NFL Week 17 Preview and Predictions
Fantasy Football Start Em/Sit Em
Starting Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Josh Allen, and Sam Darnold.
Sitting Quarterbacks: Baker Mayfield, Matthew Stafford, Mitchell Trubisky, Dak Prescott, and Drew Brees.
Starting Running Backs: Jamaal Williams, Chris Carson, Derrick Henry, Elijah McGuire, and C.J. Anderson.
Sitting Running Backs: Marlon Mack, Josh Adams, Jordan Howard, Mark Ingram, and Kenyan Drake.
Starting Wide Receivers: Julian Edelman, Alshon Jeffery, Kenny Golladay, Mohamed Sanu, and Robert Woods.
Sitting Wide Receivers: Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore, Corey Davis, Tyler Lockett, Mike Williams, and Jarvis Landry.
Starting Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Evan Engram, Jared Cook, and Gerald Everett.
Sitting Tight Ends: Kyle Rudolph, David Njoku, Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, Ian Thomas.
Starting Defense/Special Teams: Seahawks, Eagles, Cardinals, Texans, and Chargers
Sitting Defense/Special Teams: Panthers, Cardinals, Patriots, Jets, and Chiefs.
Game Picks (Season Record 151-92–2)
Patriots vs. Jets: Thanks to an assist from their old buddy Nick Foles, the Patriots are still in position to clinch a first-round bye. In fact, the Patriots can still get home field advantage with some help from the Raiders and Broncos. And judging how they’ve been playing lately, they’ll need everyday rest and preparation a first-round bye will afford them. All they have to do is beat the Jets. Don’t count New York out so easily though. Sam Darnold, Elijah McGuire, and Robby Anderson have the potential to get hot and challenge the Patriots defense. Knowing this, expect the Patriots to try and control the clock and grind the Jets into submission. With so much on the line, expect the Patriots to be in a playoff mindset. And unfortunately for the Jets, that’s more than they can handle for now.
Prediction: Patriots win 34-20
*The Patriots clinch a first-round bye with a win, a tie combined with a Texans loss, or a losses/ties from the Ravens and Titans combined with a Texans loss. The Patriots can clinch home field advantage with a win and losses by the Chiefs and Chargers.
Texans vs. Jaguars: Last week’s loss to the Eagles may have cost the Texans a first-round bye. With the probability of a Patriots loss low, the Texans still have to play well in order to gain some momentum heading into the postseason. After all, they’ll likely be playing a divisional rival next week anyway. No need to go into a playoff matchup against a team that knows you well with zero momentum on your side. That’s why I think they’ll try to knock out the Jags early. Given the state of the Jaguars offense, three touchdowns will likely be enough to clinch the game. Once they feel comfortable, it would be wise for the Texans to get their starters out of there. The Jaguars, despite their flaws, can still play a physical game of football and knick a few players on their way to the offseason. Ultimately, expect the Texans to take care of business quickly and coast to a victory.
Prediction: Texans win 24-10
*The Texans can clinch the AFC South with a win. For a first-round bye, they’ll need a win and a New England loss or tie OR losses by the Chiefs and Chargers. The Texans are also still alive for home-field advantage. They’ll need a win, a loss or tie from New England, a Chargers loss, and a Chiefs loss. So yes Texans fans, there’s still a chance.
Chiefs vs. Raiders: No team needs home-field advantage more than the Kansas City Chiefs. It has become painfully obvious that their defense is a liability that not even Patrick Mahomes cannot cover up. They better hope the Raiders are emotionally drained following the Oakland finale. Otherwise, they may have a fight on their hands in this one. Remember, the Raiders gave the Chiefs a tough game in their previous matchup. For the Chiefs, the playoffs begin on Sunday. They need to dispatch their divisional rival and clinch home field. Otherwise, they won’t survive the road to the Super Bowl. If these predictions hold, they’d have to go to Baltimore, to New England, and maybe back to Los Angeles. Knowing this, expect the Chiefs to try and win a shootout. I think the Raiders will hang around only because the Chiefs defense is that bad. If they’re going to get hot, now is the time.
Prediction: Chiefs win 34-30
* With a win, the Chiefs clinch home-field advantage. They can also clinch home field with a Chargers loss or tie. If the Chiefs fall to the Raiders, they’ll need a Chargers loss, a loss or a tie from New England, and a loss or a tie from the Texans.
Rams vs. 49ers: Todd Gurley won’t be playing, but the Rams till have one piece of business. They’ll have to beat the 49ers to secure a first-round bye. And given how they’ve been playing and how banged up they are, they’ll need it. The Niners won’t go quietly. They have a tendency to catch teams that take them lightly be surprised. But given the stakes, expect the Rams to eventually pull away and take care of business.
Prediction: Rams win 28-24
*The Rams will clinch a first-round bye with a win or tie. They can also clinch a first-round bye with a Bears loss or tie.
Broncos vs. Chargers: The Chargers chose a bad time to play their worst game of the season. The Ravens didn’t just beat them last week. They were able to push the Chargers around and physically dominate them. And given the state of things in the AFC, the Chargers and Ravens may meet again next week. So the Chargers will need to put their best foot forward because they’ll play another team that has beaten them. The Broncos were able to steal a game from the Chargers weeks back. I expect a down week from the Chargers one reason; the Chargers will be scoreboard watching. Split focus and an incentive to potentially pull their starters will likely keep the game close. Ultimately, talent will likely win out as the Chargers win at the last second. Meanwhile, Vance Joseph likely won’t survive black Monday.
Prediction: Chargers win 23-20
*The Chargers will clinch the AFC West and home-field advantage with a victory and a Chiefs loss or tie. If the Chargers tie the Broncos, they’ll still need a KC loss.
Redskins vs. Eagles: Robbing season is in full effect in Philadelphia as the Eagles look to steal the last playoff spot. Their confidence is high, and their opponent is the walking injury report known as the Washington Redskins. The Eagles will be fine as long as they can stop Adrian Peterson and get pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins will put up a fight, but eventually, the injuries will show.
Prediction: Eagles win 27-17
*The only way for the Eagles to make the playoffs is with win and a Vikings loss.
Steelers vs. Bengals: See kids, this is what happens when you lose winnable games against the Broncos and Raiders. This is also what happens when you go for fake punts near your own territory. Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes are now hanging by a thread. Before they worry about how to get in, they’ll need to focus on beating the Bengals. Cincinnati would love nothing more than to end the Steelers season themselves. Unfortunately for them, the Steelers are highly motivated following last weeks loss. Juju Smith-Schuster, in particular, will try and beat the Bengals single-handedly after what happened last week. So for once, expect the Steelers play like the team we expected to see this season.
Prediction: Steelers win 37-17
*Pittsburgh can clinch the AFC North with a win combined with a loss or tie from the Ravens. If they tie with the Bengals, the Steelers will need the Ravens to lose. The Steelers can clinch the sixth seed in the playoffs with a win and a tie in the Colts-Titans game.
Ravens vs. Browns: Cleveland managed to beat a Ravens team led by Joe Flacco. The Ravens led by Lamar Jackson are the exact opposite. While the Flacco led team tried to rely on a pass-happy approach, the Jackson led team relies on running the ball and a punishing defense. The Browns defense can be vulnerable against the run. Meanwhile, the Browns will have to try their hand at scoring on the best defense in the league that is on fire right now. Sorry Steelers fans, but you shouldn’t expect much help here.
Prediction: Ravens win 23-12
*The Ravens will win the AFC North with a win, a Steelers loss, or a tie and a Steelers tie. The Ravens will clinch a playoff berth with a tie in the Colts-Titans game.
Vikings vs. Bears: This is it. This is the type of game that the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to win. Their playoff hopes hang in the balance, and they’ll be playing a team with their own playoff implications on the line. The Vikings have two things working for them. Since making the change at offensive coordinator, the Vikings offense is more balanced and have been playing better. Secondly, the Bears chances at the second seed are low. They’ll need the Niners to go to Los Angeles and beat the Rams. So one has to wonder if the Bears will show anything more than a vanilla game plan. In fact, they may go a step further and start pulling starters if the Rams game looks like a foregone conclusion. This should give the Vikings a window. The Vikings are trending in the right direction on both sides of the ball. They need a win, and they’ll get it at home against the Bears.
Prediction: Vikings win 23-14
*The Vikings can make the playoffs with a win or tie. They can also make the playoffs with a loss or tie from the Eagles.
*The Bears can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Rams loss/
Titans vs. Colts: The final game of the 2018 regular season will decide the final AFC playoff berth. The status of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is unknown at this point. He will try to suit up after suffering a stinger last week against Washington. Whether he plays or not won’t change the Titans game plan. They will try to win this game with a ground and pound approach. This could allow them to control the clock and keep Andrew Luck on the bench. Keeping Luck on the bench and keeping their defense rested is the best route the Titans can go. They’ll also look to make this game as ugly as possible. Other than that, this will be tough. The Colts are scorching on both sides of the ball. The resurgent Andrew Luck can throw the ball on anyone. Meanwhile, their defense has been one of the best in the NFL since Week 7. This game may be close, but I believe Luck will ultimately lead his team to victory.
Prediction: Colts win 22-16
*The winner of this game clinches the sixth seed. The winner of this game can also clinch the AFC South with a win and a Texans loss. Both of these teams will miss the playoffs in the event of a tie.
And the rest…
Dolphins over Bills
Packers over Lions
Saints over Panthers
Cowboys over Giants
Falcons over Buccaneers
Seahawks over Cardinals