Jan’s Week 17 NFL Preview
The final week of the 2014 NFL season is upon us. For many, it's a somber time - a reminder of the hope that once was. Many teams will play their final game on Sunday, but for some the battle continues. There are two playoff spots still to be decided, as well as playoff seeding. Normally, most of the playoffs are already decided and teams will rest their starters but with so much on the line this week, it seems as though many teams are going to be playing at full strength. So let's take a look at what is sure to be an exciting Sunday finale in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns (7-8) at Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
M&T Bank Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - CBS
My hopes and dreams of the Cleveland Browns making the playoffs were crushed, thanks to some shaky quarterback play in the final games of the season. The money sign was thrown up by players not in Browns colors. The Baltimore Ravens still have a shot at the playoffs, but will need some help from other teams to make it in. The Ravens need to win and need the Chiefs to beat San Diego and they'll be on their way back to the postseason. Joe Flacco threw three interceptions and went 21 of 50 for 33-yards last week against the Texans. He's going to have to regroup if the Ravens want to keep the postseason in their sights. The Browns are eliminated from postseason contention and Johnny Manziel is out with a hamstring injury, as well as Brian Hoyer out with a shoulder injury. Connor Shaw, the rookie out of South Carolina, will get a chance to prove himself after spending the season on the practice squad.
Jan's pick: Ravens
Dallas Cowboys (11-4) at Washington Redskins (4-11)
FedEx Field, 1:00 PM ET - FOX
After a Philadelphia loss and a boatrace of Indianapolis last week, Dallas snatched their first NFC East title since 2009. The Cowboys still haven't lost on the road and have a chance to go undefeated as the away team this season. That experience is going to prove to be valuable if they end up having to travel in the playoffs. The Redskins spoiled Philadelphia's playoff hopes last week and are looking for a season sweep against the Cowboys. Fun fact: four of the last five teams to go 8-0 on the road went to the Super Bowl. Dallas can still clinch a first-round bye if they win Sunday, but Seattle and Arizona would both have to lose or Green Bay-Detroit ending in a tie. The quarterback situation in DC is still a mess, as McCoy is out with an injury and RGIII suffered a sprained right shoulder last week.
Jan's pick: Cowboys (I think this is the first time I've picked them all year... watch them lose)
Indianapolis Colts (10-5) at Tennessee Titans (2-13)
LP Field, 1:00 PM ET - CBS
So I've been giving Tennessee crap all year long about how they don't have fans and they're really awful, etc. but I'm convinced that it's all true. I haven't heard a peep from the Titans fanbase and the Titans have won two games all year, so I guess I'm not wrong about this. Why isn't anyone talking about moving them to LA? The Titans have the longest losing streak in the league and are looking to not lose their 10th game in a row. The Colts sure looked like the Titans last week against the Cowboys. Andrew Luck was benched after throwing two interceptions and no touchdown passes. Even after that terrible showing, talking heads are out there praising Luck for how great he is - but that's a topic for a different day. The Colts are going to have to get it together if they're going to make it further than Wild Card Weekend, but they have to beat the Mighty Titans first.
Jan's pick: Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) at Houston Texans (8-7)
NRG Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - FOX
The Houston Texans have battled their way back from a losing record and a likely top draft pick to being in contention to make the playoffs at the last second. If the Texans beat the Jaguars, they'll need San Diego and Baltimore to lose to sneak into the postseason. If the Texans do win, the Jaguars will end the season winless on the road for the second time in team history. This Texans team has been resilient, overcoming quarterback trouble and the loss of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. I believe the Texans will do their part to get into the playoffs, but will the football gods be on their side?
Jan's pick: Texans
San Diego Chargers (9-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-7)
Arrowhead Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - CBS
This is probably one of the most important games in terms of playoff scenarios in the AFC this weekend. If San Diego wins, they'll head to the postseason and Houston and Baltimore will be eliminated. If Kansas City wins, Baltimore and Houston will need to lose to send the Chiefs to the playoffs. However, the Chiefs will be without quarterback Alex Smith due to a lacerated spleen he suffered last week against Pittsburgh. The Chargers are coming off of one of the biggest wins of the season, defeating the 49ers in overtime last Saturday. Phillip Rivers will need to out perform the Chiefs defense if they're going to keep their season alive.
Jan's pick: Chargers
New York Jets (3-12) at Miami Dolphins (8-7)
Sun Life Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - CBS
Miami was eliminated last week after Pittsburgh beat Kansas City. With a win on Sunday, it would be the Dolphins first winning season since 2008. Rex Ryan is probably going to be coaching his last game for the Jets and their quarterback play is really terrible. This game doesn't mean much of anything, but Miami fans should be hopeful to the future after a season of relevance.
Jan's pick: Dolphins
Chicago Bears (5-10) at Minnesota Vikings (6-9)
TCF Bank Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - FOX
And the award for most disappointing season goes to... the Chicago Bears! Many talking heads had Chicago at the very least a playoff team this season, but Jay Cutler's inconsistent, turnover-ridden quarterback play and injuries to the defense have the Bears hoping to just nail a good draft position. Rumor has it that Cutler could be playing his last game as a Chicago Bear and first-year head coach Marc Trestman could be a one and done in Chicago as well. The Vikings should be a bit more optimistic, as their young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, has show glimpses of greatness. The Vikings defense has also shown that they could be a few missing pieces away from being a force to reckon with. Jared Allen is making his first trip back to Minnesota since signing with Chicago this season.
Jan's pick: Vikings
Buffalo Bills (8-7) at New England Patriots (12-3)
Gillette Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - CBS
The New England Patriots have already clinched the AFC East and the one seed in the playoffs. They survived the Jets last week to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, so the road to the Super Bowl goes through New England. The Bills are looking to just end their season on a strong note, which would be their first winning season since 2004. Bills fans should be optimistic, as their defense is solid and a good 2015 draft could add more weapons to a young team that could contend in a few years.
Jan's pick: Bills
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at New York Giants (6-9)
MetLife Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - FOX
The Philadelphia Eagles were soaring towards a second-consecutive NFC East title then they ran into the Seattle Seahawks. The Hawks then broke the Eagles, who had their worst game of the season, followed by a loss to the Redskins that knocked them out of playoff contention. Instability at the quarterback position has the Eagles finishing their season against the struggling Giants. Both teams playing for pride, this will be one of the less exciting match-ups of the day.
Jan's pick: Giants
New Orleans Saints (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-13)
Raymond James Stadium, 1:00 PM ET - FOX
Another disappointing season award goes to the New Orleans Saints, who were also a preseason favorite to contend for the Super Bowl. Instead, they're holding steady at a losing record. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is playing for the number one pick in the 2015 draft. Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker over Tennesee due to strength-of-schedule. If Tampa Bay wins and Tennessee loses, the Titans will get the first pick in the draft. The dumpster fire that is the NFC South will finally be put out (for the most part) this Sunday.
Jan's pick: Saints
Oakland Raiders (3-12) at Denver Broncos (11-4)
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 4:25 PM ET - CBS
The Denver Broncos can still get themselves a first-round bye this week with a win over Oakland. Peyton Manning had one of his worst games since joining the Broncos last week. Manning threw four interceptions against Cincinnati, sending the Bengals back to the playoffs. Denver can also clinch a first-round bye if the Bengals lose, no matter the outcome of this game. C.J Anderson has been a huge piece for the Denver offense and looks to have another big game against Oakland.
Jan's pick: Denver
Arizona Cardinals (11-4) at San Francisco 49ers (7-8)
Levi's Stadium, 4:25 PM ET - FOX
After being boatraced by the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona still can win the NFC West with a win and a Seattle loss. The Cardinals clinched playoff spot two weeks ago, but whether or not they can survive in the playoffs is the real question. Their quarterback situation is worse than it was before, with head coach Bruce Arians stating that rookie Logan Thomas would get his first start, then changing his mind back to Ryan Lindley. Lindley has never thrown a touchdown pass in 225 attempts, but he's thrown eight interceptions. Teams don't win after they've been beaten by Seattle. Seattle has tendency to "break" teams and Arizona will need to shake that curse if they're going to have a shot at the division and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. San Francisco will be missing the playoffs entirely and the future of their coaching staff is in limbo, but this team will be playing for pride if nothing else.
Jan's pick: 49ers
St. Louis Rams (6-9) at Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
CenturyLink Field, 4:25 PM ET - FOX
The last time these two teams met in St. Louis, Seattle looked like a hot mess. They had just traded away Percy Harvin and the team looked lost all around. Well Stella helped Seattle get their groove back since that game and have looked like the best team in the NFC since then. Seattle will clinch the NFC West with a win and as long as Green Bay and Detroit don't end in a tie, they'll clinch the one seed. Seattle has won 23 of 25 home games (including playoffs), so it will be hard for St. Louis to come in there and stir the pot. After that game last week, I'm not sure there's anyone that can stand in Seattle's way of making it back to the Super Bowl.
Jan's pick: Seattle
Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) at Atlanta Falcons (6-9)
Georgia Dome, 4:25 PM ET - CBS
We've reached the climax of the NFC South dumpster fire. The winner of this game will go on to win the NFC South and thus, hosting a playoff game. Atlanta needs a win to move on, while Carolina needs a win or tie. The Falcons have looked good over the last few games, but Cam Newton is healthy and looks good as well. Julio Jones is back for the Falcons and DeAngelo Williams is questionable for the Panthers with a broken hand. Both teams have injury issues and clearly winning issues, but by default one of these teams will make the playoffs.
Jan's pick: Atlanta
Detroit Lions (11-4) at Green Bay Packers (11-4)
Lambeau Field, 4:25 PM ET - FOX
Both teams have secured playoff spots, but these two NFC North rivals are battling it out in week 17 for the division. With a win, the Packers can extend the NFL's all-time leading home winning streak over the Lions. Both teams can still get a first-round bye or home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with losses by other teams. The Packers have won 22 consectuive regular-season home games against Detroit and have a plus-20 turnover margin in those games. If the Packers come out on top, it'll be their fourth-straight NFC North title. The Lions have been a bit of a surprise this year, having clinched a playoff spot and will be looking for their first NFC North title since 1993. Detroit has won the last two against the Packers, including the first meeting this season. The Lions rank second behind Seattle in total defense and points per game and boast the best run defense in the league. It's going to be one of those games that's going to come down to the wire.
Jan's pick: Packers
Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
Heinz Field, 8:30 PM ET - NBC
Week 17 will conclude with the AFC North title game on Sunday Night Football. Both the Steelers and the Bengals have clinched playoff spots already but the division is yet to be decided. Both teams have gone 7-2 in the last half of the season and riding winning streaks. The Bengals can clinch the division with a win or a tie and could potentially grab the AFC's two seed, but they need the Broncos to lose to Oakland. The last time the two teams met, Pittsburgh boatraced the Bengals 42-21. With both teams playing well on all sides of the ball, look for this to be an exciting title game to close out the regular season.
Jan's pick: Pittsburgh
You can follow 630 the Fan on Twitter @630TheFan. Not on Twitter? Give us a like on Facebook! We’re now on Instagram! Give us a follow @630thefan!