We've made it. The final week of the NFL regular season is here, and that means it's time for another round of bold predictions. As always, this week's edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon as we head into Sunday's contests. Warning: These predictions are not for the faint of heart.
Matt McGloin goes off because why not
Doom and gloom filled the Black Hole last week, which, technically, is appropriate. But not in 2016, the year of Derek Carr and the Raiders. Matt McGloin has the unlucky honor of trying to live up to the expectations set by Carr and Co. this week and for the remainder of the season, barring a medical miracle and divine intervention directed by the spirit of Al Davis himself. No worries, though, because the Gingered Reserve will take his opportunity by the horns and send the Broncos back to Denver with a bad taste in their mouths going into 2017. Two touchdowns -- nay, THREE SCORES, because optimism runs high no matter who is under center in my world! New year, new overflowing glass!
-- Nick Shook
Cardale Jones scores two TDs for Bills
Bills management is intent on seeing EJ Manuel finish out the 2016 season -- and hopefully on a strong note under the tutelage of coaching vacancy front-runner Anthony Lynn. However, a surprise is in store for Buffalo and the New York Jets. Cardale Jones is slated as Manuel's backup Sunday and will enter the game in the second half and score two touchdowns -- one of which will be the game-winner as Buffalo edges its division rivals to finish 8-8.
-- Conor Orr
Khalil Mack ends season as sack leader
Heading into Week 17, Vic Beasley leads the way with 14.5 sacks, with Mack sitting all the way back at seventh with 11. The Raiders need a win over Denver to ensure a first-round bye, but sans their spiritual leader on offense, Carr, someone on either side of the ball will need to fill the void left by the Pro Bowl quarterback. That man should be Mack. Inspired by his teammates' confidence in and reliance on him in the aftermath of Carr's injury, Mack repeats his five-sack outing from last year's showdown in Denver, boosting him into the league lead with 16. The Broncos' offensive line is far worse than last season's and should be very vulnerable against a Raiders front gearing up for the postseason.
-- Jeremy Bergman
Paul Perkins rushes for 150 yards, 2 TDs
How much Eli Manning and the New York Giants' starters will play is unknown, but expect rookie running back Paul Perkins to carry the load when the starting quarterback is on the field. Perkins' season high is 68 yards rushing in a game. He'll more than double that total Sunday, dashing for 150 yards and two TDs against a Redskins run defense that has been gashed recently. The Giants' running game has perked up since the rookie earned more faith from coaches after early season struggles in pass protection. In a meaningless game for Big Blue, Perkins will burst out, leading to a week of think pieces about how the Giants can make another playoff run with the rookie back as an offensive generator.
-- Kevin Patra