NFL Week 17 game picks: Packers beat Lions for NFC North title

The Jimmy G Factor is tangling up playoff scenarios, draft positioning and, yes, game-picking. But can the defense continue to play over its head? Not only wild-card spots in both conferences, but also seeding. So many wild games in this series, from Mike Smith going for it on fourth down late on Atlanta's side of the field in to the track meet in the opener , and even this season's showdown in New Orleans , when the Falcons ' offense looked like the '98 Vikings we all remember who beat those guys. NFL Expert Picks - Week 2

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Week 17 NFL picks against the spread

If he gives Tony Romo reps, what happens if the veteran absolutely lights it up? How would that impact the playoff plan, should Dak Prescott struggle a bit -- and the plan beyond that? On the other hand, Philadelphia's defense has been a different animal at home, and it just made life miserable for Romo counterpart Eli Manning.

Is that fair to thrust Romo into the lineup, on the road, in this kind of matchup? If he falters or gets hurt Romo was hurt in Philadelphia last season , what happens to his trade value -- or his free-agent value, should the Cowboys end up just releasing him?

None of those are fun outcomes for the Joneses, from increasing offseason controversy to decreasing offseason options. Worth noting here is that the Eagles are at home, thanks to that stout defense.

My gut tells me that Garrett plays his starters more than fans anticipate and that I need to do planks at the gym today. Neither club, I'm sure, wants to head into the offseason with heads down.

The future of both coaches in this game is uncertain. After Rex Ryan was dismissed this week , Anthony Lynn was tabbed to replace him as the interim boss.

My colleague Ian Rapoport says the Bills are taking a serious gander at Lynn as a potential permanent replacement. Does that mean his players will compete their butts off for him? As for the Jets , do they have the aerial attack to win for embattled head coach Todd Bowles? The passing game, after being a strength last season and in the earlier meeting versus the Bills this year , has been an abomination.

My guess is Shady McCoy goes off against a talented front that often just hasn't shown up for work in At least we know the Jets won't lose by 20 or more points, like they have five times already. We do know that You think Sam Bradford doesn't have much to play for? How about Adrian Peterson , who must be hearing the whispers about whether he has lost a step and whether the Vikings need to look to the future at the RB position?

Then there's Matt Barkley , who surely knows what the light at the end of the tunnel could be if he were to ball out in a Bears victory: Another youngster, Jordan Howard , trucked the Minnesota defense for over yards from scrimmage last time they played. He's the real deal -- and will need to be just that and then some if Chicago is to avoid going on the road this season. By the way, who uses the word "youngster" anymore?

For the visiting Jaguars , consider Sunday an extended looksie at Doug Marrone as a potential frontman. If Marrone goes , how in theee hayle does team brass hire someone else? And what to make of Chuck Pagano's future, one year after he seemed to hang on partially because his players lobbied for him so hard at the close of last season? For all the talk of Andrew Luck getting pummeled this season, the rookies on the Colts ' line have prevented him from getting sacked over the last two games.

That's a fun fact. Here's a fun prediction if you call Naptown home: Adam Vinatieri secures the Colts ' second straight finish with a yard field goal at the end of regulation. New England lost down there in Week 17 last season -- as well as in December of Not to mention the Week 1 loss at Miami in The Patriots clinch home-field throughout the playoffs with a win or a Raiders loss.

The Dolphins will be the sixth seed This should be a tight ballgame, with the Dolphins trying keep their mojo heading into the postseason. But can the defense continue to play over its head? The Patriots running backs, specifically LeGarrette Blount , who is now one of just four running backs in the last five years to rush for over 1, yards and at least 15 touchdowns.

Philip Rivers was in his fifth year as the Chargers ' starting quarterback then, posting his third consecutive season with a passer rating north of He's only pulled that off once since, and is sub this season.

On the subject of San Diego, let's hope this isn't the last game the Chargers ever play there. They have been part of the fabric of the community for 56 years.

Arizona has failed to turn it on -- and keep it on -- all season. Back then, Case Keenum was the semi-competent starter -- something Jared Goff has not been. And we'll see if the Rams ' defense is able to get off the field late in the game, even if the offense puts the unit right back on it.

They've been effective at promoting Johnny Hekker 's athleticism. In more important news, this could be the last game of Larry Fitzgerald's Hall of Fame career. Forget the overall numbers -- I think Fitz will make it because of his complete dominance in the postseason: If Matt McGloin can succeed against the top secondary in football, then there is hope for Oakland yet even to get the top seed.

Instead of the Raiders getting a week off, then hosting a team in Oakland, they would have to go on the road to face the Texans in the wild-card round. Could be worse, but you know both the Chiefs and Raiders want that bye -- this is especially true for the team playing its backup QB.

This game will be close, because the Oakland pass rush will be all up in the Broncos ' pocket. Meanwhile, the Redskins are still trying to squeeze into that sixth and final wild-card spot.

A win over Eli Manning and Co. I trust Kirk Cousins to handle the moment, even against a defense that has played well for two months now. The issue is the other side. More specifically, there are two issues: A Can Manning perform better than he has historically in Washington? B How much will New York's prominent guys play, considering that the Giants can't gain anything by winning?

Seattle still has an opportunity to get the second seed in the NFC. Will Pete Carroll's guys blow that opportunity against a two-win 49er team? This pick probably makes it seem like I don't trust the 49ers ' low-octane attack against a motivated Seahawks defense. I am comfortable with that. San Francisco hasn't beaten these guys in a long time. Seattle just needs to pray the Falcons lose Sunday. With a win, the Falcons can secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Saints can avoid a third consecutive losing season by prevailing in their division rival's stadium. This will be the last regular-season game ever at the Georgia Dome. Yeah, I preferred the Fulton County days, anyway So many wild games in this series, from Mike Smith going for it on fourth down late on Atlanta's side of the field in to the track meet in the opener , and even this season's showdown in New Orleans , when the Falcons ' offense looked like the '98 Vikings we all remember who beat those guys.

Drew Brees will give the defense fits, but I'm taking the Falcons , because they need that home game. Packers at Lions will be the only game that definitively decides a division. Last time these two teams met , Green Bay pulled way out front, , only to watch as Matthew Stafford got hot and Marvin Jones impersonated Herman Moore.

Detroit would pull within seven before the Packers were able to run out the clock. Beating the Texans as handily as they did in their first game without Antonio Brown has to boost their confidence. The way the Cowboys exited so meekly from playoff contention last week could play into how they come out in a meaningless game against a rival with nothing for which to play. The Eagles do need to get much sharper than they looked against the Raiders, so there might not be as much resting of starters as expected, especially with a bye coming.

The Giants have been around for 93 years, and until this season they had never lost 13 games, much less As uninspiring as Washington was on Thanksgiving night in Landover, on that brown, patchy field, they still managed to beat the Giants. The Packers won both, but this one means nothing but bragging rights, if the players are even thinking that.

Caldwell is once again on the hot seat, and the Packers were shut out last week for the second time this season, both without Aaron Rodgers. The well-paid Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, wraps up his ninth season, his sixth without a playoff berth.

Yates, Jacoby Brissett will take the worst beating. DeAndre Hopkins and T. Hilton might want to go fishing together somewhere in the offseason and compare notes on whose career is being wasted worse. Earl Thomas basically handed out his resume last week, and they still pulled out the win.

Meanwhile, give a big hand to Larry Fitzgerald, in case this is the last we see of him. That defense can be trusted one more time to get them in … but the way they gave up the winning points late to the Steelers in their only loss in their last six games, that might be the last time they can be trusted for sure. This could be the final scene of the Adam Gase-Jay Cutler marriage. Supposedly, Cutler was the best they could do at the time. Yeah, just no one else out there.

A win not only gives the Saints the NFC South, it gives them 12 wins in 14 games after an start, one that seems a million years ago. The Jimmy G Factor is tangling up playoff scenarios, draft positioning and, yes, game-picking. His gaining yards rushing and receiving is possible; if he does, he moves into the top 10 all-time for a single season. The disappearance of the Jaguars' defensive dominance and their composure last week against the 49ers needs to be proven to be an exception.






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gamecafe.cf's host of NFL experts provides expert picks, grades and analysis for each game during the season. Check out NFL Week 1 expert picks and predictions on ESPN! Can the Falcons punch their playoff ticket with a win over the rival Panthers? Will Seattle get in? Who'll nab the AFC wild cards? Elliot Harrison forecasts each Week 17 game.