Storylines: It all comes down to this, the final week of the 2012 regular season. In the AFC conference, all the playoff spots have been finalized, now it’s up to the top seeded teams to solidify a bye week. In the NFL however it is a little more complicated, the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Redskins are the last remaining teams looking for a playoff spot, which can only be occupied by two of the four teams. This will certainly be a memorable end to a very unusual but entertaining 2012 NFL season.
For the Chicago Bears it all comes down to this game against the Detroit Lions. What’s at stake for the Bears team is not just a playoff spot, but the future of head coach Lovie Smith. As well the Bears are going to need some help to clinch a playoff spot, namely if Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers, are able to contain Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.
The objective is clear; win and you’re in. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are set to visit Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in a game that will decide who takes the last playoff spot. To many, this game could represent a defining moment in the career of Romo, whom has not proven at this point that he can take his team to the next level. Without question we may be seeing the most intense and dramatic game of the 2012 NFL season; the stakes do not get any higher than this!
The most heartwarming story of the year has been head coach Chuck Pagano, who is set to make his return to the sidelines after two months of cancer treatment. He and his Indianapolis Colts are set to face the Houston Texans, who are playing for a bye week in the playoffs. But above all things, the return of Pagano is the aspect that will draw and emotional response by everyone, as he represents a reminder that there are more important things in life than the game he coaches.
For Eli Manning and the New York Giants to clinch a playoff birth, they are going to need plenty of help. A victory against the Philadelphia Eagles will not be enough, the need Cowboys to lose or tie their game and in addition, they will need both the Vikings and Bears to lose their respective games. At this point it is seemingly a long shot for the Giants to make the playoff and attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but even if the chance is slim, expect the Giants to bring their best performance to the table on Sunday.
NFL Week 17 Score Predictions
* – denotes Bold Prediction of the Week
Buccaneers vs. Falcons – I strongly believe that Josh Freeman and his team are just anxious for this disappointing season to come to an end.
Bills vs. Jets – The Jets have enough problems already, but starting Mark Sanchez just adds to it.
Ravens vs. Bengals – Unfortunately for Andy Dalton, he has been turnover happy the last few weeks, I expect the Ravens defense to take advantage of this.
Bears vs. Lions – The key is containing the best wide receiver in the NFL Calvin Johnson. I believe the Bears defense will neutralize him enough in this game to make him ineffective.
*Texans vs. Colts – The effect that coach Pagano’s presence will have on his Colts, I believe is going to drive this team to defeat this titan of a team in the Texans. It will not be easy, but I can see it happening.
Panthers vs. Saints – Drew Brees vs Cam Newton, in this case I believe Drew will come out on top.
Eagles vs. Giants – When the stakes are high, Eli Manning and his Giants rise to the occasion.
Browns vs. Steelers – Despite a season that did not meet coach Tomlin’s standards, the Steelers have too much pride to let this game slide in order to move up in the 2013 draft.
Jaguars vs Titans – Believe it or not, the Jaguars have more offensive tools than they really know, definitely more than the Titans.
Chiefs vs. Broncos – Even if the Broncos decide to rest Payton Manning and all their starters, I still believe they as talented as any team in the NFL.
Packers vs. Vikings – I don’t think any team in the NFL has an answer for Adrian Peterson, as was the case with the Texans last week. I believe he will have a monster game, and perhaps come close to breaking the single season rushing record.
Dolphins vs. Patriots – Since a playoff bye is at stake, I see coach Belichick activate Tom Brady and the rest of the starters in order to win this game.
Raiders vs. Chargers – Not much to say here, the Chargers do have Philip Rivers.
Rams vs. Seahawks – Right now the hottest team in the NFL is Seattle. Their ability to score massive amounts of points while relegating other teams to very few is what sets them apart.
Cardinals vs. 49ers – Just as is the case with the Buccaneers, I believe Arizona is just anxious to have this season come to an end.
Cowboys vs. Redskins – In a game which I personally dub will be the best game of the 2012 regular season, I believe that Robert Griffin III will rise to the occasion, and make life difficult for DeMarcus Ware and his defense.