For the second straight season, the Miami Dolphins have forgotten how to play after a win over the Patriots. The Dolphins never play well in Buffalo as it is, let alone a late December game when it will be cold, and the Dolphins offense will be making plans for the offseason. Look for more turnovers from Ryan Tannehill as the Buffalo Bills end the season on a positive note.
It has been a long and disappointing season for the Green Bay Packers, who are already searching for their next head coach. The Detroit Lions meanwhile are finishing another last-place season under Matt Patricia. The future of the Lions first-year coach is secure for now, but a disappointing finish means they have loads of work this off-season. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and will just need to fix the defense and focus on contending in 2019.
The Houston Texans have a chance to get a first-round bye if the Patriots stumble and will win the AFC South with a win. The Jacksonville Jaguars are just happy the season is over, so they can go looking for a new quarterback. The Jaguars defense is good and could keep it close, but with Deshaun Watson playing well it is hard to imagine Houston having a problem getting this win.
With a win, the New England Patriots will get a bye into the Divisional Round for the ninth year in a row. As they hope to reach their eighth straight AFC Championship Game, getting home field is also possible with some help. The New York Jets meanwhile want to play well but lose as it means a better draft pick, possibly a top three pick. Look for both teams to get their way as the Patriots have not played well, but the Jets are not good enough to win.
Don’t expect to see too much of Drew Brees, as the New Orleans Saints clinched home field throughout the playoffs last week. However, the Carolina Panthers are forced to play third-string quarterback Kyle Allen as backup Taylor Heinicke was placed on injured reserve. The Superdome is a difficult place to play for any road team, let alone a team with a third-string rookie quarterback. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to have a good game, with the Saints marching to a 14-2 record.
Locked into the fourth seed in the NFC Playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys will more than likely rest their stars and begin focusing on the Wild Card Game. The New York Giants in what could be Eli Manning’s final game are looking to finish the season on a positive note. Look for the Giants to take advantage of the Cowboys backups and get a nice home win to close out what as otherwise been another disappointing season.
A pair of teams in the NFC South with disappointing seasons are closing out their season, looking to finish the year on a positive note. For the Atlanta Falcons, it was a year of injuries that undid them early, so the hope is for a 2019 of good health. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers meanwhile are likely heading into an uncertain off-season with Dirk Koetter likely to be among the coaches getting canned on Black Monday.
With a win, the Baltimore Ravens will not only win the AFC North, but they will also eliminate the archrival Steelers. The Cleveland Browns beat the Ravens earlier in the year and can actually finish with a winning record as they sit at 7-7-1 with interim coach Gregg Williams making a bid to get the job fulltime. The Ravens have won five of six since Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback, but it has been the Baltimore defense that has been the reason behind their success look for them to have a big game in the season finale to win the division.
The Denver Broncos have already been assured of their second straight losing season, the first time that has happened in Denver since 1972. It is likely that coach Vance Joseph will be among those let go on Monday, especially with the team playing such uninspired football down the stretch. The Los Angeles Chargers have a shot at home field with a win and a Chiefs loss, knowing they lost to the Broncos already they will come out and put this one away early.
After two straight losses, the Kansas City Chiefs once lock on home field has slipped away. Another loss and they could be playing on Wild Card weekend. It has been a bad season for the Oakland Raiders, though they have played better as of late, winning what was likely their last ever game in Oakland. It is hard to see them getting revved up again for this one, as the Chiefs knowing the consequence get a big effort on both sides of the ball and clinch the top spot in the AFC on their third try.
The Los Angeles Rams need to win this game to get a valuable first round bye. Considering that Todd Gurley is hurting and missed last week’s game, getting that week off will be especially important for Los Angeles. The San Francisco 49ers have been a disappointment losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo early in the season but have played well down the stretch. Look for them to keep it close, but for Jared Goff to get the big play in the fourth quarter to get the win.
If the Rams slip up, the Chicago Bears can get a bye to the Divisional Round. The Minnesota Vikings meanwhile must win the game to get the sixth seed in the NFC. All season the Vikings have struggled against winning teams, but with this game at home and the Bears desire to play all their players somewhat unknown they may get the break they need. Look for the Vikings to get control of the game early and win as the Bears begin to focus on the Wild Card Game they will have to play with a loss.
The Pittsburgh Steelers once three-game lead is gone, as they have lost three of their last four games. They not only need to win their last game, but they also need to rely on the Browns to beat the Ravens. They will be able to do their part easily as the Cincinnati Bengals have lost six of their last seven games and are playing awful football. The Steelers routinely beat the Bengals with ease, winning nine of their last ten against their AFC North rivals, including six straight as Cincinnati tends to self-destruct anytime, they see the team in black and yellow.
With the fifth seed in hand, the Seattle Seahawks more than likely will rest several players, but that will not matter as the Arizona Cardinals are set to get the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Cardinals have been beyond bad all season as Josh Rosen has had a terrible first year at quarterback. The Cardinals are also expected to dump Steve Wilks after just one season and could hire Mike McCarthy, whom they hope will get Rosen turned around in 2019.
Thanks to the play of Nick Foles, who has shown once again he knows how to win the Philadelphia Eagles still have a sliver of hope going into Week 17. With a win and a Vikings loss, the Eagles will get a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy again. Foles will do his part, as the Eagles should be able to go down and beat the Washington Redskins who have been team turmoil with the release of D.J. Swearinger and are essentially playing with a fourth-string quarterback.
The last game of the regular season will decide the last spot in the postseason as the winner of this game will be the sixth seed in the AFC. Historically speaking the Tennessee Titans have had their difficulties with the Indianapolis Colts, with a 3-17 record over the last ten years. The Colts have had a remarkable season, winning eight of their last nine games after a 1-5 start, including a 38-10 beatdown of the Titans in November. It appears Marcus Mariota is ready to go after missing the second half last week, and Derrick Henry has been playing the best football of his career. With the home-field edge look for the Titans to get big games from Henry and Mariota to slip by to get into the postseason.