By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s NFL Picks: Week Seventeen
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — And now it comes down to this.
All the two-a-days. All the meetings. All the game films. All the practices. All the treatments with the trainer. For many teams this weekend, it all comes down to 60 minutes.
“Win or go home” has never rang truer than Week 17. In many ways, the last week of an NFL regular season holds the same twists and turns as well as the same drama as any playoff game.
In fact, for the 13th consecutive season, five or more teams will qualify for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. The Cards, Falcons, and Panthers didn’t make the NFC playoffs last year, but have done so this season.
This Sunday, that number will jump to four teams with either Minnesota or Chicago winning the NFC North. The fifth (and potentially sixth) team will come from the pool of Baltimore, Miami and the New York Jets, who are competing with New England (2007 AFC East champion) for two AFC playoff berths.
The number can jump to as high as eight if Denver emerges as the AFC West champion and Philadelphia or Chicago takes the final NFC wild card spot.
Let the fun begin.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
Heading into Week 17, there are already five divisions guaranteed to have a different champion from last year. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only repeat division winner at this point. The potential seven new division winners would set a record since realignment in 2002, topping the six new division winners of 2003.
Only four running back in NFL history have rushed for at least 3,000 yards in their first two seasons. Which one of these players didn’t perform that feat?
A. Earl Campbell B. Clinton Portis C. Eric Dickerson D. Barry Sanders
(The answer comes at the end of this column.)
LAST WEEK: 1-5 (129-87-1)
Yikes!!!! If not for Robbie Gould’s overtime kick, we would have had our first ever win less weekend. Needless to say, but due to upsets and other stuff, this was the worse week we’ve ever had. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can bounce back. If not, I’ll have to spend New Year’s Eve watching reruns of “Flavor Of Love”. A death worse than fate indeed.
PATRIOTS at BILLS
As much as I disliked Team Tivo running up the score against the “division champion” Cards, I shouldn’t be surprised. Ol’ BB and the Pats had a 2007 flashback last week as they made mincemeat out of an over matched Arizona squad. But as last year proved, football karma has a way of coming back to bite you where and when you least expect it. As much as I’d like to see Buffalo send this team home for the holidays, I’m not feeling that it will happen. However, if the football gods see fit maybe Team Tivo will have 11 wins and nothing to show for it.
GIANTS at VIKINGS
While Big Blue solidified home field last week, the Purple Gang literally may have fumbled away a chance at the division crown. They’ve now been given a second chance against a team that may or may not rest the majority of their starters. Last year at this time, Tom Coughlin decided to play Team Tivo hard even though they had a postseason spot wrapped up. We all know that despite the loss, it laid the groundwork for an upset a few weeks later. Somehow, I get the feeling that New York won’t repeat that even though they could possibly see Minny again down the road.
DOLPHINS at JETS
When Gang Green acquired that Farve fella from Green Bay, the team discarted Chad Pennington faster than Ty Pennington and his buddies fix houses. While New York has had an up and down season, Good Ol’ Chad has helped the Dolphins go from the 1-15 outhouse to a possible division crown. We talked earlier about the football gods and karma. I can’t help but remember all the drama that No. 4 put Green Bay fans and management through over the summer. I remember how the New York tabloids went from roasting Farve to making him out to be a savior when the Jets acquired him. Throw in the Team Tivo factor and you’ve got a three-ring karma circus.
COWBOYS at EAGLES
Remember how these games were mocking called the “T.O. Bowl” over the last few years since No. 81 went to Big D. Needless to say but, Owens is small potatoes compared to the problems facing the Cowboys as they try to save their season in Philly. The Eagles are coming off a bitter loss at D.C. so they’ll be just as ornery as their Texas counterparts. Since winning its last playoff game during the 1996 season, Dallas is 18-30 in December games. With a 1-2 record so far this month, history has seemingly already repeated itself.
BRONCOS at CHARGERS
Not to beat the karma horse to death, but if this game absolutely screams of it. We all remember the bad call that cost the Bolts in their previous meeting in Denver back in Week Two. Now by all rights, San Diego should win this game and take their third straight AFC West title. But as much as I think Denver is an overrated team, the one thing that I feel is that their a better team than the Chargers. I know they caught a bad break in September, but their overall incompetence should be rewarded either.
D. In his first two seasons in Detroit, Barry Sanders ran for a total of 2,774 yards (1,470 in 1989; 1,304 in 1990). The four backs who turned the trick were Eric Dickerson (3,913 in 1983-84), Earl Campbell (3,147 in 1978-79), Clinton Portis (3,099 in 2002-03), and Edgerrin James (3,262 in 1999-00).