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#416959 - 12/28/18 07:50 PM NFL Week 17
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Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants


The Dallas Cowboys have won six of their last seven games to capture the NFC East title and return to the postseason for the second time in three years. Locked in as the fourth seed in the NFC, the Cowboys may get a bit creative with their lineup in Sunday's regular-season finale against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

"The overarching theme is really anyone who is healthy is going to play in the ballgame," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "Again, we're going to prepare the right way and go try to play the right way in New York on Sunday." Ezekiel Elliott (NFL-best 1,434 rushing yards) holds a 183-yard edge over Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley in his attempt to win a second league rushing title in three years. Fellow Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley (1,198) is next in line while his 1,886 scrimmage yards also have him third in the NFL, and 114 more on Sunday would allow him to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212, 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139, 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history. Barkley, who was the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, recorded 108 scrimmage yards (80 receiving, 28 rushing) in New York's 20-13 setback against Dallas on Sept. 16.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Giants -6 O/U: 41.5

ABOUT THE COWBOYS (9-6): Outspoken owner Jerry Jones let the cat out of the bag on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, telling the radio station that Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin will sit out the season finale due to a knee injury. Dak Prescott is on record as saying he'd like to play against the team that publicly announced that it had a better chance to win by forcing the quarterback to throw prior to the Week 2 meeting. Prescott threw for just 160 yards and a touchdown in that contest, but completed 20 of 25 passes with a scoring strike in Sunday's 27-20 win over Tampa Bay (as a -7 point favorite at intertops). In-season trade acquisition Amari Cooper, who was still with Oakland in the NFC East rivals' last encounter, needs just 26 yards receiving for his third career 1,000-yards campaign.

ABOUT THE GIANTS (5-10): While Elliott and Barkley presumably will serve as the marquee players in this rivalry for years to come, Eli Manning admitted this week that he's unsure if Sunday's game will be his last as New York's quarterback. "I don't know," the soon-to-be 38-year-old Manning said. "I have not gotten into that, or thought much about that. Just worried about doing my job and finishing this season." Coach Pat Shurmur announced the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback as the starter against the Cowboys despite the Giants being eliminated from postseason contention for the sixth time in seven years, although rookie Kyle Lauletta could be worked into the game. With star Odell Beckham Jr. (quad) expected to sit out his fourth straight contest, fellow wideout Sterling Shepard will bid to build off his six-catch, 113-yard performance in Sunday's 28-27 loss at Indianapolis.

EXTRA POINTS

1. New York TE Evan Engram has 14 receptions for 162 yards in his last two games after mustering 17 for 249 in his previous six contests combined.

2. Dallas K Brett Maher was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after booting two field goals and three extra points against the Buccaneers.

3. The Cowboys sacked Manning six times in the first meeting while the Giants were unable to record one on Prescott.

PREDICTION: Giants 24, Cowboys 14
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#416960 - 12/28/18 07:51 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs

After squandering chances to secure the AFC West title over the last two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs will try to lock down the top seed in the conference when they host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Chiefs can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win, but they could slide all the way to the No. 5 seed with a third consecutive loss.

Kansas City's four defeats have been by a total of 14 points, including a 29-28 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and a 38-31 setback at Seattle (as the Chiefs were -1 point favorite at intertops) over the last two weeks. The late slide has wiped out the Chiefs' margin for error, as they're tied with the Chargers - who wrap up the season at Denver on Sunday - but hold the tiebreaker in the race for the division title and top seed in the AFC. "I think everyone is excited for the opportunity to get to play a division opponent and a rival ... and to get to play it at Arrowhead," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes told reporters. "We want to make sure we get to stay here the rest of the way out. We know that if we can come together and play like we know we can, then we can make a run at this thing." The Raiders will try to play spoiler against a second straight division rival after their 27-14 win over Denver on Monday ensured the Broncos will have a losing record for the second year in a row.


TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chiefs -13.5 O/U: 52.5

ABOUT THE RAIDERS (4-11): Oakland won last week in spite of another sub-par effort from the league's 28th-ranked scoring offense, which totaled fewer than 300 yards for the sixth time this season. Derek Carr has had a decent season - he needs 136 passing yards for his first 4,000-yard campaign and has thrown 19 touchdown passes against eight interceptions - but the ground game is among the league's worst. Oakland's defense has had a rough season, especially against the run, but has played better of late and the secondary has been excellent over the last two games.


ABOUT THE CHIEFS (11-4): Kansas City's high-powered offense hardly has missed a beat since running back Kareem Hunt was released, as Damien Williams has picked up the slack to complement Mahomes and the league's best passing attack. Mahomes (4,816) is poised to surpass 5,000 passing yards and leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes - tied for the fourth-most in NFL history. Kansas City's defense is its biggest liability as the squad has struggled to stop both the run and the pass despite a strong pass rush led by Chris Jones, who has recorded a sack in an NFL-record 11 consecutive games.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (1,274) needs 54 receiving yards to break Rob Gronkowski's NFL record for a tight end set in 2011.

2. Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill (1,378) needs 14 receiving yards to eclipse the franchise mark set in 2000 by Derrick Alexander.

3. The Chiefs have won seven of the last eight meetings, including a 40-33 triumph at Oakland in Week 13.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 34, Raiders 23
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#416961 - 12/28/18 07:51 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints

Both teams had plenty for which to play when the New Orleans Saints visited the Carolina Panthers just two weeks ago. That has changed dramatically for the rematch in the regular-season finale on Sunday, as the host Saints are locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC while the Panthers are out of the running for the postseason.

It's unclear how much playing time will be given to the Saints' star performers - including Drew Brees, who needs eight passing yards to record his 13th consecutive 4,000-yard season. "Of course, I think efforts are going to be made to rest guys where appropriate and make sure that they are as healthy as they can be for when we're playing for keeps," Brees told reporters. "We can't move up or down in regards to our playoff position at this point. We're where we want to be, but we are going to play to win. So, whoever is out there, whenever they're out there, we're playing to win." If Brees plays at all, it likely won't be for the entire game, meaning backup Teddy Bridgewater would see his most meaningful action since 2015. The Panthers will employ their third different starting quarterback in three weeks, as Taylor Heinicke started in place of the injured Cam Newton last week but left with an elbow injury and was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Saints -8 O/U: 44.5

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (6-9): Carolina turned to undrafted rookie Kyle Allen when Heinicke was injured last week, and he's expected to make his first NFL start on Sunday, but the team also signed Garrett Gilbert on Wednesday. Whoever is under center will be operating behind an injury-riddled offensive line that could be without Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner (ankle). Carolina's secondary is suspect, and while the defense ranks 10th in the league against the run, the club has been gashed on the ground over the last three weeks.

ABOUT THE SAINTS (13-2): Coach Sean Payton has evaded questions about how much he will rest his starters, pointing out the complication of doing so with a 46-man roster. Brees is unlikely to play much, if at all, but running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram and wide receiver Michael Thomas are more likely to be involved in the offense, at least for a half. New Orleans' top-ranked run defense should be able to shut down a Carolina offense featuring an untested quarterback.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Kamara (18) is one touchdown away from setting the franchise record.

2. Thomas (1,376) needs 24 receiving yards to break Joe Horn's franchise record set in 2004.

3. Carolina's Christian McCaffrey leads all NFL running backs with 106 receptions and is the third player in history with 1,000 rushing yards and 100 catches in a season.

PREDICTION: Saints 23, Panthers 13
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#416962 - 12/28/18 07:52 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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New York Jets vs. New England Patriots


In a season in which they lost back-to-back games in December for the first time since 2002, the New England Patriots still can secure a first-round bye and have an outside chance at the top overall seed in the playoffs. New England has control of the first scenario, needing only to beat the visiting New York Jets on Sunday to earn a bye for the wild-card round.

The Patriots won five in a row and 14 of 16 against the Jets, including a 27-13 victory at New York on Nov. 25 (as the Patriots were -13 point favorite at intertops), but they know how high the stakes are Sunday. "Yes, this is as close as it can get to a playoff game for us, as it is during the regular season," tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "Every time we play the Jets, no matter what, at their place or here, it's always a challenge mentally and physically. They're always bringing it." New England is a perfect 7-0 at Gillette Stadium and has not lost to the Jets at home in the regular season since November 2008. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold missed the first matchup against the Patriots but has five touchdown passes and zero interceptions over the past two games.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -13.5 O/U: 44.5

ABOUT THE JETS (4-11): Darnold, the third overall pick in this year's draft, is coming off his best game in last week's 44-38 overtime loss to Green Bay, posting a 128.4 passer rating while throwing for three touchdowns and a career-high 341 yards. Robby Anderson has emerged as a weapon for Darnold since his return from injury, scoring a touchdown in each of the past three games and hauling in 20 passes for 312 yards. Running back Elijah McGuire, who spent more than half the season on injured reserve, also is providing a jolt out of the backfield by rushing for a touchdown in the last three games as well as catching a scoring pass against the Packers. New York ranks 26th in the league against both the pass (254.7 yards) and the rush (126.0).

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (10-5): Tom Brady threw for a season-worst 126 yards and was picked off twice in last week's 24-12 win over Buffalo, but New England leaned on the running game and churned out 273 yards rushing while possessing the ball for 35 1/2 minutes. Rookie running back Sony Michel registered his fourth 100-yard game overall and first since he piled up a season-high 133 yards yards and a touchdown in the win over New York last month. In the first game since wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended, Gronkowski was held without a catch for the first time this season, although he had three receptions for 56 yards and a score in the previous meeting. The Patriots have permitted 17 points or fewer in four of their past five games.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Brady has 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the past four at home versus New York.

2. Jets S Jamal Adams had 10 tackles last week and 10 versus New England last month.

3. Patriots WR Julian Edelman has at least 80 receiving yards in three straight games against the Jets.

PREDICTION: Patriots 27, Jets 20
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#416963 - 12/28/18 07:53 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins


The Philadelphia Eagles will have one eye on the field and another on the out-of-town scoreboard on Sunday during their season finale against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. In order for the Eagles to gain entry into the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title, they must defeat the Redskins and hope Minnesota falls short against Chicago.

"We're about to make a run. I feel like we're about to win this game and the universe is going to help us get this thing," Philadelphia defensive end Brandon Graham said. NFC Offensive Player of the Week Nick Foles did his part on Sunday, throwing for a franchise-record 471 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles posted their fourth win in five outings with a 32-30 victory versus Houston. Besieged by injury, Washington is headed in the other direction with losses in five of its last six while being held under 20 points in four straight following Saturday's 25-16 setback against Tennessee (as the Redskins were +12 point underdog at intertops). The ageless Adrian Peterson posted his 54th career triple-digit rushing performance (119) in that contest, although he fell two yards short of 100 on Dec. 3 despite rumbling for a 90-yard score in a 28-13 loss to Philadelphia.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Eagles -6.5 O/U: 42

ABOUT THE EAGLES (8-7): Pro Bowl selection Zach Ertz set a single-season record for most receptions by a tight end by increasing his season total to 113 with 12 for 110 yards and two touchdowns versus the Texans. The 28-year-old had nine catches against the Redskins earlier this month, boosting his reception total to 32 in his last four encounters versus the club. Wide receiver Golden Tate enjoyed his best performance with Philadelphia in the win over Washington, as he followed his seven-reception, 85-yard effort with eight grabs for 63 yards in his last three games combined. Veteran running back Darren Sproles joined Tate in finding the end zone against the Redskins to begin a stretch of three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in four games since returning from a hamstring injury.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (7-8): Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Deshazor Everett will start at safety against Philadelphia after Washington released Pro Bowl alternate D.J. Swearinger on Monday following his public comments criticizing defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. "We've had discussions before in the past obviously and it's my fault. Ultimately, it's my fault," coach Jay Gruden said. "Obviously, I didn't make it clear to certain people that we don't talk about our business to the media." Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson threw for just 153 yards against the Texans last week, with shifty slot receiver Jamison Crowder accounting for more than half that total (78). Tight end Jordan Reed, who leads the team in receptions (54) and receiving yards (558), was placed on injured reserve with an ailing foot on Thursday.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Washington LB Mason Foster leads the team with 123 tackles, although he registered a season low-tying five in this month's encounter with Philadelphia.

2. Eagles Pro Bowl T Fletcher Cox has 3.5 of his club-best 7.5 sacks in his last four contests.

3. Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan has collected four of his team-leading 12 sacks in the last three games.

PREDICTION: Eagles 20, Redskins 16
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#416964 - 12/28/18 07:54 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

It took the Green Bay Packers until Week 16 to finally win a game on the road, a big reason why the team will miss the postseason for the second straight year. Despite stellar numbers put up by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will have nothing on the line when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

Green Bay's lackluster season led to the dismissal of coach Mike McCarthy and reports out of Wisconsin say the team already has interviewed two candidates, but interim coach Joe Philbin is getting some in-house support from some key players. "I have zero clue, but I'd love for him to be," Packers wide receiver Davante Adams said of retaining Philbin. "I'd love if the search stopped there, just because he's aware of how I feel about him." There likely will be significant turnover during the offseason for Detroit, which has struggled through an injury-plagued campaign under first-year coach Matt Patricia. "Not focused on it at the moment. Focused on playing the Packers," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has led the Lions to three straight wins over Green Bay. "Figure all that stuff out when we get there."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Packers -8 O/U: 44.5

ABOUT THE LIONS (5-10): Offense, or a lack of, has been the biggest culprit for Detroit, which started October by rolling up at least 30 points in consecutive wins over Green Bay and Miami but has scored more than 20 only once in the nine games since. Stafford lost his top two wide receivers due to injury and trade, and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury, derailing an offense that has been limited to 17 points or fewer in five consecutive games. The lack of playmakers will likely end a streak of seven straight 4,000-yard seasons for Stafford, who has only three scoring passes in the last six games. Detroit has been fairly stout against the pass, ranking 10th with 231.3 yards per game allowed.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (6-8-1): Rodgers threw for 442 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two rushing scores in last week's 44-38 overtime win over the New York Jets (as a -3 point favorite at intertops), becoming the only quarterback in league history with multiple games of at least 400 yards with two TDs passing and rushing. Adams, who caught the winning scoring pass in overtime last week, has 111 receptions and needs two more to eclipse Sterling Sharpe's single-season franchise record. Jamaal Williams, back in the starting lineup due to a season-ending injury to fellow running back Aaron Jones, rushed for a touchdown and piled up 156 yards from scrimmage. Green Bay, which ranks 20th in the league against the run (119.2 yards), is tied for sixth in the NFL with 43.0 sacks.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Rodgers has 947 yards with 11 TDs and zero interceptions in the last three versus Detroit.

2. Stafford has 14 touchdowns and two picks in the past six matchups against Green Bay.

3. Adams has 29 catches and six touchdowns in his last four home games.

PREDICTION: Packers 26, Lions 20
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#416965 - 12/28/18 07:54 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans


The Houston Texans were in a position to clinch a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs and possibly the No. 1 overall seed before dropping two of their last three games. The Texans will try to clinch the AFC South and keep their hope of a bye alive when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Houston will clinch the AFC South with a win and can grab the No. 2 seed with a win and a loss by the New England Patriots, who close out the regular season by hosting the New York Jets. "You start off 0-3 and then then you're sitting here at 10-5 with a chance to win the division on Sunday," Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told reporters. "We've done a lot of good things over the course of those games since we were 0-3, but we have to make sure we do what we need to do to make sure that doesn't all go to waste. All the work that we put in over the last couple of months, we have to make sure that we make all of that work count. We have to go out there on Sunday and take care of our business and obviously, trying to do that moving forward." The Jaguars already clinched last place in the AFC South after reaching the AFC championship game last season and are reduced to the role of spoiler on Sunday. "The biggest thing is just being consistent and finishing strong, defensive end Calais Campbell told reporters. "They're playing to win the division. I don't like that. Not on my watch. If we can prevent it, we will."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Texans -6.5 O/U: 40.5

ABOUT THE JAGUARS (5-10): Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone benched quarterback Blake Bortles following a seven-game losing streak but will return him to the starting role Sunday after he came on in relief and led a field-goal drive at Miami last week. "It feels good anytime to play football when they let you play," Bortles told reporters. "I know for me at least I enjoy the hell out of getting to come to work every day and practice with these guys. This is our last week, our last opportunity to play a game together as this team. Nobody knows what's going to happen next year, so I think most importantly just enjoying this." The Jaguars averaged 11.3 points in the four games Cody Kessler started in place of Bortles.

ABOUT THE TEXANS (10-5): Houston suffered a 32-30 loss at Philadelphia last week (as a +2 point underdog at intertops), but it wasn't for lack of effort from quarterback Deshaun Watson, who wowed teammates and coaches with his performance. "He's just got incredible instincts, he sees things well, he hangs in there," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "The football field for him is heaven on Earth ... I think the ball in his hands is the best thing for our offense and for our football team, no doubt about it." Watson threw for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Eagles and rushed for two more scores, and he needs 69 passing yards on Sunday to reach 4,000 for the first time in his career.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Texans WR Demaryius Thomas was placed on IR Monday after suffering an Achilles injury last weekend.

2. Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. (quad) missed the last five games but is practicing this week and could play Sunday.

3. Houston took seven of the last nine in the series, including a 20-7 triumph at Jacksonville on Oct. 21.

PREDICTION: Texans 24, Jaguars 13
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#416966 - 12/28/18 07:55 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens


The Baltimore Ravens have put themselves in a great position with a late-season surge and can clinch the AFC North title with a victory when they host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Baltimore, which has won five of six contests following a three-game slide, also has an outside shot for a first-round bye.

The Ravens, who posted a 22-10 road victory over the playoff-bound Los Angeles Chargers last week (as the Ravens were +4 point underdog at intertops), also would claim the division crown should Pittsburgh lose to Cincinnati on Sunday. Baltimore would be wise, however, not to overlook the Browns, who ended a five-game losing streak in the all-time series with a 12-9 home triumph in Week Five. Cleveland has made a remarkable turnaround after going winless last season and 1-31 over its last two campaigns as it enters with a three-game winning streak and victories in five of its last six contests. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield continued to impress in last week's 26-18 triumph over the Bengals, completing 27-of-37 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -5.5 O/U: 41

ABOUT THE BROWNS (7-7-1): Mayfield, who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Cincinnati, has thrown 24 touchdown passes - the second-most by a rookie selected first overall in the common draft era. With three scoring tosses versus the Ravens, the 23-year-old will pass Peyton Manning (26 in 1998) for most in that category and surpass Manning and Russell Wilson for overall rookie record. Running back Nick Chubb is one of three NFL rookies (Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants and Denver's Phillip Lindsay) with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards (1,125) and 10 TDs (10) this season.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (9-6): Rookie Lamar Jackson may have a lock on Baltimore's starting quarterback job as he has led the team to five wins in six starts since taking over for the injured Joe Flacco. The 21-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner leads all NFL signal-callers with 605 rushing yards, including 466 in his starts. Baltimore owns the league's top-ranked overall defense (284.1 yards), is third in rushing defense (85.1) and fourth in passing defense (198.9).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Ravens LB Patrick Onwuasor was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after registering nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against the Chargers.

2. Chubb needs 28 yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

3. Baltimore K Justin Tucker is the first player in NFL history to convert at least 30 field-goal attempts in six consecutive seasons.

PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Browns 13
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#416967 - 12/28/18 07:55 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers


The Atlanta Falcons will try to end an otherwise disappointing season with a third straight win when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. A popular Super Bowl pick heading into the season after back-to-back playoff appearances, the Falcons were done in by a dismal five-game losing streak in the second half of the season as their usually potent offense began to fizzle.

"It's a fighting team: We didn't run away from nothing," star wideout Julio Jones told reporters. "We don't shy away from nothing. We had some mishaps this year; control what you can control. At the end of the day, we stuck together. You can't let outside noise affect us inside." Quarterback Matt Ryan has still had a stellar season throwing the ball and ranks third in the NFL with 4,546 passing yards, 398 shy of his career high. He threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a 34-29 win over Tampa Bay at home earlier in the season. That was part of a 1-7 stretch for Tampa Bay, which will be finishing up its second straight losing season under embattled third-year coach Dirk Koetter.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -1 O/U: 51

ABOUT THE FALCONS (6-9): Injuries have played a part in Atlanta's downfall this year, but they also opened up opportunities for others to step up, as evidenced by a 115-yard effort by little-used running back Brian Hill in last week's 24-10 victory at Carolina (as a -3 point favorite at intertops). "It was exciting," Hill told reporters of his breakout performance. "I was excited all week knowing I was going to get a chance to run the ball. I started out a little shaky out there, but I'm happy I could turn it around." Jones needs 11 catches to reach 700 for his career but has been hampered by hip and ribs injuries this week and is questionable for the finale.

ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (5-10): There has been increased scrutiny on Koetter as the losses have piled up, but quarterback Jameis Winston came to his coach's defense heading into the finale. "I've learned a lot from Coach Koetter," Winston, who threw for 336 yards and a TD in last week's 27-20 loss at Dallas, told reporters Thursday. "He's an incredible coach and he's an incredible man. He's helped develop me to do some incredible things as a quarterback. But at the end of the day, we've gotta focus on Atlanta." There have been reports that Koetter has clashed with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who reportedly wants to sign elsewhere this offseason.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has 1,418 receiving yards and needs just five more to pass Mark Carrier's franchise mark established in 1989.

2. Hill should get plenty of work once again with leading rusher Tevin Coleman still hampered by a groin injury.

3. Atlanta has won four straight meetings while averaging 33.8 points.

PREDICTION: Falcons 31, Buccaneers 26
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#416968 - 12/28/18 07:56 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills


The Miami Dolphins' fast start to the season was slowed by numerous injuries while the Buffalo Bills failed to get out of the blocks after ending a pronounced playoff drought last year. The AFC East rivals look to finish this season on a high note Sunday when they meet at New Era Field.

"We had a lot of good things going on, and we lost some players. It happens. It's the NFL," said Miami coach Adam Gase, who has watched 13 players land on injured reserve -- including several offensive stars. Gase was on record as saying the Dolphins' offense was "terrible," "awful" and "brutal to watch" following Sunday's 17-7 setback to Jacksonville (as the Dolphins were -3 point favorite at intertops) as the team failed to eclipse 200 yards for the fifth time this season. Miami was outgained 415-175 in total yards during its 21-17 home win over Buffalo on Dec. 2, with the Bills' point total eclipsing their season average (NFL second-worst 15.1 per game). Buffalo shot itself in the foot with three turnovers in that contest and again in Sunday's 24-12 setback to New England, marking the seventh time this season that the team gave the ball away that many times in a game.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bills -4.5 O/U: 39.5

ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (7-8): Ryan Tannehill could be in line to play in his last game with Miami as the 30-year-old will see his 2019 base salary balloon to $18.7 million, which is too steep a price in the eyes of many for a quarterback that has yet to receive a snap in the playoffs. "You have to control what you can control," Tannehill said. "If you play the what-if games, you're not going to be growing as a person and a player." Tannehill tossed three touchdown passes in the first encounter despite throwing for just 137 yards, although more eyes likely will be on Kalen Ballage as the rookie running back has rolled up 170 scrimmage yards and a rushing score in his last two weeks. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Robert Quinn has four of his team-leading 6.5 sacks in his last four games, including one against Buffalo.

ABOUT THE BILLS (5-10): Rookie Josh Allen threw for 231 yards and ran for 135 in the first meeting with Miami to set a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback for the second week in a row. The seventh overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Allen has rushed for at least one score in four straight home games and ranks second among quarterbacks with 536 rush yards. The ground attack has long been the specialty of six-time Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, who was benched to start last week's tilt versus the Patriots and could be playing in his last game with Buffalo on Sunday. The 30-year-old, who has been limited to just 488 rushing yards and two scores, has 360 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns in three career home games versus the Dolphins.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Buffalo WR Zay Jones has three of his club-best five touchdowns in his last four games.

2. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has five sacks in his last five meetings with the Bills.

3. Buffalo rookie LB Tremaine Edmunds has recorded 27 of his team-leading 109 tackles in his last three contests after collecting just four versus Miami.

PREDICTION: Dolphins 22, Bills 17
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#416969 - 12/28/18 07:56 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans


The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans will square off Sunday in Nashville with everything on the line. The winner will reach the playoffs and, if the Houston Texans lost at home to Jacksonville, would claim the AFC South title, while the loser goes home.

"One of the things I mentioned to the team today is, I said, 'Hey, guys, this is a playoff game. We've been in that mode since we were 1-5, so that's to our advantage,'" Colts head coach Frank Reich told the media. "We've been playing this kind of football. We've been having this kind of mentality, we were forced into it. That was the bad thing, but the good that comes out of it is we had to embrace that mindset and take hold of that mindset." Indianapolis is in this position because of an 8-1 surge that includes a 38-10 win over Tennessee at home Nov. 18 and a comeback 28-27 victory last week over the New York Giants (as the Colts were -10 point favorite at intertops). Meanwhile, the Titans have strung together four wins in a row while giving up an average of 11.8 points as they look to reach the playoffs for the second straight year. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is 10-0 against Tennessee and threw for three touchdowns in the rout of the Titans last month.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Colts -3 O/U: 43

ABOUT THE COLTS (9-6): Luck is second in the league in passing touchdowns with 36 and sixth in yards (4,308), but his top targets are banged up entering this one, with star wideout T.Y. Hilton intent on playing through an ankle injury. "I will tell you what, it's unbelievable what he's doing without practice," Reich told reporters of Hilton, who has scarcely practiced for several weeks due to various ailments but has played nine games in a row. "I just think very few players could do what he's doing. He has no mental errors when he goes out there. It's like he doesn't miss a beat." Tight end Eric Ebron (concussion/knee), who ranks third in the NFL in receiving TDs with 12, is questionable.

ABOUT THE TITANS (9-6): Quarterback Marcus Mariota returned to practice Thursday after being sidelined earlier in the week due to neck and foot injuries."He did some stuff just to make sure that we are progressing along. I think that's the most important thing," coach Mike Vrabel told reporters. "He didn't take reps that he would normally take, but he took enough to feel like we can move on to tomorrow." Regardless of the quarterback situation, the Titans will continue to rely on running back Derrick Henry, who has 532 rushing yards and eight TDs during the four-game winning streak.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Luck has averaged 265 passing yards and nearly two TDs per game in his 10 straight wins over the Titans.

2. Colts LB Darius Leonard leads the NFL with 155 tackles and needs six to set a franchise record for one season.

3. Mariota has just 198 total passing yards over the last two weeks and has not thrown a TD in 57 attempts over his last three games.

PREDICTION: Colts 24, Titans 21
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#416970 - 12/28/18 07:57 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers


The Pittsburgh Steelers put themselves in a position to have to root for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, though it won't matter at all if they can't take care of their own business. The Steelers will try to earn a win and keep their playoff hopes alive when they host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Pittsburgh needs a win and for the Browns to top the Baltimore Ravens on in Week 17 in order to win the AFC North and advance to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season, though a win and a tie between Tennessee and Indianapolis would get it into the postseason as well as a wild-card team. "With the way (the season) has gone, it's a little deflating. But at the end of the day, it's not over. We realize that, too," Steelers guard David DeCastro told reporters. "You just have to know there's a chance. As bad as you feel now, you'll feel worse if Baltimore loses and you lose, too." The Bengals dropped six of their last seven games to fall out of the playoff race and clinch their first last-place finish in the AFC North since 2010 but intend to close the season strong. "Any time we play the Steelers or any division opponent, it's a big game for us, and we understand that," Cincinnati quarterback Jeff Driskel told reporters. "We also understand that it's our last opportunity this year, so we want to go out on a high note."

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -14.5 O/U: 45.5

ABOUT THE BENGALS (6-9): Cincinnati started out 4-1 before injuries sapped the offense of its effectiveness, leading to losses in eight of the last 10 contests and a season outside the playoffs. "It sucks. It pisses me off," tight end C.J. Uzomah told reporters. "When you go through OTAs, minicamp, camp, the ins and outs and the grind of a season, of a year, to not be in a position to get in the playoffs is one thing, but to be last in the division is another. I have a bad taste in my mouth and hopefully next week I can at least (get rid) of a little bit of that." The bright spot on offense is running back Joe Mixon, who leads the AFC in rushing with 1,063 yards.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (8-6-1): Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is leading the NFL in passing at 4,842 yards and has two solid weapons in receivers Antonio Brown (1,297 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (1,389). The two became the fifth duo in NFL history to each amass over 100 catches and 1,200 yards in last week's 31-28 loss at New Orleans (as the Steelers were +6.5 point underdog at intertops). "We're not a bad team. We're a really good team," guard Ramon Foster told reporters. "We've got a lot of offensive tools. We have a Hall of Fame quarterback who's pretty damn good, also. To say we're nervous about being down, it's never that. We just need time and opportunity. You've got to come to work and control what we can control. It's not a matter of feeling sorry. It's a matter of, we kind of caused it and we've got to live with it."

EXTRA POINTS

1. Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict is in the concussion protocol after suffering the seventh known concussion of his career last week.

2. Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) sat out the last three games but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and could return this week.

3. Pittsburgh is riding a seven-game winning streak in the series - including playoffs - and earned a 28-21 win at Cincinnati on Oct. 14.

PREDICTION: Steelers 31, Bengals 21
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#416971 - 12/28/18 07:57 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have a chance to determine their own fate when they host the NFC North-champion Chicago Bears on Sunday in a battle between two of the NFL's top defensive teams. Minnesota, which ranks third in overall defense (308.2 yards), can clinch a wild card with a victory - or a tie - against its long-time division rival.

The Vikings, who also would qualify for the playoffs with a loss or tie by Philadelphia against Washington on Sunday, have posted back-to-back victories following a swoon during which they dropped three of four contests. That stretch began with a 25-20 road loss in Week 11 to Chicago, which will secure a first-round bye with a win over Minnesota and a loss to San Francisco by the Los Angeles Rams. The Bears enter their regular-season finale having posted three straight victories and eight in their last nine contests, including a 14-9 road triumph over the 49ers last week (as the Bears were -3 point favorite at intertops). Chicago possesses the league's fourth-best defense (308.7 yards) and ranks second against the run (81.1).

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Vikings -4.5 O/U: 40.5

ABOUT THE BEARS (11-4): Mitchell Trubisky has gained 405 yards on the ground this season to join Houston's Deshaun Watson as the only quarterbacks in the league with at least 400 rushing yards and a passer rating of over 95 (96) in 2018. Linebacker Khalil Mack has registered a team-high 12.5 sacks, marking the fourth consecutive season he has reached double digits. Tarik Cohen leads all NFL running backs with seven receptions of at least 25 yards and tops the league with 413 punt-return yards.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (8-6-1): Adam Thielen made five catches for 80 yards in last week's 27-9 win at Detroit to join Rod Smith and Wes Welker as the only undrafted players in the common draft era with at least 100 receptions (110) and 1,300 receiving yards (1,335) in a season. Thielen and Stefon Diggs can become the first wide receiver teammates in NFL history to each record 100 catches and 10 TDs in a season as the former needs one score while the latter is six receptions and two touchdowns shy. Kirk Cousins has completed over 400 passes (405) for the second time in his career and thrown for at least 4,000 yards (4,166) in four straight campaigns.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Bears are the only team to hold a second-half lead in every game this season and lead the league in fewest first-half points allowed (93).

2. Diggs needs 26 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career.

3. Chicago tops the NFL with 107 points off takeaways - a category in which it also leads the league with 36.

PREDICTION: Bears 24, Vikings 20
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#416972 - 12/28/18 07:58 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos


The Los Angeles Chargers will either be the top seed or No. 5 in the AFC playoffs, and the positioning will be determined when they visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The Chargers can earn AFC West title and the No. 1 seed if they defeat the Broncos and Kansas City stumbles against Oakland.

Los Angeles missed an opportunity to be in the driver's seat in the AFC when it lost to Baltimore last week and Philip Rivers is striving to make sure there's not a second straight misstep. "First and foremost, Coach (Anthony Lynn) made it dead clear, we just worry about us," Rivers told reporters. "Worry about us. It's nice to be in a Week 17 game and not having to worry about everybody else and us. We know we get a game the following weekend. Where? Who knows or how it all shakes out." The Broncos have lost three straight games and second-year coach Vance Joseph is expected to be dismissed on Monday. "I haven't heard anything or talked about anything," defensive end Adam Gotsis told the Denver Post regarding Joseph's situation. "I'm worrying about playing the Chargers. I'm not worrying about who's going to be here - coaches, players, whatever. That's for after the season to talk about."

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chargers -6.5 O/U: 41.5

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (11-4): Rivers passed for a season-worst 181 yards and was intercepted twice in the 22-10 loss to the Ravens (as a -4 point favorite at intertops) but did push his yardage total to 4,132 as he topped 4,000 for the sixth straight year and 10th time in his career. Wide receiver Keenan Allen (1,132 yards) is seven receptions away from reaching 100 for the second straight season and is over 1,000 yards for the third time in his career. Safety Derwin James is in the mix for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with a team-best 103 tackles to go with 3.5 sacks and is tied for the team lead with second-year cornerback Desmond King at three interceptions apiece.

ABOUT THE BRONCOS (6-9): Royce Freeman (461 yards) and Devontae Booker (169) will split the ball-carrying duties against the Chargers after rookie Phillip Lindsay (1,037) injured his wrist during Monday's loss to Oakland and will require surgery. "The chances he's gotten, he's run downhill," Joseph told reporters of Freeman, a third-round draft pick. "He breaks tackles, he catches the ball and he's good in protection. Phillip's been so good, he's gotten less and less chances, but Royce has been Royce." Pass rushers Von Miller (tied for third in the NFL with 14.5 sacks) and Bradley Chubb (NFL rookie-high 12) have been superb for a defense that has forced 24 turnovers (15 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Broncos have won three of the last four meetings, including a 23-22 road triumph on Nov. 18.

2. Los Angeles reserve RB Austin Ekeler (neck/concussion) is expected to play after missing the last two games.

3. Denver QB Case Keenum (3,598 yards) hasn't reached 300 yards in any of his last nine games after doing so in three of his first six contests.

PREDICTION: Chargers 31, Broncos 24
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#416973 - 12/28/18 07:59 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks


The Seattle Seahawks have clinched an NFC wild-card berth due to a strong second-half sprint, but they have more for which to play when they host the woeful Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Seattle is looking to record its sixth win in seven games, and a triumph would allow it to claim the No. 5 seed in the postseason.

The Seahawks are looking to reach the 10-win mark for the sixth time in seven seasons, and coach Pete Carroll was rewarded with an extension through the 2021 campaign earlier this week. "He's one of the best in the league, and he's really good for this city, really good for this team, and guys love playing for him," Seattle outside linebacker K.J. Wright told reporters. "He earned it, and I'm happy for him." Arizona, which has lost six of its last seven games, owns the worst record in the NFL and would receive the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft with another defeat. Sunday's contest could be the final one for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has 1,299 catches for 16,243 yards and 115 touchdowns in 15 NFL seasons.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Seahawks -13 O/U: 38.5

ABOUT THE CARDINALS (3-12): Safety D.J. Swearinger is back with Arizona for a second tour of duty after being waived by Washington for criticizing the methods of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky following Saturday's loss to Tennessee. "Definitely didn't think it would cost my job knowing that me and the coach had an understanding, but it is what it is," Swearinger, who had a stellar 2016 season for the Cardinals before departing as a free agent, told reporters. "Everything happened for a reason. I'm happy it happened and ready to move forward." Quarterback Josh Rosen (10 touchdowns, 14 interceptions), who has admitted he has hit the "rookie wall," made the first start of his inconsistent campaign against the Seahawks in Week 4 - when he passed for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 loss.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (9-6): Russell Wilson is enjoying a stellar campaign with 3,296 passing yards and 34 touchdowns against six interceptions, but running back Chris Carson (1,029 yards) also has been a difference-maker while registering the first 1,000-yard season of his career. "He was the most well-conditioned guy that showed up when we returned in April," Carroll told reporters. "There was nobody that was more fit. Nobody was more ready for the work. I don't know how he did it, but he's just unbelievable, that commitment that he has, and it carried through the whole season." Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is thriving with a team-leading 126 tackles and has made 12 or more in five of his last eight contests.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Cardinals have won four of their last five visits to Seattle.

2. The Seahawks have committed a league-low 10 turnovers, and a mistake-free performance on Sunday will allow them to tie the 2010 New England Patriots and 2011 San Francisco 49ers for the NFL record.

3. Arizona has been outscored 88-26 over its last three games.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 9
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#416974 - 12/28/18 07:59 PM Re: NFL Week 17 [Re: FREAK]
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San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams


After dropping back-to-back games to lose their chance at the top seed and home-field advantage through the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams got back on track by beating up on NFC West rival Arizona a week ago. The Rams can still secure a first-round bye for the playoffs by completing a season sweep of the visiting San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Los Angeles, which halted a two-game slide with a 31-9 victory over the Cardinals (as the Rams were -14 point favorite at intertops), can wrap up the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a victory over the 49ers. "It's very important for us to come out ready to go," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "We know that if we're able to do that, then that means that we get a first-round bye." Running back Todd Gurley scored three touchdowns in a 39-10 win at San Francisco in Week 7, but he may be unavailable for the rematch against the 49ers, who had a two-game winning streak halted in last week's 14-9 loss to Chicago. San Francisco routed Los Angeles in the 2017 regular-season finale, but the Rams had already wrapped up a playoff berth and sat a number of starters.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Rams -10 O/U: 48.5

ABOUT THE 49ERS (4-11): Backup C.J. Beathard was under center in the last meeting against the Rams, but San Francisco is down to third-stringer Nick Mullens, who has acquitted himself well in his rookie campaign with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions despite myriad injuries at running back and wide receiver. One constant for the 49ers has been tight end George Kittle, who has 79 receptions for 1,228 yards and burned Los Angeles with five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in October. "His production speaks for itself. He's an incredible player," McVay said. "He's certainly earned that Pro Bowl invitation, and he's a guy we've got to be aware of, for sure." San Francisco has surrendered an average of 17 points over the past three games.

ABOUT THE RAMS (12-3): Jared Goff struggled mightily in consecutive losses to Chicago and Seattle, tossing five interceptions and failing to throw for a touchdown, but he was an efficient 19 of 24 for 216 yards and a scoring pass in last week's victory. Newly signed C.J. Anderson got the start at running back last week and rumbled for 167 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, but he cannot provide the overall production of Gurley, who has accounted for 21 touchdowns and 1,831 yards from scrimmage. Goff has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Roberts Woods and Brandin Cooks, who have combined for 159 receptions and nine scores. Aaron Donald has set an NFL record for defensive tackles with 19.5 sacks and needs three more to tie the NFL mark held by Michael Strahan.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Goff has 2,538 passing yards and 18 touchdowns in seven home games.

2. 49ers RB Matt Breida (ankle) and WR Dante Pettis (MCL) will sit out Sunday's game.

3. Donald can join Reggie White as the only players since 1982 with eight multiple-sack games.

PREDICTION: Rams 30, 49ers 19
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