NFL: Picking the Final Week of the Regular Season

With the final week of the NFL regular season upon us in week 17, there are only 16 games left between now and the playoffs.  Some teams have already clinched their spots and are playing for seeding.  Some others are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive and make it to mid-January.  There are quite a few matchups this week worth delving into.  With that said, here are my picks for all 16 week 17 games, and why I believe they will end that way.

Atlanta Falcons (4-11) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

This NFL game will be a lot closer than people may think from both fanbases.  Tampa comes in as 6.5 point favorites, and according to ESPN has about a 74% chance of winning.  With that said, we saw how the Atlanta Falcons held up last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.  That game ended 17-14 on a Younghoe Koo missed field goal that would have sent it to overtime.  Last time these teams played was 2 weeks ago in week 15, in which the Buccaneers won by 4, 31-27.  Now, with the Buccaneers missing their two main linebackers in Devin White and Shaquil Barrett, this game becomes even more close.  If the Falcons can get Ito Smith and Todd Gurley to move the ball and really proficiently play, this could be a victory for them.  

At the end of the day, I still take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win this game.  However, like I said, if the Falcons can really proficiently run the ball this game could go to overtime.  

Miami Dolphins (10-5) @ Buffalo Bills (12-3)

This is another game that will be close, however most people expect it to be in this case.  Division rivals fighting for each of their own playoff seeds in week 17, and both teams really heating up in their recent games.  This game will come down to how well Tua Tagovailoa can produce, as he does not have Ryan Fitzpatrick to bail him out this game.  Buffalo comes in as 3 point favorites, with roughly a 70% chance of winning according to ESPN.  I agree with the 3 point favorites portion, this will definitely be a close game by the end.  

I am taking Buffalo to pull this game off, and end the season at 13-3.  Josh Allen should be able to continue his streak of consistent high level play, and bring this team pretty deep into the playoffs.  As for Miami, they will still be likely to make the playoffs as they have a large amount of scenarios left to do so.  With a loss from the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, or Cleveland Browns, they will make the NFL Playoffs.  

Baltimore Ravens (10-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

Here we have a game that should not be close, provided Baltimore plays like their playoff selves.  Being forced down to week 17 to clinch the playoffs for Baltimore is rough, but certainly still attainable at this point.  Something to note here is the Bengals are coming off a 2 game win streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans.  While this should still not go their way, it certainly could if they play like they have been.  However they still will be without Joe Mixon, who would have been a huge addition provided they wanted to win.  At this point, the best option for Cincy is to lose and get the better pick.  But will that pick be worth more than beating a division rival and possibly knocking them out of the NFL Playoffs is the real question.

I definitely think Baltimore should come out with the victory here at the end of the day.  They are getting better progressively, Lamar Jackson has been looking good ever since his…incident.  They also are going to be playing with everything they have physically and mentally, as this game is likely their playoff chances.

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) @ Cleveland Browns (10-5)

The other half of the AFC North, we have Pittsburgh and Cleveland.  Pittsburgh coming off a comeback win vs the Colts, and the Browns coming off a loss to the New York Jets.  The Browns will be fighting as hard as possible with a relatively full strength offense and returning receiving core.  Pittsburgh decided to start Mason Rudolph at QB this week to preserve Ben Roethlisberger for the playoffs.  They will also be without T.J. Watt, Maurkice Pouncey, Cam Heyward, and Joe haden for various reasons.  

This is the Browns game to lose, they have the advantage in roster and are playing for more than Pittsburgh is.  Cleveland should come out on top here no doubt, and it should be by a relatively sizeable margin.

Detroit Lions (5-10) Vs. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)

A divisional battle of two teams not in the NFL Playoffs with nothing to play for besides bragging rights.  The Vikings will be missing Dalvin Cook due to the passing of his father (may he Rest in Peace).  Choosing to be with his family over playing the game was a good decision, as the game has little meaning other than draft implications.  The Vikings coming off a 52-33 loss to the New Orleans Saints that got rid of any chance they had at the playoffs.  The Lions coming off a 47-7 routing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  This is the type of game we sometimes see in week 17, just a meaningless one.

Realistically, Minnesota should come out on top here.  They have slightly more on the offensive side of the ball, and neither team has much of a stout defense.  If the Lions can make a few defensive stops, then the outcome could definitely be different.  I just do not see them being able to do that.

New York Jets (2-13) @ New England Patriots (6-9)

Another NFL divisional battle that matters for very little besides draft position and bragging rights.  The Jets have the momentum carrying into this game, coming off wins against two playoff contenders in the Browns and Los Angeles Rams.  The Patriots on the other hand are coming off 3 losses, 2 of which to division rivals.  In most normal scenarios most people would pick the Patriots to win this game solely because of coaching and a talent disparity.

I disagree.  I think the Jets will find a way to win this one, and finish off on 3 wins while getting revenge on the Patriots for the last two or so decades.  The Patriots are really playing to get a better draft pick at this point, which one would think means they play down to their opponent and lose control of the game.  I think it will end up being a close, but respectable (ish) win for the Jets.

New York Giants (5-10) Vs. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)

Here we have the other half of the MetLife Stadium teams in the Giants.  This week 17 game has a lot more riding on it however, as the winner could technically go to the playoffs.  The Washington Football Team would have to lose, and if they do, the winner of this game will take hold of the division.  This should be another game of prior momentum.  The Giants are on a 3 game losing streak, however they were all to playoff contenders.  The Cowboys are on a 3 game winning streak, however on the contrary, they were all to teams eliminated from playoff contention.  This is probably my favorite matchup of the week, despite it being the NFC East.  It has drama surrounding it, teams playing for their playoff lives, and really no one knows who is better right now.  

I am going to go against the projections and against the spread here and say the Giants will take this game.  They kept it close last time, only losing by 3, and that was without their WR1 in Sterling Shephard.  Now do I think they make the playoffs because of this win?  That will be foreseen in the SNF game.

Green Bay Packers (12-3) @ Chicago Bears (8-7)

This game has gotten a lot of hype over the last week, as the Bears have finally turned around and gotten momentum to work with.  This should be a blowout if the Packers are the team we have been seeing the last few weeks.  They are on a 5 game winning streak, and really have been getting better with the return of Davante Adams earlier on.  This will be another game of can the Packers run defense hold up, this time against David Montgomery.  If the Packers can pull off a win in this game, they get the #1 NFC seed regardless of other games outcomes.   If they lose, they could lose the seeding based upon other games during the day.

I think Green Bay comes out with a win here, and by a respectable margin.  The Bears have been formidable as of late, but the Packers have been elite.  The talent disparity between the two teams will likely be too much for the Bears to overcome

Indianapolis Colts (10-5) Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

This game should not even be a contest if the Colts are who they claim to be.  They will be taking on the worst team in the league, in Indianapolis, with much more to play for.  The Colts are coming off a blown game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which they blew a large lead and lost by the end of the day.  This is their chance to come back and feel better about themselves going into the NFL Playoffs.  As long as Jonathan Taylor can keep up his production and Philip Rivers can find his non-turnover based self, the Colts should be fine.

I have the Colts winning this one, by multiple scores more than likely.  They are fighting for their playoff hopes, and should be able to pull off a win against the lowest of the low in the league.  

Tennessee Titans (10-5) @ Houston Texans (4-11)

Another game where a top team in the AFC South is taking on a bottom team in it.  Another game where the top team lost to a playoff contender, and it was ugly.  Similar game, similar teams, should lead to similar outcomes.  This is where most people would expect a “but…” statement, but it’s really hard to find one at this point.  Houston is coming off a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals as well, which should have killed any momentum they had.  Houston is also fighting for nothing, as they traded away their first round pick in the Laremy Tunsil trade.  

The Titans should be able to get Derrick Henry rolling again, and take home the win here.  This would leave them with a division title as well, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Colts, due to their last matchup.  

Kansas City Chiefs (14-1) Vs. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)

A game that matters not at all outside of the Chargers draft pick, this will likely be a boring one.  Patrick Mahomes is already confirmed to sit it out, with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill likely not being far behind.  The Chiefs have already clinched the 1 seed, and have nothing to play for, and nothing to prove.  With that said, the Chargers are still playing all their starters, so they definitely have the advantage.  The Chiefs will be starting Chad Henne at QB this week, for his first start in a game this season.

Realistically, this should be a Chargers victory, so that’s my choice.  This is really just an exhibition game for both teams, and neither of which gain or lose anything from this game outside maybe a slightly better draft pick for LA.

Las Vegas Raiders (7-8) @ Denver Broncos (5-10)

Ya this is kinda just the state of the AFC West right about now.  Neither game has any implications or meaning really to any of the 4 teams within it.  Both of these teams are out of the playoffs, and both have little to work towards.  2 things are at stake here pretty much, coaches jobs and draft position.  However coaching decisions are probably made prior to this game, so this would just be showing off.  The Raiders have the strength in terms of talent and coaching as of now, so they have the upper hand here.

The Raiders should definitely win this matchup, finishing off the season at .500.  The Broncos would also get a better draft pick because of that, so it would be in their best interest to lose.  

Arizona Cardinals (8-7) @ Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

Moving onto the NFC LA team, we have this NFC West matchup.  This could have been an extremely high octane matchup if Rams QB Jared Goff were to be playing.  However due to an injury he will be out this week.  With Kyler Murray playing, that leans this game exceptionally in the direction of the Cardinals.  On the other hand, the Rams running game has been solid all year and really tests the front 7 of most teams.

This game will likely be a close one, and could even go to overtime if the Cardinals defense cannot keep up.  I still have the Cardinals winning this one to take 2nd in the division, solely because they have Kyler and DeAndre Hopkins who perform well under pressure.  

Seattle Seahawks (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

Here we have the other half of the NFC West, the best and worst team in the division albeit.  The Seahawks are playing for seeding in the NFC, competing with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints for the top 3 seeds.  The 49ers are really just looking to end off a injury riddled season and move on to next year as soon as possible.  Seattle was able to take down the Rams last week, 20-9, in a hard fought game for a large majority of it.  San  Fran was able to hold off the Cardinals, in a 20-12 victory last week.  

If Seattle wants to prove themselves as being a top NFC team, they need to win this game.  With that said, I think they will, convincingly at that.  They should be able to win by at least a touchdown, if not two scores, provided they show up with the intensity they have shown before.

New Orleans Saints (11-4) @ Carolina Panthers (5-10)

A relatively interesting matchup, considering all the Covid-19 related movements throughout the week. It took until week 17 for both of these teams to have major outbreaks, which is impressive in a sense. Both teams are without the large majority of their RBs, and each will have major injury moves on the defensive front.  Panthers Edge Brian Burns, DL Yetur Gross-Matos, and OT Russell Okung have had limited or no participation in practice all week.  Saints FS Marcus Williams, CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and TE Josh Hill will all be out.  This pretty much comes down to the passing game, and solely the passing game.  That leaves us with Drew Brees vs Teddy Bridgewater, which will be a fun matchup against the former teammates.  

This should be a week 17 victory for the Saints, as they have a few more assets on defense and offense playing compared to the Panthers.  However I fully expect this to come down to the wire, and possibly be an OT game.

Washington Football Team (6-9) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

To wrap out week 17 we have the 8:20 EST SNF game, and divisional matchup, which basically counts for who wins the NFC East.  The division has come down to week 17, as most would expect at this point.  If the WFT wins, they clinch a playoff berth for the first time in 5 years.  If they lose, the winner of the other NFC East showdown takes the division win.  The WFT will have Alex Smith returning, and possibly WR Terry McLaurin.  This game should be another buzzer beater of sorts, despite that being the wrong sport reference.  

I think the WFT can and will pull this win off, and make the playoffs.  Having Alex Smith back is a crucial step in this game, and he should be able to bring them to the promised lands. 

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Who do you think wins each NFL week 17 game? Leave a comment down below and let me know!

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