Posted: Thursday December 30, 2004 4:45PM; Updated: Thursday December 30, 2004 4:45PM
How does one pick games in a week like this, exactly?
Picking games in Week 17 is like picking games in Week 3 ... of the preseason, that is.
I did some calling around this week about which teams will be playing first strings, and for how long and with what intensity. And I have come to one conclusion: Open the window in your computer room right now, search the Web for columns like this one, and throw every prediction for this weekend's games out on the ground.
Don't you feel better now, having done that?
For those with windowless computer rooms, here are my best guesses -- er, picks -- for Week 17:
SI.com's Peter King weighs in with his NFL forecast.
Pittsburgh at Buffalo
Cold rain in Orchard Park Sunday. Yecch. No Roethlisberger, and from the sounds of things, no Bettis or Duce either. The only man standing between the Bills and the playoffs could very be Verron Haynes.
Buffalo 14, Pittsburgh 10
Minnesota at Washington
I keep hearing, "The Redskins are going to be without Clinton Portis and LaVar Arrington Sunday, so this looks like a Vikings win." Now just wait a cotton-pickin' minute. The Vikings have won outdoors on grass once, maybe, in our lifetimes. The Vikings had an easy set-up game last year in Arizona and choked it away. The Redskins have been playing without Arrington, for all intents and purposes, all season, and still are one of the two or three best defenses in football. And as for missing Portis, that's a loss. But Patrick Ramsey's got a good arm, the Vikes are 30th in the league against the pass and Antoine Winfield's not 100 percent.
Washington 21, Minnesota 20
Green Bay at Chicago
The No. 1 FOX team is doing this game. Somehow, I think you might look for Cris Collinsworth, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, and their friends, on Rush Street Saturday night. Or at Gibson's. That's where I'd be Saturday night in the Windy City.
Green Bay 27, Chicago 10
San Francisco at New England
By 4 p.m. Come Sunday, Pats will be 29-2 in their last 31 games. That would be 30-1 if Tom Brady hadn't made an Aaron Brooks-like throw in Miami a couple of weeks ago.
New England 19, San Francisco 17
Indianapolis at Denver
Forecast for Sunday in Denver: 53, low winds, sun. If Peyton Manning plays the whole game, which I don't see happening (I see him playing a half), Colts put up 35. If not, this score happens. Trevor Pryce, this is why they pay you the big bucks.
Denver 23, Indianapolis 21
Dallas at N.Y. Giants
Good chance this is the most meaningless Giants-Cowboys game in the history of the world. I'll tell you who cares most about the game: San Diego GM A.J. Smith. If the Giants lose, and depending how the other five-win teams do Sunday, the Giants could be forking over the fifth pick in next April's draft as part of the Manning-Rivers trade.
Dallas 23, Giants 17
Last week: 11-5 Overall:146-94
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com. Monday Morning Quarterback appears in this space every week.