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NFL Week 17 analysis

The Cowboys are playing very well and the defense has only allowed one team since Week 8 to score more than 20 points. The Eagles have scored over 20 points every week since Week 9 when they lost to Dallas.


Assuming Brian Brohm and Curtis Painter play most of the game and the weather is not very good, expect a low scoring game. The Bills weakness is pass defense and with the Colts resting starters this should not be a big deal. The Bills are expected to run the ball well against the 2nd and 3rd string Colts defense. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch have a 67 percent chance of rushing for over 4.5 yards per carry and if they do the Bills have a 85 percent chance of winning. If the Colts can hold them to under 4.0 ypc they have a 49 percent chance and this game could be an exciting, albeit meaningless game.


The Browns have to be pleased that Jerome Harrison has emerged this season as a potential star RB. He has a 40 percent chance of rushing for 100+ yards and if he does the Browns are heavy 73 percent favorites winning by an average of 8 points. However, if Harrison is held under 100 and Maurice Jones-Drew runs for at least 75 rushing yards then the Jaguars are the heavy 80 percent favorites. Overall this is an extremely close game with less than a 0.1 points difference in average simulation score.


The Cowboys are playing very well and the defense has only allowed one team since Week 8 to score more than 20 points. The Eagles have scored over 20 points every week since Week 9 when they lost to Dallas. The Cowboys are favored because they are holding the Eagles to 22 points per simulation. If DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek have 125+ yards and at least 1 TD between them the Eagles are projected for 30 points and win 48 percent of simulations. If the Eagles get big games out of their top 2 receivers and protect Donovan McNabb and allow under 2 sacks the Eagles have a 67 percent chance of winning.


The Chiefs have had a bad season, but they have had a major impact on the playoff race beating Pittsburgh earlier this season. While they are heavy underdogs winning just 25 percent of simulations, they can make things difficult on their division rival if RB Jamaal Charles has 100+ rushing yards, 1+ TDs and Matt Cassell does not turn the ball over. The Chiefs win 65 percent of the time in this scenario although there is only a 10 percent chance of this happening. If Denver does not turn the ball over more than once and they average at least 4.5 yards per carry then Denver should cruise to a win with an 85 percent chance.


This is a meaningless game and it could be one filled with turnovers. The QBs are combining for 3 interceptions and the two teams are combining for over 4 turnovers per simulation. If Jay Cutler throws no more than 1 INT the Bears should easily win with an 81 percent chance, but if he should have 2+ INTs then the Bears only have a 55 percent chance of winning. If Detroit forces at least 3 Bears turnovers and the team scores at least 2 offensive TDs then Detroit has a 70 percent chance of winning.


This is a must win situation for Baltimore and they are heavy favorites winning 78 percent of simulations by an average of 10 points per simulation. The Raiders passing game is not consistent enough to capitalize on the Ravens injured secondary and the Oakland RBs are averaging under 3 yards per carry. If the Raiders average 5.0+ yards per carry and hold Ray Rice to under 100 rushing yards then this game is a toss up with both teams winning 50 percent of the time. If the Ravens force at least 2 Raiders turnovers and Ray Rice has at least 75 rushing yards then Baltimore is the heavy 90 percent favorite winning by more than 17 points.


The 49ers are expected to win this game fairly easily with a 70 percent chance of winning by an average of 9 points per simulation. Alex Smith only has a 40 percent chance of throwing an INT and Frank Gore has a 63 percent chance of rushing for at least 75 yards. If Gore is held to under 75 rushing yards and Smith does throw at least 1 INT then the Rams are actually the slight 52 percent favorite. However, the Rams are averaging over 3 team turnovers per simulation. If the Rams turn the ball over 3 or more times then San Francisco is a heavy 86 percent favorite.


The Steelers do not control their own destiny, but they are road favorites thanks to a solid 250 yards, 1.5 TD per sim performance from Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will likely be upset if Roethlisberger is sacked 4 or more times and the Steelers average under 4 yards per carry. In this scenario the Dolphins win 60 percent of the time. However, if the Steelers can run for over 4.5 yards per carry and they do not turn the ball over more than one time then Pittsburgh is the 72 percent favorite winning by 8 points on average.


The Jets may benefit from two weeks with an opponent that may not be playing its starters for much of the game. The Jets are 66 percent favorites, but if the Bengals were playing with a full effort this would be a toss-up. The Jets are 4-2 when Mark Sanchez does not throw an INT. If Sanchez does not throw an INT the Jets are heavy 80 percent favorites. They also win over 80 percent if the Jets RBs average over 4.5 yards per carry. If the Bengals force at least 2 turnovers and hold Thomas Jones to less than 100 rushing yards the Bengals are the 61 percent favorite.


Both Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner have simulation passer ratings in the mid-90s with Warner averaging more TD passes (2.0 to 1.7) and more INTs (1.2 to 0.8). When Warner throws at least 1 INT against the top rated Packers defense, Green Bay wins 52 percent of the simulations, but when Warner does not thrown an INT the Cardinals win 72 percent of the time. When Aaron Rodgers has 300+ passing yards the Packers winning percentage declines slightly to 40 percent because many of these simulations occur when thee Packers fall behind. The key for Green Bay is the running game generating 100+ rushing yards. When Green Bay combines for 100+ rushing yards the Packers are 64 percent favorites.


San Diego is locked in the #2 spot so expect them to rest key starters for some or most of the game. Even resting starters the Chargers are still winning 69 percent of simulations. The Washington offense has scored 12 points in their past 2 games. If Jason Campbell has 225+ passing yards with no more than 1 INT and RB Quinton Ganther has at least 50 rushing yards (over 5.0 ypc) then Washington has a 50 percent chance of winning, but there is only a 17 percent chance of this particular scenario occurring.


Chris Johnson has a 55 percent chance of reaching the 2000 yard mark and if he has 128+ yards the Titans are 81 percent favorites. This 55 percent assumes the Seahawks will actually try to stop Johnson from reaching the milestone and the Titans will not do anything absolutely absurd to get Johnson the carries he needs. The Titans are favored in the game largely because Matt Hasselbeck is averaging 1.5 INTs per simulation. If he can limit himself to at most 1 INT then Seattle is just a 48 percent underdog and if he has zero INTs the Seahawks are 57 percent favorites. There is only a 27 percent chance he throws no INTs.


The Bucs somehow beat the Saints despite 2 more INTs and zero TD passes from Josh Freeman. If he has zero TDs and 2+ INTs this week Tampa Bay only has a 17 percent chance of winning. If Tampa Bay can average over 5 yards per carry like last week, and they can hold Atlanta to no more than 1 TD pass then Tampa Bay has a 72 percent chance of getting another win. However, if Atlanta can shut down the TB running game like they did last week vs the Bills (under 3 ypc) then the Falcons are heavy 70 percent favorites.


If New England decides to rest starters then Houston is a solid 60 percent favorite. If Matt Schaub has 2+ TD passes and no more than 1 INTs then Houston is the solid 72 percent favorite, but if Schaub has less than 2 TD passes and 1+ INTs the Texans have just a 37 percent chance of winning. Arian Foster had 97 yards and 1 TD last week. If Foster has 75+ rushing yards and at least 1 TD this week the Texans are heavy 80 percent favorites.


The Vikings will be playing all out to secure the #2 Wild Card spot. Adrian Peterson has a serious fumbling problem, but in this game he is projected for a good 85 yard, 1 TD performance. If Peterson has at least 75 yards and 1 TD then Minnesota is the 85 percent favorite. Brett Favre has a simulation passer rating of 103. For the Giants to win they need to force at least Favre INT and two or more Vikings turnovers, while also getting a decent game from their own running game (4.0+ ypc). If the Giants can force turnovers and run the ball effectively the Giants are 57 percent favorites winning by an average of 3 points.


Assuming the Saints rest their starters for much of this game the Panthers are 57 percent favorites despite losing Steve Smith last week. Matt Moore has played well the past 2 weeks with 6 TD passes and 0 INTs. If he throws zero INTs this week Carolina is a 70 percent favorite, but if if he does throw at least 1 INT then New Orleans is the slight 54 percent favorite. Jonathan Stewart has a great 55 percent chance of rushing for 100+ yards if DeAngelo Williams is not healthy enough to start and see significant snaps. If Stewart dominates Carolina has a 74 percent chance of winning.