NFL Week 17 -- Who’s Gonna Land the Final Playoff Berths?

 

NFL WEEK 17 KEY PREVIEWS …

AND WE’VE GOT SATURDAY’S COLLEGE BOWLS TOO!

 

Okay, so if you have New Year’s Eve plans, they may get delayed a bit what with the National Football League opting for nine (9) games being kicked off at 4:25 p.m. Eastern time … and many of them sport major playoff meaning.

 

And take note …

Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NFL Week 17 winners on Sunday plus all the College Football Bowl Games including Monday’s playoff matchups between Oklahoma vs. Georgia (Rose Bowl) and Clemson vs. Alabama (Sugar Bowl), so check with us here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and cash in big on the gridiron this holiday season. Plus, get all the daily/nightly College Basketball action too!

 

NFL WEEK 17

JACKSONVILLE (10-5) at TENNESSEE (8-7) – 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

The Titans have been heading in the wrong direction for weeks now with back-to-back-to-back losses and now – if crybaby head coach Mike Mularkey bellyaching about the officials – if Tennessee does not win here it needs both Buffalo and the Los Angeles Chargers to lose their games for a playoff berth. Let’s see if RB DeMarco Murray (knee) suits up here against a Jags defense that leads the league in practically all key “D” categories.

 

CAROLINA (11-4) at ATLANTA (9-6) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Are the Falcons gonna catch a break here ‘cause Carolina has only the slimmest of chances to clinch a first-round playoff bye in the NFC? Heck, the current Las Vegas price tag – Atlanta’s favored by 3.5 points (or the normal figure given for NFL teams playing on their own home field) – doesn’t reflect that but it’s a do-or-die game for last year’s NFC defending champs as a loss and Seattle home win against Arizona puts the Seahawks into the post-season ahead of the Falcs. Quarterback Matt Ryan (12 INTs) has been far from the player that won the MVP award last year – does he now gag it up at crunch time here?

 

In other NFL Week 17 News/Notes …

Any chance that the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers will stub their toe while attempting to snag the #1 overall seed in the AFC? Both the Pats and Steelers are 12-3 SU (straight-up) – and we all know you owns the tiebreaker thanks to that QB Ben Roethlisberger end-zone INT a couple of weeks ago against the Pats – and so Pittsburgh’s pretty much waved the white flag here as they’ll sit a bunch of starters for the Sunday finale against Cleveland. Hey, if you caught the Browns plus 14 points at the start of the week you might go for the “middle” here as Pittsburgh’s now just a 6.5-point fav – stuff like that doesn’t come along very often in the NFL, you know …

And we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the bottom-of-the-barrel teams who are “battling” for draft position:

We know Cleveland has locked down the #1 draft pick for next April with the New York Giants (2-13), Indianapolis Colts (3-12), Houston Texans (4-11) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (also 4-11) right behind. Gut feeling is the Browns will go for USC slinger Sam Darnold should he declare for the draft, otherwise Cleveland’s not gonna take UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the pick and could trade it to someone like Arizona or the New York Jets. And that would leave the Giants – should they lose to Washington this weekend -- free and clear to nab Rosen at #2.

 

 

COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA

On Saturday, Dec. 30th, it’s …

 

TAXSLAYER BOWL – at Jacksonville, FL

LOUISVILLE (8-4) vs. #23 MISS STATE (8-4) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

Last year’s Heisman Trophy-winning QB Lamar Jackson (3,489 yards passing with 25 TDs to go along with 1,443 rushing yards with 17 scores) has been a bit of a forgotten soul this year – now, nobody’s talking about him with this NFL-bound quarterback class. Well, maybe Jackson makes this a playground-type game for him and his U of L Cardinals who lost last year’s bowl game by 20 points (see 29-9 loss to LSU in the Citrus Bowl).

 

LIBERTY BOWL – at Memphis, TN

IOWA STATE (7-5) at #20 MEMPHIS (10-2) – 12:30 p.m. ET, ABC

The totals price for this clash is 66 points … doesn’t that seem a bit modest when you consider that host team Memphis ranks 4th in the country in total offense and 121st nationally in total defense? The Tigers will be gung-ho to see if QB Riley Ferguson (3,971 yards passing with 36 TDs) can rattle the cage of a Power 5 team that sports “W’s” this 2017 season against Oklahoma and TCU. The Cyclones – a 4.5-point road pup here – need WR Allen Lazard (61 catches) to be a field-flipper here while RB David Montgomery (1,094 yards rushing) gives Matt Campbell’s crew a real neat balance of run/pass here.

 

FIESTA BOWL – at Glendale, AZ

#11 WASHINGTON (10-2) vs. #9 PENN STATE (10-2) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Not bad for one of these so-called “undercard games”, eh? The 2-point favorite Penn State Nittany Lions were 7-and-oh and rumbling towards the college playoffs but back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State kayoed those national title dreams and now RB Saquon Barkley (1,134 yards rushing with 16 TDs) and Company challenges a UW Huskies defense that held nine foes to 16 points or less this year. If Chris Peterson’s Pac-12 team is gonna wash away the bad taste of losses to Arizona State and Stanford, then veteran QB Jake Browning (2,544 yards passing with 18 TDs and 5 INTs) must keep his cool when Penn State blitzes then he could make the Lions pay – note Washington WR/KR/PR Dante Pettis has been nursing a sore ankle lately.

 

ORANGE BOWL – at Miami Gardens, FL

#6 WISCONSIN (12-1) vs. #10 MIAMI (10-2) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both of these Power 5 teams were dunked in their respective conference championship tilts – so this is a redemption game of sorts and 4.5-point favorite Wisconsin is counting on RB Jonathan Taylor (1,847 yards rushing and 13 TDs) not allowing the Miami kids to unleash the famed “Turnover Chain” too often here. Taylor’s been prone to fumbling (and especially near the goal line) and so ball security is a primary goal for the Badgers who have their own top-flight defense that ranks third in the country scoring “D” while allowing just 13.2 points per outing. Can Miami slinger Malik Rosier (2,917 yards passing with 25 TDs and 11 INTs) get heated up against this Big 10 bunch?

 

NOTE: Get our New Year’s Day Bowl Game Previews including the Rose & Sugar Bowls in the next Jim Sez.

 

 

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