Share this article

print logo

Sunday playbook: Win or bust in Lions-Packers showdown?

Sunday is the first time in this National Football League season when all 32 teams will be in action. However, only seven of the 16 games scheduled on the  final day of the regular season will affect the postseason lineup. It's almost like a preseason schedule because there's not much at stake.
All six of the American Conference playoff teams have been determined, although the winner of the AFC West and the exact order of the seeding is still up in the air.
In the National Conference, three of the four division champions and one wild-card team have been determined. Green Bay, Detroit and Washington are contending for the final two slots. There are two pivotal games that will decide the outcome. Green Bay at Detroit will decide the NFC North champion. Before that, though, comes the New York Giants at Washington meeting in Landover, Md., If Washington wins, the loser of the Green Bay-Detroit game will be out of the playoffs unless the Packers and Lions play to a tie.
San Diego's home game against the Kansas City Chiefs could be the Chargers' last in the city they have called home since the original Los Angeles Chargers of the American Football League moved there in 1961.
A capsule look at Sunday's Week 17 NFL games:
Game of the day
Packers (9-6) at Lions (9-6)
TV: NBC, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Packers (-3½).
The scoop: Game will determine NFC North division champion. Loser could be out of playoffs entirely. Even if Packers lose they could make playoffs with a Washington loss. Same with Detroit. That will be decided by the time Packers and Lions take the field Sunday night. It's possible for Detroit to gain a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a win and losses by Atlanta and Seattle.
Outlook: Aaron Rodgers finishing season strong while finger injury has hampered Lions' Matthew Stafford. Green Bay, 31-21.
Top attractions
Giants (10-5) at Redskins (8-6-1)
TV: Fox, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Redskins (-7).
The scoop: New York is locked in as No. 5 seed in NFC. Washington can make the playoffs at No. 6 with a win as long as the Green Bay-Detroit game doesn't end in a tie. ... Redskins won first meeting on Sept. 25, 29-27, on Dustin Hopkins field goal with 1:51 left. ... Rookie RB Paul Perkins ran for 68 yards in Giants loss to Eagles last week. He's nephew of ex-Cowboys RB Don Perkins, who played for Marv Levy at University of New Mexico (1958-59).
Outlook: Seven points is a lot to cover when old NFC East rivals collide. Redskins, 24-21.
Patriots (13-2) at Dolphins (10-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Patriots (9½).
The scoop: New England wraps up home field throughout AFC playoffs with a win or Oakland loss. Dolphins can claim No. 5 seed with a win and loss by Kansas City. Miami is in playoffs for first time since 2008. ... Patriots have won last six, tying Steelers with longest win streak going in league. ... Last time New England visited, in 2015 season finale, Dolphins won, 20-10, with Ryan Tannehill passing for 350 yards. ... Jimmy Garoppolo started in place of suspended Tom Brady in first meeting of Dolphins and Pats this season. Garoppolo passed for three touchdowns in 31-24 New England victory on Sept. 18. ... Dolphins' backup Matt Moore turned in workmanlike job in overtime win over Bills last week.
Outlook: Patriots still have some business to take care of. Dolphins won't play dead. New England, 30-27.
Raiders (12-3) at Broncos (8-7)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Broncos (-1).
The scoop: Oakland is in playoffs for first time since 2002, but needs a win or a loss by Kansas City to clinch AFC West title. Raiders can earn No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with a win and New England loss. If Raiders lose and Chiefs win, Oakland drops to No. 5 seed in AFC playoffs and would play at Houston in Wild-Card playoff round. ... Khalil Mack has 11 sacks for Raiders. He had five in Oakland's 15-12 win at Mile High last December. ... Matt McGloin stars in place of Derek Carr (broken  leg) at QB for Oakland. He's attempted only four passes this season, completing two.
Outlook: Nothing left for Denver except being a spoiler. Broncos, 27-24.
Chiefs (11-4) at Chargers (5-10)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Chiefs (-6).
The scoop: Chiefs have made the  playoffs but they can win AFC West and gain first-round bye with a win and an Oakland loss. ... Philip Rivers of Chargers had thrown more interceptions (19) than any NFL QB. ... Isn't Tyreek Hill of Chiefs most exciting newcomer to NFL since Odell Beckham Jr.?
Outlook: Can't see resourceful Chiefs letting Bolts put any blemish on their season. Kansas City 27-17.
Seahawks (9-5-1) at 49ers (2-13)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Seahawks (-10).
The scoop: Seattle has won NFC West but can earn No. 2 seed and first-round bye with a win and an Atlanta loss. ... Judging by his passer rating (88.2) and TD-INT ratio (15-4), Colin Kaepernick of the Niners is having a better season then a lot of other NFL QBs. ... Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is 92.4 and 20-11. ... Seattle easily won NFC West despite 2-2-1 record in a weak division.
Outlook: How motivated with either side be. Seahawks, 21-13.
Saints (7-8) at Falcons (10-5)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Falcons (-7).
The scoop: If Atlanta wins and both Seattle and Detroit lose, it gains No. 2 seed and first-round bye in NFC playoffs. ... Atlanta won 45-32 shootout in first meeting. ... Drew Brees of Saints leads league with 4,858 passing yards, 11th 4,000-plus season for him, an NFL record. ... Matt Ryan of Falcons leads league with 115.5 passer rating and is third in both passing yards (4,613) and TD passes (34).
Outlook: Sean Payton has owned Falcons (15-6) as head coach of Saints. Atlanta squeaks by in offensive shootout, 38-35.
Best of the rest
Jaguars (3-12) at Colts (7-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Colts (-4½).
The scoop: Jacksonville ended its losing streak at with last week's 38-17 rout of Tennessee with Doug Marrone acting as interim head coach for the first time. Blake Bortles passed for 325 yards and a touchdown. He's thrown for 3,604 yards and 22 touchdowns, but has been intercepted 16 times and his passer rating is lowly 77.6. ... Veteran RB Frank Gore of Colts needs 36 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for ninth time in career, which would be the fifth-most in NFL history. ... T.Y. Hilton of Colts leads league with 1,353 receiving yards. He has 85 catches, six for touchdowns.
Outlook: Loss at Oakland ended Colts' playoff chances last week but for Indy the killer was home loss to Houston three weeks ago. Indy, 28-20.
Bears (3-12) at Vikings (7-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Vikings (-5).
The scoop: Matt Barkley of Bears has passed for 300 yards his last two games. Rookie RB Jordan Howard has run for 1,178 yards and 5.1 average for Chicago. ... Vikes' QB Sam Bradford has 17 TD passes and only four INTS on season.
Outlook: Howard had 153-yard game when Bears beat Minny, 20-10, at Soldier Field in October but he won't repeat against league's No. 2-ranked defense. Vikings, 23-16.
Cowboys (13-2) at Eagles (6-9)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Eagles (-4).
The scoop: Dallas assured of home field throughout NFC playoffs. ... With 363-yard lead over Le'Veon Bell of Steelers (1,268 in 11 games), Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott (1,631 in 15 games) looks like a shoo-in for NFL rushing title even if he sits out. Elliott has 61 more rushing attempts than Bell. His 15 rushing touchdowns are third in the league behind LeGarrette Blount of Patriots (17) and David Johnson of Cardinals (16). ... Will Tony Romo get some tune-up time at QB for Cowboys in meaningless game? Otherwise two rookie QBs, Dak Prescott of Dallas and Carson Wentz of Philadelphia, will start. Prescott is 23-14 (TDs-INTs) while Wentz is 14-14.
Outlook: Philly fans hate Dallas with a passion, but there's nothing at stake here. Cowboys, 30-20.
Browns (1-14) at Steelers (10-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Steelers (-7).
The scoop: Pittsburgh locked in as No. 3 seed in AFC and look ahead to hosting No. 6 seed in AFC playoffs next week. ... Steelers won first meeting, 24-9, on Nov. 10. ... RB Isaiah Crowell (800 yards, 4.5 avg.) having decent season carrying the ball for lowly Browns. ... Cleveland ended 17-game losing steak with 20-17 win over San Diego last week. Steelers clinched division with 31-27 win over Ravens.
Outlook: Browns haven't won in Pittsburgh since 2003 and are 23-3 against Pittsburgh since that win. Steelers take care of business at home, 27-13.
Panthers (6-9) at Buccaneers (8-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Buccaneers (-6½).
The scoop: Loss at New Orleans last week doomed Bucs playoff chances. ... Carolina, defending NFC champion, playing out disappointing season with Cam Newton near bottom of league with 77.5 passer rating. Newton has completed only 52.7 percent with 18 TDs and 11 INTs. ... Tampa Bay won first meeting, 17-14, in Charlotte on Roberto Aguayo field goal as time expired. Panthers had won previous six games in division rivalry. ... Tampa Bay's leading rusher, Doug Martin, suspended for four games starting this week for violating NFL substance abuse policy.
Outlook: Can't believe Carolina will allow itself to be swept in season-series by crestfallen Buccaneers. Panther, 20-17.
Texans (9-6) at Titans (8-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Titans (-3).
The scoop: Houston won AFC South and is locked in to No. 4 seed. ... Offense ranks 28th in league and has produced league-low 21 touchdowns but Texans winning with defense, which ranks No. 1 with 305.7 average yield. Only Denver (187.2) allows fewer passing yards per game (206.2). ... Tom Savage, who still has not thrown a TD pass in his brief stint of appearances, starts again for Houston. ... Matt Cassel, who finished up in loss to Jacksonville last week, starts at QB in place of Titans' injured starter Marcus Mariota.
Outlook: Tennessee, with Cassel starting, gets home edge against Houston, which has nothing to play for. Titans, 24-20.
Ravens (8-7) at Bengals (5-9-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bengals (-2).
The scoop:  Two AFC North teams who figured to be in the thick of playoff picture left to play  out disappointing seasons. ... Cincinnati has won five of last six in rivalry. ... Some believe this could be end of the line for coach Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati with team missing playoffs (and chance for first postseason win since 1990) after making it five seasons in a row.
Outlook: Looking for big game from WR A.J. Green of Bengals in his first game back from injury suffered against Bills. Cincinnati, 23-20.
Cardinals (6-8-1) at Rams (4-11)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Cardinals (-6).
The scoop: With wins by Browns, Jaguars and 49ers last week, Rams now have longest losing streak (six) going in the NFL. ... Cardinals coming off 34-31 win at Seattle which is some consolation in a disappointing season. A 17-13 win by Rams in first meeting following home loss to Tampa Bay and then loss at Bills was sure sign that things were not right in Arizona.
Outlook: Now we know why Rams didn't rush Jared Goff into starting job. His passer rating is 61.7.  Cardinals, 20-10.
Dog of the day
Bills (7-8) at Jets (4-11)
TV: CBS, 1 p.m.
The line: Bills (3½).
The scoop: E.J. Manuel starts for Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick back as Jets starter after injuries to Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. Turmoil surrounding the Jets should ease with reports that coach Todd Bowles will be kept for another year. ... LeSean McCoy of Bills and Bilal Powell of Jets lead NFL running backs with 5.1 average per rush. Powell's longest gain is only 35 yards. ... Ten of Fitzpatrick's 17 interceptions this season have come in the fourth quarter when his completion percentage is only 51.4, lowest in the league, with just two touchdown passes. Fitz completed only 49.5 on third downs. New York has only 14 passing touchdowns for season, next-to-last to Cleveland's 13.
Outlook: Jets offered only token resistance in 40-3 loss at New England last week. Bills overcome coaching change, lack of incentive for 20-13 victory.
Last week's results: 7-8 outright; 6-9 versus spread.
Season's record: 136-83-2 outright; 106-105-10 versus spread.
There are no comments - be the first to comment