By Sterling Pingree
Miami at Buffalo
There was nothing on the table for this game until Friday afternoon when Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams announced that this will be his last game. Williams has tormented the Patriots for years and is a sneaky member of the Cameron Wake all-stars for guys who have hit Tom Brady the most in his career. I like the idea of a player announcing their retirement before the end of the season, same with Ben Watson in New Orleans. I’m a sucker for players getting that big ovation at the end of their final game and it beats the Brett Favre-type soap operas. Have you noticed that the players who announce their retirement before their last game generally seem to be high character guys?
Atlanta at Tampa Bay
What is at stake? Not much really for Atlanta, but for Tampa Bay this is their last chance to evaluate their head coach and their quarterback to determine what they want to do for the future of their franchise. Is it Dirk Koetter and Jameis Winston or do the Bucs become a landing spot for Joe Flacco and Mike McCarthy?
Dallas at New York Giants
I’m so happy that this game doesn’t mean anything. Giants/Cowboys in week 17, is like the sequel to the movie that exceeded your expectations but you KNOW that the second movie is going to be hot garbage. Maybe we need Eli Manning to announce his retirement before the game to spice things up a bit? Come on Eli, do it for ratings!
Carolina at New Orleans
The Panthers haven’t won a game since November 4th, four days later they got beat 52-21 by the Steelers on TNF and little did we know that: A. this was the first of 7-straight losses for Carolina B. heading into week 17 it would appear that neither team is going to make the playoffs. Just announced Friday afternoon, Teddy Bridgewater is going to start for the Saints. Now that is a comeback story.
New York Jets at New England
The Patriots were handed an early Christmas present last week when the Eagles up-ended the Texans and appear to have gifted the Patriots a first round playoff bye. This is one of the most bizarre Patriots teams I can remember watching. I was in the house for last Sunday’s Bills’ game and the crowd was perplexed by Brady’s decision making, but after Edelman’s touchdown, the game was never in doubt, hell there was even a Brian Hoyer sighting! The way to look at Sunday’s performance positively is that the Patriots are establishing the best rushing attack since Corey Dillon and this is how they’re going to attack teams with a three headed monster in the backfield. (Four headed if I am allowed to include James Develin.) Brady doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket and appears to be seeing ghosts which is leading to him firing balls early when he isn’t yet under pressure. The Patriots should be able to take care of business this week with the Jets, even with a million penalties in their first meeting the Patriots pulled away in the second half. I expect more of the same that we saw last week where there will be a healthy amount of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead in the offense. Weird Patriots team and they should still get a first round bye and a round two home game against Houston. Speaking of……..
Jacksonville at Houston
The Texans had the Patriots right where they wanted them and they let them off of the hook. The Texans could have essentially locked up the 2-seed heading into week 17, controlled their own destiny and instead they let Nick Foles throw for almost 500-yards on them. The way to beat a Nick Foles-Eagles team is to throw for 500-yards AGAINST them. Oh way, I’m going to go play in traffic on Hogan Road.
Detroit at Green Bay
The Packers don’t matter. What world are we living in? How strange is it that there is a very good chance that the 2018 playoffs will not feature the Packers or Steelers? No Aaron Rodgers. No Ben Roethlisberger. No Lambeau Field. No Frozen tundra or turkey a la king or turkey sandwiches, gone, ALL GONE! (I probably watched 8 of the 24-hours of A Christmas Story this year.)
Philadelphia at Washington
The Eagles are clinging, I originally thought back in October that this game was going to decide the NFC East. Little did I know that the 2018 Redskins season was going to get Rocky Horror-level weird and include quarterback cameos from Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez and the #1 pick in the American Alliance for Football draft.
LA Chargers at Denver
What are the Denver Broncos? A month ago they were the pesky-good home team you don’t want to play late in the season. They beat the Steelers after Thanksgiving and the Bengals the following week and since then they’ve lost at San Fran, lost at home to the Browns and got jumped by the Raiders in Oakland. Here’s what I think, I think Vance Joseph has quit on the team. We hear all the time about team’s quitting on coaches, but I think after the loss at San Francisco that head coach Vance Joseph decided that in fact he was NOT having the time of his life and that he was going to quit on the Broncos. See how they like it.
Oakland at Kansas City
The Chiefs need to win to lock up the #1-seed in the AFC and after Oakland won their final game in Oakland last week, I think they’ll be merely a speed bump on Sunday. That being said, the Chiefs are looking particularly Andy Reid lately. Very Andy Reid heading into the playoffs.
Chicago at Minnesota
The Bears are in the driver’s seat of a weird car on Sunday. If the Bears beat the Vikings and the Eagles win, the Bears will play the Eagles next weekend in the Wild Card round. If the Bears rest their starters and the Vikings win, the Bears will then play the Vikings next weekend. A team that they beat up on at home last month. If you’re the Bears, what do you do?
(I rest my starters week 17 and take my chances with Kirk Cousins in a road playoff game. I want NOTHING to do with Nick Foles this time of year. NOTHING.)
Cleveland at Baltimore
I want to watch this game. I want to watch the Browns and the Ravens. I’ve never said that in my lifetime and now I’ve said it.
Things are weird.
San Francisco at LA Rams
The Rams can lock up the 2-seed with a win. Can Nick Mullens possibly spoil this for the Rams? It wasn’t very long ago that Sean McVay was the anointed one and the Rams looked like a total wagon. Such a strange season at the Coliseum.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
The Steelers need a win and some help to make the playoffs. It feels weird not having the Steelers in the postseason which leads me to believe that this is going to be the surprise of Sunday. I think the Steelers are going to roll over the Bengals and the Browns are going to play spoiler and knock off the Ravens, putting the Steelers in at the 4-seed in the AFC.
Arizona at Seattle
If the Seahawks win this game, they’ll host the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. I can’t wait to see replays of the Tony Romo botched hold over and over again. Fun times.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
I love the SNF, final game of the season that has the most on the line. The NFL is genius for always putting the game that affects the most teams in prime time in week 17. It’s the ultimate, “nothing is over, until we say it is” move, even though in this case Blane Gabbert appears to be involved. This is the hardest game of the week to call because it’s the only game, besides maybe the Bears/Vikings where both teams have something to play for.
Thank you for reading all season, I will be back with Sterling Notes for the playoffs, starting next week.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter, is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm the Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.