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2015 NFL Season: Pokorny's Week 17 Picks

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I went 9-7 with my picks in Week 16, which gives me a record of 145-95 on the year. It didn't leave me a lot of breathing room in Week 17 to reach my goal of not surpassing 100 losses. If I go 11-5 or better this week, I'll hit my goal. Feel free to weigh in on some of the games in the comments section.

Week 17 Games Explanation Pick
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Seeking a First-Round Bye: The Ravens' victory last week helps ensure that they will finish with a worst draft pick than the Browns. In a battle of backup quarterbacks, the Bengals need A.J. McCarron to deliver another steady game, and then they will wait things out to see if Denver falls later in the day. A Bengals win and Denver loss, or a Denver loss and Chiefs win, will give Cincinnati a first-round bye. Bengals 23, Ravens 15

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Back to Normalcy: The Bears are 5-3 at home, but a miserable 1-6 at home. This week, I think the Bears finally buck the trend and pick up a victory at Soldier Field again. The bigger question will be whether Adam Gase remains their offensive coordinator in 2016, or finds a head coaching gig somewhere. Bears 20, Lions 17

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Hoyer Back In: After the Texans rolled with Brandon Weeden last week, Brian Hoyer has now cleared the concussion protocol and will start Sunday. The Texans are as close to being "in" heading into Week 17 as I've ever seen, without officially being in. I think they remove all doubt against the Jaguars, but I'll explain later what the Colts need to have happen to get in. Texans 27, Jaguars 20

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Shootout of the Week: This game has no playoff relevancy to the NFC, but it's one of those games that Colts fans are clinging hope to. With Atlanta officially out of the playoff hunt, I see both defenses not being motivated. When defenses aren't at full strength, this game will feature both offenses shooting it out. In that case, I prefer Drew Brees. Saints 35, Falcons 31

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Blowout of the Week: The Patriots need a win to clinch home-field advantage in the AFC, and the Dolphins have been flat for awhile as Ryan Tannehill's long-term future in Miami should be in doubt with the way he's been performing. Patriots 42, Dolphins 10

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Rex Ryan Controls Week 17: We've seen Rex Ryan's Jets fight in Week 17 games for him before, so I have no doubt that the Bills are going to fight for him in Week 17. Ryan will be very motivated to pull out all the stops to not only beat his former team, but prevent them from getting into the playoffs. If the Jets win, they are in. Unfortunately for them, I see Tyrod Taylor leading the way against them for a season sweep. Bills 24, Jets 21

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Ten in a Row: The Chiefs are one game away from finishing the season with ten straight wins, and they even have a shot at hosting a playoff game next week if Denver slips up. I think the Chiefs will be stuck as a wildcard team, but their winning streak will continue into the postseason. Chiefs 27, Raiders 17

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Pat Shurmur is a Head Coach: Even if it's just for one week, Pat Shurmur is a head coach again. I'll definitely take the Giants, even after being blown out by the Vikings last week. Giants 24, Eagles 13

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What the Colts Need: The Colts are going to have to start a new quarterback this week, and here's what they need to make the playoffs: a Colts win, a Texans loss, and wins by the following seven teams: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver, Miami, Oakland, and Pittsburgh. They won't make it in, but I think they find a way to beat the Mariota-less Titans. Also, a Titans loss gives them the No. 1 overall pick (in all likelihood), so Cleveland fans would love for Indy to lose here. Colts 16, Titans 13

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Rest Them Up: No matter how you shape it, the Redskins are 100% locked in to the No. 4 seed in the NFC. This game has no value to them. I think they will play a lot of their backups, allowing the Cowboys to squeak by with a victory to cap off a miserable season. Cowboys 17, Redskins 14

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A Dangerous Game: By the end of this game, the Broncos will either hold the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 5, or No. 6 seed in the AFC. Against the Chargers, they'll do so with Brock Osweiller under center, but Peyton Manning is expected to be active as the backup. One thing is for sure: when the Broncos lose in the playoffs, the QB situation will be discussed for a long, long time. Broncos 20, Chargers 17

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Tough Road to the Top Seed: The Cardinals have clinched a first-round bye, but if the Panthers lose their second in a row, Arizona could snatch the No. 1 seed from them. Seattle isn't going to lay down with their backups, but Arizona is still the superior team this year. Cardinals 31, Seahawks 21

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Flip a Coin: Heads for Rams, tails for 49ers. (Flips). It's tails -- I'll take the 49ers! 49ers 20, Rams 17

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Putting a Clamp on the Bucs: The Panthers were finally taken to the limit by a team last week, falling to 14-1 on the year. Now, they need a win to maintain their home-field advantage in the NFC. If the Panthers win this week, I think the loss last week benefits them in the long run. If they lose again this week, their confidence could be shot, but at least they'll still have two weeks to regroup, regardless. I think they take care of business. Panthers 35, Buccaneers 17

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NFC North on the Line: NBC would love to have a "win-and-in" game to end the regular season on national TV. There wasn't a guarantee for that this year, though, but a "winner-takes-the-division" game is pretty darn close. I think the Packers match up well against the Vikings, as they beat them 30-13 earlier this year. Minnesota is flying high after winning on SNF last week, but I think the Packers secure the division at home. Packers 31, Vikings 24

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Steelers Need Some Help: I think Cleveland's secondary, despite being limited, will do a better job this time around against Pittsburgh's receivers. The Browns are just too thin at quarterback, wide receiver, offensive guard, and cornerback to keep QB Ben Roethlisberger down for long, especially when they are seeking a playoff spot. My full game preview and prediction can be found here. Steelers 28, Browns 13


Week 16 Picks Record: 9-7
2015 Season Record: 145-95
Record in Browns Picks: 8-7

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