Week 17 NFL Picks: Bold Predictions for Week's Biggest Upsets
So many close games means the increased shot at an upset.
And with so many games this week having some sort of level of playoff implications, the pride factor will takeover. Not to mention for 20 NFL teams it will be the last time they get to crack some skulls until the 2012 season kicks off.
That said, here are some upsets for Week 17.
Dolphins over Jets
This is a game the Jets are suppose to win, but won't.
In the first meeting New York's defense blanked the Dolphins pretty good with a 24-6 win. Miami since, however, has made significant improvements while the Jets are barely alive for the playoffs.
Still though, it's a game New York should win as they have the better overall defense and can control the clock offensively. Miami, however, has a greatly improved rush offense as Reggie Bush appears to finally have become an every down back.
QB Matt Moore has led them quite well in throwing 15 TDs to just seven picks along with a rating of 89.7.
When kickoff commences, the Jets defense will succumb to Miami's rushing attack and Moor's fluency as a developing QB. The Dolphins defense will shutdown the Jets ground game and force Mark Sanchez to beat them.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they don't see much production from Sanchez unless he's in the playoffs. And this game prevents that from happening.
Browns over Steelers
According to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, QB Ben Roethlisberger may play a bit against Cleveland on Sunday:
"Steelers want Ben Roethlisberger to play about 25-30 snaps vs Browns."
That being said, don't count on Big Ben being too effective. For one, the Browns will attack him as they did when he first got injured. Therefore, Ben won't be given the green light too often to chuck it deep downfield.
Pittsburgh will certainly want Roethlisberger to test the ankle and get some blood flowing, but winning this game is not as important as his health. In turn, it may cost them a division title also, provided that Cincinnati upsets Baltimore.
As for the Browns offense, they did have some success in moving the ball against Pittsburgh the first time, but failed to punch it in the end zone. They also saw some ball movement against the Ravens early on, so the potential is there.
Any chance for Cleveland no matter what though, is running the football. Not to mention that would limit Roethlisberger's snaps to test his ankle. If Cleveland is smart, they blitz Big Ben all day and force him to beat them as he's not 100 percent.
Something the Browns can take advantage of.
Seahawks over Cardinals
Seattle was shutdown at home last week against the San Francisco 49ers while the Arizona Cardinals fell to the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Unfortunately for the rising Cardinals, Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch is arguably the most difficult guy to tackle in the NFL—even more than Frank Gore.
On the flip side, Seattle has just as good, if not better, of a defense than Arizona. As long as they double team WR Larry Fitzgerald the Seahawks provide themselves with the best chance to win.
Now, although this game has zero playoff implications, based on how both have closed out the 2011 season in combining for an 11-4 record since early November, it's momentum for 2012.
Arizona is a great team at home (5-2) and Seattle has had trouble on the road (3-4), so it's no surprise that the Seahawks are expected to fall. But, they will win because Seattle pass-rusher Chris Clemons will dominate the trenches all day.
With Fitz doubled-up and Marshawn Lynch controlling the game tempo on the ground for Seattle, Arizona better hope Patrick Peterson can return a few punts back for a TD. And the odds of Seattle kicking to him are definitely low.
Buccaneers over Falcons
Tampa Bay may be a decent underdog in this one; however, the Atlanta Falcons are lacking confidence after getting blasted by the New Orleans Saints on Monday in Week 16.
Also, the Bucs bested the Falcons at home earlier this season, so Tampa can most definitely pull off the upset.
For starters, the Falcons haven't been their usual self on offense. Through the first half of the season and partially into the second half they relied on being a balanced unit. However, Atlanta got away from that and it's no surprise that they have struggled.
Well, Tampa Bay has to know this and they will load the box to shutdown Michael Turner (who hasn't hit a 100 yards since Week 11). Matt Ryan is solid, but any good QB needs a running game to help him out.
As for the Bucs, LeGarrette Blount will slice through Atlanta's deceivingly weak rush defense. The Falcons allow 235 pass yards per game and rank No. 19, so it's no wonder they rank No. 8 against the run.
No one bothers to really run against them as it's much easier to throw, plus they lack a consistent pass rush which Josh Freeman will exploit. By game's end the Falcons fall as a one-dimensional offense and Tampa remains in the driver's seat from kickoff thanks to a solid ground game that sets up the pass.
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