The final week of the NFL season brings with it a handful of games that will have a distinct impact on the postseason. In the AFC, the entire playoff field is set; it’s just of matter of seeding that needs to be solved. In the NFC, a Green Bay-Detroit season finale will determine who wins the NFC North with the loser likely going home (Cortana and Bing’s prediction – Packers – 53%). The Redskins cling to a playoff berth but must beat the 10-5 Giants to have even a chance (Redskins 72% chance). Tampa Bay clings to the playoff dream, but the Bucs are a longshot.
In the NFC, Dallas has clinched the East crown and the top seed in the playoffs. The Cowboys will play at Philadelphia on Sunday (Eagles – 57% chance). The Eagles have not defeated Dallas at home since 2011, but the question that remains is will head coach Jason Garrett risk playing guys like RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott? If the Cowboys starters do play, the question will then become how long they remain on the field. Regardless, the Cowboys are in as are their division foes the Giants. New York is guaranteed a wild card regardless of their outcome with the Redskins this week. Washington needs a victory to remain alive in the race for the other wild card in the NFC. The Redskins won the first meeting between the two teams this year, 29-27.
The aforementioned Lions-Packers tilt will decide the NFC North (Packers – 53% chance as per Cortana and Bing). Sitting at 4-6 not long ago, Green Bay has won five in a row to battle back into contention for the division title. Aaron Rodgers has been magnificent and WR Ty Montgomery has become the Packers feature running back. A Detroit win would give the Lions their first division title in 23 years. If the Lions lose their final two games, they can still reach the playoffs but it will take some help.
The Falcons, who play the Saints this week, have clinched the NFC South. Their game with New Orleans should be a shootout as the top two scoring offenses in the NFL square off. Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Saints QB Drew Brees are among the top three in terms of passing yards in the league. Tampa Bay needs to beat Carolina again in order to have a shot at a wild card. The Bucs need some serious help to reach the postseason.
In the NFC West, Seattle has locked up the division and they will play at San Francisco on Sunday (Bing and Cortana said Seahawks have 72% chance of winning this match). The Niners have two wins this season – both against the Rams. The Seahawks still have plenty to play for as they could grab the NFC’s second seed with a win and some help, namely the Saints beating Atlanta. The Cardinals will take on the Rams in their season finale. Arizona RB David Johnson will try to break Barry Sanders’ record for most consecutive games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage. Johnson has eclipsed the mark in 15 straight games.
In the AFC with all of the playoff spots clinched, teams will be playing for seeds. New England faces playoff participant Miami in a game that could lock up the top seed for the Patriots (Patriots 55% chance). New England has won 10 of the past 13 against the Dolphins but the last time the two teams played in Miami, the Dolphins recorded a 20-10 win. The Bills and Jets meet for the 113th time in New York on Sunday. Buffalo was eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to Miami last week. The Jets beat the Bills earlier this season, one of just four wins this season.
The Steelers victory over Baltimore gave Pittsburgh the AFC North crown and sent the Ravens home for the winter. Baltimore will try to avenge its loss and finish with a winning record when the Ravens face Cincinnati (Bengals 63% chance as per Cortana & Bing). Pittsburgh welcomes Cleveland to Heinz Field, a venue where the Browns have not won since 2003. Cleveland did win its first game of the season last week, a 20-17 victory over San Diego. Only San Francisco has given up more yards and more points than the Browns. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell is second in the NFL in rushing despite missing the first three games of the season.
Houston has wrapped up the AFC South for the second consecutive season and is in the playoffs no matter what happens in their game with Tennessee. The Texans have beaten the Titans the last five times the teams have played. Tennessee will be without QB Marcus Mariota who suffered a broken leg in last week’s loss to Jacksonville. Speaking of the Jags, they will travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts, a team they have beaten two times in a row. Jags QB Blake Bortles had his best game of the season last week and looks to repeat that performance against a Colts defense that is 27th in the league in total yards allowed.
In the AFC West, the season’s final games will determine who wins the division and who gets a wild card. Both Oakland and Kansas City have clinched playoff spots, but the Raiders need a win over Denver (8-7) to win the division. Oakland will have to do it without QB Derek Carr who suffered a broken fibula in the fourth quarter of the team’s win over Indianapolis last week. Backup Matt McGloin will start and a loss to the Broncos and a Chiefs victory over the Chargers will give Kansas City the division.
Cortana and Bing’s NFL picks – Week 17
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals – Cincinnati Bengals 63% chance
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets – Buffalo Bills 71% chance
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 57% chance
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota Vikings 66% chance
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh Steelers 80% chance
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia Eagles 57% chance
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions – Green Bay Packers 53% chance
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans – Tennessee Titans 63% chance
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts – Indianapolis Colts 70% chance
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins – New England Patriots 55% chance
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – Atlanta Falcons 80% chance
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – Washington Redskins 72% chance
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams – Arizona Cardinals 69% chance
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers – Kansas City Chiefs 61% chance
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – Oakland Raiders 52% chance
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers – Seattle Seahawks 72% chance