Friday, December 26, 2008

The Hail Mary - Week 17

The 2008 NFL regular season is coming to its conclusion. Most years there might be one or two playoff spots still open and just about everything else has been decided. Not this year, a 3 way tie for the AFC East crown will be decided, the AFC West and a playoff berth will be decided, the NFC North will be decided, and final playoffs spots are up for grabs. It will be a very exciting weekend.

Games I Will Be Watching

New York Giants (12-3) at Minnesota (9-6)

The Giants have nothing to play for as they have clinched the #1 seed and home field advantage in the NFC. A win for the Vikings gives them the NFC North, a loss and they could miss the playoffs altogether. I would love to pick the Vikings but they have developed a habit over the years of choking the big game. However, as you will see later things will turn out alright.

Prediction: New York Giants 21, Minnesota 18

New England (10-5) at Buffalo (7-8)

The Patriots need a win and some help to not only win the AFC East but also even guarantee a playoff spot. The Bills are playing for coach Dick Jauron's job in all likelihood. Patriots coach Bill Belichick seems to always win the big games.

Prediction: New England 24, Buffalo 17

Washington (8-7) at San Francisco (6-9)

Reports came out yesterday that the 49ers will retain Mike Singletary as coach next year and let go of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. I am a little nervous about this. I agree completely with bringing Singletary back but not with letting go of Martz. The offense has shown improvement this year and the last time the 49ers offense showed improvement they let that coach (Norv Turner) walk and the offense fell apart. I hope that doesn't happen this time. The Redskins are looking to have back to back winning seasons for the first time in 16 years!!?!?!?

Prediction: Washington 20, San Francisco 16

Jacksonville (5-10) at Baltimore (10-5)

A win and the Ravens are in the playoffs. Who knows which Jaguars team will show up, the one that played inspired football for the past two weeks, or the team that quit on Monday Night Football against the Texans? I think the less inspired Jags get whooped by the Ravens.

Prediction: Baltimore 31, Jacksonville 10

Denver (8-7) at San Diego (7-8)

The winner of this game captures the AFC West and also a playoff berth. The loser will get neither. There is no love lost between these two teams, plus there was the Ed Hochuli game in Week 2. Hochuli blew a call that pretty much cost the Chargers the game. Denver has been the toughest team to pick all year, and they seem to win when no one expects it. This one will come down to the wire and Norv Turner's Chargers will find a way to screw it up.

Prediction: Denver 27, San Diego 24

The Rest of Week 17

St. Louis (2-13) at Atlanta (10-5)

The Falcons clinched a playoff spot last week and now look to possibly clinch the NFC South. They need a win and a Panthers loss. The win part is guaranteed.

Prediction: Atlanta 27, St. Louis 13

Kansas City (2-13) at Cincinnati (3-11-1)

The Bengals end the year on a 3 game winning streak!

Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Kansas City 19

Detroit (0-15) at Green Bay (5-10)

A lot of losing streaks entering this one. The Lions are looking to avoid becoming the first team to go 0-16. The Lions have to do it at Green Bay where they haven't won since 1991. The Packers are trying to end their own 5 game losing streak. The Lions will definitely be motivated, but anyone that thinks the Packers won't be as motivated not to be the team that loses to the 0-15 Lions, then they are kidding themselves.

Prediction: Green Bay 31, Detroit 28

Tennessee (13-2) at Indianapolis (11-4)

Meaningless game for both teams, Titans already have wrapped up home field advantage in the AFC, the Colts are locked in at the 5 spot in the AFC playoffs. Titans backups are greater than Colts backups.

Prediction: Tennessee 17, Indianapolis 14

Carolina (11-4) at New Orleans (8-7)

Saints QB Drew Brees is looking to break Dan Marino's passing yardage in a season record. That means Saints coach Sean Payton will be throwing it frequently in this one. A loss could be potentially devastating for the Panthers. A win and they clinch the NFC South and a first round bye in the playoffs. A loss and a Falcons win and the Panthers will finish 5th in the NFC and be on the road next weekend. The Saints and the NFC South have dominated home games, can't argue with what has seemed to be the case all season.

Prediction: New Orleans 35, Carolina 31

Cleveland (4-11) at Pittsburgh (11-4)

The Steelers are still looking to earn a first round bye in the playoffs while the Browns are hoping to score their first offensive TD in 5 games. Bruce Gradkowski becomes the Browns 4th starting quarterback this season.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Cleveland 9

Oakland (4-11) at Tampa Bay (9-6)

The Bucs are falling apart at the wrong time. They need a win and a Cowboys loss to make the playoffs. They get the win.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 27, Oakland 10

Chicago (9-6) at Houston (7-8)

The Bears need a win and Vikings loss to clinch the NFC North. The Texans came out flat at Oakland last week and blew their opportunity at a possible first winning season. The Texans are good at home and the Bears are about to run out of miracles.

Prediction: Houston 23, Chicago 14

Miami (10-5) at New York Jets (9-6)

Storylines aplenty in this one. The Dolphins win the AFC East with a victory coming full circle from 1-15 a year ago. The Jets need a win and a Patriots loss to clinch the division. Dolphins QB Chad Pennington plays at New York for the first time since being released by the Jets at the beginning of the season. Jets QB Brett Favre tries to salvage a once promising Jets season. This should be an amazing game. This type of pressure will be new to most of the Dolphins but not to Pennington. The story is too good for it not to happen.

Prediction: Miami 24, New York Jets 21

Dallas (9-6) at Philadelphia (8-6-1)

The Cowboys keep stumbling over themselves yet somehow still control their playoff destiny. A win and they are in. The Eagles need to win and get a a Buccaneers loss. The Linc will be jacked up for this one and until the Cowboys and more specifically QB Tony Romo can prove that they can win meaningful games in December I can't pick them.

Prediction: Philadelphia 22, Dallas 16

Seattle (4-11) at Arizona (8-7)

Mike Holmgren coaches his last game for the Seahawks, while the Cardinals stumble into the playoffs.

Prediction: Arizona 35, Seattle 24

So this is how I see the NFC playoffs ending up after this weekend (Giants, Atlanta, Minnesota, Arizona, Carolina, Tampa Bay)

As for the AFC playoffs (Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Miami, Denver, Indianapolis, Baltimore)

Last Week: 7-9
Overall: 121-71-1

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