NFL Picks Week 17: Predictions for Every Game This Weekend
Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers-Cleveland Browns, anyone not absolutely love what the NFL did this year?
Every game is a divisional matchup. Every game means something.
There won't be lackluster efforts or dispassionate play.
Teams won't coast to the finish line because they can't: It's their rival.
This final week of the 2010 NFL regular season will be better than ever.
Sixteen games, 16 rivalries, all on one day.
Here are the predictions for every game this weekend:
Miami at New England
Preview: This game doesn't hold any playoff implications, but it'll still be a fight. The Dolphins usually give the Patriots more trouble than any team in the AFC East and maybe the entire league.
This season, though, the Patriots sunk the Dolphins in Miami 41-14. Flown away from their beautiful weather and dropped off in a northeastern blizzard, the Dolphins may struggle to adapt.
Don't count out the Phins, though, as they can finish 8-8 with a win and dodge a losing record for 2010.
Key Matchup: Matt Light vs. Cameron Wake
The only way to slow down the Patriots offense right now is to pressure Brady.
Prediction: 28-21 New England
Buffalo at New York Jets
Preview: The Bills have been out of the playoff picture for weeks, but the Jets can move up to a better seed with a win and a Ravens loss. Despite that fact, it looks as though Rex Ryan will rest Mark Sanchez with a bad shoulder.
Since starting the season 0-8, the Bills are 4-3 in their last seven games.
Resting players may be a bad idea against a renewed Bills squad when a loss would pave the way for a divisional round game against the Patriots instead of the Steelers, a team they just beat.
Key Matchup: Steve Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis
Johnson has more than twice as many catches as the next Bills receiver and will be the player the Jets secondary will key in on this Sunday.
Prediction: 24-20 New York
Cincinnati at Baltimore
Preview: The Ravens can clinch the fifth seed in the AFC with a win, and with a Steelers loss, would move up to the number two seed and receive a bye.
The Bengals have nothing but pride to play for. Obviously, they aren't just content with getting a better draft spot, though, as they've won two straight games.
Key Matchup: Carson Palmer vs. Ed Reed
Palmer was a key to the Bengals two straight wins, and Reed will be reading Palmer's eyes all day long.
Prediction: 24-21 Baltimore
Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Preview: The Steelers must win this week to hold on to their bye, a much-needed bye at that. That extra week of rest could end up being the difference for Troy Polamalu's playing status in the Steelers' first playoff game.
The only thing the Browns have to play for is to beat the Steelers and to make their path to the Super Bowl much more difficult, which is actually quite a lot of motivation, especially after their last meeting.
Key Matchup: Peyton Hillis vs. Lawrence Timmons
Both players are having breakout seasons, and the winner of this battle will give his team an edge in winning the war.
Prediction: 21-20 Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Preview: The Saints still have very much to play for, as they have a very outside shot at a division title and a number one seed.
The Buccaneers must win and get a little help to sneak into the playoffs with the sixth seed.
With both teams near futures relying heavily on the game, it'll go down to the wire.
Key Matchup: Marques Colston vs. Ronde Barber
The 1,000-yard receiver will face off against the wise old cornerback in a matchup that will feature each squad's strength.
Prediction: 24-21 New Orleans
Carolina at Atlanta
Preview: The Falcons can clinch the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win at home on Sunday.
For the Panthers, there would be no better way to relieve the pains of a 2-13 record than making the Falcons lose their top seed. They can't lose their first overall selection in the upcoming draft either, so they'll have no reason to not go all-out against their rival.
Key Matchup: Jonathan Stewart vs. Curtis Lofton
Stewart has 531 rushing yards in his last five games, and Lofton is the defender who will hold the most responsibility in shutting him down.
Prediction: 24-14 Atlanta
Minnesota at Detroit
Preview: The only thing either of these teams has to play for is bragging rights. Each team's season has "what could have been" written all over it.
The Vikings failed to play up to their potential with all that talent.
If Matt Stafford had played the whole season for the Lions, maybe they'd be in a different position right now.
Key Matchup: Jeff Backus vs. Jared Allen
Allen has 8.5 sacks in his last seven games, and it may be Backus' last game as a starting left tackle if he fails to protect Shaun Hill.
Prediction: 21-20 Detroit
Oakland at Kansas City
Preview: The Chiefs must win to secure the third seed in the AFC, a seed which would help them avoid the Patriots until the AFC Championship Game.
All the Raiders have to play for is the rivalry, but after a 6-3 finish, they'll look to carry the momentum of a Week 17 victory into 2011.
One of the most bitter rivalries in league history will heat up even more now that both teams are again competitive.
Key Matchup: Dwayne Bowe vs. Nnamdi Asomugha
The Chiefs' only downfield threat will face off against the best cornerback in the NFL.
Prediction: 24-21 Kansas City
Jacksonville at Houston
Preview: The Jaguars must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
If there's any team in the NFL this season who won't show up for the final week, it'd be the Texans. They came out of the gates flying high, but were sent back down to Earth. Losses to the Titans and Broncos the last two weeks couldn't have helped the team morale.
Look for the Texans to feed the ball to Arian Foster as he has a rushing title on the line.
Key Matchup: Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Bernard Pollard
One of the most talented backs in the league will be keyed in on all game by the Texans' leading tackler.
Prediction: 27-24 Jacksonville
Arizona at San Francisco
Preview: These two 5-11 teams will face off Sunday, with the winner receiving a worse draft spot.
Motivation may be low for this game. These two teams aren't the biggest rivals, and the 49ers are already thinking about next season after the firing of Mike Singletary.
Key Matchup: Brian Westbrook vs. Paris Lenon
The Cardinals' leading tackler will play a big part in slowing down the 49ers' seventh-ranked rushing attack.
Prediction: 24-21 San Francisco
San Diego at Denver
Preview: The Chargers have been eliminated from playoff contention in a season where they failed to string together a number of wins in December like they usually do.
Tim Tebow is 1-1 in his two starts for the Broncos. A win against the Chargers and he could cement himself as the Broncos' starting quarterback for 2011.
Key Matchup: Tim Tebow vs. Eric Weddle
Tebow actually is tied for the most rushing touchdowns on the Broncos and may be spied by Weddle this Sunday.
Prediction: 28-21 San Diego
Chicago at Green Bay
Preview: The Bears must win to clinch the second seed in the NFC and have a chance to move up to the first.
The game is a must-win for the Packers, as a win guarantees a playoff berth and a loss guarantees elimination.
This always heated rivalry will be even more intense with all of the playoff implications on the line.
Key Matchup: Chad Clifton vs. Julius Peppers
One hard hit by Peppers, and the Packers and Rodgers will be too concussed to play.
Prediction: 21-20 Green Bay
New York Giants at Washinton
Preview: The Giants either win or go home, and even if they win, they could go home. A win and a Packers loss to the Bears, and they're in.
The Redskins just want a restart button after a season filled with controversy. From Albert Haynesworth's holdout to Donovan McNabb's benching, the year was filled with troubles after high expectations after a good offseason.
Key Matchup: Santana Moss vs. Corey Webster
Moss is the main component of the Redskins 10th ranked passing attack and Webster will be matched up with him most of the day.
Prediction: 24-20 Giants
Dallas at Philadelphia
Preview: There isn't much of a chance at all that the Eagles will finish with anything lower than the third seed, but they can possibly work their way up to the first.
The Cowboys have been done for awhile in what is arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.
All the playoff implications in the world couldn't make this rivalry much more fierce than it already is.
Key Matchup: LeSean McCoy vs. Bradie James
The Cowboys will have to make the Eagles one dimensional to have any shot, and this matchup will play a big part in doing so.
Prediction: 28-24 Philadelphia
Tennessee at Indianapolis
Preview: For the Colts, it's win and they're in. 10-6 usually doesn't cut it for an AFC South title, but it will this year.
The Titans have nothing to play for, but Jeff Fisher has some motivation with his job on the line. Plus, knocking the Colts out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 would be a great note to end on.
Key Matchup: Chris Johnson vs. Antoine Bethea
Johnson will try to add as many yards to his season total as possible, and Bethea will be the toughest thing in his way.
Prediction: 28-21 Indianapolis
St. Louis at Seattle
Preview: The last prime-time game of the regular season features what basically is the division title game. Whichever team wins this game will walk away with the crown and a playoff berth.
If the Seahawks win, they will be the first 7-9 team to make the playoffs in league history.
These two young teams have each overachieved this season, and the one having that extra postseason experience could give that team an edge for years to come.
Key Matchup: Sam Bradford vs. Earl Thomas
Whichever of the two rookies wins this matchup will give his team a major advantage.
Prediction: 24-21 St. Louis