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Week 17
12/30/04

Week 17
Sunday - 1:00 PM EST Sunday, 4:00 PM EST
MIN at WAS - CB JAX at OAK - AD
NO at CAR - CB KC at SD - AD
NYJ at STL - CB ATL at SEA - CB
PIT at BUF - CB TB at ARI - CB
SF at NE - CB IND at DEN - CB
CIN at PHI - AD Sunday - 8:30 PM EST
CLE at HOU - AD DAL at NYG - AD
DET at TEN - AD Monday - 9:00 PM EST
GB at CHI - AD No Game
MIA at BAL - AD  

Last Week's Projections
(12-4) Straight Up - 81.2%
(10-5-1) Against The Spread - 56.2%

For The Season
(153-87) Straight Up - 63.7%
(137-98-5) Against The Spread - 58.2%

Minnesota (-6) at Washington, 1:00 p.m.
This is the start of what I call the useless week. The week where most leagues are done and those that are left have to go through the battle of figuring out what teams will sit the stars. It is a cumbersome process but we will give it shot. The Vikings had a chance to put the division away last week but choked at the mere sight of Brett Favre less than 2 minutes with the ball and timeouts. Culpepper had some good numbers going in the first half but let up and had no TDS in the 2nd. That hurt some owners out there. But not near as much as Moss catching 2 balls for one TD. He was in obvious pain and probably should not have been out there. Burleson looks like the real deal as he had another 100-yard game and a score. Again he had nothing in the 2nd half as well. Bennett is now the man again in this offense and had a spectacular game both receiving and running the ball. They will be motivated this week as if they win they are in. Culpepper has been nursing the flu but will have a good game. Play Moss, Bennett, and Burleson as well. Don't forget about Wiggins as well.

The Skins got punked by a 40 year old and a rookie last week gagging with 30 seconds on the clock. Clinton Portis got hurt and really did nothing. Hopefully you were not counting on him in the playoffs. He will be out as well as many Redskin starters. It will be in D.C. so if you have tickets to the game see if you can sell them. They will get the crap kicked out of them anyway but certainly will if their starters don't play an entire game. I wouldn't start anyone from this team, as they will be hard pressed to get passed the 50-yard line. They will be lucky to score 6 points much less stay within 6.

Final Score: Vikings 28, Redskins 10

New Orleans at Carolina (-7), 1:00 p.m
This one might decide a playoff berth depending on the outcomes of some other teams. So both teams will be laying the hammer down. Believe it or not the Saints won a meaningful game in December. I know you are amazed but they played inspired football. Nah, just kidding, Coach Mora gave his friend Coach Haslett a gift and decided not to play his best player Mr. Vick. But wait he decided to play him this week. Strange I would think it would have been the other way around. Mmmm. Anyway, Brooks didn't look good and threw 2 INT. Another shocker, Brooks sucking in December. Anyone that plays him past December 1st needs to have their head examined. McAllister had a nice game with 128 yards and that is against a pretty darned good Falcons defense. Horn was average in this one. They will be fired up for this one but it won't be enough. Have a good look at Haslett it will be your last as the coach of the Saints. Play McAllister and Horn

The Panthers being hot is not shocker. This was a team that went to the Super Bowl last year and is getting healthy at the right time. They went into the mouth of the devil in Tampa and really kicked the crap out of the Bucs. Delhomme has been great as of late and added to his legend with 4 TDS against the Bucs. Muhammad has to be the teams MVP and candidate for comeback player of the year. Goings had a good game as well and rushed for 127 yards. I think that Carolina will be motivated to win this one at home and has the better defense. Play Goings, Delhomme, and Muhammad.

Final Score: Panthers 32, Saints 21

N.Y. Jets at St. Louis (-2), 1:00 p.m.
This is another one where both teams have something to play for. Neither is assured a post-season birth but both can get one with a win. The Rams benefited from the Eagles packing it in until the playoffs begin. They were pressed in the first quarter but had the great Ty Detmer and Jeff Blake to deal with after that. Bulger got back on track and played a good game. He had 225 yards and a TD. I think it is safe to say the passing of the torch has happened. Stephen Jackson had a great game with 147 yards and a TD. They really need to run the ball to win this one. They just can't rely on the pass or they will lose. Marshall Faulk still needs to be a factor. Play Bulger, Holt, Jackson, and Bruce.

Man did any team look as bad as the Jets against the Pats? Pennington just thought he had heard the noise from the NY media after that performance it will only get louder. Pennington admitted afterwards he was in pain for most the game. One can only conclude that he is still hurt today. He had two interceptions along with a fumble lost. Martin had his worst game of the year with only 33 yards rushing. Hope your Super Bowl was not last week Martin owners. I think they will have a difficult time moving the ball if Pennington is not healthy. Look for some of the same this week. Play Martin in this one.

Final Score: Rams 24, Jets 20

Pittsburgh at Buffalo (-9) , 1:00 p.m.
Buffalo is favored by a load but only because the Steelers have nothing to gain. However the Bills may be the best team anyway. They are certainly the hottest team going into the final weekend but will not make the playoffs. Believe me when I say there are many teams in the AFC that are happy to see that. This team is playing pretty scary right now. They really put the boot to a horrible 49ers team and darn near shut them out. They scored a weak TD with about 4 minutes to go. The Bills had it well in hand and played all the QBS on the roster. McGahee sucked it up and ran for 102 yards and 2 TDS. They only allowed the 49ers passed the 50 yard line twice. They should be able to handle the Steelers pretty easily without the starters in there. Play McGahee, Moulds, Evans, and the Bills D

The Steelers have everything in hand and some time before they begin their march in the playoffs. Big Ben will probably take the week off and I figure Bettis and others will not put in much time. All in all the Steelers played a good game against the Ravens and held them to minimal yards. Other than a Jamal Lewis TD run in the first quarter they really held the Ravens in check. Look for Maddox to get most of the playing time and may have limited success passing the ball. I think the Bills defense will probably bring the kitchen sink to send a message. I would stay away from any Steeler players.

Final Score: Bills 30, Steelers 20

San Francisco at New England (-14.5), 1:00 p.m.
This is one where N.E. will probably rest some folks but it really won't matter because the 49ers are that bad. NE really sent their message last week against the Jets. They won 23-7 but really dominated the game further than that. Brady had a great game. It was typical Brady going 21/32 for 264 yards and 2 TDS. Dillon had a nice game with 89 yards. But the real story is the second coming of Deion Branch. He seems to be becoming Brady's favorite target again. He had 82 yards and a score. Look for him to be a force in the playoffs. The Pats have some holes though and look for Bill to fill them before it starts. It would be tough to say who to start in this one as most of the starters may only play a quarter.

The 49ers are certainly the worst team in the league. They just looked horrible at home against the Bills. I know the Bills are very good but you would think they could at least score a TD before garbage time. Barlow has got to be the biggest bust of the year. He just couldn't get used to being the big man on campus. Without a decent passing game and defense you just can't do it all. The 49ers will be terrible for years to come and we will see what changes are made in the off-season. They will get pummeled in this game the same as last week.

Final Score: Pats 30, 49ers 10

Cincinnati (-3) at Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m.
I don't believe in resting your starters on their laurels once you've clinched home field advantage in the playoffs, but Andy Reid seems to think it will somehow transform his team into NFC Champions. Since the football gods has frowned upon the Eagles for the last three straight NFC Championship games, I would imagine they'd do anything to prevent offending them any further. But what else would you expect from a city that delights in opposing injuries and boos the best draft pick the city ever made? Let's not forget that Philly fans wanted the brass to select Ricky Williams instead of McNabb, people. Just a note about Reggie White, who passed away this weekend at 43. I wasn't thrilled by White's religious fanaticism, but his ubiquitous presence on the football field was enrapturing. If White was still playing with the Eagles against the Rams on Monday Night, he would have voiced his discontent like Ike Reese and a couple other veterans who know that losses are hard to swallow and can't be risked before heading into the playoffs. With just 16 games on the schedule, no game is truly meaningless.

The Bengals have three guys on offense worth playing this week - WR Chad Johnson, RB Rudi Johnson and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. With Carson Palmer questionable and interceptions likely for him or whomever replaces him, I'd stay away from the QB situation. On defense, it's safe to assume that LB Brian Simmons and DB Madieu Williams will be the best two.

The Eagles offense is completely up in the air because of the starter situation, which means I'd stick to playing K David Akers and nobody else. On defense, Jeremiah Trotter is probably the only safe bet.

Final Score: Bengals 20, Eagles 16

Cleveland (+10.5) at Houston, 1:00 p.m.
Who knows? This game is just meaningless enough that both teams will probably play their butts off and score a lot of points while they are doing it. There aren't too many complications with this game, since it's kind of like a week one battle between two teams with few prospects.

The Browns have some point scoring possibilities with RB Lee Suggs, WR Dennis Northcutt and WR Antonio Bryant, players that could all score against the weak Houston defense. IDP options include LB Barry Gardner, DB Anthony Henry and DB Robert Griffith.

The Texans could finish 8-8 and probably will, albeit against a very poor Browns team. Start David Carr, RB Domanick Davis and WR Andre Johnson, all solid options this week. On defense, there's LB Jamie Sharper, LB Kailee Wong and DB Dunta Robinson.

Final Score: Texans 31, Browns 17

Detroit (-3) at Tennessee, 1:00 p.m.
Again - who really cares? While there may be fantasy implications, this game doesn't necessarily get the blood boiling.

The Lions have just two offensive players worthy of fantasy starts - Kevin Jones and Roy Williams. I can't see giving QB Joey Harrington a start with his probable status and penchant for throwing picks against even bad defenses. IDP options include LB James Davis, LB Earl Holmes and DB Brock Marion.

The Titans have a new fantasy superstar in Drew Bennett, who has 30 receptions for 543 yards and 8 TD in his last four games, even with a 2-26-0 performance last week against Denver. With Bennett questionable, you should stay tuned to the injury report until gametime. There's also QB Billy Volek, who should play, an injured WR Derrick Mason and RB Antowain Smith. Just watch the report, folks, therein lies the answer. The only sure IDP option is LB Keith Bulluck, just about the only guy on this team that's not hurt.

Final Score: Titans 23, Lions 17

Green Bay (+3) at Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Even though Green Bay has clinched, you won't see Brett Favre taking this game off. Good ol' Brett has a great relationship with the football gods and he's right in line for a nice performance to cap off the year.

The Packers should see good games from Favre, Javon Walker, Donald Driver and RB Tony Fisher, who should shoulder most of the load instead of Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport. TE Bubba Franks may also be a good play, although he is not that successful on the road. IDP options include LB Nick Barnett, lineman KGB and DB Darren Sharper.

The Bears have RB Thomas Jones, and that's about it. I'm really sorry, but what can I say? Everyone else is way to inconsistent to warrant a tart. On defense, I like a few guys, including DB Jerry Azumah, LB Lance Briggs, LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (watch his ankle injury) and DB Mike Green.

Final Score: Packers 24, Bears 13

Miami (+10) at Baltimore, 1:00 p.m.
Baltimore needs a few things to happen to get into the playoffs, and I doubt they'll be very successful moving the ball against Miami.

The Dolphins should see their usual games from WR Chris Chambers and TE Randy McMichael, with mediocrity from the rest of the offense. Defensively, there are the big three, including DB Sammy Knight, LB Zach Thomas and DL Jason Taylor, but keep an eye on the availability of Thomas and Taylor.

The Ravens will get decent performances from RB Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap (if he plays), but don't expect much offense other than that. On defense, LB Ray Lewis is questionable, but is worthy of a start since he'll most likely play. Other IDP options include DB Ed Reed, LB Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas.

Final Score: Ravens 17, Dolphins 10

Jacksonville (NL) at Oakland, 4:15 p.m.
I really can't see the Raiders beating Jacksonville this week with Byron Leftwich back from his concussion. The Jags need this win more than any they've had this year and I don't believe they'll let their fans down.

The Jaguars will see good games from Leftwich, RB Fred Taylor (watch the injury report) and WR Jimmy Smith, with the best defensive starts from LB Mike Peterson, LB Akin Ayodele and DB Donovin Darius.

The Raiders have nothing to play for except spoiler, but will see something out of WR Jerry Porter and one of their running backs. It's just too hard to tell who it will be, since Amos Zereoue, Justin Fargas and Zack Crockett split the carries. Kerry Collins may have trouble cracking the Jacksonville secondary, which plays tough in big AFC games. On defense, I like DL Tyler Brayton, LB Napoleon Harris and LB Danny Clark.

Final Score: Jaguars 20, Raiders 17

Kansas City (-3) at San Diego, 4:15 p.m.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, and neither does Dick Vermeil. It's fun to watch the Chargers having such success, and the Chiefs faltering. Actually, Vermeil will cry, you can almost bet on it.

The Chiefs frustration level must be at an all-time high, since they've got all the weapons but no defense, a story as old as Vermeil. Go with Trent Green, Larry Johnson, Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez. IDP options include DB Greg Wesley and LBs Kavika Mitchell, Monty Beisel and Scott Fujita.

The Chargers should stay focused heading into the playoffs, although Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and Eric Parker may see limited playing time in this one. You have to hope that Marty Schottenheimer doesn't come from the Andy Reid school of moronic decision making. On defense, there's LB Donnie Edwards, DB Terrence Kiel and DB Quentin Jammer.

Final Score: Chargers 30, Chiefs 24

Atlanta at Seattle (-6 ), 4:05 p.m
The say that Vick may play in this one. I doubt it will be for long. You don't risk the playoffs for a meaningless week 17th game. The Falcons let the Saints win last weeks game as they really just played the four quarters like zombies. The only bright spot was Dunn who had 139 yards of offense and a TD. He did this in only 3 quarters. I would say your best bet would be to play Dunn and hope for the best. There is just not going to be enough offense coming from the Falcons.

The Seahawks have a little something to play for. It is called a division title. It is simple for them. If they win they are the champs. So I think they will come with all guns blazing for this one. Those of you that were as unfortunate as I was to have to go against Alexander in the Super Bowl game can feel my pain. He had a slow start but a remarkable 2nd half. He rushed for a total of 154 yards and 3 TDS. He is as consistent as they come and if you need a keeper he is a good option. Darrell Jackson actually held on to some balls that hit his hands and caught 6 balls for 101 yards. Hasselbeck didn't play against the Cardinals and it has not been determined if he will play this week. Go with him, Alexander, and Jackson.

Final Score: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20

Tampa Bay (-2) at Arizona, 4:05 p.m
I like Arizona to be a sleeper next year. They have played admirably considering they have a new coach and some injuries. Give Green some weapons and they might make some noise next year. However this is 2004 and literally got ran over by Alexander. They held him for a few quarters but allowed him to take over in the 2nd half. They still had enough courage to try and come back in the fourth. They have no quit in them. Boldin and Fitzgerald should have good games as the Bucs have been known to allow some passes this year. But they will have a difficult time running the ball. Play Boldin.

The Bucs just could not hang with the Panthers offense as it was hitting on all cylinders on Sunday. Griese has had decent stats and did in this one. He passed for 321 yards and 2 TDS but did make some critical mistakes with 2 INTS. The more I watch him play the more I think he will be the Bucs QB for next year and give Simms some more grooming. Pittman will have a good game running the ball, as the Cardinals really cannot stop anyone. I would play Griese, Pittman, Galloway, and Clayton.

Final Score: Bucs 23, Cardinals 20

Indianapolis at Denver (-5.5), 4:15 p.m.
The man named Manning finally surpassed Marino throwing his 49th TD pass of the season. He had some trouble until the 4th quarter. Listen folks the Chargers are for real. They have the weapons and came OT away from beating the Colts. In any event the Colts played some good ball with Manning throwing for 383 yards and 2 TDS. Three receivers went over 1000 yards on one team for the first time in history. Stokely had another wonderful game with 123 yards and 1 TD. Harrison added another 111 yards. I would start Stokley maybe. The rest will get some time off this week.

Denver on the other hand has their playoff lives to play for and may meet the Colts again next week if they get in. Which means the season will end next week at the latest. Denver has no chance against the Colts next week however will be able to handle them this week. Quite frankly I do not even remember who the backup QB doe the Colts is. Not even the turnover machine Jake Plummer can screw this one up. By the way they played a great game against the Titans. Play Plummer, Smith, Droughns, and Lelie.

Final Score: Broncos 24, Colts 17

Dallas (+2.5) at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.
As a Dallas fan, I desperately don't want to finish at 6-10 deadlocked with the Giants, and I'm sure Bill Parcells shares those sentiments.

The Cowboys should see good games from RB Julius Jones, QB Vinny Testaverde, WR Keyshawn Johnson and TE Jason Witten, who made the Pro Bowl this year in just his second season. IDP options include LB Day Nguyen, DL Greg Ellis and DB Roy Williams.

The Giants have lots of injuries and will be forced to rely on RB Tiki Barber for almost all their offensive production. Playing anyone else might be silly, considering injuries to Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer. On defense, the Giants have gotten the best performances recently from LB Nick Greisen, LB Carlos Emmons and DB Will Peterson.

Final Score: Cowboys 31, Giants 20