NFL Week 17 Predictions

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NFL Week 17 Predictions
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There was no wrap-up this week, so here are recaps of Week 16's most important games:

Where were the Dolphins during the first half of their game against Houston? How can you come out as flat as they did, at home, in an elimination game? Going down 27-0 as early as they did is almost impossible to come back from and as a result, they'll be reduced to the spoiler role this week against the Steelers.

The Patriots finally looked like themselves last week in their dismantling of the overachieving Jags. Tom Brady was just about perfect and the defense shut Jacksonville down. This is the New England team most thought they would see earlier on in the season.

One loss to the Cowboys is nothing to worry about. However, losing a 17-point lead to the Bucs at home is. Regardless of how things go this week, the Saints have a lot to work on before their first playoff game. Blowing such a big lead to a bad team is inexcusable.

Before the season, most thought that if the Giants didn't make the playoffs, it would be due to their lack of a No. 1 receiver. What those people didn't expect was how bad Big Blue's defense has been. Matt Moore & Co. made the Giants look foolish all game long.

The Ravens let a golden opportunity slip through their hands. They had two or three chances to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs, but they couldn't do it. Going to Oakland and winning shouldn't be that difficult, but the Eagles and Bengals thought the same thing.

The Steelers are probably the most dangerous 8-7 team in the AFC, but they need help. Their fate lies in how much New England and Cincinnati value the three seed.

I have never liked the philosophy of resting all of your players with nothing to play for with more than a week left. The Colts did that in 2005 and lost their first playoff game, partly due to their timing-based offense finding its rhythm too late.

Jim Caldwell pulling his starters in the second half will probably end up giving his team two-and-a-half weeks without playing a meaningful game. How does that help? Yes, it ensures that no one gets injured, but the only guy that truly matters is Peyton Manning and he's started over 100 straight games. It was just ridiculous and put poor Curtis Painter in one of the most horrible positions I can remember watching.

Caldwell's decision really helped the Jets, though. The Jets were not going to win if the Colts' starters had stayed in, so they caught a huge break.

Top 12 Teams (Last week's ranking)

  1. San Diego Chargers (2)
  2. Indianapolis Colts (1)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6)
  5. New Orleans Saints (3)
  6. Arizona Cardinals (7)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (5)
  8. New England Patriots (8)
  9. Green Bay Packers (10)
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (9)
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (NR)
  12. Tennessee Titans (11)

Week 17 Picks

Last week's record: 10-6

Overall record: 159-81

Lock of the Week: 12-for-16

Indianapolis (14-1) @ Buffalo (5-10): Indy will rest its starters simply because if they don't, Caldwell and Bill Polian look like complete idiots. This game means nothing right now, but this week off will haunt the Colts.

Buffalo wins, 19-13

Jacksonville (7-8) @ Cleveland (4-11): This game may decide Eric Mangini's future. If it were up to me, he'd be gone regardless of the outcome of this game, but the Browns have had a great December. However, the Jags know that they still have a very slim chance to get into the playoffs with a win.

Jacksonville wins, 23-18

Philadelphia (11-4) @ Dallas (10-5): The Cowboys' defense has been great the last two weeks. They will need to play at that same level to beat Philly again. Although, the Eagles almost blew it last week, they've been on fire for a while and the Cowboys will not be able to stop what they're doing. Expect the close battle these two teams usually provide.

Philly wins, 30-27

Kansas City (3-12) @ Denver (8-7): Brandon Marshall's benching changes the entire complexion of this game. Eddie Royal missed last week's game, so what is Denver (particularly Kyle Orton) going to do to get points. The Chiefs have played well against Dallas and Pittsburgh, so they can beat a depleted Denver squad.

Kansas City wins, 19-17

Chicago (6-9) @ Detroit (2-13): Detroit's season started off pretty well considering their expectations, but everything has fallen apart. The starting quarterback has been a revolving door and as a result, the team is playing bad football. The Bears aren't the best team, but they're definitely better than their counterparts.

Chicago wins, 26-10

Baltimore (8-7) @ Oakland (5-10): This season, the Raiders have beaten Cincinnati, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Denver. Can they do it again? Maybe, but I would bet against it. The Ravens let one slip through their hands last week and they won't let that happen again.

Baltimore wins, 30-20

San Francisco (7-8) @ St. Louis (1-14): In terms of what this means on a league-wide basis, this is only important for the draft: Niners win and Rams have the first pick. However, for the Niners, this may go a long way in letting them know if Alex Smith will be their quarterback next year.

San Francisco wins, 26-12 (Lock of the Week)

Pittsburgh (8-7) @ Miami (7-8): If the Dolphins play like they did last week, the Steelers will make quick work of them. If not, this will come down to which team makes more plays in the fourth quarter. That basically translates to Ben Roethlisberger vs. Chad Henne, which is a pretty easy choice.

Pittsburgh wins, 30-17

New York Giants (8-7) @ Minnesota (11-4): The Vikings are this close to letting a first round bye slip from their grasp. The first step to regaining it is beating the Giants. Doesn't sound very difficult, but the Vikes were very inconsistent in December. Regardless, they should still be able to push the Giants around a little bit.

Minnesota wins, 28-14

Green Bay (10-5) @ Arizona (10-5): This will probably be a weird game because it will probably happen again in the wild card round, which would mean that neither team wants to let the other see everything in their playbook. This will end up being a battle of JV squads, so I'll go with the home team.

Arizona wins, 22-14

Washington (4-11) @ San Diego (12-3): I have no idea how San Diego is approaching this game, but if the 'Skins play how they've been playing the last couple of weeks, it won't matter.

San Diego wins, 19-10

Tennessee (7-8) @ Seattle (5-10): This one is all about Chris Johnson. He should get to 2,000 yards without a problem, as he needs only 128 yards in this game, but he unless he goes crazy—which isn't out of the realm of possibility against Seattle—he won't catch Eric Dickerson. Nonetheless, he and the Titans have had a great season.

Tennessee wins, 33-13

Atlanta (8-7) @ Tampa Bay (3-12): The Falcons are out of the playoffs, but this game means a lot because if they win, the Falcons will finally have back-to-back winning seasons. They will finally get it in a competitive game.

Atlanta wins, 23-16

New Orleans (13-2) @ Carolina (7-8): Believe it or not, the Panthers will be the hottest team in this game. New Orleans has a lot to sort out before their first playoff game in two weeks and Carolina will not make it easy for them. However, I don't see the Saints going into the postseason on a three-game skid.

New Orleans wins, 26-20

New England (10-5) @ Houston (8-7): According to Tom Brady, he will play, but for how long? If he plays for at least three quarters, the Pats win. If not, Houston has a chance, but they are such an inconsistent team, that you never really know with them.

New England wins, 30-24

Cincinnati (10-5) @ New York Jets (8-7): This game falls into the same category as the New England-Houston game. Chad Ochocinco wants to play, but the decision is ultimately Marvin Lewis'. The Bengals are the superior team, but it all depends on who the Bengals put on the field. Nonetheless, I don't have confidence that Mark Sanchez can get the job done.

Cincinnati wins, 21-16

Playoff Picture

First, let me give you the playoff picture the way I saw it just before the season started, beginning with the AFC:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. New England Patriots
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Tennessee Titans

Here is how the AFC will look if the games go the way I think they will:

  1. Indianapolis Colts
  2. San Diego Chargers
  3. New England Patriots
  4. Cincinnati Bengals
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Here is the NFC at the beginning of the year:

  1. Minnesota Vikings
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Arizona Cardinals
  5. New York Giants
  6. Green Bay Packers

Here's how I think it'll look after Week 17:

  1. New Orleans Saints
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Arizona Cardinals
  5. Green Bay Packers
  6. Dallas Cowboys

This either shows that I have no idea what I'm talking about or that parity is alive and well in the NFL. I'll go with the latter.

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