Kickoff: Examiner Week 17 NFL preview 

Here is how The Examiner breaks down this week in the NFL.

WEEK 17 STORY LINES

1 Sunday could be the last regularseason home game for two longtime quarterbacks. Green Bay’s Brett Favre, right, has made it an annual rite to ponder his future in the offseason. He’s played well enough to return, but he might want to exit a winner. This season could provide that chance. If so, he’ll make his last regular-season start Sunday. The interesting one is in Philadelphia, where Donovan McNabb is most definitely going to play next season. The question is: Where? McNabb has played well of late, but numerous reports have him on the trading block. Eagles fans will let their opinions be known.

2 There’s one playoff spot to be decided in the AFC and the NFC. Tennessee and Washington control their fates, as a win by either team clinches a berth. The AFC is much less complicated overall. If Vince Young and the Titans lose at Indianapolis, then the Cleveland Browns would reach the postseason for only the second time since their return in 1999. Minnesota makes it if it wins and the Redskins lose. New Orleans makes it if it wins and the Redskins and Vikings both lose.

3 The Titans and Redskins will be facing backups in their quest to reach the postseason. Indianapolis and Dallas will likely rest their starters as neither has anything to gain by winning. Neither does Jacksonville. Can anyone blame them? Their goal is to reach the Super Bowl, not dash another team’s playoff hopes. Pittsburgh and San Diego, though, are fighting for the No. 3 seed in the AFC. The Chargers get it with a win.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Patriots (15-0) at Giants (10-5)

The Patriots are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the Giants are the top wild card in the NFC. In almost every other season, this game would feature numerous backups by both teams. But in almost every other season, one of the teams isn’t playing for history. New England, as you might have heard, is trying to become the first NFL team to ever go 16-0 during the regular season (Miami went 14-0 en route to 17-0 in 1972). Will the Giants even play their starters? How much will Pats quarterback Tom Brady play? Fortunately, the NFL came to its senses and will simulcast its NFL Network feed on CBS and NBC.

WEEK 17 PICKS

PATRIOTS AT GIANTS Master motivator Belichick won’t let this chance go to waste. Besides, the Manning is Eli, not Peyton. Perfect Pats 31, Giants 13

SEAHAWKS AT FALCONS We’re just not feeling the Seahawks; in the postseason that is. Seahawks 20, Falcons 13

SAINTS AT BEARS Saints have been the Big Tease this season. They’ve burned us too often. Bears 16, Saints 14

LIONS AT PACKERS Jon Kitna wants to count two preseason wins toward his stated prediction of 10 wins. Packers 24, Lions 20

BILLS AT EAGLES Eagles have won two straight following three losses by a combined 10 points. Eagles 24, Bills 13

PANTHERS AT BUCCANEERS Bucs have good playoff formula: veteran QB, stout defense, strong running game, proven coach. Bucs 17, Panthers 13

JAGUARS AT TEXANS Houston motivated by possible first .500 season. Jags resting for the playoffs. Texans 20, Jags 14

VIKINGS AT BRONCOS Vikings might miss playoffs despite having outscored opposition by 57 points. Vikings 21, Broncos 20

CHARGERS AT RAIDERS No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell will be making his first start. Um, good luck with that. Chargers 27, Raiders 12

CHIEFS AT JETS Jets fans already making plans to boo their first-round pick. Do Chiefs fans know how to boo? Jets 13, Chiefs 10

RAMS AT CARDINALS Cards trying to finish with third non-losing season since 1984. Yes, it matters. Cardinals 30, Rams 28

STEELERS AT RAVENS Brian Billick resolves to find quarterback in offseason. Again. That is, if he’s employed. Steelers 20, Ravens 10

BENGALS AT DOLPHINS Scalpers reportedly asking $2 for premium seats to possibly see Cam Cameron’s finale. Bengals 27, Dolphins 16

49ERS AT BROWNS Typical Browns: They make it hard for themselves again. But 10 wins would be most since 1994. Browns 23, Niners 19

COWBOYS AT REDSKINS You can hear the chants now, "We want Dallas!" Start the tingles. Redskins 26, Backup Cowboys 17

TITANS AT COLTS Imagine how good Titans would be if Vince Young was even mediocre at this point. Titans 17, Backup Colts 16

PLAYER TO WATCH

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will likely wind up as the only NFL player to surpass 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season. He already has 2,005 — 1,291 rushing; 714 receiving — and San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinsonis next at 1,772 yards.

John Keim

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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