NFL Week 17 Predictions

It’s finally here! With so many playoff spots/seedings on the line, Week 17 is bound to be as entertaining as possible. Let’s go over all the games, and try to predict these important games, while also predicting the meaningless games.

Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (5-10)

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Photo Cred: profootballfocus.com

In a game where neither team is playing for anything besides pride, the Falcons and Bucs     will matchup in Tampa Bay in a game between two of the best passing offenses in the NFL. Atlanta and Tampa each have top five passing offenses, but after that neither team does much else. Hence, why both teams have sub .500 records. That makes this game a tough one to pick, but I’ll take the Falcons. Atlanta is currently on a two game winning streak where they’ve won by a combined 40 points, and is currently playing well on both sides of the football. Matt Ryan should be able to have a field day through the air against a Tampa defense that has struggled all year against the pass, while their defense that has forced seven takeaways will continue to do so against a Tampa offense that gives away the ball more than anyone else. The Bucs have struggled recently, and with the whole frenzy of if this is Jameis Winston’s final game, as well as with head coach Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay may be too distracted to compete against a surging Falcons team. Prediction: Falcons 31 Bucs 26

Cowboys (9-6) at Giants (5-10)

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Photo Cred: sbnation.com

Normally, a matchup between the Cowboys and Giants wouldn’t be so tough to predict. After all, Dallas has already clinched an NFC East title, while New York is guarenteed to finish last in the division. However, since the Cowboys clinched the division and are locked into the #4 seed, they have nothing to play for as they get ready for the playoffs. Still, owner Jerry Jones declared they were playing their starters, and even though they may only do so for one half, it may all they need. Dallas has one of the league’s top defenses, and against a depleted New York offense that is without Odell Beckham Jr. once again and can’t protect Eli Manning, they should dominate. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are at their best when they can run the ball effectively with Ezekiel Elliot, and they’ll be able to do so against a Giants defense that ranks just 23rd against the run. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cowboys decided to pull their starters and they lose the game as a result, but assuming their starters play for a majority of the game, they’ll have no trouble picking up a victory against a New York team that has more to gain by losing than winning. Prediction: Cowboys 23 Giants 20

Panthers (6-9) at Saints (13-2)

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Photo Cred: wgno.com

If you were expecting a classic head to head duel between Cam Newton and Drew Brees, you’ll be dissapointed by this Panthers-Saints game. Instead of Newton versus Brees, we’ll get Carolina’s third string quarterback Kyle Allen, an undrafted free agent, against Teddy Bridgewater, who hasn’t started an NFL game since 2015. This game is an audtion for Bridgewater, who may be the heir apparent to Brees or could sign with another team to be their starting quarterback this offseason. That’ll be the main story of this game, but the Panthers are the safe pick, since New Orleans is resting players. That defense is bad as it is, so it’s easy to imagine Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore carving up that unit’s backups. Plus, it’s unclear if Bridgewater will have any playmakers to utilize, with Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Michael Thomas all likely to sit. Prediction: Panthers 22 Saints 21

Jets (4-11) at Patriots (10-5)

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Photo Cred: patriotswire.usatoday.com

After all the recent chatter about how their dynasty was ending, the Patriots are just one win away from securing a first round bye after the Texans lost to the Eagles last week. Whereas reaching the Super Bowl seemed impossible just a week ago, New England may end up being the favorites to do so in the AFC with this win. Therefore, it’s safe to say they’ll know what’s at stake and will come ready to play, which is all they’ll need to handle the inferior Jets. New York has one of the worst defenses in the league, ranked in the bottom in both pass defense and run defense. That will be a problem against a Patriots team that ran for over 200 yards last week. Plus, against an inexperienced and undisciplined secondary, Tom Brady will be able to pick them apart while remaining efficient. Sam Darnold has been one of the better quarterbacks statistically in recent weeks, but rookie quarterbacks almost never win in New England, and that trend will continue this week as the Patriots will clinch a first round bye with a blowout win against their divisional rivals. Prediction: Jets 10 Patriots 26

Jaguars (5-10) at Texans (10-5)

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Guess who’s back? After being benched following a Week 12 loss to the Bills, Blake Bortles was inserted back under center in last week’s win at Miami, and will start this week at the Texans. This is a critical game for Houston; they clinch the AFC South with a win. Luckily for them, they’re playing the right team at the right team. Even though they won last week, the putrid Jacksonville offense only managed ten points. In fact, they average only 16.1 points per game, only better than the Bills and Cardinals. That means that they won’t be able to take advantage of a Texans secondary ranked 29th against the pass. On the other side of the ball, the team billed as “Sacksonville” has been one of the worst at actually sacking opposing quarterbacks, so they won’t be able to exploit a Texans offensive line that is currently allowing the most sacks in the NFL. With them being able to cover up their weaknesses to go along with the return of Lamar Miller, Houston will roll to a comfortable win to clinch the division. Prediction: Jags 14 Texans 22

Lions (5-10) at Packers (6-8-1)

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Photo Cred: Acme Packing Company

In one of the meaningless games of the week, the Lions and Packers will face off in Green Bay in a game with absolutely nothing on the line. Aaron Rodgers will look to close out a solid late stretch, while Matt Stafford will continue to play injured as head coach Matt Patricia tries to keep his job. Still, these teams were eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if either team packed it in. Out of respect for Rodgers and a lack of trust for a Lions team that lost to the Bills and almost lost to the Cardinals, Green Bay is the easy pick in this game. The Packers may have a losing record, but they’ve dominated at home. They’re 5-1 in Lambeau, and their offense is averaging 33 points per game since firing head coach Mike McCarthy. Meanwhile, Detroit’s only two wins on the road were against the Dolphins and the Cardinals, and they’re averaging just 14 points in their last five games. These are two teams going in completely different directions, and I expect Green Bay to continue to play inspired football under Rodgers while the Lions continue to quit on a lost season. Prediction: Lions 16 Packers 24

Dolphins (7-8) at Bills (5-10)

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Photo Cred: 12up.com

Speaking of meaningless games, there may be no game with less on the line. The Dolphins and the Bills, ranked near the bottom offensively, have been two of the hardest teams to watch this season, due to their ineptness. No one should waste any time watching these two awful teams clash in Buffalo. Still, when picking a winner, this one comes down to which team stinks less. Thanks to their strong defense, that title goes to the Bills. Buffalo is the league’s best defense against the pass, and just held Tom Brady to a quarterback rating of just 48.3. They have a strong chance to shut down Ryan Tannehill and Miami’s passing attack, which ranks just 30th in the league. The Bills struggle on offense, but their 12th ranked rushing attack will be able to find success against the second worst rush defense. That gives Buffalo the advantage on both sides of the ball, and a victory in this game as a result. Prediction: Dolphins 17 Bills 20

Cardinals (3-12) at Seahawks (9-6)

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Photo Cred: seattletimes.com

Back in Week 4, the Seahawks and Cardinals met up in a game between two teams with a below .500 record and needing a win. Seattle won a last second field goal, yet still didn’t have the look of a playoff-caliber team. Fast forward to Week 17, and the Seahawks have clinched the playoffs while Arizona is currently in possession of the number one pick. Expect Seattle to lock in the number five seed this week, while Arizona does what their fans would like them to do- lose and secure that number one overall pick. This game is just a mismatch in so many levels. The Seahawks possess the number one rushing attack, which makes life significantly easier for Russell Wilson. Facing the league’s worst rush defense, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Seattle rush for over 200 yards. The Seahawks also have the league’s best turnover differential, while Arizona struggles with giveaways and a lack of takeaways. The Cardinals also have easily the worst offense behind a struggling rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen, so it’s impossible to imagine them going into Seattle and keeping this game close.This game should be decided by at least three scores, if not more. Prediction: Cardinals 10 Seahawks 27

49ers (4-11) at Rams (12-3)

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Photo Cred: ocregister.com

Right now, the 49ers are the only team without a win on the road. Coming off of an overtime win against the Seahawks and a close loss to the Bears, will they have anything left in the tank to put up a fight against the Rams? They may be able to, but Los Angeles will without a doubt come away with a victory. The Rams can clinch a first round bye with a win, which will cause them to treat this almost like a playoff game. Considering the talent gap between those two teams, San Francisco may not stand a chance if Los Angeles is zoned in. The Rams tend to win turnover battles, while the 49ers do the opposite. Turnovers tend to cost San Francisco a lot of games, and it could likely be the case if the Rams win the turnover battle this game. Plus, the offense looked better than usual even without Todd Gurley, as CJ Anderson rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown. Los Angeles may have finally turned a corner with their three score win at Arizona this past week, and they’ll bully another inferior divisional opponent to secure a much-needed first round bye. Prediction: 49ers 23 Rams 30

Chargers (11-4) at Broncos (6-9)

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Photo Cred: milehighreport.com

The Chargers may have blown their chance. Since the Chiefs lost to the Seahawks last week, all Los Angeles needed was a win to take over the number one seed, but they lost the day before at home to the Ravens. Now, unless the Chiefs lose at home to the Raiders, the Chargers are going to be stuck in the #5 seed. Still, they won’t know at the time if they have a chance or not to get the #1 seed, since those two games are at the same time, so they only thing they can control is winning this game. Against a Broncos team that just lost to the Raiders and will be without Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay, that shouldn’t be a problem. The Broncos have struggled defensively, ranking in the bottom half against the pass and the run. That’s going to be an issue, since the balanced Chargers offense ranks in the top half passing and running the football. There’s always the concern with the Chargers blowing a game against an inferior opponent, as they did against these Broncos in Week 11, especially in a tough place to play in Denver. Still, the Chargers are the much better team, and although this game will be closer than many expect, they’ll come away with a big victory heading into the postseason. Prediction: Chargers 23 Broncos 21

Eagles (8-7) at Redskins (7-8)                                 

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Photo Cred: delaware.com

In what is easily one of the most shocking developments in this NFL season, Nick Foles has come in and has led the Eagles to back to back wins against playoff teams in the Rams and Texans. Now, with a win and Vikings loss, Foles will have Philadelphia back in the playoffs for the second straight season. Before anything though, the Eagles need to take care of business in this game. That may not be as easy as it seems; the Redskins are at home and match up well with Philadelphia. That means it could come down to the final minutes, but even then, expect “Saint Nick” to come up clutch again. Philadelphia is averaging 31 points per game since Foles took over two weeks ago, and look like a completely different team. Meanwhile, the Redskins are limping their way to the finish lines with their fourth quarterback in Josh Johnson who won’t be able to take advantage of the Eagles’ depleted secondary like most team. The Eagles may be surging into the playoffs, while the Redskins can’t wait for the season to be over, and that variance in hope and attitude may the difference in Philadelphia picking up a huge road victory. Prediction: Eagles 24 Redskins 20

Bengals (6-9) at Steelers (8-6-1)

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Photo Cred: cincinatti.com

After a tough loss to the Saints, the Steelers need a win and a Ravens loss to make the playoffs. Luckily for them, a win in this meeting with the Bengals is practically guaranteed. Cincinnati may have the worst defense in the league, allowing 29.3 points a game. Ben Roethlisberger will tear apart that secondary, which ranks 30th in pass defense, and Antonio Brown and Juju Smith Schuster can both be expected to dominate. On the other side of the football, Jeff Driskel will likely struggle facing a stellar Steelers pass rush while the Bengals may also struggle to run the football against the league’s 6th ranked rush defense. At home with the playoffs possibly on the line, expect Pittsburgh to bully the rival Bengals for 60 minutes on coast to an easy, blowout victory. Prediction: Bengals 23 Steelers 34

Bears (11-4) at Vikings (8-6-1)

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Photo Cred: sbnation.com

In what could very well be a first round playoff matchup if the Vikings win this game, Minnesota faces a “win and in” scenario here. If they win, they clinch a wildcard spot, but if they lose and the Eagles win, they’ll miss the playoffs. The latter option will become a reality. Minnesota has looked better in the past two weeks with a more balanced offense, but will they be able to remain balanced facing the NFL’s second best rush defense? Will Kirk Cousins be protected enough against Khalil Mack and co. and can he avoid giving away the ball against a defense that produces as many takeaways as anyone else? Can Cousins finally come through in a big game and win against an above .500 team, especially considering the Bears destroyed the Vikings when these two teams met up in Week 11? There’s just too many obstacles to overcome in order to pick the Vikings. They’ve performed well in recent weeks, but their two wins since firing offensive coordinator John DeFillipo were against two awful teams in the Dolphins and Lions. The Bears and their stellar defense are a completely different animal, and it’s likely that we’ll see the Vikings of Week 11 rather than these “new” Vikings. Prediction: Bears 21 Vikings 20

Raiders (4-11) at Chiefs (11-4)

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Photo Cred: justblogbaby.com

With a win against the rival, yet still horrible Raiders, the Chiefs can secure home field advantage in the AFC throughout the playoffs. With that much on the line, expect Kansas City to destroy them in every facet. The Chiefs’ high flying offense has been fun to watch all season long, averaging 35.3 points per game. They put up 40 points against these Raiders in Week 13, and a similar output can be expected this time around. Meanwhile, the Kansas City’s amazing pass rush should have its way against an Oakland offensive line that has struggled to protect Derek Carr all season long. With Carr uncomfortable, the Chiefs offense on a roll, behind a huge home crowd at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City should be able to win this game by at least two possessions and will clinch home field advantage as result. Prediction: Raiders 23 Chiefs 38

Browns (7-7-1) at Ravens (9-6)

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Photo Cred: baltimoresun.com

It’s safe to say Baker Mayfield has changed the culture of the Browns. Cleveland has a chance to have a winning record with a win this season, which is outstanding considering they were winless last season. The Browns are as hot anyone in the league, but can they play spoiler to the Ravens? With a win, Baltimore gets a playoff spot and clinches the division. Cleveland is a scary team to play right now, but the Ravens will still be able to handle them. Mayfield has been amazing in recent weeks, but he’s in for a major test going on the road against a Ravens defense that just made Phillip Rivers look clueless. Plus, Baltimore’s rushing attack that ranks second should continue to find extreme success against a Cleveland rush defense ranked 24th in the NFL. Assuming the Ravens control time of possession, that’ll put a lot of pressure on Mayfield against arguably the league’s best defense, something that even he may not be able to handle. After all, even a MVP candidate and a 15 year veteran in Rivers can’t do so, how can we expect a rookie to fare any different. Prediction: Browns 22 Ravens 24

Colts (9-6) at Titans (9-6)

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Photo Cred: indystar.com

On Sunday Night Football, we are given a classic “win and in” game for both teams. The winner of this game will make the playoffs, while the other will be watching from their couch. There’s alot of uncertainty in this game, with it unclear who will start at quarterback for the Titans with Marcus Mariota injured. That just makes picking the Colts to win this game even easier. Indianapolis has won eight of their last nine, and has a prolific offense led by Andrew Luck. Meanwhile, Tennesee will either have Mariota or Blaine Gabbert under center, a clear QB mismatch. The Titans are successful when they can establish the run with Derrick Henry, but the Colts rank 8th against the run and have done a stellar job against Ezekiel Elliot and Saquon Barkley in back to back weeks. Indianapolis won 38-10 when these two teams faced off in Week 11, and while this game should be closer this week since it’s at Tennesee, there’s no denying how well the Colts matchup with the Titans. Expect Indianapolis to clinch the playoffs with a season defining victory, while the Titans fall short no matter which quarterback they end up starting. Prediction: Colts 23 Titans 21

 

 

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