Do or Die Sunday
Here we are boys and girls, heading into the last Sunday in the NFL regular season, Week 17. It’s do or die time in the NFL regular season, it is Do or Die Sunday which will be followed by Black Monday.
I don’t know how the NFL brainiacs manage to schedule these showdowns in the final two weeks of the regular season, dumb luck I guess. But I like it!
For some teams Sunday’s game means a trip to the playoffs while for others it means the end of the 2012 regular season, disappointment and perhaps complete overhauls.
For some that have already clinched a playoff berth, Sunday’s game is the last chance to improve playoff seeding. In the NFC East the Cowboys and Redskins fight for the NFC East title and a playoff berth. Five teams are alive in the race for the NFC’s second wild-card spot.
This week I am featuring only the games with playoff implications. These are the games that matter on Sunday:
No. 1 seed: Houston Texans (12-3) — at Colts (10-5)
Pick – Colts (Upset)
This game has me thinking upset in Indy. The Colts are riding a big wave of positive emotion. Emotion isn’t always evident in the Texans. If the Texans play with emotion they can roll over the Colts. But I think the Texans are slowing down at the wrong time. The Texans are a win away from clinching the AFC’s top seed but if Houston loses to the Colts, Denver and New England could jump Houston in the standings by winning dropping Houston down to third and cost them a first-round bye.
No. 2 seed: Denver Broncos (12-3) — vs. Chiefs (2-13)
Pick – Broncos.
This is an early playoff and late Christmas gift for Peyton.
While the Broncos still could leapfrog Houston for the No. 1 seed, they also could slip to third with a loss plus a New England win.
No. 3 seed: New England Patriots (11-4) — vs. Dolphins (7-8)
Tom will use all of his weapons in this game and although the Dolphins have game and defense, the Pats know they need the win and momentum for the post season.
The Patriots have the most fluid situation of the AFC’s division winners — they could finish as high as No. 1 or as low as No. 4. If New England beats Miami, it will clinch at least a top-three spot.
No. 4 seed: Baltimore Ravens (10-5) —at Bengals (9-6)
Pick – Bengals
The Bengals want to stay playoff ready and this home game should help them defeat the Ravens. The Ravens are hard to figure out, their defense is actually not their strongest area. The offense has shown signs of improvement, but they play their best ball when Ray Rice gets the ball both running and receiving.
The Ravens are the AFC North champs a win could move them up to No. 3 in the AFC if they win and New England loses; they cannot fall lower than No. 4.
NFC GamesNo. 1 seed: Atlanta Falcons (13-2) — vs. Buccaneers (6-9)
Pick – Bucs
I think the Falcons will play their starters until they secure a good lead and then begin resting their players. There is a danger in resting them too long, the Falcons won’t play a game that means anything for three weeks.
No. 2 seed: Green Bay Packers (11-4) — at Vikings (9-6)
Pick – Vikings (Upset)
Aaron Rodgers is hot and his team is getting healthy at the right time. The Vikings are a bit of a surprise , Adrian Peterson looks like the bionic man. Last week they upset the Texans. So as I say, expect the unexpected.
The Niners loss (ass whoopin) to the Seahawks jumped the Packers over the 49ers for second place in the NFC. If the Packers beat Minnesota clinch a first-round bye. A Green Bay loss coupled with a San Francisco win over Arizona would switch the order again.
No. 3 seed: San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1) — vs. Cardinals (5-10)
Pick – Niners
The 49ers really stunk it up last week against the Seahawks. They have lost four games but the game vs. the Seahawks was the worst beating they have had in many years. To me the team looked tired. They had a heavyweight fight in New England the week before and it seems to have taken its toll. The Seahawks had the better game plan, better coaching and better, bigger plays. The loss along with the scratch- your-head-loss and tie to the Rams, haven’t left any options for the Niners.
It’s do or die Sunday.
Niners need to notch a win Sunday and hope the Vikings upset the Packers. Notching a win against the Cardinals on Sunday isn’t a gimme. Granted the Niners are the better team, but injuries on the Niners may play a key role on the team’s execution on the field.
The Niners need a win in Week 17 (or a Seattle loss) to claim the NFC West title. A Minnesota victory would allow San Francisco to enjoy a bye. Should the 49ers lose to Arizona and fall to second place in the NFC West, they would be the conference’s No. 5 seed and play at either Washington or Dallas in round 1.
No. 4 seed: Washington Redskins (9-6) — vs. Cowboys (9-6)
Pick – Washington
The Cowboys are much more desperate than the Redskins. They know it’s do or die Sunday. I think Shanahan will out coach Garrett in what should be a close game.
With a win Washington will be the NFC East champion and the conference’s No. 4 seed. The Redskins still could sneak into the playoffs with a loss — if Minnesota and Chicago both lose, Washington would clinch a berth. Because the Cowboys-Redskins game was flexed to Sunday night, it is possible that Washington will have a clinched at least a wild-card spot before kickoff.
No. 5 seed: Seattle Seahawks (10-5) — vs. Rams (7-7-1)
Pick – Rams (Upset special)
This game should be a slam dunk for the Seahawks after beating the stuffing out of my Niners. But Rams coach Jeff Fisher is a defensive guy and I expect he has some ideas on how to contain and befuddle Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks clinched a playoff spot in Week 16. If Seattle wins and San Francisco loses, the Seahawks would win the NFC West and take the No. 3 seed; if San Francisco wins or Seattle loses, the Seahawks will stay right where they are and play at either Washington or Dallas in the wild-card round.
No. 6 seed: Minnesota Vikings (9-6) — vs. Packers (11-4)
Pick – Vikings (Upset)
The easy pick is the Packers who are hot. But I think the Vikings have shown a lot of guts this season. Unfortunately they don’t have a lot of play-makers save for Adrian Peterson. But with the home crowd behind them I think the Vikings will find a way to win at home and get into the playoffs.
This is the NFL’s only wild-card spot left unsettled following Week 16. Minnesota can end the drama by beating Green Bay. The Vikings can lose that game and go to the playoffs only if Chicago loses and both New York and Dallas lose or tie.
Chicago Bears (9-6) — at Lions (4-11)
Pick – Bears
This can go either way depending on which Lions team shows up. The Lions’ season is disappointing and surprising. The defense has been their weakness and that is an area of need for the team this off-season.
The Bears can make the playoffs with a win and if Green Bay drops Minnesota.
Dallas Cowboys (8-7) — at Redskins (9-6)
Pick – Redskins.
The game of the week for many NFL fans. Must win game for the Cowboys.
I see a good, close game. The Cowboys must not make mistakes. They seem to rally late in many games this season, but Mike Shanahan will try to get up on them early and then control the clock in the fourth quarter.
Either Washington or Dallas will claim the NFC East with a win.
But the Cowboys cannot lose and make the postseason while Washington can.
New York Giants (8-7) — vs. Eagles (4-11)
Pick – Giants
The G-Men, Super Bowl Champions, have been playing very un-Champion-like football. The Eagles are ready to book flights for warm, sunny places.
Black Monday looms large not only in Philly but in about a dozen other NFL franchise headquarters.
This situation … is not a good situation. Thanks to their face-plant in Baltimore, the Giants are out of the NFC East running and sit fourth in the pecking order for that final wild-card spot. The Giants need to beat Philadelphia and root for Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas to lose. Should any one of those four circumstances fail to occur, there will be a new Super Bowl champion this season.
Eliminated: Rams (7-7-1), Saints (7-8), Buccaneers (6-9), Panthers (6-9), Cardinals (5-10), Lions (4-11), Eagles (4-11)