NFL Picks Week 17: Playoff Preparation

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NFL Picks Week 17: Playoff Preparation

Picks Week 17
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like only yesterday that the season was just getting into full swing and the division races were starting to heat up. Now here we are, week 17, with the majority of the playoff picture a certainty at this point and the bulk of the league playing for pride.

While more teams will be at home watching football in January rather than playing it, those clubs with no postseason aspirations at this point still have plenty of motivation to succeed. Several players on each roster are playing for jobs next year and those that aren’t playing for jobs necessarily may be playing for a new contract or some type of incentive in their current deal.

The financial inspiration may be carefully brushed under the rug by the majority of coverage that the NFL receives, but there is no denying the fact that this is a job for every man on all 32 rosters. This is a means by which to support a family and put food on the table. It might not be factory work or the most painstaking gig in the world, but it is still employment for each player on the field.

So in week 17, we will watch carefully to see which playoff-bound teams look like serious Super Bowl contenders and which appear destined to flame out early. Don’t forget to watch some of the special teams guys on the clubs that will be drafting near the top of the order in April. Those players are important as well and each one will be looking to keep themselves employed next season.

It may seem like the season disappeared in the blink of an eye, but we are here. Week 17 in all of its glory so settle in and enjoy the pigskin while it lasts.

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Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Bears at Lions
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Johnson may be the only thing worth watching in this game with the Bears ongoing implosion. They did manage to right the ship in Arizona last week though which is more than can be said for the Lions. Look for Calvin to get his and get awfully close to 2,000 mark in receiving yards, but the Bears will win this one.

Bears 28 – Lions 20

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Jags at Titans
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Well, one bright spot is the Jags will have a very early pick in April’s NFL Draft. It has also been reported that Tim Tebow is a virtual lock to play in his hometown next season. Tennessee hasn’t even been competitive in recent weeks and at least Jacksonville jumped out to an early lead a week ago. Look for the Jags to get ahead and stay there in this one.

Jags 24 – Titans 13

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Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Texans at Colts
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck looked a bit overwhelmed when these two met a couple of weeks ago, but he needs to settle down quickly if the Colts want to make any kind of run in the postseason. As for Houston, well Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on offense are two of the best in the league at their respective positions. Defensively, J.J. Watt could receive similar praise. This one will be highly competitive as these teams gear up for the playoffs, but roll with the Texans.

Texans 31 – Colts 27

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Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Pack at Vikes
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have been hot recently, winners of three in a row. Their last loss however came at the hands of these Packers in Green Bay. This game will be in the friendly confines of the dome for the Vikes. With 1,812 yards on the season, Adrian Peterson needs just 188 in this game to reach the 2,000 mark and given his 210-yard outburst the last time these two met, that isn’t too much to ask. It still won’t be enough for the win though over the surging Pack.

Packers 31 – Vikings 24

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Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Phins at Pats
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

New England was shaky last week, but the Dolphins are likely to be a bit deflated now officially eliminated from the playoffs. This game doesn’t have much meaning left for the Patriots either who will be playing in wild card weekend at home regardless of how they finish. Expect Tom Brady and company to round into form in this game and put up some points heading into the New Year.

Patriots 45 – Dolphins 20

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Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Panthers at Saints
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton has the Panthers on a roll even though it is too little, too late for this club as winners of three in a row. Drew Brees and the Saints just knocked off the Cowboys in Dallas despite their playoff hopes being dashed long ago as well. In New Orleans, this game is for pride and expect the Saints to show some real fight as they send their fans home with a winning feeling.

Saints 34 – Panthers 21

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Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Iggles at G-Men
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This is a tricky one to pick. There hasn’t been much to like about Philly in recent weeks, but there may be even less to like about the Giants. Last week was the second one in a row where they just failed to show up. Michael Vick is back for his swansong, but it’s just impossible to pick him over a Super Bowl MVP in Eli Manning, right?

Giants 24 – Eagles 21

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Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Browns at Stillers
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be watching the playoffs from home after their loss to the Bengals last week. So will their arch-rivals in the Browns, but that’s nothing new for them. Look for Cleveland to try and make a real statement by sweeping the season series against Pittsburgh. This young team could be a thorn in the sides of the Steelers for years to come.

Browns 24 – Steelers 21

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Bucs at Falcons
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan and the Falcons need to keep rolling given their propensity to underwhelm when the postseason arrives. They have been on fire recently and this game against the mistake-prone Buccaneers should be no real trouble. Look for Atlanta to make another statement as they get ready for a week off. Michael Turner will be featured heavily in this one.

Falcons 35 – Buccaneers 20

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New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Jets at Bills
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of quarterback, the Jets put the D in dysfunctional this season. As for the Bills, they have been beaten up all year long, but they seem to have realized that feeding C.J. Spiller isn’t a bad option. Look for plenty of Spiller in this one as the Bills run over the Jets.

Bills 28 – Jets 17

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Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Ravens at Bengals
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

This game may be one of those rare back-to-back situations where two teams that face off in the season’s final week meet again in the opening weekend of the playoffs. Of course the venue will be different with the playoff game being set in Baltimore, but don’t look for either side to reveal much in this game. It could be sloppy, but expect Cincy to get the win and maintain some momentum into the postseason.

Bengals 31 – Ravens 24

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Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

Boys at Skins
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have been reduced to the role of spoiler now and the Redskins are looking for a win to secure their first division title since the last century (1999). Robert Griffin III showed no ill-effects of any lingering knee issues in his return last week and he will likely be involved in another shootout in this one. Expect similar results to their Thanksgiving tussle this week with the Redskins prevailing.

Redskins 31 – Cowboys 21

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Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Chiefs at Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning has this Broncos team looking like a Super Bowl favorite and the Chiefs are vying for the first overall pick in April’s draft. This is a mismatch on paper, on the field, and anywhere else it takes place. Look for Denver to win this one easily and rest some starters in the second half.

Broncos 34 – Chiefs 17

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Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

Raiders at Bolts
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of records, these two teams don’t like one another. Neither one will be playing another game for months so there will be nothing held back this week. Defense will be the key as neither team has much in the way of offensive weapons left that are healthy. Expect the Chargers to eek out a close win.

Chargers 24 – Raiders 23

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Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

Cards at Niners
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Think Jim Harbaugh is regretting his decision to turn to Colin Kaepernick yet? If not, he should be. The Niners are a team built around defense and now with a swashbuckler under center (or in the pistol rather) they are playing with a more precarious lead at times. Still the Cards should be no match in this one and the Niners will ultimately win the division crown.

49ers 34 – Cardinals 14

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St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Rams at Hawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

How about these Seahawks!? They put on an impressive performance last week and with this game set in Seattle once again, the Rams have their work cut out for them. St. Louis has seen a nice resurgence this season and a win would give them their first winning record in nearly a decade. Leave it to Marshawn Lynch and Seattle to spoil the party.

Seahawks 27 – Rams 17