Week 17 NFL predictions: Scores for every game – NFL Nation


NFL Nation reporters predict the outcomes and scores for Sunday’s Week 17 games:


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The Panthers shut down the Atlanta rushing attack the first time these teams met, holding Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to a combined 51 yards. They should be back at full force defensively with the return of defensive end Charles Johnson and linebacker Thomas Davis from suspensions. Matt Ryan hasn’t proved all year he can consistently beat teams, and he won’t this game even though the Falcons need a win to guarantee a playoff spot. Panthers 28, Falcons 21David Newton

The Falcons are angry after last week’s loss in New Orleans, where they blew two opportunities to score touchdowns near the goal line and had gap control/discipline issues on defense. Coach Dan Quinn once again made a plea to the fans to be rowdy inside the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the finale, but it’s going to come down to which team takes advantage of scoring opportunities. The Falcons scored just 17 points the first time against the Panthers and lost, and they are 0-6 when they don’t reach 20 points this season. The Panthers ran for 201 yards against the Falcons in Charlotte and have just enough balance with dual-threat Cam Newton to leave the Falcons’ playoff fate up to the Seattle-Arizona game. Panthers 24, Falcons 21Vaughn McClure


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With the possibility of this being coach Marvin Lewis’ last game, the Bengals likely want to send him out a winner. But that’s going to be difficult against an opportunistic Ravens defense that specializes in takeaways and is looking to get in the playoffs. The Bengals will be more inspired than they have been of late, but it’s probably not going to be enough. Ravens 21, Bengals 14Katherine Terrell

The Ravens know a win gets them into the playoffs, and they’ll take full advantage of the home field. Baltimore has won 13 of its past 14 home season finales. Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have the second-best home record in the NFL at 59-20 (.747). The key for the Ravens is to get off to a fast start, which has been a problem for them lately. The Bengals are 2-5 when trailing after one quarter. If Baltimore can jump to an early lead, Cincinnati likely won’t have much fight left for Marvin Lewis, who could be coaching his final game for the Bengals. Cincinnati is one of the best red zone defenses in the NFL, so expect to see a lot of Justin Tucker. Ravens 26, Bengals 13Jamison Hensley


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Brett Hundley has one more game to show he’s a capable NFL quarterback, and at least it’s on the road, where he has all eight of his touchdown passes this season and just three interceptions (as opposed to no TDs and seven INTs at home). But Hundley likely will be playing with so many young players thanks to the likely absence of Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson and several veteran offensive linemen that it will be tough to win even a meaningless game. This looks like a recipe for the Packers’ first losing record since 2008. Lions 30, Packers 17Rob Demovsky

Detroit could sweep the Packers for the first time since 1991 with a win, which would have some meaning. There’s also finishing with a winning record in back-to-back seasons for the first time in more than 20 years (the Lions had three consecutive winning years from 1993 to 1995). Also, Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing for Green Bay and the Lions handled the Packers easily in Week 9, 30-17. Lions 27, Packers 17Michael Rothstein


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Head coach Bill O’Brien said even though neither the 4-11 Texans nor 3-12 Colts are playoff-bound, “this is kind of like our playoff game.” This week, O’Brien said the team has a lot of pride in winning on Sunday to end the season on a good note and stay out of last place in the AFC South. Houston will continue its winning run at Lucas Oil Stadium. Texans 17, Colts 13Sarah Barshop

The Texans have beaten the Colts in Indianapolis each of the past two seasons. The Colts are 5-0 in their Week 17 games under coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts aren’t the only team that has dealt with its share of injuries this season — 18 Texans players are on injured reserve. Defensive standouts J.J. Watt and Benardrick McKinney and promising rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson are some of the notable players that Houston has lost for the season. And now receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first game of his five-year career because of a calf injury. The Colts tend to make below-average quarterbacks look better than what they really are. But it’ll be difficult for them to do that to Texans quarterback T.J. Yates, especially without Hopkins. Pagano moves to 6-0 in Week 17 games in what possibly could be his last one as coach of the Colts. Colts 21, Texans 16Mike Wells


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In five games against the Dolphins since he became the Bills’ starter in 2015, Tyrod Taylor has an 83.8 Total QBR, his fourth highest against any team. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 8.99 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns, no interceptions and a 115.6 passer rating against the Dolphins. If Taylor continues that trend, the Bills can awake from their offensive slump. But will they get the necessary losses from the Ravens, or the Chargers and Titans, in order to make the playoffs? Bills 21, Dolphins 10Mike Rodak

The Dolphins have nothing but pride to play for and already lost to Buffalo earlier this year. But Miami is 2-0 this season in the second game when facing division opponents. Similar to second meetings against the Patriots and Jets, head coach Adam Gase will make the proper adjustments to finish with a 7-9 record. Dolphins 23, Bills 20James Walker


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The Bears are simply playing for pride. The Vikings can clinch a first-round bye with a win Sunday. The Bears lost a close game to Minnesota in Week 5, but quarterback Case Keenum is a major upgrade over Sam Bradford. The Vikings will no doubt see an improved Mitchell Trubisky, but that won’t be enough for Chicago to get past the NFL’s top-ranked defense. Vikings 24, Bears 10 — Jeff Dickerson

Securing a first-round bye means the Vikings play one fewer game in the postseason and would begin their playoff run in the divisional round. With all of that riding on a Week 17 victory, don’t expect Minnesota to rest its starters Sunday. The Vikings enter the final week of the regular season No. 1 in total defense and rank first in yards allowed (280.9) and points per game (16.1). In its last two home games against the Bengals and Rams, Minnesota’s defense hasn’t allowed more than a touchdown in each win while its offense has outscored opponents 175-90 this season at U.S. Bank Stadium. If the Vikings beat the Bears on Sunday, they’ll finish the regular season with 13 wins, second most in franchise history. Vikings 34, Bears 13Courtney Cronin


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On paper, this is one of the biggest mismatches of the season. Fill-in QB Bryce Petty is struggling mightily and the Jets have no tangible motivation to win. On the flip side, the Jets haven’t quit and these games tend to be close. In fact, six of the past seven meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. So what does it mean for Sunday? Forget history and go with the current reality — blowout. Patriots 34, Jets 17Rich Cimini

With a victory, the Patriots will secure their seventh 13-win season, which would be the second most in NFL history. The Patriots still have a lot to play for, as a win would secure the AFC’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They also want to show they can start faster than they did against the Bills last Sunday, when they went three-and-out and played from behind. Patriots 31, Jets 17Mike Reiss


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It’s hard to imagine the Giants having a great deal of enthusiasm for this game, so the Redskins will benefit from a third consecutive inferior opponent. They’re 6-0 against teams with a losing record. Getting to 8-8 matters to Washington; it would be a third straight non-losing record. Look for quarterback Kirk Cousins to finish strong against the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense. It’s only the fourth game this season they’ll face a defense ranked in the bottom 12; Cousins has thrown a combined six touchdown passes in the first three games. Redskins 24, Giants 16John Keim

The Giants could be without Sterling Shepard (neck), Evan Engram (ribs) and Tavarres King (concussion). Their top receiving threats would be Roger Lewis, Travis Rudolph, Hunter Sharp and Rhett Ellison. Combined they have 64 catches, 685 yards and four touchdowns this season. Redskins 20, Giants 3Jordan Raanan


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Even though there is nothing on the line, the Cowboys will go with their regulars, which means a steady dose of Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee. The Cowboys lost the first meeting 37-9 without Elliott (suspension) and Lee (injury), but how much will it matter? Elliott needs 120 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and the Eagles have been vulnerable to the run over the past month, giving up 105.5 yards per game. Elliott might get his 120 yards, but the Cowboys won’t be able to make enough big plays to score points, which has been an issue most of the season. Eagles 22, Cowboys 17Todd Archer

Nick Foles and the majority of the Eagles starters are expected to play for part of this game, but they likely will give way to the backups at some point. Former sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld should see his first action as a pro, and while the coaching staff is high on the quarterback, it could be tough sledding against Dallas’ first team. Cowboys 24, Eagles 17Tim McManus


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If the Browns pull off this upset, coach Hue Jackson should get a contract extension. The Steelers have way too much talent, and they won’t be treating the game like a scrimmage the way they did the opener, when they played as hard as they needed to. The Browns have ended five of the past six seasons with a loss to the Steelers. Make it six. Steelers 27, Browns 6Pat McManamon

The Steelers still have something to play for as they can clinch home field throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and a Patriots loss, but the latter isn’t likely. If this is a blowout by halftime, look for backups to start getting some playing time. The Browns are desperate to avoid 0-16, but the talent disparity is too much to overcome. Steelers 34, Browns 9ESPN


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The Saints need to win to clinch their first NFC South title and home playoff game since 2011. But they do need to guard against an emotional letdown between last week’s huge home win over the Falcons and next week’s playoff opener. The atmosphere in a late-afternoon, New Year’s Eve game in Tampa won’t be anything like the raucous Superdome was last week. And Saints coach Sean Payton stressed that QB Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ offense have quietly been playing their best football in recent weeks. Still, the Saints are the better and more balanced team – as they jumped to a 30-3 lead in their previous meeting with Tampa in Week 9. Saints 26, Buccaneers 19Mike Triplett

The Bucs have lost the past four weeks by either three points or in overtime, but it’s hard to see them being able to stop an offense that they surrendered 30 points and 407 total yards to the last go-around, especially given the Bucs’ issues with the run all season. This one should be closer, though, given Jameis Winston has put together two of the best quarterbacking performances and highest passer ratings of his career the past two weeks. Saints 26, Bucs 21Jenna Laine


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There hasn’t been a season sweep in the Jaguars-Titans series since 2008, but this is a unique situation. The Jaguars are locked into the No. 3 seed regardless of what happens while the Titans are fighting for a playoff spot. The Titans’ offensive line pretty much had its way with the Jaguars’ defensive front in the first meeting (179 yards rushing). The Jaguars have added NT Marcell Dareus since then and he’s helped make a difference. The Jaguars were last in rush defense (138.6 yards per game) before Dareus’ arrival but rank seventh (96.8 yards per game) against the rush in the eight games since. If the Jaguars can make the Titans one-dimensional, they should have success against Marcus Mariota. It’s hard to know how much the Titans’ desperation factors into the game, though. It could be a bigger issue than anything else. Titans 24, Jaguars 21Mike DiRocco

Jags coach Doug Marrone said he plans to play his starters to win in a relatively meaningless game against the Titans. I’ll believe it when I see it for four full quarters, particularly with banged-up running back Leonard Fournette and offensive lineman Cam Robinson. If the Jags do play full for revenge, there’s a good chance they could knock the Titans out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The Titans go smashmouth with Derrick Henry like they did in their Week 2 win over Jacksonville and it’s just enough to make the playoffs. Titans 17, Jaguars 16Cameron Wolfe


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The Chiefs will sit QB Alex Smith and some other key players, but they’re not tanking the game. In a similar situation in 2013, they took the Chargers, who needed a win to get into the playoffs, to overtime before losing. The Broncos are also getting a look at some younger players and at any rate have fallen behind Kansas City, having lost four consecutive games to the Chiefs. Chiefs 26, Broncos 20Adam Teicher

Paxton Lynch will get the start at quarterback for the Broncos and he needs a good showing to assert himself in the Broncos’ coming conversations about what to do at the position. The Broncos will need to get the lead early since they are 1-6 when they trail at the end of the first quarter, 1-9 when they trail at halftime and 0-10 when they trail at the end of the third quarter this season. Chiefs 23, Broncos 21Jeff Legwold


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The Chargers still have an opportunity to make the postseason and could sweep the Raiders in the season series for the first time since 2014, so Los Angeles should be motivated. But it will have to deal with a hostile environment, with plenty of Raiders fans expected to show up at the StubHub Center. Philip Rivers should get the Chargers in the end zone a couple of times against a leaky pass defense in Oakland, and the Chargers will find a way to slow down Marshawn Lynch. Chargers 21, Raiders 17Eric Williams

Remember how Raider Nation literally took over San Diego last December? Multiply that by, well, a lot. The Raiders spent 1982 through 1994 in Los Angeles and their fan base there has only grown since, so imagine what will happen in the Chargers’ soccer stadium. A home-field advantage should prove huge for the Raiders, who are playing for nothing but pride and the chance to knock the Chargers out of the playoffs, like the Bolts did to Hue Jackson’s Raiders in the 2011 finale. Oakland’s retooled defense should have just enough to keep Philip Rivers & Co. in check, and Marshawn Lynch (3.04 yards per rush after contact last week) is playing his best, most physical ball of the season, even if Derek Carr (two costly INTs last week) is not. Raiders 17, Chargers 16 Paul Gutierrez


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This could have been a really fun game and a great test for the Jimmy Garoppolo-led version of the 49ers, but with the Rams intent on resting key players, this matchup isn’t nearly as anticipated. With Rams coach Sean McVay confirming that key players such as Andrew Whitworth, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley won’t play, the scales tip in favor of the Niners. The Rams seemingly don’t have much to play for here while the Niners would love nothing more than to keep riding their recent wave of momentum. Because of that, Garoppolo and the Niners keep the hype train rolling right into 2018 with their fifth consecutive victory. 49ers 30, Rams 14Nick Wagoner

The 49ers are rolling behind Jimmy Garoppolo. The Rams, fresh off clinching their first division title since 2003, are basically taking the weekend off. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan and Aaron Donald will not play. Several others probably won’t play, either. That gives the Rams very little chance against a red-hot 49ers team that played them really close in Week 3, even without Garoppolo. 49ers 35, Rams 17Alden Gonzalez


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The Cardinals are 3-1 in Seattle since 2013 under coach Bruce Arians. That one loss came when Drew Stanton started in 2014. Stanton may be 2-1 this season as a starter, but he’s completing just 51.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Seahawks 27, Cardinals 17Josh Weinfuss

The Seahawks are playing for a playoff spot Sunday, needing a win over Arizona and a Falcons loss to make it as the No. 6 seed. Holding Dallas to only four field goals in Ezekiel Elliott’s return showed that Seattle’s defense isn’t dead despite the temptation to pronounce it as such after the Seahawks were hammered 42-7 by the Rams a week earlier. With the postseason on the line and a backup quarterback in Drew Stanton on the other side, Seattle’s defense should lead the team to a victory, even if its offense remains stuck in neutral. Seahawks 21, Cardinals 13Brady Henderson



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