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Game Capsules: Week 17 Game Caps

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Indianapolis (+7) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The 14-1 Colts enter as seven-point underdogs to the 5-10 Bills, as few Indy starters figure to see much playing time Sunday. Peyton Manning should start in order to keep his streak alive, but especially after the team's perfect record came to an end last week while resting their starters, the Colts must continue that game plan in Week 17. Donald Brown should see extensive action, and Austin Collie has impressed when given the opportunity as well. Curtis Painter should play better this week with a full week of practice reps, but he's a rookie who never saw a snap this season until last week, and since he gets a Bills' secondary that has allowed 6.2 YPA while picking off 26 passes this year, expect a highly conservative strategy from Indy... It's been another disappointing season in Buffalo, and priority No. 1 needs to be to find a franchise quarterback during the offseason. Ryan Fitzpatrick appears likely to get the nod Sunday, but he has a tough task facing an Indy secondary that has ceded just 6.2 YPA with a 16:16 TD:INT ratio in 2009. The Terrell Owens era in Buffalo figures to end after Sunday, but at least the Bills get the benefit of facing a Colts team that has nothing to play for in the season finale.

Predictions: Curtis Painter throws for just 140 yards, although he does find Austin Collie for a score. Donald Brown adds 80 rushing yards and reaches the end zone, while Fred Jackson counters with a similar line. Ryan Fitzpatrick adds 160 passing yards with a TD toss to Lee Evans, as Buffalo ends the year with a victory. Bills 23-17.

New Orleans (+7) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Saints have the No. 1 seed locked up in the NFC, but after dropping back-to-back games, coach Sean Payton says he's going to play to win Sunday, so New Orleans' starters may play all four quarters. The Saints are one of only two teams in the NFL yet to lose on the road this season, but they are more vulnerable outdoors than in a dome environment. Mike Bell figures to get the majority of carries with Pierre Thomas (ribs) out, and Drew Brees faces a Panthers' secondary that has posted a 14:21 TD:INT ratio on the year... While the Saints are sputtering at the wrong time, Carolina is playing its best football of the season late in the year, although the loss of Steve Smith (broken arm) could prove devastating. DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is highly questionable, giving Jonathan Stewart another opportunity to impress - he should be in store for another big performance Sunday. New Orleans' defense has struggled oh late, and Matt Moore has gotten 8.0 YPA with a 7:1 TD:INT ratio over the past four contests, upgrading the Panthers' QB position in a big way.

Predictions: Drew Brees throws for 240 yards with a score to Robert Meachem, while Mike Bell adds 70 rushing yards and a TD run. Jonathan Stewart counters with 150 total yards and hits pay dirt, while Matt Moore adds 225 passing yards with a touchdown toss to Jeff King, as Carolina comes out on top. Panthers 20-17.

Jacksonville (+1) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Cleveland has somehow won three straight games, but they've done so despite its quarterback play, not because of it. That's not a long-term recipe for success in the NFL, but Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison have added an explosive element to the team. Derek Anderson figures to be making his final start in a Browns' uniform Sunday but expect the offense to once again center on Harrison, who could enter 2010 as a top-15 fantasy back if Cleveland doesn't bring in any RB competition during the offseason... A three-game losing streak has ended any playoff hopes for Jacksonville, who comes in just 2-5 on the road this season. In fact, David Garrard has thrown just one touchdown over seven games away from home in 2009. Expect that number to increase Sunday, as the Browns' defense has allowed 8.1 YPA and a 20:9 TD:INT ratio this season.

Predictions: Derek Anderson throws for 200 yards with a TD to Mohamed Massaquoi, while Jerome Harrison adds 140 scrimmage yards and a touchdown run. Maurice Jones-Drew answers with 120 combined yards with a score, while David Garrard adds 240 passing yards and finds Mike Sims-Walker in the end zone, as the road team prevails. Jaguars 20-17.

Chicago (-3) at Detroit, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Lions enter 2-13 and with a chance at the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, but both wins have come at home this season, and the Bears have struggled mightily while on the road (1-6) and will be traveling during a short week. Still, this is a very bad Detroit team, one that committed six turnovers in San Francisco last week. The QB situation remains a mystery, but Daunte Culpepper is the favorite to start Sunday, and he'll get a Chicago secondary missing Charles Tillman (ribs, lung). Over the last four games, Culpepper has gotten 4.9 YPA with a 0:3 TD:INT ratio... The Bears will have to fight off a letdown after a big victory over the Vikings in prime time last Monday, and getting up to face an awful Lions' team wont be easy. Then again, Chicago won't want to end its season with a loss to one of the league's true doormats, and the offense really showed signs of life last week. Jay Cutler has been brutal on the road this season (8:20 TD:INT ratio over seven games), but Detroit's secondary has yielded 8.1 YPA and a 31:9 TD:INT ratio on the year, as they are the only team allowing opposing passers to post a QB rating above 100 (105.9).

Predictions: Daunte Culpepper throws for 220 yards with a TD strike to Calvin Johnson, while Maurice Morris adds 70 total yards and a touchdown run. Matt Forte responds with 100 total yards and reaches the end zone, while Jay Cutler adds 270 passing yards with scoring strikes to Devin Aromashodu and Greg Olsen, as Chicago wins it. Bears 24-20.

New England (+8) at Houston, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Patriots have won three straight, and the bigger than expected point spread reflects the uncertainty of how long New England will play its starters. The team will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, and typically, Bill Belichick has opted against resting his key players, but it still remains to be seen. Even if Tom Brady and company play four quarters, the Pats have won just one real road game this season (the other coming on a neutral field), and Houston has played extremely well of late... The Texans enter riding a three-game winning streak of their own, as Matt Schaub has gotten a whopping 9.3 YPA over the past three games. He leads the NFL with 4,467 passing yards, and his 68.4 completion percentage is simply fantastic. He should have no problem moving the ball Sunday against a suspect New England secondary.

Predictions: Tom Brady throws for 225 yards and two touchdowns, with Randy Moss and Sam Aiken the recipients. The Pats' backfield committee combines for 80 yards sans a score, while Arian Foster answers with 75 rushing yards and a TD run. Matt Schaub adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, as Houston prevails. Texans 24-20.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Miami, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Miami has lost back-to-back games, effectively ending any hopes of making the postseason. The team has played admirably despite a first-year starter at quarterback and a secondary that has allowed an NFL-high 8.2 YPA. However, the run-first Dolphins don't match up very well with Pittsburgh, whose front seven has held opponents to just 3.9 YPC and six rushing scores on the year... The Steelers are just 2-5 on the road this season, but they've won two straight and are in a must-win situation Sunday with their playoff lives on the line. Miami has recorded 41 sacks in 2009, so Ben Roethlisberger could be pressured this week, but the QB should also shred a leaky Dolphins' defense. Roethlisberger recently became the first Steelers' quarterback to ever throw for 4,000 yards in a season, and his 8.6 YPA season mark is highly impressive.

Predictions: Chad Henne throws for 210 yards with a touchdown to Brian Hartline, while Ricky Williams and Lex Hilliard combine for 70 rushing yards and a TD run. Rashard Mendenhall produces a similar line, while Ben Roethlisberger adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes, as Pitt comes out on top. Steelers 21-17.

New York Giants (+9.5) at Minnesota, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: With the playoffs in the balance, the Giants were blown out 41-9 at home against the Panthers last week, as the team's disappointing season effectively came to an end. New York will try to play spoiler this week, as the Vikings need to win in order to secure a first round bye. Ahmad Bradshaw will take over workhorse duties with Brandon Jacobs (knee) sidelined, while Eli Manning has gotten 9.1 YPA with a 9:3 TD:INT ratio over the past four contests... Minnesota is just 1-3 over its past four games, so they are entering the postseason really struggling. Still, they are undefeated at home this season and can still get the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a victory Sunday. Adrian Peterson has averaged just 3.3 YPC over the past six games, and his fumbling problem has become a major problem. Brett Favre, however, has posted a 17:2 TD:INT ratio at home this year and the Giants' secondary has been shredded for 27 scores through the air in 2009. Still, when they actually show up to play, this is a solid New York squad, making the near double-digit spread look high.

Predictions: Eli Manning throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Mario Manningham, while Ahmad Bradshaw totals 80 yards and reaches the end zone. Adrian Peterson responds with 90 rushing yards and a TD run, while Brett Favre adds 280 passing yards with scoring strikes to Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe, as Minny gets back on track. Vikings 27-20.

San Francisco (-7) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Rams enter 1-14 and a loss will ensure them the No. 1 pick in this year's draft. It's been another lost season in St. Louis, with quarterback remaining the most glaring weakness. Brandon Gibson has shown promise at wide receiver, and Steven Jackson remains one of the best running backs in the league, but he's once again questionable to play Sunday with a back injury, and the 49ers' defense has played well this season... San Francisco is just 1-6 on the road this season, but they've been successful within their division (4-1) and should be able to shut down a bad Rams' offense. Frank Gore has become the first 49ers RB to run for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons, and Vernon Davis has developed into one of the best tight ends in the league. Still, Alex Smith has gotten just 6.2 YPA, and the quarterback position remains up in the air in San Francisco.

Predictions: Keith Null throws for 150 yards with no scores, while Steven Jackson suits up and manages 90 total yards and a touchdown. Frank Gore counters with 80 total yards and hits pay dirt, while Alex Smith adds 240 passing yards with scoring strikes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, as SF wins it. 49ers 24-13.

Atlanta (-2.5) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Bucs have won two straight, as the defense has played much better since Raheem Morris started calling the plays. Rookie QB Josh Freeman has shown plenty of good signs, but he's also posted a 2:11 TD:INT ratio over the previous four games and has gotten just 4.4 YPA at home this season. Tampa Bay gets an Atlanta defense that has improved of late as well, so expect a closely contested division battle Sunday... The Falcons have also won back-to-back games and are trying to finish with a winning record for the second straight year for the first time in franchise history. Michael Turner (ankle) looks unlikely to play, as does Tony Gonzalez (calf), so the team will be short-handed. Matt Ryan has a 6:0 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, and he should have continued success against a Bucs secondary that has ceded 26 scores through the air this season.

Predictions: Josh Freeman throws for 200 yards with a TD toss to Kellen Winslow, while Carnell Williams runs for 90 yards and scores on the ground. Jason Snelling adds 70 total yards with a goal-line touchdown, while Matt Ryan adds 225 passing yards and a scoring strike to Roddy White, as Atlanta wins on a late field goal. Falcons 23-20.

Philadelphia (+3) at Dallas, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Dallas and Philadelphia enter with the NFC East title - and possibly the NFC's No. 2 seed - on the line. The Cowboys won 20-16 in Philadelphia when they met earlier this season, and both come in playing extremely well. Over the past five games, Tony Romo has gotten 8.3 YPA with a 9:1 TD:INT ratio. His newfound ability to limit turnovers will be huge Sunday, since the Eagles have recorded 24 interceptions on the year. Romo has just an 8:9 TD:INT ratio over seven games against the Eagles during his career, and he's the most important players on the Cowboys' roster... Philly enters riding a six-game winning streak, but the team lost center Jamaal Jackson (Knee) for the season last week. The return of Brian Westbrook (concussion) helps, but Dallas' secondary limited DeSean Jackson to just two catches for 29 yards during the two teams' earlier meeting in 2009. If he's once again unable to get behind the defense, expect Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek to be heavily involved underneath. The Eagles do have a decided advantage in the kicking game, and there's no doubt this is the game of the week.

Predictions: Tony Romo throws for 250 yards with touchdown tosses to Roy Williams and Jason Witten, while Marion Barber adds 60 yards and a goal-line TD. The Eagles' RBBC totals 80 yards and a touchdown run, while Donovan McNabb adds 260 passing yards with a score to Brent Celek, as Philly pulls off the mild upset. Eagles 23-21.

Green Bay (+3) at Arizona, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Cardinals are 6-2 over their past eight games, although the results of earlier action Sunday will dictate how much the starters play in Week 17 (they need a Minnesota loss). Ultimately, expect to see plenty of Matt Leinart, and there's little reason to give a banged up Larry Fitzgerald (knee) many snaps as well. There's also a real chance Arizona gets these same Packers in the wild card round, so the team may install a vanilla game plan and hold back quite a bit... Green Bay is 6-1 over its past seven games, with the lone loss coming on the final play of the game in Pittsburgh, so few teams are as hot as the Packers right now. Their starters are also no lock to play four quarters Sunday, especially if the Cards are able to generate a strong pass rush on Aaron Rodgers early on. Greg Jennings should be targeted in fantasy leagues next year while coming at a likely discount, while Ryan Grant has somewhat quietly put up a very solid season, on pace to finish with 1,492 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Predictions: Matt Leinart throws for 170 yards with a touchdown to Steve Breaston, while Tim Hightower gains 50 yards on the ground with a score. Ryan Grant counters with 80 rushing yards and hits pay dirt, while Aaron Rodgers throws for 230 yards with a TD strike to Jermichael Finley, as Green Bay wins on a late field goal. Packers 23-20.

Kansas City (+13) at Denver, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Chiefs have lost five straight and enter with a 3-12 record on the year, but the team has at least played competitively of late, losing each of its past three games by seven points or fewer. Nearly two-touchdown underdogs Sunday facing a Denver team in must-win mode, don't be surprised if the division battle is closer than expected. Jamaal Charles has emerged as a major threat out of Kansas City's backfield, and he could enter 2010 as a legitimate top-10 fantasy pick. Dwayne Bowe continues to battle inconsistency, while Matt Cassel has thrown eight interceptions over the past four games... After a 6-0 start to the season, the Broncos are just 2-7 over their last nine games and are stumbling to the finish line. The offensive line hasn't played nearly as well as last year, while Knowshon Moreno has averaged an anemic 2.4 YPC over the previous three contests. Brandon Marshall (hamstring) has been ruled out, which is the biggest news of all, as he's clearly the team's most important piece on offense. In fact, Marshall has 36 catches over the past three games, while the other four Broncos' wide receivers have 21 receptions combined. The offense could really struggle Sunday, despite the favorable matchup on paper.

Predictions: Matt Cassel throws for 190 yards with a score to Dwayne Bowe, while Jamaal Charles adds 100 total yards and reaches the end zone. Knowshon Moreno answers with 70 scrimmage yards and a TD run, while Kyle Orton throws for 210 yards with a touchdown toss to Jabar Gaffney, as Denver comes out on top. Broncos 20-14.

Baltimore (-10.5) at Oakland, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: The Raiders are 5-10 this year, but they've played their best against the league's top competition, beating the Eagles, Bengals, Steelers and Broncos, so Sunday's game won't necessarily be a blowout, especially with the Ravens having to travel to Oakland. Charlie Frye will get the nod at QB once again, but he has a 0:4 TD:INT ratio on the year and gets a Baltimore secondary that has allowed 6.6 YPA with a 16:21 TD:INT ratio in 2009. Oakland will likely implement a run-heavy game plan, with Michael Bush leading the way, but the Ravens' front seven has yielded an NFL-low 3.5 YPC this year... The playoffs essentially start this week for the Ravens, as a win gets them into the tournament while a loss likely means they will be watching from home. The team is far better than their 8-7 record indicates, as their schedule has been extremely difficult and each loss has come against top competition, mostly on the road too. Joe Flacco has a 7:1 TD:INT ratio over the past three games, and Ray Rice should run wild against an Oakland front seven that has allowed a league-high 21 rushing scores in 2009.

Predictions: Charlie Frye throws for just 150 yards with multiple picks and no TDs, while Michael Bush is held in check but manages to score from the goal line. Ray Rice counters with 160 combined yards and hits pay dirt, while Willis McGahee also scores from in close. Joe Flacco adds 220 passing yards with a TD to Derrick Mason, as Baltimore secures an invite to the postseason. Ravens 24-10.

Washington (+3.5) at San Diego, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: No team is hotter in football, as San Diego enters riding a 10-game winning streak. However, with the No. 2 seed locked up and no chance at the No. 1, don't be surprised if the Chargers rest most of their key players Sunday, with nothing to play for. Philip Rivers probably deserves the MVP award in 2009, but he's unlikely to pad his stats much this week, with Billy Volek likely to see extensive action against a solid Washington secondary, although the unit will be without LaRon Landry (concussion)... The Redskins are just 1-5 over their past six games, and a major shakeup within the organization is in store during the offseason. A coaching is inevitable, and expect owner Daniel Snyder to make a splash paying big money to a big name. Washington could end the year on a high note, at least, since they'll be facing mostly backups. Jason Campbell's 18 passing touchdowns are already a career-high by a wide margin, and the impressive Fred Davis should have another strong game this week, leaving fantasy owners wondering how both he and Chris Cooley will coexist in 2010.

Predictions: Billy Volek throws for 160 yards with a TD to Malcom Floyd, while Mike Tolbert adds a score from the goal line. Quinton Ganther gains 60 rushing yards with a touchdown run, while Jason Campbell adds 210 passing yards with a scoring strike to Fred Davis, as Washington finally gives the Chargers a loss. Redskins 20-17.

Tennessee (-4) at Seattle, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: An already disappointing season is coming to an ugly end for Seattle, who has lost its past three games by a combined 106-24. There's an argument to be made this is currently the worst team in all of football. The Seahawks always play much tougher at home, and Seattle remains a difficult environment for opponents, but Matt Hasselbeck has thrown eight interceptions over the past two games and looks about as bad as any quarterback in the league... Tennessee is coming off a hugely disappointing 42-17 home loss to the Chargers, which effectively ending any hopes of them making the postseason. The Titans do have the benefit of 10 days of preparation, and the team's main goal Week 17 is for Chris Johnson to set records. He's 128 yards away from becoming just the sixth back in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards, and while the NFL single-season rushing record (he's 233 yards away from Eric Dickerson's mark) seems unlikely, Johnson is just 75 total yards away from breaking Marshall Faulk's league-high of 2,429 yards from scrimmage. Seattle hasn't allowed a running back to run for 100 yards in a game since Week 2, but that's likely to change against the NFL's best RB on Sunday.

Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to John Carlson, while Justin Forsett adds a rushing score. Chris Johnson totals 175 yards from scrimmage, also running in two touchdowns. Vince Young adds 220 passing yards with a TD strike to Kenny Britt, as Tennessee wins it. Titans 27-17.

Cincinnati (+10) at New York Jets, Sunday 8:20 p.m.
Comments: The Bengals may or may not have something to play for Sunday night, but the team will enter the playoffs with either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed thanks mostly to a defense that is trying to become Cincinnati's first unit to finish in the top-10 since 2001. Cedric Benson has been the team's workhorse, but both the running and passing attacks lack explosion. The Bengals aerial game relies heavily on Chad Johnson, which is bad news against the Jets, as Darrelle Revis routinely shuts down opposing teams No. 1 wide receivers. Whoever quarterbacks for Cincy on Sunday has a tough matchup against a New York secondary that has given up an NFL-low 5.5 YPA with an 8:16 TD:INT ratio. The Bengals could really struggle to score in their season finale... During the final game on the NFL's regular seasons schedule in 2009, the Jets are in do-or-die mode, with a win ensuring a spot in the playoffs and a loss meaning they'll be watching from home. The team may be fortunate for the second straight week, facing an opponent likely to rest its starters with their playoff seed locked up. Still, this is hardly an undeserving New York team, as its defense is the best in all of football, and the rushing attack is formidable as well. Mark Sanchez has been asked not to lose more than try to win of late, and a similar game plan seems likely with Cincy boasting two top corners (although how long they play remains to be seen). Sanchez's 20 interceptions have certainly hurt, but a 6.8 YPA mark during his rookie campaign gives plenty of hope for the future. Expect Rex Ryan's club to have a strong defensive performance Sunday night, leading the Jets into the playoffs.

Predictions: Carson Palmer takes an early seat, with J.T. O'Sullivan taking over QB duties, resulting in 150 yards and a couple of picks. Cedric Benson watches Larry Johnson get most of the carries, although he's held mostly in check. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene counter with 140 combined rushing yards with each scoring a touchdown on the ground, while Mark Sanchez manages the team to victory. Jets 20-9.