NFL – Week Seventeen Predictions

30 Dec

The NFL’s 2011 regular season winds up this week, with all 16 games being played on Sunday. I’m assuming the schedule was set up this way – no Thursday, Saturday or Monday games – so as not to give any unfair advantage (or disadvantage) to teams that qualify for the playoffs. Last week I picked 10 winners out of the 16 games, leaving the season record at a very well rounded 150 correct and 90 wrong. Here are my picks for the final round of regular season games:

Buffalo at New England – supposedly Tom Brady may have an injured non-throwing shoulder, which could limit his playing time. He’ll probably play, but you have to question how much his heart will be in it. To me, the Patriots without Brady are just like the Colts without Peyton Manning, very average. I’ll take the Bills to close the season with a win.

Detroit at Green Bay – the Packers have the NFC’s top playoff seed wrapped up, and the Lions will be playing to not get anyone hurt also. This shapes up like a preseason game, which makes it hard to pick. I’ll go with the home field and pick Green Bay to win.

Tennessee at Houston – the Texans clinched the first playoff berth in their history a few weeks ago, then basically shut it down. The Titans need to win to stay alive, so I’ll pick them to win on the road.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville – if the Colts win, they could blow their shot at drafting Andrew Luck, but the Jaguars have incentive to not win also, as they would be allowing a division rival to get the best player in the draft. This game should be a real mess. On paper the Colts are the better team, and I’ll pick them to show some pride and win.

New York Jets at Miami – the Jets need to win, then must get a ton of help to make the playoffs. I don’t think they’re good enough this season to even accomplish the first “must”. Miami pulls the upset at home.

Chicago at Minnesota – both teams have had disappointing seasons, but the Bears still have slim hopes so I’ll pick them to win this game.

Carolina at New Orleans – the Saints could get the second seed and a first round bye if they win and the 49ers lose to the Rams, but that won’t happen. New Orleans has a post-Drew Brees record letdown, and the Panthers get the win.

Washington at Philadelphia – both of these teams have played great football since they’ve been out of the playoff race, a tribute to veteran coaches Mike Shanahan and Andy Reid. I’ll go with the Eagles, who are by far more talented.

San Francisco at St. Louis – Jim Harbaugh has done an amazing job turning the Niners around this year, and they can clinch a playoff bye with a win over arguably the NFL’s worst team. It says here they’ll get it done, then be a legitimate playoff threat.

Seattle at Arizona – both of these teams made late runs to give their fans hope for next year, but the Seahawks have a chance to salvage a winning record so I’ll take them to win on the road.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta – the Buccaneers have been running for the bus for weeks, probably getting their coach, Raheem Morris, fired after this game. The Falcons win in a blowout.

Baltimore at Cincinnati –  the Ravens will know the result of the Patriots/Bills game by the time this game is played at 4 PM, so their effort in trying to win is subject to change. The Bengals almost surely need to win to get in, and I’ll go with them at home to pull it off.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland – with or without the banged-up  Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers will methodically wear down the Browns  and win.

Kansas City at Denver – although the Tebow Train has been derailed the last 2 weeks, and the Chiefs are resurgent under interim coach Romeo Crennell, I still think the Broncos, at home, will muster up a good enough effort and win this game to sneak into the playoffs.

San Diego at Oakland – Charger coach Norv Turner is on the verge of being fired, and his team’s effort will reflect that. Oakland wins at home to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Dallas at New York Giants – this is a winner-take-all game for the NFC East title, a perfect end to the season as it’s the Sunday night prime time game. Both teams have been dominant at times this year, and both have been awful also. Because they’re playing at home and have players with more big game experience, I’ll pick the Giants to win.

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