Friday, December 31, 2010

NFL 2010: Week 17 -- The Grand Finale

The 2010 season ends Sunday with the AFC north and central to be decided. While wild card selections, the south and west divisions are undecided for the NFC. The Patriots have all playoff advantages locked up while the Kansas City Chiefs have locked up the west. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the New York Jets have secured playoff berths. Indianapolis or Jacksonville will join the field with the Colts in with a win or Jacksonville loss.

The NFC has Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New Orleans secured in the playoffs. Green Bay, the New York Giants, and Tampa Bay are in contention for the final wild card berth. St. Louis battles Seattle for the west title.

Teams that had playoff berths last year that will stay home are San Diego and Cincinnati replaced by Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Minnesota, Arizona, and Dallas will not return all three teams having tremendous difficulties in 2010.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-9 ½)
Batman and Robin’s absence actually seemed to help the Bengals last week in defeating San Diego. The Ravens cannot take this game for granted. It could be Marvin Lewis’s last game as head coach – a sad loss against the team that earned him his Super Bowl ring as defensive coordinator.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-10)
Green Bay must win this game to clinch a wild card berth.

Pittsburgh (-6) @ Cleveland
Pittsburgh needs this win. If they lose and Baltimore wins, Baltimore jumps to the #2 seed. The chances of a Cleveland upset are slight.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-1)
Jacksonville showed no enthusiasm against the Redskins last week but should they win and Indianapolis lose, they’ll take the division. Houston should prevail.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-6 ½)
Philadelphia’s surprising self-destruction against Minnesota playing Tuesday night gives them less time to get ready against a Cowboys’ team that can be difficult. Philadelphia needs this game to assure the NFC East title. They should win.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-8)
Tampa still is technically alive for a wild card if the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers lose. For New Orleans, if Atlanta loses and they win, the Saints win their division. New Orleans should take care of business with this game.

Carolina @ Atlanta (-14 ½)
Atlanta faces a must win against a miserable opponent who has functioned as the worst team in the NFL this season. They still have to play the game and win.

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-10)
The Colts should have little trouble nailing down yet another AFC North title beating the Titans.

St. Louis (-3) @ Seattle (Sunday Night Game)
So who wants the NFC West besides perhaps St. Louis rookie QB, Sam Bradford? If St. Louis wins and they’re the slight favorite, they’ll win their division with a lowly 8-8 record. If they lose, Seattle wins the division with a losing record, 7-9

New York Giants (-4) @ Washington
The Giants lose, they’re out. The Redskins suddenly won last week against Jacksonville, so the Skins aren’t completely dead yet but it’s hard to see them beating the Giants.

Miami @ New England (-3 ½)
Don’t expect New England to rest despite having wrapped up every conceivable advantage. Justin Bieber, uhm, Tom Brady might get some rest to ease some aches and pains. New England will prevail. They don’t play light just because they’ve clinched.

Oakland @ Kansas City (-3 ½)
KC will play their division rival as a tune up for the playoffs likely against the New York Jets next week.

Buffalo @ New York Jets (-1)
Regardless of what the Jets do, they are the 6th seed in the playoffs. Mark Sanchez is not at full strength so it will be interesting to see how Coach Rex Ryan handles the situation. Regardless, the Jets still have the slight edge.

Other games:
Minnesota @ Detroit (-3)
The Brett Favre era ends with the gunslinger on the side lines with multiple injuries including a concussion. Here are two teams appearing headed in opposite directions and Detroit could finally escape the cellar next year.

San Diego (-3 ½) @ Denver
One has to wonder after last week’s loss and a poor start earlier in the year, what the fate of Norv Turner as head couch of the Chargers will be. The Chargers were a strong playoff choice at the year’s beginning. Meanwhile, Florida Gator, Tim Tebow, will continue his maturation in his second NFL start. This is a tough call. San Diego’s the stronger team, but Tebow has more energy than the NFL can imagine.

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