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Game Capsules: Breaking Down Week 17

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

Baltimore (+2.5) at Cincinnati, 41.5 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: The Ravens came within the length of Antonio Brown's outstretched arm last week of potentially winning their division, but instead they'll be watching the hated Steelers carry the NFC North banner into the postseason. That leaves them with very little to play for this week, even in terms of individual milestones, and while you know Steve Smith will want to go out with a bang (if this is indeed his final game) the real drama for Baltimore will come in their backfield. Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West have been taking turns having the more productive game, but Dixon certainly looked like the team's future lead RB last week, making defenders miss and refusing to go down on first contact. The Bengals have been soft against the run all year – they're 22nd in rushing yards allowed per game and in YPC allowed – so whichever back gets the carries should be productive Sunday. ... Cinci's been playing out the string for a while now, and their only win against a team above .500 came against the Dolphins back in Week 4 (and, technically, Miami was 1-2 at the time). When these two teams met in Week 12, the Bengals essentially got beat by Justin Tucker as neither offense could get much going, but those might seem like the salad days to Andy Dalton. Tyler Eifert, who scored the team's only TD in that game, is out after undergoing back surgery, while Jeremy Hill, who led the team in yards from scrimmage, could be held out due to a knee injury. Dalton's main weapons for this game could be Rex Burkhead and Brandon LaFell, which is, well, yeah. ... A.J. Green (hamstring) has already been ruled out for the Bengals, and Vontaze Burfict has yet to pass the league's concussion protocol. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is out for the Ravens with an ankle injury, not that he's have anyone to cover anyway.

Predictions: Dixon racks up 80 combined yards and scores. Joe Flacco throws for 220 yards and finds Steve Smith for a TD. Burkhead manages 40 yards. Dalton throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to Cody Core. Ravens 20-10

Houston (+3) at Tennessee, 40 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: The Texans have locked up the AFC South again in spite of themselves, but can't budge from the fourth seed, so they have little reason to risk using Lamar Miller (ankle) or any of their banged-up players on defense. Of course, with Matt Cassel under center for the Titans, it's not like their secondary is going to be put under much pressure anyway. This might be Tom Savage's best spot to show he's something more than a bus driver, though. Tennessee is 31st in passing yards allowed per game (270.9) but fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (91.1), so they probably won't be able to lean on Alfred Blue as they did last week. DeAndre Hopkins had his worst game of the season against the Titans back in Week 4 (one catch for four yards on six targets), so he at least has plenty of motivation for payback. ... Marcus Mariota's broken leg shouldn't affect his development, but it also overshadowed a fairly epic choke job by Tennessee last week in Jacksonville. Up until getting hurt, he'd been making the Jags' secondary look like the Broncos, completing just eight of 20 passes for 99 yards. The Texans aren't exactly vulnerable on the ground, sitting 13th in rushing yards allowed per game, but DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry give them a better shot at a moral victory to close out the season than a 34-year-old backup QB who hasn't posted useful numbers since 2010 does. ... Other than Mariota, the Titans are fairly healthy. In addition to Miller, Texans who could get rested for part or all of the game include Jadeveon Clowney (elbow/wrist), Kareem Jackson (neck), Johnathan Joseph (ribs) and potentially even Savage (knee) if the game is out of hand, one way or the other.

Predictions: Blue grinds out 60 yards. Savage throws for 210 yards and tosses his first career TD to Hopkins. Murray gains 80 combined yards and a score. Cassel throws for 160 yards and gets picked off twice, but does find Tajae Sharpe for a touchdown. Titans 17-16

Carolina (+6) at Tampa Bay, 46.5 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: The Panthers have a chance to join a fairly exclusive club this week, as only five teams in NFL history have lost 10 games the season after making the Super Bowl. A loss in Tampa makes them the sixth, and considering they dropped their first game against the Bucs back in Week 5, falling to 6-10 seems pretty likely. Cam Newton didn't play in that game, but he's hardly played like Cam this year as it is, so the downgrade to Derek Anderson (278 yards but two picks and no TDs in that game) may not have been as big as it seems on paper. Newton's officially questionable with a shoulder injury but has been practicing and should get the start. If he can't get play or doesn't finish a meaningless game for the Panthers, Joe Webb might get some work under center, because why not. The Bucs are mediocre overall in pass defense but do sit 29th in YPA allowed (7.8), so Newton at least has a shot at closing his campaign on a high note. ... In theory, Tampa can still make the playoffs with a win, but given all the help they'd need, the odds of that happening are about the same as Doug Martin playing another snap this season. Carolina's fourth in rushing yards allowed per game (90.2), but Jacquizz Rodgers did gash them for 101 yards in their first meeting, although it took him 30 carries to get there. As always, they'll be relying on Jameis Winston's arm to keep their extremely faint hopes alive, but they'll need midseason Winston and not down-the-stretch Winston to re-appear. He's been extremely streaky as a sophomore when it comes to ball security, posting an 8:8 TD:INT in the first four games of 2016, a 15:4 in the next nine games, but a 4:5 in the last two – games that ended up being crucial losses. In fact, the Bucs are 0-4 in games this season in which he's thrown multiple picks. If he ends up gift-wrapping a couple of balls to Carolina's secondary as well, it would be a fittingly dour end to a once-promising season. ... Winston will have to win the finale without Cameron Brate, who landed on IR with a back issue. Jonathan Stewart (foot) and Greg Olsen (elbow) are both questionable for the Panthers but seem likely to suit up, but they won't be joined by Luke Kuechly, who remains sidelined despite having been cleared through the league's concussion protocol a few weeks ago.

Predictions: Stewart bangs out 80 yards and a score. Newton throws for 180 yards and a TD to Ted Ginn. Rodgers gets bottled up, rushing for only 30 yards, but Winston redeems himself by throwing for 270 yards and no INTs, plus three touchdowns – two to Mike Evans (who tops 100 yards) and one to Russell Shepard. Buccaneers 27-20

Cleveland (+6) at Pittsburgh, 44 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: Well, so much for that perfect(ly dreadful) season. Even if the 1-14 Browns hadn't won last week though, they'd be in a great spot to steal one in Pittsburgh in Week 17 with the Steelers resting basically everybody. Robert Griffin will get the start once again after being cleared through the concussion protocol and with the team still needing to see enough from him to justify bringing him back in 2017, but in four starts this year he's yet to break the 200-yard mark or throw a single TD, so one decent performance might not even do the trick. Isaiah Crowell didn't actually run well last week despite his two trips to the end zone, but with Duke Johnson nursing an ankle injury, Crowell will probably see a big workload. Pittsburgh's been stingy against the run (sixth in rushing yards allowed per game) but have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns, tied for 19th, so what success the Browns' offense has Sunday is more likely to come on the ground. ... If you rode Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown or Ben Roethlisberger to glory in your fantasy league, I hope you don't need them in Week 17, because they won't be there. All three will get rested with the Steelers set as the AFC's No. 3 seed regardless of what happens Sunday. That leaves the offense in the hands of Landry Jones, who didn't look terrible earlier in the season against the Patriots – and the Browns, despite the presence of Jamie Collins, are not the Patriots. DeAngelo Williams and Fitzgerald Toussaint might split the load in the backfield, although given Williams' troublesome knee I expect Toussaint to get the bigger workload, while Darrius Heyward-Bey (who had a TD pass from Jones taken away due to a penalty in that Pats game) should see most of Brown's snaps. Normally, backups are risky plays in Week 17 – if they were reliable contributors, they wouldn't be backups – but against Cleveland's sad-sack defense, anybody can look great. ... Ladarius Green (concussion) is officially questionable but will probably join the killer B's on the sidelines. Joe Haden (neck/groin) is questionable for the Browns.

Predictions: Crowell picks up 40 yards. Griffin throws for 170 yards and a TD to Terrelle Pryor. Toussaint rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown, while Williams adds 50 yards and a score. Jones throws for 260 yards and TDs to Heyward-Bey and Jesse James. Steelers 31-7

Dallas (+4) at Philadelphia, 43 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: In terms of resting players, the Cowboys actually have a bot of a dilemma. They already have the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs locked up, so they have nothing to play for, but with a bye coming up next week they don't want to lose their momentum, especially on offense. The compromise seems to be to leave Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant et al in the starting lineup Sunday, but then yank them early after they've gotten some reps to keep them “fresh”, whatever that means. The QB situation could even end up looking like a preseason game, with both Mark Sanchez (a former Eagle) and Tony Romo (in what's probably his last game as a Cowboy) both potentially seeing action. Darren McFadden and Brice Butler will also likely inherit whatever snaps and touches Zeke and Dez leave on the table. Philly's defense hasn't shown much down the stretch, allowing an average of 26.3 points over their last six games, but with Dallas not exactly keeping their foot on the gas, they could rise to the occasion. ... Carson Wentz hit the rookie wall hard. He's posted a 5:9 TD:INT over his last six games, throwing at least one pick in each, and hasn't managed a YPA over 7.1 during that stretch. He also struggled earlier in the year in his first look at the Cowboys' defense, coughing up a 4.7 YPA in a Week 8 loss, and they were the only team this season not to let him complete at least one pass of 20 or more yards. The Cowboys' defense in general has played much better over the last month, but their off-brand pass rush has been the big revelation. They've piled up 14 sacks in the last four games, led by the likes of David Irving and Benson Mayowa, and they got Randy Gregory back from suspension last week. They also got to Wentz three times in that prior meeting, although the Eagles' offensive line was missing Lane Johnson for that one. If that Dallas front line continues to play with a chip on their collective shoulders, they could give Wentz fits in Week 17. ... Ryan Mathews (back) landed on IR, leaving Darren Sproles to handle lead back duties for Philly. Jordan Matthews (ankle) is questionable but expected to play. In addition to their resting starters, Sean Lee (knee) is questionable for Dallas but will play at least part of the game.

Predictions: Elliott scores a touchdown despite his limited touches, while McFadden picks up 70 yards. The Cowboys' QB trio combines for 240 yards and TDs to Butler and Cole Beasley. Sproles gains 90 combined yards, mostly through the air, and a receiving touchdown. Wentz throws for 280 yards and a second score to Zach Ertz, but also gets sacked four times and loses a fumble that gets returned by Gregory for a TD. Cowboys 24-20

Buffalo at NY Jets (+3.5), 42 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: If you missed last week's episode of As The Buffalo Roams, the Ryan brothers got unceremoniously kicked to the curb after the Bills' loss to the Dolphins. Tyrod Taylor got benched, not because of poor play, but because of contract shenanigans that basically amount to the team wanting to keep their options open at quarterback for 2017, which can't happen if he gets hurt (thus locking in his deal for next year). Oh, and Savannah revealed that the baby was Brock's and not Sergio's. EJ Manuel will get the start Sunday with Taylor sidelined, and while he's firmly established his very low ceiling over the last few seasons, in a single game against a Jets pass defense that ranks 30th in QB rating against (101.3), he might well bust out. ... Gang Green, meanwhile, might have trouble fielding a 46-man roster for this one. Bryce Petty's on IR and headed for shoulder surgery. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell have both missed practice this week due to knee injuries, and the Jets have no reason to risk using them, with the same logic applying to Brandon Marshall (hip/shoulder) and Robby Anderson (hamstring). Even the defensive front seven, the team's lone strength, is beat up with Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle), Sheldon Richardson (back) and others at less than 100 percent. Then again, the varsity squad got the Jets a 4-11 record, so maybe it can't hurt to see what the undergrads can do. ... Sammy Watkins (foot) and Charles Clay (knee) are bother listed as questionable for Buffalo, but should play.

Predictions: LeSean McCoy gains 80 combined yards. Manuel steps up, throwing for 230 yards and TDs to Watkins and Justin Hunter, while running in a third score. Brandon Burks leads the Jets backfield with 30 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick throws for 210 yards and touchdowns to Quincy Enunwa and Charone Peake. Bills 21-20

Chicago (+5) at Minnesota, 41 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: Matt Barkley has become the king of garbage time over the last couple of weeks, throwing for 685 yards and four TDs after his eight (yes, eight) INTs have helped dig holes the Bears were never going to escape. It's nice work if you can get it, but it also probably ensures he's out of the running for the starting gig in 2017. Sunday's finale shouldn't offer him the same game script – unlike Washington and the Packers, the Vikings possess both a strong pass defense (sixth in QB rating against) and an offense that isn't likely to pile up points in a hurry – but, to quote a holiday classic, “It's Christmas, Theo, it's the time of miracles.” ... How did it all go wrong? Well, that's really a rhetorical question, because offensive line woes and untimely injuries all over the roster were the main culprits, but it's still kind of amazing that Minnesota started out the season 5-0 over three (or four, depending on how you rate the Titans) playoff-caliber teams plus the defending NFC champs, and yet they themselves won't make the postseason. With nothing much to play for, Adrian Peterson (knee/groin) has been shut back down, but Sam Bradford at least has some motivation. His current 71.3 percent completion rate on the season would be the highest in NFL history for a QB with 400-plus attempts, putting him a tenth of a percentage point ahead of Drew Brees' 2011 campaign. It would be kind of an abomination for Bradford to take that record, or even be on a leader board dotted with names like Brees, Steve Young and Joe Montana, but here we are. Of course, Bradford can be caught even if he doesn't slide back. Brees himself is at 70.9 percent heading into Week 17, while Matt Ryan is at 69.5 percent. It's been a good year for QB completion percentages, is what I'm saying. The Bears, incidentally, have allowed a 63.9 percent completion rate to opposition QBs this year, 21st in the league. ... Stefon Diggs (hip) and Laquon Treadwell (ankle) headline the list of Vikings sitting this one out. Chicago's offense is in good shape, but Leonard Floyd (concussion) is one of a number of defensive players who won't, or at least shouldn't, suit up Sunday.

Predictions: Jordan Howard plows ahead for 110 yards and a score. Barkley throws for 210 yards and a touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. Jerick McKinnon picks up 80 combined yards. Bradford gets sacked five times and barely completes half his passes, but still amasses 250 yards and TDs to Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Vikings 23-20

Jacksonville (+4.5) at Indianapolis, 47 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: Just to recap how weird last week was: the Jaguars, 49ers and Browns have a combined six wins on the season, and half of them came in Week 16. Blake Bortles had arguably his best performance of the season in that 38-17 rout of the Titans, posting just his fourth 300-yard game of the year and a season-high 8.6 YPA, but he seems to have Tennessee's number, averaging 279.5 passing yards with a 12:2 TD:INT in six career starts against them. That's far from true for his track record against the Colts. In five career games against them, he's averaged just 224.8 yards with a lackluster 8:3 TD:INT. Indy's pass defense has been awful in 2016 – they're 29th in QB rating against at 97.6 – but Bortles is capable of making any secondary look competent. ... Those defensive woes are what's kept the Colts out of the postseason picture this year. On offense, everything's gone just about according to plan. Frank Gore is 37 yards shy of another 1000-yard campaign, Andrew Luck is 81 yards and a touchdown short of his second 4000-yard, 30-TD season, and T.Y. Hilton has already set career highs in catches and yards. Nonetheless, the team couldn't produce any momentum, never winning (or losing, for that matter) more than two games in a row. They also have a Week 4 loss to the Jags to avenge, although that might be easier said than done. Incredibly enough, Jacksonville has had one of the best defenses in the league on a per-play basis, and only the Broncos at 10.2 had a better combined YPC and YPA than the Jags' 10.3. That bodes well for their future, but less so for Luck in Week 17. ... Donte Moncrief (shoulder) is officially doubtful for Sunday. T.J. Yeldon (ankle) landed on IR, while Chris Ivory (hamstring), Allen Hurns (hamstring) and Marqise Lee (hip) are all questionable for the Jaguars, making their level of participation iffy in a fairly meaningless game.

Predictions: Denard Robinson leads the Jacksonville backfield with 80 yards and a TD. Bortles throws for 210 yards and a touchdown to Allen Robinson. Gore plods for 60 yards and a score. Luck throws for 280 yards and TDs to Hilton and Erik Swoope. Colts 27-14

New England at Miami (+9.5), 44.5 o/u – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST

Comments: Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the Patriots still need a win (or a Raiders loss in a late game, so there won't be any scoreboard watching on their part) to ensure home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but it's not like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick ever really go easy on someone, especially not a division rival and potential future playoff opponent. Brady is battling a thigh injury though, so he could give way to Jimmy Garoppolo at some point. Brady also missed a 31-24 win back in Week 2, but if that game was any indication he may not need to do too much Sunday. LeGarrette Blount ran for 123 yards and a score in that one, giving Miami fans an early preview of how dreadful their run defense would be. The Dolphins are 30th in rushing yards allowed per game at 141.8, so whether Brady plays all four quarters or not, expect to see a healthy dose of Blount and Dion Lewis. ... Matt Moore wasn't quite as effective last week, but that's to be expected as he wasn't playing the Jets. Miami needs a win here, and a Chargers win over the Chiefs, to sneak into the fifth seed instead of the sixth, and they'll have plenty of incentive to try as that's the difference between facing Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers or Tom Savage and the Texans in the wild card round. With Jay Ajayi (shoulder) questionable and possibly seeing limited snaps though, the Dolphins really don't have many weapons left to try and keep pace with the Pats. New England has also taken over the top spot in the league in scoring defense at 15.7 per game, but that honestly seems more like a reflection of their schedule than their fierceness, given how many teams they faced this year which featured underperforming offenses (Broncos, Bengals, Jets, Texans, plus a game against the Browns.) ... Ryan Tannehill (knee) and Ajayi are the only two big names on the injury report for Miami, but that's enough. Danny Amendola (ankle) is out for the Pats, Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is doubtful, and Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) is questionable, but it wouldn't be surprising to see all three sit or get very limited targets.

Predictions: Blount pounds out 90 yards and a TD, while Lewis chips in 60 yards and a score. Brady throws for 230 yards and a touchdown to Chris Hogan. Ajayi plays but is held to just 40 yards. Moore throws for 250 yards and TDs to DeVante Parker and Damien Williams. Patriots 27-20

Kansas City at San Diego (+5.5), 44.5 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: The Chiefs can still finish anywhere from second to fifth in the AFC playoff seeding, so there should be no holding back from them in this one. It's funny to look back and realize how much their Week 1 win over the Chargers – which involved Keenan Allen being injured and knocked out for the year in the second quarter, and then San Diego blowing a 17-point lead before losing 33-27 in overtime – set the tone for both teams' seasons though. Alex Smith threw for 363 yards in that one, and hasn't topped 287 yards since, so don't expect an exact repeat of that outcome. As they demonstrated last week though, the Bolts are always finding new and inventive ways to give away wins, so whatever happens in this one it stands a decent chance of making all the highlight packages. ... Melvin Gordon ran for two TDs in that Week 1 loss, but he's not walking, or even limping, through that door due to knee and hip injuries. Neither are Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver, Dexter McCluster or Kenneth Farrow, all of whom are on IR for the Chargers. That leaves the backfield in the hands of Bronco retread Ronnie Hillman and former Giant battering ram Andre Williams, both of whom have at least had some prior success in the NFL. The Chiefs are 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (120.6), so whichever of them ends up getting the majority of touches could have one of those Week 17 explosions no one ever sees coming. ... Gordon is the only significant name on the injury report for San Diego. Spencer Ware (ribs) is questionable for Kansas City, while Justin Houston (knee) has already been ruled out.

Predictions: Charcandrick West rings up 70 combined yards and a score. Smith throws for 220 yards and a TD to Travis Kelce. Williams surprises with 90 yards and two touchdowns. Philip Rivers throws for 240 yards and touchdowns to Dontrelle Inman and Antonio Gates, who ties Tony Gonzalez's career record for tight ends. A Marcus Peters INT return for a score ends up being the difference. Chiefs 30-28

Arizona at Los Angeles (+6), 40.5 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: Week 17 games between two sub-.500 teams generally don't have much drama, but at least this one has David Johnson. DJ will attempt to become the first player in NFL history to gain 100-plus yards from scrimmage in every game of a season, and another C-note would also put him one game short of Marcus Allen's record of 17 consecutive 100-plus yard performances, set across the 1985-86 seasons. Johnson rushed for 83 yards and caught four passes for 41 yards in the first meeting with the Rams back in Week 4, and LA's defense hasn't exactly gelled since then, so his odds look pretty good. ... Todd Gurley, on the other hand, can't seem to get out of neutral. He did score last week, but a 2.9 YPC against a Niners defense that has been historically bad against the run is proof positive that there is something very, very wrong with the Rams' offense. The o-line deservedly shoulders most of the blame, but Gurley himself also doesn't have the same pep in his step he did as a rookie. Weeks of futility will do that to you. It's too early to start labeling him the next Trent Richardson-level bust (especially since he put up better numbers last year than Richardson ever did), but a finale against a Cardinals defense that's third in the league in YPC allowed (3.6) won't help quiet that talk, either. ... Kenny Britt (shoulder) likely won't play for the Rams. John Brown (sickle-cell) is officially questionable as usual, and may not see a big workload.

Predictions: Johnson hits his century, piling up 150 combined yards and two TDs. Carson Palmer throws for 210 yards and a score to J.J. Nelson. Gurley stumbles his way to 40 yards. Jared Goff throws for 170 yards and a touchdown to Tavon Austin. Cardinals 24-13

Oakland (+1.5) at Denver, 40.5 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: While most of the media attention has gone towards Sunday night's NFC North title game, this tilt is the domino that causes the AFC playoff puzzle to fall into place, while potentially also bolstering Derek Carr's MVP case if his team flops without him. If the Raiders win, they lock up the AFC West and at least the No. 2 seed, and could jump up to No. 1 if the Patriots somehow stumble in Miami. If Oakland loses, they open the door to Kansas City to seize the division and could drop all the way down to the fifth seed. So hey, Matt McGloin, no pressure. Oh, by the way, you'll also be facing the stingiest, nastiest secondary in the league, and unlike the Chiefs you don't have a stable of pass-catching tight ends that will allow you to avoid challenging Chris Harris and Aqib Talib on the outside. When these two teams met in Week 9, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper combined for eight catches and 83 yards on 14 targets, and that was with Carr under center and both WRs a lot closer to 100 percent. Of course, the Raiders still won that game because Latavius Murray went completely bonkers, but they can't count on him running for three TDs again. ... With little to play for except pride and a chance to be a spoiler, Gary Kubiak is making noises about giving Paxton Lynch some snaps in relief of Trevor Siemian, but can you blame him? Neither QB has really seized the reins, and the offense is entirely to blame for the defending Super Bowl champs not even returning to the postseason. Over his last three games, Siemian has a 6.1 YPA and 1:2 TD:INT, which is remarkably similar to Lynch's output through his first three NFL games. Oakland's 7.9 YPA allowed is second-worst in the league though, and Siemian did throw for 283 yards and two TDs in their first meeting. ... T.J. Ward (concussion) is out for the Broncos. Cooper (shoulder) and Crabtree (ankle) are both officially questionable for the Raiders.

Predictions: Murray runs for 80 yards and a TD. McGloin throws for 140 yards and gets held out of the end zone. Devontae Booker scrapes together 50 combined yards. Siemian plays the whole game, throwing for 220 yards and a touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders. Broncos 16-10

NY Giants (+8) at Washington, 44 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: Technically, this game is meaningless to the Giants as they'll be the NFC's fifth seed regardless of what happens, but Washington needs a win to try and get the sixth seed, and there are few things sweeter in the NFL than denying a division rival a spot in the playoffs. New York also lost the first meeting back in Week 3, a game that saw their defense allow a season-high 29 points, so there's plenty of incentive for them to come out swinging. Their backfield also looks very different than what Washington saw back in September, as Rashad Jennings missed that contest and Paul Perkins wasn't only seeing special teams snaps. That tandem hasn't exactly set the world on fire since, but Washington's run defense is poor, sitting 25th in rushing yards allowed per game (117.0), 28th in YPC allowed (4.6) and tied for 28th in rushing TDs allowed (18), so Ben McAdoo's addiction to establishing his running game could actually pay off for once. ... Kirk Cousins and company rebounded well from their embarrassing performance on Monday Night Football in Week 15, but that loss to the Panthers still looms large as they attempt to claim the final wild card spot in the NFC. Cousins has been stumbling down the stretch though, managing only a 4:3 TD:INT over his last four games, and the Giants' pass defense is firing on all cylinders, sitting second in QB rating against (75.8). That swoon has coincided with Jordan Reed's shoulder injury, which has limited the tight end to just two catches for 16 yards over that stretch. He's expected back for Sunday's must-win game, and containing tight ends is arguably the one weak spot in the Giants' pass defense right now (they're 25th in DVOA against the position, although they've only given up three TE touchdowns all season), but if Reed isn't close to 100 percent he might be little more than a decoy. ... Rob Kelley (knee) is also questionable for Washington. Janoris Jenkins (back) is questionable, and the biggest name on the injury report for the Giants.

Predictions: Perkins racks up 90 yards and a touchdown. Eli Manning throws for 280 yards and TDs to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Kelley starts, but Mack Brown leads the Washington backfield with 50 yards. Cousins throws for 260 yards and a touchdown to Jamison Crowder, but can't engineer a late comeback. Giants 24-16

Seattle at San Francisco (+9.5), 43 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: The last time these two teams met back in Week 3, Christine Michael ran for 106 yards and two TDs and looked like he'd turned his career around. In retrospect, that may have had more to do with who he was playing. I've run out of clever ways to illustrate how unbelievably bad the Niners' run defense is, but let's try this one out. They've given up 2567 rushing yards through 15 games on 523 carries, as their opposition repeatedly hammers them on the ground. Only four other teams in the league has even allowed more than 2000 rushing yards, and no team is within 50 carries of their total – not even the Browns, who most teams have started killing the clock against sometime in the second quarter. Thomas Rawls will get the start this time for Seattle, who need a win to have a shot at a first round bye in the playoffs, so expect him to get all the touches he can handle. ... Colin Kaepernick already used up his one good game a month in last week's win over the Rams, so that's probably one less thing for the Seahawks to worry about. In that Week 3 loss, Blaine Gabbert could only manage 119 passing yards, a performance that probably contributed to him eventually falling to third string behind Christian Ponder, but there's little reason to suspect the volatile Kaepernick will do much better. Seattle's pass defense isn't what it once was, but they're still fifth in the league in QB rating against (83.4). ... Carlos Hyde (knee) is finishing the season on IR, leaving Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris to handle the rushing load for San Fran, while Torrey Smith (concussion) and Quinton Patton (foot) are also shelved. Tyler Lockett's season is also over after last week's gruesome broken leg.

Predictions: Rawls rushes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson throws for 340 yards and three TDs, hitting Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson, while also running for a short score of his own. Harris gains 50 yards. Kaepernick throws for 160 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley. Seahawks 38-7

New Orleans (+6.5) at Atlanta, 56 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Comments: The over/under line here seems obscene, but when these two teams met in Week 3 they produced a final score of 45-32, so bet the under at your peril. The Saints, to their credit, haven't packed it in down the stretch despite being out of playoff contention, beating the Cards and Bucs in their last two games, but a win here might be asking a bit much. Drew Brees has also been running very hot and cold – two four-TD games in his last five, but a combined 1:6 TD:INT in the other three – but he put up 376 yards and three scores in that Week 3 loss, and the Falcons' pass defense has been mediocre at best this year, sitting 22nd in QB rating against (93.2). Again, there are times when fading a shootout seems like a good idea. This is not one of those times. ... A win here for Atlanta locks them into the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and they don't seem inclined to rest any of their key personnel – not even Julio Jones, who got taken off the injury report late in the week. The Saints' pass defense is marginally improved from the last couple of seasons but is still among the worst units in the league, sitting 30th in YPA allowed (7.8) and 25th in QB rating against (95.4). Mind you, they did hold Matt Ryan to one of his worst outputs of the year in Week 3, as he “only” managed 240 yards and two TDs. That's a pretty healthy floor. Instead, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 194 rushing yards, 102 receiving yards and three scores in the win. ... Taylor Gabriel (foot) is out for the Falcons. The Saints' offense is in good shape, but top cornerback Delvin Breaux (shoulder) is on IR.

Predictions: Mark Ingram rushes for 70 yards and a TD. Brees throws for 310 yards and touchdowns to Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Tim Hightower. Freeman gallops for 90 yards and a score, while Coleman adds 60 yards and a TD. Ryan throws for 350 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Julio (who pulls in 130 yards), Aldrick Robinson and Justin Hardy. Falcons 35-31

Green Bay at Detroit (+3.5), 49 o/u – Monday, 8:30 pm EST

Comments: The winner here takes the NFC North, and the Lions could even wind up with the No. 2 seed in the conference, but the loser might get a wild card berth as a consolation prize if Washington loses. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have won five straight though as they attempt to live up to his “running the table” prediction, and all the momentum is on their side. They also won the earlier meeting 34-27 on the strength of a Rodgers special: four touchdown passes despite only 205 passing yards. On top of all that, Detroit's pass defense is among the worst in the league, sitting dead last in QB rating against at 105.0, although there's a chance they might get Darius Slay back this week from a hamstring injury. With Rodgers boasting a 14:0 TD:INT over the Pack's last six games, things aren't looking good for the Lions. ... Things would be a little less bleak if Matthew Stafford were still in his early-season, game-stealing form, but he hasn't thrown a TD pass in two games since injuring his middle finger against the Bears. Green Bay's secondary is hardly fearsome, and are tied for 30th in TD passes allowed (30), but they have been a little better (and a little healthier) in recent weeks. The Lions probably have more pressure on them at home for this one, as a win would result in them hosting their first ever playoff game in Ford Field. (Ford Field opened 15 years ago) and net them their first division crown in 23 years. Doing so against the hated Packers would just be the icing on the cake, although if Green Bay then winds up with a wild card spot, it would also result in an immediate rematch between the teams next week. ... Theo Riddick (wrist) is out again for the Lions. Randall Cobb (ankle) is questionable for the Pack, while James Starks (concussion) is out.

Predictions: Ty Montgomery runs for 50 yards and a TD. Rodgers throws for 240 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jared Cook and one to Jordy Nelson. Zach Zenner picks up 40 yards. Stafford throws for 290 yards and TDs to Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. Packers 31-20

Last week's record: 8-8, 6-10 ATS, 6-9-1 o/u
2016 regular season record: 142-96-2, 104-126-10 ATS, 128-107-5 o/u