Week 17 Capsules


Indianapolis (14-1) at Buffalo (5-10)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Bills -8 Total: 35
TV: None
• Weather: Low 20s, 50 percent chance of snow
• Facts: The Colts’ strategy is for Peyton Manning to get his 192nd consecutive regular-season start and then get off the field into some woolly mittens. ... Bills RB Fred Jackson is 150 yards from his first 1,000-yard rushing season. ... Buffalo’s rushing yield of 165.1 yards per game is the NFL’s third worst of the decade. The worst was by the Colts in 2006 at 173.0, the year they won the Super Bowl. 
• Analysis: Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (ankle, questionable) is expected to play after sitting last week. He will be aided by a running game that should outproduce a Colts rush attack that’s not very good even with it’s “A” team.
• Forecast: Bills 31, Colts 10

New Orleans (13-2) at Carolina (7-8)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Off Total: Off
TV: None
• Weather: Low 30s, 10 percent chance of precipitation
• Facts: Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams (ankle, doubtful), with 1,117 rushing yards, and Jonathan Stewart (toe, questionable), with 1,008, are the sixth teammates to reach the 1,000-yard plateau but only the second duo on a team that’s not playoff bound. ... Flashback: In 2007, New Orleans had a 24-play drive against Carolina, the longest in the league the past 13 years. ... Carolina almost beat the Saints in Week 9 but blew a 14-0 lead in a 30-20 loss.
• Analysis: Carolina mustered a lot of energy in smashing the Vikings and Giants the past two weeks as a decided underdog. Now, as a favorite, the adrenaline won’t be flowing so freely. The Saints want to come home with a feel-good performance.
• Forecast: Saints 24, Panthers 21

Jacksonville (7-8) at Cleveland (4-11)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Browns -1 Total: 38
TV: None
• Weather: Low 20s, 70 percent chance of snow
• Facts: If Cleveland’s Eric Mangini, who was fired by the Jets last year, soon is ousted by the Browns’ new regime, he would be the first coach canned in consecutive years since Ray Rhodes got the boot from the Eagles and Packers in 1998 and 1999. ... Of the AFC teams in the playoff hunt, the Jags face the toughest road. They’ll not only need a victory but for four of the five 8-7 teams to lose and probably for the Cavaliers to lose against the Bobcats.
• Analysis: Have the Jags quit? Last week, in their 35-7 loss at New England, the Patriots killed more than 12 minutes of the fourth quarter on a 20-play possession that included 17 straight running plays. The bitter weather won’t help.
• Forecast: Browns 24, Jaguars 16

Chicago (6-9) at Detroit (2-13)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Bears -3 Total: 45
TV: None
• Facts: Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is the only receiver among the top 40 in receptions who hasn’t caught half the balls targeted for him. He’s 61-for-126. ... In their Week 4 meeting, the Bears had an average edge of 28 yards in starting field position (46-18), matching the greatest differential in the league the past two seasons. That contributed to a 48-24 Chicago victory. ... If Detroit tumbles from No. 31 to No. 32 on the defensive charts, it would mark the third consecutive year the Lions would rank last, one off Pittsburgh’s mark from 1933 to 1936.
• Analysis: Chicago was playing with two new safeties on Monday and is fortunate Minnesota waited until the second half to start looking to air it out. After that rousing home finale in prime time, it’s hard to believe the Bears will come through again.
• Forecast: Lions 20, Bears 17

New England (10-5) at Houston (8-7)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Texans -8 Total: 46
TV: None
• Weather: Mid-50s, 30 percent chance of rain
• Facts: New England coach Bill Belichick said QB Tom Brady (finger/shoulder/ribs, probable) will play but didn’t indicate for how long. The Pats have clinched a division title but can’t earn a bye. In 2005, they were in the same situation and had Doug Flutie drop-kick an extra-point try. ... For the Texans to get into the playoffs, they will have to win and hope two of the following three double-digit favorites don’t: Jets, Broncos, Ravens.
• Analysis: One thing is for sure, the Texans won’t get demoralized by scoreboard-watching because their three key rivals are playing later in the day. As for the Pats, considering they might face a short week before Round 1, why subject Brady to any abuse?
• Forecast: Texans 35, Patriots 20

Pittsburgh (8-7) at Miami (7-8)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Steelers -3 Total: 45½
TV: CBS (8) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
• Weather: Low 70s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: The last time the teams met in 2007, the Steelers won 3-0 in a quagmire caused by a monsoon. Three years earlier in Miami, playing in the remnants of a hurricane, Pittsburgh slogged to a 13-3 victory in QB Ben Roethlisberger’s first career start. ... If the Texans beat the Patriots in their early game, the Dolphins will be eliminated and the Steelers all but dead. Even if Houston loses, Miami and Pittsburgh need lots of help.
• Analysis: Rumor has it the officiating crew from last week’s Baltimore-Pittsburgh game was seen coming out of the Steelers’ locker room with a game ball and a fruit basket. No such luck this week on the road against Miami’s stiff pass rush.
 • Forecast: Dolphins 27, Steelers 21

N.Y. Giants (8-7) at Minnesota (11-4)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Vikings -9 Total: 47½
TV: Fox (5)
• Facts: During the Giants’ 5-0 start, their defense yielded a league-low 210.6 yards per game. In their subsequent 3-7 death spiral, that norm has been 365.8. Yet they are still No. 10 overall. ... A Minnesota victory and Philadelphia loss give the Vikings the second NFC seed. ... In the 2008 season finale at Minnesota between these teams, the Giants didn’t have anything to play for, having clinched the No. 1 seed. Minnesota won 20-19 on a late field goal.
• Analysis: Brett Favre has been catching a lot of heat for the Vikings’ 1-3 mark in December, but don’t forget leading tackler E.J. Henderson was lost for the season four weeks ago. However, the Vikings will do enough to win, again.
• Forecast: Vikings 23, Giants 20

San Francisco (7-8) at St. Louis (1-14)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: 49ers -7 Total: 40½
TV: None
• Facts: St. Louis is the only team in the league winless at home. But San Francisco is only 1-6 on the road. ... In the 49ers’ past two victories, they had a plus-5 turnover margin. ... Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he still hasn’t decided on a QB. It’s between Keith Null, the Ryan Leaf protege who has thrown nine interceptions the past three weeks, or Kyle Boller, who steered the Rams to a 35-0 loss at San Francisco in Week 4.
• Analysis: Most alarming for the Rams in their resounding loss to the 49ers was that 1,000-yard rusher Frank Gore didn’t play. But as bad as the Rams offense has been, its defense has improved. Plus, RB Steven Jackson seems likely to play (knee, questionable).
• Forecast: 49ers 19, Rams 17

Atlanta (8-7) at Tampa Bay (3-12)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Falcons -2 Total: 41½
TV: None
• Weather: High 50s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: It took a last-minute comeback led by Atlanta backup QB Chris Redman five weeks ago for the Falcons to beat Tampa Bay, 20-17. Although QB Matt Ryan (turf toe) has led Atlanta to victories the past two weeks, he’s listed as questionable. ... The Bucs and QB Josh Freeman had not had a TD drive longer than 37 yards during a 17-quarter stretch before their 98-yard march at New Orleans last week en route to a 20-17 OT victory.
• Analysis: Fiery Atlanta coach Mike Smith certainly will have the Falcons motivated to get the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons in the franchise’s largely dismal history that dates to 1966.
• Forecast: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 14

Green Bay (10-5) at Arizona (10-5)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Cardinals -3½ Total: 44
TV: None
• Weather: High 50s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: NFC West champ Arizona could get the second seed and a bye with a victory and losses by Philadelphia and Minnesota. The Cards likely will know the result of the Vikings game before kickoff. ... Green Bay will be a wild card, and if it loses, the Eagles win and Vikings lose, the Packers would travel to Minnesota next week to face ex-Packers favorite Brett Favre in the playoffs’ first round.
• Analysis: Assuming both coaches will pull their QB relatively early, the edge goes to Arizona with Matt Leinart, who has 17 career starts. Green Bay backup Matt Flynn has 14 career passes and barely won the battle to be backup from Brian Brohm.
• Forecast: Cardinals 30, Packers 20

Kansas City (3-12) at Denver (8-7)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Broncos -13 Total: 38
TV: None
• Weather: Low 30s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: Broncos WR Brandon Marshall (hamstring), who has 101 receptions, has been benched by coach Josh McDaniels. ... In 2006, the Broncos needed a season-ending home victory as a 10-point pick against the 49ers to make the playoffs. Denver blew a 10-point lead and lost, 26-23. ... The Broncos, who started 6-0, need have help to make the playoffs. Nothing will be settled prior to kickoff.
• Analysis: Denver should be slamming the panic button with a tire iron. At least one upset of a double-digit favorite with an 8-7 record needs to occur to extend the Broncos’ season. Plus, K.C. has a lively rushing attack behind Jamaal Charles, who is only 139 yards from 1,000.
• Forecast: Broncos 24, Chiefs 22

Philadelphia (11-4) at Dallas (10-5)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Cowboys -3 Total: 47
TV: Fox (5)
• Weather: Mid-40s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson has a league-high 10 catches for 40-plus yards. But in Dallas’ 20-16 victory over the Eagles in Week 9, he had two receptions for 29 yards. ... Both teams have qualified for the playoffs, but the winner gets the NFC East title. The Eagles would earn the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a victory. ... Dallas had a 13-yard edge in average starting field position (33-20) in their first meeting. Teams with a 13-yard-plus advantage are 32-5 this season.
• Analysis: QB Tony Romo has had nine TD throws since Thanksgiving in leading Dallas’ charge. But the luster of the Cowboys’ victory over New Orleans was tarnished when the Bucs beat the Saints last week. The Eagles, likely with more at stake, should extend their winning streak to seven.
• Forecast: Eagles 27, Cowboys 20

Baltimore (8-7) at Oakland (5-10)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Ravens -10½ Total: 38
TV: CBS (8)
• Weather: Low 50s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: Baltimore makes the playoffs with a victory over the Raiders. But Tampa Bay had the same scenario last year in the season finale when it was a 12-point choice over visiting Oakland. The Raiders rallied from 10 points back in the fourth quarter to win, 31-24. ... The Raiders are 6-2 against the line as an underdog of 9 points or more. ... The Ravens are 5-0 as a double-digit favorite.
• Analysis: The Ravens have held four enemy QBs below the passer-rating Mendoza line this season (39.6), tied for most in the league. Now they will get to twist Oakland’s likely starter, Charlie Frye, into a balloon animal.
• Forecast: Ravens 24, Raiders 6

Washington (4-11) at San Diego (12-3)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Chargers -4 Total: 39
• Weather: Mid-60s, 10 percent chance of rain
• Facts: WR Vincent Jackson (Achilles’ tendon, questionable) probably won’t be needed by a Chargers team that has clinched the AFC’s No. 2 seed. QB Philip Rivers probably will do some resting, also, leaving the job to 10-year vet Billy Volek. ... In the Redskins’ only other West Coast trip, they beat Oakland 34-13 in Week 14. ... Based on LaDainian Tomlinson’s 3.3-yard average per carry, the Chargers RB will need 82 carries to reach 1,000 yards for the ninth season in a row.
• Analysis: Volek probably won’t be shy about throwing; he had back-to-back 400-yard games for the Titans five years ago. With Tomlinson adamant about getting in a good day’s work, the Chargers might not let up on the gas.
• Forecast: Chargers 34, Redskins 24

Tennessee (7-8) at Seattle (5-10)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Titans -4½ Total: 44
TV: None
• Weather: Low 40s, 40 percent chance of rain
• Facts: With both teams out of the playoff hunt, Tennessee RB Chris Johnson’s quest for 2,000-plus yards is at the fore. He needs 128 to get there. But Seattle hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 2. ... Seattle was a 48-10 loser at Green Bay last week. Teams coming off losses of 30-plus points this season are 10-4-1 against the line in their next game. ... Johnson is going to become the first rushing champ from a team that didn’t make the playoffs since 2002.
• Analysis: Seahawks coach Jim Mora said his players have not quit. If so, they’ll go out on a high against a team that’s not concerned solely with winning. It’s not as if Seattle hasn’t been getting scoring chances, it just hasn’t completed the job.
• Forecast: Seahawks 28, Titans 24
Cincinnati (10-5) at N.Y. Jets (8-7)
Time: 5:15 p.m. Line: Jets -10 Total: 35
TV: NBC (3) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
• Weather: Mid-20s, 20 percent chance of snow
• Facts: The Jets are in the playoffs with a victory and out with a loss. The  Bengals have clinched a home game in Round 1, but if New England loses earlier Sunday, the No. 3 seed is for the taking. ... New York has lost four of its past five home games at the Meadowlands. The Giants were 3-5 there in 2007 en route to winning the Super Bowl. ... The Bengals and Colts are the lone teams to finish unbeaten in division play. In 2008, only Super Bowl combatants Pittsburgh and Arizona did it.
• Analysis: League history shows highly motivated heavy home favorites don’t always get their way. Even if Bengals backup QB J.T. O’Sullivan plays instead of Carson Palmer, he’ll have hungry-for-carries Larry Johnson plowing ahead.
• Forecast: Bengals 20, Jets 13

Last week:
9-7 vs. spread; 11-5 straight up
Season: 115-117-6 vs. spread; 144-95 straight up