The 2017 NFL regular season wraps up on Sunday afternoon. There is not as much drama this year compared to the week 17 of many previous seasons. The 2017 NFL playoff picture is relatively settled. In the AFC there are four teams battling for two wild card spots. The NFC still has one division title up for grabs, but has just two teams competing for one final playoff slot.
In Week 16 ten road teams are favored to win. That number falls back to a more typical number in Week 17, with five home dogs. The Saints are the biggest road favorite, minus 8½ points at Tampa Bay. The largest spread of the week is in Foxboro, where the Patriots are favored by 16 versus the Jets. That game is one of four double-digit spreads. The narrowest odds are with Houston as a one-point underdog at Indianapolis.
Entering Week 16 five teams have clinched a playoff spot. The Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Eagles and Vikings have all punched a ticket for the post season. Philadelphia is the only team thus far to earn a first round bye.
In the AFC six teams have been eliminated: the Browns, Colts, Texans, Broncos, Bengals and Jets. The Dolphins and Raiders are technically alive, but comatose and on life support. The Chargers are not in much better shape, even though they are only one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Most likely it is Ravens, Titans and Bills battling for two wild card spots.
The Giants, Bears, Forty Niners, Bucs, Cardinals, Skins and Packers are all officially eliminated. Dallas, Seattle and Detroit face tall odds to get in. Philadelphia and Minnesota have won their divisions and will host at least one playoff game. The only way the Rams don’t win the NFC West is to lose twice while Seattle wins twice. The NFC South is probably going to send three teams to the playoffs. Games involving the Saints, Panthers and Falcons are the most intriguing over the next two weeks. Atlanta is at New Orleans this week, and then the Falcons host Carolina next week.
The bad news is that Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will again be calling the Pats game. If you have surround sound set up as part of your entertainment system just mute (or unplug) the front center speaker. Voila! No more insane commentary from the Bird and the Beard.
It is mid-December and we are in the final stretch of the 2016 NFL season. In recent weeks weather has played a role and that could be the case again this weekend. With only bowl games remaining for college football the NFL can now play on Saturdays. As a result the work crew at the Meadowlands will be busy, with a Jets game Saturday night and then a Giants game Sunday afternoon.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has published their Advanced Lines for NFL Week 16. Once again the New England Patriots are listed as the heaviest favorite of the week.
Heading into Week 15 only the Dallas Cowboys have clinched a playoff spot. After this weekend that is bound to change. Six other teams, including the New England Patriots, can punch a ticket to the post-season this weekend.
It is December and we are now in the fourth quarter of the 2016 NFL regular season.
That means it is now late enough in the year that we can talk about playoff races.
NFL fans are treated to five games between a pair of teams with winning records in Week 13. KC at Atlanta and Miami at Baltimore in the early time slot compete with the Rams at Patriots, and then Buffalo at Oakland and Giants at Pittsburgh are a pair of compelling late games.
Week 8 is highlighted by a chance for the New England Patriots to avenge their only loss of the 2016 season. The Pats travel to Buffalo seeking their fourth straight win while the Bills look to rebound from last week’s loss to Miami.
On the undercard for the highly anticipated prime time game between the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals are a handful of interesting matchups. The Jets host Cincinnati early on CBS and Green Bay travels to Jacksonville on FOX for the best early games
NFL wild card weekend kicks off Saturday afternoon as the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Houston to take on the AFC South champion Texans. Both clubs overcame the common obstacle of extremely unsuccessful starts to the 2015 season; Houston did not win their second game of the year until Week 6, and KC did not get their second victory until the following week. To accomplish that rare feat both teams leaned heavily on their defenses, both of which ranked in the top ten in the league in points allowed. After a five-turnover debacle against Denver in Week 2, the Chiefs gave the ball away just ten times over the next fourteen games, and finished with a plus-14 turnover differential – second best in the league this year. On December 27 the Texans lost to the Patriots to drop to 6-7 and their playoff chances appeared bleak. Houston’s defense forced ten turnovers over the next three games to carry the team to an improbable comeback, and into the post-season.
One nice thing about the final week of the season for football fans is that two networks televise both an early and late game, plus restrictions that prohibit another game being televised while the local team plays a home game are lifted. There was a time when this was actually standard operating procedure: the AFL would televise two games on NBC, and the NFL would televise two games on CBS. Once the two leagues merged that ended though, and now pro football fans are forced to either pay big bucks or watch crappy games between losing teams far too often.
While NFL Week 15 did not do much to the playoff picture other than end the misery for a handful of teams by officially eliminating them from post-season play, it did bring genuine contenders one step closer to clinching scenarios in Week 16. Eighteen teams still have at least a mathematical chance at a playoff spot with two weeks to go; that is surely something that Roger Goodell’s parity-driven Park Avenue league office that strives for participation banners is surely proud of.
In both conferences the race for the number five seed is nearly as meaningful as getting a first round bye. Both of the number five seeds will most likely be playing against a team with a .500 (or losing record). On the other hand the number six seed will have to go on the road against a ten or eleven-win club.
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