The Atlanta Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers with the NFC South title on the line this week. Winner is in, loser goes home.
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The full roster of 2014-15 Playoff teams have not yet been decided as the NFC South title (No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs) and the Second Wildcard (No. 6) seed in the AFC playoffs are still there for whichever team wants it.
The Atlanta Falcons will face the Carolina Panthers in a winner take all game, while over in the AFC the Chargers only need to win and they’re in. But if the Chargers falter the Ravens can take their place with a win, and then the Houston Texans and finally the Chiefs.
Maybe it won’t matter which of these teams make the playoffs – after all, all of them have struggled so much that on paper they shouldn’t be able to beat the teams that have already clinched the playoffs. Yet as we learn almost every year, you can never count out a playoff team – no matter how meek they look on paper.
Here are the picks for Week 17 of the NFL season:
Indianapolis Colts over Tennessee Titans – Andrew Luck rebounds from his humiliating performance against the Cowboys with a major performance against the Titans. The good news for Tennessee is that with the No. 1 or No. 2 draft pick they get, they can finally find that possible franchise QB.
Kansas City Chiefs over San Diego Chargers – The Chiefs may be without their starting QB, but the Chargers are hurting just about everyone right now, and the Chiefs offense seems perfectly capable of humming on its own as long as the QB can keep his completion percentage up.
Miami Dolphins over New York Jets – The Rex Ryan era in New York ends with a whimper as Miami humiliates the team he could never seem to beat often enough, but leaves the team with a high draft pick for its next GM.
Chicago Bears over Minnesota Vikings – Jay Cutler is back in the mix so the Bears offense should be able to put up points (even if some of them are for the other team…). Head coach Marc Trestman is going to unload his bag of tricks before hitting the unemployment line.
New England Patriots over Buffalo Bills – Tom Brady will do just enough in the limited amount of time he sees the field to get the Patriots in a position to win. And the rest of the team does more than enough to remind the Bills front office that the Bills need massive changes to be made.
Detroit Lions over Green Bay Packers – The vulnerability of Lambeau Field is finally exposed as the Lions’ defense shocks Aaron Rodgers, reducing them to a Wildcard seem and giving the Lions a first-round bye.
Philadelphia Eagles over New York Giants – Mark Sanchez gets his much-needed first win of December, only for it to simply sabotage their draft position as opposed to having any influence on their playoff chances.
New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers seal their No. 1 overall pick selection with a loss to the New Orleans Saints. The question is: Will the signs of decline continue to show on QB Drew Brees even against one of the worst defenses in the NFL?
Dallas Cowboys over Washington – For what seems like an eternity the Cowboys have lost their season finales, but not this time. With a possible first-round bye at stake the Cowboys come through and get the win over Washington.
Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns – While the Browns are now without their two starting QBs and starting WR, the Ravens are getting hot at the perfect time, and it will help seal their spot in the playoffs as long as the Chargers lose to the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons over Carolina Panthers – There has never been a back-to-back Champion in the NFC South and that trend will continue as the Falcons offense overwhelms Cam Newton and Company en route to a return to the NFL playoffs.
Denver Broncos over Oakland Raiders – Unlike the Patriots, the Broncos’ fate as a first round bye team is still very much up in the air. And with the Raiders playing well these last few games nothing is certain. The Broncos won’t rest anyone as they try to clinch that No. 2 seed.
San Francisco 49ers over Arizona Cardinals – Both of these teams have fallen apart at the seams for different reasons but at the same time. Nonetheless, the 49ers will still be able to pull out this win with a great deal of ease. Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley hasn’t even thrown a TD pass in his NFL career.
Seattle Seahawks over St. Louis Rams – The Seahawks take care of their business, taking the NFC West title and the No. 1 overall seed in the process.
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals – The Steelers take back the AFC North with a win over the Bengals. Cincinnati is just too banged up right now to put up the fight needed to get that win – which will keep them out of Cincinnati for the remainder of the playoffs.