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NFL Week 17 game picks: Packers beat Lions for NFC North title

Eight is enough.

No less than eight games in Week 17 carry playoff implications. Of course, you know "Eight is Enough" as the "Family Ties" or "Full House" of the '70s, not as a phrase related to the 2016 NFL postseason. But much like Dick Van Patten went from being the quintessential 1970s dad to the Druish King in the epic "Spaceballs," several of the teams that prevail this week will go on to greater things in January, and perhaps February. The games that matter range from the almost-but-not-quite-inconsequential Panthers-Bucs contest to a winner-take-all matchup between the Packers and Lions.

This is not the first showdown between Green Bay and Detroit for all the divisional marbles in the season's final week. It happened in 2014 (when the Pack won, 30-20), and in a quite memorable affair 23 years ago. The Lions won the battle in 1993 -- giving them their last division title -- but lost the war when Green Bay bested them on Wild Card Weekend a week later.

Who will come out on top on Sunday night? See below. Oh, and check out all of the other matchups, too. Send your take, if you wish: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 9-7 on his predictions for Week 16, giving him a record of 158-80-2 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 17? His picks are below:

The Ravens should win, as they are the better -- and healthier -- team. A.J. Green's officially sitting this one out, and I can't imagine the Bengals would seriously risk playing anyone else who's physically compromised, considering this game has no bearing on playoff fortunes. That said, Marvin Lewis certainly wants to shine up this season any way he can, as the freefall following a 12-4 campaign that ended horribly ( because of poor team discipline, mind you) can't reflect well on his stewardship. What we can imagine is the lack of balance Baltimore will display. For all the talk of the Terrance West- Kenneth Dixon conundrum this year (yes, in Maryland, people talk about that stuff -- and Earl Weaver), the Ravens pass 65.2 percent of the time. Yep, that's the highest figure in the NFL. Yet, Joe Flacco averages all of 6.5 yards per attempt. Dinks and dunks and none-yard outs. Get excited. #BALvsCIN

Savage ... Cassel ... It's the NFL on CBS!! Oh man, that never gets old. There is no dressing up this matchup, which features a pair of uninspiring quarterbacks leading teams with nothing to play for on Sunday. Well, almost nothing. While the Texans are locked into the No. 4 seed, they still have something to gain here: confidence! Winning a fourth straight game would give Houston momentum heading into Wild Card Weekend -- and could increase team-wide belief in the new starting quarterback. Meanwhile, for the Titans, winning Sunday means going into the offseason with a winning record. 9-7 just feels so much better than 8-8. Thus, look for heavy hitting in this AFC South contest. Great! So can either quarterback hit the broad side of a barn? Remembering how Matt Cassel looked with the Cowboys last season, I am leaning toward Tom Savage and the stronger defense on Sunday. #HOUvsTEN

Another difficult game to call between two teams that have little (besides professional pride) riding on the outcome this weekend. For Cam Newton, playing well might quiet some of the criticism coming from all over these days (questioning his play, his focus and whether his 2015 MVP campaign was merely an aberration). As for the 8-7 Bucs, obviously kicking down the playoff door next year is the goal -- but like I said above, it's much better to head into the offseason with a winning record than the middling feeling of 8-8. Given that Tampa is at home -- and given the struggles of the Panthers' offense all season -- I am going with Dirk Koetter's group. Oh, forgot: The Bucs can make the playoffs this weekend -- IF approximately 851 things happen, including Stylez G. White and Hardy Nickerson racking up five sacks Sunday. #CARvsTB

Who knows how many guys the Steelers will rest? Sounds like all of them. Therefore, DeAngelo Williams, if healthy enough, should receive plenty of run. Perhaps Eli Rogers picks up some of the Antonio Brown load. No matter what, Pittsburgh has the depth to produce enough offense. That said, don't look for the Browns to lay down, either. This group hung together, as evidenced by the close win against the Chargers, in which the defense shut the door late. Many fans will be watching this game closely, as a loss means the Browns will get the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. If they win, and the 49ers lose to the Seahawks, it gets a bit more complex. Here's what you need to know: The first overall pick is Cleveland's to lose, and Pittsburgh is not trying its darndest to win. #CLEvsPIT

Who the heck knows which Cowboys will play in this contest? First off, who goes most of the way at quarterback for Dallas? Jason Garrett is in a real pickle here. If he gives Tony Romo reps, what happens if the veteran absolutely lights it up? (How would that impact the playoff plan, should Dak Prescott struggle a bit -- and the plan beyond that?) On the other hand, Philadelphia's defense has been a different animal at home, and it just made life miserable for Romo counterpart Eli Manning. Is that fair to thrust Romo into the lineup, on the road, in this kind of matchup? If he falters or gets hurt ( Romo was hurt in Philadelphia last season), what happens to his trade value -- or his free-agent value, should the Cowboys end up just releasing him? None of those are fun outcomes for the Joneses, from increasing offseason controversy to decreasing offseason options. My prediction: Mark Sanchez plays. Worth noting here is that the Eagles are 5-2 at home, thanks to that stout defense. My gut tells me that Garrett plays his starters more than fans anticipate (and that I need to do planks at the gym today). #DALvsPHI

Pride, and in the name of love -- that's what these two teams are playing for. Neither club, I'm sure, wants to head into the offseason with heads down. The future of both coaches in this game is uncertain. After Rex Ryan was dismissed this week, Anthony Lynn was tabbed to replace him as the interim boss. My colleague Ian Rapoport says the Bills are taking a serious gander at Lynn as a potential permanent replacement. Does that mean his players will compete their butts off for him? As for the Jets, do they have the aerial attack to win for embattled head coach Todd Bowles? The passing game, after being a strength last season and in the earlier meeting versus the Bills this year, has been an abomination. My guess is Shady McCoy goes off against a talented front that often just hasn't shown up for work in 2016. At least we know the Jets won't lose by 20 or more points, like they have five times already. Right? We do know that ... I think. #BUFvsNYJ

Don't laugh, but this has the makings of a great game. Seriously. No, really. You think Sam Bradford doesn't have much to play for? How about Adrian Peterson, who must be hearing the whispers about whether he has lost a step (and whether the Vikings need to look to the future at the RB position)? Then there's Matt Barkley, who surely knows what the light at the end of the tunnel could be if he were to ball out in a Bears victory: a chance to legitimately compete for a starting job next season. Another youngster, Jordan Howard, trucked the Minnesota defense for over 200 yards from scrimmage last time they played. He's the real deal -- and will need to be just that (and then some) if Chicago is to avoid going 0-8 on the road this season. By the way, who uses the word "youngster" anymore? Old people. #CHIvsMIN

More speculation on the coaching front in this game. For the visiting Jaguars, consider Sunday an extended looksie at Doug Marrone as a potential frontman. If Marrone goes 2-0, how in theee hayle does team brass hire someone else? And what to make of Chuck Pagano's future, one year after he seemed to hang on partially because his players lobbied for him so hard at the close of last season? For all the talk of Andrew Luck getting pummeled this season, the rookies on the Colts' line have prevented him from getting sacked over the last two games. How about that? Meanwhile, the Jaguars haven't won in Indianapolis since "Blame" Gabbert was handing off to MJD in 2012. T.Y. Hilton could become the first Colt to lead the NFL in receiving yards since Reggie Wayne in 2007. That's a fun fact. Here's a fun prediction (if you call Naptown home): Adam Vinatieri secures the Colts' second straight 8-8 finish with a 46-yard field goal at the end of regulation. #JAXvsIND

Late-season games in Miami have not been a cakewalk for the Belichick Patriots, whether they have much to play for or not. New England lost down there in Week 17 last season -- as well as in December of 2013. (Not to mention the Week 1 loss at Miami in 2014.) The Patriots clinch home-field throughout the playoffs with a win or a Raiders loss. The Dolphins will be the sixth seed ... unless the pass rush gets to Tom Brady and the Chiefs falter in San Diego. This should be a tight ballgame, with the Dolphins trying keep their mojo heading into the postseason. But can the defense continue to play over its head? The concern: The Patriots running backs, specifically LeGarrette Blount, who is now one of just four running backs in the last five years to rush for over 1,000 yards and at least 15 touchdowns. #NEvsMIA

The Chargers will give the visiting Chiefs all they can handle, but I think the added motivation of possibly winning the AFC West crown will push Kansas City over the top. The last team to win the AFC West other than the Broncos? The 2010 Chiefs, featuring Todd Haley as head coach and Matt Cassel under center. Philip Rivers was in his fifth year as the Chargers' starting quarterback then, posting his third consecutive season with a passer rating north of 100. He's only pulled that off once since, and is sub-90 this season. For San Diego to win, Rivers must make the Kansas City back end pay when Chiefs pass rushers Justin Houston and Dee Ford don't get home. On the subject of San Diego, let's hope this isn't the last game the Chargers ever play there. They have been part of the fabric of the community for 56 years. #KCvsSD

If you think the Cardinals are going to run all over these guys, think again. Arizona has failed to turn it on -- and keep it on -- all season. The Rams beat Bruce Arians' squad back in early October -- so long ago that it feels like WWI. Back then, Case Keenum was the semi-competent starter -- something Jared Goff has not been. And we'll see if the Rams' defense is able to get off the field late in the game, even if the offense puts the unit right back on it. They've been effective at promoting Johnny Hekker's athleticism. In more important news, this could be the last game of Larry Fitzgerald's Hall of Fame career. Forget the overall numbers -- I think Fitz will make it because of his complete dominance in the 2008 postseason: 546 receiving yards, seven touchdowns. Dude. #AZvsLA

This game should tell us much about the Raiders and the AFC playoff picture. If Matt McGloin can succeed against the top secondary in football, then there is hope for Oakland yet (even to get the top seed). If the Broncos win, that puts the Chiefs in position to not only win the AFC West by beating the Chargers, but to go from being the fifth seed in the AFC to the second. Think about that. Instead of the Raiders getting a week off, then hosting a team in Oakland, they would have to go on the road to face the Texans in the wild-card round. Could be worse, but you know both the Chiefs and Raiders want that bye -- this is especially true for the team playing its backup QB. This game will be close, because the Oakland pass rush will be all up in the Broncos' pocket. Remember last year? #OAKvsDEN

We know the Giants have clinched the fifth seed in the NFC, meaning they will most likely play the winner of the NFC North. Meanwhile, the Redskins are still trying to squeeze into that sixth and final wild-card spot. A win over Eli Manning and Co. would be a huge step in the right direction, not only in terms of getting into the playoffs, but putting the inconsistency of the last month in the rearview mirror. I trust Kirk Cousins to handle the moment, even against a defense that has played well for two months now. The issue is the other side. More specifically, there are two issues: A) Can Manning perform better than he has historically in Washington? B) How much will New York's prominent guys play, considering that the Giants can't gain anything by winning? #NYGvsWAS

At some point, confidence in the Seahawks will wane. Not this week. Seattle still has an opportunity to get the second seed in the NFC. Will Pete Carroll's guys blow that opportunity against a two-win 49er team? Yes -- if former Niners Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Mike Iupati and Patrick Willis get special permission to run around at the Big Blue Jean this weekend. This pick probably makes it seem like I don't trust the 49ers' low-octane attack against a motivated Seahawks defense. I am comfortable with that. San Francisco hasn't beaten these guys in a long time. Seattle just needs to pray the Falcons lose Sunday. #SEAvsSF

First, the important stuff. With a win, the Falcons can secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Saints can avoid a third consecutive losing season by prevailing in their division rival's stadium. This will be the last regular-season game ever at the Georgia Dome. Yeah, I preferred the Fulton County days, anyway ... Steve Bartkowski to Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, with no time on the clock, 1983. So many wild games in this series, from Mike Smith going for it on fourth down late on Atlanta's side of the field in 2011 to the track meet in the 2014 opener, and even this season's showdown in New Orleans, when the Falcons' offense looked like the '98 Vikings (we all remember who beat those guys). Drew Brees will give the defense fits, but I'm taking the Falcons, because they need that home game. #NOvsATL

This is the big momma of Week 17. Packers at Lions will be the only game that definitively decides a division. Last time these two teams met, Green Bay pulled way out front, 31-3, only to watch as Matthew Stafford got hot and Marvin Jones impersonated Herman Moore. Detroit would pull within seven before the Packers were able to run out the clock. Of course, when these two longtime NFC North opponents last faced each other in Detroit, this happened. So we could all be in store for an epic battle at Ford Field on Sunday night. Most important for Green Bay is something Aaron Rodgers mentioned this week: getting off to a fast start. The Pack can't let the Detroit crowd go full nutso. Never go full nutso. The Lions have been a rhythm team all year. Allowing them to build momentum, with Stafford throwing darts, could get the Packers down two scores. Neither of these teams have enjoyed much success running the ball, so whichever can accomplish that and stick with it has the better opportunity to win on Sunday. #GBvsDET

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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