On the final weekend of play in the NFL, the New England Patriots captured the AFC’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 35-14 victory over Miami (Bing & Cortana predicted correctly – 55% chance given to Patriots). Quarterback Tom Brady and company made it look easy against a Dolphins team that will also enter the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Brady threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Miami RB Jay Ajayi managed just 59 yards one week after rushing for over 200. Head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots will take next week off and prepare for a home playoff game the following weekend.
Also in the AFC East, the Jets finally played a complete game – although it was against a Bills team in serious turmoil – and recorded a 30-10 win. Bilal Powell rushed for 122 yards on 22 carries and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdowns as the Jets ended the season 5-11. The Bills, who fired head coach Rex Ryan earlier in the week, finish the year 7-9 (Bing and Cortana predicted Bills to win giving them 71% chance).
In the AFC North, the normally stout Baltimore defense allowed Cincinnati 153 yards on the ground, 119 by Rex Burkhead, and lost to the Bengals for the fifth consecutive time in Cincinnati (Bing and Cortana picked correctly giving Cincinnati 63% chance). The division champion, Pittsburgh, did not play their stars – QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown – and turned the offense over to backup QB Landry Jones against rival Cleveland. The Steelers needed overtime to win on a Jones to Cobi Hamilton TD pass. Bing & Cortana were correct picking Pittsburgh with 80% chance. Pittsburgh finishes the season 11-5 and will host Miami next week.
Indianapolis (8-8) and Tennessee (9-7) ended the season with victories and both were predicted correctly by Bing’s algorithms. The Titans beat AFC South Division champ Houston, also 9-7, 24-17. Houston held the tiebreaker over Tennessee and will play in the wild card round next week. The Titans won with Matt Cassel (16-for-26, 150 yards, TD) at quarterback and RB DeMarco Murray gaining just 21 yards. Derrick Henry rushed for 65 and scored a touchdown.
Oakland, needing a win to secure the AFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs, laid an egg at Denver. Matt McGloin, starting in place of injured Derek Carr at quarterback, hurt a shoulder and turned the game over to rookie Connor Cook. The results were disastrous – a 24-6 loss that sends the Raiders to the No. 5 seed (incorrect on Bing’s side). In the other division game, Kansas City (12-4) beat San Diego 37-27 to win the AFC West, grab the second seed, and get a first-round bye next week.
In the NFC, the Cowboys rested some starters and dropped their season finale to Philadelphia. Eagles’ rookie Carson Wentz threw for two touchdowns, both to TE Zach Ertz who had 13 catches for 139 yards. In the other NFC East matchup, the Redskins, in desperate need of a win in order to make the playoffs, couldn’t manage a touchdown until the fourth quarter in a 19-10 loss. The loss eliminated the Redskins and allowed the Giants to finish the season 11-5. New York will be the NFC’s No. 5 seed in the postseason.
NFC South champion Atlanta wasted no time with rival New Orleans. The Falcons (11-5) jumped out to a 35-13 halftime lead and then held on for a 38-32 win. With the win, Atlanta secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC. In the division’s other game, Tampa Bay held off a late Carolina comeback attempt to win 17-16 and finish the season with a winning record, 9-7. The Bucs started the season 1-3 and had a chance at the playoffs late in the season.
Out west, Arizona took care of Los Angeles (4-12) as Carson Palmer threw three touchdowns in a 44-6 victory. Seattle, the division winner, let San Francisco (2-14) hang around before winning 25-23. The Seahawks finish 10-5-1 and will be the No. 3 seed and host a home playoff game next week.
The Minnesota Vikings are just grateful that the 2016 season is over. The Vikings did claim a 38-10 victory over Chicago in Week 17 to end the season 8-8. After starting the season with five straight wins, the Vikings struggled winning just three times in their final 11 games.
And in the final game of the season, the Green Bay Packers traveled to Detroit and won their sixth game in a row to capture the NFC North crown. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in a 31-24 victory which gives Green Bay a home playoff game next weekend. They will host the New York Giants. Because of the Redskins loss earlier in the day, Detroit (9-7) also qualified for the postseason as the sixth seed. The Lions will travel to Seattle next Saturday.
Cortana and Bing’s NFL Picks – Week 17 Results
13-3 is quite an impressive way to finish the season before playoffs kick in. 162 – 94 on the season means 63.2% accuracy compared to 66.4% recorded by Cortana and Bing back in 2015 and 62.1% in 2016.
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