NFL Week 17 Predictions: One More Try Edition

Earlier this week I did a deep dive into the MVP race heading into Week 17. The only logical conclusion is for Matt Ryan to run away with the award, but some want to make it a career achievement thing and dismiss Ryan for a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, or a flashy new thing out of Dallas. The absurd part is that should Ryan lose on Sunday in a 38-35 game after some typical Drew Brees masterclass performance against his bad defense, while someone like Brady or Rodgers has a nice week to close the season against an opponent clearly worse than its record suggests, then you can almost guarantee that Ryan will finish with no more than a handful of the 50 votes. That’s crazy, because the race has simply not been that close if you actually value the whole season like you should. It’s almost impossible for a player who was suspended for a quarter of the season to be considered the most valuable player in the league. That’s 25% of the season where he’s given no value, and we know the Patriots are more likely to succeed without Brady than most teams would be without their top quarterback. Or in the case of Aaron Rodgers, why is the 4-6 start and spotty play just getting ignored here when someone like Ryan has carried a worse defense further in the NFC while turning in one of the most consistent QB seasons on record? It’s nuts. We’re going into 2017. Let’s do better, people. Then again, an NFL Network ad that glorified “analysis from guys with rings” is clearly a step in the wrong direction, but we’ll have all of January and the start of February to talk about ring fluff.

The drama in Week 17 really centers on clearing up the AFC West, and whether or not the Patriots will lay another bizarre egg in Miami like they did a year ago. I doubt the latter happens, and I think Matt McGloin is going to struggle in Denver for Oakland. However, the Raiders might just be able to lean on that run offense again, and Denver’s poor offense won’t be able to take advantage in a 8-8 finish for the year. Oakland gets the two seed, though that’s probably the best possible outcome for this AFC playoffs. Let’s see Kansas City at New England early, and then maybe Pittsburgh gets there too.

NFC North Title Match: Green Bay at Detroit

There’s only one other game worth highlighting, and that is the finale in Detroit between the Lions and Packers. My gut says Detroit finds a way to avenge the Hail Mary last year and win this game, though I’m just not sure I trust Matthew Stafford to come through in the biggest game of his career. Yes, he’s started two playoff games, but those were on the road. This is to get a home playoff game for the Lions. That’s huge. He played well in Green Bay in Week 3, but that was before Marvin Jones ended up on milk cartons and a lot of it came after a 28-point lead for the Packers. Rodgers has already shredded this No. 32 defense, and the health of Darius Slay is a big thing to monitor against Jordy Nelson and company. The Lions are allowing a 72.9 completion percentage this season, the worst in NFL history. Oddly enough, the 2011 Colts, also coached by Jim Caldwell, hold the record at 71.2%. Five of the 12 worst rates ever belong to Detroit teams. I don’t expect either running game to take off in a huge way, so it really comes down to the passing games. I just think Rodgers has the experience, superior talent and more weapons to deal with than Stafford here, and we know the Lions have been in a scoring rut lately. I’m going to take Green Bay, which seems to be in one of these seed-determining Week 17 games each year, though a Detroit win wouldn’t shock me. Ideally, you’d want to see this game come down to the final drive given the eight comebacks for the Lions this year and GB’s history in that department under Mike McCarthy. Six of Detroit’s comebacks have been at home, and seven of the eight have been from just a 1-4 point deficit. It’s a myth that this team waits to turn it on until the fourth. It’s a fact that they’re just not a very good team that gets involved in a ton of close games and usually trails each week. This one shouldn’t be any different, but a blowout sure would be disappointing to end this regular season on Sunday night.

Final: Packers 27, Lions 23

2016 Week 17 Predictions

Man, I knew I should have picked San Diego to lose to Cleveland last week.  Here’s one more try at a 16-0 week (yeah right).

Winners in bold:

  • Ravens at Bengals
  • Browns at Steelers
  • Patriots at Dolphins
  • Bills at Jets
  • Texans at Titans
  • Cowboys at Eagles
  • Jaguars at Colts
  • Bears at Vikings
  • Panthers at Buccaneers
  • Giants at Redskins
  • Seahawks at 49ers
  • Saints at Falcons
  • Cardinals at Rams
  • Raiders at Broncos
  • Chiefs at Chargers
  • Packers at Lions

Season recap

  • Week 1: 7-9
  • Week 2: 10-6
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 8-7
  • Week 5: 7-7
  • Week 6: 12-3
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 7-6
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 7-7
  • Week 11: 12-2
  • Week 12: 12-4
  • Week 13: 10-5
  • Week 14: 9-7
  • Week 15: 12-4
  • Week 16: 9-7
  • Season: 148-92

NFL Week 17 Predictions

Earlier this week I posted a graphic on Twitter about the changing playoff picture for this year, finding that it’s really just another case of health (primarily at QB) determining the changes. The only real decay and growth came from the Lions and Vikings, which many expected to happen.

NewPOTeams

There was something the other day I thought I would build this Week 17 post around, but it has slipped my mind. It was not going to be a rant about the MVP, because Carson Palmer should have been leading that for several weeks. I’m tired of talking about that. It wasn’t about Carolina, which finally lost a close game last week. I’m not even sure it was about the Chiefs, who I just don’t think are anything special again this season. Was it about the prospects of a weak AFC playoff field practically rolling out a red carpet for the Patriots to the Super Bowl? No, I don’t think so. Was it some support for Marvin Lewis, who might have had a No. 1 seed if Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert didn’t get hurt at the worst time? Probably not. I’m not nearly interested enough in Vikings-Packers to even preview it at this point, especially if we end up having to preview it again a week later.

Whatever it was, I’m sure I will get back to it eventually this month, which is usually my busiest of the year. The playoffs are coming, moving on from the weakest regular season I can ever remember following.

Which games are even worth focusing on this week?

Jets at Bills – that sure would be perfect for Rex Ryan to keep the Jets out of the playoffs with a season sweep. However, it’s been about five years since Ryan did something monumental, so why should we expect it now? Of course, the Jets are a team known for failing in ways worthy of Greek tragedy. But I think they get this one, because they really let the first meeting get away with some bad play calls and bounces. The Jets have a better offense and better defense than Buffalo. They also just may have the better coach too.

Steelers at Browns – so I’m not expecting the Steelers to get the help they need (a Bills win) to make the playoffs, but that’s why you take care of your own business and win the games you’re supposed to. The Steelers will naturally smoke Cleveland, getting the memo one week too late when they should have taken care of The Replacements in Baltimore last week. If they can’t even beat Austin Davis and a Cleveland team waiting to fire Mike Pettine, they shouldn’t even think of bringing Mike Tomlin back next year.

Patriots at Dolphins – the outrage over New England’s justifiable decision to kick off in overtime was funny to me. I guess the league will do what it takes to build up some Week 17 drama. That No. 1 seed isn’t in jeopardy at all. I know Miami has won the last two home meetings against the Patriots, but have you seen Miami play this year? Out of the ridiculous 10 scenarios the Colts needed to make the playoffs, Miami beating New England is probably the most far fetched of them all. The Patriots will win and the Texans, albeit a mediocre team at best, will win the AFC South.

Seahawks at Cardinals – it’s the DVOA Bowl. Seattle ranks 2nd and Arizona ranks 1st in DVOA in a tight battle with one game left. Seattle’s DVOA dynasty has been something else, leading the league three years in a row. That’s about the only thing on the line for Pete Carroll here, so I actually think he should rest starters. The NFC North winner followed by Carolina is a playoff path I wouldn’t mind starting out on, and why show the Cardinals your current offense this close to the playoffs? This could be the game that ends Seattle’s 85-game no blowout streak. Backwards hat Jeff Fisher came pretty close last week, which was a real surprise. But that also speaks to why this team does so well in DVOA. The Seahawks rarely have bad quarters, let alone bad games. They are always so competitive and never out of a game. They just may have their worst two-game stretch in a while here if they take this game lightly.

Vikings at Packers – doesn’t it seem like every Week 17 has the Packers in some crucial playoff seeding game? That’s what made me realize earlier this week that despite such a long run of HOF QB play and 10-win seasons, the Packers have only had a first-round bye three times since 1998. Even Jeff Fisher has done that (2000, 2002, 2008). This year’s team does not look like it’s headed anywhere far, but the Vikings are one team I can trust these Packers to beat by having the defense step up. Then again, Minnesota’s really seemed to have an 07 Giants-like surge from the confidence it gained in Arizona a few weeks back. Remember, the Vikings were supposed to get killed in Arizona on a short week with several starters out, but were down 3 points in the final minute in field goal range, not too unlike its loss in Denver earlier this season. Then Teddy Bridgewater had his most dominant game against the Bears and the Vikings embarrassed the Giants last week. Maybe this team is peaking at the right time, but this is a great test on the road where the Packers have already lost at home to the Bears and Lions this year. The Vikings have enough on the roster to win this one, yet my knee-jerk reaction is to still go with Green Bay.

So we’re not really set up for a ton of excitement on the final day of the regular season, but something worthwhile should happen.

2015 Week 17 Predictions

Keep in mind I am 3-12 at picking Tampa Bay games this year…And it’s about 10:16 p.m. on Saturday night and I don’t have a f’n clue who the Colts are starting at quarterback, yet I almost feel compelled to still pick them.

Winners in bold:

  • Redskins at Cowboys
  • Eagles at Giants
  • Saints at Falcons
  • Jets at Bills
  • Steelers at Browns
  • Patriots at Dolphins
  • Titans at Colts
  • Lions at Bears
  • Jaguars at Texans
  • Ravens at Bengals
  • Raiders at Chiefs
  • Chargers at Broncos
  • Seahawks at Cardinals
  • Buccaneers at Panthers
  • Rams at 49ers
  • Vikings at Packers

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 4-10
  • Week 11: 9-5
  • Week 12: 8-8
  • Week 13: 11-5
  • Week 14: 10-6
  • Week 15: 11-5
  • Week 16: 9-7
  • Season: 148-92 (.617)

NFL Week 17 Predictions: In the Nervous Light of Sunday

The NFL’s regular season sure goes by quickly. Even though it does feel like a long time ago when I woke up at 3 A.M., choking on my own mucus just hours after the Seahawks shut down Green Bay on opening night, the 17 weeks just fly by.

So for the last time this year, here are some thoughts on this week’s action.

REST: Colts at Titans, Bills at Patriots, Cowboys at Redskins

Some teams have little or really nothing to play for, but should they rest? I hate playoff rest, especially for a team that’s already earned a bye. That’s when you rest. Bill Belichick has not been one to make Week 17 an excruciating sight like Bill Polian’s Colts teams used to, so I expect Tom Brady and company to make short order of the Bills, but it really doesn’t even matter if they don’t.

Is this the first “rest game” for Andrew Luck? I think the Colts need to establish some rhythm on offense and the lowly Titans are a great opponent to do that against. I would aim for playing a half and hoping the offense puts up 17+ points before giving the backups the second half.

The Cowboys have a very slim chance of getting a bye, so they should rest DeMarco Murray, but I imagine he’ll play just long enough to get the yardage necessary to break Emmitt Smith’s single-season franchise record. Tony Romo should be a MVP favorite, so sitting could depress his numbers a little more than they already are with missing some time this year, but the Redskins are bad enough for him to add to his career-best season. Still, I would not have him in there in the fourth quarter along with anyone else that’s irreplaceable.

With a win in Washington, Dallas would join the 49ers (1984, 1989, 1990), 2001 Rams and 2007 Patriots as the only teams to go 8-0 on the road in a season.

Rams at Seahawks

No way will Jeff Fisher sweep the Seahawks with a home game where Seattle can clinch the No. 1 seed, but he might see his defense throw a cheap shot or two along the way. I picked Seattle to repeat all year long and I see no reason to change that. Russell Wilson won’t have the dynamic 300/100 game again, but I expect the Rams to struggle to reach 10 points in this one, especially if we’re just looking at offensive scoring.

Eagles at Giants

After Odell Beckham Jr. gets done with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, he will replace Eli Manning in those “Unstoppable” commercials that never made any damn marketing sense. The Giants will end the season on a good note, and be ready to take down the Patriots in next year’s Super Bowl. Every four years, like leap year.

Lions at Packers

Well, you probably know the Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991. Three weeks later Detroit won its last playoff game, 38-6 over Dallas. So it’s not hyperbole to say a win in Lambeau this week would be the biggest Detroit win since the 1991 season. We also know this is exactly the kind of game the Lions just don’t win. The Matthew Stafford era still carries this ugly graphic around:

StafWk17

Note: I watched Lindsay Rhodes and Brian Baldinger amusingly reference this stat on TV the other day. People are paying attention. Even good-looking blondes. 

That’s 3-29 against teams that finished the season with a winning record. He still technically hasn’t played a team that finished 9-7 yet. Buffalo could finish 9-7, but Detroit lost that game. Miami could finish 9-7 and Detroit actually won that game with one of Stafford’s five 4QC wins (most in 2014). Otherwise the record is 1-2 this year with a win over Green Bay in which Eddie Lacy almost scored as many points for Detroit (9) than the Stafford-led offense did (10). Detroit’s defensive turnaround has been great this year. The Lions have intercepted a pass in 12 consecutive games (longest streak in the league). The Lions have held 11 opponents to fewer than 18 points. I think the defense will do a respectable job against an offense that’s been incredible at home, but I think Detroit’s offense is going to lose this game by being too ineffective. This offense struggled in Chicago last week against a putrid defense. I just don’t see Stafford pulling this one out, though if you give him the ball last, he could deliver Detroit’s finest moment in 23 years.

Final prediction: Lions 13, Packers 24

Chargers at Chiefs

Does Chase Daniel exist for the sole purpose of starting against the Chargers in do-or-die games in Week 17? Hey, he might actually throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. Daniel played well enough to win last year in San Diego and that was with a backup-heavy roster. Andy Reid does a great job of getting the backup ready to play, so I actually don’t expect much of a drop-off, if any, in this one, which could be a high-scoring game. Philip Rivers will have to suck up the pain and play really well to get this win, but I do like the Chargers’ chances of claiming that last playoff berth in the AFC.

Panthers at Falcons

It seems ridiculous one of these teams will get a home playoff game, and possibly against an opponent (say Arizona) they could probably beat. These teams usually play tight games, which usually favors Atlanta. However, I think the team that can get its skill guy going (Jonathan Stewart for Carolina, Julio Jones for Atlanta) strong will get the win. I lean towards Atlanta just because it’s at home and Matt Ryan has been better than Cam Newton this season, but it’s certainly a coin-flip game. Neither team has been very good for any sustained period this season. I’m just confused why this game wasn’t played at 1 p.m. to give that time slot something more meaningful on Sunday. Let us focus heavily on DET-GB in peace, though that game’s more likely to be a blowout than this one.

Raiders at Broncos

Denver will have to play this game out just so the Bengals can’t jump ahead for a No. 2 seed, but if this is anything but a massacre of the Raiders, then maybe there is something rotten in the state of Colorado. I expect Peyton Manning to rebound from Monday night and lead the league in touchdown passes for a record fifth time by surpassing the 40 mark again. His teams have usually been aware of receiving feats, so I imagine he’ll try to get Emmanuel Sanders up to 10 touchdowns. He has nine this year. One more and he’ll join Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas with at least 10 touchdowns this year, making the 2014 Broncos the third offense to ever have at least three double-digit touchdown receivers. Manning was the quarterback of the first two offenses.

3x10

Bengals at Steelers

I already wrote a little preview at FO this week on the game, so let me provide a Pittsburgh fan’s perspective. I think Cincinnati’s win over Denver helps the Steelers in this one. Cincinnati won’t be playing for its playoff lives anymore since both teams are in, but this is for the division and likely a No. 3 seed. The Steelers have been much better at home this year, especially the offense which will need to play very well to win. That’s where the Steelers are this year. The defense can’t be trusted, so Ben Roethlisberger has to play borderline great for the Steelers to win. I actually think compared to the 42-21 game a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, we’ll see much lower scoring in this one. A.J. Green possibly being limited could be a big boost for the Steelers, but that’s why Jeremy Hill is the guy to watch. I can see him outrushing Le’Veon Bell, but it’s the passing battle that the Steelers need to win decisively. Roethlisberger played a piss-poor game in Week 16 two years ago against the Bengals that eliminated the Steelers from the playoffs. This defense has given him trouble in the past. His last game against them looks more like an outlier than anything. So I think he’ll have more of the team’s fate on his shoulders and will have to deliver a very good performance whereas Dalton will have more help. The Bengals can certainly win this game, but they’ve only won two games on the road in prime-time against a quality opponent since I’ve been born. So what do you think I’m going to pick here?

Final prediction: Bengals 17, Steelers 24

Note: I went all Jay Cutler on this final prediction piece of the regular season, meaning I didn’t proofread anything. If something’s wrong, I don’t currrr. You’re not replacing me with Jimmy Clausen. 

NFL Week 17 Predictions

After going 8-8 in Week 1, I’ve managed 15 straight winning weeks.

Winners in bold:

  • Bears at Vikings
  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Jaguars at Texans
  • Bills at Patriots
  • Jets at Dolphins
  • Cowboys at Redskins
  • Eagles at Giants
  • Browns at Ravens
  • Chargers at Chiefs
  • Colts at Titans
  • Cardinals at 49ers
  • Rams at Seahawks
  • Raiders at Broncos
  • Lions at Packers
  • Panthers at Falcons
  • Bengals at Steelers

I know it’s been such a home-road season for the contenders (minus Dallas), but damn, 75% home teams? Oh well. Trust the gut. The teams I picked to win were only 9-7 in the first matchup this season.

Season Results

  • Week 1: 8-8
  • Week 2: 9-7
  • Week 3: 11-5
  • Week 4: 8-5
  • Week 5: 11-4
  • Week 6: 9-5-1
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-5
  • Week 9: 11-2
  • Week 10: 10-3
  • Week 11: 8-6
  • Week 12: 12-3
  • Week 13: 9-7
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 14-2
  • Week 16: 10-6
  • Total: 161-78-1

NFL Week 17 Predictions: Peyton Manning’s Greatest Season and NFC Playoffs

It’s the eve to the end of another NFL regular season. They sure go by quickly. This Sunday should be as eventful as any with only the Chiefs locked into their playoff seeding. There are a few notable story-lines to focus on this week.

Peyton Manning: Best QB Season Ever?

I’ve been asked by a few people if I think Peyton Manning is having the best season ever by a quarterback this season. The simple answer is no, it’s not even the best Peyton Manning season. The reasoning is a bit more complex.

For starters, Manning’s season is not over yet, so it’s not exactly fair to ask this question right now. He has one more game and if we are to factor in the postseason, then that’s 1-3 more games. From a pure statistical volume standpoint, I do think it will go down as the best season in that he has a good shot to reach 55 touchdown passes and 5,500 passing yards.

When factoring in efficiency, caliber of opponents and how he’s compiling the numbers, then I think it falls short of the all-time great seasons.

Manning has already thrown 631 passes this season. He only needed 497 when he threw 49 touchdowns in 2004. His passer rating is 113.0, which is below the 121.1 he had in 2004. While his interception percentage (1.6%) is the lowest of his career, he has career-worsts in fumbles (10) and lost fumbles (6). The standard of defense has also fallen off greatly this season around the league and it’s hard to acknowledge many of the defenses Manning’s played as being good, let alone great.

Manning only took the field for 149 drives in 2004 when he compiled his amazing numbers. This season the Broncos have 182 drives with one game to go. Even after we take out a few that Manning did not play, he simply has had quite a few more opportunities this season to put up touchdowns and yards.

So I think 2004 is a superior season from Manning and I think his finest overall effort was 2006. No, that’s not because he won the Super Bowl, but it’s because he carried that heavily flawed team so effectively each week. He had to overcome the horrific run defense. He led the best third-down offense ever at the time. He had a rookie running back (Joseph Addai). He had no No. 3 WR thanks to injuries to Brandon Stokley. He was as effective as ever at throwing downfield to Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. He only gained 34.3% of his yards via YAC, which is a career low. In 2013, he’s enjoying a career-high 48.5 YAC% from his receivers.

When ESPN introduced their QBR stat, the first season I wanted to see was Manning’s 2006, because I felt it could be as high as any in the last decade. Sure enough, when ESPN added more QBR data, Manning’s 2006 is the best at 87.2. His 82.2 QBR in 2013 is only his personal 4th-best season and this thing only goes back to 2006.

With all that said, I do think Manning came up just a few drives short from having had the greatest season ever this year. The margin in football is usually that small. Had Manning completed a 19-point comeback in the fourth quarter in Indianapolis, threw a game-winning touchdown in overtime in New England and at least tied the game with a 97-yard touchdown drive against San Diego, then I probably would say it’s the best QB season ever. Why would it change after three drives? Because in addition to boosting his stats even more, that’s adding the stuff of legends to his season.

Remember when Peyton went back to Indianapolis and brought his new team back from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter? No, I just remember him getting hit as he threw and the pass was intercepted. Then his running back fumbled in the red zone to end the last rally attempt. Ho-hum.

Remember when Bill Belichick took the wind in overtime and Manning embarrassed him again with a game-winning touchdown pass? No, I just remember two punts and the game pathetically ending on a muffed Denver punt.

Remember when Peyton led his team back from 14 down in the fourth quarter with a 97-yard game-tying touchdown drive against San Diego? No, I just remember another play where he was hit as he threw and the pass was intercepted.

See, it’s only three drives and I frankly don’t even care if the Colts/Chargers both came back to win. Had he finished those games with 3 more TD passes (and 2 fewer INTs in return), then yes, that would probably be enough for me to put him over top of his own seasons and ones like Dan Marino 1984 and Tom Brady 2007.

Ultimately, the fact that one quarterback has multiple seasons in the conversation for best ever says enough about Manning.

NFC De Facto Playoff Game 1: Green Bay at Chicago

The 2013 Green Bay Packers are Above the Law, making comebacks that never happened under Mike McCarthy’s watch with better quarterbacks. This team is Hard to Kill and has been Marked for Death since November 4, but they’re Out for Justice against Chicago this week. Jay Cutler will be Under Siege against a team he’s been terrible against. The Bears are On Deadly Ground and it could be Dark Territory on Sunday night. It was an Executive Decision to hold him out this long, but Green Bay’s Glimmer Man is back in action and there’s a Fire Down Below in Rodgers, a true Patriot playing his first game in almost two months. The Bears might be leaving 2013 with some Exit WoundsThey’re going to regret starting last week’s game Half Past Dead.

Damn, Steven Seagal’s career really hit the skids over a decade ago.

I picked Green Bay in the preseason to win the division. When Marc Trestman made the move to go back to Jay Cutler, I felt the Bears would beat Cleveland, but lose to the Eagles and Packers (with a good assumption that Aaron Rodgers would be back) to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. Now I did expect the Lions to be the team that took advantage, but it’s the Packers coming through and bringing back one of the best players in the game just in time for the Week 17 division clincher.

Is this one really as simple as Rodgers is great, he rarely has a bad game and he’s going to feast (as will Eddie Lacy) on that poor Bears defense while Cutler has to overcome the 1-8 mark against Green Bay (with atrocious stats)? It would seem so, but at least the game is in Chicago and there’s an expected rust factor from Rodgers. Still, let’s not forget it was Josh McCown for the first meeting and he made some incredible throws in that 27-20 win in Green Bay.

There’s not a throw McCown can make that Cutler can’t. The problem is there’s a lot of stupid throws Cutler will make that any smart quarterback wouldn’t, and that’s how he gets himself into trouble. The Packers are scoring and allowing plenty of points, so it would expect to be a high-scoring game, but Rodgers has the lowest turnover ratio in NFL history while Cutler is more prone than most to giving away the ball.

When you talk about a QB’s legacy, this is a huge game for both. Cutler is playing for a long-term job in Chicago, which could be likely should he come through with a big performance and push the Bears into the playoffs. For Rodgers, this would be a lost season for most quarterbacks after breaking their collarbone in November. He’s had just enough time to recover and the Packers have won just enough games — coupled with Detroit & Chicago losing enough — to stay alive for his Week 17 return. It wouldn’t be fair to put a lot of blame on him for losing and missing the playoffs on Sunday night, but it’s a great opportunity and his playoffs start now. He has to play well in this one and I think he will. I also think Cutler will make just enough mistakes.

If Chicago wins, it’s almost predictably going to be with a fourth-quarter comeback, which Cutler usually does well at as long as the game actually gets to that point. Now would be a great time for Rodgers to snap that eyesore streak of being 0-20 at fourth-quarter comebacks against teams .500 or better.

I don’t think the Packers have enough on defense to make a 2010-type title run, though there are 2010-like things happening for them again. It all starts with beating the Bears in Week 17 to make the playoffs, then they can go from there.

Final prediction: Packers 27, Bears 20

NFC De Facto Playoff Game 2: Philadelphia at Dallas

It’s the game many people expected would decide the NFC East since the schedule came out. But there is one big surprise: it’s Kyle “Neckbeard” Orton instead of Tony Romo at quarterback for Dallas. So let it be known Romo finished 2013 with a 1-0 record in elimination games, because he can’t lose this one after having back surgery. It’s a shame because it does weaken the game as Orton, while more than capable of moving the ball in this offense, is just not that effective when the pass rush gets to him. Romo has that unique ability to get out of trouble and make something happen. The last road game for Philadelphia featured an unexpected shredding of the improved defense by Matt Cassel, so anything’s possible, but I think the Eagles are playing too well on both sides of the ball for Dallas to pull this one out. The Eagles (especially the offense) have actually played better on the road than at home this season.

Nick Foles did have his worst game of the season — really his only down performance — in Philadelphia against the Cowboys, but that was the day he suffered a concussion. Given his season and the way the Cowboys have played on defense most weeks, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles fail to score at least 28, which should be enough here.

Final prediction: Eagles 31, Cowboys 21

NFL Week 17 Predictions

Do I think the Steelers have any hope of making the playoffs? They need four things to happen: win, Miami loss, Baltimore loss and San Diego loss. I expect the biggest problem will be getting the San Diego loss since the Chargers are at home against a Kansas City team basically mailing it in for Week 17. Now if the NFL actually had a great playoff system where every win counted, then the Chiefs would be playing for a higher seed and would actually try to win this game.

Winners in bold:

  • Browns at Steelers
  • Ravens at Bengals
  • Lions at Vikings
  • Jets at Dolphins
  • Texans at Titans
  • Jaguars at Colts
  • Redskins at Giants
  • Panthers at Falcons
  • Rams at Seahawks
  • Packers at Bears
  • Broncos at Raiders
  • Buccaneers at Saints
  • 49ers at Cardinals
  • Chiefs at Chargers
  • Bills at Patriots
  • Eagles at Cowboys

Season results:

  • Week 1: 11-5
  • Week 2: 12-4
  • Week 3: 8-8
  • Week 4: 9-6
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 11-4
  • Week 7: 10-5
  • Week 8: 10-3
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 8-6
  • Week 11: 9-6
  • Week 12: 7-6-1
  • Week 13: 11-5
  • Week 14: 10-6
  • Week 15: 8-8
  • Week 16: 9-7
  • Season: 150-89-1

NFL Week 17 Predictions, Playoff Teams and Writing Recap

Part of me wishes the NFL regular season was not ending today, while some part of me is ready to move on to the playoffs.

This Week’s Articles

Captain Comeback Week 16: Steelers’ Meltdown Complete – Cold, Hard Football Facts

Pittsburgh came up a drive short to beat the Bengals, who are headed to the playoffs for the second straight season after Ben Roethlisberger threw another late-game interception. At home, Roethlisberger was a perfect 40-0 when the Steelers allowed 17 points or less in his career. Elsewhere the Cowboys had another great comeback to force overtime, but the Saints came away with the win. Andrew Luck joined the list of 11 seasons in which a quarterback led 7 game-winning drives.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2012 Season in Review: Where Did It All Go Wrong? – Bleacher Report

An in-depth review of where it all went wrong for the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers, starting with the offseason plan that failed, the lack of an offensive identity, and the identity fraud of a defense that can no longer get takeaways.

2yrTO

Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 16 at Kansas City Chiefs – Colts Authority

Andrew Luck led his 7th game-winning drive, the Colts overcame a record 352 rushing yards from the Chiefs in a win, and clinched a playoff spot at 10-5. Luck went 0/10 at one point in the second half, but as always, here is the play-by-play account of what really happened. Luck’s game-winning touchdown pass was his 4th this season, which is another rookie record.

The Thinking Man’s Guide: NFL Week 17 Predictions – Bleacher Report

This week we have the biggest game in Matt Schaub’s career, not the biggest game in Tony Romo’s, why Christian Ponder needs to be more of the MVP on Sunday if Minnesota wants to make the playoffs, and why a 2,000-yard season for Calvin Johnson would not be as impressive as it sounds.

It’s Do-Or-Die For Some in Week 17 – NBC Sports

A handy guide to what to watch for in Week 17, including playoff scenarios and NFL records on the line.

NFL’s New Overtime System Requires New Strategies for Coaches and Teams – Cold, Hard Football Facts

There have been 22 overtime games this season; the third most ever in one NFL season. With the new rules, combined with the kickoff rules increasing touchbacks, new strategies must be formed. Only 3/22 teams have taken the opening-drive kickoff for a touchdown, and it was always an 80-yard drive. A look at what might be the optimal strategy in the new OT, and it’s not the kind of gutsy decision-making you might have expected.

2012 NFL Week 17 Predictions

I always hate picking Week 17 games because of some teams treating it like preseason.

Winners in bold:

  • Buccaneers at Falcons
  • Jets at Bills
  • Ravens at Bengals
  • Bears at Lions
  • Texans at Colts
  • Panthers at Saints
  • Eagles at Giants
  • Browns at Steelers
  • Jaguars at Titans
  • Chiefs at Broncos
  • Packers at Vikings
  • Dolphins at Patriots
  • Raiders at Chargers
  • Rams at Seahawks
  • Cardinals at 49ers
  • Cowboys at Redskins

Season results:

  • Week 1: 12-4
  • Week 2: 11-5
  • Week 3: 4-12
  • Week 4: 10-5
  • Week 5: 10-4
  • Week 6: 5-9
  • Week 7: 12-1
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 11-3
  • Week 10: 9-4-1
  • Week 11: 11-3
  • Week 12: 10-6
  • Week 13: 8-8
  • Week 14: 11-5
  • Week 15: 11-5
  • Week 16: 12-4
  • Season: 157-82-1 (.656)

With my final picks, here is the playoff field I’m predicting:

AFC

  • 1. Houston
  • 2. Denver
  • 3. New England
  • 4. Baltimore
  • 5. Indianapolis
  • 6. Cincinnati

NFC

  • 1. Atlanta
  • 2. Green Bay
  • 3. San Francisco
  • 4. Dallas
  • 5. Seattle
  • 6. Chicago