NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 17

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Atlanta @ Buffalo (-14½)

The Bills avenged their Week 15 loss to the Patriots with a 33-21 win at Gillette Stadium. Josh Allen passed for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns, as Buffalo reclaimed the lead in the AFC East.

"Josh was great," Sean McDermott said, "but our defense deserves all the credit. We knew if we could pressure Mac Jones, he would be uncomfortable. As famed New Englander Paul Revere might have said about Mac, 'The skittish are coming! The skittish are coming!'

"As you might know, Cole Beasley has been fined over $100,000 this season for COVID protocol violations. Apparently, Cole will go to great lengths to make the statement that 'nothing can cover me.' There are linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties who would vehemently disagree."

The Falcons beat the Lions 20-16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and improved to 7-8.

"In another time," Matt Ryan said, "this could be a preview of the Super Bowl in which both teams lose. But Atlanta's only lost two Super Bowl, plus, the Bills lost Super Bowl XXVII by 35 points, which was 10 more points than the third quarter lead we blew in Super Bowl LI. And making that statement just made me feel even worse about that Super Bowl LI loss."

Buffalo wins, 31-24.

NY Giants @ Chicago (-5½)

The Bears upset the Seahawks 25-24 in Seattle, winning on a successful two-point conversion after Nick Foles' TD pass to Jimmy Graham late in the fourth quarter.

"That was a gutsy call by Matt Nagy," Foles said. "I think we're all looking for more of that. Not gutsy calls necessarily from Matt Nagy, but gutsy calls from management.

"I know that Justin Fields is the future of the Bears. He's the face of the franchise; Nagy is the ass of the franchise. Unfortunately, Matt's got two more games to convince Bears management he should keep his job. On the bright side, however, he's got two more games to make management feel even more confident in their decision to fire him on January 10th, a decision that was made months ago."

The Eagles blasted the Giants 34-10 in Philadelphia, led by an overwhelming defense that troubled third-string quarterback Jake Fromme. Fromme was benched for Mike Glennon in the third quarter.

"Getting benched for Mike Glennon can't be good for Jake's confidence," Joe Judge said. "Being the backup to Jake can't be good for Mike's confidence."

Bears win, 23-13.

Kansas City @ Cincinnati (+4½)

The Chiefs walloped the Steelers, 36-10, as Patrick Mahomes passed for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns. The victory clinched K.C.'s sixth consecutive AFC West title.

"We're headed to Cincy to find out if the Bengals are for real," Mahomes said. "In other words, we'll find our, for real, 'Who dey are.'"

The Bengals hammered the short-handed Ravens 41-21 at Paul Brown Stadium and took over sole possession of the AFC North. Joe Burrow passed for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns.

"Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said it was 'too early for a gold jacket,'" Burrow said. "I used that as motivation, and instead of saying something I would regret, like 'For Wink Martindale, it's never too early for breakfast,' I went out and torched his defense. Just look at my numbers. They're numbers even a game show contestant would be proud of.

"Now that we're in first place, we can set our minds to our next task, which is blowing the division lead. That pretty much sums up AFC North football — nobody wants the division title, except the team that meets them in the playoffs."

Chiefs win, 34-31.

Arizona @ Dallas (-4½)

The Cardinals lost their third straight, falling 22-16 to the visiting Colts on Christmas night. Just a few weeks ago, Arizona was the NFC's top seed; now, they're a game behind the Rams in the NFC West.

"We're heading in the wrong direction," Kliff Kingsbury said. "But maybe not, because if we keep losing, we could be headed back to Dallas for a Wild Card round game.

"The Kurt Warner story, 'American Underdog,' was just released in theaters. The story of Kyler Murray trying to unload a pass from the end zone after a fumble is called 'American Underhand.'"

The Cowboys demolished Washington 56-14 on Sunday night, led by Dak Prescott's 4 passing touchdowns. Dallas had already clinched the NFC East due to Las Vegas's win over Denver earlier on Sunday.

"We feel like this is our year," Mike McCarthy said. "It's been too long since the Cowboys have won a Super Bowl. We're gonna change that. We want to do it for ourselves, for the fans, and mostly, for Jerry Jones. We want nothing more than for Jerry to die happy, before he dies in his sleep."

Cowboys win, 27-24.

Miami @ Tennessee (-3½)

The Titans overcame a slow start and recovered to beat the visiting 49ers 20-17 on Thursday night. A.J. Brown had 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown to help put the Titans in second in the AFC playoff standings.

"When A.J. is healthy," Mike Vrabel said, "he's a game-changer. When he's not healthy, it's for about 10-12 weeks, which all fall generally between the months of September and December.

"We're currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC. If we win out, and some things go in our favor, we could be the No. 1 seed. With that No. 1 seed, we would get a first-round bye. With that No. 2 seed, we could very well get a second-round 'bye.'"

The Dolphins beat the depleted Saints 20-3 on Monday night at the Caesars Superdome. Miami's defense forced 2 turnovers and sacked Ian Book 8 times.

"That's seven straight wins," Brian Flores said. "That's impressive. It's even more impressive if you can ignore the seven-game losing streak that preceded it.

"Just think, if those seven loses were somehow wins, we'd be undefeated, and the surviving members of the 1972 Dolphins would find themselves in an awkward position, more so than the awkward position caused by debilitating back pain. But that's a big if. What else is a big if? The surviving members of that team remembering 1972."

Tennessee wins, 23-20.

Las Vegas @ Indianapolis (-7½)

The Colts defense shut down Kyler Murray in a 22-16 win over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Murray was held to just 1 touchdown, and the Colts remained one game behind the Titans in the AFC South race.

"Carson Wentz tested positive for COVID on Tuesday," Frank Reich said. "Being that Carson is unvaccinated, no one on this team tested positive for 'surprise.'"

Colts win, 26-22.

Jacksonville @ New England (-14½)

The Patriots lost 33-21 at home to the Bills and fell from the lead in the AFC East. Mac Jones struggled, completing only 14-of-32 passes for 145 yards and 2 interceptions.

"Mac threw the ball over 10 times more than he did in our first game with Buffalo," Bill Belichick said. "And the results were 10 times worse."

The Jaguars lost 26-21 to the Jets at MetLife Stadium, losing their seventh straight game. Jacksonville is 2-13.

"I'm teaming up with Subway restaurants in the greater Jacksonville area for a unique promotion," Trevor Lawrence said. "If you're a Jags fan, come to any Jacksonville Subway for a free sub, to help get the taste of Urban Meyer out of your mouth."

Patriots win, 31-10.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-6½)

With their two top quarterbacks on the COVID list, the Saints turned to rookie Ian Book to face the visiting Dolphins and their aggressive defense. The results were not good for New Orleans, as Book struggled in a 20-3 loss.

"It didn't start well for us," Sean Payton said. "Ian threw a pick-6 on our first possession. When I saw that, I said, 'Touchdown? Jesus!'

"I'm sure Cam Newton will be wearing a silly hat when he arrives at the stadium. And it will be the only thing on his head, because there surely won't be a bounty on it."

Saints win, 27-16.

Tampa Bay @ NY Jets (+13½)

The Jets beat the visiting Jaguars, 26-21, for their fourth win of the season. Zach Wilson was mediocre through the air, but had a 52-yard touchdown run to score New York's first touchdown.

"Zach showed some great athleticism on that run," Robert Saleh said. "There's no question he's mastered the physical aspects of NFL football. The mental aspects? That's another story. And that story is fiction.

"I missed our previous game with COVID. I don't know exactly who infected me, but it certainly wasn't Zach, because no one can catch anything from him."

The Buccaneers whipped the Panthers 32-6 in Charlotte, led by a defense that recorded 7 sacks. Antonio Brown, back from a three-game suspension, had 10 receptions for 101 yards.

"What a game by our defense," Bruce Arians said. "And the fact that A.B. is still allowed to play in the NFL is also a testament to great 'defense.'

"When we signed Antonio back in 2020, I said that if he screwed up one more time, he was gone. Well, A.B. screwed up, and he's still here, which reflects well on the bastion of integrity that is my office."

Buccaneers win, 36-13.

Philadelphia @ Washington (+3½)

The Eagles smashed the Giants, 34-10, to remain firmly in the playoff hunt. Jalen Hurts passed for 2 touchdowns, including one to offensive lineman Lane Johnson.

"Jalen's accuracy has improved dramatically," Nick Sirianni said. "Did you see that pass to Lane? A laser, and it hit him right in the hands. Earlier this season, Jalen was also hitting linemen with his passes, often in their backs."

The Cowboys pasted Washington 49-14 on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium, handing Ron Rivera's team its worst loss of the season. Frustration boiled over in the second quarter on the WFT sideline, when defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne had to be separated after a physical altercation.

"Let's face it," Rivera said, "physical harassment is something that's not unheard of in this organization. In fact, we're probably better at it than any other team."

Eagles win, 24-17.

Denver @ L.A. Chargers (-5½)

The Texans smoked the visiting Chargers, 41-29, dealing a blow to Los Angeles' playoff hopes. The Chargers are 8-7 and out of the playoffs in the current standings.

"My analytics team has crunched the numbers," Brandon Staley said, "and determined that there's a 100% probability that our defense will be the reason we don't make the playoffs."

The Broncos lost 17-13 to the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Denver managed only 18 yards on the ground on 16 rushes.

"Some people think I should be fired," Vic Fangio said. "I disagree. I think I deserve another year. Or at least another three to four months. By then, I should know if Aaron Rodgers is joining the time. If he's not, fire me on the spot."

Chargers win, 22-20.

Houston @ San Francisco (-14½)

The 49ers couldn't hold a 10-0 halftime lead at Tennessee and eventually lost, 20-17. Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 322 yards and a touchdown, but threw 2 costly interceptions.

"If there's one word to describe Jimmy," Kyle Shanahan said, "it's 'costly.'

"Jimmy suffered a UCL thumb tear and fracture in that game and will likely miss some time. That means Trey Lance will be starting. You may find this hard to believe, but I'm going to give Trey free reign over the playbook, meaning he's free to call any play he wants. And I'd like to quote Allen Iverson here, because 'we talkin' 'bout practice.'"

San Fran wins, 27-21.

Detroit @ Seattle (-7½)

The Seahawks lost 25-24 to the visiting Bears and were officially eliminated from the playoff picture.

"We're 5-10," Pete Carroll said. "This is the first time in my years in Seattle that we've had double-digit losses. Big deal. There was that time when I was head coach at USC that I had six-digit losses, to my bank account, just to get Reggie Bush to play for me.

"But really, most of the defeats making up those double-digit losses were because of a single-digit, Russell Wilson's. Russell is in a unique possession in which he can use a single digit to point to the city in which he wants to play next season."

Seahawks win, 24-21.

L.A. Rams @ Baltimore (+3½)

The Ravens gave up 525 yards passing and 5 touchdowns as the Bengals thrashed Baltimore 41-21 at Paul Brown Stadium.

"Somewhere," John Harbaugh said, "Ray Lewis is having a fit, which could easily be mistaken for his pre-game dance."

The Rams beat the Vikings 30-23 in Minnesota despite Matthew Stafford's struggles at quarterback. Stafford threw 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown.

"Sometimes," Sean McVay says, "Matthew has to be reminded of where he came from. And sometimes, Matthew's play reminds us of where he came from."

Rams win, 30-24.

Minnesota @ Green Bay (-6½)

Aaron Rodgers tossed 3 touchdown passes, all in the first half, to power the Packers past the visiting Browns on Christmas Day. Rodgers' first touchdown moved him past Brett Favre on the all-time Packers passing TD list.

"For good measure," Rodgers said, "I passed for 2 more TDs. Much like Jenn Sterger, I wanted to put some distance between me and Brett."

The Vikings lost 30-23 to the Rams and lost control of the final wild card playoff spot.

"We no longer have control of our own destiny," Mike Zimmer said. "Which is pretty much par for the course when Kirk Cousins is your quarterback."

Packers win, 31-27.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (+2½)

Despite 4 interceptions by Baker Mayfield, the Browns still had a chance to win at Lambeau Field, but their final drive fell short in a 24-22 loss.

"You can take the 'four interceptions by' out of that sentence," Kevin Stefanski said, "and it would still be quite accurate."

The Chiefs waxed the Steelers 36-10 at Arrowhead Stadium, led by Patrick Mahomes, who passed for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Steelers trailed 23-0 at halftime, and have failed to score a first-half touchdown in their last three games.

"That's what's known as 'few-tility,'" Mike Tomlin said. "See, I just invented a new word. I wish I could invent a new quarterback.

"These final few games will give me a good indication of what this team is made of. Currently, my feeling is it's made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails."

Browns win, 24-19.

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