Bet On It: Week 17 predictions
I've learned many valuable lessons this year in crafting this weekly prediction column. In order of importance:
1. If an editor approaches you about a predictions column, run away.
2. Regression to the mean is more than just a term I learned in college and subsequently forgot. It's real and it's brutal. Nothing is more deceiving than great performances. More often than not, they're followed by average performances. Unless the performer is Adrian Peterson.
3. Defensive coordinators have access to the same information I do. If they see Danny Amendola catch 12 passes the week before, they do something about it. Bracket coverage is not my friend.
4. Don't hold on to your preseason thinking. The Chiefs aren't good.
5. There's a lot of garbage time. If you can just change the channel to another game, you may not notice that about 15 percent of NFL action is meaningless. Just teams running out the fourth quarter clock and killing my picks.
7. Don't bet your nest egg on a defensive or special teams TD. Not that anyone in their right mind other than myself would try to predict that.
8. Listen to Pregame.com's R.J. Bell when he tells you before Week 1 you have no chance of doing better than 50 percent.
With all that being said, I'd be shocked if this group of predictions didn't go 10-0. Then again, I've been shocked by the outcome of these predictions every week.
Peterson need 102 yards to hit 2,000, but 208 yards to pass Dickerson's single-season mark. The Vikings are playing for their postseason life, but Green Bay has seeding to play for and too much pride to let a division rival look good. Peterson will obviously be the focal point of the offense, but they won't just feed him the ball to break the record.
Romo and the 'Boys haven't fared well in these Week 17 win-and-you're-in games. They fell to the Giants in the same situation last year and the Eagles in 2008. But even if they can't come through with the victory, Romo and his main connection Dez Bryant are hot and will put up big numbers.
Alfred Morris ran for 113 yards in Washington's 38-31 win over Dallas in Week 12. There's a chance the Redskins won't be in a must-win situation to get into the playoffs, but if they are, they'll concentrate on pounding the Cowboys' defense with the running game. Quarterback Robert Griffin III didn't run very much last week when he returned from a knee injury, but he might add a scramble or two now that he's had more time to heal.
Manning has been held below 200 yards passing in each of his last two games, but he's facing a struggling Eagles pass defense and he has something to play for. Since they're kicking off at 1 p.m. ET the Giants won't know if they've been eliminated from the playoffs for most of the game. Meanwhile, Philly's players know everything is going to get blown up in the offseason.
In the midst of the Norv Turner era likely ending in San Diego, the Chargers defense has quietly done a nice job. They currently rank No. 11 overall and will likely end the season in the top 10 after facing a Raiders offense that isn't a threat to pass much with either Matt Leinart of Terrelle Pryor starting at quarterback.
Jacksonville's Chad Henne recovered from a late-season slide last week with a big game against New England. That's not a huge accomplishment, considering most quarterbacks have been putting up big passing yardage numbers against New England. But Tennessee's pass defense is almost as bad. Henne won't have his top target, Cecil Shorts, but he'll rely more on rookie receiver Justin Blackmon.
Rodgers has dominated the Vikings in the past and the Packers are still motivated to win even though Minnesota is fighting to get in. Rodgers was actually surprisingly mortal in Green Bay's 23-14 win over Minnesota on Dec. 2, throwing for 286 yards, a touchdown and a pick. But he's playing with total confidence and has been nearly perfect the last two weeks despite a rotating cast of weapons because of injuries.
The Seahawks have averaged 50 points a game over the last three weeks. No team can keep that up, let alone one whose strength is defense, not offense. All season long, quarterback Russell Wilson and the 'Hawks have been defying expectations, but at some point this torrid pace has to slow down. It's probably best for the Seahawks if they cool off just a little headed into the postseason just to remind them this game isn't as easy as they've made it look.
New Orleans is finally using Ingram as a workhorse on the ground and Sproles has been a consistent weapon as a receiver. Although it's not clear how much they'll use their running backs in this meaningless game, both should be effective against the Panthers in a potential shootout.
Moreno has been a workhorse late in the season, and although he's averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, the Broncos should get him plenty of touches to protect a lead against the Chiefs, who Denver edged 17-9 back in Week 12.