Friday, December 26, 2008

NFL Picks, Week 17

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 152-87-1

It’s the most fun week of the season. While a handful of teams know their post-season destiny and are resting starters accordingly, a whole bunch of teams are slugging it out for their playoff lives this week. It’s shape up or turn in the pads for a lot of NFL teams. Plus, a team has a date with infamy on Sunday unless something really strange and positive happens for them.

Dallas at Philadelphia: The Cowboys suffered a bone-headed loss last week to the Ravens, and find themselves going into a den of wolves as they play the Eagles in Philly. There is no bigger game in Philadelphia than the Cowboys’ yearly visit. Combine that with the Eagles’ slight playoff chances and the Cowboys’ must-win situation, and the Philly fans will be loaded for bear, especially with a late game. As inconsistent as the Cowboys have been this season, they have played their best with their backs against the wall. Pick: Dallas

St. Louis at Atlanta: The Falcons have been the surprise of the year. They still have a chance at a division title and a #2 seed in the NFC playoffs, with a win and a Carolina loss. They should have little problem against a putrid Rams team. Pick: Atlanta

New England at Buffalo: The Pats can win a division title with a win against Buffalo. The Bills had been in hibernation for several weeks before upsetting the Broncos in Denver last week. Can the Bills ruin another team’s season this week? No. Pick: New England

Kansas City at Cincinnati: The Mega Suck Bowl. The Bengals have shown signs of life in recent weeks, and play a bad Kansas City team to close out the season. Pick: Cincy

Detroit at Green Bay: The Lions, with a loss, will finish 0-16. A loss would make them one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in NFL history. The Packers let one slip away Monday night in Chicago. They won’t allow themselves to lose to the awful Lions. Pick: Green Bay

Chicago at Houston: The Bears have used defense and special teams to win the last three games in a row and to place themselves within spitting distance of a division title. The Texans laid an egg in Oakland last week, but have recovered well from an 0-4 start. Texans ruin the Bears’ playoff hopes. Pick: Houston

Tennessee at Indianapolis: This is a great matchup that will have the look and feel of a pre-season game. Neither team can improve their playoff position with a win. Which team has better scrubs? Pick: Tennessee

New York Giants at Minnesota: The Giants clinched home field advantage in the NFC playoffs last week with a comeback win over the Panthers. The Vikings need a win to clinch the NFC North division title. The Giants will play to win, but the Vikes need it more. Pick: Minnesota

Carolina at New Orleans: Panthers blew a big lead last week in New York, and need to come up big against the Saints in order to win the NFC South. Look for lots of points here. Pick: Carolina

Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Yuck. Browns have not scored a touchdown in over a month. Steelers should roll. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Oakland at Tampa Bay: A few years ago, these teams met in a Super Bowl. Not this year. The Raiders have a surprising four wins. The Bucs need a win plus some help to make the playoffs. The Bucs will do their part. Pick: Tampa Bay

Jacksonville at Baltimore: Ravens need a win to make the playoffs. Jaguars have their bags packed for the off-season. Pick: Baltimore

Miami at New York Jets: Big, big game in the AFC East. Depending on the Patriots’ result in the early game, this will either be for a division title or a mere wild-card berth. There is also a chance that neither team will make the playoffs. Can the Dolphins win a big game in cold weather? The trends favor them. Pick: Miami

Seattle at Arizona: Mike Holmgren’s last game as coach of the Seahawks. Cardinals play their third game in a row with nothing to gain. Ugly game in the making. Pick: Arizona

Washington at San Francisco: What was once a promising season for the Redskins has melted down. Still, the Redskins beat the Eagles last week and severely damaged their playoff chances. The 49ers have a chance to win their 7th game of the regular season. Pick: 49ers

Denver at San Diego: What goes around, comes around. Denver beat the Chargers in the first game of the season, with a questionable call enabling the Broncos to hold on for a victory. The Broncos have now lost two games in a row with a chance to clinch the AFC West title. Make that a third. The Chargers finish 8-8 and win the division in spite of themselves. Pick: San Diego

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