NFL: A Final Regular Season Look in the Crystal Ball
Week 17 in the NFL is here. This is the final week of the regular season. There is plenty on the line as several teams are vying for their playoff lives. We peer into the crystal ball and see how it may play out.
Sunday, January 3rd
(2-13)New York Jets at New England Patriots(6-9) at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
With the Patriots’ offense as limited as they are, I think the Jets close with a third straight victory, and Jamison Crowder will catch a touchdown. New York shuts down the rushing attack and they create a takeaway. The result finishes Jets 24 Patriots 10 in Foxboro.
(10-5)Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals(4-10-1) at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
The Ravens ought to be able to get a big lead so that their starters can rest and get ready for their wild-card game next weekend. I am not sure they can beat both Buffalo and Kansas City on the road to take the AFC. There is no doubt that they will be a tough out and are capable of making a deep run. The Ravens finish on eleven wins for the regular season, 34-13.
(10-5)Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills(12-3) at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
Miami will definitely come to play, riding the wave of momentum after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat last Saturday in Las Vegas. A lot of people think the Dolphins have no shot to win with Buffalo playing for the two seed. I will call the upset, Dolphins 28 Bills 27.
(12-3)Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns(10-5) at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
Even though the odds may have improved for Cleveland with Ben Roethlisberger sitting, I sense a hard-hitting defensive game that should come down to the final quarter. Baker Mayfield needs another late touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones. Browns 24 Steelers 17 will be the final score.
(4-11)Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers(10-5) at 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Atlanta puts together another strong effort. Because Tampa Bay chooses to rest their starters preserving the likes of Tom Brady and Antonio Brown for next weekend, it bodes well for Atlanta to close out a tight game. I will take the Falcons on a late field goal 24-23.
(6-9)Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants(5-10) at 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Dallas gets a big road win as they wait to see what Washington does about four hours after the conclusion of the game. The Giants’ offense is their undoing with a Cowboys defense that has done better of late after an atrocious beginning. Dallas 31 New York Giants 17.
(6-9)Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions(5-10) at 1:00 PM ET on FOX
Minnesota is one of those NFL teams that can play their best when not much is expected of them. The Vikings get two Adam Thielen touchdown receptions from Kirk Cousins. Minnesota begins building for next season with their first win of 2021, 28-16. Chris Spielman will have a big project to change the outlook of the Lions organization, but it will take time.
(1-14)Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts(10-5) at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
Mike Glennon has had some solid games, but I think this is the last home game for Philip Rivers. Indianapolis leaves an A+ effort on the field in all three phases. The Colts get the lead and don’t look back, 35-17, avenging a Week 1 defeat.
(10-5)Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans(4-11) at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
The Titans win, but Houston has played in a number of games with a chance to win. I cannot see that changing now. Tennessee makes the key plays at winning time by getting a Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown touchdown to wrap up the NFL’s AFC South, 26-20.
(6-9)Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs(14-1) at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
Because this is an NFL divisional game and Kansas City has clinched, it leaves the door open for the Chiefs starters to rest. The home team would be wise to get in a few series knowing the next meaningful game will be in two weeks, and they don’t want to be too rusty. As for the game, I think the Chargers go into Arrowhead and win. By three o’clock local time, it ends Chargers 28 Chiefs 24.
(7-8)Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos(5-10) at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
I think the Broncos have one more good game in them. They take advantage of a Raider team still stewing over a rough loss last Saturday. Denver shows more discipline and controls the clock. The Broncos close on six wins, 21-13.
(8-7)Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams(9-6) at 4:25 PM ET on CBS
Los Angeles’s defense played well in Seattle last week but did not get the run support, to use a baseball term, from the other side of the ball. Because the Rams are at home and the statistics back up the Rams mastery of the Cardinals, I think the trend will continue. Los Angeles Rams 20 Arizona 13.
(12-3)Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears(8-7) at 4:25 PM ET on FOX
I think Chicago will play better than they did in Wisconsin but are forced to kick field goals in the red zone. Green Bay is still too much for the Bears in round two. I will go with a score of 38-20 to the Packers. Green Bay gets the coveted bye, and the rest/rust conversation will dominate talk radio until their divisional foe visits Lambeau Field in a pair of weeks. Because of the result in Los Angeles, Chicago gets the news on the jumbotron and are cognizant that there will be a game for them next weekend around 7:25 PM Eastern Sunday.
(11-4)New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers(5-10) at 4:25 PM ET on FOX
Drew Brees gets in about a half-hour’s worth of game time in the huddle to keep himself in rhythm. The Saints get a bit of a test but get the two seed as a result, 30-20.
(11-4)Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers(6-9) in Glendale, Arizona at 4:25 PM ET on FOX
I think Seattle runs and hides in this game, which is something they are not necessarily accustomed to. Russell Wilson will cook, throwing for three touchdowns. Seattle wins this decision, 37-16.
(6-9)Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles(4-10-1) at 8:20 PM ET on NBC
Washington plays great defense and there will be a pick-six which tilts the trajectory of the game in the third quarter. Regardless of whether or not Alex Smith or Taylor Heinicke is the signal-caller Sunday, I think the side in burgundy will be fundamentally sound, taking advantage of short fields. Washington will be the four seed following a 31-21 victory in Pennsylvania.
How do you see week 17 in the NFL playing out? Leave a comment below.
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Works cited: Fox Sports website, Twitter Week 17 scenarios from Andrew Siciliano, Tom Pelissero, and Mary Kay Cabot; NFL, NBC Sports, and Outkick YouTube Channels, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC/ESPN, NFL Network