December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) drops back to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The final week of the regular season is here and unfortunately there will be no post season for the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were eliminated from the playoffs when the Minnesota Vikings upset the Houston Texans last weekend. The Rams still went on the road and took down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to improve their record to 7-7-1 with a possibility to finish with their first winning record since 2003. Last weekend I took some teams based on who I wanted to win instead of who I thought would win, and still went 12-4. So hopefully the same pattern holds true this weekend.
Bucs @ Falcons. The Bucs have a potent offense, if the can just keep Josh Freeman from turning the ball over so often. The Falcons may be cruising as they have already clinched home field advantage for the playoffs. Then again a history of early playoff exits may have them coming out and giving a full effort to avoid a letdown this post season. Falcons win 27 – 20.
Jets @ Bills. Two teams that will be watching the playoffs from home this January. The circus surrounding the Jets quarterback situation continues as Sanchez has been named the starter again. The Bills get the nod as the home team. Bills win 21 – 20.
Ravens @ Bengals. The Ravens and Bengals have already sewn up wild card berths as AFC North champions and a wild card respectively. This game wont even affect the playoff seeding, so I will go with the home team and the upstart Bengals to knock of their second consecutive AFC North rival. Bengals win 23 – 17.
Bears @ Lions. The Bears need to win this game and hope the Packers can take down the Vikings in order for them to make the playoffs. If the Bears can’t at least take care of their own business it would cement a second half slide out of the playoffs for the second straight season. Bears win 21 – 17.
Jaguars @ Titans. The Jaguars and Titans have had disappointing seasons to say the least. The Jaguars will get a big game from their big name rookie wideout and upset the Titans. The Jaguars win will secure the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Jaguars win 17 – 10.
Texans @ Colts. The Texans will travel to Indianapolis looking to bounce back after a surprise upset by the Vikings. The Texans are still trying to secure the #1 seed and homefield advantage in the playoffs, while the Colts have little riding on the outcome of this game. Texans win 27-20.
Panthers @ Saints. Drew Brees is going to want to finish the season on a high note and avoid a sub .500 record. The season hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to, but they are the more talented team and are always tough in the Superdome. The Saints should put on a display in the last game played there before Super Bowl 47. Saints win 30 – 21.
Eagles @ Giants. The Giants need to win this game, and get some help in order to make the playoffs and keep their chances of a repeat alive. Nick Foles has gone onto the IR and it looks like Mike Vick will be playing QB for the Eagles in this one. Giants win 28 – 20.
Browns @ Steelers. The Browns will be without Weeden and Richardson in this game, making the chance of an upset more remote. It is hard to imagine the Steelers not taking this game at home. Steelers win 17 – 14.
Chiefs @ Broncos. The hottest team in the NFL will look to extend their league best win streak to 11. The Broncos have also won 10 straight games by 7 or more points, the first time a team has done that since the 2005 Colts. The Broncos still have an outside chance of getting homefield advantage for the playoffs, so look for Manning to have them out of the gates early. Broncos win 35 – 13.
Packers @ Vikings. The Packers have a chance to get a first round bye if they can put away the pesky Vikings. Adrian Peterson is on a tear and is within striking distance of Eric Dickerson’s NFL record for single season rushing yards. Here is hoping that the Packers get on top early and take Peterson out of the game plan. Packers win 31 – 14.
Dolphins @ Patriots. The Patriots also still have a shot at a first round bye, and will probably be looking to fix the problems that lead to their poor start last weekend. I expect the Patriots to overpower the Dolphins early then cruise late. Patriots win 30 – 13.
Raiders @ Chargers. Two teams that really don’t have much to play for except for pride. In a rivalry as old and heated as this one you can throw out the records. The news that Pryor will be starting for the Raiders makes picking the Raiders more fun. Perhaps Pryor displays some flashes of brilliance and gives Raider Nation hope for the future. Raiders win 17 – 13.
Cardinals @ 49ers. There is no way that the 49ers could possibly play as poorly as they did against the Seahawks last sunday night. Sure the Seahawks are one of the NFLs hottest teams, but the 49ers didn’t even appear to show up for that game. From the opening kickoff there was no energy or fire, look for them to come out hot early and sew up their second straight division title. 49ers win 30 – 10.
Rams @ Seahawks. Sure the Seahawks are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and Century Link is one of the toughest stadiums for visiting teams in the NFL. I still believe this Rams team is tough and determined to secure a winning season for Jeff Fisher during his first year. Also Steven Jackson will etch his name into the record books even further as he only needs 10 yards for his 8th consecutive 1,000 yard season. In the battle of Jeff Fisher vs. all other NFC West coaches, advantage goes the Fisher. Rams win 23 – 16.
Cowboys @ Redskins. I don’t necessarily want to pick the Cowboys in this game, but I really don’t want to see the draft pick the Rams will get from the Redskins get any worse than it already is so there you have it. The Cowboys ha Cowboys win 31 – 27.
NFL Week 17 Matchups
Bucs @ Falcons
Jets @ Bills
Ravens @ Bengals
Bears @ Lions
Jaguars @ Titans
Texans @ Colts
Panthers @ Saints
Eagles @ Giants
Browns @ Steelers
Chiefs @ Broncos
Packers @ Vikings
Dolphins @ Patriots
Raiders @ Chargers
Cardinals @ 49ers
Rams @ Seahawks
Cowboys @ Redskins