NFL Week 17 Predictions: Picks for Weekend's Most Crucial Games

Tim KeeneyContributor IDecember 28, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 23: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins reacts after completing a pass in the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

There's not a whole lot going on in the NFL in Week 17.

The only people still playing fantasy football are the ones who either didn't know what they were doing when they set up their league or wanted to have championship week be the most unpredictable of the season.

In real life, most teams know their postseason fate, which reduces the number of contests that will provide any intrigue.

Nonetheless, there are still games that should manage to hold your attention. Let's take a look at what to expect in this week's most important battles. 

 

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

I took the Colts a few weeks ago when they were big underdogs on the road against the Texans, and I was rewarded with a 29-17 loss. 

Nonetheless, it's hard to like how Houston has played over the past month. With Indianapolis' ability to make games ugly and then turn to Andrew Luck in the final minutes, it's a no-brainer to stick with the Colts, especially at home this time, right?

Right?!

Not so fast. The Colts are essentially locked into the No. 5 seed, while Houston can land anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3 depending on what it does in this one.

Motivation will trump everything else here.

Texans 24, Colts 17

 

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson needs 208 rushing yards to break Eric Dickerson's single-season record. Adrian Peterson aiming for 208 yards is a scary Adrian Peterson. A scary Adrian Peterson is something the Packers don't want to see.

Capiche? 

Combine Peterson's unstoppable nature with Minnesota's constantly improving defense, and you have a team that can slow down the red-hot Aaron Rodgers at home.

Of course, there is also this (via Minnesota radio host Judd Zulgad):

DE Jared Allen (shoulder, illness) took part in all of practice. Peterson (abdomen) and Winfield (knee, hand) both sat out again.

—Judd Zulgad (@1500ESPNJudd) December 27, 2012

It's hard to imagine the robot that is Peterson sitting out a must-win game for the Minnesota Vikings. But if he isn't able to go, I reserve the right to change my pick after the game if I want to.

Packers 21, Vikings 24

 

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

Offense, offense and a little bit more offense. 

Robert Griffin III will continue his case for Offensive Rookie of the Year as he continues to run the option offense absolutely flawlessly. Alfred Morris will continue his own case for Most Overlooked Rookie of the Year as he pounds out another 80 yards for an astounding 11th time this season.

On the other side of the ball, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant might not hook up for an abundance of receptions, but each one will probably go for about 60 yards against Washington's inconsistent—at best—secondary.

This won't be Jacksonville-Tennessee; let's just leave it at that.

But in a game where scoring will be easy to come by, it will be a defensive play that alters the outcome. 

Should that be the case, expect Dallas (with two more sacks, eight more interceptions and four more fumble recoveries than Washington on the season) to come out on top.

Cowboys 38, Redskins 31