Week 17 – Five Big Predictions

The final week of the NFL regular season is here! Even though this season has taken place under different circumstances, the drama at the season’s end remains the same. Playoff chases are in full force and teams are jostling for seeding. With so many great matchups and stories to watch, we identified five big predictions for the final week of the 2020 season.

Big Prediction #1- Chad Henne Will Lead the Chiefs to Victory

The Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the number one seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. As a result, Coach Reid has made the decision to sit MVP-candidate Patrick Mahomes in Week 17 against the Chargers. How this will affect Mahomes’ MVP odds is anyone’s guess. However, it is clear that Reid has different hardware on his mind with this decision.

The decision means that backup quarterback Chad Henne will play for the first time in 2020. For many teams, starting the backup is an automatic loss in the minds of their fans. This should not be so for the Chiefs and their fans. Despite coming in as three-point underdogs, I think the Chiefs win this game.

In 2019, Matt Moore appeared in six games for the Chiefs and started two of them. The Chiefs were 1-1 in games in which he started. Moore threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He finished 2019 with a rating of 100.9 and a QBR of 53.8.

So far in 2020, Chad Henne has completed five of the seven passes he has attempted. Though he has had limited success as a starter in his career, he never started for an Andy Reid offense. I think he is a good enough game manager to keep the Chiefs in the game. If the 2020 Chiefs have shown anything, it’s that they can win ugly.

Big Prediction #2- Davante Adams Will Re-Write the Packers’ Record Book

The Packers are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL and have a rich history of great players. They might be seeing the best receiver in their history playing right now in Davante Adams. If not the best receiver in their history, he is certainly having the best season any receiver has ever had in their long history. In just one last game, Adams could own the trifecta of receiving records: most receptions, yards, and touchdowns in one season.

The Packers’ record for receptions is owned by Sterling Sharpe, who had 112 in 1993. Similarly, Sharpe owns the touchdown record with 18 in 1994. Jordy Nelson owns the receiving record with 1,519 in 2014.

As it stands, Davante Adams has 109 receptions, 17 touchdowns, and 1,328 yards. In order to break these records, Adams would need at least four receptions, two touchdowns, and 192 yards. In Week seven, against Houston, Adams had 13 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He can do it. I predict he will do it.

Oh, and of special note: Sharpe and Nelson set their records while playing all 16 games in their respective seasons. Adams missed two games this year with injury. He could set all three records in two fewer games. Greatness.

Big Prediction #3- The Dallas Cowboys Will Win the NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys had an absolutely devastating start to their season. They looked lost on defense and came a miracle short of starting 0-4. Then they lost franchise quarterback Dak Prescott for the year with a broken ankle. Before too long, they had fallen to last in the woeful NFC East.

A month ago, the Cowboys were 3-9. In most divisions, they would have already been eliminated. However, this is 2020 and they play in the NFC East. In an unexpected turn of events, they have won three in a row and are tied for the division lead at 6-9.

Dallas plays their final regular-season game against the Giants in New York. They can clinch their division with a win and a Washington loss, and I think they will get the win and Washington will fall to Philadelphia. Zeke Elliot is coming off of a 105-yard game against the Eagles. He needs just 67 yards for his fourth 1,000-yard season in five years, and I think he’ll get it.

Big Prediction #4 – The Bears Will Lose but Still Get In

The Chicago Bears end their season at home against the Packers. Earlier this year, the Packers defeated the Bears 41-25 in a game that was not as close as the score would make it seem. The Bears scored two touchdowns in garbage time.

I think the Packers, hungry for the NFC’s number one seed, will beat the Bears in a hard-fought game (despite Adams’ insane receiving line above). While a Bears’ win would automatically get them into the playoffs at 9-7, it is not the only way they can get in.

The Bears can also get the final spot in the playoffs if the Arizona Cardinals lose. The Cardinals, also 8-7, play the Rams in Los Angeles. The Rams will be without starter Jared Goff, who had season-ending thumb surgery. They will be relying on John Wolford to guide the offense despite his never appearing in an NFL game before. Despite this, I am picking the Rams to win at home even though Arizona is favored by three.

Big Prediction #5- The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Beat the Cleveland Browns

In most years, this prediction would not be big; it would be a given. However, the Cleveland Browns are right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture with a 10-5 record. In fact, they’re in a “win and you’re in” position in regards to the playoffs. All they need to do is win, and they will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

However, I believe that the Steelers will pull this game out. In order to do this, they will be relying on several backup players. While Coach Tomlin has not named all the players he plans to sit, he did say Ben Rothlisberger will not play. Mason Rudolph, whose fight with Myles Garrett last season against the Browns were the source of much controversy, will be the starter. The Steelers defeated the Browns 38-7 earlier this year. While this game, no doubt, will be closer, I still think the Steelers pull it off.

The loss could knock the Browns out of the playoffs, but they could still get in if Indianapolis loses. The only problem is that the Colts are playing the Jaguars. There are several other ways they can get in, but all are unlikely. This makes this final thought all the more interesting: the team that defeated the Browns in the 2002 playoffs was the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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