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This is it. The final week of the NFL season is here, and therefore, the final time we will be mentioning several of these teams. That would explain my decision to choose a Tampa Bay Buccaneers picture as my title picture. Another disappointing season for my boys, and Sunday’s game against Atlanta will probably be another agonizing defeat. But I wanted to show my loyalty, and honor them one final time before the 2011 season ends.

Week 17 has the potential to be one of the best season finales we’ve seen in a while. I cannot remember the last time so many teams had to actually go out and give an 100% effort, in order to solidify their playoff spot or seeding. Green Bay is the only team that has a comfortable “safety net” under their feet. Even the teams that are guaranteed a playoff birth have only won half the battle. Winning or losing this week could determine who you play in the 1st round of the playoffs, or if you have to play at all. One win or loss could determine if your team is playing against the New Orleans Saints, or the Dallas/New York winner. Who would you choose? Teams will have to put aside the notion of resting players to preserve their health, and play their hearts out. In my opinion, this is how football should be. If any of us really believed this concept of preserving players’ health, why do we not apply it to ALL teams? Think about it: the Carolina Panthers are 6-9, and have NOTHING to play for this week. A victory over the Saints only adds another win to their record and keeps the Saints from a possible 1st round “bye” in the playoffs. Is it worth it to possibly risk a career-ending injury to rookie phenom CAM NEWTON? Every team should either go out there and give 100% at the end of the season, or they all should keep their guys out of unnecessary danger.

Enough ranting. It’s time for my picks for this week. I went 12-4 last week, which puts my season record at 158-82. I must point out, for one final time, that I have a better weekly picks record than every NFL Expert. So, if any big, popular sports networks need a new “expert”, at half the price, give me a call at 757-8…..just kidding. (actually, I’m not kidding)

Here my Week 17 Picks:

PANTHERS vs SAINTS
My Pick: SAINTS
The Panthers are playing for PRIDE, and the Saints are trying to earn a 1st round “bye” in the playoffs. The Saints haven’t been too friendly or lenient on teams lately

BILLS vs PATRIOTS
My Pick: PATRIOTS
I wanted to pick the Bills. I wish they could pull out some of the magic that they had against New England at the beginning of the season. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to see the AFC Playoffs go through Foxborough.

BEARS vs VIKINGS
My Pick: VIKINGS
I guess. Both teams are BROKEN

JETS vs DOLPHINS
My Pick: JETS
Another hard pick. I think the Jets will do just enough to put up a fight for their playoff lives. (it still won’t be enough though, because they need too much help from other teams)

49ERS vs RAMS
My Pick: 49ERS
San Fran secures a 1st round “bye” with a win. I don’t think this opportunity will be squandered against a far less superior division rival

LIONS vs PACKERS
My Pick: LIONS
The Packers have absolutely NOTHING to play for. The Lions, on the other hand, want, and need a win…badly. They don’t care if Green Bay plays their 3rd string players, a win against them, is a win. Not to mention, a win by Detroit could mean the difference in playing the Saints, or the Dallas/New York winner in round 1. When these two teams met on Thanksgiving day, the game was gritty and competitive, until Detroit’s DE Ndamukong Suh started auditioning for a role in “Stomp the Yard 3”. The Packers don’t need that unnecessary fight right now.

REDSKINS vs EAGLES
My Pick: EAGLES
Philly looks like they could beat ANYONE as of late. It was just too little, too late to save their season

COLTS vs JAGUARS
My Pick: ????? JAGUARS
Indy has been surprising lately. I wanted to pick them for this game, but after digging alittle deeper, I’m going with Jacksonville. The Colts “D” has always struggled against a strong running attack. MJD is one of the best. Even more, the Colts are one win away from losing the # 1 Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. After a brutal, embarrassing season, no need to mess it up in the end.

TITANS vs TEXANS
My Pick: TEXANS
Houston still has to go out and play. They still have the potential to improve their playoff position. I want to believe their blown opportunity last week was simply because they played conservative football against the Colts.

SEAHAWKS vs CARDINALS
My Pick: SEAHAWKS

CHIEFS vs BRONCOS
My Pick: CHIEFS
Never pick against Tebow. But this game means alot to Kyle Orton. He lost his job to the opposing QB and was sent packing. The Chiefs’ offense has been high-powered under Orton for the past two weeks, and Denver is missing their leader on defense.

BUCCANEERS vs FALCONS
My Pick: FALCONS
Tampa Bay is PITIFUL! Atlanta, on the other hand, can improve their playoff spot with a win, and a Detroit loss, because they have already defeated them in a head to head matchup this season. As I said with Detroit, a win for Atlanta could mean the difference in playing the Saints, or the Dallas/New York winner in round 1.

RAVENS vs BENGALS
My Pick: RAVENS
While the entire league is talking about the Dallas/New York game, I am also looking forward to this game. The Bengals are a young, tough team. They get to finish the season at home, with their playoff life on the line. On the other hand, the Ravens are trying to secure a 1st round “bye”, and they know how to show up in big games. This is their chance to take the division from their arch-rival Steelers as well.

STEELERS vs BROWNS
My Pick: STEELERS
This game won’t be easy. The Browns always play the Steelers tough.

CHARGERS vs RAIDERS
My Pick: RAIDERS
You just never know which Chargers team is going to show up from week to week.

COWBOYS vs GIANTS
My Pick: GIANTS
Both of these teams have problems on defense, and have an offense that can’t be trusted (especially at the QB position). When you look alittle deeper, one team’s QB seems to step up in these moments, and the other’s QB seems to shrink in the final moments. Even more, Coach Coughlin has been in these situations many more times than Dallas coach Jason Garrett.

(Send my your comments and opposing Picks below)

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