Jazz: The regular season grinds to either a depressing or anxiety filled finish today. (Depending on whether you’re a Jets fan or a Steelers fan.) Last week brought me a ray of sunshine as I tied my best performance of the season, going 6-1 for a regular season total of 67-45. Ed already mailed me a regular season trophy in the form of a steel cup. It’s not engraved with anything to do with our contest, but I was able to mix a martini in it. Next week, however, the slate is wiped clean and we start the post-season competition. Can I win both for the first time in the history of our game? Let’s just say I’m not betting the ranch on it.
Ed: And so my season — and Pittsburgh’s — comes down to this: can we both stay above .500 for 2018? After a 2-5 week, I’m now at 58-54. As long as I get two picks correct this week, I can at least avoid going underwater for the season. By the way, in case I lose the playoff rounds too, the package I sent Jazz had two steel cups. I’m nothing if not prepared.
Jazz: The Jets traipse off to New England to face the Patriots (1:00 pm, CBS) in the dismal conclusion to a generally dismal season. The Pats have put in some rough performances of late, but as bad as they may have looked, they didn’t look Jets level bad. The Patriots have a lot to play for here, too. If they manage to lose to New York and Houston wins today, they will drop to 3rd or even 4th seed and lose their bye in the first round. I don’t see it happening, though. The Jets find a way to lose yet again, 27-14. The Steelers welcome the Bengals to Pittsburgh (4:25 pm, CBS) and they’re on a razor’s edge. They not only need to beat the Bengals, but they must hope that the Browns somehow beat the Ravens or they will be joining the Jets in watching the playoffs at home. They’ll get their part of the job done today, though. Pittsburgh wins easily, 31-13. The Vikings host the Bears (4:25 pm, FOX) in a game with playoff implications for both. The Bears need a win to give them a chance at a first-week bye. The Vikings need a win to avoid most likely playing the Bears again in the wildcard. Minnesota may have home-field advantage but Chicago will be too much for them on the ground. Da Bears ring up Da Win yet again, 24-17.
Ed: The Jets have the misfortune of a Week 17 game on the road to New England where the Pats have something to gain in a win. Most seasons they’d be resting starters, but they can’t afford it this year. Pats win 31-20. The Steelers get to finish at home against the reeling Bengals, who’ve lost six of their last seven, eight of their last ten, and haven’t won on the road since week 4. Pittsburgh has to win and get help today from the Browns, who are playing the resurgent Ravens in Baltimore at the same time as the Steelers and Bengals play this game. Cincinnati’s dead last on defense and is going against the #4 offense, while their own O is only seven slots from the bottom. It likely won’t matter in the end, but Steelers top the Bengals 37-17. Da Bears have a solid team but they’re not playing for much, as the Rams can lock up the #2 NFC seed by beating the 49ers in LA, which should be a lock. Chicago may rest some starters, but even if they didn’t, they’re not that dominant on the road — and Minnesota’s tough to beat at home. It’ll be close, but I’ll pick the Vikings to edge Da Bears, 26-23.
Jazz: Here our four other final, regular season picks which should impact the playoff picture.
- Jaguars at Texans (1:00 pm, CBS) – The interesting aspect of this game is that a Texans win could lock them into a first round bye. The bad news is that in order to make the happen the Jets would have to beat the Patriots. That’s not likely, but the Texans are way too powerful for poor Jacksonville. Houston wins this one 24-9.
- Raiders at Chiefs (4:25 pm, CBS) – If the Chiefs win this one they not only take the AFC West but lock up the number one seed in the AFC. This will all come down to the running game, where the Raiders have been giving up way too many yards and Kansas City has been crushing it. That will be enough and the Chiefs sail to victory 31-24.
- Eagles at Redskins (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Eagles are currently out of the top six slots, but they have a chance to make the post season if everything goes their way. (That includes a loss by the Vikings which I’ve already predicted.) The birds will need to get their running game back on track to beat Washington, but they have all the motivation in the world to do it. They get their shot at another Super Bowl with a win over the Redskins 23-17.
- Colts at Titans (8:20 pm, NBC) – Fun fact: If this game ends in a tie and the Steelers win today, Pittsburgh still sneaks into the playoffs in the number 6 spot even if the Ravens win (because of that tie they had early on). Otherwise, this matchup is a bloodsport match because the winner goes to the postseason and the loser goes home. With that, we’re back to the question of which Titans team shows up this week? They are so hit and miss that we may as well flip a coin. But Tennessee has been hit with some late season injuries for their starters. I think that offsets the home field advantage so I’ll take the Colts in a close one, 24-19.
- Jaguars at Texans (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Jags have a very good defense, but nothing much on offense, only scoring 16 points a game. Houston’s defense only gives up one more point a game than Jacksonville, but they score nine more points a game. Add that to home-field advantage and you get a 24-14 win for the Texans.
- Raiders at Chiefs (4:25 pm, CBS) – Oakland played KC close four weeks ago, but that was at home. The Chiefs are 6-1 at home and want to keep ahead of the Chargers for the AFC West title — and the bye week. Chiefs take it 40-24.
- Eagles at Redskins (4:25 pm, FOX) – Philly has muscled its way back into playoff contention, although they need some help to make the cut. The Redskins have lost four of their last five, and they’ve got nothing at stake today. Eagles win 28-20.
- Colts at Titans (8:20 pm, NBC) – The Titans have won four in a row and can make the playoffs with a win. The Colts can make the playoffs too and have won three in a row and eight of their last nine, but I think Tennessee will get the benefit of home-field advantage here. Indy’s got the better offense, but the Titans play better defense. I’ll pick Tennessee to win 27-24, maybe in overtime … although you know I’ll be rooting for a tie.