By Kelton Brooks (@BrooksWeekly)
This is the last week of 2014-15 NFL regular season.
The season has flown by with numerous storylines.
The two most talked about prospects in the 2014 NFL draft in the No. 1 overall pick in Jadeveon Clowney and 26th overall in Johnny Manziel, didn’t come within a mile of their expectations.
Clowney appeared in only four games and registered seven total tackles before a knee injury sidelined him for the season. Clowney is currently facing a recovery process that will last eight to nine months, jeopardizing the start of his 2015 season.
Manziel flashed in his brief late game appearance Nov. 26 against the Bills, but didn’t get his first start until week 15 in a forgettable debut. The former charismatic, Texas A&M star finished the season, 18-of-35 for 175 yards with zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. He finished with 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Steelers are the first team in NFL history with a 4,500 yard passer, a 1,500 yard receiver and a 1,300 yard rusher.
And to date, the 2014-15 season is the best rookie wide receiver class in NFL history starring Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG), Mike Evans (TB), Sammy Watkins (BUF), Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) and Jarvis Landry (MIA).
I can go on forever, but those are a few that raised eyebrows.
In any case, NFL.com has released likely scenarios and possible seeding for the playoffs. This scenario grabs my attention:
The winner of Lions-Packers will have a first-round bye and can find themselves with home-field advantage. Meanwhile, the loser is assured the No. 6 seed.
Here are the Final Picks for the regular season:
Week 16 Prediction Results
Brooks: 10-6; Overall: 154-85
Perez: 11-5; Overall: 167-72
Wooten: 8-8; Overall: 142-81
|Week 17 Matchups||Brooks||Perez||Wooten|
|CLE @ BAL||BAL(W)||BAL(W)||BAL(W)|
|DAL @ WAS||DAL(W)||DAL(W)||HOU(W)|
|IND @ TEN||IND(W)||IND(W)||IND(W)|
|JAX @ HOU||HOU(W)||HOU(W)||HOU(W)|
|SD @ KC||SD(L)||SD(L)||KC(W)|
|NYJ @ MIA||MIA(L)||MIA(L)||MIA(L)|
|CHI @ MIN||MIN(W)||MIN(W)||CHI(L)|
|BUF @ NE||NE(L)||NE(L)||NE(L)|
|PHI @ NYG||NYG(L)||PHI(W)||PHI(W)|
|NO @ TB||NO(W)||NO(W)||NO(W)|
|CAR @ ATL||CAR(W)||ATL(L)||ATL(L)|
|DET @ GB||GB(W)||GB(W)||GB(W)|
|OAK @ DEN||DEN(W)||DEN(W)||DEN(W)|
|ARI @ SF||SF(W)||ARI(L)||ARI(L)|
|STL @ SEA||SEA(W)||SEA(W)||SEA(W)|
|CIN @ PIT||PIT(W)||PIT(W)||PIT(W)|
Cincinnati Bengals (10-4-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
The battle of the AFC North will be decided between two of the streakiest teams in the NFL this season.
Both the Steelers and Bengals are tied for the league’s second-most wins since Week 8, accumulating a record of 7-2 in that time frame.
Pittsburgh began the season at a modest 3-3 record with spurts of excellence, yet dumbfounded at times.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 500 yards twice in a single game Oct. 26 against the Colts.He also threw for six touchdowns that game along with another half a dozen the following week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers scored 94 points in that two week span only to stumble to a 20-13 loss to a 1-9 Jets team at that time.
For the Bengals, forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but on paper, Cincinnati is most talented team in the NFL on both sides of the ball. But they continue to perform under their Jekell and Hyde M.O.
After giving up 25 points in the fourth quarter in a 42-21 loss in their first defeat to the Steelers Dec. 7, Cincinnati blanked the Browns 30-0 and forced four interceptions in a 37-28 Monday night victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
A key to Sunday night’s game is the health of Bengals’ All Pro receiver AJ Green. He hauled in 11 catches for a career-high 224 yards against the Steelers the first-go-round. Green has been questionable all week, but now is expected to play after suffering a bruised right biceps Monday.
Since 2001, the Steelers lead the all-time series 20-8 against the Bengals, and won five the last seven. The Bengals have created a habit of folding under the pressure in big games and both Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have yet to win a playoff game.
In the battle for the AFC North title, the Sunday night matchup will have a playoff atmosphere, a moment the Steelers relish and the Bengals falter.
Eddie P’s Philosophical Take
Detroit Lions (11-4) @ Green Bay Packers (11-4)
The Detroit Lions will head to Lambeau Field and battle the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. Both teams are at 11-4. The Lions are undefeated within the division. The Packers have a lone divisional loss, to the Lions.
The Packers will be able to avenge that loss this week. Aaron Rodgers leads a 7th ranked passing offense. They also have a pretty good rushing game behind Eddie Lacy. The Lions are tops against the run, only allowing 63.8 yards per game. Detriot is 13th against the pass as well; all in all, not too shabby.
Green Bay’s overall offensive attack might be too much for Detroit, especially playing on the road.
Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)
The San Francisco 49ers (7-8) are out of the playoff picture, but it does not mean they cannot help shape how that picture ends up developing.
The Arizona Cardinals (11-4) started off on fire but have since cooled off a bit. Once atop of the NFC West, now they are tied with the Seattle Seahawks. They need to do their part and win to make sure they are not bumped down to a wild card team.
Despite playing at home, this will be a hard game to win for the 49ers. They are on a four game losing streak, including a tough overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 16.
The Cards, coming off a loss as well, will be looking to bounce back. They will succeed against the 49ers.
Words From Wooten
Arizona Cardinals (11-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-8)
With Jim Harbaugh’s job up in the air, he will need to win this game against their division rival Cardinals. The 49ers didn’t have the greatest season due to multiple star players being injured, but they did what they could. As for Arizona, Ryan Lindley needs to come out and show that he can lead the team to victory.