Jacksonville at Kansas City
Both teams still have Wild Card possibilities when this game kicks off although neither controls its own fate. I expect both teams to give their best effort in this game.
Kansas City have historically played well at home late in the season even when they have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Chiefs have been strong in their final game of the regular season with an ATS record of 22-6 since 1978 (79%) including 10-1 ATS when that final game is at home and 8-1 ATS as a home favorite. KC will also be playing their first home game since the death of owner Lamar Hunt.
Jacksonville has played much better at home than on the road all season and are off of back to back losses. This is a match-up between a strong home team and a weak road team as the Jags find themselves on the brink of elimination because they’ve struggled on the road against lesser competition. Give me the Chiefs to win at home by a touchdown.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Two words: long snapper. The Bengals find themselves in a world of hurt after their tough loss in Denver, a game in which a routine special teams play cost them dearly. Cincinnati’s playoff dreams now need some help, a win against their hated rivals Pittsburgh and then at least a loss by either the Jets or Broncos.
Pittsburgh was eliminated from playoff contention last week when they lost badly to Baltimore. That brutal loss in a very good situation more or less summed up their season. When the Steelers were good, they were very, very good and when they were bad they were awful. Roethlisberger's inconsistent QB play ultimately proved their undoing for the game and for the Steelers season.
Off that tough loss and with rumors swirling around the future of their long-term head coach, it's hard to imagine the Steelers going all out this week against a motivated foe that will take the field knowing that they still have a chance to earn a Wild Card if they take care of their business. Give me Cincinnati to win a snoozer.
Oakland at NY Jets
The Raiders' pitiful season mercifully comes to an end with this cross country road trip to the Big Apple. Given the Raiders disappointing season, the team may make an unscheduled trip to a small Latin American county to seek amnesty rather than return to
Oakland to face the wrath of Raiders Fan. Ok, I made up the last part, but even Raiders Fan needs a dream.
Oakland continues to be God awful on offense while still playing reasonably well on defense. HC Art Shell is all but toast after losing control of his players, several of whom were malcontents, distractions, and worse (which says a lot given the Raiders historical tolerance for misfits) for most of the season. OAK recently made QB changes and lost their top RB for the season. Given all that you know about the state of Raider Nation, is there any reason the Raiders are going to suddenly straighten up and fly right on the last Sunday of the regular season? Ok, you can quit giggling now. It's hard to see the Raiders putting forth a great effort in this final game against a team that has been well coached.
The Jets can clinch a Wild Card just by winning. They continue to play well and find ways to win despite their below average (ok, really bad) statistics on both sides of the ball. Oh, heck why not, let the Jets put the Raiders out of their misery. Give me New York.
Atlanta at Philadelphia
After their decisive upset win at Dallas on Christmas Day that clinched at least a Wild Card, a win here gives Philly the NFC East title, the # 3 NFC seed and a home game next week in the Playoff's opening round. Philly has battled to overcome the loss of starting QB McNabb in mid season with backup veteran Garcia fitting in very nicely with the Eagles' version of the west coast offense. Philly is in a favorable situation, returning home after 3 straight road games, all against Division foes. The Eagles had won 4 straight against Atlanta before opening their 2005 season of turmoil and injuries with a 14-10 loss at Atlanta. Let's not forget that prior to their star crossed 2005 season the Eagles had been to four straight NFC Title games. This is still a strong team playing their best football at the right time.
And then there’s Atlanta. HC Jim Mora has probably coached his last game in Atlanta with a loss, and his team (and especially his quarterback) doesn’t seem really upset at the possibility of losing its skipper. QB Vick is no fan of the coaching staff and probably won’t be sending flowers when Mora gets canned. The Falcons defense has been horrible and the Falcons receivers can get open or hold on to the football. Is there any reason why this team is going to play better Week 17 on the road? Nope.
Philadelphia finishes off Atlanta in style. Give me the Eagles.