NFL Week 17 game picks: Packers edge Lions; Panthers repeat

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Can you believe we're here? Week 17?

Seems like just a couple of months ago we were talking about whether the Dallas Cowboys would win five games, how big of a year Nick Foles was going to have, and whether Marshawn Lynch was really crazy enough to retire. Well, we're still kind of talking about that last one.

So here it is, the final week of the regular season, and your picks are below. Tricky bidness picking Week 17 games, given that we don't know if certain players will play, or for how long, for teams that have pretty much locked in their playoff position. That said, one team has been playing like a Super Bowl lock as of late ...

Spoken like a true Seattle Seahawks homer (who also works in the NFL office.)

I knew that. I just forgot for the 50th consecutive time.

Either way, the Seahawks are flying high, coming off a blowout of the Arizona Cardinals and playing this weekend for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. It's also why they are atop the Power Rankings. As for the rest of the teams, take a gander below. And feel free to share your take ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-6 on his predictions for Week 16, giving him a record of 162-77-1 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 17? His picks are below. And listen to the latest edition of the "Dave Dameshek Football Program" for additional analysis on this week's forecast.

How awesome would it be if Rex Grossman tweeted out a picture of the family playing "Scattergories" over the holidays? Grossman, of course, elected to be with his family rather than play QB for the Browns. Hey, if I were him, I'd take a hotly contested match of "Chutes and Ladders" over getting faceplanted by Elvis Dumervil and having CBS show B-roll of Super Bowl XLI. That's 41, for those not into Roman numerals. I used to be into roman candles, which were far better than bottle rockets. I digress. Yet, those might be the only fireworks we discuss here, because I see a relatively low-scoring affair in the forecast. Can't wait to see how Justin Forsett ends his season; the journeyman-turned-stud heads into Week 17 with 1,147 rushing yards 5.3 yards per carry (tops among NFL running backs). #ComebackPlayeroftheYear #CLEvsBAL

Who knows if Tony Romo is going to play -- or, if he does, for how long? If I knew that, then I could, at the very least, spin some good yarn about the quatrains of Nostradamus. Shoot, I could tell you the difference between Sierra Mist and 7UP. Unfortunately, I don't have answers to the great unknowns of the world today. One thing that seems relatively clear is that the Cowboys are headed for the No. 3 seed, win or loss. Yes, they could jump into first-round-bye territory, but they'd need a fair amount of help. So, they're in a pretty immovable playoff position, visiting the rival Redskins in Week 17. Wait, this seems familiar ... Yes, that was the case in both 1996 and 2007! Dallas lost at Washington both times -- and didn't end up making it out of the divisional round either year. Not entirely sure what all of this means, but I do know one thing: If Doug Free sits, Ryan Kerrigan might get three sacks ... at least. #DALvsWAS

Barring a Bengals- Steelers tie on Sunday night, the Colts are locked into the No. 4 seed, so Andrew Luck's time in this game could be limited. Surely he will want some kind of tune-up before the playoffs begin. My guess is he'll be on the field about as long as it took to figure out "Attack of the Clones" was garbage. So, about an hour. The thing is, he could certainly use a solid effort before the tournament begins. Check out the numbers from Luck's last three games: 52.3 percent completion rate, 5.41 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, five interceptions and a 61.3 passer rating.

On the Titan side of things, sure would like to see Ken Whisenhunt get his running game going. Tennessee hasn't rushed for 100 yards since Week 5. #INDvsTEN

I don't see Drew Brees and company mailing it in. I don't see the Buccaneers doing that, either. All in all, this could shape up to be one of the more competitive matchups of Week 17. The key for New Orleans is to end the season on the right note, starting on defense. For Tampa, Josh McCown has to show something in this game. He played poorly, to put it mildly, against the Packers, who trot out a secondary that can be had. One other thing to note: Mark Ingram is 93 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. Considering how many people wrote off the former first-round pick before this season, that's no small accomplishment. His career total prior to 2014 was 1,462. #NOvsTB

Yep, we're saying it: Chip Kelly's Eagles lose their fourth in a row, while Tom Coughlin rides off into the sunset winning four straight. Or am I jumping the gun on Coughlin? That's the question for me in this game: If Big Blue performs well, will the venerable head coach decide to go out with a "W"? Now, I've heard he doesn't want to leave the team on a sour note, and that he, Eli Manning and GM Jerry Reese will get another year to make a run. And that might be true. Whatever the case, Coughlin currently presents an interesting -- if not convincing -- case for the Hall of Fame. (Don't forget the Jacksonville years.)

As for the Eagles ... Honestly, I'd like to see Mark Sanchez finish strong. Haters are always gonna hate, and maybe he was immature in New York. Yet, he has competed hard in 2014, resurrecting a career many had closed the book on two years ago. #PHIvsNYG

For some reason, it feels like Ortonmania has died down a bit. Is it worth giving EJ Manuel a start, if for no other reason than seeing what the kid has? Well, Doug Marrone doesn't think so -- the Bills coach says he has no intention of playing the youngster in the finale. I can't blame him here. After all, 9-7, in theory, looks better on a résumé than .500. Speaking of Monster.com, the last time these two teams met was the first time the Bills kept Rob Gronkowski out of the end zone. Prior to that Week 6 affair, Gronk had piled up nine scores in six games against Buffalo. I think he could have another big day in Week 17. However, the Pats need to run the ball to keep Tom Brady upright ... for the playoffs. #BUFvsNE

The Texans have much to play for, even if their chances of making the playoffs are slim. First off, don't think for a second Bill O'Brien isn't drilling into his players the importance of finishing with a winning record. J.J. Watt is still in the thick of the MVP race, and a 9-7 mark certainly makes his case that much more appealing. (Remember, this team went 2-14 in 2013.) Case Keenum, meanwhile, is auditioning for the opportunity to get sacked by Watt -- be it at Texans practice in 2015 or as a member of another squad. That said, after watching Blake Bortles perform on the national stage last Thursday night, it will be intriguing to see how he finishes an up-and-down rookie campaign. #JAXvsHOU

If you don't love this matchup, you don't love football. These two franchises have been teeing it up for 55 years, and for the second year in a row, they'll do so in Week 17, with playoff implications. San Diego snuck into the postseason last year after beating the Chiefs, 27-24, in a game that actually meant nothing to K.C. (With a playoff spot already clinched, Andy Reid activated a bunch of guys who had been working at "Hurricane" earlier in the year. I think.) This time around, the Chargers can clinch a playoff spot with a win, while the Chiefs would need a win -- and a bunch of help.

K.C.'s secondary did an outstanding job when these two clubs faced off in October, as Philip Rivers managed just 205 yards passing. But after seeing Rivers heroically perform when the chips were down last week -- trailing by 21 ... with a bulging disk in his back ... throwing to some dude fresh out of the CFL ... -- I'm going with the San Diego Super Chargers. #SDvsKC

Originally, I had the Dolphins scoring more in this game. But I tell you what: The Jets are going to compete for their (allegedly) lame-duck head coach this weekend. I envision 40 rushing attempts and a couple of gadget plays -- like a surprise onside kick -- in an attempt to steal this game in Miami. The Dolphins can probably afford another slow start against this opponent, but one wonders if they will be able to match the Jets' intensity throughout the game -- especially given Ryan's situation. Meanwhile, Joe Philbin will stay around awhile. How about building some confidence in the fan base with a dominant showing? Something like 37-10 (instead of 37-35)? Well, I don't see it. #NYJvsMIA

Wouldn't it be just like Jay Cutler to throw for 441 yards and four touchdowns in a meaningless game at the end of a highly disappointing campaign that sent Bears fans into a dark place? (If I had a dime for every Bears fan who begged me to put Chicago at No. 32 in the Power Rankings, I'd have enough money to hang with Tom Vu and his infomercial gals.)

On the other hand, Minnesota has shown steady improvement this year, especially on defense. The Vikings rank eighth in the NFL in passing defense and are tied for seventh in sacks. Outside of a few hiccups here and there, this has looked like an entirely different defense than last year's unit. So maybe Cutler won't go off after all. Oh well -- his reaction will stay the same. #CHIvsMIN

Denver is not letting go of a first-round bye. No way. So I fully anticipate the Broncos taking it to the Raiders at home this weekend. This is another game that will be a close deal early, before Peyton Manning and company pull away. And the quarterback will actually have to lead the charge this week, as the Raiders' run defense has been much better of late -- especially last week, when the Bills gained all of 13 yards on 13 carries in Oakland. So, the lanes might not be there for C.J. Anderson. Well, not the running lanes. Ahh, but the bowling lanes, man ... #OAKvsDEN

OK, I kid, I kid. Make it: 49ers 13, Cardinals 10.

Don't get me wrong, Arizona has much to play for, and this is not an indictment of Bruce Arians' team. But like the Jets, the Niners are going to come out and compete for their lame-duck head coach. (Wait, can a guy really be deemed a "lame duck" if he is being offered enough money to outbid you on eBay until infinity for a vintage Michigan bobblehead?) Arians said Monday he planned to start rookie Logan Thomas, with the hope that Drew Stanton will be ready for the playoffs. So much for that plan, as Ryan Lindley is now expected to start in Week 17. Amazing that Stanton offers this franchise hope for January, given how most of his professional career has played out. #AZvsSF



Green Bay wins the NFC North in a matchup that lives up to its huge billing. Yes, both teams are playoff-bound, but the winner of this contest gets a first-round bye. In fact, if Green Bay wins this one and Seattle loses to St. Louis, the Packers are looking at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Lions could also claim home-field with a win, but they'd need Seattle and Arizona to lose. Confused? Don't be. Let's just go back to my initial point: This game will be sweet.

Green Bay's best shot of winning is to run Eddie Lacy right at Detroit, giving that front four some pause, not allowing the pass rushers to simply get after Aaron Rodgers all game long. That means continuing to pound Lacy, even if it's not working. For the Lions, the outcome depends on Matthew Stafford, who must embrace consistency and avoid turnovers. In fact, Stafford's play could be the key to the entire NFC playoffs. #DETvsGB

This game will be 17-10 until the final minutes, with St. Louis giving Pete Carroll's group all it can handle. Did you know that four of the last five games between these two teams have been one-score contests, and that the Rams have won two of them? In order for St. Louis to win this game on the road, they have to play physical without getting undisciplined. Play aggressive, but don't lose contain on the edges. Most of all, let the Seahawks commit the dumb penalties. (They have them every game, yet somehow still win.) If the Rams have some stupid flags of the Alec Ogletree variety (like last weekend), they will make this easy peasy for Seattle. St. Louis simply isn't good enough to mitigate such errors. By the way, Beast Mode should be able to rack up well over 100 yards -- if he gets the touches. Seattle is playing for home-field, so he will. #STLvsSEA

I feel as though everyone will be picking Atlanta to win this deal. Understandable. Matt Ryan has been performing at a very high level lately -- oh, and we should mention that he is 5-1 all time at home versus the Panthers. That said, Carolina has allowed 17 points or less in the last three games, and under 170 passing yards in three of four. Will the Falcons be able to run the football? Steven Jackson should be ready for this game, and Devonta Freeman just had an explosive touchdown scamper last week. Running the rock will be imperative if this game shapes up to be anything like last year's Week 17 bout between these two teams, when the Panthers continually collapsed the pocket on Ryan. Thinking Cam Newton shows up big, by the way ... #CARvsATL

Boy is this a doozie of a contest. ... The battle for a division. The biggest question here: What can Paul Guenther's defense do to thwart Ben Roethlisberger? The Bengals, of course, just got the best of Peyton Manning on Monday night. And sure, they could confuse Big Ben like they did Peyton. But tell me Roethlisberger isn't capable of performing when he doesn't like what he sees, protection breaks down and he's forced to play streetball. Fun fact: Ben Roethlisberger has the third-highest passer rating in the league at home (117.4). He's thrown 21 touchdown passes to three interceptions in Heinz Field (where this game will be played), and he has the most completions of 25-plus yards (23) of any NFL QB in his home stadium. If I were Marvin Lewis, I would run Jeremy Hill 30 times and limit possessions. #CINvsPIT

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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