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NFL Pro Football 2011 Week 17 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 17 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | January 1, 2012

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Sunday, January 1

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-9, 55) 1:00 pm - With their 45-16, record-breaking performance on Monday night over Atlanta, the Saints clinched the NFC South and at worst the No. 3 seed with a win. New Orleans can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a 49ers loss, so expect some scoreboard watching as the 'Niners are at St. Louis at the same time as this game.

If San Francisco blows out the Rams, as they're expected to, the prospects of seeing Drew Brees and a host of other starters in the second half diminishes greatly. That being the case, New Orleans can probably forge a substantial half time lead. Carolina should be able to score at will in the second half. A dangerous game to play, either way, but the Panthers, winners of four of their last five, stand a great chance of covering or winning outright.

In their first meeting, the Saints took a 30-27 win at Carolina in Week 5.

Prediction: Panthers 34 Saints 24

San Francisco 49ers (-10 1/2, 35 1/2) at St. Louis Rams 1:00 pm - St. Louis has now matched its season-opening losing streak of six straight and should surpass it here. The 49ers can lock up the No. 2 seed in the NFC and an opening week bye with a win and there's little doubt they can do it, despite this game being played in St. Louis.

San Francisco won the first divisional match-up with the Rams in Week 13, winning, 26-0. St. Louis was shut out for the second time this season, last week in Pittsburgh, on the wrong end of a 27-0 score.

With their incredible defense, no team has scored more than 21 points against the 49ers since the Eagles lost, 24-23, in Week 4. Since the Rams are the lowest-scoring team in the league (11.1 ppg), this looks like a mortal lock for the 'Niners.

Prediction: 49ers 35 Rams 6

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3 1/2, 37) 1:00 pm - The Colts have won their last two games and a win here could cost them the #1 pick in the draft to the Rams, who also enter Week 17 with a 2-13 record.

The Jaguars won the first meeting, in Indianapolis, 17-3, in Week 10, but have dropped five of their last six and their last two straight, though they showed some gumption in last week's 23-17 loss at Tennessee.

There won't be any skulduggery involved, as Indy will play to win behind Dan Orlovsky, who is looking every bit the part of next season's backup QB.

Prediction: Colts 20 Jaguars 14

Tennessee Titans (-3, 40) at Houston Texans 1:00 pm - Houston has already wrapped up the NFC South and will be the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, no matter the outcome of this game, which is why the Titans are favored on the road.

At 8-7, Tennessee is still in the hunt, but needs lots of help in a variety of scenarios. Still, Houston gains nor loses nothing with either a win or a loss, so there's no reason to take them here as they will likely lie down.

Prediction: Titans 24 Texans 14

Detroit Lions (-3 1/2, 46 1/2) at Green Bay Packers 1:00 pm - Here's a game with some juice, though not much.

The Lions need a win or a loss by Atlanta to clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC, though being No. 6 is probably not that big a difference, as both of the lower seeds play on the road, so it's difficult to see Detroit playing all starters, especially the injury-prone Matthew Stafford.

Green Bay already has home field throughout the playoffs, is the No. 1 seed and has a bye next week. Aaron Rogers might play the first half. This is basically an unbettable game.

Prediction: Packers 31 Lions 23

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-9, 46 1/2) 1:00 pm - There are no playoff implications for either team, only pride involved in this NFC East match-up.

The Eagles have won three straight since Michael Vick returned a QB, and they beat the Redskins, 20-13 in Week 6.

While Rex Grossman has played well down the stretch for the 'Skins, they've only won two of their last five and none of their opponents had a defense even remotely similar to that of the Eagles.

Prediction: Eagles 34 Redskins 13

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Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-11, 51) 1:00 pm - If the Patriots lose this game and the Bengals and Steelers both win, New England would end up the No. 2 seed, though a win gives them the top spot in the AFC outright and home field throughout the playoffs, which Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the team is looking forward to.

Buffalo upset New England, 34-31, in Buffalo, back in Week 3, but that was before many injuries derailed the Bills' season. The Pats aren't likely to let this one slip through their hands, having won seven straight with the playoffs, after a week off, dead ahead.

Buffalo won for the first time in the last eight weeks last Sunday, whipping the Broncos, 40-14, but they'll not be facing Tim Tebow and his rubber arm this week.

New england has issues on defense, but the offense should score at will against the depleted Bills.

Prediction: Patriots 38 Bills 17

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Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (even, 41) 1:00 pm - Wiht both teams out of the playoff picture, this is essentially an exhibition game, with most of the star players out due to injury.

Hard one to call and a game that should generally be avoided.

Prediction: Vikings 24 Bears 17

NY Jets at Miami Dolphins (-1 1/2, 41) 1:00 pm - The Jets put themselves in a precarious position by losing their last two games - to the Eagles and Giants - and now need losses by both Cincinnati and Tennessee, plus a loss by either the Broncos or the Raiders to snatch the No. 6 seed.

That puts the Jets in a deflated scenario, one which is unlikely to play out the way they need it to, but that shouldn't influence the game unless the Jets are scoreboard watching rather than actually playing.

The Dolphins actually are favored because the Jets have pretty much given up hope of making the post-season this time around.

Prediction: Dolphins 23 Jets 14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-12, 46 1/2) 1:00 pm - Atlanta is in as the No. 6 seed unless they win and the Lions lose, which would move them up one notch, so this game really has little meaning, though the Falcons would probably like to put up a good show in their final regular season game against the disintegrating Bucs, losers of nine straight.

The Bucs have been blown out by a combined score of 158-64 their last four games, which puts some perspective on what to expect here, though, like most of the 1:00 games, who is on the field for the Falcons after the half is a big question.

Since so many people will be throwing down on Atlanta, taking a flier on the Buccaneers may not be a bad idea, even though the chance of them actually winning outright is slim.

Prediction: Falcons 27 Buccaneers 21

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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