LOS ANGELES, Dcember 28, 2013 — Week 17. Everything is on the line. By Sunday night, 12 teams will be in the playoffs and 13 others may be firing coaches.
Every NFC division crown is up for grabs, and nobody has clinched home field advantage. An 8-8 team could make the playoffs while an 11-5 team could miss out.
In five weeks, the NFL plays its first cold weather Super Bowl in New York. In four weeks a completely redesigned Pro Bowl takes place in Hawaii.
This week is about all 32 teams fighting for either playoff positioning or pride and the right to play next year.
Here is the NFL 2013 Week 17 Preview, with point spreads courtesy of “Football Locks” and all times EST. All 16 games are played on Sunday, December 29, 2013.
Carolina Panthers (-6.5) at Atlanta Falcons — The Panthers have an outside shot at home field throughout the playoffs, but could fall as low as a wildcard and road playoff games. Atlanta is just playing out the string, but they played hard for Mike Smith on the road last week. Expect emotion from the crowd for first ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez’ final game. Panthers win, but fail to cover
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-6) — The Ravens are desperate, needing a win and help to make the playoffs. The Bengals clinched the division, but still have a shot at a first round bye. Nobody will respect the Bengals until they win a big game against Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Upset special, Ravens win outright.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-11.5) — The Colts have an outside shot at a first round bye. The Jaguars are improved in recent weeks, but are overmatched. Colts win, but fail to cover
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-5.5) — The Dolphins need a win and help to make the playoffs, while the drama for the Jets begins as soon as the game ends. Rex Ryan could be fired, and the players may show another uninspired effort to help him out. Dolphins cover
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-3) — Both teams could fire their coaches after this game. Vikings cover
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-3.5) — The fun in Washington begins as soon as this game ends, given that the Redskins make Congress seem functional. The Giants are playing hard for Tom Coughlin and desperately want him back next year. He is the yelling on the sideline type, not the retiring and yelling at pigeons in the park type. Giants cover
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) — The Steelers need a miracle to make the playoffs, but getting to 8-8 is a good way to salvage a 0-4 start to the season. Steelers cover
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-7) — Both coaches are expected to be fired after the game. Then they can fight over which one is the dysfunctional legacy to the 1993 Houston Oilers. Titans win but fail to cover
San Francisco 49ers (-1) at Arizona Cardinals — The 49ers clinched a playoff spot, but right now are a wildcard. They have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. Arizona is eliminated with a loss, but still needs help even if they win. 49ers cover
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Chicago Bears — Aaron Rodgers is back, but after two months on the sideline with a broken collarbone, expect some rust. The Chicago defense will try to knock him out early. Upset special, Bears win outright
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-9) — This game could be over by the first quarter since the Patriots have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. Patriots cover
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-12.5) — The Saints could go as high as a first round bye to missing the playoffs altogether. They will steamroll and send Greg Schiano back to the college ranks. Saints cover
Denver Broncos (-12) at Oakland Raiders — Peyton Manning has 51 touchdowns, and could have 60 by the time this game ends. Denver gets home field throughout the playoffs with a win, and Dennis Allen inspires nobody. John Elway and his 50-year-old limping leg could beat these Raiders. Broncos win but fail to cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (-9.5) — The Chiefs are locked into their wildcard spot so Walrus Lite Andy Reid may rest everybody. The Chargers need a win and help. They will get at least half of it. Chargers win, but fail to cover
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-11.5) — Seattle, with a win, gets home field throughout the playoffs. The Rams have a defense, but are nowhere near as effective on the road. Despite last week’s stumble, the Legion of Boom will play like demons possessed this week. Seahawks cover
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Dallas Cowboys — Tony Romo is out, but Kyle Orton is a very capable quarterback. This is the week where Chip Kelly gets humbled, sparing Jerry Jones from blowing up Cowboys Stadium for the insurance money. If the Cowboys lose, everybody not named Jerry Jones could be the victim of a Happy Valley massacre.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Follow us on Twitter @wtcommunities
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