Is there anything better than the final two weeks in the regular season when several teams are playing for their postseason lives and jockeying for seeding? Well, the only thing better would be if the Indianapolis Colts were actually a part of that process, but, they’re not --- and for good reason.
The Colts have their hands full this week with a Baltimore Ravens squad who is clicking on all cylinders and is in a heated playoff battle to squeak into the postseason. On paper it looks ugly for the Colts with their near-pathetic offense matching up against an impressive Ravens’ defense. Defensively, the Colts simply don’t have the quality bodies to truly affect the game, even against a fairly average offense and quarterback in Joe Flacco.
Otherwise, the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks are set to square off in a game that couldn’t have much more on the line as they feature identical 8-6 records and are hoping to receive some help elsewhere in the league in order to still be in the hunt for a wild card berth. The Detroit Lions are in a similar position as they also hold an 8-6 record and need some help in addition to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in order to punch their ticket for the postseason.
The Buffalo Bills are hoping to get further into the mix as well pending that they can pull off a major upset as they travel to Foxboro to play the AFC’s current No. 1 seed in the New England Patriots. They actually need the Colts to knock off the Ravens in order for their playoff hopes to remain alive and, for this, I feel terrible for their fan base.
The NFC South is extremely interesting this week as the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will battle and the Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all in the 1 o’clock hour. The Saints, Falcons and Panthers could all conceivably be 10-5 by early evening and would make Week 17 set up for all of the marbles as well as possibly 2 wild card berths from the same divisions.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are traveling to the much improved San Francisco 49ers with their new franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and despite their simple record, the Jaguars may be tested a bit more than people might think. Ultimately, I think this would be good for the Jaguars who will likely be winning the AFC South for the first time since 1999, and will be seeing their first playoff appearance in a decade.
The Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles still have to close the door on their season on positive notes as the division leaders in the conference are still able to affect the top-2 seeds in the final two weeks of the season. They matchup with the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders respectively who both have quarterbacks more than capable of knocking each of them off, so despite their opposition’s records these could be significantly more entertaining and eventful than they’re currently billed to be.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are also in prime position to control their fate to a degree, but need to stomp out the Houston Texans to avoid worry of falling to the No. 3 seed if the Jaguars take care of business. There are no shortage of critical games for multiple teams this weekend and though the Colts aren’t apart of it, at least you can enjoy some quality football for Christmas just the same.
This week the following contributors voted on each game: Brett Mock, Matt Danely, Stephen Reed, Chris Shepherd, Andrew Aziz, Jared Malott and Jake Arthur. Again, our group voted ‘winners’ which have been bolded, with the vote counts in parenthesis and unanimous predictions were noted by an asterisk (*).
Thus far the staff’s numbers are: Faraz Majid – 68/105 (64.8%) | Brett Mock – 136/211 (64.5%) | Chris Blystone – 132/211 (62.6%) | Matt Danely – 127/211 (60.2%) | Andrew Aziz – 124/196 (63.3%) | Jake Arthur – 121/183 (66.1%) | Jared Malott – 123/198 (62.1%) | Stephen Reed – 120/199 (60.3%) | Chris Shepherd – 120/198 (60.6%) | Josh Hudgens – 87/135 (64.4%)
Saturday @ 4:30 ET
Colts @ Ravens*
Saturday @ 8:30 ET
Vikings* @ Packers
Sunday @ 1:00 ET
Rams* @ Titans
Browns (5) @ Bears – Contrarians: Brett Mock, Jared Malott
Lions* @ Bengals
Dolphins @ Chiefs*
Chargers* @ Jets
Bills @ Patriots*
Falcons @ Saints (6) – Contrarian: Matt Danely
Buccaneers @ Panthers*
Broncos @ Redskins (6) – Contrarian: Danely
Sunday @ 4:05 ET
Jaguars* @ 49ers
Sunday @ 4:25 ET
Seahawks @ Cowboys (5) – Contrarians: Danely, Malott
Giants* @ Cardinals
Monday @ 4:30 ET
Steelers* @ Texans
Monday @ 8:30 ET
Raiders @ Eagles*