Welcome to my Week 17 Picks. Last week I went 10-6, putting my overall record at 144-101. With playoff contention and seeding on the line, who will come out on top this week? Read below to find out, and comment on your thoughts.
Note: Due to continuous technical difficulties with one of my editing apps, I was not able to include the score images.
Lock of the Week
Redskins, 30, Giants, 0
Led by QB Kirk Cousins, I expect the Redskins to rout and shutout the Giants in New York. The Giants will be without WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram due to injuries, and they are still missing WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Without those four receiving weapons, the Giants will fail to challenge the Redskins D. That will make it easy for Cousins to lead the Redskins to victory, causing the problematic, injury-riddled Giants to finish 2-14.
Upset of the Week
Panthers, 31, Falcons, 27
I see the Panthers winning in a shootout here. QB Cam Newton will connect with his favorite target, TE Greg Olsen to help lead Carolina. RB Christian McCaffrey will also make major contributions to their victory. The Falcons will challenge them though, as they figure out how to outsmart the Panthers secondary. WR Julio Jones will dominate, and I think he’ll catch at least 2 TD from QB Matt Ryan. Their run game will also contribute, but it will not be enough as Carolina snags a victory.
The Other Games
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST
Patriots, 23, Jets, 16
Expect a better performance out of the Pats front seven. They will pressure QB Josh McCown and slow down the Jets run game as new LB James Harrison leads them. I expect him to come through as he is seeking revenge on his old team, the Steelers. I also think QB Tom Brady will find his receivers against the young Jets secondary and will avoid being picked off for the first time in weeks.
The Pats secondary will also have a big game in my opinion. They will also be motivated to beat the Steelers. They will make it hard for McCown to find his receivers and slow down the rhythm of the Jets offense. This motivated Pats team will play complementary football and win the game.
Steelers, 28, Browns, 20
The Browns will try to grab their first victory of 2017, but will not succeed against the playoff-bound Steelers, who are fighting for a chance at the #1 seed. The Browns offense will actually look decent here, but the Steelers offense will top that, even without WR Antonio Brown. QB Ben Roethlisberger will find other options with Brown hurt. Pittsburgh should grab a victory with ease, even without Brown, as the Browns go 0-16.
Colts, 23, Texans, 21
I think Texans QB T.J. Yates will actually look decent against the weak Colts defense, but he won’t be able to do as much without his #1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans run game will also do well, as the duo of Lamar Miller and Dont’a Foreman will score two of the three Houston touchdowns. But the Colts offense will get the edge as QB Jacoby Brissett tosses 2 TD and leads Indy to victory.
Eagles, 30, Cowboys, 27
The Eagles will top Dallas, but it will not be as high scoring as last time. QB Nick Foles will have a decent game, but he will not be able to do the same thing that star QB Carson Wentz was able to do. But the Eagles offense will still do well, and they will also use their run game to their advantage. The Eagles defense will also do well, holding off Dallas as Philly wins, going 14-2 on the season.
Lions, 27, Packers, 6
Unfortunately, I think the injury-riddled Packers will end up finishing the season in shambles, losing to the Lions in 2017 season finale. Lions QB Matthew Stafford will throw a trio of TD to take the early lead, and Green Bay will fail to fight back. The Lions will win with ease as the Packers start focusing on next season, hoping to come back healthy in 2018. This year, they were devastated by injuries to their QB, Aaron Rodgers among other stars. This week, Rodgers is out, and so are wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
Vikings, 28, Bears, 9
Expect the Bears offense to struggle against the tough Vikes defense. Their run game will be shut down, and QB Mitch Trubisky won’t be able to start an offensive rhythm as there is a lack of receiving weapons in Chicago right now. On the other hand, the Vikings offense will continue to strive as the Vikes win, led by dominance on both sides of the ball.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST
Bills, 27, Dolphins, 24
The WR trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jordan Matthews will help lead the Bills to victory in Miami against the young, struggling Dolphins secondary. The Dolphins will be able to slow down RB LeSean McCoy, but not the Bills’ receiving trio. The Miami receiving trio will also do well, but their lack of a run game will cost them as Buffalo wins.
Ravens, 20, Bengals, 13
The Ravens defense will be dominant in this game, shutting down Bengals QB Andy Dalton and holding him to just 1 touchdown. The Ravens offense will also thrive, even without starting WR Jeremy Maclin and even against a tough Bengals defense. They will be led by their other starting WR Mike Wallace. Baltimore will win in a low scoring game after a strong performance on both sides of the ball.
Titans, 23, Jaguars, 20
The Titans will edge out the Jaguars in a relatively low scoring game. The Jags defense will slow down Titans RB Derrick Henry, and the Titans will fail to run the ball with Henry well covered and RB DeMarco Murray out. However, the Jags will fail to do the same against the versatile group of Titans receivers.
The Jaguars will struggle to perform offensively without some of their key weapons like receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. But they will come close to spoiling the Titans’ chances, led by their younger receivers like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. In the end, the Titans will grab the victory.
Chiefs, 16, Broncos, 13
The Chiefs offense will not be the same with WR Tyreek Hill resting up for the playoffs, and the Broncos defense will be able to hold the, down early. But TE Travis Kelce, the run game, and other receivers will help the Chiefs take the lead later on. Denver will also struggle offensively without a definitive starter at QB and with both WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Cody Latimer hurt. But the combo of QB Trevor Siemian and WR Demaryius Thomas will grab the lead early. However, they will blow it later on as the Chiefs make an effort to come back and succeed.
Chargers, 45, Raiders, 34
The Raiders will make a good effort here. They will target the Chargers’ weakness in the secondary by going with a pass-heavy offense. QB Derek Carr will dominate, throwing for 350 yards and 4 TD. But it won’t be enough against the dominant Chargers offense. LA’s offense will electrify as they play for one last shot to make the playoffs. With playoff contention on the line, the Chargers will score 5 or more offensive touchdowns, led by QB Philip Rivers as well as their TE duo among others. The Chargers will win in a shootout as Oakland cannot keep up despite Carr’s huge game.
Saints, 30, Buccaneers, 26
QB Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense will come close against the Saints, but the powerful New Orleans secondary will slow them down as they play great red zone defense. The Saints will also put up another strong offensive performance as Brees tosses 3 TD, leading the Saints to victory.
Seahawks, 27, Cardinals, 24
Despite a strong effort by the Cardinals with WR John Brown, the Seahawks will comeback to win at home. The Seahawks defense will not be able to shut down the Cardinals receivers without CB Richard Sherman, but the TE Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks offense will lead Seattle to victory.
Rams, 34, 49ers, 27
The success of new 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will not be enough against the powerful Rams offense. The 49ers offense will come close though, as Garoppolo connects with multiple receivers for touchdowns. But it still will not be enough, as RB Todd Gurley, QB Jared Goff and WR Sammy Watkins lead LA to victory in a close game.
That’s all for my Week 17 Picks. If my predictions are right, according to the ESPN Playoff Machine, the playoff seeding will look like this:
Stay tuned for more NFL preview videos and picks coming soon. In addition, with MLB free agency kicking into gear, my prediction article is coming soon. Also stay tuned for my article about 2017 in sports as we ring in 2018 tonight.