It’s the final week of the regular season. There are very few games left where both teams have something to play for beyond pride, but the NFL still has three playoff spots left up for grabs and a few seeds to be determined. Madden is taking this round off again in favor of an online NFL game simulator (using best three-out-of-five). We’ll soon see how the postseason picture shakes out for good.
Bold Prediction: People will be declaring the end of Brady by February and lamenting the fact that New England let Jimmy Garoppolo go.
Kownack Record: 151-85
Madden Record: 139-97
Week 17 Picks
Big Game Spotlight
- Kownack: Jaguars 14, Titans 10
My Take – Jacksonville apparently doesn’t plan on resting its starters despite being locked into the third seed. While some might feel the 49ers exposed the Jags this weekend, I chalk it up more to Blake Bortles falling to earth and a team prematurely setting its sights on the playoffs. They’re likely to self correct after that embarrasment. Tennessee miraculously controls their own destiny after three straight losses. This team doesn’t deserve a second (fourth?) chance and won’t take advantage of the opportunity at hand.
- Kownack: Bills 20, Dolphins 13
My Take – The Bills sit right behind Baltimore and Tennessee in the playoff pecking order, so they receive the nod over the Chargers in the big game spotlight. Miami has endured a season of streaks, at one point losing five games in a row. They are currently in the midst of their third multi-game losing streak of the season. That stretch started against Buffalo and it’s likely to continue. Monday Night Football against New England was the Dolphins’ Super Bowl. Their season is over now. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy will put Buffalo in a position to reach the playoffs. The rest is up to Baltimore and Tennessee.
- Kownack: Cardinals 10, Seahawks 24
Despite a prediction for Seattle to win, this is the death rattle of the Legion of Boom. Russell Wilson will continue to be Russell Wilson, but Seattle has major problems on the horizon. Their division is going to become tougher next year. The defense is aging and injured. Earl Thomas is asking teams he just eliminated from the postseason to come sign him. Fire and passion leading to championships can be powerful, but that power comes with volatility. Seattle will blow up sooner rather than later. This is especially true if Atlanta – or Arizona – keeps them out of the playoffs.
- Kownack: Panthers 24, Falcons 31
My Take – The Falcons can win and they’re in, but the team is looking at the most competitive game of the weekend. Atlanta lost at Carolina by a field goal back in week nine. The home field advantage could swing things the other way. Although Carolina can potentially move up as high as the number two seed, it is far more likely they remain a wildcard team. Matt Ryan will enter the game with more fire and more at stake. This team doesn’t want to become the second consecutive Super Bowl loser to miss the playoffs the following season. Plus, they’d be far more interesting to watch in January than the Seahawks.
- Kownack: Bengals 10, Ravens 20
My Take – The Bengals appeared to have mailed it in before they came out of nowhere and eliminated the Lions from playoff contention. The Ravens, meanwhile, have won five of six and have shown far more consistency than that Detroit team. Baltimore is likely to make the playoffs even with a loss, but it’s well within their means to remove all doubt. Joe Flacco has turned the narrative of his season around by throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception in his last month of football. The Ravens defeated Cincinnati 20-0 all the way back in week one. The Bengals haven’t gotten much better since then. The Ravens have.
Pick a Lock
Kownack: Chargers (@ OAK) – Honestly, it would just be nice to see the Chargers in the playoffs. They need a win to do that… and then some.
GameSim: Lions (vs. GB) – The Lions won all five simulations in blowouts. It makes sense. Both teams are out, the Lions are better, and the Packers are keeping approximately 53 starters off the field to evaluate young talent.
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