There was significant carnage last week with the Bills, Eagles, Ravens, Rams and Saints going down and several close calls with the Patriots, Lions and Dolphins.
Let's take a look at the Week 17 slate:
Home team in CAPS
*Average of the Vegas moneylines
The polling data means less and less as the season goes on, and in Week 17, it's a free-for-all, as lines move and players are unexpectedly scratched right up until kickoff. So, I'd not only track who in my pools had what teams available, but I'd hesitate before committing to a team until all the information was in.
1. Denver Broncos
Vegas has them as 93 percent favorites, and it's easy to see why. The Raiders have been better of late, but all their wins were at home, and the Broncos need this game to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I give the Broncos a 94 percent chance to win this game.
2. Seattle Seahawks
The Rams actually beat them the first time around, but in Seattle and with home-field throughout the playoffs on the line, I expect the Seahawks to play better. Moreover, the Rams win was fueled by a fake reverse on a kick return and a fake punt to seal the game. The Seahawks, even before they were peaking, outplayed the Rams in St. Louis. I give the Seahawks an 88 percent chance to win this game.
3. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have a decent shot at making the playoffs if they win - they also need the Chiefs (favored by one point) to beat the Chargers. They face the Browns with practice squad quarterback Connor Shaw
. While Baltimore has played poorly of late, I'd expect it to get its running game on track and shut down Cleveland's defense. I give the Ravens an 87 percent chance to win this game.
4. Houston Texans
The Texans played a strong game against the Ravens last week, but Case Keenum
is their starting quarterback, and the Jaguars - while bad - look like a team that's still making the effort. I give the Texans an 83 percent chance to win this game.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Lions beat them in Detroit earlier in the year, but Aaron Rodgers
has been far better at home, and the Lions defensive line isn't as formidable with Nick Fairley
out. I give the Packers a 76 percent chance to win this game.
6. Minnesota Vikings
I don't trust the Vikings offense, but they draw a good matchup against the Bears, and Minnesota's defense has been serviceable of late. Jay Cutler
's return makes the Bears more dangerous, but Cutler's also capable of handing the game away. I give the Vikings a 65 percent chance to win this game.
7. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have been awful on defense most of the year, but they've improved of late, holding down the Saints in New Orleans last week. The Panthers have also played better defensively, but I trust Matt Ryan
and Julio Jones
more than I do Cam Newton
and his targets. I give the Falcons a 63 percent chance to win this game.
8. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are the better team, but the Jets have showed up for likely departing Rex Ryan the last few weeks, and if that happens against I'd expect this game to be close. I give the Dolphins a 63 percent chance to win this game.
9. Indianapolis Colts
If the Colts had anything for which to play, I'd move them up, but it's hard to know how seriously they'll take this game. Reportedly they want to get their act together after consecutive poor showings, but that might only mean a few good series in the first half, the way a team might play in the third preseason game. Accordingly, I'm proceeding with caution - even against arguably the league's worst team. I give the Colts a 60 percent chance to win this game.
10. San Francisco 49ers
I don't know if the Niners will show up for Jim Harbaugh here, but their offense should struggle somewhat against a solid Arizona defense. Even so, I'd expect them to handle the Ryan-Lindley-led offense in a close game. I give the 49ers a 60 percent chance to win this game.
11. Dallas Cowboys
This game really depends on whether the Cowboys take it seriously. On the one hand, Dallas could secure a bye with a win, but that would require the Seahawks to lose to the Rams. Otherwise, the Cowboys are locked into the No. 3 seed, and it might make more sense to rest DeMarco Murray
for a half and even Tony Romo
. I give the Cowboys a 59 percent chance to win this game.
New England Patriots:
They have nothing for which to play, and while the Patriots often play their starters into the second half in these cases, Bill Belichick could always change his mind. Moreover, Buffalo is a decent team.
New Orleans Saints:
Unless the Buccaneers purposely tank to get the No. 1 pick, I don't want any part of the Saints right now - they were beaten easily at home the last couple weeks with the division on the line.
New York Giants:
The Eagles have been the better team all year and beat them 27-0 the first time around.
The Bengals and Steelers are roughly equal teams, and both have a lot at stake (a first-round home game) here. I'd stay away.