NFL Picks Week 17: Breaking Down Weekend's Most Captivating Matchups

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 20:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball as Cary Williams #26 of the Philadelphia Eagles defends  on October 20, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania.The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-3.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Some NFL fans will get their Christmas wishes this Sunday should their favorite teams book their place in the playoffs.

It's crazy how many spots are still up for grabs.

The last AFC wild-card spot is up for grabs, with three teams all in contention. Meanwhile, in the NFC, nobody has won the division, with three spots overall up in the air.

So there are quite a few games with postseason implications, and it makes for a lot of excitement heading into Week 17.

Week 17 NFL 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

Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 8:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets  walks the sidelines during their game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on December 8, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Might this be Rex Ryan's last game on the New York Jets' sideline? He seems to think so (via Fox Sports' Jay Glazer).

It would be unfortunate, as Ryan has performed his best job as Jets head coach to get this team seven wins. Before the season, New York looked like one of the worst teams in the league, but it was instead flirting with the playoffs for much of the season.

The Miami Dolphins aren't without major stakes in this game, as they need a win to assure themselves of the final wild-card spot.

However, I can't look past the Jets. Ryan's always seemed to have the support of his players, and they'll at least want to send him out in style. They could possibly convince general manager John Idzik that Ryan is still the guy.

That motivating factor will lead the Jets to victory on Sunday.

Prediction: New York 24, Miami 20

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Inside linebacker Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a defensive stop against the Atlanta Falcons during a game at Candlestick Park on December 23, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Steph
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The door isn't completely shut on the Arizona Cardinals, as a win and a loss from the New Orleans Saints would mean they get the last wild-card spot in the NFC.

The Cardinals have won their last three games and seven of their last eight.

The San Francisco 49ers are riding an arguably better hot streak, winning their last five and 10 of their last 12. The only two losses in that stretch were at home against the Carolina Panthers and on the road to the New Orleans Saints.

In recent weeks, the Niners have looked like one of the most complete teams in the league. They're finally healthy, and the combination of stifling defense and productive offense will take them far in the playoffs.

San Francisco will win a close one. A couple of picks from Carson Palmer will prove to be the difference.

Prediction: San Francisco 20, Arizona 16

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 24:  Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys on the field as Kyle Orton #18 walks past during a preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Would you expect anything less from Jerry Jones?

He encouraged Kyle Orton with one of the most passive-aggressive threats you're going to hear. Speaking on his radio show on Dallas station KRLD-FM, he said (via Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):

We paid a lot of money several years ago for just this very circumstance. Should we be in a situation where a game or a possible intermittent time when Tony couldn’t play, we get the very best we can, and that’s why we signed Kyle Orton for over $10 million a few years ago, just for this very occasion. Kyle has a very strong arm, he’s very experienced. If required, he’ll be able to step in and do as good under the circumstances as you could expect.

See? The Cowboys totally spent a lot of money on Orton a few years ago, so they have all the faith in the world in him. So if Dallas loses, it's all Orton's fault and he's a terrible person for not living up to his end of the contract.

But fear not, as Hill reported Jon Kitna has been brought in as well.

Whether it's Tony Romo, Orton or Kitna, the Cowboys will be in trouble on Sunday. Their defense remains one of the worst in the league. Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy should be met with little resistance.

Look at how Philly decimated the Chicago Bears. Now imagine what it can do against Dallas.

Prediction: Philadelphia 38, Dallas 21


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