NFL Week 17 Picks: Early Predictions for Every Regular-Season Finale

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2013

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 22: Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks on December 22, 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL playoff race will reach its climactic conclusion in Week 17.

With only eight teams having clinched a playoff berth with one game to go, the stakes have never been higher. 

Here's an early look at my picks for all 16 games in Week 17. 

NFL Week 17 Picks
Carolina Panthers (-7)Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore RavensCincinnati Bengals (-3.5)
Tennessee Titans (-6)Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts (-4)Jacksonville Jaguars
Miami Dolphins (-6.5)New York Jets
Minnesota VikingsDetroit Lions (-2.5)
New York Giants (-3.5)Washington Redskins
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6)Cleveland Browns
Denver Broncos (-13)Oakland Raiders
New England Patriots (-8.5)Buffalo Bills
New Orleans Saints (-12.5)Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Arizona CardinalsSan Francisco 49ers (-3)
San Diego Chargers (-7.5)Kansas City Chiefs
Seattle Seahawks (-10.5)St. Louis Rams
Green Bay Packers (N/A)Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles (-7)Dallas Cowboys
Lines via


Baltimore Ravens Over Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have already secured the AFC North division title, but can improve their playoff positioning with a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens—as long as the New England Patriots lose in Week 17.

By contrast, the Ravens must win and get help in order to return to the postseason.

With Baltimore already having proven it can beat Cincinnati this season, look for the Ravens to earn a hard-fought road win at Paul Brown Stadium this weekend. 

The Ravens beat the Bengals back in Week 10 despite racking up just 189 total yards. Baltimore had tremendous defensive success in that game against Cincinnati, pressuring quarterback Andy Dalton into five sacks and three costly interceptions. 

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals is sacked by outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil #58 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of the Ravens 20-17 overtime win at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Look for Baltimore's top-10 defense to desperately pull out all the stops and implement a similar game plan in Week 17 as the Ravens look to cover the 3.5-point spread and earn a AFC wild-card berth. 


Arizona Cardinals Over San Francisco 49ers

The surging Arizona Cardinals are still alive for a playoff berth coming into Week 17. They will need a win and help from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in order to qualify for the postseason as an NFC Wild Card.

Regardless of what happens between the Bucs and Saints in New Orleans, watch for the Cardinals to win their fifth straight home game by beating the San Francisco 49ers, who have already clinched a playoff berth. 

Arizona is coming off an incredible win at Seattle in Week 16 and clearly has much more to play for than San Francisco, who are flying high after a memorable Monday night win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. The Cardinals nearly outplayed the 49ers in their first meeting back in October, too.

San Francisco came away with a 32-20 win at Candlestick Park, but were out-gained 403-387 and only led by two points heading into the fourth quarter. In the end, the Cardinals' four turnovers proved to be the difference. 

Over 10 weeks later, the Cardinals are a different team, per defensive end Calais Campbell via "We are a very confident team right now. We feel if we get to the playoffs we can do some damage. We just have to get lucky."

This time around, look for a confident Cardinals defense and a dynamic Arizona passing attack to capitalize at home, pulling out a much-needed win to at least give themselves a shot at the playoffs. 


Philadelphia Eagles Over Dallas Cowboys

Dec 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reporting that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will likely miss the rest of the season with a herniated disc in his back, you won't have a hard time finding many experts and analysts who like the Eagles to win Sunday night's winner-take-all showdown in the NFC East.

Bleacher Report NFL lead writer Michael Schottey offers two logical explanations as to why the Cowboys have yet to officially rule out Romo for Week 17: 

In addition to the obvious advantage Philly will have if Romo can't suit up or is far from 100 percent physically, the Eagles have been an impressive road team in 2013, going 5-2 behind enemy lines this year. Only Seattle and Kansas City have fared better through 16 weeks.

On top of that, you're talking about one of the league's best offenses in the Eagles squaring off against one of the league's most porous defenses in the Cowboys in perfect field conditions at AT&T Stadium. 

Led by the NFL's leading rusher in LeSean McCoy, the Eagles boast the NFL's most potent rushing attack and are sure to reel off chunks of yardage against the Cowboys' 27th-ranked run-stopping unit.

When you add in the fact Nick Foles is making smart decisions with the football and Philly's defense has stepped up tremendously over the second half of the season, it's no surprise the Eagles are touchdown favorites on the road. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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