BASN NFL Picks: Week Seventeen

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 27, 2007
NFL Sunday TicketNEW HAVEN, Ct. — It’s been 16 weeks of ups and downs and finally it’s down to Week 17. Needless to say, the final few spots in the postseason party are still open.
For the 12th consecutive season, five or more teams will qualify for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay did not make the playoffs last year but have done so this season.

This Sunday, that number will jump to at least five teams with the final AFC playoff berth going to either Cleveland or Tennessee, and possibly to six if Minnesota or Washington qualify in the NFC. And of course, there’s the history that could take place at the Meadowlands Saturday night.

In their quest for the first undefeated/untied regular season in a 16-game schedule, Team Tivo, aka the New England Patriots are primed to break several significant offensive records.

With six points against the New York Giants on Saturday night, the Patriots will break the NFL season scoring record of 556 points by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998.

A standout on that Vikings team was rookie wide receiver Randy Moss, who with two touchdown receptions on Saturday will break Jerry Rice’s NFL season TD catch record of 22 in 1987. With two TD passes, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can break the season record of 49 by Peyton Manning in 2004.

After going winless in the NFC South Division in 2006, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-0) have the opportunity to completely turn around that record with a win over Carolina on Sunday. If they do so, the Buccaneers would become only the second team since 1970 to accomplish the feat. The St. Louis Rams did so in 1999, and went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV.

Only three players in NFL history have led their team in both rushing yards and receptions for four consecutive years. Which one of these players failed to turn the trick?
A. Walter Payton
B. Frank Gifford
C. James Wilder
D. Lydell Mitchell
(The answer comes at the end of this column).

LAST WEEK: 8-7 (132-86 overall)
After some decent double-digit win weeks, the walls came a tumblin’ down last week. Only a convincing win by the Bolts kept me from dropping below .500. The Browns, Packers, and Vikings really let me down. However, we did have the Eagles winning in New Orleans, and the Titans keeping their playoff hopes alive as well. This week, we’re only doing the Saturday night extravaganza in Jersey and the Sunday games that have a bearing on the playoff race. Lets be honest do you really wanna me to pick a winner these other games?? I didn’t think so.

So now that the Grinches at the NFL Network felt a bit guilty, the entire nation will be able to see another ballyhooed regular season game starring Team Tivo. Their co-stars for this game are the lovable Giants from New Jersey. Big Blue finally got around to clinching a playoff berth last week in Buffalo. With their postseason date set for Tampa, the big question all week has been should Tom Coughlin play his starters or prepare for the playoffs. Here’s what we think will happen. Randy Moss and Tom Brady will break the records they’re chasing and be up 17-0 in the second quarter. The Giants will rally to tie the game at 24-24 late in the third. Coach Bill calls back the calvary to take a late 27-24 lead with 2:00 remaining. Then the Giants get an incredible two-minute drill from Lil’ Eli in leading them to a 31-27 win. New York will get a congradulatory call and complimentary rap from Mercury Morris.
Pick: Giants.

Still trying to lick the egg off their face from last week’s loss at Cincy, the Brownies look to secure their first playoff spot in five seasons. They need to win and they need the Colts to beat the Titans later in the evening. The only postseason scenario in which the result of this game matters is if the Colts and Titans tie. In that unlikely case, Cleveland would get in with a tie or victory. For those of you scoring at home (AND IF YOU ARE, PLEASE GET A LIFE!!!!!): there have been 16 ties in 7,812 NFL games since overtime was adopted in 1974. As Cleveland, I think they will use last week as the motivating factor to win and watch the Peacock Network very intently Sunday night.
Pick: Browns.

Welcome to another act of “we’re in the postseason chillin’, while you’re sweating major bullets” or something like that. You know the deal and if not, i’ll tell ya. Dallas has homefield throughout the NFC playoffs while the ‘Skins need to win and get the Vikings to lose at Denver to make their improbable postseason run complete. A thorough thumping of the Purple Gang last week at the Dome has D.C. fans thinking they can be like last year’s Eagles. Not in winning the division, but making a strong playoff run. Wade will have the starters play a little bit, but probably not enough for them to make a dent in the scoreboard.
Pick: Redskins.

Okay, folks follow me very carefully here because this will get a bit complicated. New Orleans is trying to become only the second team in NFL history to make the playoffs following an 0-4 start, enters the final week one game behind Minnesota and Washington. Now, the Saints still hold a tiebreaker edge over both and can sneak into the playoffs with a win over Chicago and losses by Minnesota and Washington. Did ya get all that? Good, now go ahead and forget it because I believe Da Bears can pull off another upset.
Pick: Bears.

Last year at this time, the Broncos just needed to beat San Francisco at Invesco to nail down a playoff berth. However, they stubbed their toe and lost on a last second field goal which sent them home for the holidays. Now they sit as spoilers for the Vikings, who still are entertaining playoff hope as we’ve previously mentioned. Denver has lost four of five and are headed for their first losing season since 1999. In fact, Denver, which has lost four straight against NFC opponents, has managed 16 total points in its last two games — road losses to Houston and San Diego. They may score some points, but I think you know how this movie is gonna end.
Pick: Vikings.

This is very simple. If the Titans win, they will clinch the last AFC playoff spot and go to the postseason for the first time since 2003. If they lose, they are eliminated, and Cleveland will advance to the postseason, regardless of the result of the Browns’ game against San Francisco. Whichever team makes it will play at either San Diego or Pittsburgh in a wild card game next week. Much like many games this Sunday, this game meets absolutely nothing for Indy. Coach Dungy has already said that backup QB Jim Sorgi will play at least one half. Considering all the other injuries that the Colts have on both sides of the line, the rest may serve them better despite the loud protests you will hear before and after this game from Cleveland.
Pick: Titans.

A. Hall of Famer Walter Payton led the Bears in rushing and receiving yards three straight years from 1983-85. Ironically, the Jackson State product is Chicago’s all-time leader in rushing (16,726) and receiving (4,538) yards.