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Prisco's Picks: Week 17

 
 
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WEEK
17
 
PETE PRISCO
Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
MATCHUP SCORE ANALYSIS
Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014
 
Cleveland
Browns
20
This will likely be Connor Shaw at quarterback for the Browns with Johnny Manziel out and Brian Hoyer going through concussion protocol. That's not a good thing against a Baltimore team that needs this win to stay alive -- and was embarrassed last week. Look for a bounce-back here from the Ravens.
Result: Baltimore Ravens 20, Cleveland Browns 10
Baltimore
Ravens
30
 
 
Jacksonville
Jaguars
17
The Texans are still alive in the playoff chase -- just barely. But that will keep them focused. Two weeks ago, they beat the Jaguars at Jacksonville. This one will be a little tighter with Case Keenum playing quarterback. Jacksonville's defense is improving and that will be in play in a close one.
Result: Houston Texans 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Houston
Texans
20
 
 
San Diego
Chargers
24
If the Chargers win, they are in the playoffs. The Chiefs would like nothing more than to knock their division rival out. San Diego had a great comeback last week against the 49ers, and now must play a second consecutive road game. That will be tough for Philip Rivers, who is hurting with a back injury. I see the Chiefs finding a way here to end San Diego's playoff hopes.
Result: Kansas City Chiefs 19, San Diego Chargers 7
Kansas City
Chiefs
28
 
 
New York
Jets
17
If the Dolphins win this, they will finish 9-7. That would be progress, and that's why Joe Philbin is coming back as coach. Rex Ryan will almost certainly not be back for the Jets. So it will be interesting to see how his players respond for him and Philbin's do for him. I say the Dolphins will win it behind Ryan Tannehill's continued good play.
Result: Miami Dolphins 24, NY Jets 37
Miami
Dolphins
24
 
 
Chicago
Bears
13
Jay Cutler is back in as the starter for the Bears this week with Jimmy Clausen out with a concussion. How does Cutler respond? I say he plays well. It's Marc Trestman's last game, too. The Vikings have played much better on offense in the second half as Teddy Bridgewater has improved. That continues against a bad defense.
Result: Minnesota Vikings 13, Chicago Bears 9
Minnesota
Vikings
20
 
 
Buffalo
Bills
23
The Patriots and Bills aren't playing for anything here with the Bills eliminated and the Patriots locked in for the No. 1 seed. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots play this. I think the starters will play at least a half. The Buffalo defense is tough and they will keep this game close -- no matter who plays for the Patriots.
Result: New England Patriots 9, Buffalo Bills 17
New England
Patriots
27
 
 
Philadelphia
Eagles
23
The Giants have won three straight, while the Eagles have lost three consecutive games to fall out of the playoffs. The last time these two met, the Eagles blew them out. This time, the Giants are playing much better. Look for a big day from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Giants take it.
Result: NY Giants 26, Philadelphia Eagles 34
New York
Giants
27
 
 
New Orleans
Saints
33
The Saints are playing a meaningless game in Week 17. That's hard to believe. But they just haven't been good. The Bucs have been a major flop. So who shows up here? I think the Saints and Drew Brees will show some pride and play well to try and feel good heading into the offseason.
Result: New Orleans Saints 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20
Tampa Bay
Buccaneers
23
 
 
Indianapolis
Colts
28
The Colts looked awful last week, getting blown out by the Cowboys. They have to play better here to get some momentum heading into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how long the starters go. I think Andrew Luck rolls up some big numbers, and then takes a seat. Colts big.
Result: Indianapolis Colts 27, Tennessee Titans 10
Tennessee
Titans
17
 
 
Dallas
Cowboys
35
The Cowboys are division champs, which means it's all about the playoffs now. The Redskins showed life in beating the Eagles last week, and you know they would love to give the Cowboys a beating as they head to the playoffs. Not here. The Redskins won the first meeting, but Tony Romo continues his hot streak to win the second one.
Result: Dallas Cowboys 44, Washington Redskins 17
Washington
Redskins
21
 
 
Carolina
Panthers
21
Both of these teams have made improvements in the past month, but I think the Falcons have made the most on offense. The line has played better, and that will show up here. I think Matt Ryan will light up the Panthers and Carolina won't keep up. Atlanta goes to the playoffs.
Atlanta
Falcons
31
 
 
Detroit
Lions
21
This is for the NFC North title, which is huge in terms of playoff seeds. Both teams are in the postseason party, but winning here means a bye and a home game in the playoffs. The Packers have been so good at home, and that will play out here. The Detroit defense limited Aaron Rodgers and the offense to seven points the last time they played in the Lions' victory. That won't happen here. Rodgers, even dinged, will have a big day.
Green Bay
Packers
31
 
 
Oakland
Raiders
14
The Broncos didn't look good in losing to the Bengals Monday night, and now need this to lock up the second seed in the conference. The Raiders have played much better down the stretch as Derek Carr has grown up some. That won't matter here. Denver gets rolling before the playoffs.
Denver
Broncos
28
 
 
Arizona
Cardinals
20
The Cardinals might turn to Logan Thomas at quarterback in this one, and he can't be any worse than Ryan Lindley was last week against Seattle. That will force some uncertainty in preparation for the 49ers, a team of coaches and players who probably have one foot out the locker-room doors as they play for nothing. Seattle destroyed the Arizona defense. That won't be the case here. Cardinals need it, and get it.
San Francisco
49ers
17
 
 
St. Louis
Rams
20
Seattle is riding high after blowing out Arizona. They can lock up the No. 1 seed here if they beat the Rams. But St. Louis seems to always play them tough, and beat them earlier this season. That won't happen here. But the Rams will put up a good fight.
Seattle
Seahawks
23
 
 
Cincinnati
Bengals
23
The Bengals won a huge game to advance to the playoffs in beating Denver on Monday night. Now the division title is on the line. The Steelers blew out Cincinnati three weeks ago. That game was close in the fourth. This one will be as well, but the Steelers will find a way with some late heroics from Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh
Steelers
24
 
 
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