The NFL regular season draws to a close this week and there are three teams already in the postseason that will end 2012 with a victory.
These units are not likely to rest their starters and even if they elected to, would probably still emerge with a win. Here are three playoff teams sure to win their regular season finale contests.
The Falcons get to finish off their impressive 16-game campaign with a sure victory over NFC South rival Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have lost five straight contests, two of which were to Atlanta and the lowly Philadelphia Eagles.
It has not been a particularly enjoyable second half of the season for a Bucs team that won five of their six games between Week 6 and 11. Those winning ways will not be returning in Week 17. The Falcons are out to prove to the NFL world why they should be the NFC's Super Bowl favorites.
Atlanta already beat Tampa 24-23 in Week 12 and realizes it will take a more decisive victory to turn heads. Head coach Mike Smith's team has been fighting for national recognition all season long and needs a blowout victory this week to get just that.
This is a Falcons team that has beaten Dallas, New Orleans and the Giants during their seven victories in nine weeks. All three of those earlier opponents are better than Tampa Bay. The Bucs don't have enough firepower on offense or a stingy enough defense to win this one.
In another division rivalry contest, the Denver Broncos will end an impressive rise to dominance with a victory over the Chiefs in Week 17.
Kansas City is still starting Brady Quinn at quarterback and has just one victory since September. The Broncos on the other hand, are hoping to earn the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed with a win in this one. They also haven't lost a game since the beginning of October.
Peyton Manning and his sixth-ranked passing offense against a team that hasn't won a game in three straight weeks sounds like a mismatch. The Chiefs will have a hard enough time keeping Manning and company off the field, let alone win this contest.
New England Patriots
The last team to beat Denver back in October was the Patriots, who will do the same to Miami to finish out the regular season.
The Dolphins have won two straight games against both Buffalo and Jacksonville in Miami. Unfortunately for Ryan Tannehill and company, the Patriots are not Buffalo or Jacksonville and this game will not be played in Miami.
New England will take on Miami at home in Gillette Stadium after a winter storm has come through much of Massachusetts and its neighboring states. Pair that along with the fact New England beat the Dolphins in their home stadium as recently as Week 13 and that's bad news for the latter team.
The Jaguars were able to give the Patriots some issues early on in Week 16, but head coach Bill Belichick will not allow the same to happen two weeks in a row. His team will not be looking past Miami as they likely were against Jacksonville.
It won't be a blowout-type victory because the Dolphins have the talent to keep this one interesting, they just don't have enough to pull out a tough road victory.
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