Thursday, December 28, 2017

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 17

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Green Bay @ Detroit (-7½)

The Vikings shut out the Packers 16-0 at frigid Lambeau Field last Saturday night. Brett Hundley completed only 17-of-40 passes for 130 yards and 2 interceptions.

"Brett was off-target quite a bit," Mike McCarthy said. "He sailed a lot of passes way long. Much like his receivers, Brett was in 'over his head.' There's only one player on this team Brett can't 'overthrow,' and that's Aaron Rodgers."

The Lions, meanwhile, lost by a score of 26-17, and were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

"This game involves two teams with no chance of making the playoffs," Matthew Stafford said. "So, it's likely this game will go into 'over' time.

"I've now passed for at least 4,000 yards in seven consecutive seasons. Do I get a trophy for that? I hope so, because otherwise, I'll have nothing to show for it."

Detroit wins, 27-16.

Houston @ Indianapolis (-3½)

The Colts lost 23-16 to the Ravens last Saturday and fell to 3-12 on the year.

"Andrew Luck's trip to Europe seems to have done him some good," Chuck Pagano said. "Colts management seems to think it will do the same for me, because they want me as far from Indianapolis as possible."

The Texans lost 34-6 to Pittsburgh on Christmas Day. T.J. Yates struggled at quarterback for Houston with 2 turnovers, and was frustrated with concussion protocol procedures that kept him out of the game for 30 minutes.

"Texans quarterbacks haven't had good luck in concussion protocol this year," Yates said. "I asked fellow quarterback Tom Savage on his opinion of concussion protocol, and he say he 'couldn't remember a recent time in history.' I thought he was going to complete that thought, but he never did."

Colts win, 24-17.

Buffalo @ Miami (+2½)

The Dolphins lost 29-13 at Kansas City and fell to 6-9 on the season.

"Sometimes" Adam Gase said, "you just need someone to be a hero and make a play. That's one thing this team has lacked this year — a hero. There's been no hero, and no 'heroine' for that matter, but there has been cocaine. When people say 'there's a line outside Hard Rock Stadium,' it has absolutely nothing to do with attendance."

The Bills hung with the Patriots well into the third quarter before New England scored 24 unanswered points in a 37-16 loss. Buffalo briefly took a 17-13 second quarter lead before replay officials overturned an apparent TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin.

"The Patriots sure seem to benefit a lot from overturned touchdown calls," Tyrod Taylor said. "It could just be plain old good luck. Maybe the Patriots have a rabbit's foot, or the NFL's ear. Even our team owner, Terry Pegula, agrees that the NFL's catch rules need fixing, and he knows nothing about football."

Buffalo wins, 23-20.

Chicago @ Minnesota (-12½)

The Vikings shut out the Packers 16-0 at Lambeau Field. Minnesota is 12-3, and can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win over the Bears.

"It was freezing at Lambeau," Case Keenum said. "Temperatures there made you want to say 'BRR.' Aaron Rodgers being placed on injured reserved for the second time made some want to say 'IRR.'"

The Bears beat the Browns 20-3 and are now 5-10. Jordan Howard rushed 2 touchdowns and the Chicago defense forced 3 turnovers.

"I'll give the Browns this," Howard said. "They've got a lot of 'hap.' In other words, they're 'hapless.'

"We think we're in good position for the 2018 season. Especially if John Fox soon makes a guest appearance on the hit TV show 'Chicago Fire.'"

Minnesota wins, 27-11.

New York Jets @ New England (-16½)

The Patriots ran away from the Bills in the second half on their way to a 37-16 win. Dion Lewis rushed for 129 yards and a score, and also added a receiving score.

"Once again," Tom Brady said, "we we aided by an overturned touchdown call. I repeat, we were aided by an overturned touchdown call. It's called the 'Patriot Way,' because overturned calls seem to benefit a 'Patriot way' too much."

"We signed James Harrison, who was recently released by the Steelers. James is well-known for his feats of strength in Pittsburgh, but he'll outdo all those by 'lifting the curtain' on the Steelers schemes, game plans, and secrets."

The Jets lost a defensive struggle to the visiting Chargers, 14-7. Bryce Petty struggled again, completing only 15-of-28 passes for 119 yards and an interception.

"I'm not sure Bryce is good enough to play in this league," Todd Bowles said. "A conservative estimate would be to say that 90% of the quarterbacks in this league are better than Bryce. So, if Bryce live on an island, it would be called 'Tenth Percent Isle.'"

Patriots win, 30-10.

Washington @ New York Giants (+4)

Kirk Cousins passed for 3 touchdowns in the Redskins 27-11 win over the Broncos.

"I hear the Broncos players were impressed," Cousins said. "Rumor has it Denver's looking for a quarterback. Not just during the offseason, but during games.

"These name change hoaxes are getting out of hand. First, someone tricked people into believing the Redskins were becoming the 'Redhawks.' Now, I hear there's a petition to rename the team the 'Skinflutes.'"

The Giants were shut out 23-0 by the Cardinals in Arizona and fell to 2-13, setting a franchise record for losses in a season.

"We were 'Razed in Arizona," Eli Manning said.

"Landon Collins called Eli Apple a 'cancer.' Landon also told Eli that the receiverS Eli guards don't have insurance, because they're 'not covered.'"

Washington wins, 24-14.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (+2½)

The Cowboys lost to the visiting Seahawks 21-12 and were officially eliminated from playoff contention. In his return from a six-game suspension, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 97 yards.

"A lot of people thought my return would be the boost we needed to make a run into the playoffs," Elliott said. "But alas, you can't have your cake and feed me, too.

"Jerry Jones has urged us to beat the Eagles. If we don't, we'll have an 8-8 record, and Jerry will be ridiculed for being a meddling owner of a middling team. Jerry said he has 'confidence' in Jason Garrett. That's 'Jerry speak' for 'let me check on Jon Gruden's availability.'"

The Eagles sputtered on offense, but still beat the visiting Raiders, 19-10, on Christmas night. Nick Foles was only 19-for-38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"Let's be clear," Doug Pederson said, "Nick is no Carson Wentz. Carson brings a lot more to the table. As nothing more than a serviceable backup, Nick brings more to the bench.

"I'm confident we can win in the playoffs with Nick. And I'm extremely confident Nick can get us to the second round."

Eagles win, 26-20.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-14)

The Browns remained winless with a 20-3 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.

"I may not have this job next year," Hue Jackson said. "When they hired me two years ago, the Browns organization really thought they had a winner. I don't think anyone in the NFL knows what is, but I am certainly not the definition of a 'catch.'

"We've sucked pretty badly this season. How bad, you may ask? Well, all the chrome on trailer hitches in and around Cleveland is nonexistent. And all golf balls have made their way through rubber hoses."

The Steelers hammered the Texans 34-6 on Christmas Day and clinched a first-round playoff bye.

"So, James Harrison is a Patriot now," Mike Tomlin said. "He's accustomed to playing outside linebacker, but I think the Pats will have him do an 'inside' job.

"Back in the 1800s in the Wild West, all the talk was about 'catching the outlaw Jesse James.' Now all the talk is about 'Jesse James outlawed catch.' I wrote a letter to the league complaining about that rule. I was pretty stern in my wording, but just in case they didn't get the message, I added 'P.S. B.S.'"

Steelers wins, 32-10.

Carolina @ Atlanta (-4)

Cam Newton's 2-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left gave the Panthers a crucial 22-19 win over the Buccaneers. Carolina clinched a playoff spot, and could win the NFC South with a win over Atlanta and a Saints loss to Tampa.

"I celebrated by simulating lighting a birthday candle for my 2-year-old son," Newton said. "His name is 'Chosen.' He'll soon be attending day care. Let me tell you, child care is not cheap. Especially for the day care center, when Chosen's grandfather is involved. He wants the day care center to pay him $180,000 for Chosen to attend.

"In other news, Jerry Richardson is taking bids on the team. If you're a prospective buyer, please correspond with Jerry via his secretary 'Miss Conduct.' The address is 'Donald Sterling East,' Charlotte, NC."

The Falcons lost 23-13 at New Orleans and now must beat the Panthers to make the playoffs.

"We've played ourselves into a must-win situation," Matt Ryan said. "And we'll go to any lengths to seize the victory. Who cares about 'set,' we want to get f'n 'into the playoffs.'

"You could say we've put ourselves behind the eight ball. But we can overcome. We've found inspiration in the 2016 Patriots. They were behind the '3-28 ball' and still came through."

Atlanta wins, 27-21.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-9½)

The Ravens moved one step closer to a playoff berth with a 23-16 win over the visiting Colts last Saturday night. Baltimore can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Sunday.

"The league pushed back kickoff from 1:00 to 4:25," John Harbaugh said, "and I'm not too happy. We're concerned the late start may interfere with fans' New Year's plans. I think the fans should just ring in the New Year at M&T Bank Stadium. Or at least pretend, too. It's easy. After all, watching the Ravens for three hours feels like eight."

The Bengals upset the Lions, 26-17, as Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs.

"What do you know?" Marvin Lewis said. "I was present when a team was eliminated from the playoffs.

"This is my last game as head coach. Hopefully, my team can send me off with a win. If that happens, once again, I can say, 'won and done.'"

Ravens win, 23-16.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (+7)

The Saints beat the visiting Falcons 23-13 at the Superdome and can now clinch the NFC South with a win or a Panthers loss.

"I became only the third quarterback to pass for 70,000 yards," Brees said. "Only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are ahead of me. I should pass those guys next year, and when I do, I'll celebrate by sending a picture of my junk to Favre, and saying 'send a picture of my junk' to Manning in the tune of the 'Nationwide is on your side' jingle."

Saints win, 26-21.

Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-4)

The Jaguars lost 44-33 at San Francisco, as Blake Bortles threw 3 interceptions.

"Despite what Jadeveon Clowney says," Doug Marrone said, "Blake Bortles is not trash. On the contrary, Blake's been the best quarterback in the month of December. That is, up until his performance in San Francisco. So, if you take Blake's good games and bad games and mash them together, you get 'hot garbage.'

The Titans fell short in their bid to upset the visiting Rams, falling 27-23. Despite a three-game losing streak, Tennessee still holds the No. 6 and clinches a playoff spot with a win.

"We may be losing," Mike Mularkey said, "but we're not losing sight of the playoffs. They must be in our rear-view mirror, because we're backing our way there."

Tennessee wins, 26-17.

Kansas City @ Denver (-3)

The Broncos lost 27-11 at Washington and are now 5-10.

"We still have the second-ranked defense in the league," Von Miller said. "So, despite our record, our defense is still great. We're more than just a 'D'; we're a 'D plus.' Our offense, on the other hand, is a 'D minus.'"

The Chiefs beat the Dolphins 29-13 at Arrowhead Stadium and clinched the AFC West title.

"You probably saw me do the post-game press conference dressed as Santa Claus," Andy Reid said. "And before you go making any jokes about my weight, please be aware, I've heard 'bowlful of jelly' plenty of times. And I've also tasted them plenty, as well.

"Now, I can't speak for Santa, but I've heard that Marcus Peters was simultaneously on the 'naughty' and 'nice' lists."

Broncos win, 27-22.

Oakland @ Los Angeles Chargers (-7)

The Chargers beat the Jets 14-7 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. San Diego can secure a wildcard berth with a win over the Raiders, a Titans loss to the Jaguars, and a Ravens win over the Bengals.

"We can only do our part," Philip Rivers said. "Hopefully, fans will come out and support us. Of course, it would really suck if we win, but still miss the playoffs. That way, a 'half-filled' stadium would witness our 'half-fulfilled' playoff hopes."

Chargers win, 27-17.

San Francisco @ Los Angeles Rams (-4)

The Rams clinched the NFC West crown with a 27-23 win at Tennessee. Todd Gurley rumbled for 276 total yards and 2 touchdowns, bolstering his case for league MVP.

"Todd won lots of people their fantasy leagues," Sean McVay said. "And did you see how many Titans he leapt over? It was amazing. In case you didn't know, Todd was a world-class hurdler in high school. That hurdling ability may be useful when it comes to the vote for MVP, because Todd will have to jump through hoops to beat Tom Brady.

"Jeff Fisher said he 'left the Rams in good shape' when he was fired last year. If you remove the 'in good shape' from that sentence, then Fisher's statement is accurate."

49ers win, 27-24.

Arizona @ Seattle (-7)

Russell Wilson passed for 2 scores and the Seahawks beat the Cowboys, 21-12, to keep their playoff hopes alive. If Seattle beats Arizona and the Panthers beat the Falcons, Seattle is in the playoffs,

"We were fined $100,000 by the league for violating the concussion protocol," Pete Carroll said. "If you think we're not stunned by this, you need to have your head examined.

"After the game, Earl Thomas expressed his desire to play for the Cowboys after his contract is up in Seattle. I guess this is what people mean when they say Earl has 'range.'"

The Cardinals shut out the visiting Giants, 23-0, powered by a big game from Larry Fitzgerald, who had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.

"I'm not sure where Larry will be next year," Bruce Arians said, "but I know he will one day be in the Hall Of Fame. Larry may be the most respected player to ever suit up, and is a fan favorite of everyone. Even Pope Francis says Larry is his favorite 'Cardinal.'"

Seahawks win, 26-16.

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