Cue the old Kenny Loggins songÖ ďThis Is ItĒ The 2012 regular season draws to a close with this slate of Sunday games. All the AFC playoff spots have been spoken for with the Colts and Bengals claiming the wild card spots, but the matter of the byes and home field advantage are still very much up for grabs. In the NFC one wild card slot is left and the NFC East title is still up for grabs. All this weekís games are on Sunday as the NFL decided a few years ago to stop having the season end with a Monday nighter for fear of a playoff bound team being at a disadvantage prepping for a playoff game on a short week. As correctly predicted the Cowboys-Redskins game will be the Sunday Night finale and the stakes couldnít be higher. This game could have the potential of a win or go home. Using the flex schedule the Dolphins-Patriots game and the Packers-Vikings matchup were moved to the later slots. Both networks get doubleheaders this week so get ready for wall to wall football. †All odds are provided from bodog.net and are for entertainment and comparison purposes only. If you spend the New Yearís money having to pay back your bookies, thatís on you. Donít call me if you get took.
NFL SCHEDULE Ė WEEK 17
Sunday, December 30
Ravens (10-5) @ Bengals (9-6)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bengals by 3
Last Week Ravens defeated Giants 33-14; Bengals defeated Steelers 13-10
Fast Fact Something has to give; the Bengals have allowed an average of 58 yards rushing over their last four games, the Ravens rushed for 224 yards in their last win.
Playoff Implications: Both teams have clinched playoff spots, Ravens can move to #3 spot with win and NE Loss
Both teams are headed for the postseason, so expect a game played close to the vest. Joe Flacco may try to get his passing groove on the way he did back in September. The Bengals will really have to work hard to contain the rugged running of Ray Rice. (Unintentional alliteration). Considering that both teams will try to keep the injuries to a minimum. Itís a tough call to make here, but Ill gamble that the Bengals will play a little bit better at home and squeak a win out.
Panthers (6-9) @ Saints (7-8)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Saints by 6
Last Week Panthers defeated Raiders 17-6, Saints defeated Cowboys 34-31 in OT
Fast Fact The Saints have given up 6512 yards in total offense, 281 yards shy of the infamous record set by the 1981 Baltimore ColtsÖSaints interim coach Joe Vitt was a coach on that team as well.
Considering that the Saints were all but left for dead after an 0-4 start the fact that they could have a breakeven season is saying something. The Saints offense is still very much high powered but their defense is still very much a mess. That said, facing a Panthers team that is still full of questions on both sides of the ball, Iím not real sold on the Panthers going into the Big Easy and getting a win.
Bears (9-6) @ Lions (4-11)
Ford Field, Detroit 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Bears by 3
Last Week Bears defeated Cardinals 28-13, Lions lost to Falcons 31-18
Fast Fact The Lions have given up an average of 31.9 points during their 7 game losing skid.
Playoff Implications Bears clinch #2 wild card with win and MIN loss
The Bears are trying their best to blow a 7-1 start and miss the playoffs, but they need help.† The Lions are still playing hard but are wasting the brilliant efforts of Calvin ďMegatronĒ Johnson and Matthew Stafford. The Bears seem to win in spite of Jay Cutler; itís the big play ball hawking defense that has been bailing them out of games more often than not. I have some strange feeling that the Bears with more and more injuries including those to Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher and Peanut Tillman, this game would be a lot closer than one would assume.
Browns (5-10) @ Steelers (7-8)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite No Line
Last Week Browns lost to Broncos 34-12, Steelers lost to Bengals 13-10
Fast Fact The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003
The Browns got thumped by the Broncos to no oneís surprise, while the Steelers lost a slugfest with the Bengals. Neither team has anything to really play for, but the Steelers might want revenge for a stunning upset that the Browns handed them last month. To tell you the truth, Iím not real sure on the Steelers being all there for the season finale. Though I do think that they may be able to grind out a win against the Browns,
Texans (12-3) @ Colts (10-5)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Texans by 7
Last Week Texans lost to Vikings 23-6, Colts defeated Chiefs 20-13
Fast Fact The Texans have never won in Indianapolis, even last yearís 2-14 Colts team knocked off the playoff bound Texans in Indy last December.
Playoff Implications Both teams have clinched playoff spots; Texans can clinch #1 seed with win
With both teams headed to the postseason, like in the Bengals-Ravens contest expect both teams to play it pretty conservatively. The Texans are still trying to figure how much they will need or use RB Arian Foster who left the Vikings game with an irregular heartbeat. Iím thinking that the Colts will play the Texans tough just to prime for the playoffs. Though the Texans are still battling for the #1 seed, something tells me that the Texans will play just unfocused enough to slip.
Jaguars (2-13) @ Titans (5-10)
LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Titans by 4
Last Week Jaguars lost to Patriots 23-16, Titans lost to Packers 55-7
It seems the end of the season canít come fast enough for both these teams. The Jags played the Pats tough in a loss while the Titans took about an awful beating as they could have gotten and the seat got real hot under head coach Mike Munchak. The Titans are bad thatís true but its asking a little too much to ask the Jags to win on the road.
NY Jets (6-9) @ Bills (5-10)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bills by 3Ĺ
Last Week Jets lost to Chargers 27-17, Bills lost to Dolphins 24-10
Fast Fact The Jets allowed 11 sacks against the Chargers, tying a team record set during a replacement game in 1987.
Both teams are trudging to the end of forgettable seasons, the Jets jeering grinning preening head coach simply refuses to use Tim Tebow even in a lost cause like this season ender. †The shattered Mark Sanchez will get the start and one has to wonder if heís even mentally ready to QB this team. The Bills just have been playing so inconsistently itís hard to get a read on them, still I think that their offense will be able to plod through this one and get a win.
Eagles (4-11) @ NY Giants (8-7)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Giants by 7
Last Week Eagles lost to Redskins 27-20, Giants lost to Ravens 33-14
Fast Fact The Eagles have won in their last five appearances in New York against the Giants
Playoff Implications Giants clinch playoff berth with win and losses by MIN, CHI AND DAL
The Eagles are fading away but are still playing hard down the stretch; Michael Vick is auditioning for another job, no matter what he says to the media. The G-Men were in firm control of their playoff destiny three weeks ago but have taken a pair of hellacious road beatings and now need a truckload of help in addition to winning this game. I think that they get the win; they arenít bad enough to lose to this woeful squad.
Pick-New York Giants
Buccaneers (6-9) @ Falcons (13-2)
Georgia Dome, Atlanta 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite No line provided
Last Week Buccaneers lost to Rams 28-13, Falcons defeated Lions 31-18
Fast Fact A Falcons win would tie their 1998 Super Bowl team for most wins in a season.
The Falcons toyed with the Lions before pulling away late for the win while the Bucs are coming apart down the stretch in Greg Schianoís first season. With the #1 seed already in their pocket, one has to wonder how much the Falcons are going to play their starters in an otherwise meaningless game. I think the Falcons, who are tough at home will dawdle just long enough to make it look interesting but have more than enough to beat a Bucs team that just doesnít measure up.
Cardinals (5-10) @ 49ers (10-4-1)
Candlestick Park, San Francisco 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite 49ers by 17
Last Week Cardinals lost to Bears 28-13, 49ers lost to Seahawks 42-13
Fast Fact The Cardinals have gone six games without a touchdown pass.
Playoff Implications 49ers clinch NFC West with win and clinch #2 seed with first round bye with win AND GB loss
The Cards just gave a bucketload of turnovers and points to the Bears in another loss while the Niners took a frightful beating on their second straight primetime appearance. The Niners need to shake off the memories of that loss and focus on a sad sack Cards squad that is a shadow of the team rolled to an NFC title as a lovable underdog in 2008. The Niners user their mulligan last week and will spare the Cards no quarter.
Pick-San Francisco (Lock of the Week)
Packers (11-4) @ Vikings (9-6)
Mall of America Field @ HHH Metrodome, Minneapolis 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 3†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Last Week Packers defeated Titans 55-7; Vikings defeated Texans 23-6
Fast Fact With 102 rushing yards, Vikings Adrian Peterson would become the 8th NFL running back to surpass 2000 rushing yards.
Playoff Implications Packers clinch #2 seed and first round bye with win
The Vikings are caught in between Petersonís outside chance at breaking the 28 year old rushing record held by Eric Dickerson and getting the offense moving similar to the efficient one that frustrated the Texans. The Packers are coming in after a thorough beatdown of the Titans. The Packers have already clinched a home playoff game; itís the bye thatís on the line. If the Vikings win, they could likely face the Packers in Lambeau the very next week. In a pick that is more heart than head, I think the Vikes become the 2nd team this year to go from double digit losses to double digit wins and a playoff berth. Will AP get
2K or 2105? I think the former but not the latter, but the Vikes win will salve that
Pick-Minnesota (Upset of the Week)
Chiefs (2-13) @ Broncos (12-3)
Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 4:25 (CBS)
Favorite Broncos by 16
Last Week Chiefs lost to Colts 20-13, Broncos defeated Browns 34-12
Fast Fact The Chiefs are trying to avoid tying a franchise worst 2-14 season, while the Broncos are attempting to have their best record since 2005
Playoff Implications Broncos clinch 1st round bye with win or NE loss.
This has all the makings of a classic mismatch, but the Chiefs play teams tough in spite of their horrid record, but this is another case of asking too much of a bad team on the road versus a much much better team. The Broncos are trying to secure a round 1 bye and should have no real problems with the woeful Chiefs.
Dolphins (7-8) @ Patriots (11-4)
Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 4:25 (CBS)
Favorite Patriots by 10
Last Week Dolphins defeated Bills 24-10; Patriots defeated Jaguars 23-16
Fast Fact The Patriots gained a total of 23 first downs last week against Jacksonville, a season low
Playoff Implications Patriots have clinched AFC East can clinch 1st round bye with win and losses by EITHER DEN or HOU, clinches #1 seed with win and losses by HOU AND DEN
The Pats have to fight off general boredom as they have locked their division down long ago but need a load of help to get a bye. The Pats are just going through the motions ahead of the playoffs. The Dolphins are much improved but not so much that they can go into Foxboro and win.
Raiders (4-11) @ Chargers (6-9)
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego 4:25 (CBS)
Favorite No Line provided
Last Week Raiders lost to Panthers 17-6, Chargers defeated Jets 27-17
Fast Fact Chargers QB Philip Rivers has thrown for 3455 yards this season and will likely miss the 4000 yard passing mark for the 1st time since 2007.
Both teams are headed nowhere but the Raiders are just playing horrible. The Chargers havenít played like gang busters themselves but they are at least playing at some competent level. The Raiders are considering using Terrelle Pryor at QB. That in itself should tell you how far the Raiders have sunk. The Chargers at home playing their hated instate rivals will relish the chance to lay a real beating down.
Rams (7-7-1) @ Seahawks (10-5)
Century Link Field, Seattle 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Seahawks by 11
Last Week Rams defeated Buccaneers 28-13; Seahawks defeated Niners 42-13
Fast Fact The Seahawks scored 150 points in their last three games, the most in a three game span since the Los Angeles Rams scored 163 from October 22-November 5 1950.
Playoff Implications Seahawks have clinched playoff spot, can win NFC West with win AND SF loss, get first round bye with win AND losses by BOTH SF & GB
The Seahawks just showed out on Sunday Night and thrashed the Niners in front of a deliriously thrilled home crowd. The Rams are vastly improved and look as if they could put up a real fight here but the Seahawks are the better team on both sides of the ball. Russell Wilson has this team playing on a focused playoff like level.
Cowboys (8-7) @ Redskins (9-6)
FedEx Field; Landover, MD 8:20 (NBC)
Favorite Redskins by 3Ĺ
Last Week Cowboys lost to Saints 34-31 in OT, Redskins defeated Eagles 27-20
Fast Fact Since 2000, Dallas is 2-10 in season ending games.
Playoff Implications Winner of this game is NFC East Champion
The media canít help themselves; they are so in love with the Pokes and the possibility that Tony Romo can finally redeem himself in the playoffs that they ignore the fact that this is a seriously flawed team. RGIII is getting close to folk hero status in the DC area and the Redskins are on the precipice of their first division title since 1999. Though Dez Bryant has seemingly channeled Michael Irvin and been making plays at an incredible clip. There is something that I just do not trust about the Cowboys. When the money is on the line, the Pokes have come up short more often than not as of late. Facing a full house on the road, I just feel that the Cowboys will just not do the deed and Tony Romo will again fall on his face when he needs to step up.
Last Week: 10-6 (Lock Correct, Upset Incorrect)