2022-12-27 · 7 min read · NFL/Football
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals and Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles

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Heading into the second last week of the NFL regular season, plenty is still left to be determined.
The Tennessee Titans are in turmoil and no longer in a playoff position; while a postseason berth could be determined in the NFC South when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers square off this weekend.
It was an emotional holiday weekend in Pittsburgh following the death of iconic Super Bowl winner Franco Harris, as the Steelers are one of four teams within a game of Miami for the final playoff position in the AFC, while the Green Bay Packers have come to life and are back in the postseason conversation in the NFC.
There are so many playoff possibilities at the moment that I have yet to mention two of the biggest headlines to come out of the Christmas weekend, one being the end of Nathaniel Hackett’s tenure as head coach in the Mile-High City.
At the same time, the NFL will soon say goodbye to one of the best defensive players of his generation, J.J. Watt.
Here is a look at the matchups in Week 17 and my predictions.
Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans
The Cowboys never let a poor performance keep them down too long.
That was the case on Christmas Eve as Dak Prescott overcame an opening drive pick-six, tossing three TD passes for a second successive week, keeping their division hopes alive with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tennessee has been knocked off its pedestal in the AFC South, and as if things couldn’t get any worse, they lost a fifth consecutive contest to none other than the Houston Texans, as Malik Willis threw for under 100 yards through the air.
  • Prediction- Dallas Cowboys 36-17 Tennessee Titans
The Cowboys should have a massive edge in the passing game on Thursday, and I expect them to get their share of sacks against an O-line that has allowed at least four in their last four games.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
Arizona has not scored more than 20 points in three straight encounters, averaging just 4.4 yards per play on Christmas Day against the Bucs.
We haven’t seen any bad throws from Desmond Ridder in his two games behind centre, but the Falcons have been one-dimensional on offense, without a touchdown pass in back-to-back contests.
  • Prediction- Arizona Cardinals 23-22 Atlanta Falcons
The Cardinals have a solid pass rush and I expect J.J. Watt to give us another great showing before he officially goes off into the sunset in a couple of weeks.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Without the top rushing attack in the NFL, the Bears might not have won a single game this season, and last week, they failed to hit the century mark on the ground for just the third time all year.
Detroit wasted a golden opportunity to move above .500 conceding 17 points to the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their previous encounter.
Despite Jared Goff tossing another three TD passes, they could only manage 45 yards on the ground, losing 37-23.
  • Prediction- Chicago Bears 24-30 Detroit Lions
The Lions D rarely do their part, allowing over 300 rushing yards to the Panthers last week, but Goff should find plenty of open receivers in this one to compensate and get his team over the line.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
The Jags’ playoff destiny is now in their hands as Trevor Lawrence has probably been the best quarterback in the league over the past seven weeks, throwing 14 touchdown passes with just a single interception over that stretch.
Houston was due for a victory given how close they’ve been over the past few weeks and they created three turnovers versus Tennessee, while their defense had four sacks, as many as in their three previous contests combined.
  • Prediction- Jacksonville Jaguars 24-14 Houston Texans
Sunday could be an easy game for the Jags to overlook; however, Doug Pederson knows how to keep his team focused while I expect Travis Etienne to have a big day running the ball, against a defense that has allowed 500 combined rushing yards in their last three games.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Jerry Rosburg begins his interim tenure as Broncos head coach on Sunday with a lot on his plate, trying to fix a defense that allowed more points last weekend than they had in three of their first four encounters this season.
Add to that the bickering amongst the players and an offense that has not been consistent all year, and we see that Rosburg has quite the mess to clean up.
It was another routine showing for Patrick Mahomes as he and the Chiefs’ top offensive unit have scored 20+ points in 12 consecutive contests, with one of the MVP frontrunners throwing for over 200 yards in every game this year.
  • Prediction- Denver Broncos 20-Kansas City Chiefs 42
Seeing as Buffalo are ahead of them in the race for an opening-round bye, I expect their offense will find another gear this weekend and keep the pressure on the Bills to win.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Even with two of the most explosive receivers in the NFL putting up huge numbers over the past two weeks, the Dolphins can’t buy a win right now, and Tua Tagovailoa shares plenty of responsibility for last week’s defeat, tossing three interceptions in a loss to the Packers.
As Bill Belichick famously said years ago, the Pats were “getting ready for Cincinnati” last week, but they didn’t look ready in the opening half, going behind 22-0, and though they made a game of it in the final two quarters, Mac Jones does not have enough dependable weapons on offense to reverse that kind of deficit.
  • Prediction- Miami Dolphins 28-21 New England Patriots
Tua was his own worst enemy a week ago, but he is facing a team who’ve been their own worst enemies more often than not in 2022, and I think even if it’s only Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle shouldering the load, it’ll be enough for Mike McDaniel’s team to stop the bleeding.
Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Jeff Saturday turned to a former Super Bowl champion last week, and it backfired as Nick Foles tossed three picks and the Colts failed to convert a single third down, losing their fifth straight game of the season, 20-3 versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Giants made a valiant effort against Minnesota last week but could not finish the job, losing 27-24.
  • Prediction- Indianapolis Colts 20-24 New York Giants
The Colts have allowed 93 points combined in their last two road games, and although the Giants are not quite as potent, as the Vikings or Cowboys, their run game seems to be back on track, so I expect Saquon Barkley to have another solid outing on the ground.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
A couple of weeks ago, New Orleans was sinking, but unlike the famous Tragically Hip song, the Saints decided they wanted to swim, winning back-to-back contests, holding their last two opponents to under 5 yards per play, and keeping their slim playoff hopes afloat.
The Eagles were missing the presence of their leader and quarterback, Jalen Hurts, but they still came close to pulling out their previous game thanks to an explosive receiving corps, posting over 300 yards through the air and their D-line sacking Dak Prescott six times in a losing effort.
  • Prediction- New Orleans Saints 18-30 Philadelphia Eagles
Gardner Minshew does not have the same kind of poise or footballing IQ as Hurts, but his defensive unit and solid pass catchers should be able to do enough to beat the Saints.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No one would have predicted the Panthers would be in the hunt for a playoff berth at this stage of the season, but their running attack exploded last week as Edmonton-born Chuba Hubbard ran for 125 yards versus Detroit and D’Onta Foreman added another 165, while Sam Darnold has not tossed a pick in his previous four outings.
Tom Brady, meanwhile, has thrown two interceptions in each of his last three games, but if we know anything about the G.O.A.T. we know that he is rarely ever down for the count, and he and the Bucs found a way last Sunday, winning 19-16 in OT against the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Prediction- Carolina Panthers 16-20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As bad as Brady has played this year, what is often forgotten is the fact that he and his team still manage to keep their games close and knowing that a win on Sunday could clinch the division, the 45-year-old should be as determined as ever to will his team to victory.
Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders
It was another rough outing for Deshaun Watson and the Browns last week as the former Texans star failed to throw a touchdown toss for the second time since his return from suspension, with under 200 yards passing in three of his four games behind centre.
Another subpar display from Taylor Heinicke and the Commanders has them narrowly clinging to the final playoff spot in the division, as the youngster has thrown an interception in two of his last three games.
  • Prediction- Cleveland Browns 27-17 Washington Commanders
The Commanders have struggled to stop the run allowing over 100 yards to running backs in four consecutive games, and that alone should be enough to propel the Browns to victory, even if it’s Carson Wentz getting the start.
San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders
Can anybody move the ball consistently against this Niners’ defense? If so, we haven’t seen it in weeks as Kyle Shanahan’s crew have posted multiple sacks in three of their last four games and are the only team in the league to have allowed less than 300 yards per game all season.
Derek Carr has repeatedly shown that he cannot handle the big moments when given the opportunity, and he squandered another one last Saturday in Pittsburgh, tossing three picks while throwing for under 200 yards.
  • Prediction San Francisco 49ers 20-10 Las Vegas Raiders
Outside of Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams, this Vegas offense lacks consistency.
With a quarterback low on confidence, I anticipate San Fran will add to the Raiders’ frustration with some suffocating defensive stops.
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks
To the relief of Jets fans and Robert Saleh, Mike White is healthy and appears to be ready to go this weekend, with their offense only averaging 4.1 yards per play in a loss to the Jags, mainly thanks to the great play of third-stringer and former Winnipeg Blue Bombers pivot Chris Strevler.
Seattle’s feel-good story might not have a happy ending as Geno Smith has thrown at least one interception in four of his last five games, and Pete Carroll’s team have lost three in a row.
  • Prediction- New York Jets 23-20 Seattle Seahawks
The Jets’ secondary has been sharp and dependable all season, and given how much Geno Smith has cooled off, I anticipate New York’s D will propel them to a much-needed victory on Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
The Vikings end their season with back-to-back road contests, having squeaked out another tight one last week, thanks to a strong outing by Kirk Cousins, who has thrown for seven touchdowns in his previous two encounters.
We should have known better than to write off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but to be fair, just about everyone had; however, the reigning NFL MVP didn’t write back.
Rodgers has thrown for over 200 yards in his last two games as Matt LaFleur’s crew is still alive in the postseason chase.
  • Prediction- Minnesota Vikings 27-30 Green Bay Packers
Rodgers has a point to prove, and he and his Packers have done that when we least expected, and I anticipate he will take his game to another level this week while their rushing attack should have an edge versus Minnesota on that frozen tundra at Lambeau Field.
Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers
It may be too little too late for the Rams this season, but last week Sean McVay’s team gave us a glimpse of what they’re capable of.
They demolished a solid Denver defense, while Baker Mayfield has, at the very least, shown that he can still be a starter in this league, be it with the Rams or someone else.
The Chargers are officially back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018 as Justin Herbert threw for over 200 yards for the sixth consecutive game, though it was their defensive unit that did most of the damage at Indy, with seven sacks in a 20-3 triumph.
  • Prediction- Los Angeles Rams 26-30 Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers depth in the pass catching department and the toughness of Herbert should help them put together some big numbers against the Rams.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
There was not a dry eye in Steeler nation last weekend as the team honoured Franco Harris at halftime, and it seemed as though the spirit of the former legendary running back was with them against the Raiders.
Kenny Pickett connected with George Pickens for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Baltimore is back in the playoffs, but they have been far from convincing with under 20 points in each of their games played this month, but their discipline helped them out last weekend, as Atlanta took five penalties for 48 yards, while John Harbaugh’s team only had one for six yards.
  • Prediction- Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 Baltimore Ravens
Mike Tomlin’s been in his share of big games and the Steelers shouldn’t have any trouble containing an offense that are still trying to break through since losing Lamar Jackson to an injury.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
Josh Allen and the Bills have looked a lot more like themselves over the holiday season, with 67 points in two games, throwing for multiple scores in their last two.
The Bengals have won six in a row as Joe Burrow had many options to throw to once again last week, completing at least one pass to eight different receivers.
  • Prediction- Buffalo Bills 40-37 Cincinnati
These teams can burn you through the air and are both peaking at the right time, but I am leaning towards the Bills, who have that extra motivation of a potential first-round bye still on the table, while they are a little sharper on the defensive side of the ball when compared to Cincy.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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