Every week, we’ve taken a look at the matchups of the week and given our predictions for each of the games. It’s now come to the final week!
Last week, your resident expert went 9-7, and is sitting at 139-87 on the year.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1)
The Ravens season ended slightly bleakly, but don’t think they’ll lay down: Steve Smith is playing his last game, and the offense has been great in recent weeks. I doubt they’ll mail it in for the last game, and the Bengals defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody so far.
Prediction: Ravens 27-20
Houston Texans (9-6) @ Tennessee Titans (8-7)
This one is about little more than pride and momentum for these two teams. The Titans were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion a week ago, and now will look to play spoiler for the Texans and new starter Tom Savage. The Texans need a confidence boost, and should have the tools to get it.
Prediction: Texans 28-17
Carolina Panthers (6-9) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)
Tampa Bay got it’s postseason hopes torn down pretty hard. And the Panthers are pretty much done with the season with Luke Kuechly done for the season, and now Cam Newton is rumored to be done. This spells disaster for a road trip to the pissed off Bucs.
Prediction: Bucs 28-21
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
The Colts and Jags are both done for the season, and the Jaguars got new life with the firing of Gus Bradley. But the Colts are just more talented at this point, with Andrew Luck able to keep the offense rolling. The Jags get set back again, and the Colts get to .500 for the season.
Prediction: Colts 31-24
New England Patriots (13-2) @ Miami Dolphins (10-5)
Well, this game ultimately means nothing for either of these teams, with their playoff position ultimately set in stone. But this is a pride game: the Dolphins haven’t been able to beat the Patriots in a while, and I’m not convinced Tom Brady plays this whole game.
Prediction: Dolphins 24-20
Chicago Bears (3-12) @ Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
The Bears got a pretty good answer last week on the whole “is Matt Barkley our future?” question. But he’ll remain the starter, and will get the Vikings defense as a nice gift. The Vikings can’t score though, so expect this one to be quite the defensive struggle.
Prediction: Vikings 17-14
Buffalo Bills (7-8) @ New York Jets (4-11)
Well, the Bills got rid of Rex Ryan and will now hit the restart button all over again. Namely: Tyrod Taylor is benched, and the Bills are back to EJ Manuel. The Jets, however, will have even more fix going forward. Still, the Bills are in free fall mode, and are primed for an upset.
Prediction: Jets 21-17
Dallas Cowboys (13-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)
If you’d have a week ago whether I thought this game would be close, I would have told you that the Eagles would top a rested Cowboys team. But after watching Dallas play all their starters and whip the Lions, I’m not sure they rest starters. But on the road in Philly, wild things happen.
Prediction: Eagles 27-24
Cleveland Browns (1-14) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
The Browns have momentum going into a game for the first time in two seasons, and travel to Pitt to close the season. The Steelers are playing for a whole lot of nothing, but I doubt they rest enough to get topped by the Browns. The Steelers carry their momentum.
Prediction: Steelers 27-17
New Orleans Saints (7-8) @ Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
The Saints got the big time upset a week ago, and will certainly be playing for the same thing in Atlanta. But the Falcons have everything to play for, trying to hold off the Seahawks for a first round bye. I expect the Falcons to show up, and the luck runs out for New Orleans.
Prediction: Falcons 27-24
New York Giants (10-5) @ Washington Redskins (8-6-1)
The Giants enter with their postseason trip punched and ready, and the Redskins playing for theirs. They’ll need some help, but a win over the Giants is a must. And when you’ve got two teams where only one needs to win, I’m going to take the team with something to lose.
Prediction: Redskins 28-20
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-11)
The Cardinals showed what they should have all season last week, and now they’ll enter the last game of the season on another road trip. The Cardinals are way more talented than the Rams, and while that hasn’t mattered much during the season, they now should be able to get this win.
Prediction: Cardinals 27-17
Oakland Raiders (12-3) @ Denver Broncos (8-7)
The Raiders are down a quarterback, the Broncos have nothing to play for. But the Raiders are starting a guy that hasn’t played since 2013, and now they’ll travel to Denver? Not good at all.
Prediction: Broncos 21-17
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) @ San Diego Chargers (5-10)
The Chargers season can’t end fast enough, but they have yet another test to scale with the Chiefs coming to town. The Chiefs are looking for playoff position, and I doubt that defense will come in without a chip on their shoulders.
Prediction: Chiefs 27-20
Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-13)
The Seahawks got an unfortunate loss last week, and getting the 49ers this week is a great remedy. They need a win for a shot at the two seed in the NFC, and will pick this thing up with a good offensive showing by this weak 49ers defense.
Prediction: Seahawks 27-14
Green Bay Packers (9-6) @ Detroit Lions (9-6)
Well, it’s now winner take all for the division. The Packers are coming in scorching hot, and the Lions have held the division lead up until a late two game collapse. Now the Packers will enter Detroit with a chance to steal it, and I think they’ll get it done over the reeling and struggling Lions.
Prediction: Packers 31-28