It seems like we just started, but the 2016 regular season comes to a close this Sunday. This one as a whole has been very interesting as not only fans more than in recent years have been talking about the “product on the field”. That discussion is taking place at a bad time for the NFL as not only does every contender this year have it’s flaws, but the NBA could be entering another golden era in terms of sheer talent dispersed around their league. While divisional matchups on week 17 can usually lead to high drama, that won’t be much of the case this year.
With ten teams locked into the playoffs, most of their games this week are for seeding purposes. Then in the NFC, there are three teams competing for two spots in the Redskins, Lions and Packers. If the Redskins take care of business Sunday afternoon, then they would get in if the Lions lost to the Packers. In that scenario, the Lions would have the same number of wins as the Redskins to go along with a head to head tiebreaker and still miss the playoffs. The reason for that would be thanks to the game in London where the Redskins tied the Bengals and made you regret wasting three hours of your Sunday morning. With that, here are my predictions (which on week 17 with so many teams having nothing to play for are difficult to project) for our last full slate of games of the regular season and to all those reading, here’s to a happy and healthy new year.
Last week: 9-7, Season: 148-92
Last week against the spread: 8-8, Season: 119-121
Game of the weak: Bills vs Jets: For these two AFC East teams, this weekend ends a season that began with high expectations and ends in disappointment. I was fully prepared for Rex Ryan to become our Jeff Fisher replacement in terms of job security getting by on a few good seasons earlier in their careers. But that was wiped out from under us earlier in the week. Ryan’s personality could have been a big factor in that he talked a big game in terms of change, making new additions to a playoff starved fanbase only to be jumped by the Dolphins this season. Without the promises, he’d probably be looking at another year of job security. Instead, the well respected Anthony Lynn who has been coaching in the league for more than a decade and a half gets a one game look as an interim candidate while being forced by the front office to start EJ Manuel.
On the Jets side of things, has any quarterback been benched and gotten more chances to get his gig back in a single year than Ryan Fitzpatrick? First, Geno Smith replaced him and got hurt in the first start leading for Fitzpatrick to take back the position. Then after a dreadful home showing on Monday Night Football to the Colts, the job became Bryce Petty’s. However after getting pummeled (including a hit where he’s sandwiched by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake that on loop could serve as a PSA for why your child shouldn’t play football), he’s forced to miss the remainder of the year. So in a season that began with the Jets being held hostage in contract negotiations with Fitzpatrick, we have gone full circle to wrap up another year of Jets football. Bills 20 Jets (+3.5) 14
Game of the week: Packers vs Lions: In the event they do miss the playoffs in either of the two scenarios provided (a tie game tiebreaker or losing a three game division lead with three weeks left), both options are extremely on brand for the “same old Lions” talk. I’ve noted on numerous occasions that my family thanks to their Michigan ties roots for the Lions and you could see this coming a mile away. Once the extremely pessimistic local media even started some “are the Lions actually good?” pieces fate was all but set.
By now you know the deal. The Packers started off 4-6, and people were writing them off but I’ve seen this movie too many times. Aaron Rodgers has found a groove, his receivers are actually catching the ball, Jordy Nelson has shaken off the rust and the Packers go on to win five in a row. The Lions meanwhile sat 9-4 and as those who root or know Lions fans could probably tell you, it wasn’t going to end well especially with those three games being the Lions toughest tests all year. So now it all comes down to Sunday Night, in Ford Field which should be a ridiculous atmosphere for the NFC North title.
Matthew Stafford and company should put up points on the Packers defense, but as you saw this past Monday night, the Lions secondary is completely decimated with injuries. So with their secondary in it’s current standing, that only leaves one thing for Rodgers’ play to say to Lions fans which it has since he became the starter in 2008: BOHICA (bend over, here it comes again). Packers 30 Lions (+3.5) 21
Ravens 23 Bengals (-2.5) 17
Texans 21 Titans (-3.5) 14
Panthers 23 Buccaneers (-6.5) 26
Jaguars 21 Colts (-4.5) 24
Patriots 28 Dolphins (+9.5) 20
Bears 17 Vikings (-5.5) 21
Cowboys 24 Eagles (-4.5) 20
Browns 20 Steelers (-6.5) 23
Saints 24 Falcons (-6.5) 31
Giants 17 Redskins (-7.5) 23
Cardinals 26 Rams (+6.5) 17
Raiders 16 Broncos (-1.5) 20
Chiefs 27 Chargers (+5.5) 21
Seahawks 30 49ers (+9.5) 17