One more week, and one more chance for most of the league to make a statement, whether there are postseason implications or not. Every game is a divisional contest. Let the games begin!
Week 17 Picks
Carolina 38 – Atlanta 10
With seeding on the line and a perfect opportunity to prove a point against a Falcons team playing for nothing (except maybe giving Tony Gonzalez a positive farewell), the Panthers will roll over Atlanta on their way to the postseason.
Cincinnati 24 – Baltimore 20
This is the kind of game I’ve consistently said the Ravens know how to win, but the Bengals should provide a tall order. I’m not convinced on this pick, but as a Dolphins fan, I feel I would be jinxing myself if I picked it any other way. Toss a coin, really.
Indianapolis 27 – Jacksonville 21
The Colts want to build some more momentum going into the postseason. The Jaguars just want this season to end. They’ll fight for the proverbial high note, but the better team should prevail.
Miami 30 – New York 10
After shutting the Jets down in New York, I fully expect the Dolphins to have a similar performance in front of their home crowd. They’ll do what they have to do to help ensure the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs, but here’s hoping everything else happens that needs to happen to make this so.
Minnesota 33 – Detroit 24
In a game without much surface meaning, the Vikings will give the Metrodome a fitting farewell, as they beat the Megatron-less, soon to be head coach-less Detroit Lions to wrap up disappointing seasons for both squads.
Washington 30 – New York 24
What’s there to play for? Well, the only real motivating factor beyond the oft-spoken about pride and job security angles will be the 99% certain retirement of longtime Redskin London Fletcher. The extra inspiration gives them a win. Special shoutout to my brother, who will be attending this, his first NFL game. He’s a diehard Skins fan. He should go home happy, and be at least somewhat more excited about 2014.
Pittsburgh 33 – Cleveland 17
With a playoff berth still in the realm of possibility, the Steelers, who are 16-1 versus the Browns with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, will do their part and cross their fingers afterwards.
Tennessee 20 – Houston 10
This may be the saddest game of the bunch, as two of the more disappointing teams in 2013 meet to put a merciful end to their seasons. The way I see it, the Titans have more to play for, and the Texans certainly haven’t done much to divert their course after 14 straight losses.
San Fransisco 23 – Arizona 21
The Cardinals have been extremely tough to beat for most of the year, but the 49ers know the division is still slightly within their reach, and should put together their best effort of the season in a pivotal game for both clubs.
Chicago 31 – Green Bay 24
Aaron Rodgers’ return will revitalize the offense, but in the end it will be the banged up, patchwork defense of the Packers that decides their fate; an early chance to look forward to 2014.
New England 33 – Buffalo 20
Seeding is in play, the Patriots are at home, and the Bills may or may not rest on their heels while New England fights for home field advantage. Even if Buffalo fights, I can’t see it going any other way. These are the games the Patriots win.
New Orleans 41 – Tampa Bay 21
Much is on the line for the Saints and, lucky for them, it’s on the line in the Superdome (for now). For the Bucanneers, the season will end much in the same way it begun; sadly.
Denver 48 – Oakland 27
The Broncos will steamroll their lesser divisional opponents, helping secure their home field postseason advantage and also helping Peyton Manning pad a few records in the process.
San Diego 30 – Kansas City 21
By the time this game is played, the Chargers will know if they’re playing for a postseason berth or for simple pride. Either way, the Chiefs are the only team in the NFL who are locked into their postseason seed, and should put up little resistance as they gear up for the 2nd season.
Seattle 31 – St. Louis 27
Expect the Rams to scratch and claw at this game, as they’re wont to do against superior opponents. But with something on the line, there are very few teams in the league who can show up the Seahawks in their own building. The Rams? They aren’t one of those teams.
Philadelphia 38 – Dallas 31
With all the focus on Kyle Orton, it will be both defenses that decide this game. Whichever can pull off a key turnover or pivotal change of possession at the right time will give their team the win. From what I’ve seen from both defenses, I’d sooner expect this sort of behavior from the Eagles. Also, a healthy dose of LeSean McCoy won’t hurt their chances.