NFL Week 17: AFC Picks

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NFL Week 17: AFC Picks
We're down to Week 17 and there are several playoff scenarios remaining to be sorted out in each conference during the final games.

Unlike previous weeks,  I'm going to do two separate previews, so that I can properly sort out the key games in each conference and how they effect the playoffs.

The AFC Playoff Picture

In the AFC, things are still pretty wide open with the exception of Indianapolis and San Diego, which have both clinched the first and second seeds, respectively.

The third and fourth seeds will go to the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals, although it hasn't quite been settled which team will get the higher seeding.

By beating the Houston Texans, the Patriots can lock up that No. 3 seed. There is some speculation that New England will rest their starters, but I fully expect them to go all out and beat Houston, who will end up with their traditional 8-8 record.

Here is where things get complicated. The final two spots are up for grabs between seven different teams which are currently 8-7 or 7-8. Really, though, the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8 teams) have no chance.

Out of the final remaining teams, the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets just need to win and they will be the wild card teams. It's conceivable that the Oakland Raiders could pull off another upset, but I expect the Ravens to win that game.

As I mentioned earlier, the Patriots should eliminate the Texans in one of the early games, meaning the Bengals will have nothing to play for by the time they play the Jets in the Sunday night game.

So more likely than not, the big prime time game is going to essentially be a glorified exhibition game. Just like last week against the Colts, the Jets will get handed a victory and the final wild card spot in the process.

In the unlikely event that the Ravens and Jets fail to win, either the Broncos or Steelers will be in position to make it into the playoffs.

Based on the fact they are playing the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver would seem to have the advantage over Pittsburgh, who play Miami. However, it wouldn't be surprising at all if either one or both of these teams ended up losing.

Other Games of Interest

Some other games have the possibility to be interesting games even though they don't actually effect the playoff situation.

In Cleveland, the Browns will try to earn their fourth straight win by beating Jacksonville and are hoping that it will convince Mike Holmgren to bring Eric Mangini back next year. They will, but he won't.

Also, Tennessee is going to beat Seattle to complete their improbable comeback from an 0-6 start to an 8-8 finish. In the process Chris Johnson will be chasing history. As of right now he needs 132 yards to reach 2,000 yards and 234 yards to break the single season rushing record (2,105) set by Eric Dickerson in 1984.

Last week, I ended up with a 9-7 record straight up and only 5-11 against the spread. Which leaves me with a season record of 147-90 straight up and 118-118-3 against the spread.
My Picks for the 2009 Week Seventeen AFC Games
Sun, Jan 3
10:00 AM (PST)
11:00 AM (MST)
12:00 PM (CST)
1:00 PM (EST)
Favorite
Underdog
Point Spread
Straight Up
Against the Spread
Indianapolis
8.0
Buffalo
Indianapolis
@Cleveland
Jacksonville
1.5
Cleveland
Cleveland
Pittsburgh
@Miami
3.0
Miami
Miami
@Houston
New England
8.0
New England
New England
Sun, Jan 3
1:00 PM (PST)
2:00 PM (MST)
3:00 PM (CST)
4:00 PM (EST)
@Denver
13.0
Denver
Kansas City
Baltimore
10.5
Baltimore
Baltimore
@San Diego
4.0
San Diego
San Diego
Tennessee
@Seattle
4.0
Tennessee
Tennessee
Sun, Jan 3
5:20 PM (PST)
6:20 PM (MST)
7:20 PM (CST)
8:20 PM (EST)
@New York Jets
Cincinnati
10.0
New York Jets
Cincinnati
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