals, I have never said publically that the NFL seemed fixed but that game against Denver made me feel that way. I just can’t explain the collapse and then the strength again and then to finish with another collapse I just don’t understand it, only other explanation is the Marvin Lewis in prime time syndrome. I mean none of that has to do with this game. Bengals win 32 – 24 over the Ravens.
Steelers (9-6) @ Browns (3-12): This game could honestly see the end of BOTH head coaches. Look if the Steelers miss the playoffs I think you could see Tomlin gone just due to the fact of that loss last week should have never happened. If they lose this week he will most certainly be gone. Now on the other end Coach Pettine is almost a guarantee to be gone but honestly is it his fault? The Browns have the worst WR core I have ever seen in my life and their defense is starting to falter. Their RB’s are a mess and shouldn’t be considered starters at all, any of them. This game is the Steelers for the taking and they will be hoping for some help from Rex Ryan and the Bills to knock off the Jets. Austin Davis will be giving a valiant effort for the Browns in this game proving once again he is a pretty good QB if given a chance and maybe some real receivers. Steelers win 27 – 23 over the Browns.
Jaguars (5-10) @ Texans (8-7): Texans if you win you are in. If you lose you have to hope the Titans give up the first pick in the draft and beat the Colts. Jaguars you are playing for nothing more than a better draft spot. I think the Texans actually could do something in the playoffs honestly and I got faith in Bill O’Brian to get this team fired up the next two weeks. Yes I said two weeks because Texans win 28 – 16 over the Jaguars.
Titans (3-12) @ Colts (7-8): The Titans are playing for the first pick in the upcoming draft while the Colts are playing for the slightest hope to get into the playoffs. They first off need to win this game, then they need a miracle. They need the Jaguars to beat Houston, the Dolphins to beat the Patriots, the Ravens to beat the Bengals, the Bills to beat the Jets, and the Raiders to beat the Chiefs, due to head to head record. The Colts at 8:15 this morning don’t even know who their starting QB is and that should be a sign for worry. I really am not sure the Titans are going to be able to tank this game. I think somehow the Colts find a way with Mettenberger as the Titans QB and their number one pick at hopes. Colts win 13 – 6 over the Titans.
Redskins (8-7) @ Cowboys (4-11): Skins are in the Cowboys are draft pick battling. Neither team will be playing their starters the whole game most likely. I really don’t care about this game as a fan honestly it has no implications. Redskins win 20 – 17 over the Cowboys.
Eagles (6-9) @ Giants (6-9): This game is just going to be a rivalry game with no meaning behind it otherwise. Chip Kelly is gone and I think Tom Coughlin has till next year before he is back in the hot seat. I think Eli out shines Bradford. Giants win 30 – 21 over the Eagles.
Lions (6-9) @ Bears (6-9): This game is again like the Giants v Eagles, this is a bitter rivalry with no playoff implications, and it’s a game of pride. Lions win 36 – 31 over the Bears.
Buccaneers (6-9) @ Panthers (14-1): We shall see if the loss of perfection makes the Panthers flustered. The Panthers know this game is their spot for the one seed and home field advantage through the playoffs. I think they get the job done under Ace-Boogie. Panthers win 37 – 23 over the Buccaneers.
Raiders (7-8) @ Chiefs (10-5): This game should be the Chiefs to have. They win and the Broncos lose they would be the division winner and get at least one home game. The Raiders under Jack Del Rio have looked brilliant at times this season. I think this game could be a lot closer than some are saying it will be and they shouldn’t overlook the Raiders upsetting the Chiefs as a possibility. I really am having a hard time just picking the Chiefs but I think I will due to the fact that they are at home. Chiefs win 28 – 24 over the Raiders.
Chargers (4-11) @ Broncos (11-4): Broncos want the 2 seed and the bye week and they will be playing for it. I think the Chargers would be lucky with their talent to get this early a draft pick and I don’t think they will squander their opportunity. This game should be obvious and don’t expect to see the upset here. Broncos win 27 – 10 over the Chargers.
Seahawks (9-6) @ Cardinals (13-2): Both these teams are in and the Cardinals are playing for more than the Seahawks are. I think both teams have Super Bowl hopes and Super Bowl talent. This game will be fun to watch as the Cardinals if they win and the Panthers lose would grab the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Cardinals win 30 – 25 over the Seahawks.
Rams (7-8) @ 49ers (4-11): Jeff Fisher turned the ship around a touch to late but should have saved his job. The Rams have the best RB in the NFL or who will be the best RB one day soon. I think the 49ers will lose this game and go for the pick and maybe get a QB or defense in the draft. Rams win 28 -17 over the 49ers.
Vikings (10-5) @ Packers (10-5): The better team is the Vikings, the Packers have just found luck over and over this year to pull off some of these games. They need to get a real RB in there to help Rodgers and I will say it for the 100th time, don’t make Cobb your number one. That dude is a slot machine. The Vikings defense is a beastly machine and their young QB isn’t too shaby if I may say so myself. This game is in front of the Lambeau faithful cheeseheads. I think they will make the difference in volume and the Packers will pull this one off. Packers win 24 – 20 over the Vikings.
- Matt Koontz (146-95)