The conclusion of the regular season is finally upon us. It’s officially time to separate the contenders from the pretenders as Week 17 has arrived with 20 teams set to end their seasons. While most of the postseason teams are set, the NFC still needs a champion of the East and the AFC still needs the No. 6 seed to be settled.
It’s quite simple how the battle for the NFC East works. If the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants, they win the division and they’re in. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins and the Eagles lose, the Cowboys are in. A Cowboys loss will also seal the division for the Eagles, no matter what Philadelphia does.
The No. 6 seed in the AFC could get crazy if the Tennessee Titans can’t beat the Houston Texans. Via CBS Sports colleague Will Brinson, the Titans are currently the No. 6 seed based on their strength of victory (.444) vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ strength of victory (.305). Pittsburgh can still make the playoffs if the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens and the Titans lose to the Texans, so the Steelers will need some help. The Oakland Raiders could get the No. 6 seed as well. First, Oakland has to beat the Denver Broncos, then they need the Titans and Steelers to both lose. Finally, they need the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. If all these scenarios happen, Oakland clinches a playoff berth.
So there is some chaos heading into Week 17, but it’s not as crazy as in previous years. I’m changing things up with picks this week, focusing only on the games with playoff seeding and playoff implications since we’re set to enter the NFL‘s second season. Let’s get to the final regular season picks!
Battle for NFC West
San Francisco 49ers (12-3) at Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Line: 49ers -3
What’s at stake: The winner of the game will clinch the NFC West title and a home game in the playoffs. If the 49ers win, they clinch the division and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks clinch a first-round bye with a win and Green Bay Packers loss and home-field advantage with a win, Green Bay loss and a New Orleans Saints loss.
The 49ers lost to the Seahawks when the two teams met in Week 10, but Seattle is down its top three running backs for the rematch. Seattle is looking to get by with Marshawn Lynch, who was convinced to come back from retirement this week, and Robert Turbin, who also signed. That takes away the advantage the Seahawks had against the 49ers defense, which is 23rd in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.5) and 17th in rush yards allowed (111.8). The Seahawks defense allows 4.8 yards per carry (28th in the NFL) and 117.0 rush yards (24th). San Francisco had only 87 rush yards in the first meeting, but the law of averages says San Francisco will be able to control the clock and move the ball this time.
Pick: 49ers 23, Seahawks 20
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Battle for NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at New York Giants (4-11)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Eagles -4.5
What’s at stake: The Eagles clinch the NFC East and the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs with a win. They can also clinch the division with a Cowboys loss to the Redskins.
The Eagles started their December turnaround after trailing 17-3 to the Giants, rallying to an overtime victory. They won’t be facing Eli Manning this time around, getting Daniel Jones as he will face Philadelphia for the first meeting of his career. Jones has 12 touchdown and three interceptions in his last four games, including a career-high five touchdowns last week against the Redskins. For the Giants to upset Philadelphia, Saquon Barkley will have to figure out an Eagles run defense that is seventh in yards per carry (4.0) and third in rush yards allowed (88.0). If Barkley can’t get going, the Giants don’t have much chance to pull of the upset. The Giants allow 7.6 yards per pass (29th in NFL) and opposing quarterbacks complete 67.05% of their passes (28th), a huge opportunity for Carson Wentz to put them in an early hole.
Pick: Eagles 27, Giants 19
Washington Redskins (3-12) at Dallas Cowboys (7-8)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Cowboys -11
What’s at stake: A Cowboys win and an Eagles loss gives Dallas the NFC East title.
The Cowboys suffered a devastating loss to the Eagles that took them out of first place in the NFC East for the first time all year. This game feels like one Dallas would lose, but the Redskins have the worst record in the NFC for a reason (even though they have been playing better of late). Case Keenum will provide a spark to their passing game, but the Redskins run defense allows 4.6 yards per carry (25th in NFL) and 141.1 yards per game (29th) … a problem against a strong Cowboys rushing attack.
Pick: Cowboys 28, Redskins 24
Other NFC games
Green Bay Packers (-12.5) 31, Detroit Lions 16
New Orleans Saints (-13) 34, Carolina Panthers 14
Battle for AFC No. 6 seed
Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Titans -3.5
What’s at stake: The Texans can clinch the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win and a Kansas City Chiefs loss. The Titans clinch the No. 6 and final playoff spot in the AFC with a win.
This game will be tough to predict since the Texans may play their starters pending on the Chiefs result (Kansas City plays the Los Angeles Chargers at 1 p.m.). If The Texans do play their starters, they’ll have to figure out how to curtail the Titans rushing attack again, as Derrick Henry only had 86 yards on 21 carries and was kept out of the end zone in their last meeting. Henry is expected to be a full go against a Texans defense that allows 4.6 yards per carry (26th in NFL). The Texans run defense has been much better the past three weeks (save a 57-yard run by Titans tight end Jonnu Smith), but a healthy Henry and a desperate Titans team should be enough to clinch a playoff berth. If Kansas City wins, this game means nothing to Houston.
Pick: Titans 26, Texans 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-2)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Steelers -2
What’s at stake: The Steelers clinch the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win and a Titans loss.
Hard to go with the Steelers here considering their offense has averaged just 254.7 yards per game and 14.3 points per game over the past three games, both 30th in the NFL. Duck Hodges was benched, then had to come back because of Mason Rudolph’s injury. The Ravens are resting Lamar Jackson and many of their starters since they have home-field advantage wrapped up. Baltimore won’t be that lethal against the Pittsburgh defense, but the Ravens will end Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes
Pick: Ravens 19, Steelers 17
Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Denver Broncos (6-9)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Broncos -3.5
A lot has to happen for the Raiders here, but first they have to beat a Broncos team that is 6-5 since their 0-4 start. Denver is 3-1 in Drew Lock’s four starts as Lock has thrown for 843 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions, which is tied for the most touchdown passes on the team. This is a much different Denver team since meeting the Raiders in Week 1, but capitalizing off the Raiders pass defense (32nd in NFL with 7.9 yards per pass allowed) will be the key to victory. Denver’s offense has to move the ball against a poor Raiders defense (6.0 yards per play allowed, 29th in NFL) for the Broncos to have a chance. The Broncos have converted 44.12% of third downs the past three games while the Raiders have allowed 41.18%. The Broncos will take advantage of it.
Pick: Broncos 24, Raiders 20
Other AFC games
Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) 31, Los Angeles Chargers 17
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 16
KERR’S RECORD (Week 16): 9-7
KERR’S RECORD (Overall): 148-91-1 (.619 win percentage)