NFL Week 17 Preview
Sixteen teams will kick off on Sunday to play the final games of the 2009 regular season. Most of the playoffs are locked with just of few of this weeks contests factoring into this years postseason picture. My pick for game of the week is Philadelphia at Dallas. This should be a good match up as the NFC East title is up for grabs.
Lot’s of football this week, so lets get started.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – San Francisco 49ers (7-8) @ St. Louis Rams (1-14)
Line: San Francisco -7 (Total 40 ½)
I think it’s safe to say that the Rams can now be officially announced as the worst NFL team of 2009. With one game left it not likely they will catch the Lions (2-13) by beating the Niners this week. St. Louis finally gave running back Steve Jackson a much needed rest this past week, but I expect he will return for the season finale on Sunday. The 49ers will want to finish with win to post an even record for the year. Niners deal another loss to the Rams here.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – New England Patriots (10-5) @ Houston Texans (8-7)
Line: Houston -8 (Total 46)
The Patriots have secured a playoff spot and the AFC East title, but you know Belichick is never satisfied. The Texans on the other hand still have a shot at the playoffs after their huge win over Miami last week. The Texans have never finished a season above .500 and a win here does that, and potentially puts them in the playoffs as a bonus. Look for a push from both teams with the Texans coming out on top.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – Atlanta Falcons (8-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12)
Line: Atlanta -2 (Total 41 ½)
The Falcons enjoyed a big win over Buffalo last week as Matt Ryan returned to the Atalanta lineup. Unfortunatley, it is all just a little too late. But a win to end the season could go along way for next season. The Bucs are hopeless and are pretty much playing to keep rookie coach Raheem Morris’ job intact for next season.They beat the Saints last week, but lighting never strikes twice in the same spot. Expect the Falcons to thwart any attempt at a win by Tampa Bay in this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – New Orleans Saints (13-2) @ Carolina Panthers (7-8)
Line: +++ (Total ++)
The Saints have solidified a playoff spot along with the AFC South title and home advantage for the postseason. I suspect they will sideline most of their top players in preperation for the playoffs and give corners Randall Gay and Jabari Greer, as well as tight end Jeremy Shockey time to get healthy. The Panthers have been playing better as of late but with no hope of extending their season past this weekend. But who knows, had they had gone to Matt Moore sooner they could be right in the thick of the playoff picture. Instead they will settle with a best scenario of going .500 for 2009. Look for the Saints to finish the season with a W to bring back some of the momentum thay seem to have lost in their last two appearances.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) @ Miami Dolphins (7-8)
Line: Pittsburgh -3 (Total 46 ½)
It looks like both of these teams will miss this years postseason barring some miracle. The Steelers have struggled and without star safety Troy Polamalu have gome from first to worst. The Dolphins looked strong at the start but have stumbled as of late and are under .500. The loss of Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat has taken its toll on Miami. Look for the Steelers to pull out a win in this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) @ Cleveland Browns (4-11)
Line: Cleveland –1 ½ (Total 37 ½)
The Browns have won three in a row, but it won’t do much good except maybe to preserve
Eric Mangini’s job as head coach. They have battled hard this season but have also battled with injuries to key starters. Jacksonville may have a small glimmer of hope for a playoff spot, but I just don’t see them in it. Cleveland eeks one out at home in this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – New York Giants (8-7) @ Minnesota Vikings (11-4)
Line: Minnesota -9 (Total 48)
The Giants killed their playoff hopes losing to the Carolina Panthers last week. This weeks game will be one for self pride, and New York needs all they can muster. The Vikings have fallen against the ropes down the streatch, losing two in a row. However, I think the meltdown is temporary and though they wrapped up the division long ago, Fave and the Vikes wouid like a win to spingboard their playoff run. Not to mention Minnesota has been tough to beat at home. Vikings win this as the Giants wonder what happened to their season.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – Indianapolis Colts (14-1) @ Buffalo Bills (5-10)
Line: Buffalo -7 (Total 38)
The Colts unbeaten streak ended last week against the Jets when they decided to pull Peyton Manning in the third quarter, preserving their star and focusing instead on another Super Bowl run. I don’t expect Indy to start many key players and if they do, I can’t see them statying for more than one or two quarters. The Bills playoff dreams are shattered. T.O. will playing to increase his value in next years free agency pool, while the coaching staff gets another look at rookie quarterback Brian Brohm as the Bills pull off a win against the Indy reserves.
Sunday, January 3 – 1pm – Chicago Bears (6-9) @ Detroit Lions (2-13)
Line: Chicago -3 (Total 45)
Detroit is without a road win for a second straight season. The Lions are beaten and beat up both physically and mentally. Chicago will be looking for its second win in a row after a good showing against Minnesota last week. Bears head coach Lovie Smith needs a win if he wants to remain in Chi-town, so a loss to lowly Lions would be the nail that seals his fate. Expect th Bears to get a win to end the season and possibly keep Smith in the Windy City.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Washington Redskins (4-11) @ San Diego Chargers (12-3)
Line: San Diego –3 ½ (Total 39)
The Redskins will most likely bid head coach Jim Zorn farewell after a miserable season. Washington will need to hold a yard sale and swap meet in the offseason to clean up this debacle. You have to hand it to Zorn though, he handled the season with class. The Chargers are probably playing better than any team in the league at the moment, and after losing in October have put together a 10-game winning streak. Even playing reserves, San Diego wins this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Tennessee Titans (7-8) @ Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
Line: Tennessee –4 ½ (Total 44)
Chris Johnson needs just 128 yards from becoming the sixth NFL player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season, and 233 from matching Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark of 2,105. He will get his chance to do it this weekend against an awful Seattle defense. The Sea “Buzzards” have nothing to play for, but I don’t expect them to want to go down in the NFL archives as the team who gave up the yards for Johnson to set his record. Look for the Titans to hand the ball to Johnson and for a comeback performance from QB Vince Young after last weeks loss to the Chargers. It’s too bad the season wasn’t three weeks longer, the Titans probably would have made the postseason.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Baltimore Ravens (8-7) @ Oakland Raiders (5-10)
Line: Baltimore -10 (Total 38)
The Ravens can clinch a wild-card spot with an easy win over Oakland on Sunday, but Baltimore hasn’t made anything easy for themselves all season long,Bad penalties and game day meltdowns, have put the Ravens in a must-win situation. Baltimore has beat inferior teams all season, but the Raiders have knocked off Cincy, Philly, Pittsburgh and Denver. Oakland is capable and will have home field advantage. Can the Ravens keep it together and avoid bad penalties to sneak into the postseason? This is their moment. Ravens manage a much-needed win in this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-5)
Line: Dallas -3 (Total 47)
This is my pick for game of the week. We have an exciting NFC East title showdown in this one. Dallas’ Tony Romo was on a rail throwing for over 300 yards in a 20-16 win over the Eagles back in early November.Hehas silenced the critics by avoiding his typical December meltdown. IN factg the entire Dallas team seems to be clicking. But it won’t be easy as the Eagles look good and are currently riding a six game win streak with two wins against divison foes. This should be an epic battle as both of these clubs are going to the postseason, but only one will be crowned division champion. I like Dallas at home in this one.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Kansas City Chiefs (3-12) @ Denver Broncos (8-7)
Line: Denver -13 (Total 38)
The Chiefs have nothing to lose but could knock a rival out of the postseason if they should beat the Broncos on Sunday. After starting the season 6-0, the Broncos have won just two of their last nine games including losses to Oakland and Washington. However one of those two wins came against the Chiefs on the road, 44-13. The Broncos collapse have aleady blown their division tile hopes, could they miss the playoffs entirely for the second straight year? Denver keeps the dream alive with a win at Mile High.
Sunday, January 3 – 4:15 pm – Green Bay Packers (10-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
Line: Arizona -3 (Total 44)
Arizona has already won the NFC West but would like to get a playoff bye to give injured QB Kurt Warner along with some other starters that are pretty beat up. some time to recover. In that case I see them resting some, if not all of those players this weekend. The Packers are a wild-card team for sure and will be concerned with nursing some injuries of their own. This should be a good game regardless. Green Bay gets just enough to edge out a win.
Sunday, January 3 – 8:20 pm – Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) @ New York Jets (8-7)
Line: Jets -10 (Total 35)
The Bengals have already clinched the AFC North but have struggled in their last five outings, posting just two wins. All against teams with losing records. Their passing attack has faded and they can’t seem to stretch the field. They still boast their potent rushing attack, but have become predictable. If they should have to face Baltimoreor Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, it could be the end of a great run for Cincy. Meanwhile, the Jets luck out by getting to play another team likely to sideline all of their starters. Look for the Jets to get the win.
Have a safe and happy New Year!
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Matt Martz is a sports writer for the Bakersfield Californian located in Central California. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.