This is it. This is the final week of the regular season. While I cry in misery after this week with the Lions lost season, some of your teams will have playoff glory in the following weeks. But first, let’s take a look at the Week 17 games with playoff implications and a Lions/Bears preview for laughs.
Jets (10-5) at Bills (7-8) 1 PM CBS
A wild card spot is on the line for the Jets in this game. If they win, they are in over the Steelers (9-6). Ryan Fitzpatrick (91.2 QB rating with 29 TDs and 12 interceptions) has had a resurgence and the Jets defense is 6th in PPG (19.5 PPG). The Jets will face their former coach in Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. Tyrod Taylor has 5th best QB rating (100.7) in the entire league but the Bills defense has struggled under Ryan (allowing 22.8 PPG).
Chris Ivory (4.1 YPC and 989 yards) and Bilal Powell 4.5 YPC is a strong running tandem. Buffalo allows 4.3 YPC (21st in league) which should be good matchup for the Jets. Brandon Marshall has 1,326 yards and 13 TDs and Eric Decker has 977 yards and 11 TDs. The Bills will have their hands full covering these two players which account for 24 of the 31 passing TDs for the Jets. Buffalo is 12th allowing only an 86 QB rating.
The Jets look better on paper after beating the Patriots last week but you never know with away division games for all the marbles.
Steelers (9-6) at Browns (3-12) 1 PM CBS
The Steelers blew it last week losing at Baltimore. The Steeler have an easier game this week against the Browns against Johnny Manziel. The Steelers have a terrific offense (26.3 PPG which is ranked 4th) and strong defense (20.5 PPG ranked 11th). There is no way they should lose to the Browns but many thought the same thing against Baltimore. The Jets have to lose for Pittsburgh to sneak into the playoffs.
Lions (6-9) at Bears (6-9) 1 PM FOX
I’ll sneak this game into the conversation. This is the battle for 3rd place in the North. The Lions are 5-2 in their last 7 games and look to complete a dramatic turn around since the firings of Joe Lombardi, Jeremiah Washburn, Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew.
The Lions beat the Bears in a shootout in Ford Field (37-34 in OT) but three Lions turnovers (two fumbles on punt returns and Stafford interception on a flip intended for Bell) kept the Bears in that game.
The Bears offense is solid under Cutler (92.8 QB rating) but Alshon Jeffrey (807 yards and 4 TDs) and Martellus Bennett (439 yards and 3 TDs) won’t play in this game. Jeffrey had a huge game in the first meeting with Detroit (8 catches for 147 yards with 1 TD). Forte is dangerous at 4.1 YPC but Zach Miller, Eddie Royal and Marc Mariani shouldn’t be trouble for the surging Lions defense (19.2 PPG in last 7 games). Detroit has swept the Bears the last two years and won 5 games in a row. Detroit’s offense typically plays poorly at Soldier Field but a red hot Stafford (16 TDs and 2 interceptions in last 7 games) could be enough for another nice day offensively for Detroit. The Bears are 20th (24.9) PPG in defense and allow 4.5 YPC (30th) and 97.7 QB rating (23rd). Detroit has had more success running the ball in the last seven games and has plenty of offensive weapons with Megatron, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick.
Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (8-7) 1 PM CBS
Houston can clinch the AFC South with a win over Jacksonville or by a number of other results which would hurt Indianapolis’ strength of victory and common games. Brian Hoyer should return at QB for the Texans and DeAndre Hopkins is a monster weapon. The Texans are 9th in QB rating allowed and 11th in PPG defense. They have trouble running the ball without Arian Foster out with injury. Somebody has to win the AFC South.
Patriots (12-3) at Dolphins (5-10) 1 PM CBS and Baltimore (5-10) at Cincinnati (11-4)
The Patriots are playing the Dolphins for home field advantage. The Patriots will take their talents to South Beach and earn home field with a win. If the Broncos win and the Patriots lose, the Broncos get home field advantage in the AFC depending on the Bengals game. The Bengals can still earn home field advantage and a bye by beating the lowly Ravens. However, the Ravens are still fighting and beat Pittsburgh last week.
Chargers (4-11) at Broncos (11-4) 4:25 PM CBS
The Broncos can finish anywhere from the 1st to 6th seed. If they win, Denver will earn the second seed coupled with a Patriots win. If the Patriots lose and the Broncos win, the Broncos would be the top seed. The Broncos would lose the AFC West with a loss and a Chiefs’ win over the Raiders dropping them to the 5th or 6th seed. Brock Osweiler will continue to play over Peyton Manning but the Broncos defense should easily carry them over the Chargers without Keenan Allen.
Raiders (7-8) at Chiefs (10-5) 4:25 PM CBS
The Chiefs have won 9 games in a row. They can win the AFC West with a win and Broncos loss. Their defense is very strong and Alex Smith is playing well with some weapons in Maclin and Kelce. I would not want to play the Chiefs in the playoffs.
NFC Home Field 4:25 PM FOX
Carolina (14-1) hosts Tampa Bay (6-9) and will try to clinch home field advantage. The Panthers are deflated due to losing the undefeated streak but still must play well to clinch home field. The Cardinals (13-2) have the bye clinched but need to beat Seattle (9-6) and have the Panthers lose to steal home field advantage in the last week.
Vikings (10-5) at Packers (10-5) NFC North Championship 8:30 PM NBC
This game is for all the marbles. For the third time in a row, the Packers play a different North team for the NFC Championship in Week 17. Green Bay flukily won both previous games against the Bears and Lions in 2013 and 2014 seasons. Green Bay will look to make it a third time and avoid losing to all North teams at Lambeau this year.
The Vikings are hot and have their injured defensive players back (Joseph, Barr and Smith) and the Packers got their shit kicked in at Arizona last week. Never doubt Aaron Rodgers in a NFC North Championship though.
The Packers have a 4.3 YPC run game and 10th ranked defense which is solid despite the whining of Packers’ fans. Rodgers’ 93.7 QB rating is good but Packer fans expect elite play all the time from him.
The Packers biggest problem is they need some better health on the offensive line with Josh Sitton, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga questionable for this game. It could be a really long day for Rodgers if he has no protection like in Week 16. Everson Griffen, Shariff Floyd, Brian Robison, Linval Joseph and Anthony Barr will gladly beat Rodgers to a pulp and earn the home playoff game.
Minnesota is 6th in PPG and Adrian Peterson is always a beast (4.6 YPC). Bridgewaters’s QB rating of 90.6 as a game manager may be enough with a good defense and run game. Bridgewater has played well the last three weeks to increase his QB rating. The Vikings have a great chance to win this game on the road despite the beat down they received in the first matchup in Minnesota.
Seattle plays at Arizona in Week 17(who is playing for a bye). If Seattle and Green Bay win, the Vikings and Packers would play a rematch as the Seahawks would be the 5th seed at 10-6 with the tiebreaker over Minnesota. If Seattle loses and the Packers win, the Packers would host Seattle (6th seed) and Vikings would travel to Washington. If Seattle loses and the Vikings win, the Vikings would host Seattle and Green Bay would travel to Washington. Seattle was hot but lost to the Rams in Week 16 and struggle on the road. Washington has been better in recent weeks but net only an 8-7 record. The teams should want the North title and the home game no matter the opponent. Hoping to play the Redskins won’t help you in Arizona or Carolina.