Week 17 NFL Picks: Teams That Will Finish Season with Statement Win

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 23:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to get around the tackle of James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field on December 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cincinnati won the game 13-10. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Week 17 in the NFL marks the final opportunity for teams around the league to make a final statement before the regular season comes to a close.

For the teams that are headed to the postseason, that means establishing the momentum that could carry them to a deep run in the playoffs.

Getting off to a great start is nice, but how teams finish the season is often the most accurate indicator for postseason success. As the New York Giants proved in 2011, it's often the hottest team that has the advantage once the playoffs get started.

Looking across Week 17's slate of games, these are the teams that are primed to score big wins that will give them plenty of momentum heading into the NFL's second season.


Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens

The Bengals are on a roll to finish out the season. Facing a "win and they're in" scenario against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16, Cincinnati's defense put on a stellar performance to earn the playoff berth.

With a playoff berth already locked up, the Bengals could sit on their laurels in Week 17 and lie down against the Ravens. However, with the opportunity to match the Ravens record at 10-6, the Bengals should come out fighting ready to prove they belong.

The Bengals have won six of their last seven games, but none of those have come against playoff teams. The Ravens offense has struggled down the stretch at times and the Bengals defense is coming off its best performance of the season. Cincinnati should get the win at home.


Indianapolis Colts over Houston Texans

Much like the Bengals, the Colts officially earned a playoff birth last week with a huge win.

Andrew Luck and Co. locked up a spot in the postseason with a 20-13 win over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, but they should make a much better statement with a victory over their division rivals the Houston Texans.

The Texans are coming off a disappointing 23-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and appear to be losing steam at the absolute worst time.

Houston claimed a 29-17 win over the Colts at home, but they did so behind the strength of a good start. With the game in Indianapolis this time around, expect Luck and the Colts to be in the game much earlier.

The Texans are a very beatable team when they don't have the lead and the Colts should expose that for a huge win at home.


Seattle Seahawks over St. Louis Rams

The Seattle Seahawks could make the claim that they are currently the best team in the NFL.

After their 42-13 rout of the San Francisco 49ers, they are one of the league's scariest teams heading into the postseason. The Seahawks defense is among the elite units in the league and the 42 points they scored was actually the team's lowest output in three weeks.

The St. Louis Rams aren't anything special this season, but they've played some good football under Jeff Fisher. The Rams claimed a win over the Seahawks back in Week 4, but this is a much different team that will end the season.

The Seahawks will post one more blowout to garner momentum for a deep playoff run.