Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/27/12
Ah, Week 17 of the NFL season. A time for coaches on the hot seat to make one last plea to their owners with a statement win. A time for backup quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, anyone?) to showcase their skills and inflate their marketplace values for countless suitors. A time for draft orders to be set, records to be broken and for playoff pictures to be framed. Here are the 10 things Id like to see in Week 17: 1. Adrian Peterson within striking distance of Eric Dickersons single-season rushing record at the start of the fourth quarter. Though its unlikely Adrian Peterson will run for 208 yards against the Packers on Sunday, itd make for one heck of an exciting final 15 minutes if the Vikings were playing for their playoff lives while Peterson was stalking Eric Dickersons record of 2,105 yards set in 1984. In 2003, Jamal Lewis entered a Week 17 Sunday night showdown with the Steelers just 154 yards shy of 2,105. He came up short, as the Pittsburgh defense held Lewis to 114 yards on 27 carries. The Vikings showed they can, in fact, win games without Peterson rushing for 200 yards last Sunday in Houston (Peterson was held to 86). But itd be pretty cool if there was a shot at the record come late Sunday afternoon. For Vikings fans, itd be even cooler if they were up by 20. 2. Some McElroy, Sanchez and, yes, Tebow in Jets' finale. I love a good Monday morning Jets train-wreck story in the New York City tabloids as much as the next guy, but Ive had enough with this McElroy and Sanchez garbage in New York. I want to see all three of the Jets quarterbacks on Sunday! And I want to see them rotating drive after drive after drive, like the circus carousel they are. It was reported that Tebow declined the opportunity to enter the game in the wildcat package last weekend against the Chargers. Whether thats true or not, Id like to see him given the shot, under center like a real-life NFL quarterback. Weve been teased with the gift of Tebow all season. After 16 weeks, a 6-9 record, and a disastrous 27-17 loss to the Chargers last weekend, why not see all three quarterbacks in action Sunday? And yes, those are quotation marks around the word quarterback. 3. A vintage Larry Fitzgerald afternoon. What a wasted season it has been for Larry Fitzgerald. In a 2012 campaign that has seen huge statistical efforts from NFC receivers Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, Randall Cobb, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Victor Cruz, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston, Larry Fitzgerald -- arguably better than all of those receivers -- has been more or less nonexistent for 16 weeks. John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer arent exactly Unitas, Namath and Fouts. I know that. But Id love to see Larry Fitzgerald have at least one vintage Larry Fitzgerald game. The man is in the prime of his career and should be challenging Johnson, Bryant and Marshall for All-Pro bids. Instead, hes wasting away with poor quarterback and offensive line play in the Arizona desert. Fitzgeralds missing out with such shoddy play. But so are we, the fans. 4. A sign of life from the Lions at home against the Bears. The Lions have lost seven in a row, including their past four at home. Though they may lead the league in endorsement deals (and yes, when it comes to fashion brands and the NFL, Matt Stafford is the Van Heusen of quarterbacks), the Lions have been one of the leagues greatest disappointments this season. After giving up late fourth-quarter leads to the Packers, Texans and Colts, the Lions laid eggs against the Cardinals and Falcons the past two weeks. If this team has any fight, any pride or any life left in it whatsoever, it will compete against the Bears on Sunday. If it doesn't, lets hold off on the commercials for a few months, guys. 5. A sneak peak of Brock Osweiler and Ryan Mallett. Scrolling through the list of first- and second-year quarterbacks making plays this season, weve got Luck, Griffin, Weeden, Tannehill, Wilson, Cousins, Foles, Kaepernick, Dalton, Ponder, Locker, McElroy. Even Blaine Gabbert has made an impact this season. The two guys who havent done anything at all? The two guys Im most intrigued by. Ryan Mallett is now finishing his second season as Tom Bradys understudy in New England, while Brock Osweiler is finishing his first year rocking the clipboard in Denver. I loved both of these players coming out of college (Im a sucker for 6-foot-7 dudes with cannons for arms, I suppose), and I hope to at least get a peak at their progress since we haven't seen either one man an offense since the preseason. 6. A hint of the Steelers team we thought we were seeing this year. Back in August, I picked the Steelers to win the AFC this season. There. I said it. I thought thered be a Lets get the band back together feel to this season. The veterans would come together, Todd Haley would spark a fire under an offense that had gotten stale toward the end of last year, etc. After they lost to Oakland in Week 3, I thought theyd figure it out. When they lost to Tennessee in Week 5, I thought the same thing. Cleveland (Week 12)? San Diego (Week 14)? Dallas (Week 15)? I still thought theyd put it together. Well, after Sundays loss to the Bengals, they still havent put it all together, and 2012 is effectually over. Here I am, looking at a 7-8 team, and I still think underneath the injuries, age and odd personality issues in that locker room this season theres a formidable football team in Pittsburgh. Steelers fans, and NFL fans as a whole, havent seen the 2012 Steelers squad we expected to see all season. With the Browns in their building and nothing to play for but pride, lets root to see that squad Sunday. 7. One last effort for Norv and Andy. Sunday most likely will mark Norv Turners last game as head coach of the Chargers. The Bolts have won two out of their past three and will be looking to wrap up on a positive note against the Raiders on Sunday. Norv hasnt always been the most popular guy among Chargers fans, and his time in San Diego will likely be remembered more for the things he didnt accomplish than what he did. But hes still one of the best QB gurus, play-callers and all-around guys in the league. Turner will resurface as a coordinator in the future, but we might never see him as a head coach again. If this is indeed his last game on the sidelines in that capacity, itd be great to see his Chargers come out and put together one last effort for him. As for Andy Reid, this script has been written for months. It has been a tumultuous year in Philly both professionally and personally. Itll be tough to beat the Giants in New York given the dire quarterback situation in Philly, but a strong effort from the young Eagles for their longtime coach would be a better way for him to exit than a 30-point blowout. 8. A close one in Washington. Four years ago, the Eagles beat the Cowboys 44-6 in the final week of the regular season, setting up Philadelphia's run to the NFC championship game. Last year, the Giants blew out the Cowboys with a playoff berth on the line in Week 17. Dallas is 2-10 in Week 17 games since 2000. With a nation watching, lets just hope for a good game. Im not asking for an all-time classic, but hell, I wouldnt complain if thats what we got. 9. No major injuries. So many teams will be playing in meaningless Week 17 games that just hoping for no injuries is a reasonable request. For playoff teams, there could be few things worse than a devastating injury to a key player in a meaningless contest to end the regular season. 10. Something from the Bucs. It seems like forever ago, but the Buccaneers were once 6-4 and looking like a real playoff contender in the NFC South. Theyve since lost five consecutive games, with the past two games coming in embarrassing fashion a 41-0 loss to New Orleans and a 28-13 loss to the Rams. Tampa lost its final 10 games of the season a year ago. Bucs fans havent seen a December win in two years. The Falcons, who've locked up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, shouldnt beat the Buccaneers on Sunday. If they do, there will be serious questions to be answered in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, Raheem Morris isnt there to blame anymore. Hes actually in Washington, preparing for a December game that actually matters on Sunday. Ten things. Im not asking for much. And now, lets get to the picks. Week 16 record: 9-7 2012 overall Record: 141-98-1 Week 17 trivia question: Calvin Johnson has 11 100-yard receiving games this season, tying him with which Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver for the most in an NFL season? SUNDAY GAMES Tampa Bay at Atlanta: I have faith in the Baby Bucs. I think they have some pride, some heart and some desire to end what was once a very promising 2012 season on a happy note. The Falcons dont need this game and shouldnt worry about having to make a statement with a victory. Save the statements for the Divisional Round, where all eyes (and skeptics) will be focused on them. The Pick: Buccaneers 24, Falcons 20 New York Jets at Buffalo: The Jets and Bills played in a nationally televised game in Week 1. At the time, I said it was the most important game of the NFLs first week, as itd give us a real idea of these two wild-card contenders true identities. Further proof that Im an idiot. That game meant nothing. Neither does this one. The Pick: Bills 27, Jets 13 Baltimore at Cincinnati: With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in Cincinnati, the Bengals have made the playoffs twice, but they still havent beaten the Ravens. I have a feeling Baltimore might be resting some troops, while Cincinnati goes full speed. Take Cincinnati, cue the Everythings still wrong with the Ravens storyline Sunday night, and ignore it all come next week. The Pick: Bengals 30, Ravens 20 Chicago at Detroit: I have no reason to believe the Lions will come to play Sunday. They havent in their past two games, and I certainly dont see it happening in this one. Chicago will be playing with a playoff berth still very much alive. Take the Bears and a 10-win season for Chicago. The Pick: Bears 27, Lions 20 Jacksonville at Tennessee: This is a pretty terrible game. This matchup makes the Jets and Bills look like the 76 Steelers vs. the 99 Rams. If youre watching this and (a) arent from Nashville or Jacksonville or (b) dont have some sort of wager tied into the outcome, you are a TRUE NFL fan. Maybe the truest fan of all. They should make a 30 for 30 documentary on just how true a fan you really are. The Pick: Jaguars 31, Titans 22 Houston at Indianapolis: Fans in Foxborough and Denver are rooting hard for the Colts on Sunday, as an Indianapolis win could shake up things as far as AFC playoff seeding goes. Chuck Pagano will be on the sidelines, the home crowd will be in a frenzy, and Houston did not look particularly good last week versus the Vikings. But this defense has put together a pattern of big bounce-back games after embarrassing losses. Wade Phillips unit will bottle up Andrew Luck and Co., and the Texans will maintain the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Pick: Texans 24, Colts 16 Carolina at New Orleans: Though hes getting clobbered by many in the media for yet another act of immaturity in Sundays win over the Raiders, even Cam Newtons biggest critics cant deny hes having a heck of a finish to what was once considered a lost 2012 season. After starting the year 2-8, Carolina has gone 4-1 in its past five games. Over the past six games, Newton has accounted for 15 touchdowns and has thrown just one interception. Hell finish the season on a high note, potentially saving Ron Riveras job in the process. The Pick: Panthers 34, Saints 30 Philadelphia at NY Giants: In a matter of weeks, the Giants went from a 6-2 team with a comfortable two-game cushion in the division standings to an 8-7 team on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Giants need a lot of help to get in. Theyll do their part. Alas, it will be too little too late. The Pick: Giants 27, Eagles 17 Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Steelers running back Isaac Redman sounded like most Steelers fans after Sundays loss in Cincinnati, telling reporters, Im not surprised at all. Stuff just happened the whole year. Its frustrating. Turnovers at key moments of games have just crushed us all year long. It has been nine years since the Steelers finished a season with a losing record. They wont lose this one. I dont think they will, at least. Then again, Ive been picking the Steelers win games all season long. The Pick: Steelers 34, Browns 20 Oakland at San Diego: Few Chargers fans will be wearing Win one for Norv! shirts Sunday, but I think his players will put together one final worthy effort for the longtime coach. Oakland is going with either Matt Leinart or Terrell Pryor in this one. In other words, San Diego shouldnt lose. I know, I know. We've heard that before. The Pick: Chargers 34, Raiders 21 Arizona at San Francisco: The San Francisco defense just isnt the same without Justin Smith in the lineup. In their past five quarters without Smith on the field the 49ers have given up 66 points. If hes out for the playoffs, thatll haunt the 49ers. If hes out for Sundays game against the struggling Cardinals, it probably wont matter all that much. The Pick: 49ers 27, Cardinals 13 Green Bay at Minnesota: I know Green Bay is red hot and coming off its most impressive win of the 2012 season, but Im going with the Vikings. I doubted them against the Bears three weeks ago, thought theyd struggle in St. Louis two weeks ago, and didnt think there was any way Christian Ponder would do enough to beat the Texans in Houston in Week 16. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Fool me once? Fool me twice? Fool me three times? You get the point. I dont see Adrian Peterson breaking Eric Dickersons record, but I do see the Vikings playing January football. I think Minnesota fans would be more than OK with that tradeoff. The Pick: Vikings 27, Packers 23 St. Louis at Seattle: In Jeff Fishers first three years as Tennessees head coach in the mid-'90s, the Titans won eight games. In two of his past five years in Tennessee in the late 2000s, the Titans won eight games. The dude is Mr. 8 Wins. I dont see it happening Sunday, though. No one has won in Seattle this season. I dont think anyone will. The Pick: Seahawks 31, Rams 23 Miami at New England: The headline Monday was Tom Brady reportedly yells at Patriots teammates after Sundays game. So, what? Shouldnt he yell at his teammates after yet another lackluster start to a game? Dont expect the Patriots to start slow out of the gates for a third consecutive weekend. Expect a big lead and some Ryan Mallett in the second half. The Pick: Patriots 34, Dolphins 17 Kansas City at Denver: The Broncos have won 10 games in a row and are playing for a bye and a home playoff game. With Tim Tebow as the quarterback, they lost a Week 17 game to Kyle Orton and the Chiefs 7-3 at home last year. Peyton Manning isnt Tim Tebow. And sadly for Chiefs fans, Brady Quinn isnt Kyle Orton. No upset this time around. The Pick: Broncos 28, Chiefs 6 SUNDAY NIGHT GAME Dallas at Washington: Washington hasnt won a division crown since 1999, while the Cowboys are just 2-10 in Week 17 games since 2000. FedEx Field is going to be crazier than it has been all season long, but I think the Cowboys going against recent history will find a way to stop Griffin and come out on top. Ive long been accused of being a Tony Romo fanboy. Fair enough. I think he silences critics (for now) and gets the job done on the road Sunday night. The Pick: Cowboys 31, Redskins 20 Playoff matchups if picks are right: AFC No. 1 Houston (bye) No. 2 Denver (bye) No. 3 New England vs. No. 6 Cincinnati No. 4 Baltimore vs. No. 5 Indianapolis NFC No. 1 Atlanta (bye) No. 2 San Francisco (bye) No. 3 Green Bay vs. No. 6 Minnesota No. 4 Dallas vs. No. 5 Seattle Week 17 trivia answer: In 1995, Michael Irvin had 100-plus receiving yards in 11 of the Cowboys first 14 games, an NFL record.
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