Week 17 in the NFL has arrived, and it features many thrilling matchups that will once and for all clear up the playoff picture.
The top storyline is that either the Kansas City Chiefs or Los Angeles Chargers will earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs over in the AFC.
Outside of these two teams, it is panic time for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who need a win and a Baltimore Ravens’ loss to Cleveland to make the postseason.
In the NFC, the competition to make the playoffs is scorching hot as well. A win for the Philadelphia Eagles and a loss for the Minnesota Vikings would send Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles playoff bound again.
Let’s kick off this regular season final act with our stud and dud predictions for NFL Week 17.
Stud: Melvin Gordon, running back, Los Angeles Chargers
This is a must-win for the Chargers with home field advantage in the AFC still attainable. Gordon and his team head to Denver when cool winter weather may force more of a run game. And, Gordon should fully exploit a Broncos offense that last allowed Oakland Raiders running back Doug Martin to rush for 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts. It will be all about keeping Denver’s ailing offense off the field while Gordon the Chargers attempt to pile up some winning stats.
Dud: Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ramsey pretty much seems to have thrown in the towel on his season and actually sent praises his opponent’s way for Week 17. That specific opponent is Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The last time the two met, Hopkins absolutely torched Ramsey on an insane one-handed catch. With nothing to play for, Ramsey may just decide ending this season on a down note is best for his game plan of potentially forcing a trade.
Stud: Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben needs to pull some rabbits out of his hat to pull out a win when the Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals. Fortunately for Roethlisberger, the Bengals have given up 31 passing touchdowns and the third-most passing yards this season. Armed with one of the best wide receiving duos in the league, Roethlisberger and Co. should completely exploit Cincinnati’s defense. If Roethlisberger sputters and the Steelers somehow lose to an inferior opponent, then this team has no business playing in the postseason.
Dud: Dalvin Cook, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Cook has been quite speedy on his feet as of late, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and 104.5 rushing yards and a touchdown over his last two games. But, Cook might look more like a snail when he meets up with those feisty Chicago Bears. The last time Cook played the Bears, he managed a lowly 12 yards on nine carries. To date, Chicago has yielded only five rushing touchdowns and 85.1 yards on average per clash. This certainly clouds Cook’s Week 17 projection.
Stud: Aaron Donald, defensive end, Los Angeles Rams
Aside from hopefully winning his Week 17 matchup, Donald has an excellent chance to set a new record. Thankfully for Donald, he has a dream opponent on tap in that of a home game against the San Francisco 49ers. Donald needs 3.5 sacks to break the single-season sack record, which would put him at 23 on the year. Taking into consideration the 49ers have allowed 45 quarterback sacks, Donald should feast. And, the last time Donald played the 49ers, he recorded four sacks. Watch out, Nick Mullens.
Dud: Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Cleveland Browns
Landry did not do too well in his first rodeo against the Baltimore Ravens back in Week 5. He managed to catch only 5-of-11 targets for 69 yards and zero scores. Since Landry’s numbers have been on the decline and he has gone scoreless in his last two games, he could easily be stifled again by Baltimore’s defense. Playing at home, the Ravens need a win and will surely do their best not to let Landry and the Browns foil their shot a making the playoffs.
Stud: Julian Edelman, wide receiver, New England Patriots
As the Patriots attempt to put a win on the board to help clinch a bye week, Edelman and Tom Brady need to perform lights out. This could easily be a big game for both at Gillette against the New York Jets. The Jets passing defense has been ultra-generous as of late and has allowed the most wide-receiving fantasy points in the last four games. Also, the Jets defense last allowed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw for 442 yards and two touchdowns.
Dud: David Johnson, running back, Arizona Cardinals
The lone bright star on the Cardinals offense will see the sun set on a season that has been less than ideal for Johnson. Johnson and the Cardinals head to Seattle for a battle against the revamped Legion of Boom. With zero to play for, the Cardinals might be wise to feature rookie running back Chase Edmonds and not risk any unnecessary injury to Johnson. There is simply no reason to throw him out to the wolves. Additionally, Seattle’s defense has given up only nine ground scores all year.
Stud: Damien Williams, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
To win home-field advantage for the playoffs, the Chiefs must bring their A-game to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Fortunately for Williams, he plays the Raiders, whose run defense has been dreadful. So far this year, the Raiders have ceded an average of 143.3 rushing yards per game at 4.7 yards per attempt. The tempo of this matchup should certainly afford the Chiefs plenty of opportunities to run the ball. Also keep in mind, Williams has tallied 263 total yards and three touchdowns in his last two games.
Dud: Malcolm Butler, cornerback, Tennessee Titans
Butler and the Titans will square off against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night, and the winning team will head to the postseason. Butler will need to step up against T.Y. Hilton this time around. Hilton was the clear winner the last time he faced Butler. He gashed up the Titans secondary, catching all nine of his targets for 155 yards and two touchdowns. And as of late, Hilton has been absolutely on fire tallying 422 yards in his last three games. This certainly does not bode well for Butler’s Week 17 outlook.