The last week of the regular season is here already! Foxtel have another three live games in Week 17 including the blockbuster between Dallas and Philadelphia.
Boy the NFL season goes unbelievably quick. What a year it has been and if you have foxtel you have captured some of the best bits of the season thus far. Lets have a look at what is on offer for the final week of the season.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
When and Where: Monday December 30, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Coverage: LIVE on Fox Sports 2 (via Foxtel), 5:00 am AEST
Despite an absolute smashing by the Patriots last week the Baltimore Ravens are still surprisingly in the race for a playoff spot. The easiest way for them to clinch is to parade into Ohio and beat the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals however have the potential to claim the number two seed (and a first round bye) if they win and New England lose.
The scenario for the Ravens is a complicated one. Miami, Baltimore and San Diego are each 8-7, and Pittsburgh is 7-8; one will take the final wild card. The Dolphins will be the No. 6 seed if they beat the Jets and the Chargers win or the Ravens lose. If the Dolphins lose, they're out. If the Ravens beat the Bengals and the Dolphins or Chargers lose (or tie), Baltimore is in. And the Chargers make the playoffs if they win and the Ravens and Dolphins lose (or tie). If all three lose and the Steelers beat the Browns, Pittsburgh is the sixth seed.
The Ravens struggled against the Patriots in all aspects of the game. Joe Flacco was clearly affected by his knee problem, only completing 22 of 38 for 260 yards and two interceptions. Flacco was marginally better the last time he played the Bengals throwing for two touchdowns as well as two picks. The location may make it a lot harder for him, the Ravens are 2-5 on the road while the Bengals are undefeated at home (7-0).
The Bengals are an offensive powerhouse at home. They have averaged 43.5 points over the last four games at home. Quarterback Andy Dalton will continue to strive as long as he and AJ Green are on the same page. The two connected for 97 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Vikings.
Watch Out For: AJ Green needs 76 receiving yards to break the Cincinnati Bengals receiving yards season franchise record. The record was made by Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson in 2007 with 1,440 receiving yards.
Final Word and Prediction: The Bengals have been unstoppable at home and with a potential number two seed up for grabs and potentially ending the season of a divisional rival they will be too strong for the Ravens.
Cincinnati 28 - 17
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
When and Where: Monday December 30, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Coverage: LIVE on Fox Sports 2 (via Foxtel), 8:30 am AEST
AFC West rivals will meet in Glendale, Arizona after both impressing in Week 16 wins. The Cardinals the most impressive by doing something no team in the NFL has done before by beating Russell Wilson at home. The 49ers meanwhile looked in trouble at times at the Falcons but pulled off some big plays in the key moments.
Arizona still have a small but very slim hope of making the playoffs. They need to win here at home against the 49ers and for the New Orleans Saints to lose at home to Tampa Bay. The last time Tampa traveled to the Superdome they lost 41-0. The chance is slim but stranger things have happened in the NFL before. Their win against the Seahawks showed true grit. Carson Palmer was terrible and matched a career high four interceptions but their defense allowed only 192 yards to Wilson and the Seattle offense. Ultimately though Palmer came through in the clutch with a pass to Michael Floyd. A win at home to the 49ers should be easier than week 16.
The 49ers are trying to improve their playoff spot after securing a spot with their MNF victory. If Seattle lose to St. Louis and the Niners win they will secure the NFC West division and a top two seed. Snatching the CenturyLink advantage from Seattle. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked ordinary in the passing game last week missing some simple throws but managed to get things done on the ground. The 49ers rushed for 199 yards in their win against the Falcons but face the best run defense in the NFL here. Frank Gore however was very effective against the Cardinals in their last meeting rushing for 101 yards. A win over this defense would give the 49ers great confidence heading into the playoffs.
Watch Out For: Tight End Vernon Davis was an absolute no show last week costing many fantasy owners their championships (including yours truly), but against the Cardinals Davis has been brilliant. In his last game against Arizona he caught eight passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Final Word and Prediction: This is a tough road trip for the 49ers and the Cardinals need to get that win. That defense managed to contain Russell Wilson who is arguably better than Colin Kapernick. Arizona win.
Arizona 20 - 17