Packers Will Win NFC North, Raiders Will Win AFC West
Fikkle Fame’s NFL Predictions for January 1st, 2017
We’ve reached Week 17 of the NFL season, and while the AFC post season teams have been decided (though not the seeding of those teams) there are still some playoff slots up for grabs in the NFC. When New Year’s Day is on a Sunday, the college football bowl games that are normally played on New Year’s Day are moved to January 2nd. There are no Monday or Thursday night games in this final week of the regular season, all games are played on January 1st. This is usually a tough week to pick, as teams often will rest some regulars if they can’t improve their playoff standing, but here goes anyway.
Baltimore (8-7) at Cincinnati (5-9-1). Bengals favored by 2 ½. After an emotional loss to Pittsburgh on Christmas Eve which eliminated them from the playoffs, the Ravens may have a tough time beating the Bengals on the road. Bengals 27 Ravens 21.
Houston (9-6) at Tennessee (8-7). Titans favored by 3. The Texans are the AFC South champs, and with Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota out, we’ll give the edge to Houston. The Titans were much improved this season, and their fans can look forward to next season with optimism. Texans 23 Titans 21.
Carolina (6-9) at Tampa Bay (8-7). Buccaneers favored by 6. Tampa Bay can actually still make the playoffs but something like eight things have to happen including the Redskins tying the Giants. Needless to say, they won’t make it, but like the Titans’ fans, Bucs fans have good reason to look forward to next year. Carolina meanwhile will survey the wreckage of this season and try to regroup over the summer. Buccaneers 31 Panthers 23.
Jacksonville (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8). Colts favored by 4 ½. Jacksonville had a convincing win over Tennessee last week, but the Colts will win at home. Colts 38 Jaguars 28.
New England (13-2) at Miami (10-5). Patriots favored by 9 ½. Both teams are in the playoffs, and the Patriots will be the #1 seed if they win or the Raiders lose at Denver. While the Patriots have struggled in Miami in recent years, and the Dolphins have won nine of 10, we think New England will make every effort to secure the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs, and not take a chance on losing out to Oakland. Patriots 31 Dolphins 27.
Chicago (3-12) at Minnesota (7-8). Vikings favored by 5 ½. The Vikings went from 5-0 to 7-8, but are at home against the Bears, who are 0-7 on the road. Vikings 34 Bears 20.
Buffalo (7-8) at New York Jets (4-11). Bills favored by 4. Buffalo fired coach Rex Ryan after just two seasons; the Bills have not made it to the post season for 17 years. The Jets are wrapping up yet another forgettable season. Bills 28 Jets 20.
Dallas (13-2) at Philadelphia (6-9). Eagles favored by 4 ½. The Cowboys have wrapped up the #1 seed in the NFC, and will probably rest a lot of starters. Philadelphia is coming off a win over the Giants, and are 5-2 at home. Eagles 26 Cowboys 20.
Cleveland (1-14) at Pittsburgh (10-5). Steelers favored by 6. The Browns finally got their first win of the season last week. The Steelers have locked up the AFC North, so will they be ripe for an upset? No. Steelers 35 Browns 24.
New Orleans (7-8) at Atlanta (10-5). Falcons favored by 6 ½. Atlanta is the number two seed in the NFC and aims to stay that way. Falcons 34 Saints 24.
New York Giants (10-5) at Washington (8-6-1). Redskins favored by 8. The Giants are in the playoffs as a Wild Card and number five seed, while Washington still has a chance for the other Wild Card if they win, which they must do, and they will do. Redskins 24 Giants 14.
Arizona (6-8-1) at Los Angeles (4-11). Cardinals favored by 6. It’s been a very disappointing season for the Cardinals, who went to the NFC Championship game last season, and a forgettable return to Los Angeles for the Rams. The Rams won the first game between these two earlier this season, but have lost six straight including a one point loss to the 49ers last week. Arizona beat the Seahawks in Seattle on Christmas Eve, handing them their first home loss of the season, so they should be able to beat the Rams in L.A. Cardinals 34 Rams 17.
Oakland (12-3) at Denver (8-7). Pick ‘em. Denver was eliminated from the playoffs Sunday night, but the Raiders will be without quarterback Derek Carr, who is out with a broken leg after having a great season. The Raiders are in the playoffs, and a victory here would give them the AFC West title plus a first round bye. Denver is only 4-3 at home this season, well below what we’ve come to expect from the Broncos. They’ve also lost three in a row, including being dominated by Kansas City on Sunday night. The Raiders will win and get that first round bye, but things will get more difficult for them after that with Carr out. Raiders 27 Broncos 24.
Kansas City (11-4) at San Diego (5-10). Chiefs favored by 5 ½. If the Chiefs win and the Raiders lose, Kansas City will be the AFC West champs. They are in at least as a Wild Card no matter what happens. The Chargers may be playing their last game in San Diego; if a deal for a new stadium is not reached by the middle of January, the Chargers will likely move to Los Angeles, where they spent their initial season in 1960 in the old AFL. The Chiefs hit a bump in the road with a two point loss against Tennessee two weeks ago, but have otherwise played well winning 9 of 11. Chiefs 38 Chargers 28.
Seattle (9-5-1) at San Francisco (2-13). Seahawks favored by 9 ½. The NFC West champion Seahawks have been wildly inconsistent this season but should not have a problem with the 49ers who have lost to every team not named the Rams. Seattle blew out the 49ers back in September, and will win this one too. Seahawks 31 49ers 17.
Green Bay (9-6) at Detroit (9-6). Packers favored by 3 ½. The winner of this game wins the NFC North. The loser may get in as a Wild Card depending on what Washington does. Green Bay was all but dead after a midseason four game losing streak, but the Packers have stormed back with a five game winning streak and are playing as well as anyone in the NFL. Detroit meanwhile has lost two in a row albeit to good opponents (the Giants and Cowboys), but they did not look good in losing at Dallas and this is not the time of the season to be off your peak. Lions QB Matthew Stafford is still nursing an injured finger on his throwing hand, and Detroit can ill afford him to be hobbled in any way. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said a few weeks ago that Green Bay could “run the table” and make the playoffs and he’s one victory away from achieving that. Packers 31 Lions 24.