NFL

NFL Picks Week 17: Biggest Surprises Ahead in Final Week of Regular Season

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 22:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets talks to head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets in the second half of against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2013

All good things must come to an end. As much as we want this crazy NFL regular season to continue, it will reach its conclusion this Sunday.

Given the unpredictable nature of the 2013 season, it would only be appropriate to have one or two surprises this weekend—some big upsets coupled with bad teams getting nice wins to end the year.

And there are plenty of games where you could see those surprises happening.

You can't know how the teams that have clinched a playoff spot will perform. Maybe they take this week off in order to remain healthy and save the best stuff for the postseason.

There are also the teams with nothing to play for. That can be a dangerous group, as those kinds of teams are more willing to gamble and don't care about making mistakes. Things can't get any worse, and winning at least leaves a positive lasting image on the campaign.

These three teams should provide the biggest shocks of Week 17.

NFL Week 17 Picks
Home TeamAway TeamPick
Pittsburgh SteelersCleveland BrownsPIT
New York GiantsWashington RedskinsNYG
Cincinnati BengalsBaltimore RavensCIN
Tennessee TitansHouston TexansHOU
Indianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsIND
Miami DolphinsNew York JetsNYJ
Minnesota VikingsDetroit LionsMIN
Atlanta FalconsCarolina PanthersCAR
New Orleans SaintsTampa Bay BuccaneersNO
New England PatriotsBuffalo BillsNE
Seattle SeahawksSt. Louis RamsSEA
Chicago BearsGreen Bay PackersGB
Arizona CardinalsSan Francisco 49ersSF
Oakland RaidersDenver BroncosDEN
San Diego ChargersKansas City ChiefsKC
Dallas CowboysPhiladelphia EaglesPHI
Schedule via NFL.com

 

New York Jets (Possibly) Send Rex Ryan Out In Style

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets walks around shaking hands with fans at the end of  the New York Jets 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

It would seem the end is nigh for Rex Ryan. Despite what has arguably been his best performance as head coach of the New York Jets, Ryan has reportedly heard he's getting fired, via Fox Sports' Jay Glazer:

Should that happen, it would be an ignominious end for a coach who's always been unfairly scapegoated by the New York media. At least his efforts this year to get the Jets to 7-8 haven't been going unnoticed:

The thing about New York is that Ryan has never lost the locker room. Despite all the Jets' struggles, they haven't labored under a poisonous atmosphere caused by a polarizing head coach. Here's what Calvin Pace had to say following news of Ryan's possible departure, via Newsday's Kimberley A. Martin:

There's no doubt a lot on the line for the Miami Dolphins, as they look to secure a playoff spot. But the Jets players will be motivated to send their head coach out with a win or make a statement to management that Ryan is the guy going forward.

 

The Detroit Lions Slide Continues

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 22: Dominic Raiola #51 of the Detroit Lions sits on the steps with a coach after the Lions lost in over time to the New Yrok Giants at Ford Field on December 22, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Giants defeated the Lions 23-20.  (Phot
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Just when I thought they were in the playoffs, they pull themselves back out.

It took an impressive collapse from the Detroit Lions to lose the NFC North win and miss out on the postseason altogether. The road win over the Chicago Bears looked to indicate that this team put all its problems in the past. Instead, Week 10 marked the beginning of the end.

Don't tell Jim Schwartz that this season has been a failure, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein:

We didn't make the playoffs and it's obviously anybody's goal when they go in, so we didn't achieve that goal. But I don't know if I'd be as strong as to call it a failure. That was the word you used. I don't know if I'd be as strong to call it that.

Failure or not, the Lions have become a joke. Each year they find a new way to bring disappointment. Until they warrant otherwise, don't put any faith in Detroit.

The return of Adrian Peterson last week is encouraging for Minnesota, and with a little bit more time to recover, he should be closer to his best. That would be a huge boost for the Vikings and cause even more problems for the Lions.

 

The Houston Texans Will End Their Losing Streak

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 22:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans enters the field before the game against the Denver Broncos at Reliant Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Talk about jokes. The Houston Texans have been the Jelly of the Month Club—the gift that keeps on giving the whole year round. It takes a special team to lose 13 games in today's NFL. You'd think that by now the Texans would've accidentally won another game.

I'd love to give you a ton of reasons why the Texans will win this game, but most of it boils down to one of those feelings that you get.

One of Houston's two wins came against the Titans, back in Week 2, when the Texans still had Super Bowl dreams. Defense hasn't been Houston's biggest problem. Tennessee's offense also hasn't been all that great since Jake Locker went down.

The Texans grind out a close one. They're too good to finish with a 2-14 record, and they fall into that category of dangerous teams with nothing to play for.

This one won't be pretty for the eyes. There will be a lot of mistakes, so the schadenfreude fans will at least have a good time.

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