The final week of the regular season is here, and while some games will be meaningless, there are a surprising number of great games that will help set the stage for the playoffs in Week 17.
All four divisions in the AFC have been clinched, as well as one wild-card spot. However, in the NFC, none of the division titles have been clinched and only three teams are guaranteed to be playing in the postseason.
Below is a complete list of predictions for Week 17 followed by a breakdown of some of the most interesting games to watch for.
|Baltimore Ravens||21-20||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Cleveland Browns||13-24||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Carolina Panthers||30-14||Atlanta Falcons|
|Detroit Lions||28-20||Minnesota Vikings|
|Houston Texans||10-17||Tennessee Titans|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||14-23||Indianapolis Colts|
|New York Jets||23-17||Miami Dolphins|
|Washington Redskins||24-14||New York Giants|
|Buffalo Bills||13-31||New England Patriots|
|Green Bay Packers||33-30||Chicago Bears|
|Denver Broncos||38-14||Oakland Raiders|
|Kansas City Chiefs||10-28||San Diego Chargers|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||17-24||New Orleans Saints|
|San Francisco 49ers||20-24||Arizona Cardinals|
|St. Louis Rams||21-27||Seattle Seahawks|
|Philadelphia Eagles||35-14||Dallas Cowboys|
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Prediction: 21-20, Ravens
Even though there's one wild-card spot remaining in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens are in position to go to the playoffs, but they're going to need some help. Will Brinson from CBSSports.com provided us with what the four AFC teams in the hunt for that last spot have to do:
For the Ravens, they have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals and hope for a loss from either the Miami Dolphins or San Diego Chargers. But they have a tough matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals before they can worry about that, as Andy Dalton and Co. will be trying to win in order to get a higher seed in the playoffs.
Even though the Ravens gave up 41 points this past week against the New England Patriots, they still have a very solid defense, allowing just 331.7 yards and 21.2 points per game. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has the Ravens with the fifth-highest graded defense in the league.
This game will completely depend on how well Dalton plays for the Bengals. As you can see below, he's a completely different player when the team loses.
|Comp. %||Yards||TD||INT||Pass Rtg.|
Considering the defense he's going against, I think the bad Dalton shows up in this game and the Ravens find a way to sneak into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 33-30, Packers
Which team will win the NFC North?
After the Green Bay Packers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16, all the Chicago Bears had to do was win their game on Sunday Night Football and they would have been NFC North champions.
Instead, the Bears gave up 54 points and 514 total yards, including 289 on the ground, to get blown out.
Now, the Packers and Bears will be playing for the division title in Week 17. The winner will advance to the playoffs, while the loser will be watching the postseason from home.
Obviously, the big question heading into this game is whether or not Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play. He hasn't played since breaking his collarbone in Week 9 against the Bears, and his status is still up in the air for this game. According to Ian Rapoport from NFL.com, Rodgers believes he will know if he can play on Thursday.
Aaron Rodgers tells @jasonjwilde: “We have done a scan & are going through the process of evaluation. Definitively we will know by Thursday”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 24, 2013
It's completely up in the air as to whether or not Rodgers will play, but considering he's been practicing over the past couple of weeks, there's a chance that he plays.
If he does, it's hard to see the Bears winning this one. The return of Jay Cutler hasn't helped the offense too much, and with how poorly their defense has played, I could see the Packers winning in a shootout if Rodgers is able to return.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 35-14, Cowboys
The NFC East title is up for grabs as well, but it looks like there's a chance that the Dallas Cowboys could be without Tony Romo in their must-win matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted on Dec. 23 that Romo had been ruled out for the rest of the season with a back injury.
Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been ruled out the rest of the season due to his back injury, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2013
However, one day later, NFL: AroundTheLeague tweeted that Romo would be receiving an epidural injection, and the Cowboys would be waiting to see whether or not it had a positive effect on him.
Regardless, things don't look good for Romo's chances to play, and that could cost the Cowboys a shot at a playoff spot and possibly cause them to have their third consecutive 8-8 season. Romo has had a terrific season, throwing for 3,821 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but without him, the offense will likely struggle.
The Eagles have the league's best rushing attack, running for 161.9 yards per game while also scoring 27.9 points per game. With Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, the Eagles should be able to run all over the Cowboys defense that's giving up 418.6 yards and 27.2 points per game. If Romo can't play, this one should be a blowout.