This is the final week of the NFL regular season, which means that it’s the last time this year that I’ll be predicting 16 games. Which is good, because my win percentage over the last couple weeks has sucked. Last week I went a terrible 6-10 (138-103 on the season,) which brings me to 58% on the season for win percentage. This past week simply destroyed me. Upsets by the Vikings and Cardinals, the Giants choking and none of my upset picks coming true just buried me. I hope you haven’t been betting on my picks. If it helps, I’ve really done no better or worse than the guys on NFL Countdown on ESPN.
So the big game of Week 17 is the Rams vs. Seahawks, which you’ll see in a moment is the featured game. The reason for this is that it’s the only game, and the last regular season game of the season, that is winner moves on and loser goes home. There are some other games with playoff implications, but mostly seeding issues. It’s been a wild year for sure, and the fact that one of these two teams will make the playoffs with a losing record kind of highlights the weird season it’s been.
In fact, it’s been so weird that now, in week 17 I’d like to change this column from a prediction type column to just a preview column which it really has been all year long. If you took any of my picks really serious, and did the math it’s just nuts. I basically have predicted the Bucs at 0-16 because I refuse to pick them. I think I probably have a couple of teams that would have went 16-0 based on my picks, and I irrationally pick the Browns and Bills when I clearly know better just cause they are my teams. So like the warnings for legal reasons on Poker sites, this column is strictly for entertainment purposes. Heh.
Enough of that pandering bullshit, how about some week 17 picks? Er, previews. Whatever. Let’s get it on.
St. Louis at Seattle Line: +3.0
The battle for the sub-par NFC West comes down to this. Can the Rams, who have had a remarkable season considering they are holding a losing record and have a rookie QB, beat the Seahawks who seem to be fading into obscurity? If not, then Bradford’s breakout season might be forgotten along with their playoff chances. The Rams have more redeeming qualities than the Hawks, and their wins have been exciting and hard fought, while the Hawks have gotten by. In my opinion, neither of these teams should make the playoffs and another team with a better record should. But since them’s ain’t the rules, I’m taking the Rams to win out and head into the playoffs.
Tailgate City (The Rest:)
Carolina at Atlanta Line: -15.0
Atlanta losing at home to the Saints didn’t exactly state their case for best in the NFC. While the Saints are a good team, a win would have given them home field advantage throughout. Instead, with the Eagles losing, the Bears now have home field advantage throughout as the number one seed. Ok, we can live with that, but is this the week to rest starters? If they do, then that’s two weeks before they play again. That might not be a good idea. I’ve always felt resting starters, at least for the entire game, is a terrible idea. Look at the Colts history with that for an example. Anyway, the Panthers shouldn’t offer much of a threat against the Falcons practice squad. Falcons to win at home.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland Line: +6.5
While the Steelers have secured a playoff spot, they have not locked down the division. A win here does just that, but the Browns are not to be underestimated. They held strong against the Ravens last week, and Colt McCoy would love a chance to prove his mettle against the Steelers. This is always a tough match-up, when the Browns don’t completely suck that is. So I’m sticking with the emotional pick (for me at least) and picking the Browns to win at home and spoil the Steelers fun just a little bit.
Minnesota at Detroit Line: -0.0
Did the Vikings just upset the Eagles? They sure did. Their defense, while it took 15 games, finally woke the fuck up and played Vick pretty tough. This is a little silver lining for this team that has seen some turmoil this year. Biggest storyline was Joe Webb at Quarterback, who appeared as if he could actually play. It’s very possible his performance in that game, and against the Lions could secure him a starting spot with the Vikings next year. So he has to play well and win this week on the road. It’s highly possible and I think the Vikings will do just that. Win.
Oakland at Kansas City Line: -4.0
Wow, what a year for the Chiefs. Their AFC opponents should not be taking this team lightly going into the playoffs. They could very well make it to the AFC Championship game for sure. They have that spark, and they have that offense. An offense that they hopefully will not be resting against the Radiers. While they can accept a loss, they’d probably rather not have one so coming out and winning at home against a hot and cold Raiders squad is paramount. This could be one of the highest scoring games of the day though, or I could be wrong. Chiefs to win.
Miami at New England Line: -2.5
If there is one team who can rest their starters and take a loss and not worry about losing their playoff seeding, it’s the Patriots. However, that’s not their style. At this point, not at the beginning of the season, I’d have to say the Patriots are on their way to another Superbowl. While they won’t rest their starters, Brady will be out by the 3rd quarter even if they are losing. Which, could very well happen. The Dolphins are not a bad team, just confused. They have been inconsistent, but this game comes with no implications other than a win or a loss. I think with that pressure off, and sucking last week against Detroit, the Dolphins can make a game of it. However, Patriots to win.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans Line: -8.0
Here’s the playoff scenario for the Bucs. They have to beat the Saints, Green Bay has to lose to Chicago and the Giants have to lose to Washington. All three of those things must happen for the Bucs to make the playoffs. Do you realize how optimistic this makes the delusional Bucs fans? Sadly, it’s my estimation that none of those things will happen at all. Starting with the Bucs losing to the Saints, which means they would not have beaten a team with a winning record all year. Weak.
Buffalo at NY Jets Line: -0.0
The Jets made the playoffs, but with the way they have been playing in the last few weeks they should be out in the first round. Their offense has been sputtering, putting too much pressure on the defense to keep the game in hand. While they played well against the Bears, and the offense woke up – it wasn’t enough. That was a stinging defeat for this squad. The Bills have had another forgettable season, but would like to go out with a win. This game might be that win, but they are going to have to open up the playbook and just go nuts against a defense that is going to see them coming. For shits and giggles, I’m taking the Bills. Why not?
Cincinnati at Baltimore Line: -9.5
The only team to really play spoiler last week was the Bungles, beating the crap out of the Chargers to keep them from the playoffs. Hilarious, but that sucks for Charger fans. So can the Bungles do it two weeks in a row? While they can’t keep the Ravens from the playoffs, they can mess with their aspirations to win the division. Do I think they will do just that? Hell no. The Bungles still suck balls and will not win in Baltimore. Ravens to win.
San Diego at Denver Line: +3.5
I’ll make this one easy for you. Tebow. Broncos to win.
Chicago at Green Bay Line: -0.0
What a classic match-up. I always love this match-up, no matter who is leading the team. Rodgers leads the Packers, fresh off a win over the Giants, against the top seeded and division winning Bears. But the Packers aren’t out of it yet. A win here puts them ahead of the Giants and into the playoffs. Their destiny is in their hands. They have to win to get in. Well, not really. They already have the tie break against the Giants and Tampa, so they would need both those teams to lose if they lose. Anyway, the Bears aren’t going to make it easy for them, not in the least. But I think the Packers are playing well enough with Rodgers back to make the final push into the last Wild-Card spot.
Tennessee at Indianapolis Line: -10.0
One could say the Colts have overcome a season of unfortunate injuries and set-backs to get this far. The division is theirs to take. All they need is a win here and it’s theirs. Doesn’t matter what the Jags do. They threw the division away with a couple tough losses that they couldn’t afford. Meanwhile, the Colts have done just enough to win. Sure, they won’t get past the Pats in the playoffs, but they’ll make it. They just have to beat the Titans. The Titans got pistol whipped by the Chiefs last week, and playing another road game to finish out the season sucks for them. Colts to win.
Dallas at Philadelphia Line: -0.0
The Eagles laid a serious egg against the Vikings. While they are still in the playoffs, they aren’t going to be top seed. That’s fine, they seem to be more energized on the road anyway. Maybe it’s cause their fans are so damn rowdy. They welcome the Cowboys to town, a team that has struggled to find their balance since losing Romo at the start of the season. Kitna has shown some poise, but the team around him has not. Can they salvage their season with a huge upset in Philly? Vick was limping a bit at the end of the game Tuesday night, we could see Kolb taking snaps. I’m banking on that in picking the Cowboys to upset.
Arizona at San Francisco Line: -6.5
At this point, who cares? They both suck, no playoff implications, just to see who is worse in the division I guess. Battle for last place! Niners to win at home.
New York at Washington Line: +4.0
The Giants are about to get their asses knocked out of the playoffs. A win by Green Bay does that, or if they lose on the road to the Redskins, which is highly possible. The Skins, like the Cowboys, have nothing left to play for this year besides the jobs of most of the coaching staff and the quarterback. Though by all accounts, I’d say McNabb is gone next year anyway. The Giants, while a top ranked team, are very inconsistent on defense. Will this be an off week or on week? This game is a must win for the Giants, which puts a lot of pressure on the defense to keep McNabb and his rocket arm in check. That might be too much pressure for this unstable defense. I’m taking the Skins to upset.
Jacksonville at Houston Line: +1.5
Here’s the breakdown for the Jags. If they win here, and the Colts win at home then they can back into the playoffs. Sadly, they’ll know by kickoff whether that scenario still exists or not. So this game is hard to predict because that could change the whole attitude of this game. The last time these two teams met, the Jags won on a last second play, so the Texans deserve some respect for not getting run over. But with Jones-Drew out, do the Jags really have a great shot at busting through the Texans? I think by the time they kickoff, the Colts will have won, dashing the hopes of the Jags and then the Texans will end it on a real sour note when they win. Texans at home.
So that’s that. The NFL Regular season is now over. I’m sad, but it’s been a good season and frankly it’s time to move on. Now, there better be a collective barganing agreement in place by next year otherwise I’m gonna be pissed. What am I supposed to do if there is no NFL season? Watch the NBA?