• Jake Klausner

NFL Week 17 News

Remembering John Madden & Week 17 Preview

Before talking about the preview, I wanted to take a minute to talk about John Madden. The legendary coach, broadcaster, and all-around "football guy" died earlier this week unexpectedly. He was 85. One way or another, if you are a football fan, he got you hooked. Whether you watched him, coach, broadcast games with Pat Summerall and Al Michaels, or even just played the Madden video game; he got millions of people into football.

I remember playing Madden '04 when I was about five years old and immediately falling in love with the game of football. That's how much impact Madden had on the sport. Even though I never got to watch him coach, and I only got to see the tail end of his broadcasting career, he still got me interested in football, one way or another.




With that said, let's take a look at this weekend's slot of games in honor of John Madden (I think that's what he would've wanted).


 

Atlanta Falcons (7-8) vs. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: BUF -14.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Falcons:

  • Even if the Falcons were to win their remaining games, it would be a long shot for the Falcons to make it. It doesn't matter because there is no chance in hell we are winning this game. I think it's time we move on from Matt Ryan; he's too old, and it's time to look at rebuilding for the future. It's also tough when you have to face a team like the Buffalo Bills in the heart of Bills Mafia.

Bills:

  • Speaking of Bills Mafia, they are running wild following their massive win in Foxborough last week. Josh Allen is starting to look like the quarterback from last season, and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are having tremendous seasons despite getting snubbed from the Pro Bowl. If Buffalo wins out, they will clinch their second-straight AFC East title. Their remaining games are against the Falcons and Jets, so it should be a walk in the park. Additionally, they can clinch a playoff berth this week with a win and a loss from either a Baltimore, LAC, or Miami loss.


PREDICTION:

I'd love to see Corderrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts put on a show for the Falcons, but I'm afraid that won't be enough as I believe Josh Allen and the Bills will pummel my Falcons and send my team packing for next year.

Pick: BUF -14.5



New York Giants (4-11) vs. Chicago Bears (5-10)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: CHI -6.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  • I know I said I wasn't going to preview this game, but this may or may not be Matt Nagy's last game as the head coach. Chicago has never fired a coach during the season, but you never know what could happen with two games left to go. Teams are allowed to interview coaches during the season, and while they haven't interviewed anyone, it is almost certain that Nagy won't be around for next season.


PREDICTION:

Even though Nagy is potentially getting fired and the Bears suck, the Giants suck even more.

Pick: CHI -6.0



Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: KC-4.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Chiefs:



  • Not only are the Chiefs one of the hottest teams in the league, but they are also one of the heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl. Kansas City's defense has been nothing short of spectacular, while Patrick Mahomes appears to have found his rhythm lacking early on in the year. Also, they will be getting Travis Kelce back from the Covid list, and Tyreek Hill should be ready to go after being limited last week leading up to the game. The Chiefs aren't playing for much as they've already clinched the division and a playoff spot. I guess the only thing left is home-field advantage.

Bengals:



  • One of the biggest surprises this season has been the Cincinnati Bengals. After being the pick to finish last in the AFC North at the beginning of the year, they have flipped the narrative and are now in first place with two games left. They can clinch the division with a win on Sunday. Joe Burrow is fresh off his record-breaking 525 passing performance against the Ravens and is looking to continue his stellar sophomore season. Not only that, but the Bengals are the first team in NFL history to have a player with over 4,000 yards passing (Burrow), over 1,000 yards rushing (Joe Mixon), and two players over 1,000 receiving (Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins), all younger than 25 in the same season.

PREDICTION:

I'm not sure if Burrow can replicate the outing he had last week, but I still think he'll have a solid game. However, I think Mahomes and the Chiefs are the better team, and I think the Chiefs will squeak out the win.

Pick: KC -4.5

Miami Dolphins (8-7) vs. Tennessee Titans (10-5)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: TEN -3.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Dolphins:

  • The Miami Dolphins are in a position no one thought was possible. After starting 1-7, the Dolphins have won seven in a row and are now in a situation where they can control their own destiny. All they have to do is win their remaining two games, and they're in. QB Tua Tagovailoa hasn't put up great numbers, but he's continuing to improve as a starting quarterback. Rookie WR Jalen Waddle is having a solid season to begin his pro career, and the defense continues to show out as well. The only concern I have with Miami is that aside from the Ravens, they haven't beaten any formidable opponents as of late, but they have their shot against the Titans.

Titans:

  • I still have my doubts about the Titans, but they are a ten-win team and have a chance to clinch the AFC South with a win or an Indianapolis loss. In his return from injury last week, A.J. Brown had a solid game, hauling in 11 catches for 145 yards and a TD. I think the Titans could make a deep playoff run if they can get Derrek Henry back in time for the playoffs.


PREDICTION:

It's now or never for the Miami Dolphins, as they can keep their playoff hopes alive with a win on the road. I think Tennessee has the better team, but Miami is on a roll as of late. I'm still feeling the Dolphins in this one as they look ahead to New England the following week.

Pick: MIA +3.5

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) vs. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: IND -7.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Raiders:

  • This game has to feel like a must-win for the Raiders, who are still very much alive for a playoff spot. This season has been nothing but hard for the Raiders, who've had to deal with a mid-season coaching change and one of their players getting arrested on DUI murder charges. The Raiders have fought back despite the hardships and can make the playoffs for the second time in 19 years. They have to win out.

Colts:



  • Like the Raiders, the Colts have fought through adversity, starting season 1-5, but now they are one win away from making the playoffs. If they win this weekend, they will have clinched a playoff berth. I still have my doubts about Carson Wentz, but he should have a lot of composure in last week's win at Arizona. Jonathan Taylor is one of the two frontrunners for MVP at the moment, and they will be getting all-pro LB Darius Leonard back, so the sky's the limit for the Colts.


PREDICTION:

I think Derek Carr and the Raiders will play with a lot of heart on Sunday, but I don't see it being enough as I believe Taylor and the Colts' offense will find their rhythm early on, and Indy will run away with it.

Pick: IND -7.0

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) vs. New England Patriots (9-6)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: NE -16.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Jaguars:



  • Well, I don't have much to say about the Jaguars. I think the Jags are starting to look ahead to what they might do with the number one overall pick. Could it be Aiden Hutchinson? Even though his Michigan Wolverines got absolutely hammered by the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP semifinal, he's still projected to go number one in the draft, and the Jags need everything!

Patriots:



  • After racking up seven-straight wins, the Patriots have lost two straight and are in a precarious situation. Bill Bellichick is tired of getting asked about his New Years Resolution and will probably channel his frustrations to coaching a significant win on Sunday. The Patriots would clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Miami loss.


PREDICTION:

I don't see this game being very close. Sixteen points favor the Patriots, and for a good reason.

Pick: NE -16.0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) vs. New York Jets (4-11)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX TB -13.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Buccaneers:



  • As we reach the end of the regular season, it's starting to get to that point where Tom Brady starts to turn things up. Yes, he doesn't have Chris Godwin for the rest of the season, but getting Antonio Brown and Mike Evans back for the postseason will be huge. To top it all off, they also expect Leonard Fournette to be ready in time for the playoffs. Overall, it would be hard-pressed to bet against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to repeat as champions.

Jets:

  • The Jets are still bad despite Zach Wilson having his signature rookie moment last week with a 52-yard run. They will end up with a top-three pick and have an additional top-ten pick in the upcoming draft, so they will most likely go with defense and o-line.


PREDICTION:

Again, I don't see this game being very close. The Bucs will win easily.

Pick: TB -13.0

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) vs. Washington Football Team (6-9)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: PHI -4.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Eagles:

  • The Philadelphia Eagles are also a team that controls their own destiny. They can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday with a win against Washington, or if Minnesota loses to Green Bay Sunday night and either New Orleans loses to Carolina or San Francisco beats Houston. There are other scenarios in which Philly can sneak into the playoffs, so the wildcard spot is looking likely for the Eagles.

Washington:

  • On the other hand, Washington has a lot of kinks to figure out as they look to rebound next season. The in-fighting last week between the two defenders isn't going to cut it for Ron Rivera's squad.

PREDICTION:

In another reasonably straightforward prediction, the Eagles win on the road and clinch a wildcard spot.

Pick: PHI -4.0

Los Angeles Rams (11-4) vs. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: LAR -4.5

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:


Rams:

  • They don't have much to play for the Rams, as they've already clinched a playoff spot. The one thing I will say is that now, the attention has turned to Cooper Kupp trying to reach 2,000 yards receiving. Odell Beckham seems to think he will, as Kupp's teammate has started a campaign to ensure that Kupp will reach that goal.

Ravens:

  • With the loss last week to Cincy, the Ravens are in a little bit of a hole. The good news is that Tyler Huntley is off the Covid and should be ready to go for Sunday's contest. The bad news is that Lamar Jackson hasn't practiced all week and is likely to sit out. Huntley has proven to be more than capable of filling in for Jackson, and at times, he's looked even better than Jackson. Either way, the Ravens need to win on Sunday, or else their chances of making the playoffs are pretty much over.

PREDICTION:

Because the Rams don't have anything to play for, I don't think they'll play for many purposes. Looking at the Ravens, they have to win this week, and Huntley and Mark Andrews will do everything in their power to get them that dub.

Pick: BAL +4.5

Denver Broncos (7-8) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: LAC -6.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Broncos:

  • This game is virtually a must-win for both teams. The Broncos can't afford another loss after falling to the Raiders on Sunday. Drew Locke is likely to start at QB with Teddy Bridgewater still nursing an injury. With HC Vic Fangio on the hot seat in his third season with the team, the Broncos have to get back on the right track.

Chargers:

  • It seemed as if the Chargers were a lock for the playoffs two weeks ago. Now, they are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, including an embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans. After beginning the 4-1, Brandon Staley's team hasn't gotten back to its early-season form. Pro Bowl QB Justin Herbert had an off-day last week and is looking for another bounce-back performance. The Chargers have to win their remaining games if they want to get into the playoff race.


PREDICTION:

It's been a difficult season for the Chargers, as they've had defensive issues all year. The good news is that Drew Locke isn't that good, and Justin Herbert should have a bounce-back week against the Broncos' defense. I see the Chargers getting the much-needed win at home.

Pick: LAC -6.5

Houston Texans (4-11) vs. San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

Sunday 4:05 p.m. ET

TV: CBS Line: SF -12.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Texans:

  • Fresh off their upset against the Chargers, the Texans appear to have found something in rookie QB Davis Mills, who has put together back-back solid outings for Houston. They have a chance to play the role of the spoiler again when they take on the Niners, who are looking to keep their playoff hopes alive.

49ers:

  • Last week's loss to the Titans proved costly, as the Niners could be without their QB for Sunday's game. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a sprained right thumb last week but said he's still making an effort to suit up. If he's unable to go, rookie Trey Lance will make his second start. The path is simple for the Niners: Win the final two games and back to the playoffs for the second time in five seasons under Kyle Shanahan.


PREDICTION:

Out of the 4:05 games, I think this one has the potential of being the most interesting. While the Texans have nothing to play for, they can still play spoiler again. However, I believe the Niners are determined to make it back to the playoffs. I think the Niners get the win, but if Lance starts, I think the Texans can make it close.

Pick: SF to win (HOU +12.5)

Arizona Cardinals (10-5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: FOX Line: DAL -6.0


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Cardinals:

  • This game doesn't have any implications as the Cardinals clinched a playoff spot last week, despite losing their third-straight game. If the Cardinals want to be considered a contender, they have to turn it around, which means Kyler Murray needs to turn it up a notch. Since DeAndre Hopkins got placed on the IR, Murray has regressed a little bit, and it doesn't get any easier against a fierce Dallas defense.

Cowboys:

  • Speaking of Dallas' defense, they are the first team in NFL history to have a player with ten-plus interceptions (Trevon Diggs: 11) and a player with ten-plus sacks (Micah Parsons: 13) in the same season. Not only that, but they are fresh off a dominant performance against Washington. Even though Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have regressed a little bit, many people consider them a legit Super Bowl contender.


PREDICTION:

Yes, the Cardinals clinched a playoff spot last week, but as I mentioned earlier, they've lost three straight, and they are going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL. I think the defense will give Kyler Murray problems, and Dak Prescott will build off his stellar performance last week.

Pick: DAL -6.0

Minnesota Vikings (7-8) vs. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Sunday 8:20 p.m. ET

TV: NBC Line: GB -6.5


WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Vikings:



  • Mike Zimmer's seat is boiling at the moment, as the Vikings find themselves in the bubble yet again. Oh, and Kirk Cousins tested positive for Covid and will be without their QB for Sunday night's game against Aaron Rodgers. Sean Mannion, who just came off the Covid list, will start in his place. The Vikings don't have much room for error as they'll be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose and the Eagles win.

Packers:



  • Having already clinched a playoff berth and the NFC North, the Packers have one thing left on their mind: home-field advantage. With a win and a Dallas loss, the Packers would've accomplished that task. With his future with the team still in question, Aaron Rodgers is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers and is the odds-on favorite to win the MVP. The defense has complimented them well with guys like Rasul Douglas to go along with a dominant offense. Not to mention they are expecting star safety Jaire Alexander, to make his long-awaited return after missing most of the season due to injury.


PREDICTION:

If Kirk Cousins were playing on Sunday, I would've maybe picked the Vikings, but they don't have a chance without their franchise QB.

Pick: GB -6.5

Cleveland Browns (7-8) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

Monday 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN Line: CLE -3.5



WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Browns:

  • After a heartbreaking loss to the Packers, the Browns are looking for a rebound. After throwing four interceptions, Baker Mayfield has no one to blame but himself, including one in the final minutes of the game. Moving forward, the Browns know what they have to do, and that's winning out.

Steelers:

  • Knowing that this could potentially be Ben Roethlisberger's last game at Heinz Field, it's a little sad. It would only be fitting if his final home game turned out to be a much-needed win for the Steelers, who are still very much in the hunt for the playoffs. After a terrible loss last week to the Chiefs, the Steelers need to play with a lot of heart in the final two games to hopefully give Big Ben a chance to ride off into the sunset.


PREDICTION:

Believe it or not, I have faith in the Steelers this week. The Terrible Towels will fly in the air, and the Steeler faithful will be right behind Big Ben in his final home game. Not only that, but T.J. Watt will be all over the place.

Pick: PIT +3.5


I have skipped both the Panthers/Saints and Lions/Seahawks games because they have no implications whatsoever. Yes, I know the Saints can still make the playoffs. I don't feel like they can make it. Sorry Saints fans.


Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.


Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner


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