Here are week 16’s staff picks results.
Zac Weiss – 10-5 (136-84-1)
Matt Gajtka – 11-4 (135-85-1)
Matt Shetler – 11-4 (135-85-1)
Jason Harding 10-5 (131-89-1)
We have reached the regular season finale. Here are City of Champion’s staff picks for week 17.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
Disappointing seasons for both teams as the Steelers try to close out with a win to reach .500. After dropping 5 of their last 6 games Pittsburgh has been eliminated from the playoffs for just the second time under Mike Tomlin. Poor offensive play has cost the Steelers greatly in their three game losing streak all with Roethlisberger at QB. Cleveland will start Thad Lewis at QB as Weeden and McCoy are both out with injuries this week. Making Cleveland’s task more difficult will be replacing Trent Richardson as he is also out with injury.
Steelers: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Atlanta will enter the playoffs with at least a tie for the best record in the NFL. They have locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs as the top seed in the NFC. Coach Smith is trying to be cautious yet productive before this year’s playoffs. Smith and Matt Ryan are 0-3 in the playoffs. Don’t expect the Falcons starters to play a full game. Tampa Bay will be looking for a win to build the offseason around. Coach Schiano took a lot of flak over this season due to his never give up mentality so look for him to try to win big.
Bucs: Harding, Shetler
Falcons: Weiss, Gajtka
New York Jets at Buffalo
Once again Rex Ryan is forced to make a quarterback change, this time due to a concussion to McElroy, yet he passes on Tim Tebow. Mark Sanchez will get the start again for New York after being benched due to poor performance. Once again Ryan stated that Tebow may be a part of the game plan, something we have heard all season. The Jets will be searching for a QB in April when the draft hits regardless who starts this one. The Bills have now lost seven of their last nine games. Many questions surrounding Coach Gailey’s job are looming, but of course he won’t talk about that right now.
Bills: Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Baltimore at Cincinnati
The Bengals went on the road and took a tough, hard fought game against the Steelers to make the playoffs. Cincinnati is locked in the 6 seed and will travel to play the 3 seed next week. The Bengals defense has slowly progressed each week this season and look to be primed for the playoffs where they may face Tom Brady in the first round. The Ravens have been on a bit of a slippery slope the last few weeks. Baltimore beat the Giants last week ending their three game skid. The Ravens don’t stand to gain any ground with a win so resting players early in the game is a possibility for both teams.
Bengals: Harding, Weiss
Ravens: Shetler, Gajtka
Chicago at Detroit
The Chicago Bears were once 7-1 and the talk of the NFL. Now they are 9-6 and trying to sneak into the playoffs. With a win and a Minnesota loss the Bears can claim the 6th seed. The Bears found themselves in a favorable matchup against the struggling Lions. Detroit has given up nearly 32 points per game during their seven game losing streak. During last week’s loss to Atlanta Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s NFL single-season record receiving yards. Johnson is just 108 yards away from the 2,000 yard mark that he set his goal at. Matt Stafford needs just 305 yards to reach 5,000 on the season, becoming the first player to ever throw for 5,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Bears: Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Jacksonville at Tennessee
The Jaguars and Titans have succumbed to another disappointing season. Mike Munchak will have a lot of questions to answer this offseason. Jake Locker has 11 INTs to just 10 TDs. Chris Johnson returned to Pro-Bowl form, but the successful run game didn’t appear to aid the struggling QB while he was healthy. Keeping Locker healthy is another problem due to the fact he was sacked 7 times last week. The Jaguars have their own concerns at QB, although Chad Henne has appeared to be a band-aid for the team. Henne will be without his favorite target Cecil Shorts after he suffered a concussion last week. The team also place MJD on the IR this week after missing the last 9 games with a sprained foot.
Titans: Harding, Shetler, Weiss, Gajtka
Houston at Indianapolis
The Texans can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs with just a win on the road. Houston has never won on the road at Indy. The Colts have found themselves some great inspiration this season as well. Coach Chuck Pagano will be back on the sidelines for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts can’t change their playoff position so it may be a game to keep players healthy, however the experience for Andrew Luck may be worth it. The Texans haven’t been at their best lately on defense and are trying to right the ship before the post-season. Arian Foster has said he will play for the Texans after leaving the game with chest problems.
Colts: Harding, Weiss
Texans: Shetler, Gajtka
Carolina at New Orleans
Both franchise’s had rough starts to the season, but we able to salvage something from it. The question for Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is was it enough to get another year? Many projected the Panthers to make a playoff chase after Cam Newton had a stellar rookie season. Carolina’s 1-5 start put them behind the 8-ball before they knew it. The Saints started out 0-4 and are now playing to reach .500 on the season. After all the scandal questions, suspensions and other distractions it really isn’t that bad of a season. Drew Brees’ 18 INTs are probably the worst thing that happened to the Saints this season.
Saints: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Philadelphia at New York Giants
The Giants are still trying to catch the last playoff spot for the NFC, but now will require a fair amount of help. With a win at home they will also need a Dallas loss, Minnesota loss and a Chicago loss. All are possible so I wouldn’t count them out just yet. My personal opinion I think beating the Eagles at home may be their toughest feature if they do make it in. Nick Foles is out with a hand injury so it will be Michael Vick under center for the Eagles. Many believe this will be Andy Reid’s last game as Philly’s head coach. Emotional players always fight just a little more, so don’t count the Eagles out yet.
Giants: Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Oakland at San Diego
The San Diego Chargers have shown flashes of greatness and flashes of duds. The greatness came from the defense last week when they sacked Greg McElroy 11 times. The same defense will be tasked with stopping the Raiders, who will start Terrelle Pryor due to Palmer’s injury. The Chargers offense on the other hand has struggled all season. The run game was never able to establish itself and Phillip Rivers appears he will be short of the 4,000 yard passing mark this year for the first time since 2007. Coach Norv Turner is on the hot seat regardless of the outcome of this game.
Chargers: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Arizona at San Francisco
The 49ers still need one more win to clinch the NFC West and guarantee a home game in the wildcard weekend. The 42-13 blowout loss in Seattle last week has put the West back up for grabs. Justin Smith will sit this week as well after learning he has a partially torn triceps tendon. Smith said he will play in the first round of the playoffs regardless. The Cardinals will start their 4th different QB this season in Brian Hoyer. Colin Kaepernick has more rushing yards than any Arizona player at this point as the Cardinals rushing game has been a big struggle along with QB problems.
49ers: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
St. Louis at Seattle
The Seahawks have been on a tear lately and will look for one more big win to give them a chance to win the West with a little help as well. Seattle has claimed the 5th playoff spot already, but can jump as high as 3 if San Francisco loses and Seattle wins. Russell Wilson needs just one TD pass to tie Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 TDs. The Seahawks are averaging just over 50 ppg in their last 3 games as they have dominated running the ball. The Rams are trying to remain undefeated in the NFC West as they won the first matchup between these two. The Rams will look to keep putting pressure on the QBs as they are ranked 3rd in the league in sacks.
Seahawks: Harding, Weiss, Shetler
Green Bay at Minnesota
This is one of the most impactful games of the weekend for the NFC. Packers win and clinch a bye in the first round and the 2nd seed. The Vikings win and clinch the 6th seed and likely travel to Green Bay next week in the wildcard round. Minnesota can still make the playoffs if they lose, but will need a loss by Chicago, Dallas and the Giants. All eyes will be on Adrian Peterson in this game. Not only does he have a chance to push his team into the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but also has a chance to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Peterson needs just 208 yards to break the record, but he claims he is more focused on getting the team the win.
Vikings: Harding, Gajtka
Packers: Weiss, Shetler
Miami at New England
Patriots fans will be paying close attention to the Houston and Denver score this week as they would need at least one of those teams to lose to get a bye in the first round. New England has not looked their best in the last few weeks and are trying to get back on track just in time for the post-season. Tom Brady may get his favorite target back in Rob Gronkowski, who hasn’t played since he broke his arm in November. The Dolphins are trying to close out a respectable season with a win and reach the .500 mark. A win would be quite a season for rookie Ryan Tannehill who was expected to need a few years to develop.
Patriots: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Kansas City at Denver
The Denver Broncos know that with a win they are guaranteed at least one home playoff game and a bye in the first round. The Broncos will also be watching the Texans scoreboard, if Houston loses and Denver wins then the playoffs go through Denver. The Chiefs have showed last week they still possess a powerful run game, 352 yards rushing against the Colts last week. With a loss the Chiefs will be the 1st pick in the 2013 NFL draft and face some interesting decisions.
Broncos: Harding, Weiss, Shetler, Gajtka
Dallas at Washington
No surprise that the NFC East gets the primetime game here. The only division yet to be decided and the winner of these two teams will be the champ. The losing team will still have a chance to make the playoffs, but need a fair amount of help to get in. Neither team wants to take those risks and know that it’s a win and in situation. No other team has shown the success that the Redskins have with their run game which leads to their stellar play-action. RGIII gives his team an edge that most quarterbacks can’t. Don’t count the Cowboys out just yet. Tony Romo has played some quality football lately along with some real help from Dez Bryant. Romo’s stat line in the last 4 games: 1,328 yards, 10 TD, 1 INT.
Redskins: Harding, Weiss, Shetler