We get to make big money one more time. It’s Week 17 in the NFL, the final week of the 2011 regular season and it could be the most exciting week of the season.
With one week to play, only nine of 12 teams have secured spots in the post-season.
Last weekend, Detroit and Atlanta clinched playoff spots – the Lions for the first time in this Century – and that means five teams in the NFC have punched their tickets to the post-season – Green Bay, which clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, New Orleans, which clinched the NFC South last Monday night, and NFC West champion San Francisco (both 12-3 and battling for the No. 2 seed) and Wild Cards Detroit and Atlanta.
This week, the winner of the Dallas at New York Giants game will win the NFC East and clinch the final spot in the Conference.
In the AFC, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston and New England have clinched playoff spots while five teams still have a shot at a post-season berth.
That means there is a chance for some tremendous games this week. Besides the Sunday Nighter between the Giants and Dallas in New York, the big games with playoff implications — all in the AFC — include the Jets at Miami, Kansas City at Denver, Baltimore at Cincinnati, Tennessee at Houston and San Diego at Oakland.
Last week the Doc went 14-2 (156-83) and was 13-3 (134-105) against the spread. The Coach went 12-4 (161-78) straight up and 8-8 (131-108) against the spread.
This week, The Doc writes our rationalizations while The Coach makes smart-ass remarks.
Washington Redskins (5-10) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-8) Line: Eagles by 8.5
A disappointing season for both teams comes to an end in this one. The Eagles will have another great game offensively as the Redskins defense doesn’t have the all-around talent to stop them. Expect Philly to utilize LeSean McCoy a ton, and this will spell an Eagles victory. (Coach sez: If you can figure out the Redskins, you’re a better man than I. It’s a box of chocolates football team that shows up one week and stays home the next. Of course, Rex Grossman is the quarterback. Who knows what he’s going to do? This team is coach Mike Shanahan’s Waterloo.)
DR FOOTBALL: EAGLES TO WIN BUT NOT COVER
THE COACH: EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER
San Francisco 49ers (12-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-13) Line: 49ers by 10.5
With or without Sam Bradford, the Rams are doomed. Who would want to win and jeopardize the Number 1 draft pick?
DR FOOTBALL: 49ers TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: 49ers TO WIN AND COVER
Chicago Bears (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (3-12) Line: Vikings by 1
What looked like an exciting New Year’s Day game in September is in reality, a dud. Both teams are finishing the season with this one, and both teams are missing their starting running backs. Chicago put in QB Josh McCown last week, and he played much better than Caleb Hanie ever has. Expect McCown to get the start this week, and his first win. (Coach sez: the Insane Clown Posse that runs the Vikings keeps saying Christian Ponder “could be ready to go this week.” That’s just nuts. Joe Webb has proven he’s the quarterback of now and the future and yet the bat-shit crazies who run this football team keep talking about Ponder. Loonie).
DR FOOTBALL: BEARS TO WIN
THE COACH: VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER (if Webb plays).
Detroit Lions (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (14-1) Line: Lions by 3.5
Both teams have locked up playoff spots, the Lions however, are playing for the number five seed, and depending on how post-season plays out, could give them home-field advantage at some point. The Packers have home field advantage throughout the playoffs regardless and since they aren’t playing for a perfect season, expect to see most of the starters on the bench. The Lions have more to play for.
DR FOOTBALL: LIONS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER
THE COACH: PACKERS TO WIN.
Carolina Panthers (6-9) at New Orleans Saints (12-3) Line: Saints by 8.5
Drew Brees will be adding to his “most passing yards in a single season” record this week as the Saints will be playing for the number two seed in the playoffs. The Saints offense is going to dominate this game as the Panthers defense does not have enough to stop them. (Coach sez: True, the Saints are clearly the better team, but this will be a game in which Cam Newton announces his presence with authority. Don’t be surprised if Newton throws for 350 yards and four touchdowns and yet the Saints still cover. What’s that tell you about the Panthers defence and Drew Brees? Of course, there is a chance Drew Brees doesn’t play much this week and that means Carolina could win the football game.)
DR FOOTBALL: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER (if Brees plays).
Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5) Line: Titans by 3
The Texans are in the playoffs and regardless of a win, their seed won’t change. Expect them to rest their starters to keep them healthy.
DR FOOTBALL: TITANS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: TITANS TO WIN AND COVER
Indianapolis Colts (2-13) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) Line: Jaguars by 3.5
The Colts won’t be able to stop Maurice Jones-Drew and will be picking number one in the 2012 NFL draft.
DR FOOTBALL: JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: JAGUARS TO WIN AND COVER
New York Jets (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-10) Line: Dolphins by 1.5
The Jets are a team in desperate need of a win, and Miami is the last place the Jets want to be this week. The Dolphins have nothing to lose in this game and will be attacking the Jets defensive secondary while and spreading out the playbook with their running game. Offensively, the Jets, specifically QB Mark Sanchez is going to struggle against Dolphins defense that knows how to put pressure on a QB.
DR FOOTBALL: DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER
Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (12-3) Line: Patriots by 11
A win for the Pats and they get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The first time these two teams played each other, the Bills won in overtime. This time, New England have huge momentum and incentive and Tom Brady won’t make the same mistakes he made last time these two teams met.
DR FOOTBALL: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at Atlanta Falcons (9-6) Line: Falcons by 12
Atlanta will be playing for playoff positioning, so they will have their starters on the field. The Bucs are going want to play spoiler, but expect Falcons QB Matt Ryan to shake of Monday’s loss and put a lot of points on the board.
DR FOOTBALL: FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER
Baltimore Ravens (11-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) Line: Ravens by 2.5
Big game for both teams. The Ravens have already clinched a playoff spot, but with a win could clinch the number two seed which would mean a first-round bye and at least one home game in the playoffs. For the Bengals, it’s win or no playoffs. The key to this game for the Ravens is QB Joe Flacco to give the ball as many times as he can to RB Ray Rice which will wear the Bengals defense down. This game will be a close one.
DR FOOTBALL: RAVENS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: BENGALS TO WIN
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-11) Line: Steelers by 7.5
The Steelers are playing for a first-round bye (with a win and a Ravens loss) so they will have their starters on the field. With or without Big Ben, Pittsburgh is a way better team than the Browns. Dog pounded!
DR FOOTBALL: STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: BROWNS TO WIN
San Diego Chargers (7-8) at Oakland Raiders (8-7) Line: Raiders by 3
Oakland needs a win to get into the playoffs, San Diego was eliminated last week. The silver and black will make their former owner Al Davis proud as they win and make the playoffs this year.
DR FOOTBALL: RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: RAIDERS TO WIN AND COVER
Kansas City Chiefs (6-9) at Denver Broncos (8-7) Line: Broncos by 3
Denver needs a win to make the playoffs, the game means nothing to the Chiefs except pride and wanting to knock out a division foe out of the past season. The Broncos defense is going to enable Tim Tebow to prevail late in the fourth quarter to continue his fairy tale season.
DR FOOTBALL: BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER
Seattle Seahawks (7-8) at Arizona Cardinals (7-8) Line: Cardinals by 3
Neither team has a chance at the playoffs and are playing their last game this season. Watch for Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch to have a huge day running the ball. This will be the reason for Seattle to finish 8-8 this season.
DR FOOTBALL: SEAHAWKS TO WIN
THE COACH: CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER
Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at New York Giants (8-7) Line: Giants by 3
There couldn’t be a more perfect end to the 2011 regular season and on Sunday Night Football no less. This game means one thing to both teams. Win and you are in. Lose and you are done. As I said last week against the Jets, go with the QB who is has proven he can win the big one. Eli Manning. (Coach sez: This might be the culmination of everything Tony Romo is. He will either emerge from this game as a guy who is considered “a million dollar arm with a 10 cent brain,” or a winner. For Romo’s career, this one game is absolutely huge. As for Eli Manning, he’s in a position to get back to the playoffs with a team that isn’t that good.)
DR FOOTBALL: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER
THE COACH: GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER