Week 17 NFL Picks From WhatIfSports.com image

Week 17 NFL Picks

Boxscores, stats and predictions from every Week 17 game
By Eric Schmoldt, WhatIfSports.com
December 29nd, 2009

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Each Tuesday morning, we will preview every NFL game of the upcoming week. With one week remaining, the season is on the line for some teams as many games have a lot of significance as teams make their push towards the playoffs...or towards the top of the draft.

All of our NFL content, including our most recent power rankings and our fantasy projections as well as links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.

Playoff Scenarios/Preview

One week remaining in the regular season, one last week of trying to sort out the multitude of playoff scenarios.

The NFC playoff teams were set in Week 16 when Dallas and Green Bay won and the New York Giants lost. And while the seeds still need to be sorted out (more on that later), the AFC is more volatile heading into Week 17, as seven teams are vying for the final two spots.

Here's a look at what each live team needs this weekend and their odds of making it happen:

Indianapolis and San Diego have already clinched division titles and first-round byes. New England and Cincinnati have clinched division titles, so all seven remaining AFC playoff contenders are vying for a wildcard spot.


The Jets and Ravens sit in the driver's seat to those two spots. For them, it's simply "Win and you're in."

New York hosts Cincinnati, a team with little to play for, but it's unclear whether the Bengals will rest their starters in Week 17. Even when they don't, the Jets win this matchup 76.5% of the time.

Baltimore travels to Oakland, a team that absolutely has nothing to play for, but has seemingly taken pride this season in playing the role of spoiler. Still, the Ravens win on the road 67.5% of the time, giving the driver's seat teams a 51.6% chance of simply wrapping up the playoff roster by winning their games.

Five other teams hope that won't be the case.


The Miami Dolphins are one of those teams, and their long-shot scenario is pretty simple. They need to win and pretty much every other playoff contender to lose. Winning just 34% of the 10,001 simulations, their odds are surely stacked against them from the get-go. Miami's chance of making the playoffs sits at 0.6%.

The Dolphins' opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, can get in a few different ways, all of them hinging on a Pittsburgh victory. The Steelers would also need: a Houston loss and a Jets loss (all three outcomes come through and the Steelers make it in 8.3% of the time); a Houston loss and a Baltimore loss (11.4%); or a Jets loss, a Baltimore loss and a Denver loss (0.7%).

Houston also has three different chances to make it in, though none looks particularly possible. The Texans need a win AND: a New York loss and a Baltimore loss (3.6%); a Jets loss and a Denver loss (1.6%); or a Baltimore loss and a Denver loss (2.2%).

The Jacksonville Jaguars, facing the Cleveland Browns, have even more - and even less likely - options. They also need a victory AND: losses by Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver and Houston (0.5%); losses by Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver and New York (0.2%); losses by Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston and New York (0.8%); losses by Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and New York (0.7%); or losses by New York, Houston, Denver and Baltimore (0.3%).

But it's Denver that takes the cake when it comes to the number of playoff possibilities. There are at least 10 ways that the Broncos can make it into the postseason. Five of them hinge on Denver victories. The Broncos need to win AND get: losses by New York and Baltimore (6.5%); losses by New York and Pittsburgh (6.8%); a New York loss and a Houston victory (9.3%); losses by Baltimore and Pittsburgh (9.4%); or a Baltimore loss and a Houston victory (12.9%). There are five more ways that Denver can get in regardless of whether it beats Kansas City, all of them hinging on four or five other playoff contenders all losing - all of which happen at far lower odds.


The NFC is far less wacky, but division titles and home-field advantage in the first round are still up for grabs.

The winner of the Philadelphia-Dallas matchup wins the NFC East. The host Cowboys won the matchup nearly 64% of the time in 10,001 simulations, but implications extend further than just the division championship as the two teams look for the No. 2 seed.

The Eagles earn that spot with a win (36.3% of the time) while the Cowboys need to win and get losses from Minnesota and Arizona (21.3%).

The Vikings get that No. 2 seed if they win and Philadelphia loses (34.6%).

The Cardinals take that spot with a win and losses by Minnesota and Philadelphia (7.8%).

If that all sounds like a bit of a mouthful, you can rest assured of one thing: The chances of the entire NFL playoff picture being settled after this week are 100%.

Click on the Boxscore below to the average results from 10,001 simulations of that game. Or click on Simulate Game to play the game once and view stats and play-by-play from that simulation.

NFL Week 17
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Kansas City Chiefs14.913Boxscore
@ Denver Broncos85.128Simulate Game
Cincinnati Bengals23.512Boxscore
@ New York Jets76.522Simulate Game
Washington Redskins26.217Boxscore
@ San Diego Chargers73.825Simulate Game
Philadelphia Eagles36.321Boxscore
@ Dallas Cowboys63.727Simulate Game
Indianapolis Colts36.716Boxscore
@ Buffalo Bills63.323Simulate Game
New Orleans Saints44.122Boxscore
@ Carolina Panthers55.927Simulate Game
New York Giants45.723Boxscore
@ Minnesota Vikings54.326Simulate Game
Atlanta Falcons53.121Boxscore
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers46.920Simulate Game
New England Patriots53.323Boxscore
@ Houston Texans46.722Simulate Game
Chicago Bears53.423Boxscore
@ Detroit Lions46.622Simulate Game
Jacksonville Jaguars57.622Boxscore
@ Cleveland Browns42.421Simulate Game
Pittsburgh Steelers66.024Boxscore
@ Miami Dolphins34.021Simulate Game
Baltimore Ravens67.524Boxscore
@ Oakland Raiders32.519Simulate Game
San Francisco 49ers68.125Boxscore
@ St. Louis Rams31.920Simulate Game
Green Bay Packers73.328Boxscore
@ Arizona Cardinals26.722Simulate Game
Tennessee Titans75.526Boxscore
@ Seattle Seahawks24.519Simulate Game


After basically throwing in the towel on a perfect season last week, the odds that the Colts will look to reserves again this week seems to be near 100%.

The computer took those teams whose spots are already sealed into effect this week, sitting teams’ regulars in favor of backups. Be sure to peruse those box scores to figure out who could be this week’s Curtis Painter.

… If it’s not Painter himself, of course.

WhatIfSports.com is a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, we can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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