There’s 3 kinds of NFL teams left
Let substitute Armchair Quarterback Renee Prusi and I make our picks while all the playoff scenarios are still fresh in our minds.
That’s why Sunday’s predictions are coming out today for all of you.
In this Week 17 space, I’ve always outlined the three types of teams there are now — teams fighting for playoff position or their playoff lives, those who already have clinched their spot and those who are out of it.
Supposedly, the teams locked in play the worst now, almost — well, not really even almost — treating this week like a preseason game.
Those out of it are just playing out the string, while though fighting for their lives will play their best with no holds barred.
Except for a few years now, the no-holds-barred teams too often play like chokers, afraid to make a mistake. It’s the eliminated teams that play the best, having no fear of emptying their playbooks and taking bold chances.
Now the NFL tried to make things fair by moving a half dozen games originally scheduled for 1 p.m. to either 4:25 p.m., or in the case of Indianapolis at Tennessee, to 8:20 p.m.
The Indy-Titans game is pretty much independent of all other games, as long as it doesn’t end in a tie. If that happens, I understand Pittsburgh would win a three-way tiebreaker if the Steelers win Sunday and get shut out from winning the AFC North. But only in the case of an Indy-Tennessee tie.
The other games were moved to later keep teams vying for the same divisional or wild card berth all playing at the same time, which makes it fairer for all.
Now onto the picks, with Renee’s too, though the predicted scores are all mine:
Today, 1 p.m.
Miami at Buffalo — Give us the home team in this matchup, especially since home means freezing upstate New York in late December for a south Florida team. Bills, 24-13.
Detroit at Green Bay — It’s rather sad that this much anticipated matchup is just an afterthought among all the meaningful games.
Renee, the Packers fan, thinks Detroit has one more good performance left in them, while I, a Lions fan, think Aaron Rodgers will have a lot more success throwing to actual wide receivers than Matthew Stafford will have at throwing to cardboard cutouts of wideouts. For me, Packers, 27-19.
Jacksonville at Houston — Even with Houston finding little to play for, Jacksonville finds little to play quarterback, turning to Blake Bortles for probably the last time. Texans, 27-17.
New York Jets at New England — New England has just enough to play for, needing a victory to gain a first-round bye. That’s enough for a win, we both say. Patriots, 20-10.
Carolina at New Orleans — Aaah, here’s my first preseason game as the Saints have the No. 1 seed locked up in the NFC. Renee still likes the Saints, but I’ll take the Panthers, 28-23.
Dallas at New York Giants — Another preseason game, as Dallas has wrapped up their division and the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Renee likes the Cowpokes, but I’ll take the Giants, 18-16.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay — Renee and I agree, Jameis Winston is auditioning for next year for Tampa Bay or whatever team might be interested in him. Buccaneers, 24-17.
Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Cleveland at Baltimore — I was so-o-o-o tempted to take the Browns, but then I remembered that when they play anybody who’s actually good, they get exposed as a team one year away from being 0-16. We agree, Ravens, 20-3.
Oakland at Kansas City — KC needs a dress rehearsal for the playoffs after the way it has been playing, and besides, the AFC West is at stake here. AQBs agree, Chiefs, 42-30.
Chicago at Minnesota — The Vikings are going down as Chicago sees a possible first-round bye with a win here, we agree. Bears, 23-20.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh — Cincy can’t put up much of a fight, we both are saying, but alas it will be too little, too late for Pittsburgh — unless they can get Indy and Tennessee to tie. Steelers, 30-20.
Philadelphia at Washington — I don’t know if it’s magic, but getting to play a team on its fourth-string QB in Week 17 seems like a stroke of luck for Philly, we’ll agree. Eagles, 23-13.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver — The Broncos showed how they folded the ship last week while the Chargers are still vying for the AFC West crown, AFQs think. Chargers, 33-20.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams — Wasn’t that video game saying, “Protect this house”? That’s what this L.A. team needs to do to get a first-round bye. We agree, Rams, 31-21.
Arizona at Seattle — Even though this is a preseason game for Seattle, they’re playing a preseason team in the Cardinals, we both think. Seahawks, 17-13.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Indianapolis at Tennessee — Titans QB Marcus Mariota is questionable for this game, and even if he plays, wouldn’t be 100 percent. Not a good scenario for a fight to the death, or a playoff berth anyway. We agree, Colts, 20-13.
Last week — Renee, 10-6, 63 percent. Steve, 11-5, 69 percent. Season — Renee, 151-87-2, 63 percent. Steve, 145-93-2, 61 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.