When picking Week 17 NFL games, one must take a team’s mentality into consideration more than in any other.
Franchises that have already clinched a playoff spot may choose to rest their starters. Those still on the playoff bubble are likely to give more effort than squads with nothing to play for. And teams eligible for a top draft pick may—dare I say—not even attempt to win.
Here are predictions for every season finale based on each of those approaches.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The road to the Super Bowl already goes through the Georgia Dome so expect the Falcons to rest their starters and the Bucs to take advantage.
Prediction: Tampa Bay by 3
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
As pitiful as the Jets are, they still embarrassed the Bills in Week 1 by the score of 48-28 despite C.J. Spiller going off for 194 yards from scrimmage.
Prediction: New York by 3
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
While neither team is capable of earning a first-round bye, Baltimore will still come out firing on all cylinders after walloping the New York Giants.
Prediction: Baltimore by 6
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland needed eight turnovers to defeat a Charlie Batch-led Steeler team by six points so with Ben Roethlisberger, the Black & Gold will bounce back in a meaningless game.
Prediction: Pittsburgh by 7
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Detroit has lost seven straight games, more than any team in the league, and with their playoff hopes alive, the Bears will come out on top.
Prediction: Chicago by 10
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Tennessee just got beat into the turf by the Green Bay Packers, but the Jags will coast to the finish line with the No. 1 pick in reach.
Prediction: Tennessee by 6
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
New York received a painful reality check at the hands of the Ravens this past week, but against an Eagles team that has won one game since Week 4, it’ll finish the season strong.
Prediction: New York by 3
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Carolina vs. New Orleans is one of the games of the week because they’re the two hottest losing teams in football, but in what’s sure to be a shootout, the Panthers’ superior defense will give them the edge.
Prediction: Carolina by 3
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
The Texans still haven’t locked up home-field advantage and they just handled the Colts two weeks ago.
Prediction: Houston by 7
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
A first-round bye is at stake for the Pack who beat the Vikings by two scores in Week 13 despite a 210-yard effort from Adrian Peterson
Prediction: Green Bay by 3
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Seattle has outscored its last three opponents by a grand total of a whopping 120 points so the Rams will be lucky to keep this one close.
Prediction: Seattle by 14
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Believe it or not, New England is still alive for home-field advantage so while the Phins just want the season to be over, the Pats will be giving all they got.
Prediction: New England by 14
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Denver is unlikely to rest its starters with a first-round bye not locked up so it’ll get ugly against a Chiefs team that would probably rather lose any way to keep the No. 1 pick.
Prediction: Denver by 17
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
These two California teams would rather be on a beach right now than playing football after a season to forget, but the unmotivated Chargers will top the Carson Palmer-less Raiders.
Prediction: San Diego by 10
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco can still receive a first-round bye if the Vikings knock off the Packers, but even if they don’t, the 49ers will still want to finish the regular season strong after Seattle owned them on national television.
Prediction: San Francisco by 10
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III is one of the NFL’s hottest players on one of the NFL’s hottest teams and against a Cowboys franchise that has found ways to lose must-win games over the years, Washington will claim the NFC East Crown.
Prediction: Washington by 3
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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