By Michelle Jinks @TheSportsJinks
Season Total: 114-86
NY Jets (10-5) at Buffalo (7-8)
Series Record: Bills lead 59-51-0
Last Meeting: Nov 12 2015 Buffalo won 22-17 at NY
Rex Ryan celebrated his early season victory over his former team like he had won the Super Bowl. Imagine his reaction if he were to sweep the Jets and prevent a playoff berth? For the Jets it’s simple, a win (or a loss by Pittsburgh) puts them in the playoffs. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall have been on fire as a tandem. Fitz has thrown 29 touchdowns this season, 13 of which went to Marshall. Buffalo struggled on offense in their win over Dallas last week.Â Anything can happen in this division matchup. A win for Jets could very well garner a few coach of the year votes for rookie head coach Todd Bowles.
My Pick: NY JETS
New England (12-3) at Miami (5-10)
Series Record: Dolphins lead 52-48-0
Last Meeting: Oct 29 2015 New England won 36-7 at home
Much has been made about Bill Belichick’s decision to kick off at the start of overtime during last week’s loss to NY Jets. If this was any other coach besides Belichick I’d be surprised. He’s done this before. Basically, his defense let him down. So now the Patriots need to win at Miami to wrap up home field throughout the playoffs. Miami can end a disappointing season on a high note by defeating their division nemesis. In perhaps the most embarrassing and mind blowing play of the season for Miami, the Dolphins lineman failed to move at the snap on fourth and goal as Ryan Tannehill was sacked on the final play of last week’s loss to the NY Giants. It’s been that kind of season for the Phins. New England is 3-2 in their last five games.
My Pick: NEW ENGLAND
New Orleans (6-9) at Atlanta (8-7)
Series Record: Falcons lead 49-44-0
Last Meeting: Oct 15 2015 New Orleans won 31-21 at home
Atlanta revenged a 38-0 blowout to Carolina with an upset of the Panthers in the rematch, ending their hopes of an undefeated season. Unfortunately for Atlanta, there were not enough scenarios to allow them to sneak into the playoffs. The Falcons began the season 5-0 and then went 3-7. New Orleans hasn’t been able to stop anyone despite a change at defensive coordinator. Devonta Freeman got loose against a tough Carolina defense and should be able to find many holes in the Saints defense.
My Pick: ATLANTA
Baltimore (5-10) at Cincinnati (11-4)
Series Record: Ravens lead 20-19-0
Last Meeting: Sept 27 2015 Cincinnati won 28-24 at Baltimore
When the starting quarterback goes down, the other side of the ball has to step up and win a few games. The Ravens, led by Ryan Mallett, pulled an upset over arch rival Pittsburgh last week. They’ll try to end the season with a two game win streak for the first time this season and winning two straight against division rivals can go a long way for a team with few high notes this season. Cincinnati, led by AJ McCarron, was not able to hold on to a big lead against Denver.Â They need a win to get a first round bye. Cincinnati has won three of the last four meetings.
My Pick: CINCINNATI
Pittsburgh (9-6) at Cleveland (3-12)
Series Record: Steelers lead 69-58-0
Last Meeting: Nov 15 2015 Pittsburgh won 30-9 at home
Despite their loss to Baltimore last week, there is still hope for the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the playoffs. But they’re gonna need help from Buffalo. Nothing about this scenario is a long shot.Â Of course the Steelers have to hold up their end and defeat Cleveland, a team they defeated 30-9 earlier this season. They won’t have to face Johnny Manziel, as he goes through concussion protocol. I’m not sure if the quarterback will make much of a difference for Cleveland.
My Pick: PITTSBURGH
Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (8-7)
Series Record: Texans lead 16-11-0
Last Meeting: Oct 18 2015 Houston won 31-20 at Jacksonville
Jacksonville has lost its last two games since putting up 51 points on Indianapolis Dec. 13 – but not because Blake Bortles hasn’t played well. Bortles has quietly tossed 35 touchdowns this season while throwing for over 4,000 yards. Many of his passes have ended up in Mr. Allen Robinson’s neighborhood. Robinson leads the team with 79 recs for 1292 yards and 14 TD. DeAndre Hopkins can make plays no matter who is behind center for the Houston Texans. Just get him the ball. Houston is 3-2 over the last five games. A win for the Texans secures the AFC South and a spot in the playoffs.
My Pick: HOUSTON
Tennessee (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8)
Series Record: Colts lead 28-14-0
Last Meeting: Sept 27 2015 Indianapolis won 35-33 at Tennessee
A long long time ago, like the beginning of the season, the Indianapolis Colts were mentioned as a possible Super Bowl contender. Fast forward to week 17 and the Colts chances of making the playoffs are slim to none. There are just too many factors needed for that to happen. Not to mention the Colts are now down to their third quarterback and quite frankly they wouldn’t get very far if they made it. For Tennessee a loss would probably benefit the organization more. They are currently tied with Cleveland for the worst record in the league vying for the top spot in the NFL draft. But don’t tell that to the players lining up for the final game of the season.
My Pick: INDIANAPOLIS
Washington (8-7) at Dallas (4-11)
Series Record: Cowboys lead 66-43-2
Last Meeting: Dec 7 2015 Dallas won 19-16 at Washington
Well, we’re finally down to the last game of the season. And just like last year the NFC East has already been decided as Washington wrapped up the division with last week’s win over Philadelphia. And just like last year the game between the Redskins and Cowboys means absolutely nothing outside of their hate for each other. And just like last year, the team that won the division had lost the first meeting between the two.Â And just like last year, the second game went the opposite way.
My Pick: WASHINGTON
Philadelphia (6-9) at NY Giants (6-9)
Series Record: Giants lead 84-79-2
Last Meeting: Oct 19 2015 Philadelphia won 27-7 at home
The Philadelphia Eagles were so disgusted by Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ showing against the Redskins they wouldn’t let him coach the final game of the season. This could also be the last game for Tom Coughlin as well. He’s won two Super Bowls but lately his teams have not responded to him.Â Odell Beckham Jr. will return to the lineup after serving a one game suspension for his unethical behavior in the loss to the Panthers.
My Pick: PHILADELPHIA
Detroit (6-9) at Chicago (6-9)
Series Record: Bears lead 96-70-2
Last Meeting: Oct 18 2015 Detroit won 37-34-0
After a slow start that resembled their last winless season, the Detroit Lions turned things around somewhat as they head into the final game having won three of their last five. In their last three victories the Lions have scored 45, 35 and 32 points. Chicago snapped a three game slide with a 26-21 victory over Tampa Bay last week. The Lions have added the run game to their offense and the rewards have been great. Whether it’s Theo Riddick or rookie Ameer Abdullah the Lions are moving the ball on the ground. The key for Chicago is Jay Cutler, who is having one of his more productive seasons in terms of limiting the turnovers of previous years. He only has eight interceptions this season compared to 18 a year ago.
My Pick: DETROIT
Oakland (7-8) at Kansas City (10-5)
Series Record: Chiefs lead 59-52-2
Last Meeting: Dec 6 2015 Kansas City won 34-20 at Oakland
It’s hard not to look at the Kansas City Chiefs season and not think that Andy Reid did a heck of a coaching job. No one thought the Chiefs, without Jamaal Charles, could amount to much as they started the season 1-5. But Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin stepped up big, along with the legs of Charcandrick West. Maclin has over 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Remember when the Chiefs couldn’t throw a touchdown to a receiver? As for the Raiders this could be their last game as Oakland Raiders. Maybe they’re moving to Los Angeles, maybe not.
My Pick: KANSAS CITY
San Diego (4-11) at Denver (11-4)
Series Record: Broncos lead 62-49-1
Last Meeting: Dec 6 2015 Denver won 17-3 at San Diego
No Peyton, no problem. Manning’s backup, Brock Osweiler pulled out a come-from-behind victory over Cincinnati on Monday night to get Denver into the playoffs. Now he needs another win and a New England loss to steal home field from the Patriots. San Diego is a team in disarray. They’re bodies will be in Denver but their minds may be on the other side of town. Too much talk about moving, contracts, non-injuries, coaching changes, etc. etc.
My Pick: DENVER
Tampa Bay (6-9) at Carolina (14-1)
Series Record: Panthers lead 19-11-0
Last Meeting: Oct 4 2015 Carolina won 30-15 at Tampa
Carolina is expected to come out swinging (hopefully not literally) when they host Tampa Bay on Sunday. Their matchup was moved to 4 p.m. ET. Due to their loss to Atlanta last week this game has a lot more meaning. The Panthers need a win to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Tampa Bay has already doubled their win total from the previous two seasons combined. They played tough against the Panthers in the first meeting but the stakes may be too high this time. Carolina is on a mission. They do not want to head into the playoffs riding a two game losing streak. Either way they will still receive a first round bye.
My Pick: CAROLINA
Seattle (9-6) at Arizona (13-2)
Series Record: Cardinals lead 17-16-0
Last Meeting: Nov 15 2015 Arizona won 39-32 at Seattle
Outside of the Minnesota-Green Bay game, this is probably the best matchup of the week. Sure, both teams have already secured playoff spots and for Arizona they have at least the second seed. But they want more. A win, coupled with a loss by the Panthers, and the Cardinals will get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Seattle was one of the hottest teams as of late heading into their matchup against St. Louis last week. They fell flat and now try to pick up a little steam prior to their first playoff game. Seattle has won the last two meetings in Arizona.
My Pick: ARIZONA
St. Louis (7-8) at San Francisco (4-11)
Series Record: 49ers lead 65-64-3
Last Meeting: Nov 1 2015 St. Louis won 27-6 at home
One thing’s for sure, this game won’t be pretty. Two struggling offenses, The only highlight may be watching Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley. That is, of course, if he’s able to get free. Gurley’s production has picked up since Case Keenum took over as quarterback for the ineffective Nick Foles. He has 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite missing the first two games of the season. San Francisco’s offense hasn’t changed much under Blaine Gabbert, although he did provide a little spark initially. Four of the Rams seven victories have come within the NFC West.
My Pick: ST. LOUIS
Minnesota (10-5) at Green Bay (10-5)
Series Record: Packers lead 59-49-2
Last Meeting: Nov 22 2015 Green Bay won 30-13 in Minnesota
Green Bay has won the last four NFC North titles and Minnesota wants to put an end to this madness. The winner captures the division and the No. 3 seed, while the loser will get the fifth seed. Minnesota won big against Chicago last week but Green Bay struggled in a loss to Arizona. The Packers had won three straight before falling to the Cardinals. For Minnesota, a win would mean so much more. They can win the division and defeat a team they have won over only once in the last 12 meetings.
My Pick: GREEN BAY