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Who are you picking to win the week 17 games?

Posted Dec 29, 2017

Who are you picking to win the week 17 games?

What a great way to spend New Year's Eve! The NFL wisely dropped the Sunday Night game from this week's sked (making it two weeks in a row with no SNF—which hasn't happened in years) and rejigged it so all the games with major playoff implications are in the late slot (obviously, seedings could be affected by upsets in the early contests). Of course, for us five time zones earlier than the East Coast, it means those late games will be at peak intensity just about the time the original Big Ben decides to ring in the New Year. Week 17 can be a nightmare to pick, with teams resting players and teams with nothing left to play for except what any game is played for, a win. But what a great way to set the stage for whatever celebrations or commiserations you're planning to enjoy, but whatever they are, here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

SUNDAY EARLY GAMES:

Green Bay (7-8) at Detroit (8-7): Palindromic Bowl! If stuff was on the line, and therefore AR were playing, you'd say the Pack in a snap. But there ain't, he isn't, and Matt Stafford expects to be out there tormenting a GB D that's been battered all season. Brett Hundley remains the second-best Brett to play QB for the Packers, and his scrambling ability could give Detroit's D just as many fits. This could be an entertaining game, but it's a hard one to pick. Pick: Lions

Houston (4-11) at Indianapolis (3-12): On the other hand, you could decide that watching Home Alone for the twelfth time might be a viable alternative to this one. Pick: Colts

Chicago (5-10) at Minnesota (12-3): The Vikes, of course, could use this opportunity to give Teddy Bridgewater some snaps, especially as Sam Bradford is going to come back to practice next week, and will have the bye week to work. Minnesota will want to keep only two of the three QBs active come the second round of the playoffs. The Bears' D has held up over the season, but the offense still has a ways to go. Bad conditions and a big day from Jordan Howard could cause the Vikes problems. Pick: Vikes

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS ACTION: New York Jets (5-10) at New England (12-3): The Jets always do crazy things to the Pats, and though NE don't worry much about Brady injuries, they still have home field to play for (assuming the Steelers win) and that means something in the winter especially, so I expect them to go out and win: they have an ungodly record when they're favoured by double-digits (they're more than two TDs in this one) and Bryce Petty is at QB for the Jets, at least until Todd Bowles decides to unlock the Hack. Pick: Pats

Washington (7-8) at New York Giants (2-13): Who's got that number 2 pick behind the Browns? The Giants said David Webb would be the number two QB this week: you would think they'd want to see what he can do, but of course that evaluation will belong to the new GM and coach, who is unlikely to be Spags. The yakety yaks seem to think the Giants will tank the game to grab that coveted spot and get another QB; if I were the incoming management I might try to devise a way to get a decent year from Eli, Davis and receivers I've got coming back and use that pick on some other of my many needs. Pick: Skins

Dallas (8-7) at Philadelphia (13-2): The Eagles are one of those teams who have nothing tangible to play for, but might want to take this game seriously after last week's stuttering by the Foles Patrol offense. But this would be just the soort of game for the Clapper to enjoy winning. Let's spoil the fun. Pick: Eagles

Cleveland (0-15) at Pittsburgh (12-3): You rest players for two reasons (unless you want to lose, which would be three). One is to avoid injuries, the other is to get, well, rest (and recuperation). The Steelers have a bye week clinched, so their decision is based more on whether risking injury to Big Ben II or LeVeon Bell or another reciever (with Antonio Brown already hurt) is worth the shot at grabbing home field from the Pats (understanding they'd need a big boost from the Jest to do that). Since Pitts already has next week off, and coaches still do worry about the Big Mo (momentum—which is more something we see when things go right than something that makes things go right) you wonder how Mike Tomlin will handle it. If Landry Jones gets the start, or comes in early, this could open the door for Hue Jackson to end the season on a one-game winning streak, and discover if he understood owner Jimmy Haslam's assurances correctly. Or make him attractive to the Bengals. Either way, Tomlin probably prefers keeping Hue in the division rather than risking the Browns picking up someone who'll threaten him. Pick: Steelers

SUNDAY LATE GAMES:

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS ACTION: Carolina (11-4) at Atlanta (9-6): Really the most interesting matchup out there. The Falcons haven't been great on D this year, but they are quick, and thus ought to be able to contain Cam Newton, who is an unlikely MVP candidate, but statistically means more to his team's offense than any player east of Russell Wilson. Carolina could still win the South, and even clinch a bye if three other teams lose, so you wonder how strong their motivation will be. Pick: Falcons

Cincinnati (6-9) at Baltimore (9-6): Palindromic Bowl II! The Ravens are in a win and you're in situation, and will be a team no one really wants to play in the playoffs: a tough D and an offense that scrapes points together while you're struggling to do the same. The Bengals could win one for Marvin. Pick: Ravens

Buffalo (8-7) at Miami (6-9): Richie Incognito Bowl! The Bills need a win and either the Ravens to lose or both the Titans and Chargers to lose. Miami need a win to prove they weren't crazy to sign Jay Cutler, as if one win here would. Of course this would be just the kind of game the Dolphins would take great pleasure in winning, and for the Bills' players the summery heat of Miami will be a problem. Pick: Dolphins

New Orleans (11-4) at Tampa (4-11): Palindromic Bowl III! I can see various scenarios where the Bucs act as spoilers for the Saints, especially because their walking wounded appear to be keen to play in this one, though that's probably not enough to save Dirk Koetter's job. The Bucs have put a lot of points on the board in the last month, and lost a lot of close games – take away Damiere Byrd's kickoff return last week and they could have beaten the Panthers. This seems to me the most likely big upset of the day, so I'm going to pick: Bucs

Jacksonville (10-5) at Tennessee (8-7): There is a theory that the Jags, locked into the 3 seed, would just as soon lose and hope the Ravens win so they get Tennessee again at home next week. That sort of thing is what gets the pompositors of the talk shows, the Skips, Nicks, Colins and Stephen As bloviating, but it's harder to do in real life, unless you bench your guys early. And coming off a bad loss to the Niners, I'd guess Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone want their team to get their mojo back: remember Coughlin in 2007 giving the Pats a great game in week 17 and going on to beat them in the Super Bowl? Pick: Jags

Kansas City (9-6) at Denver (5-10): Andy Reid is a rester, and with the Chiefs locked into the 4 seed, Patrick Mahomes is going to start. That's not as bad as it sounds, in fact, Mahomes is probably better than whoever the Browncos throw out there to throw, but Denver's a tough place for a rookie QB to visit at the best of times, and with other key players possibly headed to the pine early it won't get any easier. I really hate to do this, but pick: Broncos

Oakland (6-9) at LA Chargers (8-7): I would guess that the Raiders will go all out because Jack Del Rio, having thrown both coordinators under the bus that will take them to Las Vegas would like to end the season in the warm fuzzy glow of a spoiler victory. The Chargers can get in with a win and a Titans loss if the Bills lose, or paradoxically, if the Bills and Ravens both win. Pick: Chargers

San Francisco (5-10) at LA Rams (11-4): Jimmy G (or Jimmy GQ as they call him in SF) remains undefeated as a starter in the NFL. The Rams are resting their stars, including Aaron Donald, which, given they are playing a wild card team next week makes a good deal of sense. So Jimmy GQ gets to extend his unbeaten streak into another season? Pick: Niners

Arizona (7-8) at Seattle (9-6): Seattle need a win and a Falcons' loss to get into the playoffs, and if they don't hit the combo there will be a few teams breathing a sigh of relief, because they are a team no one really wants to meet in the playoffs. The Cards will play hard, I think, for Bruce Arians, who's really done a good job after the team let half his defense go and he lost both Carson Palmer and the guy who was the core of their offense, David Johnsn. I don't really fancy either Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert's chances in Seattle with so much on the line for the home team. Pick: Seahawks

LAST WEEK 12-4 SEASON: 164-76

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