NFL Picks - Week 17

Sunday Morning

Washington @ New York Giants
There are a handful of meaningless games this week. Some are meaningless because a team involved is locked into their playoff seed, and some because neither team can make the playoffs. This is one of the latter, which means you really have to grasp for storylines. So let’s see, how about both quarterbacks could be playing their last game with their respective team. Enticing enough for ya? Yeah, me either. How about this, you can watch and repeatedly slap yourself in the face for making a preseason pick that the Giants would make the NFC title game. What were you thinking? You disgust me ... because you are me. Noooooooooo!

Redskins 24-13

New York Jets @ New England 
For a team that many expected to do no better than 2-14, this surprisingly competitive Jets' season has to be considered a success. Then again, they’ll likely finish 5-11 and end up with something like the 7th Pick in the draft, just low enough to snag the 3rd quarterback off the board. Ok, so just to recap, this season has been a total failure for the Jets. Though to be fair no one was going to take that top pick in the draft from the Browns this year, so the best that New York could’ve hoped for was number two. As for the Patriots, we don’t know if this was a successful season for them yet, and we probably won’t for another 5 weeks or so, because the only way for them to have a successful season is to win the Super Bowl. You fool Belichick, you’ve created impossible standards for yourself, and now you’re trapped by expectations. What hell it must be to be you. I have to say I feel sorry for him. He’s probably one of he more sympathetic characters of our time.

Patriots 35-14

Chicago @ Minnesota
Are the Vikings the favorites in the NFC? At first blush I’d say no. But they’ll likely be the #2 seed, and I’m not sure I’d expect any team to beat them in Minnesota. The only team they’d have to play on the road is the Eagles ... So here we are, the Vikings are the favorites in the NFC. And the man they have to thank more so than any other is Sam Bradford. There’s no way a team with Bradford as the starting QB could possibly be in this situation; and I don’t just mean because he would never actually be healthy this late into a season. The history of Super Bowl champions is dotted with QBs who came off the bench at some point in the season, whether it be Brady, Dilfer, or Hostetler. So will Case Keenum be the next? If this season has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected. But if Vikings’ playoff history has taught us anything, in a much larger sample size, it’s to expect no less than an excruciating loss, most likely at home. That could even include the Super Bow this season, so yeah, that seems like the logical conclusion here. 

Vikings 22-10

Green Bay @ Detroit
You may have noticed that in the interest of competitive balance (and probably ratings concerns) there is no Sunday night game scheduled in Week 17. The biggest repercussion of course being that Cris Collinsworth will not be on the airwaves this Sunday. But fear not, I checked in with him to see what his plans were for his week off, and since this game is meaningless I decided to post it in this space:

That got sad pretty abruptly.

Lions 23-16

Houston @ Indianapolis 
Of all the meaningless games on Sunday this one has a strong case to be the most meaningless. It’s the appendix of games. Then again, an appendix can rupture unexpectedly and be potentially fatal. I guess the equivalent in this game would be a hit or on-field incident so violent that the NFL decides to cancel the playoffs. Just to be safe the league should preemptively call off this contest, much in the same way evolution should have removed our appendixes long ago. I mean what’s the use? They’re just ticking time bombs inside our body that probably won’t go off. It makes me question the theory of evolution as a whole. Maybe the earth is 6,000 years old. 

Colts 27-16

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh 
It’s come to this for the Browns. To avoid the league’s second ever 0-16 season they must beat a Pittsburgh team that very much has a reason to win this game. In other words, the Browns will be the second 0-16 team in NFL history. This feels like some sort of medieval, public execution in which yes, the prisoner committed the crime they’re being punished for, but they did it for noble reasons. Maybe (absolutely) that’s a strained analogy, but I think my point was that I expect the Browns to put forth an admirable effort. Admirable in that you can tell they’re trying their best, not in that they’ll be competitive, because they assuredly will not. And so, off with their heads. Good night sweet princes. Your candle burned out long before your season ever did. 

Steelers 31-10

Dallas @ Philadelphia 
The Eagles have clinched the #1 seed in the NFC, and the fans in Philly are feeling the pressure, because it might literally be up to them to get the team to the Super Bowl. After Nick Foles and the gang squeaked out an ugly victory over the Raiders on Monday it’s clear that they’ll need all the external assistance they can get. Though trying to run plays with 70,000 people at once would probably be more trouble than it’s worth. Just imagine trying to get them all set. Or even having everybody line up onside, especially if they’re on their own side of the 50. The more I think about it, the Eagles are going to have to do this on their own. Luckily for them the Cowboys also looked pretty listless last week, and now that they have nothing to play for I expect a 3 hour hissy fit. Though that may good enough in a second-half filled with Philly second-stringers.

Cowboys 23-20 

Sunday Afternoon 

San Francisco @ Los Angeles Rams
Rams coach Sean McVay has announced that Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald are among LA's regular starters who won’t play this Sunday. Apparently McVay doesn’t understand that 3 is better than 4, because with a win the Rams will be the NFC’s 3 seed, but a loss will most likely send them to the #4 slot. Then again, maybe he wants to be #4. Being the 3 seed ensures that if you win your first round game you’ll be headed to Minnesota in round two. Whereas a win as #4 gives you the chance to travel to Philly in the next round to face an Eagles team that looked oh so woebegone in their win(?!?) over the Raiders on Christmas night. It’s all a Machiavellian plan by McVay isn’t it? You slick bastard. I’m gonna expose your ruse and topple your empire before your reign even begins! What’s that? Nothing about this is against the rules? Weeeelllllll shit. 

49ers 24-17

Oakland @ Los Angeles Chargers 
Much has been made of the idea that the majority of those in attendance this week at the Chargers “Home” stadium will be Raiders fans. But is that really an advantage? The Chargers already won in Oakland this season, and it’s not like they’re unaccustomed to playing in a hostile StubHub Center environment. Speaking of a hostile StubHub environment, $200 for Cavalia?!? Those horses better do some fuggin backflips. LA has a shot at making the playoffs with a win and a Tennessee loss, so it would make Charger-sense for both of them to lose and have the Titans make the playoffs by default. But like I said before these Chargers can’t disappoint their home crowd, because they won’t have one. That takes all the fun out of a devastating loss, so they’ll probably get the win.

Chargers 30-24 

Kansas City @ Denver 
The Chiefs are giving rookie Pat Mahomes his first start at quarterback in what is mostly an effort to rest starter Alex Smith, but it makes me wonder ... there’s no scenario in which Mahomes plays so well that he puts a seed of doubt into Andy Reid’s head about who should be QB1 in KC, right? Alex Smith has gone from being an MVP candidate, to listless, back to pretty good over the length of this season. With that wide breadth of performance level it wouldn’t be shocking to see him come out and struggle early in the Chiefs’ upcoming playoff game. Would a great performance by Mahomes this week create a short leash for Smith in that scenario? I say yes. And from what I hear using a short leash will be nothing new for Andy Reid, dude is a total S&M freak. Don’t even ask me what he does with his offensive line and a cat o’ nine tails.

Chiefs 19-16

Jacksonville @ Tennessee 
Jaguars' coach Doug Marrone has assured the media that despite his team being locked into the #3 seed in the AFC he will not rest any of his starters. And I don’t blame him, it’s clearly the correct move to play your first-stringers and lose on purpose, setting up a playoff rematch with the Titans next week and giving Tennessee a false confidence in the process. Then you can show up for the wild card game with your real game plan and squash these suckers. Of course, that wouldn’t necessarily be fair to the Bills or Chargers who are also fighting for the AFC’s final postseason spot. But do you think Doug Marrone cares about being fair? Hell nah son. 

Titans 23-21

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay 
Last week I dubbed the Bucs a Tupperware team, because they weren’t going to spoil anything. Never was that more apparent than last Sunday when they let Cam Newton pick the ball up off the ground and score the winning touchdown with under a minute to go. Well here we are again and Tampa has one more mild spoil opportunity. Yes the Saints are already in the playoffs, but the Bucs can help keep them from winning the NFC South. But again, Tampa won’t, so I’m not sure why I’m bringing it up. Maybe because I’m taking a bit of schadenfreude in this Tampa season after seeing them on Hard Knocks over the summer. A particular scene sticks out in which defensive lineman Chris Baker clowned on Jacksonville fans for how perennially lousy their team is. How'd that turn out Baker? It was a strange ride coming from a member of a team that never makes the playoffs. And now his team can’t even stop others from making the playoffs. For shame. 

Saints 26-19

Buffalo @ Miami 
Believe it or not the Bills have the longest active postseason drought of any team in a major American sport. I’m not sure why you wouldn't believe it. Maybe if you haven’t been paying attention to the NFL for the past 18 seasons, or you’re a Buffalo fan who has just woken up from a coma after slamming your head through a table following the last time the Bills made the playoffs. In which case, you didn’t miss much. Also, this is called the INTERNET. (I know the internet existed in 1999, but I’m guessing this Buffalo resident who slammed his head through a table had never been on it) When you think about it it’s really not that shocking that the Bills haven’t had a playoff game since that fateful day in Nashville. After losing four straight Super Bowls and being on the losing end of the Music City Miracle all within a 10 year span it’s almost as if the whole organization decided they and the postseason could use some space. I don’t know if they meant this much space, but regardless, I’m not sure they’ll rekindle their abusive relationship anytime soon. 

Dolphins 25-17

Arizona @ Seattle 
After what we’ll go ahead and call a gritty win in Dallas last week the Seahawks’ playoff hopes are still alive. They need only a win here against Kangol Karl and company and an Atlanta loss to reach the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. Or, I suppose one of the five NFC teams that have already clinched a playoff spot could incur some sort of unprecedented organizational suspension. Or, the league could immediately institute a 14 team playoff, in which case the Hawks are sitting pretty. But barring any of those unlikely events, the only way in for Seattle is the aforementioned win/loss combo with the Falcons. Certainly not impossible, and if you believe what you’re about to read, it’s even probable!

Seahawks 27-7

Carolina @ Atlanta 
Ever since they dropped to 7-5 everybody had been telling the Falcons that they could still win the NFC South if they won out. Now that they’ve lost a game it would be pretty funny if no one told them that they can still make it to the playoffs as a wild card. I mean you’d expect them to do the research on their own, but who knows, they’re busy guys, maybe they’re just clueless and think their season is over. Yes, I get that it’s not likely, and yes I get that if they’re reading this right now I just tipped them off ... Oh shit. I wish I could delete all of this, but you know as well as I do that I DON’T DELETE ANYTHING. 

Panthers 24-23

Cincinnati @ Baltimore 
Alright Ravens, win and you’re in. Lose and it will still take wins from the Titans and Bills to knock you out of the playoffs. So congrats! You’re in! Baltimore's own match-up could prove more difficult than once thought however, because after a win over Detroit, Cincinnati suddenly seems frisky. Then again, all they did was beat the Lions late in the season, which hasn’t been historically difficult. Then again, they’re only playing the Ravens this week. But at the same time the Ravens just have to beat the Bengals. Wait a minute what just happened? I’m running on fumes here gang.

Ravens 22-16


NFL Picks - Week 16


Indianapolis @ Baltimore
The Ravens are one of three AFC wild card contenders entering the week at 8-6, but when it comes to the playoffs they currently find themselves as the only one the group on the outside looking in. I kind of feel sorry for them, but if we’re being real it’s starting to freak out the other teams. I mean the Ravens are just sitting out there looking in on them. I get it Baltimore, you guys want to be in the playoffs, but right now you’re not allowed in. There may be an opening for you soon, but until that time we’re just going to have to request that you leave the property. Check back with us in a few days though because the Bills are playing the Pats.

Ravens 27-10

Minnesota @ Green Bay
After returning for one futile effort Aaron Rodgers has been placed on IR and will miss the final two games of the season. It’s a shrewd maneuver by the Packers, and probably the correct one to make now that the team has officially been eliminated from playoff contention. It’s also kind of a middle finger to the rest of their star players who do have to play the final two games. Go get ‘em guys! If I were Clay Matthews I’d get myself injured on purpose just to prove a point. Hmm, actually that might be proving the organization’s point for them. Either way it’s a win for me, because it results in Clay Matthews looking like an even bigger idiot than he already is. 

Vikings 23-13

Sunday Morning

Detroit @ Cincinnati 
With two weeks left in the season the Lions have a legit (even if not very likely) shot to be the only NFC team from 2016 to return to the playoffs, which has to make one stop and say ... huh?!? If you had told me that before the season I would have been pretty surprised, but if you had told me that two weeks ago I would’ve slapped you in the face and called you a gd liar. The advantage that Detroit has is the softness of their schedule. A slate so soft it’s like they're walking on a cloud. Though here’s a little-known fact, if you actually tried to walk on a cloud you’d fall right through, clouds aren't solid at all! So perhaps these cloudy games could turn out to be a tantalizing mirage for Detroit. However, the Bengals’ past two games have been 33-7 and 34-7 losses to NFC North opponents, so a third such match-up isn’t a beacon of hope for Cincinnati. Then again, sometimes it can be hard to see a beacon through the ... clouds. (Did that even work?)

Lions 22-17

Miami @ Kansas City 
After plummeting from 5-0 to 6-6 the Chiefs awoke from their slumber just in time for their biggest divisional games of the season, back-to-back home wins over the Raiders and Chargers that now leave KC with a magic number of 1. Meanwhile the Dolphins followed up their inspiring win over New England with a flat performance in Buffalo that was such a stinker it left them with a magic number of 2. That’s not mathematically accurate, but it was a decent enough poop joke that I couldn’t just leave it floating. If Miami couldn’t squeeze out a win in Buffalo I don’t see them dumping on the Chiefs in KC. Look for the Dolphins to be flushed with little resistance (i.e. no plunger necessary).

Chiefs 31-16

Buffalo @ New England
On Wednesday the Patriots reduced the team privileges of Tom Brady’s personal trainer, friend, and business partner. Some may argue this is simply a case of Bill Belichick and the Patriots reestablishing their authority. However, others posit that the organization is distancing themselves from a man that’s clearly supplying Tom Brady with some sort of untraceable PEDs. Of course, to believe this harebrained theory you must suspend your disbelief to the point that you’d accept that Tom Brady could possibly a cheater. So in other words, that’s definitely what’s happening. After this whole thing is litigated the NFL will suspend Brady for the 2022 season. But until then New England should keep rolling! 

Patriots 34-17

Cleveland @ Chicago 
These teams enter this matchup with a combined record of 4-24. If you’re familiar at all with the Browns organization you’ve most likely deduced that the Bears must be 4-10. Right you are! It was on this day one year ago that the Cleveland won their last game ... and more than two years since they had a win before that. There was a strange, even mystical, point in the 2014 season at which the Browns were 7-4; since then they’ve gone 4-47. Look, I like to poke as much fun at the Browns as the next guy ... Ok, probably even more so than the next guy ... Though I guess it would depend on who the next guy was ... Forget it! My point is that for as fun, and easy, as it is to clown on the Browns, 4-47 is just depressing. Wouldn’t it be nice this Christmas Eve to see that number improve to 5-47? I think so too. Unfortunately this is the Browns we’re talking about, so they’ll probably manage to lose twice in one day. 

Bears 20-13

Tampa Bay @ Carolina 
It’s this time of the season in which a team that’s out of the playoff race can pop up on a more successful team’s schedule and spoil their playoff hopes. Over the last four weeks these Bucs have had just such opportunities and spoiled absolutely nothing. They have a couple more chances over the final two weeks of the season starting with this game against Carolina, but the Panthers really shouldn’t be concerned. The Bucs are like a nice Tupperware container, nothing is getting spoiled on their watch. 

Panthers 28-14

Atlanta @ New Orleans 
Prior to the first meeting between these teams a couple weeks ago the Falcons were 7-5 but knew that based on their schedule if they could win out they would win the NFC South. And guess what, they’ve won both games since. Just imagine if they had adopted that mindset from the beginning of the year! Folks, we’d be looking at the possibility of an undefeated season right now. As it is, Atlanta still trails New Orleans by a game and faces their toughest test since they began their torrid march towards divisional ownership. I like the Saints to eke out a win here, despite the fact the Falcons’ awareness of this game’s magnitude. 

Saints 28-27

Denver @ Washington
To me the most interesting part of this contest will be the pregame warmups. And not just because I love watching guys stretch. I’m curious to see if there’s any interaction between Broncos general manager John Elway and embattled Washington franchisee Kirk Cousins. Clearly Denver could use a quarterback next season, and there’s a good chance that Cousins will need somewhere besides DC to play. Now, would an on-field convo qualify as tampering and violate league rules? Probably. But Elway never cared much for rules in his playing days, this guy would regularly throw after crossing the line of scrimmage. Sure he was penalized each and every time, as he was for every other infraction he ever committed, but who cares? What’s the worst that could happen? Oh right, serious consequences. You’d think he would have learned his lesson by now.

Redskins 19-12

Los Angeles Rams @ Tennessee 
Last week I pointed out that the Titans had a serious chance to lose out, and miss the playoffs. They haven’t proven me wrong yet. And even though their final two games are at home they’re going up against teams with a combined road record of 10-3. But shouldn’t we have known all along that Tennessee was pulling the wool over our eyes? I mean their coach’s name is Mularkey for God’s sake! His name might as well have been Mike Notasgoodasourredordindicates. Or Mike Actuallyprettymediocre. Or Mike Secretlylousy. I’m serious, that’s what his name should have been. Take your pick. The Titans’ march toward .500 continues this week. 

Rams 31-21

Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets
Ah the match-up of the two forgotten children of their respective cities. This game will be the equivalent of the two youngest cousins branching off during Christmas dinner to play with their new toys and talk about what jerks their older siblings are. Then at one point the Jets will ask if the Chargers if they want to come back over next week too, but the Chargers will tell them that no they can’t because, well, see, they’re still trying to make the playoffs. And then as they watch the Chargers get on their team bus and head back to LA the Jets will realize that they were never really the same ... not at all. Then a Giants fan will hit them with a snowball. 

Chargers 33-20

Sunday Afternoon 

Jacksonville @ San Francisco 
With only two weeks remaining in the regular season there’s still an outside chance that the Jaguars could end up as the #1 seed in the AFC ... I’ve spent the last 10 minutes to an hour staring into space and wondering how we got here. And when I say space, I mean space. Like I closed my eyes and entered some sort of wormhole. I saw all the possible permutations of the 2017 NFL season, it was simultaneously glorious and frightening. I can honestly say that it changed me in a very real, yet not totally tangible way. Anyhow, in none of those alternate timelines that flashed in front of me did the Jacksonville Jaguars secure the top seed in the AFC. So, as obtainable as it may seem at the moment, I can say with confidence that it won’t happen.
49ers 22-20

Seattle @ Dallas
It’s an elimination game in the NFC; lose and you’ll be spending the postseason at home, win and then win again next week aaaand you still might not make the playoffs. But hey, the loser here is definitely out. With Ezekiel Elliott returning from suspension and the Seahawks coming off their worst loss in years, the Cowboys would certainly seem to have the edge. But the Hawks have something else going for them, and that’s that I’m writing this post. 

Seahawks 27-3

New York Giants @ Arizona 
With a 2-12 record, the Giants currently possess the #2 pick in the draft, with the Browns being #1. Both teams will likely be in the market for a quarterback come April. This begs the question, presented with a scenario in which they could go to Cleveland at #1 or New York at #2 will the top QB prospects tank their performances at the combine or their pro day to avoid being drafted by the Browns? It’s nefarious, but probably the right move. That is, if you prefer playing in a market that comes with an insane amount of pressure to a market that would be grateful if you won 5 games as a rookie ... On second thought these young studs gotta let it rip baby! Book me on that one way flight to the Cleve!

Cardinals 16-9

Pittsburgh @ Houston 
It's a Christmas Day special from the folks at Sunday Night Football, which means that our old pal Cris Collinsworth will be in the booth to lend his analysis to this match-up. Let's see what he has to say ahead of this clash in yet another HCM exclusive:

... Beautiful.

Steelers 31-13

Oakland @ Philadelphia 
It's Christmas night, which means most of us will either be napping or full-blown asleep with our favorite present tucked under our arm. Those of us who are still awake will most likely be too drunk to really focus on this game. Speaking of being blitzed out your mind, look for the Raiders to bring added pressure in an attempt to fluster Nick Foles in his second start of the season. I'll be honest, I'm not sure if that will be their gameplan, but it worked well with the previous sentence, so let's just stick with it. Regardless, I think Philly gets the win at home and moves closer to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Also during the game their fans will murder Santa.

Eagles 24-17