This week brings the NFL regular season to an end. So may teams have played hard and lost, some played bad and won, but no matter what happened, some teams will got home and some teams will fight on. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for Week 17 of the NFL season.
Carolina vs. Atlanta
Carolina travels to the Georgia Dome to take on an angry Falcons team. QB Jimmy Claussen will be under tremendous heat from DE John Abraham. He must be calm when facing pressure and complete passes. RB Jonathan Stewart must be somewhat effective to take some pressure off of Claussen. The Falcons still have something to play for, so I expect a solid effort from QB Matt Ryan and crew this week. If they come out and handle business, this game won't be close.
Prediction: Atlanta 27, Carolina 10
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland
The banged-up Steelers head to Cleveland to take on a Browns team that has improved throughout the season. Pittsburgh will look to establish the run a little bit more to get ready for playoff time. RB Rashard Mendenhall has to get on track this week against this defense. WR Mike Wallace will continue to make big plays against the Browns secondary. QB Colt McCoy may not have RB Peyton Hillis to lean on this week. McCoy will have to make more plays to win. Its a recipe for disaster for any team to depend on a rookie QB to carry an offense.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 13
Minnesota vs. Detroit
The Vikings head to Motown to take on an improved Lions squad. QB Brett Farve may not get to play in his last game because of the lingering effects of a concussion. If he doesn't play, expect QB Joe Webb to once again use his legs and arm to give the Lions fits. RB Adrian Peterson has to play well this game. QB Shaun Hill should be able to pick through the Viking secondary. WR Calvin "Megatron" Johnson should have a big day.
Prediction: Detroit 27, Minnesota 17
Oakland vs. Kansas City
Oakland heads to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the playoff-bound Chiefs. Expect RB Darren McFadden to play well this game because the Chiefs will start replacing players like DL Wallace Gilberry and OLB Tamba Hali early to have them ready for the playoffs. QB Matt Cassel will get some time in the game to get a little rhythm and then the game will be turned over to QB Brodie Croyle. The fact that Brodie Croyle is going to play in this games tells me all I need to know about this game right there about the results.
Prediction: Oakland 24, Kansas City 13
Miami vs. New England
The Dolphins head up north to take on the Patriots in Foxboro. QB Chad Henne has struggled for consistency this season and I don't expect him to get any better against the Patriots ball-hawking defense, led by LB Jarod Mayo and CB Devin McCourty. QB Tom Brady has been playing great for the Patriots. And the Patriots don't have a reputation for resting players when they have things wrapped up. Expect to see Brady a lot Sunday. The Patriots will handle their business.
Prediction: New England 30, Miami 17
Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans
The Bucs travel to New Orleans looking for a win and some help to make the playoffs. Expect the Bucs to come out fighting hard to win. QB Josh Freeman and RB LaGarette Blount will be the focus of the Buc offense against a Saints team that is stingy on defense. Expect the Saints to rest some players since they have already qualified for the playoffs. QB Drew Brees will play for a little while this game, but expect him to take a seat as well in the 2nd half.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 24, New Orleans 14
Buffalo vs. New York Jets
The Bills head to Gotham to take on a Jets team that has successfully back its way into the playoffs. Expect the Jets to pull QB Mark Sanchez out of the game early because of a recurring shoulder issue. Look for the Jets to run the ball early and often to establish the ground game again. For the Bills, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick may miss this game. Look for the Bills to struggle if he doesn't play.
Prediction: NY Jets 20, Buffalo 13
Cincinnati vs. Baltimore
The Bengals travel to the East Coast to play a Ravens team gearing up for a playoff run. QB Carson Palmer will be without WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, so expect Palmer to hand the ball of more this game. If RB Cedric Benson doesn't get it going in the ground game, Palmer could be n trouble. QB Joe Flacco could be due for a real good game against the inury-riddled Bengals defense. Expect the Ravens to play all out and end the Bengals season in an ugly way.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 10
San Diego vs. Denver
The Chargers travel to the Mile High City to take on Tim Tebow and the Broncos. QB Phillip Rivers should have a field day in this game. The Broncos secondary has been terrible all season long. QB Tim Tebow has showed great improvement from how he played in the pre-season. Expect him to come out and compete, but even with him playing hard and competing, the Broncos don't have enough offense or defense to beat the Chargers.
Prediction: San Diego 31, Denver 17
Chicago vs. Green Bay
This game should be good, depending on the mindset of the Bears. The Bears can knock the Packers out of the playoff picture with a win. Expect the Bears to play hard and play to win unless the Packers come out determined. QB Aaron Rodgers will come out determined and I expect him to exact some revenge on the Bears this game. QB Jay Cutler will match him play for play, but ultimately Rodgers is better.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Chicago 20
Tennessee vs. Indianapolis
The Titans enter the final game of their up-and-down season taking on a Colts team that has a chance to win and go to the playoffs. QB Kerry Collins will need to attack the Colts downfield for the Titans to have any chance to win. If Collins doesn't have success downfield, the Titans will be suffocated when they run the ball. QB Peyton Manning has suddenly received some help from the running game. RBs Joseph Addai, Doninic Rhodes and company must keep it up this week or they will lose and lose the division. I see the will of the Colts being stronger than the will of the Titans.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 23
Dallas vs. Philadelphia
The Cowboys travel to the City Of Brotherly Love to take on an Eagles team that has already clinched the NFC East Division. QB Stephen McGee may get the start for the Cowboys because of injuries to starter Jon Kitna. Expect the Cowboys to come out running the football so they won't have to expose their young QB to tough down and distance situations. QB Michael Vick will not play this game to rest injuries sustained from last week's game. QB Kevin Kolb will come in and produce like he has when he has had his opportunity this year. In the battle of the backup QBs, I'll take the experienced backup over the inexperienced one.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Dallas 14
Arizona vs. San Francisco
This game pits two disappointing teams against each other. QB John Skelton will be the starter again for the Cardinals, so expect the Cardinals to try to run the ball at the 49ers. If Skelton has to pass for them to win, the Cardinals will be in trouble. QB Alex Smith gets the start this game. He must come out and get his playmakers involved. If TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree don't get involved this game, the 49ers won't have a shot to win.
Prediction: San Francisco 27, Arizona 13
New York Giants vs. Washington
The Giants head to our nation's capital in a must-win situation. QB Eli Manning will be without WR Hakeem Nicks due to injuries. WR Mario Manningham must step up and produce this game. If not, RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw must carry the offensive load. QB Rex Grossman hasn't played that bad as the starting QB for the Redskins. This game, his offensive line must play well. If they don't block the Giants well, then Grossman will be running for his life all game long. The X-factor in this game will be the hunger and desire of the Giants. That desire will be the difference.
Prediction: NY Giants 34, Washington 27
Jacksonville vs. Houston
The Jaguars head to Houston to take on a Texans team that underachieved this year. QB Trent Edwards will make the start for the Jaguars in place of an injured David Garrard. RB Maurice Jones-Drew will not play this game as well because of injuries. Expect the Jaguars offense to look a little off, even though they are playing against a weak Houston Texans defense. The Texans will make enough stops for QB Matt Schuab and the Texans offense to take advantage of the Jaguars defense.
Prediction: Houston 34, Jacksonville 20
St. Louis vs. Seattle
The Rams go to Northwest to take on the Seahawks for the NFC West crown. QB Sam Bradford will need his running game to help settle him in. If RB Stephen Jackson gets going, Bradford can settle in and make some plays against the Seahawks secondary. QB Charlie Whitehurst will be making his 2nd career start this game. RB Marshawn Lynch must produce to help him. If not, the Seahawks will have a long day.
Prediction: St. Louis 27, Seattle 23
These are my predictions for the last week of the NFL football season. If you think you got what it takes to beat my predictions, make a comment.