Eagles-Redskins just one of Sunday’s critical games | Week 17 preview
Plenty of intrigue around the league and why Scott Hanson should load up on the throat lozenges, plus postgame headlines
This should be a pretty fun Sunday. Though all eyes in this region will be focused on Landover, Md. and Minneapolis, there is plenty at stake elsewhere. Here’s a quick look at Week 17.
Eagles (8-7) at Washington (7-8), 4:25 p.m. (Fox29)
A win by the Eagles and a loss by the Vikings would get the Eagles into the postseason. It also might force City Council to consider replacing the William Penn statue atop City Hall with one of Nick Foles. The Redskins cut safety D.J. Swearinger, a Pro Bowl alternate, after he criticized the play-calling of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after last week’s loss to Tennessee. Never mind that he was probably right. Line: Eagles minus-7.
Postgame headline: Eagles roll, Redskins thought federal shutdown also included the city’s football team
>>READ MORE: Philly.com staff picks for Eagles-Redskins
Chicago (11-4) at Minnesota (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m.
A Vikings win and a Seattle win against lowly Arizona means Chicago and Minnesota would play next week in Chicago. A Vikings win and a Seattle loss would send Minnesota to Dallas and Seattle to Chicago. Bears coach Matt Nagy has said he’ll play his starters, but that could depend on what’s going on in L.A. The Bears have not won in Minnesota since 2011. Line: Vikings minus-5.5.
Postgame headline: Chicago wins, finally pays back Philadelphia for that Ryne Sandberg trade
San Francisco (4-11) at L.A. Rams (12-3), 4:25 p.m.
If the Rams are rolling early, Chicago might start resting players, figuring the No. 2 seed is out of reach. So, yes, Philadelphia, San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens (10 TD passes, seven picks in seven games) might have as much control over the Eagles' getting to the playoffs as Nick Foles. Rams lineman Aaron Donald needs 3.5 sacks to set the single-season record held by Michael Strahan (22.5 in 2001). That’s remarkable, considering Donald plays defensive tackle. The Rams won at San Francisco in Week 6, 39-10. Line: Rams minus-10.5.
Postgame headline: Donald ducks past Strahan and into record book
Atlanta (6-9) at Tampa Bay (5-10), 1 p.m.
The biggest offseason decisions in Tampa Bay will be whether to bring back Jameis Winston, who would be owed $21 million in 2019, and whether Dirk Koetter is the right head coach. Line: Atlanta minus-2.
Postgame headline: Falcons move to 7-9, admirable given all the injuries
Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (10-5), 1 p.m.
The Texans will clinch the AFC South with a win and would slide into the conference’s No. 2 seed with a win and a Patriots loss. Houston in expecting the return of running back Lamar Miller, who missed last week’s loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury. His replacements (Alfred Blue and D’Onta Foreman) combined for 13 yards on 11 carries. Line: Texans minus-7.
Postgame headline: From 0-3 to 3-seed, an impressive turnaround by Houston
Dallas (9-6) at N.Y. Giants (5-10), 1 p.m. (Fox29)
Giants running back Saquon Barkley is 236 rushing yards behind leader Ezekiel Elliott, needs two receptions to break Reggie Bush’s record for catches by a rookie running back, and needs 114 scrimmage yards to join Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookies with 2,000. With the Cowboys locked into the 4-seed, don’t expect Elliott and the rest of the regulars to play much. Line: Giants minus-6.
Postgame headline: Giants were a lot easier to dislike before they drafted Saquon
N.Y. Jets (4-11) at New England (10-5), 1 p.m. (CBS3)
The Patriots (7-0) are the only team in the league undefeated at home. If they win, and the Chargers and Chiefs both lose (granted, not likely), New England willh ave home-field throughout the AFC playoffs. Line: Patriots minus-13.5.
Postgame headline: Never had any trouble disliking the Patriots
Detroit (5-10) at Green Bay (6-8-1), 1 p.m.
This could be the final game that pending free agent Clay Matthews plays as a Packer. The team’s all-time sacks leader (since 1982), Matthews was the face of the league’s controversial roughing-the-passer penalties early this season. “Obviously, I’m not oblivious to the fact that I could be somewhere else next year, but it’s not like I’ll be an emotional wreck on Sunday,” he said. Line: Packers minus-8.
Postgame headline: Plenty of emotional wrecks in the stands as Packers finish under .500 for second straight year
Miami (7-8) at Buffalo (5-10), 1 p.m.
We mentioned Bills defensive lineman Jordan Phillips the first time these teams met, when Miami edged Buffalo in Week 13. He was miffed about being cut by the Dolphins in Week 5 and seems to still be enjoying the swirl of uncertainty in Miami. The coach, GM, and quarterback all may get whacked after the season. “I feel like I got out of there in the perfect time,” said Phillips, a 6-6, 341-pound defensive tackle. “It’s kind of imploding. Yeah, I’m happy to be a Bill.” Don’t tell him this game means nothing. Line: Bills minus-5.5.
Postgame headline: Boy, remember when Vontae Davis quit on the Bills at halftime in Week 2?
Carolina (6-9) at New Orleans (13-2), 1 p.m.
The Saints could set a franchise record for wins, which head coach Sean Payton is acutely aware of. He also knows that if a key player gets hurt, he goes from genius to idiot faster than you can say ACL. Teddy Bridgewater will start in place of Drew Brees. Bridgewater will be a free agent after the season, so don’t tell him this game is meaningless, either. Line: Saints minus-7.
Postgame headline: If the trash talk is any barometer, the Saints really want to see the Eagles in the playoffs
Arizona (3-12) at Seattle (9-6), 4:25 p.m.
The Seahawks were 1-2 when they lost disgruntled safety Earl Thomas to a broken leg. On his way out, he flipped a middle finger toward Pete Carroll and Seattle’s bench. Fast-forward three months and the Seahawks are a wild-card team no one wants to play. Veteran receiver Doug Baldwin said this is one of the best coaching jobs by Carroll. No one, besides maybe Thomas, would argue. Line: Seahawks minus-13.5.
Postgame headline: And then there’s Arizona’s Steve Wilks ...
L.A. Chargers (11-4) at Denver (6-9), 4:25 p.m.
If Denver wasn’t so banged up, the Broncos might be able to give the Chargers a game. And if the Chargers didn’t get drilled last week, this would be for the No. 1 seed. As it is, L.A. needs a win and a K.C. loss. Line: Chargers minus-6.5.
Postgame headline: Chargers looking at a Ravens rematch in first round; maybe they’ll show up this time
Oakland (4-11) at Kansas City (11-4), 4:25 p.m.
A Chiefs win or a Chargers loss means K.C. gets the top seed. The Chiefs have dropped two in a row, and in their four defeats they have given up 43, 54, 29, and 38 points. Yuck. Oakland has lost seven of eight in this series. Line: Chiefs minus-14.
Postgame headline: Chiefs fans love getting No. 1 seed, love it more that Oakland no longer wants the Raiders
Cincinnati (6-9) at Pittsburgh (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m. (CBS3)
The Steelers need a win and some help from Cleveland, which means early Sunday evening could be quite chaotic. “Pray for Cleveland,” Steelers safety Sean Davis said, smiling. “Pray for the Browns.” Cincinnati spoiled a playoff berth for Baltimore last season. This year, a Bengals win would get the Ravens into the postseason. Line: Steelers -14.5.
Postgame headline: Somebody give oxygen to NFL Red Zone anchor Scott Hanson
Cleveland (7-7-1) at Baltimore (9-6), 4:25 p.m.
Baltimore abandoned the city of Cleveland after the 1995 season, which is why Browns coach Gregg Williams is calling this “our playoff game.” Cleveland beat the Ravens in overtime in Week 5, but Baltimore is 9-1 at home against the Browns under John Harbaugh. “The Browns have always played us tough,” Baltimore Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda said, “even when they weren’t winning a lot of games.” Line: Ravens minus-6.5.
Postgame headline: Defense wins in December, Ravens headed to playoffs
Indianapolis (9-6) at Tennessee (9-6), 8:20 p.m. (NBC10)
Nice way to end the regular season. The winner gets into the playoffs, loser is out. Andrew Luck is 10-0 in his career against the Titans with four of those wins coming against Marcus Mariota. Tennessee has won four in a row and could use a win to validate the decision to fire coach Mike Mularkey even though they made it to the postseason last year. Indy did a good job holding Saquon Barkley to 94 scrimmage yards last week. This week’s assignment is Derrick Henry, the hottest RB in the league. Line: Colts -3.
Postgame headline: Henry runs for a buck 25 in Titans win, will be named AFC offensive player of the month