NFL Week 17 Picks: Breaking Down Games with Biggest Playoff Implications

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 28, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 23: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

It doesn't get any better than this in the NFL.

With one week remaining in the regular season, five different teams in the NFC are battling for two playoff spots. 

The Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins will face off for the NFC East crown, while several other contenders are fighting for a wild-card spot.

Here's a breakdown of the games with the biggest playoff indications in Week 17.


Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

After a 3-6 start, the Redskins have rebounded tremendously, winning six straight games.

The Cowboys have won five of their last seven games, but losses to the Redskins and New Orleans Saints have hurt them.

The winner of this game wins the NFC East, plain and simple. The loser likely misses out on the playoffs altogether.

I said before the Saints game that the Cowboys have had trouble stopping explosive offenses this season. That proved to be fruitful, as Dallas lost to New Orleans in overtime, 34-31.

I don't see how it would be any different against the Redskins, who are averaging 27.2 points (fourth in the NFL) and have rookie sensation Robert Griffin III back under center.

Remember, Dallas lost to Washington in Week 12, getting torched through the air and on the ground.

Prediction: Redskins 31, Cowboys 28


Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

If the Vikings win this game, they capture a wild-card spot.

If the Packers win this game, they get a first-round bye, regardless of whether the San Francisco 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals.

The Vikings rely heavily on Adrian Peterson, but the Packers have been much better on defense since Clay Matthews returned. They held Chris Johnson to 28 rushing yards on 11 carries in the 55-7 destruction of the Tennessee Titans last week. That included sacking Titans quarterback Jake Locker seven times.

I would like to think Peterson is enough for the Vikings to hold on to a playoff spot, but the reality is the Packers are a better team.

Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 21


Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

If the Vikings lose to the Packers, then the Bears have the inside shot at the remaining wild-card spot. 

The Bears got on track with a 28-13 victory over the Cardinals last week and you would have to think they will defeat the Lions, even if this game is in Detroit.

The 4-11 Lions have lost seven straight games and they fell to the Bears in Week 7, 13-7. The offense and the defense have collapsed in the past three games and they aren't explosive enough in the pass-rushing department to significantly cause problems for Chicago's bumbling offensive line.

Jay Cutler and the Bears will do enough in what could be an ugly game.

Prediction: Bears 28, Lions 20


What are your thoughts?

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