Just two weeks remain in the 2021 NFL regular season. Where has the time gone? Week 17 promises to deliver quality entertainment in abundance as several playoff-related fates and outcomes will be sorted out in rather haunting fashion. Monday night's primetime showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns serves as an elimination game for two of the league's most heated foes. The loser of that contest will officially be eliminated from playoff contention. Elsewhere, The surging Dallas Cowboys will lock horns with an Arizona Cardinals squad that is shockingly trending in the wrong direction In Sunday night's primetime contest, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will encounter a common opponent in a Minnesota Vikings team whose current playoff chances stand at just 13%. Rodgers has tormented the NFC North since entering the league, and the three-time MVP has a chance to deliver an all but fatal blow to Minnesota's playoff hopes against a backup, rookie quarterback. Additionally, Tom Brady will return to familiar stomping grounds when he takes the field at MetLife Stadium to torment a New York Jets team that was thrilled to see him make his exit from the division. With our eyes pointed toward the action, we've compiled three bold predictions for Week 17.
BENGALS SHOCK CHIEFS, WRAP UP AFC NORTHNo team played a more impressive game offensively a week ago than the Cincinnati Bengals. Franchise quarterback Joe Burrow was in outstanding form, completing 36-of-47 passes for an unheard of 525 passing yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was the fourth-most passing yards in one contest in NFL history. Burrow took full advantage of a banged-up and underwhelming Baltimore Ravens secondary while leading his Bengals to a comfortable 41-21 victory. Burrow and his excellent offensive cast of pass-catchers and ball-carriers now turn their attention to the surging Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have astoundingly won eight consecutive contests and find themselves in the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Kansas City is looking to maintain that advantage over the Tennessee Titans, who trail them by a slim margin and hold the tiebreaker due to a Week 7 victory (Kansas City's last defeat). The Bengals could surprisingly clinch the AFC North for the first time since 2015 with an upset victory over the Chiefs. Zac Taylor's Bengals will be searching for a historic moment. The Bengals' unexpected success has provided one of the more heartwarming storylines to follow along in 2021. Look for the feel-good moments for Burrow, Taylor, and the Bengals to continue on Sunday with a division-clinching victory.
TREY LANCE SCORES 3 TDS, FINISHES AS A QB1 IN FANTASY & LEADS 49ERS TO VICTORYSan Francisco's starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is unlikely to take the field on Sunday as he continues to deal with a concerning and painful thumb injury. Garoppolo was absent from Thursday's practice for the second consecutive day, putting his status for Sunday's contest against the Houston Texans in doubt. Garoppolo's injury clears the way for rookie signal-caller Trey Lance to make the start. 49ers fans are undoubtedly excited to witness the future of their franchise take the field for the first time since a Week 11 blowout victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lance possesses high-upside potential in a matchup against the lowly Houston Texans. His rushing ability makes him a potential top-12 quarterback in fantasy football's ever-important championship week. Lance rushed for a team-high 89 yards on 16 attempts in his last start way back in Week 5. On Sunday, he'll encounter a plus matchup against a Texans defense that's currently allowing 141.3 rushing yards per contest, which is just one yard off Pittsburgh's league-worst mark of 142.7. Fantasy managers who roll the dice on Lance's potential can expect a similar result and we fully expect the former North Dakota standout to rush for a pair of touchdowns while throwing another. The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Texans, and we expect Lance to lead the way towards achieving that goal.
STEELERS UPSET BROWNS, ELIMINATE THEM FROM PLAYOFF CONTENTIONAs teased in the introduction, Monday night's primetime game between the Steelers and Browns will possess a playoff-like atmosphere. The loser of that contest will officially be eliminated from playoff contention, adding an extra layer to what already promised to be a heated affair between two old-school rivals. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be playing his last game at Heinz Field and we find it difficult to envision him potentially closing the book on this illustrious chapter of his career with a defeat while playing in front of so many grateful fans. The Browns are considered slight favorites on almost every oddsmaking website you can find, with BetOnline listing them as 3.5-point favorites. We're struggling to understand why. The 7-8 Browns have been rather abysmal as of late, having lost four of their last six contests, including a 45-7 blowout defeat to the New England Patriots. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is playing a horrid brand of football as he continues to struggle and fight through multiple injuries. Mayfield has thrown seven interceptions in his last three showings and is handcuffing Cleveland's already-slim playoff chances by failing to take proper care of the football. Pittsburgh's defense should find plenty of opportunities to ruffle Mayfield's feathers on Monday night. Take the Steelers comfortably.
- May 25, 2022