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This is the final week of regular season play for the 2011 NFL season.
There will be some good games, as a lot will be decided as this week comes to a close. Unfortunately, there is not a Thursday game or a Monday night football game.
However, there is a Sunday night football game that is the perfect ending to such a great season. The Giants host the Cowboys in a must-win game. The loser will not advance to the playoffs.
My Predictions for Week 17
Jets (8-7) at Dolphins (5-10) Miami was my upset pick of the week last week, and had they finished what they started, my pick would have been correct. But they didn’t and this has been a lot of their problem all season. This week, they face a Jets team in desperate need of a win, and Miami is not the place the Jets want to be this week. The Dolphins have nothing to lose in this game and will be simultaneously attacking the Jets defensive secondary and their front seven, all day long. This will be successful for Miami. Offensively, the Jets, specifically QB Mark Sanchez, is going to struggle against a Dolphins defense that knows how to pressure an offense. Winner - Dolphins
Lions (10-5) at Packers (14-1) Both teams have clinched and will be in the post-season. The Lions however, are playing for the number five seed, which moves them up in the rankings and depending upon how post-season plays out, it could give them home-field advantage at some point. The Packers are locked in as the number one seed, regardless of this game. Since they aren’t playing for perfection, expect to see most of the starters on the bench. It will be interesting to watch Packers back-up QB Matt Flynn against the dominant Lions defense. He will struggle. Winner- Lions
Panthers (6-9) at Saints (12-3) Congrats to Drew Brees for passing Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a single season. He’ll be adding to that total this week as the Saints will be playing for the number two seed in the playoffs. The Saints offense is going to dominate this game as Carolina’s defense does not have the talent to stop them. Winner - Saints
Titans (8-7) at Texans (10-5) Houston is a shoe-in for the playoffs and regardless of a win, their seed won’t change. With that being said, they may play a lot of their second string to keep their starters healthy. If that’s the case, Tennessee has a shot. If not, the Titans offense will struggle against a Texans defense that is much more talented that Tennessee can compete with. Since the Texans have injuries, I’m going to guess they will rest most of their starters for the playoffs, and the Titans win because of this. Winner - Titans
Bears (7-8) at Vikings (3-12) Neither team has any chance at the playoffs and both teams are missing very talented running backs. Chicago put in QB Josh McCown last week, and he played much better than Caleb Hanie ever has. Expect McCown to get the starts this week, and his first win. Winner - Bears
Redskins (5-10) at Eagles (7-8) An irrelevant game for both teams, since both have been eliminated from a playoff spot. Philly is going to have another great game offensively, as they face a Redskin defense that doesn’t have the all-around talent to stop this offense. The Redskins play aggressive defense and this will force Philly into utilizing LeSean McCoy, and this will be successful. Winner - Eagles
49ers (12-3) at Rams (2-13) This is a mis-match of a game, especially since I would bet that the Rams are going to sit QB Sam Bradford so they don’t chance an injury. In addition, they may do this to lose on purpose, in hopes that Indy may win, giving them the number one draft pick in 2012. Either way, the Rams offense is facing one of the best defenses in the league right now and will struggle to score. Offensively, RB Frank Gore will have a lot of running room, and a day of big yards. San Francisco will be playing starters, as they try for the number-two seed in the NFC. Winner – 49ers
Bills (6-9) at Patriots (12-3) A win for New England and they are the number one seed in the AFC, which means home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The first time these two teams met, the Bills won in overtime. This time, the Pats have gained their momentum back and are the team we are used to seeing from them. Also, Tom Brady will be studying the Bills defense a lot this week, and won’t make the same mistakes he made last time. Winner - Patriots
Colts (2-13) at Jaguars (4-11) What do you do if the number one draft pick is on the line? If it were my team, I’d hand the game over to Jacksonville, head to the locker room, and call it a season. I’m not sure what the Colts will do. Regardless, the Jags offense, led by RB Maurice Jones-Drew will control time of possession, and control most of the game. Indy doesn’t have the defensive talent to stop, or keep up with, a Jones-Drew and will be picking number one in the 2012 NFL draft. Winner - Jaguars
Chargers (7-8) at Raiders (8-7) San Diego was eliminated last week, and Oakland needs a win to advance to the post-season. These two teams met earlier in the season and the Raiders won. This week, the outcome will be the same, as the Raiders control time of possession by running the ball against a Charger defense that gives up a lot of rushing yards. Crowd noise will also be a factor for Philip Rivers and co. The silver and black make their former owner, Al Davis, proud as they make the playoffs this year. Winner - Raiders
Chiefs (6-9) at Broncos (8-7) Denver needs a win to make the playoffs. The Chiefs are hit-and-miss and have been all season. This game means nothing to them in regards to the playoffs, and everything in regards to knocking out a division foe. The Broncos defense is going to enable Tim Tebow to prevail late in the fourth quarter. Winner - Broncos
Buccaneers (4-11) at Falcons (9-6) Atlanta will be playing for playoff positioning, so they will have their starters on the field. The Bucs are going to have a long day against a Falcon defense that is more talented in every aspect. Offensively, Falcons QB Matt Ryan is going to have a phenomenal day, putting a lot of points on the board. Winner - Falcons
Ravens (11-4) at Bengals (9-6) A lot is at stake in this game. Baltimore has already clinched a playoff spot, but with a win, could clinch the number two seed. That means a first-round bye and at least one home game in the playoffs. For the Bengals, this is a must-win game, or no post-season. Because of what is at stake, this is going to be one of the more exciting games to watch this Sunday. The key to this game for the Ravens is RB Ray Rice. Keeping the ball in his hands and out of the hands of QB Joe Flacco will prove to be successful for Baltimore, as the Bengals defense will wear down. This game will be a close one. Winner - Ravens
Seahawks (7-8) at Cardinals (7-8) Too bad both of these teams lost last week, as this game could have been an exciting one to watch. Neither of these teams has a chance at the playoffs and are playing their last game this season. The Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is going to have a huge day running the ball. This will be the reason for Seattle to finish 8-8 this season. Winner - Seahawks
Steelers (11-4) at Browns (4-11) Cleveland began the season with a smidgen of hope, but completely folded once they began playing teams with talent. The Steelers are playing for a first-round bye with a win and a Ravens loss, so they will have their starters on the field. With or without Big Ben, Pittsburgh is a better team than the Browns. Winner - Steelers
Cowboys (8-7) at Giants (8-7) There couldn’t be a more perfect finale for the 2011 regular season. This game means every ounce of post-season to both teams. Win and you are in. Lose and you are done. This game comes down to quarterbacks for me. Eli gets it done when he absolutely needs to, no matter how many mistakes he sifts through. Tony is the exact opposite. He gets down when he makes mistakes, and is easily flustered when under pressure. The Giants defense will bring that pressure. This game will come down to the final seconds -- and we will watch as New York advances and is a team to watch out for in the playoffs. Winner - Giants
For Jana's thoughts on last week, further analysis on this week's match-ups, the complete Week 17 schedule, or to read anything else she feels like tossing out regarding the NFL, go to the dirty cleats blog.
Don't forget to tune in next week as Jana turns her sights on her playoff predictions!!!
Jana Newman lives in San Diego and has been an NFL fan for over 25 years (her not-so-secret obsession is still No. 13 Dan Marino). She has her bachelor of arts degree in English, and loves to write. To combine these passions, Jana created dirtycleats.com. It’s an NFL blog with a fresh look and a fun attitude. You can also follow dirtycleats on Facebook. To reach Jana, email her at email@example.com.