Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Folks, we trust you've become well aware of all the playoff/seed scenarios that exist for the NFL Week 17 games and so no need for us to hammer it over your head this holiday week ... instead, our Jim Sez NFL Game Previews are jam-packed with key info (and commentary, of course) relating to all 12 games that have some sort of post-season meaning. Now, here's the key games on the NFL Week 17 menu and we'll tackle 'em one-by-one according to the Las Vegas numbered rotation ...
TAMPA BAY (4-11) at ATLANTA (9-6)- 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Don't blame the host Falcons for being just a tad shell-shocked while heading into this tilt against a TB Bucs bunch that's now lost their last nine in a row (while getting outscored 158-to-64 in the past month alone!). Atlanta's smallish corners were chewed up and spat out in last Monday Night's 45-16 loss in New Orleans and DE John Abraham was MIA from game's start-to-finish- get with it pass-rusher extraordinaire!
SAN FRANCISCO (12-3) at ST. LOUIS (2-13)- 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Hats off to a Niners team that's this-close to getting the NFC's #2 playoff seed- right now do you think SF can give Green Bay a game in the chilly air at Lambeau Field come January 22md? Here, Jim Harbaugh's guys won't mess around and so look for 25 carries by Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore, a modest short-passing game engineered by QB Alex Smith and steady play from a sure-tackling defense that keeps everything in front of them. Hope you're not playing any Rams guys here in your"fantasy league" this week!
DETROIT (10-5) at GREEN BAY (14-1)- 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Do the Lions wish to avoid a first-round playoff game in New Orleans (see 31-17 loss to the Saints back in Week 13 play)? Than, head coach Jim Schwartz's club better bring its proverbial"A game" here and that means lots of passion, lots of"smart" football and some QB Matthew Stafford-to-WR Calvin Johnson long balls against a Packers crew that figures to be resting everyone of note by halftime (or earlier).
DALLAS (8-7) at NEW YORK GIANTS (8-7)- 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The win-and-you're in Battle for the NFC East crown has a slew of subplots not the least of which is the condition of Cowboys' QB Tony Romo's right/throwing hand but wouldn't you say that if he was throwing the ball in a Wednesday practice than it's all systems go come Sunday Night? Romo- despite his many critics (and sometimes that includes us here at Jim Sez)- has been utterly brilliant in the past few weeks with only one INT in his last four outings and odds are the Giants won't be sitting back in too many zones while allowing Romo to pick-and-choose his downfield targets. Key to the game for the G-men: Hammer RB Brandon Jacobs straight at DE DeMarcus Ware and hope the physicality of the NYG offensive line does the rest because the truth is Giants QB Eli Manning (only 9 completed passes in last week's 29-14 win against the Jets) has hit a mini-slump at the wrong time of the year.
CAROLINA (6-9) at NEW ORLEANS (12-3)- 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Gut feeling is that Saints head coach Sean Payton will keep record-setting QB Drew Brees in this game as long as the quarterback wishes to keep chuckin' it but what we'd really like to see from the home team here is an array of defensive looks to confuse sure-shot Rookie of the Year QB Cam Newton who has powered the Panthers to point totals of 28-or-more on six different occasions and did you know last year Carolina exceeded 27 points not a single time? Maybe Brees gets all the love in/around the Crescent City but- trust us- if the Saints are gonna be sticking around the post-season for a few weeks than DE Will Smith and mates must heap pressure on enemy quarterbacks and Mr. Newton could get rocked a bit here.
TENNESSEE (8-7) at HOUSTON (10-5)- 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Get this: The 2011 Houston Texans have held 11 of their 15 foes to below 20 points this year and that includes a 41-7 wood-shed job win against Tennessee back in Week 7 play. If the Titans get behind by two scores here, than be sure that rookie QB Jake Locker will come in with a reckless abandon approach that could signal the start of a new era (gee, doesn't the Vince Young Era in Nashville now seem like a hundred years ago?).
BALTIMORE (11-4) at CINCINNATI (9-6)- 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Now that the Cincy Bengals have basically fed, clothed and bathed their fans- what, it takes buying their collective affections to get 'em to buy tickets to this"must-win" game?- the key to success for Marvin Lewis' guys will be to keep rookie QB Andy Dalton in the upright position and hope WRs A.J. Green and jumping-jack Jerome Simpson make a handful of"chunk plays". P.S., we don't wish to get into the merits of Pro Bowl voting here but why the heck is Ravens ILB Ray Lewis on the AFC squad when he missed four games and Baltimore played better without him? Just wondering!
PITTSBURGH (11-4) at CLEVELAND (4-11)- 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Please don't expect us to answer your query as to whether or not Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger and/or Pro Bowl C Maukice Pouncey will be playing here! Roethlisberger sat out last Saturday's 27-0 business-like home win/cover against heavy-duty underdog St. Louis (so much for that Las Vegas line move that saw the Steelers fall from a 16 ½-point betting favorite early in the week all the way down to minus 10 points) as QB Charlie Batch dusted himself off with a 15-of-22, 208-yard passing performance and who's to say he can't repeat those numbers here?
NEW YORK JETS (8-7) at MIAMI (5-10)- 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It's been an awfully quiet week in Gotham City for the J-E-T-S following that above-mentioned 15-point"home" loss to the Giants- maybe third-year head coach Rex Ryan knows there is nothing else left to do than shut up but count us among the folks that believe the life lesson learned from last week's loss is that this week's Jets will run the ball 40-plus times and not make QB Mark Sanchez a sitting duck. Hmm, does soon-to-be-retired Dolphins DE Jason Taylor have another sack or two left in 'em here before he waves bye-bye?
BUFFALO (6-9) at NEW ENGLAND (12-3)- 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Hope you got to see that touching moment when the Patriots gathered in the locker room following last week's come-from-behind 27-24 non-cover win against Miami and presented ultra-popular owner Robert Kraft with a poster/plaque dedicated to his late wife- Bill Belichick's crew poured out its heart to Mr. Kraft and now will try and pour on the power here in this revenge match with a Bills bunch that copped one of the season's most scintillating games- tell us you have not forgotten the 34-31 Buffalo home win against NE way back in Week 3, have you?
SAN DIEGO (7-8) at OAKLAND (8-7)- 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
It's too bad for the Raiders that each/every game can't come down to their kicking game as Pro Bowl PK Sebastian Janikowski (27 made FGs) has enjoyed one of the great NFL seasons of all time and P Shane Lechler (averaging 50.7 yards a boot) has been marvelous and last week almost even pulled off a fake punt except for a delay-of-game penalty- if Oakland wishes to sweep the season series here against the SD Chargers for a second consecutive season that these specialists must be spot on. Memo to the Bolts: Stop blaming your coach and everyone else and learn to show up for each of your 16 games in 2012.
KANSAS CITY (6-9) at DENVER (8-7)- 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe you happened to catch ESPN's Tom Jackson- an old Bronco, of course- during last weekend's NFL Prime Time Show when he was the first to say KayCee QB Kyle Orton could come back to haunt Denver and KO the Broncos from the post-season with a big-time showing here ... wonder if ole #57 will be right? Orton was run out of town by impatient and unhappy Broncos fans who got their way when Tim Tebow took command of this team's unorthodox offense but odds are Tebow- who completed 13-of-29 passes in last week's miserable 40-14 loss at chilly Buffalo- will have to throw it against a cagey Chiefs defense here that's allowed just 30 total points in games against Green Bay and Oakland since DC Romeo Crennel was named interim head coach.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to win big-time this holiday season - there's College Football Bowl Games galore plus the NBA and College Hoops too and so don't miss out on all the terrific fun-and-profits. And then there is still a lot of winnin' straight ahead in NFL Week 17 come Sunday with a jam-packed card featuring 16 pro football games including the win-and-you're-in NFC East prime-time battle between the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants. Get all these winners at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here as America's #1 Handicapper keeps up the winning beat this holiday season!