Week 17 Predictions: Playoff Picture Messier than Ever

Joe KleiberCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2008

Going into the final week of the regular season, there are plenty of playoff spots are up for grabs.

The Giants, Cardinals, Titans, Steelers, and Colts are the only teams who are lucky enough to have locked up postseason spots. That means there are several teams still alive and it doesn't get much better than this.

If you are still playing for your fantasy championship this week, you'll have to look at which teams will show up to play and which won't. It's a tough week for your studs, considering teams like the Colts, Titans, Steelers, Cardinals and Giants may rest some of their starters and get healthy for the playoffs.

Look at guys who you know will be playing the whole game, like players from the Ravens, Jets, Dolphins, Chargers, Broncos, Eagles, Bucs, Cowboys, Panthers, Saints, Patriots, etc. Here's a break-down of the regular season finales.


STL@ATL Prediction: ATL 31, STL 10

This game has the makings of a blow-out. The Falcons are hungry and even though they have clinched a playoff spot, they can still get the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if they win and the Panthers lose. This is a huge week for them so play all your Falcons and only Steven Jackson for the Rams, because how can you trust anybody else on the Rams?

Boom: All FalconsMatt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner should have big weeks against an awful Rams defense and play the Falcons defense against the hapless Rams offense.

Steven Jackson—The Falcons are not great against the run and that is the only way the Rams have a chance at winning. Jackson is a play-maker when he's healthy and there's no reason to sit him here.

Prediction: 90 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 catches for 40 yards.

Bust: Any other Ram—In a critical week for fantasy owners, nobody should be counting on guys like Torry Holt, Donnie Avery, or Marc Bulger.


NE@BUF Prediction: NE 27, BUF 24

The Pats need this game badly, but it won't be easy. Before their massacre of the Cardinals last week, they had trouble just beating the Seahawks in Seattle.

The Bills will play hard and were impressive last week in their upset of the Broncos at Denver. They're at home and have Trent Edwards back at qb, so even though the Pats should win, I'd play most of my stud Bills players.

Boom: All Pats and Marshawn Lynch, Lee Evans and Trent Edwards—You have to play guys like Matt Cassel, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but sleepers like Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk should be played also.

On the Bills side, Lynch, Evans and Edwards make good plays because of the weak Patriots secondary and soft defense.

Prediction: Lynch: 80 rushing yards, 1 touchdown,  and 3 catches for 40 yards. Evans: 5 catches for 80 yards with 1 touchdown. Edwards: 295 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Bust: Both defenses—Even though the Pats defense has been playing better lately, I'd be skeptical about using them. I like the Bills offense better with Edwards back and he can expose the Pats secondary. If Lynch gets getting then that will set-up the pass.

Prediction: NE defense: 4 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recoverry. BUF defense: 2 sacks and one interception.


KC@CIN Prediction: KC 31, CIN 27

I like the Chiefs in this game because of their offensive-fire power with Tyler Thigpen, Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, and Dwayne Bowe.

The Bengals have won two in a row and would love to end the season on a three-game winning streak, but I see the Chiefs spoiling that and trying to save Herm Edwards' job for next year.

Boom: Tyler Thigpen, Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Dwayne Bowe—The Chiefs should have no problems moving the ball against a weak Bengals defense. Thigpen is also playing for his job for next year, even if it already looks like it's safe.

LJ had a solid game last week and should thrive this week. Gonzalez is a no-brainer and Bowe should bounce-back after a quiet week 16.

Predictions: Thigpen: 300 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Gonzalez: 7 catches, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. Johnson: 90 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 catches for 40 yards. Bowe: 5 catches for 80 yards and 1 touchdown.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Cedric Benson-These guys don't exactly jump out at you, but if you're looking for a few sleeper picks, look no further. Fitzpatrick hasn't played great since taking over for the injured Carson Palmer, but the Chiefs secondary has struggled all year long. TJ was quiet last week, but will bounce back and Benson has been on a roll recently.

Predictions: Fitzpatrick 250 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. TJ: 7 catches for 90 yards and 1 touchdown. Benson: 100 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 catches for 50 yards.

Bust: Nobody—You're not really looking at playing anybody else in this game aside from the names above anyway so don't even think about starting anybody else this week.


DET@GB Prediction: GB 30, DET 14

The Packers' season has been a huge disappointment after so many close losses this season, but can look ahead to next year with a solid core of offensive talent. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Ryan Grant can be built on next year so the future doesn't look so blique even after missing the playoffs.

The Lions won't be finding a win this week against an angry Packers squad at Lambeau Field. I wouldn't be surprised if the Lions pulled off the upset, because I've seen the Packers blow as many leads ala the Mets' bullpen. Play all your Packers and Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith.

Boom: All Packers and Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith—Don't get cute and bench any Packers against the worst team of all-time. Start all your Packers and watch them cruise this week. The Packers defense will thrive on the turnover-prone Lions also. Calvin Johnson should never be benched and Kevin Smith has been a sleeper all year.

Predictions: Johnson 7 catches, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. Smith: 100 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 30 yards.

Bust: Any other Lion—I recommended Orlovsky last week and got burned for it so I wil not be making any bold predictions about any other Lion this week. Forget about playing anybody else.


CHI@HOU Prediction: HOU 27, CHI 24

I know a lot of people will be on the Bears after their over-time victory against Green Bay last week, but did they really play well or just get lucky? I think they got lucky, so I think the Texans will take out their anger after losing to the Raiders last week. The Texans will be looking at a solid finish to the season and playing spoiler so they'll be plenty motivated. I'd stay away from both defenses and play all your stud starters from both teams.

Boom: Matt Forte, Greg Olsen, and all Texans—Both defenses have struggled lately so don't bench any of your stud players from either team. Forte has been awesome all year and will have success against the Texans defense.

Olsen had a great week against the Pack last week so he will be targeted often. Play Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter, because the Bears defense is ravaged with injuries.

Prediction: Forte: 120 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 catches for 50 yards. Olsen: 6 catches for 60 yards and 1 touchdown.

Bust: Kyle Orton, Devin Hester—Neither guy is consistent enough to play in your final week. I'd stay away from both because you never know what you're going to get with them.

Prediction: Orton: 230 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 intercpetions. Hester: 4 catches for 40 yards.


TEN@IND Prediction: TEN 21, IND 17

This game doesn't matter so we'll be seeing most of the back-ups, but Vince Young has something to prove so I see him playing well. I'll take Young over Sorgi and I'd bench all Titans and Colts studs.

Boom: Vince Young—If you're desperate, Young could be a sleeper pick this week if he starts. Even if he doesn't he's going to see most of the snaps.

Prediction: 240 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 60 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown.

Bust: All starters from both teams—You can't play any of the regular starters since they will probably be benched.


NYG@MIN Prediction: MIN 21, NYG 17

The Vikings are desperate for a win and will play well here since the Giants don't need the game.

I can also see Tom Coughlin playing his starters for most of the game also since we saw him do this last year. I'd only be confident in Adrian Peterson and the Vikings defense for Minnesota, because Berrian is injured and the rest of the starters are iffy.

For the Giants, I'd bench Jacobs, since he probably won't play and Eli Manning. You can still use the Giants defense, but since Aaron Ross probably will sit, they're a risky option.

Boom: Adrian Peterson and Vikings defense—Despite having fumbling issues lately, I'd start Peterson with confidence. He should never be benched anyway. Expect normal Peterson numbers. The Vikings defense didn't play that well last week, but they may force some turnovers.

Prediction: Peterson: 100 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 30 yards. Vikings' Defense: 5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery. 

Derrick Ward—After seeing him explode last week and the fact that Jacobs will probably sit, Ward is a great option this week. Pat Williams is still out and we saw Michael Turner have success last week, so start Ward.

Prediction: 110 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 catches for 40 yards.

Bust: Eli Manning—We may see some of David Carr this week in the 3rd or 4th quarter. Eli also hasn't been playing too well lately so I'd bench him.

Prediction: 180 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.


CAR@NO Prediction: NO 30, CAR 27

This is one of my upset specials this week. This is the second road game in a row for the Panthers and they blew a huge opportunity to grasp the No. 1 seed last week. The Saints' offense has been on a roll and Drew Brees is gunning for Dan Marino's record. The Panthers defense has been a mess lately. Start all players from both teams.

Boom: All Panthers and all Saints—Play your studs from both teams and expect a high-scoring game. I'd stay far away from the Panthers' defense his week.

Bust: Panthers defense—It'll be a fun and full of offense so bench them.

Prediction: 3 sacks and 1 interception.


CLE@PIT Prediction: PIT 24, CLE 10

The Steelers have nothing to play for, but their back-ups could beat the Browns right now. Don't start any Browns and only start the Steelers defense with confidence.

Boom: Steelers defense—The defense should still do well despite probably benching most of their starters. The Browns are THAT bad.

Bust: All Browns and Steelers offense—The Browns are pitiful so you can't be confident in any Brown right now. Bench your Steelers offensive studs since they'll probably rest.


OAK@TB Prediction: TB 24, OAK 14

I think the Raiders will play well here, but come up short. The Bucs won't lose a must-win game against the Raiders, Jon Gruden's former team. I like all your Bucs offensive studs and the Raiders' running-backs because neither defense is playing well.

Boom: All Bucs, Darren McFadden, and Justin Fargas—Antonio Bryant will see top shut-down corner Nnamdi Asomugha, who just shut-down Andre Johnson. I think you absolutely have to start him, but don't be surprised if he comes up short. The Raiders' running game should do well against a team that has been torched by the run lately.

Predictions: McFadden: 80 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 30 yards. Fargas: 77 rushing yards and 3 catches for 30 yards.

Bust: Tampa Bay defense—Sure, the Raiders offense has stunk most of the year, but the Bucs defense has been pathetic lately. I would not be confident in this defense right now.

Prediction: 3 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery.


JAX@BAL Prediction: BAL 21, JAX 10

Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and company will not let the Jags come to their house and upset them with a playoff spot in their hands. I'd bench all my Jags except for Maurice Jones-Drew and I'd play all my Ravens studs.

Boom: All Ravens—Joe Flacco has played well lately so he'd be a nice sleeper this week. Both Ravens running backs need to start, Derrick Mason if he starts and the Ravens defense. They will thrive against the Jags' awful defense.

Maurice Jones-Drew—He's going to be the entire Jaguars offense, because they saw what Teshard Choice did last week and will run the ball all day. Drew is also so valuable, because he's involved in the passing game so much. The Ravens defense is awesome, but you can't bench MJD here.

Prediction: 80 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 catches for 40 yards.

Bust: All other Jaguars—Don't even think about starting any other Jaguar this week. They're too risky and the Ravens defense is suffocating.


MIA@NYJ Prediction: NYJ 23, MIA 21

This will be an intense and close battle with playoff spots on the line. It's unlikely the Jets will still be alive by the time this game starts, because both the Ravens and Patriots should win. But the Jets will still play for pride and Brett Favre never quits.

They won't let Miami come in and upset them after a collapse. I like all your Jets starters and Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown this week.

Boom: All Jets—The Chiefs just put up some big numbers on the suddenly soft Dolphins defense. I like Favre and the Jets to get back on track on their home turf.

Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown—Chad will look to end the Jets season and get some revenge after getting cut. He will be so fired up that I wouldn't want to be the Jets defense this week. Look for Chad to come through and Ronnie Brown to put up solid stats.

Prediction: Pennington: 290 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Brown: 88 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 40 yards.

Bust: Ted Ginn Jr.—Ginn is too feast or famine to start in championship week.

Prediction: 4 catches for 40 yards.


DAL@PHI Prediction: DAL 17, PHI 14

The Cowboys will be playing for both the playoffs and for head coach Wade Phillips. Jerry Jones can saw whatever he wants right now, but if Phillips chokes here, it would be hard to bring him back if he does. I like all your Cowboys and only Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and the Eagles' defense this week.

Boom: Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Terrell Owens, Teshard Choice and Dallas' defense—The Boys will do anything to make the playoffs so expect usual numbers from these guys.

Predictions: Romo 290 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Witten: 6 catches for 70 yards. Owens: 5 catches for 50 yards and 1 touchdown. Choice: 100 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 30 yards. Dallas Defense: 5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery.

Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Eagles defense—All other Eagles are too risky right now. Last week they dropped about every ball thrown to them. Only trust these guys for Philly.

Predictions: McNabb 295 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Westbrook: 110 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 catches for 50 yards. Eagles' Defense: 4 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery. 


SEA@AZ Prediction: AZ 24, SEA 21

Kurt Warner and the Cardinals have had a tough time lately. I still start my normal Cardinals, because the Seahawks defense has been lit up too much this year. Start your Cardinals and look for Seneca Wallace, John Carlson, and Deion Branch as sleepers.

Boom: All Cardinals—You have to think the Cardinals will try and go into the playoffs with some kind of momentum. They'd like to crash Mike Holgrem's last game as head coach. Start all of them.

Seneca Wallace, Deion Branch, John Carlson—These guys have been playing well as of late so if ou're digging deep, dig no further than here.

Predictions: Wallace: 200 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 50 rushing yards. Branch: 6 catches for 60 yards, and 1 touchdown. Carlson: 7 catches for 77 yards and 1 touchdown.

Bust: Tim Hightower—This is the only Cardinal I'd worry about since he hasn't even been in a game-plan lately. Bench him.

Prediction: 50 rushing yards


WAS@SF Prediction: WAS 24, SF 21

These guys have nothing to play for so expect this to be a boring game, but with a lot of offense. I'd play all Redskins and only Shaun Hill, DeShaun Foster (if he starts) and Issac Bruce for the Niners.

Boom: All Redskins, Shaun Hill, DeShaun Foster and Issac Bruce—These guys will show up because both defenses struggle. Start them confidently.

Prediction: Hill: 300 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Foster: 80 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 catches for 20 yards. Bruce: 7 catches for 70 yards and 1 touchdown.

Bust: Nobody-Start everybody here.


DEN@SD Prediction: SD 27, DEN 21

Since the Broncos have no running game and will be one-dimensional, Cutler will air it out 50 times. I'd play all my starters here wth the division title on the line. Both defenses have struggled all season.

Boom: All Broncos and Chargers—Start all your studs here. It will be so intense and close that both teams will score points.

Bust: Nobody—Don't bench any studs here.


That does it for this week's predictions, have fun watching all the action in Week 17 and good luck to fantasy owners!


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