NFL Week 17 predictions: Bet big on Packers over Vikings, Jets over Bills, Patriots over Dolphins

Here are our NFL Nation reporters' predictions for Week 17:


New York: Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t an easy matchup for the Jets, who have dropped five of their past six games versus the Bills -- including three straight on the road. Ryan Fitzpatrick, returning to Buffalo for the first time since being released, played one of his worst games of the season in Week 10 against the Bills. In the end, though, the Jets are the healthier and more motivated team. Bills coach Rex Ryan desperately wants to beat his old team, but do his players feel the same way? Doubt it. Jets 24, Bills 21. -- Rich Cimini

Buffalo: The Jets haven’t lost since Ryan Fitzpatrick trimmed his beard, which should cause Bills fans to wonder: Why didn’t he try that strategy when he was in Buffalo? Everything about this game -- from Fitzpatrick possibly earning his first playoff berth, to former Bills coach Chan Gailey possibly leading the Jets’ offense into the postseason, to Todd Bowles turning Rex Ryan’s 4-12 team from last season into a contender -- has the potential to sting Ryan and Bills fans this Sunday. And guess what? Buffalo probably doesn’t have a healthy enough squad to stop the Jets. Jets 28, Bills 20. -- Mike Rodak


New England: Bill Belichick had players in full pads on Wednesday with a focus on returning to fundamentals, and players have generally responded well to that this year. Last Sunday’s loss to the Jets exposed some issues with the run defense, but the Patriots should clean that up against a 5-10 team that is playing out the string, while also benefiting from the possible return of some important injured players. Patriots 33, Dolphins 13. -- Mike Reiss

Miami: The Dolphins (5-10), who have lost five of their past six games, essentially have one foot out the door heading into the season finale. Their offense is averaging just 16.2 points per game in the past month, and the lack of scoring puts too much pressure on the defense. The Patriots (12-3) still have something to play for and are the ideal team to quickly put Miami out of its misery. New England won the first meeting this season by 29 points; expect a similar mismatch on Sunday. Patriots 30, Dolphins 7. -- James Walker


New Orleans: The Falcons just knocked off the unbeaten Carolina Panthers last week after the Saints came within three points of doing the same three weeks ago. The rematch to watch will be Falcons WR Julio Jones vs. Saints CB Delvin Breaux. Jones leads the NFL with 1,722 receiving yards, but Breaux held up well against him in their first meeting when the Saints beat the Falcons in Week 6. Falcons 27, Saints 24. -- Mike Triplett

Atlanta: It’s typically a close battle when these teams meet, and it might be difficult for the Falcons to slow down Drew Brees and the Saints’ high-powered offensive attack, but the Falcons ride the momentum of last week’s upset of Carolina into Sunday’s season finale. As explosive as NFC Offensive Player of the Week Julio Jones was against the Panthers, the Falcons definitely should ride Jones against a suspect New Orleans defense. And former Saints kicker Shayne Graham can get his revenge with the game winner. Falcons 24, Saints 21. -- Vaughn McClure


Baltimore: A week after winning what was their Super Bowl -- an upset over the Steelers -- the Ravens will have trouble keeping that momentum in what has been the toughest place for them to win. Baltimore is 2-5 at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium and hasn't won there since 2011. With Andy Dalton's injury, the Bengals are going to do whatever it takes to keep themselves in contention for that first-round bye. Bengals 23, Ravens 13. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati: Tyler Eifert indicated early in the week there was no way he would sit when the Bengals take on the Ravens in Sunday’s season finale. The tight end just came off the concussion protocol, where he spent the past three weeks because of a head injury. The fact he’s passionate about playing in a game that could give the Bengals their 12th win of the season -- more than any other Marvin Lewis-coached team -- should tell you all you need to know about how seriously the rest of the team is approaching this game. All Cincinnati had to do was look at the way the Ravens beat the Steelers to partially derail Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes to know Baltimore will be motivated to end its season by toppling two of the AFC North’s top teams. The Bengals won’t let that happen. Bengals 28, Ravens 17. -- Coley Harvey


Pittsburgh: The Browns are fighting for jobs and they are fighting for Johnny Manziel, who showed a lot of toughness and fight in Kansas City. The Browns will try to do what the Ravens did by doubling up the outside passing game. But the Steelers will unleash some frustration on the Browns after personally submarining their own playoff hopes the week before. Plus, the Browns’ secondary is not equipped to handle Antonio Brown & Co. for four quarters. Two, maybe. Not four. Steelers 23, Browns 20. -- Jeremy Fowler

Cleveland: This game favored Pittsburgh from the moment the schedule was released. The Steelers have ended the season against the Browns in four of the past five seasons. The Steelers won those four games by a combined score of 98-35. With Pittsburgh needing this game and the Browns hobbled by injury, there's no reason to believe this won't be one-sided. Steelers 38, Browns 14. -- Pat McManamon


Jacksonville: Brian Hoyer being cleared to play was a bad development for the Jaguars. It would have been a much more favorable matchup had the Texans been forced to start Brandon Weeden. Hoyer may not be an elite quarterback, but he threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns in the Texans’ 31-20 victory at EverBank Field in mid-October, when the Jaguars were playing better defensively. Drew Brees just shredded the Jaguars for 412 yards and three touchdowns despite playing with a torn plantar fascia. The Jaguars’ pass defense ranks 29th (270 yards per game) and they’re last in third-down conversion defense (46.2 percent). Even if Hoyer is a little woozy, he still should have a big day. Texans 32, Jaguars 28. -- Mike DiRocco

Houston: It would be so Houston for the Texans to finish a season in which they beat the Colts in Indianapolis for the first time with a loss to the 5-10 Jaguars. That’s not going to happen, though. The Texans' defense has done well against Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. While Bortles played well against the Texans in the teams’ first meeting of this season, he still threw three interceptions to match his three touchdowns. With how the Texans' defense has played since the bye week, I don’t see a big day for Bortles. Texans 21, Jaguars 9. -- Tania Ganguli


Tennessee: Given the Colts' quarterback uncertainty, it’s reasonable to expect the Titans to finish with a win. But they’ve lost to Johnny Manziel and Brandon Weeden this season. This is not a strong-willed group, and there is a share of guys who will be thinking about what time they get back to Nashville. Colts 17, Titans 11. -- Paul Kuharsky

Indianapolis: It’ll be the battle of a backup quarterback in Tennessee against a fourth-string quarterback who's been on the roster for less than two weeks in Indianapolis. The only real suspense in the game -- other than Tennessee being in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick and the Colts’ slim playoff hopes -- is whether Frank Gore could become Indianapolis’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2007. Gore needs 109 yards to reach that total. The Colts have won eight straight meetings against the Titans. It’ll be nine straight by Sunday night. Colts 17, Titans 9. -- Mike Wells


Washington: The Redskins don’t have to play key starters if they don’t want to, but a decent number of them will play. The Redskins want to finish with a winning record, which would be only their second one in eight seasons. Even if they have to use Colt McCoy all or most of the game at quarterback, the Redskins want to keep the positive vibes flowing and will do so. The Cowboys have scored a combined 29 points the past three games. Redskins 17, Cowboys 13. -- John Keim

Dallas: The Cowboys officially shut down Tony Romo last week. They officially did the same to Dez Bryant on Wednesday. And they have unofficially been shut down as a team for quite some time with one win in 11 games without Romo. Like the Cowboys, Washington has nothing to play for, either, having sewn up the division last week and unable to improve its playoff seeding. Less than a month ago, the Cowboys beat the Redskins on a Dan Bailey field goal attempt. Can the Cowboys score more than one offensive touchdown in their finale? The last time they had two in a game was Nov. 22 at Miami in Romo’s return. Can Kellen Moore inspire an offense that has lacked inspiration all year? Redskins 20, Cowboys 13. -- Todd Archer


Philadelphia: Chip Kelly won’t be on the field. Odell Beckham Jr. will. That should be enough to give the Giants an advantage on the Eagles, who have had a lot of success at the Meadowlands lately. Giants 30, Eagles 16. -- Phil Sheridan

New York: The Eagles have owned the Giants during the Chip Kelly era, beating them by an average of 31-13 in games in which they did not employ Matt Barkley at quarterback. Just because Kelly's not coaching this team doesn't mean these Eagles can't handle these Giants. Likely Tom Coughlin's last game as Giants coach, this one ends in disappointment along with his decorated tenure. Eagles 31, Giants 27. -- Dan Graziano


Detroit: The Lions beat the Bears when they had nothing going for them back in Week 6 and have won five in a row in the series for the first time since the early 1970s. Chicago’s defense has not been shredded like that (546 yards – including 391 passing) since. But Matthew Stafford is a better quarterback now than he was in Week 6 and Chicago won’t have all the offensive weapons it had in the first meeting. Lions 27, Bears 17. -- Michael Rothstein

Chicago: The Bears want payback for losing in overtime at Ford Field in Week 6. John Fox is also desperate for a win at Soldier Field. The Bears are tied with Dallas and Tennessee for the fewest home wins in 2015. Detroit comes to town with a two-game winning streak, but Chicago is just as confident after knocking off Tampa Bay. Jim Caldwell could be fired on Monday. Fox is here for the long haul. Hard to imagine Caldwell finishing with a better overall record than Fox. Bears 23, Lions 20. -- Jeff Dickerson


Tampa Bay: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers know in order to get to the playoffs, they’re going to have to eventually beat Carolina, a team they have lost to five consecutive times. With the Panthers still needing to lock up home-field advantage, Carolina will play its best and be too much for the Buccaneers. Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 21. -- Rick Brown

Carolina: The Panthers won 37-23 at Tampa Bay in Week 4, but the Bucs are playing much better defensively, ranking ninth in total yards surrendered per game. Where they’re weak defensively is third-down efficiency, ranking 30th. The Panthers struggled in that department last week as they fell from the unbeaten ranks. Quarterback Cam Newton (0-for-6) failed to complete a third-down pass for the first time in his career. Don’t look for that to happen in two consecutive weeks. Panthers 24, Buccaneers 13. -- David Newton


Oakland: The Chiefs have become a juggernaut. They’ve won nine games in a row and could win the AFC West in Week 17. The Raiders, of course, want to finish 8-8 and they have been good on the road, with a 4-3 record. But the Chiefs are the better team as they showed in a 14-point win in Oakland on Dec. 6. I expect the Chiefs to sweep the Raiders in another fairly competitive game. Chiefs 27, Raiders 17. -- Bill Williamson

Kansas City: The Chiefs are fourth in the NFL in creating turnovers (28) while the Raiders have turned it over 23 times, tied for 19th. The Chiefs have the knack for the big takeaway at the crucial moment and they took the ball from Oakland three times in the fourth quarter in a Dec. 6 win. Don’t be surprised if it happens again. Chiefs 23, Raiders 19. -- Adam Teicher


San Diego: The Chargers are winless in the AFC West and have not scored a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos this season. And with the Broncos still having something to play for, it’s hard to see a depleted San Diego offense -- even with Philip Rivers -- mounting much of an attack against a talented Denver defense. Broncos 24, Chargers 13. -- Eric Williams

Denver: The Broncos need a win to guarantee their fifth consecutive AFC West title and to secure a much-needed first-round bye in the postseason. But the real heart of the matter will be who manages the week the best. The Chargers had 10 days between games, while the Broncos, with a long injury report, had six days. The Broncos adjusted their practice schedule -- they practiced Wednesday night, for example -- to try to field as healthy a lineup as possible. They have enough healthy bodies and more than enough to play for, and that will be the difference. Broncos 24, Chargers 17. -- Jeff Legwold


Seattle: The Seahawks have a playoff berth clinched and they can’t determine their own fate in terms of getting the fifth or sixth seed. Carson Palmer picked them apart for 363 yards in the first meeting and he should have another big game. It wouldn’t be surprising if these two teams met a third time in the postseason. Cardinals 30, Seahawks 24. -- Sheil Kapadia

Arizona: Winning 13 straight to become Super Bowl champions isn’t an easy task. But coach Bruce Arians has already said he’s not resting his starters, which means more offensive fireworks are to be expected. Unless Seattle rests some of its starters in anticipation of its wild-card game the following weekend, Sunday’s tilt will be similar to the first go-round, which Arizona won by a touchdown after surrendering a 15-point lead. Seattle’s defense has improved since, allowing the second-fewest points since its loss to Arizona in Week 10, and its offense has scored the most touchdowns during that same span. Cardinals 34, Seahawks 27. -- Josh Weinfuss


St. Louis: The Rams' offense has improved under new coordinator Rob Boras and quarterback Case Keenum when it comes to scoring points, though the other numbers haven't increased much. But San Francisco's offense isn't producing much in either regard. Barring takeaways or a big play on special teams, it's hard to see San Francisco scoring enough to win and the Rams are at least riding a three-game winning streak. The bet here is that it continues as the Rams get to 8-8 and complete their longest winning streak under coach Jeff Fisher. Rams 20, Niners 13 -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco: The 49ers are in a downward spiral, having lost five of their past six with mental errors aplenty. The Rams have one eye on Los Angeles, the other on not finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2006. Go with the trend, then, as the Niners are primed to finish 0-6 in the NFC West for the first time since 1978, the first year of the NFL’s 16-game schedule. Rams 17, 49ers 14. -- Paul Gutierrez


Minnesota: The health of the Packers’ offensive line, with David Bakhtiari still dealing with an ankle injury, could have Aaron Rodgers on the run most of the night. But the Vikings’ offensive line, which gave up six sacks in the first meeting with the Packers, could have the same issues. This game should be much closer than last time, but in the end, it’s tough to pick against the Packers in a building where they’ve lost just once to the Vikings since 2005. Packers 24, Vikings 20. -- Ben Goessling

Green Bay: It’s strange year when you can beat the Bears, Lions and Vikings on the road and possibly lose at home to all three. The Packers already have lost to Chicago and Detroit at Lambeau Field, which is one of the reasons they’re in this NFC North title-game predicament against the Vikings. The last time the Packers were swept by all of their division foes was 1968. But the Packers seem to have found a formula for success against the Vikings: Eddie Lacy has four 100-yard rushing games in five tries against Minnesota. Look for coach Mike McCarthy to try to grind it out on the ground. Packers 19, Vikings 17. -- Rob Demovsky