Sunday, Jan. 1
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1)
At this point in the season, most teams just want to finish on a high note.
Baltimore suffered a devastating loss with the AFC North crown on the line last weekend in Pittsburgh, so the best way to salvage the season might be with a win going into the offseason.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals are thinking similarly, but the Ravens have a defense that can contain Andy Dalton.
Q’s Pick: Ravens, 24-16
Houston Texans (9-6) at Tennessee Titans (8-7)
The Titans suffered a huge blow when Marcus Mariota broke his leg last weekend, all but ending Tennessee’s hopes to win the division.
Houston clinched the AFC South with their win against the Bengals and the Titans loss, so neither team is really playing for much at this point.
But the Texans will be looking to polish themselves up before heading into the postseason and should be more ready for battle.
Q’s Pick: Texans, 27-23
Carolina Panthers (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)
The Bucs were close to making a postseason run but they came up just short and will miss the playoffs once again.
There’s still something to play for on Sunday though — a win would clinch their first winning record since 2010.
And it could come against the defending NFC champs? Buc-kle up, this could be a fun one.
Q’s Pick: Buccaneers, 30-26
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) at Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
Andrew Luck and the Colts will miss the postseason again and could finish in 3rd place in an AFC South many thought they would rule in the latter half of this decade.
Now the Jaguars come to town having already played spoiler to the Titans last weekend.
I just don’t see Jacksonville winning back-to-back games to finish off the season.
Q’s Pick: Colts, 33-20
New England Patriots (13-2) at Miami Dolphins (10-5)
You would think 13 wins would be enough to clinch the top seed in the postseason, but it’s not going to be for the Patriots.
They need a win against a red-hot Dolphins team that has already clinched a playoff spot.
Tom Brady should deliver, even on the road, to give them their first 14-win season since 2010.
Q’s Pick: Patriots, 27-24
Chicago Bears (3-12) at Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
The Vikings started the year 5-0 (remember that?) and have absolutely self-imploded to finish off the season.
The Bears, on the other hand, have spent all year just trying to win a game.
Minnesota will be at home and can save their season by finishing .500, something few would have suggested in early October.
Q’s Pick: Vikings, 24-19
Buffalo Bills (7-8) at New York Jets (4-11)
The Bills fired Rex Ryan this week and will therefore be led by interim coach Anthony Lynn for the final week of the season.
That shouldn’t stop them from beating a Jets team that hasn’t been able to stop anybody this season.
Although I always seem to jinx the Bills when I pick them, I’m rolling with them this week.
Q’s Pick: Bills, 27-19
Dallas Cowboys (13-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)
The Cowboys aren’t playing for anything having already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC postseason, but even if they rest their starters, their backups are talented.
The Eagles will probably send all their starters out there which will keep it a close game.
Q’s Pick: Cowboys, 24-21
Cleveland Browns (1-14) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
My goodness, the Browns won a game.
I’m happy for them, truly, because no team deserves to go winless. Unfortunately, they’ll go 1-15 since they have to visit Pittsburgh on the road.
The Steelers also have little to play for but even if they send their preseason starters in, I can’t see the Browns winning two in a row.
Q’s Pick: Steelers, 31-23
New Orleans Saints (7-8) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
Thanks to the Seahawks loss last weekend, the Falcons have a clear path to the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
They can put an exclamation point on that with a win at home against the Saints in what is expected to be the final game at the Georgia Dome.
Q’s Pick: Falcons, 34-30
New York Giants (10-5) at Washington Redskins (8-6-1)
The Giants were predicted to finish in the middle of their division by a number of experts at the start of the year, but a win this weekend would clinch their first 11-win season since 2008.
The New York Football Giants will be back in the postseason for the first time since they won the Super Bowl in 2011.
Q’s Pick: Giants, 24-22
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) at Los Angeles Rams (4-11)
Having played spoiler to the Seahawks last weekend, the Cardinals season is already ending on a high point.
Their MVP candidate David Johnson showed once again that he could not be stopped and I find it unlikely that the Rams are the team that slows him down.
Johnson could be among a number of Cardinals that end the year strong after a highly disappointing season for the Bird Gang.
Q’s Pick: Cardinals, 31-20
Oakland Raiders (12-3) at Denver Broncos (8-7)
The quest to repeat as Super Bowl champs is over for the Broncos, but the quest to play spoiler is still very much in play.
Here’s the thing: Derek Carr broke his leg last weekend so the Raiders will now be relying on Matt McGloin to lead Oakland to a win in the Mile High City, where they have won only once in the last five years.
Von Miller and the Broncos defense, likely upset at missing the postseason, will take out their anger on the Raiders and Oakland’s defense isn’t good enough to contain Trevor Siemian in a shootout if it turns into that.
Q’s Pick: Broncos, 27-24
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (5-10)
The Chiefs knocked out the Broncos last weekend and with a Raiders loss, the division and No. 2 seed will be theirs.
All that’s standing in their way is a Chargers team that lost to the then-winless Browns last weekend and is now playing with head coach Mike McCoy on a blazing hot seat.
Kansas City should take this one by at least a touchdown.
Q’s Pick: Chiefs, 29-23
Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-13)
The Seahawks blew their chance at a No. 2 seed with a loss last weekend against the Cardinals, at home no less.
They can redeem themselves by winning their final game of the season against a 49ers team that has only beat the Rams this year.
Russell Wilson has some things to work on mechanically and so does the offense. This would be a good place to work on those things.
Q’s Pick: Seahawks, 24-17
Green Bay Packers (9-6) at Detroit Lions (9-6)
The Packers have rolled to five-straight wins to set up a date with the Lions for the NFC North crown.
At this point, both teams have a realistic shot at making the postseason, the loser will likely just end up a low seed.
Still, winning the division guarantees a home game and who wouldn’t want that? This should be as tough and close a game as it gets but I think Aaron Rodgers seals the deal on the road.