New year, new predictions
As the regular season comes to a close, our experts are looking ahead to the playoffs, where Blake and Melissa hope to overcome Eli's solid lead. In week 16, Melissa went 8-6 while Eli and Blake went 6-8. Eli continues to hold a double digit lead over his two co-pundits, but who knows what can happen next?
Sunday, Jan. 2
Carolina Panthers (2-13) at Atlanta Falcons (12-3)
One of the weakest teams travels to play against a Super bowl contender—this one is too easy. Falcons win in a landslide.
Atlanta bounces back from a loss to the Saints and whoops the 2-13 Panthers on the
After just barely losing to the Saints last week, the Falcons are looking to get back on track. Luckily, they're taking on the miserable Panthers, and should be able to win big.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-10)
In this AFC North rivalry match-up, on both sides there are injuries that could hold both teams back. Browns tailback Peyton Hillis suffered a rib injury and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu injured his Achilles and it is still questionable whether either will play come Sunday. All of that aside, the Steelers are a defensive powerhouse that the Browns offense is not strong enough to conquer.
Pittsburgh's 11-4 and prepping for the playoffs, while the Browns are just trying to
salvage a sixth win in yet another lost season. Steelers roll.
Pittsburgh takes on a hot and cold Cleveland team today that really only has two solid players on its offensive. For the Steelers, this just means more hard hitting defense and solid (enough) offensive play by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers win.
Minnesota Vikings (6-9) at Detroit Lions (5-10)
Both teams have been fairly unpredictable and inconsistent all season. With playoff hopes out the window, I'm predicting the Lions will turn it around this week and prove themselves against the Vikings in week 17.
Both the Lions and the Vikings played well last week. Detroit beat Miami 34-27 thanks to a big game from Shaun Hill and the Vikings pulled an upset over the Eagles on Monday night. I'll take the Lions who've got the home field advantage.
Minnesota pulled out a surprising win last week against the Eagles, which left most people shocked. But hey, Brett Favre might play—so the Vikes' luck will probably end here. Plus, Detroit's won three in a row and they're at home, so I'll take the Lions.
Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)
The Chiefs will continue their roll with a win against the under .500 Raiders this week.
I'm tempted to take Oakland after seeing them compete the way they did against Indianapolis last week. But the Chiefs are on a tear, winning four of their last five. They blew out the Titans 34-14 last week and clinched the division in the process. Kansas City takes the "W”.
With the combination of Matt Cassel and the Chiefs' running game, look for a huge game from Kansas City's offense. I'll take Kansas City to beat the Black and Silver.
Miami Dolphins (7-8) at New England Patriots (13-2)
The Patriots are completely secure as they are anticipated to go deep into playoffs. Unfortunately for Miami, they will just serve as a warm up for the Patriots before they head into playoffs.
Tom Brady will start for New England, a risky move by the Pats' coaching staff. It's a meaningless game for the Patriots, who've already clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs. 13-2 Pats pick apart the Dolphins.
The Patriots are pretty good, huh?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6) at New Orleans Saints (11-4)
This game is crucial for both sides. If New Orleans wins and Atlanta loses, the Saints will win their division. On the other end, Tampa Bay is still battling for a potential playoff spot. I'll pick an upset and go with the Buccaneers in week 17.
After beating the 12-3 Falcons in week 16, the Saints face an easier opponent in Tampa Bay this week. With a win, New Orleans has a chance at the division if
Atlanta loses. And Tampa Bay is still fighting for the last NFC playoff spot, but it's a long shot—in addition to a win over the Saints, they need the Giants and Packers to lose. New Orleans looked solid last week, so I'll take them over the Bucs in week 17.
The Saints proved last week that they've still got it, beating an Atlanta team that many people thought was the absolute best in the NFC. New Orleans should be able to easily defeat a fairly inconsistent Bucs team.
Buffalo Bills (4-11) at New York Jets (10-5)
New York wants to carry some momentum into the playoffs with a easy win over Buffalo. Look for them to come out with a strong line up and play all of their starters for most of the game.
The Jets fell in a 38-34 shootout to the Bears last week. The good news is that they got the offensive production they've been lacking all year long. That should bode well for New York this week, as the face a porous Buffalo defense.
Buffalo's shown some sign of future dominance this season, with a few nail-biting games, but overall they haven't proven much. The Jets, however, came into the season as favorites but had a mid-season meltdown. But somehow, they've landed into the playoffs, and just need to beat the Bills for pride. Jets should be able to pull out the win.
San Diego Chargers (8-7) at Denver Broncos (4-11)
Although the Chargers have had better seasons, the Broncos have not yet proven themselves this season. The Chargers sail past the Broncos.
The Chargers underperformed this year but they're still a better team than the Broncos. San Diego wins.
Even though Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is making his presence known, I just don't think that Denver has enough defensive power to stop San Diego's Philip Rivers. Chargers win.
Chicago Bears (11-4) at Green Bay Packers (9-6)
The Packers have momentum on their side—after all they need this win if they want to make it to the playoffs. If Aaron Rodgers is back on track the Packers will get it done at home.
If Green Bay wins, they're in the playoffs. After sitting out a week due to concussion,
Aaron Rodgers came out firing last week, passing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants. Expect more of the same against the Bears in week
The Bears have already clinched their playoff spot and are now looking for a first round bye. Green Bay, on the other hand, needs to win this game in order to make the playoffs. With a healthy Aaron Rodgers, I'll take the Pack to strong arm their way into the playoffs.
Tennessee Titans (6-9) at Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
There's no doubt that the Colts have had better past seasons but they should be able to be at the top of the AFC South with a win this week.
With a win, the Colts clinch the AFC South. The Chiefs annihilated the Titans 34-14 last week, so Indy should come out on top this week. As much as Peyton Manning struggled at points this season, his team is still in position to win the division, a tribute to just how good Manning is. Even when he has a mediocre season, he's still better than the rest of the division.
This one is easy: Indy wins and they make the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys (5-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-5)
The Eagles' game against the Vikings last week was a fluke and Michael Vick will pick up the pieces. Eagles soar over the Cowboys in week 17.
Last week, Philly took the loss against… Minnesota? Look for Vick and the Eagles to rebound with a victory over Dallas in week 17.
After last week's loss to the Vikes, Philly's just looking for a win to show they're still solid. They should be able to beat the Cowboys at home, even with Dallas' renewed play.
Arizona Cardinals (5-10) at San Francisco 49ers (5-10)
With both teams at 5-10, neither Arizona nor San Francisco has playoff hopes. I'm predicting that the 49ers will finish their season strong even with the firing of head coach Mike Singletary.
San Fran lost to the Rams 25-17 last week, and head coach Mike Singletary was fired shortly after. Arizona played well and beat the Cowboys 27-26 on a late field goal.
Look for the Cardinals to continue their winning ways and finish the season at 6-10 with a win over the 49ers.
These two teams just aren't very good... and lucky for them, the season's over. The 49ers just fired Mike Singletary from his coaching position, which means they're hopefully going into Sunday's game with some spirit. I'll take the 49ers to win, but who knows what will happen when these two meet.
New York Giants (9-6) at Washington Redskins (6-9)
The Giants running game will be too much for the Redskins, who have been too up and down all season. New York needs this win to make the playoffs and they will get it.
New York embarrassed the 'Skins 31-7 in week 12. The G-Men need a win and a Packers loss to get in the playoffs, so expect a similar result in week 17. Washington looked good against Jacksonville last week, but I don't think they can stop the Giants running game.
This is a must win for the Giants, because after all, it's the only way they can make the playoffs. Even with the ‘Skins looking to play spoiler, the G-men defense is still pretty solid. But Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been making tons of mistakes lately and turning over the ball seems to be his specialty. Against the Packers last Sunday, Manning turned the ball over four times. If the Giants want to win, Eli's got to buckle up.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7) at Houston Texans (5-10)
Although they have a much better record, I'm predicting that the Jaguars will struggle without running back Maurice Jones Drew. With pretty much no hope for the playoffs, the Texans will win their last game of the season in week 17.
Without Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jags are a completely different team. Jacksonville couldn't find any kind of offensive rhythm against the Redskins last week without their star running back. The Texans lost, too, but got solid offensive performances out of Matt Schaub and Arian Foster. Houston wins and finished their season with a record of 6-10.
After somehow losing to the Redskins last week in a terrible showing, the Jags must beat Houston in order to have any hope of a playoff run. Houston, on the other hand, had a surprisingly bad year and is just playing for pride. I'll take the Jags—but honestly, this one could go either way.
St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9)
Plain and simply, the Seahawks play better at home than the Rams do on the road. Seattle pulls the win in week 17.
Yes, it's sad but true—after this game, a team without a winning record will not only get to the post-season, but will also get to host a playoff game. Even though the Rams have the best quarterback in the division, I'm taking the Seahawks, who are 4-3 at home, against St. Louis, who is 2-5 on the road.
I'll take the Rams to beat the Seahawks—even though it's in Seattle—because the Rams are an overall better team. Who would've thought they'd be in the playoff race with a rookie quarterback this year?
Melissa Haniff. Melissa loves music, One Tree Hill, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She is also a diehard Patriots, Red Wings, Pistons and University of Michigan fan...Go Blue! More »
Eli Schwadron. Eli (@eschwad) is a chill guy who likes to play basketball, watch TV and eat. More »
Blake Morgan-Gamber. Blake Morgan-Gamber is a rare specimen with two last names; she woos women and men alike with her fanciful features writing and sumptuous sports editing. But do not be lulled by this siren, though BMG is a creature of beauty, there's many amazing talents inside … More »