It is the penultimate week of the regular NFL Season and where has the time gone?! It only seems like yesterday when the Chiefs caused an upset by defeating the Patriots in the first game of the 2017 season and Kareem Hunt was introduced to the NFL world. As the regular season draws to a close, there a number of key matchups this week which will have a significant impact upon the playoff picture. Not to mention that it is also the NFL Fantasy Championship match for most leagues!
Colts @ Ravens;
The Ravens have won 5 of their last 7 games and go into this one strong favourites to keep that run going. Joe Flacco got the job done against the Browns last week and the Ravens will be hoping to cement their wildcard spot with a victory over the Colts this week. The Colts have lost their last 5 games and cannot seem them getting one over this well-oiled Ravens defence, which look to be dragging the Ravens into the play-offs (along with RB Alex Collins).
Vikings @ Packers;
Any hopes the Packers had in reaching the playoffs ended on Monday night when the Falcons defeated the Bucks. This caused Mike McCarthy to shut Aaron Rodgers down for the remainder of the 2017 season. That means Brett Hundley will once again be under centre and this time under very different circumstances as the Vikings are honing in on home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (even for the Superbowl). The Vikings got back to winning ways last weekend with a routine victory over the Bengals and can see them keeping this momentum going here.
Rams @ Titans;
This is a must win game for the Titans as only a win will keep their playoff dreams alive. The Titans have looked inconsistent all season and once again suffered a disappointing loss last time out against the rejuvenated 49ers. Todd Gurley and the Rams were very impressive last gameday in securing a huge win over the Seahawks and have all but secured top spot in the NFC West. I am going for the Rams in a close affair.
Bills @ Patriots;
The Patriots got over the line last weekend against the Steelers and will be feeling confident in securing the win here. Tom Brady has looked solid all season and currently leads the way in passing yards – however, he doesn’t seem to care too much about your fantasy match-ups with modest performances over Week 15-17 in recent years. The Bills have picked up a couple of wins recently meaning they are currently in the playoff scene but can only see one winner at Foxborough. Bills will likely need a miracle here, or a very heavy dose of LeSean McCoy to compete.
PICK: PatriotsEmbed from Getty Images
Browns @ Bears;
Surely this is the last chance for the Browns to win a game this season? Next week they face the Steelers at Heinz Field so will surely be pulling out all the stops to pick up their first victory of the season here. The Bears are a mediocre team with nothing to play for and just have a feeling that this will be the week that gives Browns fans something to cheer about finally.
Falcons @ Saints;
A massive, divisional game in the penultimate week of the season which will have significant permutations for the playoff scene. The Saints got back to winning way with a hard-fought victory over the Jets last weekend with the Falcons also coming off the back of a win. The Falcons won this contest a few weeks ago giving them confidence going into this and did look particularly strong in the running game last week, riding Devonta Freeman. However, even with key injuries on defence for the Saints, I am predicting a Saints win potentially settled in O/T.
Lions @ Bengals;
Detroit kept their playoff hopes alive last week with a victory over the Bears. They will need wins in their final 2 games of the season and hope either the Falcons or Panthers slip up to reach the playoffs. Personally speaking, I don’t feel the Lions look any stronger than they did last season and even if they were to make it to the wildcard weekend, I cannot see them progressing further than that. The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL right now and have lost 5 of their last 7 games. I am expecting a Lions win to keep their playoff hopes alive and kicking.
Buccaneers @ Panthers;
The Panthers secured another impressive victory last weekend and for me are dark horses in reaching the Super Bowl. Christian McCaffrey has looked better as the season has worn on as has Cam Newton. Already boasting a strong defence (even without Thomas Davis), I can see the Panthers having a lengthy playoff run. They will make light work of the Bucks.
PICK: PanthersEmbed from Getty Images
Dolphins @ Chiefs;
The Chiefs have been resurgent of late, winning their last 2 which has kept them atop of the AFC West. The Dolphins are not statistically out of the playoff picture but do not travel well having only won 2 games away from Miami all season. The Chiefs will have 1 foot in the playoff door after this game.
Broncos @ Redskins;
A game with very little riding on it, similar to both teams victories last week against the Colts and Cardinals respectively. I can see this being a close matchup with home advantage being the deciding factor, despite the multiple injuries currently plaguing the Redskins.
Chargers @: Jets;
A tough game to predict. The Chargers suffered a surprising loss last week after their excellent recent form and going into this one will know that only two wins from their final two games will do if they are to reach the playoffs. MetLife Stadium is never easy to play in but with the Jets not playing for anything can see the Chargers securing the win.
Jaguars @ 49ers;
This is going to be a very close game! The 49ers made it 3 wins on the trot with another victory last week with Jimmy G. looking more impressive as each week goes by (and having not lost a game in his first 5 starts). The Jaguars are now favourites to finish top of the AFC South, especially after their excellent performance against the Texans last gameday. Yet, the 49ers look a completely different team of late and am predicting them to get the win and keep the AFC playoff situation wide open.
Seahawks @ Cowboys;
This is another tough game to predict. Ezekiel Elliot will be back for the Cowboys after serving his suspension and will come into the Cowboys whom are in good form. The Seahawks suffered a crushing defeat against the Rams last Sunday which all but ended their playoff chances. This is my game of the week as both teams will be slogging out knowing only a win will keep their slim playoff chances alive and am expecting Elliot to be the difference between the 2 teams.
PICK: CowboysEmbed from Getty Images
Giants @ Cardinals;
The Giants pushed the Eagles all the way last gameday with Eli Manning rolling back the years with an excellent performance but ultimately came up just short. The Cardinals suffered a close defeat to the Redskins last Sunday and feel home advantage will be the difference in this close, low scoring game.
Steelers @ Texans;
This is the kind of game the Steelers have lost in the past few seasons. The Steelers have struggled on the road against teams with losing records. The Steelers will be short on confidence after their crushing loss against the Patriots last time out and without Antonio Brown am predicting a big upset here. The Texans defence to come to the fore with DeAndre Hopkins having another big game.
PICK: TexansEmbed from Getty Images
Raiders @ Eagles;
The Eagles had a big scare last week when they just scrapped past the Giants in New York. The Raiders came close to defeating the Cowboys last Sunday night but fell agonisingly short which all but ended their playoff dreams. With home field advantage and Jay Ajayi looking more and more dangerous as the weeks go on, I expect the Eagles to take care of the Raiders comfortably.