Christopher’s Picks: Week 17

One week left in the regular season and there is still plenty at stake for the postseason. I won’t even try to explain the possible playoff scenarios, so I’ll let NFL.com do it

Here’s the current playoff picture: http://www.nfl.com/playoffs/playoff-pictureicampaign=ATL_newsdriver

And here are the clinching scenarios: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000303368/article/2013-nfl-playoff-scenarios-for-week-17

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COVERAGE MAPS

As usual, both Fox and CBS get doubleheaders for Week 17. The CBS early game will be Baltimore-Cincinnati, while the Fox early game is — you guessed it — Washington and the New York Giants.

For the late games we have Buffalo-New England (CBS) and Green Bay-Chicago (Fox).

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Now let’s pick. Another 7-9 week moves my record for the season to 155-86. I’m saving my write-ups specifically for the games with playoff implications.

Tennessee over Houston

New York Giants over Washington

Detroit over Minnesota

Indianapolis over Jacksonville

Pittsburgh over Cleveland

The Steelers are finally hitting their stride, but it may be too little, too late at this point.

Miami over New York Jets

After an embarrassing shutout last week in Buffalo, the Dolphins have to win in order to make the postseason. I think they do it.

Cincinnati over Baltimore

I have much more faith in the Bengals here. Even with a defense decimated by injuries, they should be able to keep the average Ravens offense in check.

Carolina over Atlanta

It won’t be easy by any means, but this Panthers team is riding high and has finally figured out how to win close games. Good thing, because this will likely be another nail biter.

Denver over Oakland

The loss of Von Miller will be huge for the Broncos — in the postseason. They’ll still secure home field today.

New England over Buffalo

If you’re going to have a day without Devin McCourty, you would want it to come against Thad Lewis and the Bills passing game. The interesting matchup will be the underrated Bills defense against Tom Brady. They’ll need to pressure him early to have a chance here, but I think the Pats ultimately prevail.

New Orleans over Tampa Bay

It’s not exactly as simple as Saints on the road vs. Saints at home, but the differences are pretty vast. The Saints will win this one and hope for a Carolina loss.

San Diego over Kansas City

I had the Chargers in this one before news of the Kansas City inactives came out. No excuse for San Diego now.

Seattle over St. Louis

The difference between Arizona last week and St. Louis this week? I don’t see how the Rams offense generates any points in this environment. Seattle earns home field advantage at home today.

San Francisco over Arizona

I’m secretly hoping for a Cardinals win, because I want to see the best division in football get three playoff berths. But my gut says that San Francisco still wins on the road.

Chicago over Green Bay

Packers fans have to be stoked about this situation. Randall Cobb goes down in Week 6, followed by Aaron Rodgers in Week 9. The fact that they’re a win away from the playoffs is surprising, even for a team like theirs. So this week, they get both players back to face division rival Chicago for the division championship.

So why am I taking the Bears here? Well, the key matchup here will be how, specifically, Rodgers and Eddie Lacy perform against the Chicago defense, which has been pretty terrible all season. The health of Rodgers will still be a concern, but the real question is how well can he perform after missing seven games?

He’ll need to make an impact, because the Bears offense will be tough to contain. Playing without their own quarterback Jay Cutler for four games, backup Josh McCown stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. There was a hint of controversy when coach Marc Trestman decided to go back to Cutler after the injury, but I think both of their successes speak more to the weapons around them than their actual play.

And that’s what I think will be the difference. If Jay Cutler can limit the overthrows and turnovers (which should be easier with no Clay Matthews on the other side of the field), I believe that Chicago should win the division. But should Green Bay win, I’m more optimistic about their chances to make noise in the postseason.

Dallas over Philadelphia

It’s hard not to feel for Tony Romo this week. Say what you want about him in past seasons, but they wouldn’t be anywhere near playoff contention this season without him. And yes, their chances at victory suffer greatly without him.

But I actually think they end up winning here. The main reason being that it’s only one game. And any NFL team can win one game without their star quarterback. Now in order for them to do it, they’ll need to rely on running back Demarco Murray. He hasn’t been the focal point on offense thus far, but he’s still gone over 1,000 yards rushing while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. All eyes will be on him tonight (especially on the Eagles defense) and he has to deliver.

Chances are that the winner of this game will need 30+ points. Both defenses are pretty lackluster. For Dallas, I think that containing LeSean McCoy will be more important than getting to Nick Foles. McCoy is the biggest weapon the Eagles have on offense and his success is directly tied to that of Foles.

We’ve seen this movie so many times now, but I think the ending will be different this time.

Record (Week): 12-4

Record (Season): 167-90

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