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VOL. 43 | NO. 52 | Friday, December 27, 2019

Titans’ chances depend on Texans’ playoff strategy

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Titans 21, Texans 20: It all comes down to this for the Titans. Can they go on the road and defeat the rival Texans, who really have little to play for other than keeping their division rival out of the postseason?

Will that be enough motivation for Houston, which might rest starters as the game wears on?

I’m usually wrong when I pick the Titans to win, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt because they have more at stake than the Texans in this one.

Steelers 17, Ravens 14: The Ravens might not want to play Lamar Jackson much in this one, but their circumstance is a little different from the Texans. The Ravens have already clinched a first-round bye and home-field throughout, so they might not want to rest players for two weeks in a row. Again, the Steelers need it worse than the Ravens.

Falcons 33, Bucs 28: The Falcons have been playing much better as they are in Save Dan Quinn mode. The Bucs have the firepower to stay with Atlanta, but Jameis Winston is so turnover prone that it could prove to be the Bucs’ undoing.

Eagles 24, Giants 16: Philadelphia can clinch the NFC East and move into the playoffs with a win over the lowly Giants, who would probably love to keep Philly out. Of course, that would mean that the Cowboys would likely get in instead, and that might make Giants fans feel worse.

Saints 41, Panthers 20: The Saints are rolling with the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC still a possibility. The Panthers have mailed it in since Ron Rivera’s firing and are playing for a higher draft pick.

Browns 23, Bengals 20: The Browns have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, while the Bengals have sewn up the No. 1 pick. It would be just like the Browns to hand Cincinnati a season-ending win. But there is no doubt Cleveland is the more talented team. They just have to hope that things don’t implode in the season finale.

Bills 21, Jets 16: The Bills head into the postseason as a wild-card and the No. 5 seed. The Jets, who did the Titans a big favor by knocking off the Steelers, are playing out the string. This one won’t mean much, but the Bills probably want some momentum heading into the postseason, even though they may rest some players.

Cowboys 30, Redskins 22: Dallas sends Jason Garrett out with one final win, before he gets fired on the Monday after the season. The Redskins are already in coach search mode, having fired Jay Gruden in midseason.

Packers 38, Lions 24: Green Bay, regardless of the outcome of Monday night’s duel with the Vikings, still can claim the NFC North championship and could still be in the running for a first-round bye if things fall right. The Lions have been a shell of the team they expected since losing QB Matthew Stafford.

Vikings 23, Bears 17: Minnesota is the one team in the NFC playoffs that no one is really talking about. The Vikings have the talent to make some noise if the right version of Kirk Cousins shows up in the postseason. The Bears are just playing out the string and hoping to fix things for next year.

Colts 20, Jaguars 16: The Colts should finish the season at .500 and even though they have been eliminated, could keep the Titans out of the postseason if they, Tennessee and Pittsburgh all finish 8-8. The Jaguars are another team that will likely be coach hunting come Monday morning.

Patriots 34, Dolphins 20: To their credit, the Dolphins haven’t stopped fighting this season, even though they are one of the league’s worst teams. The Patriots want that first-round bye and the No. 2 seed and have to stave off the Chiefs in order to do that.

Chiefs 38, Chargers 27: Kansas City marches into the playoffs on a high note, while the Chargers limp into the off-season likely knowing that Phillip Rivers won’t be back after 16 years as the Chargers QB.

Broncos 23, Raiders 20: The Broncos have been playing better since Drew Lock took over as the starting quarterback a few weeks ago. The Raiders apparently have a shred of playoff hope left, but it would require a win and losses by the Titans, Colts and Steelers this week.

Rams 34, Cardinals 27: The Cardinals stunned the Seahawks on Sunday, while the Rams were eliminated Saturday by the 49ers. This game doesn’t mean much, but it could be fun to watch two entertaining offenses playing for pride.

Seahawks 23, 49ers 21: This game moves to prime time. The Seahawks stumbled and probably don’t have a shot at the No. 1 overall seed, unless all the division leaders lose. But they could still find their way to a first-round bye if they can top the Niners, who have been a tough out at every turn and could very well claim the top overall slot in the NFC themselves.

— Terry McCormick

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