There are two marquee matchups in the NFL for week 17 as teams make their final playoff push. The unveiling of the roadmap to the Super Bowl is coming in the next two days. Some teams face pass or fail scenarios for this final week of the regular season. Are we going to some dramatic finishes and surprise teams in the NFL playoffs? Which teams won’t make it?
Now, most football fans already count out the Browns. After all, how can a team hit hard by COVID-19 as of late and just general poor play against the Pittsburgh Steelers suddenly make the postseason for the first time in 17 NFL seasons?
NFL Game of the Week
Cleveland Browns (10-5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are usually the safe pick for this game. How can the Browns make the playoffs with a game that is close to a must-win without cornerback Denzel Ward and possibly without the top right guard in football Wyatt Teller? How can a team that just lost to the Jets have any sort of realistic chance against the juggernaut defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers? The answer is simple, a lot of key starters will rest to be ready for the playoffs. That means, despite all odds, the Browns have a chance to seal their playoff fate without depending on other teams.
Baker Mayfield tends to be unstoppable when his starting receivers are playing. Mayfield didn’t look the same with the receivers that came up from the practice squad. He had little success against the New York Jets because he was up against the wall, sort of speak. However, with Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, and KhaDaral Hodge, this game will have a different feel to it. Having rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills back is a huge plus as Mayfield should have better protection and more time to read the defensive coverage.
The story most fans will still focus on is the fact that Mason Rudolph is starting at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rudolph and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett got into a major altercation last season. Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet at him. Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season (6 games). Although there are storylines focusing on last season’s incident, this season is ab9out the Browns possibly making the wild card round. Cleveland may rely heavily on the running game first as the receivers may take time to build up rhythm as they were all out last week because they were on the COVID-19 high-risk contacts list.
Expect the Browns to pressure Rudolph early. The defensive line should make big plays early and often to set the tone, though the secondary and linebackers will likely struggle throughout the game.
Browns 31 Steelers 28
Second best game of Week 17
Buffalo Bills (12-3) vs. Miami Dolphins (10-5)
The bad news for the Miami Dolphins is that Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be out because of COVID-19. The good news for the Dolphins is that if they win, they’re in the playoffs.
As of right now, it appears the Bills will start the starters rather than the backups. The Dolphins defense will likely still face quarterback Josh Allen, receiver Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and running back Devin Singletary. Tua Tagovailoa will start for the Dolphins. If the Bills don’t start the backups, Miami will likely lose this game.
Buffalo 28 Miami 17
Los Angeles Rams (9-6) vs. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)
This is a must-win game for Arizona. Will Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins have their way against the juggernaut Rams defense? This could be an upset as the Cardinals are desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Cardinals 35 Rams 32
Other key game to watch: Chicago Bears (8-7) vs. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
- AFC2021.02.132021 NFL Draft Prospect: Miami Defensive End Gregory Rousseau
- AFC2021.02.06Super Bowl of Dreams: It’s Tom Brady’s Bucs vs Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs
- Radio Shows2021.01.30Madden 21 to Feature NFL Pro Bowl 2021, Includes Celebrity Snoop Dogg
- AFC2021.01.23NFL Conference Championships: Chiefs vs. Bills, Packers vs. Buccaneers