NFL Week 17 Preview

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By: Darius Boamah – Staff Writer

We made it, cue Drake and Soulja Boy! The unprecedented 2020 NFL season is finally coming to a close. This season has been trying for players, coaches, fans, and the entire NFL community. Playoffs are right around the corner and there are a lot of great games to look out for. Here are the top five.

Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles Sun @ 8:20 PM NFL

The Washington Football Team will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in a divisional matchup. Washington is currently sitting at the top of the division right over the Giants. On the other hand, the Eagles are in last. Washington is still in the hunt for a playoff spot so a win is a necessity. Philadelphia can spoil Washington’s playoff dreams if they can manage a win. Both teams are coming off of losses and will be looking to finish the season on a high note. Last week, Washington struggled immensely on the offensive side. Their, now former, quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. was 14/28 on the day, only threw for about 5.5 yards per attempt and before he was sat, he had thrown 154 yards. On the other end of the field, Washington was not much better. Their season has been plagued by games like this, one week they are on and the next they are off. Because they lost last week, they missed a chance to clinch the division. This week they’ll have a second chance and they will need to be dialed in. The Eagles also looked shaky last weekend. This season has not been kind to them, they’ve struggled to win games and have had problems on both ends of the field. However, since replacing Carson Wentz at the quarterback position, the Eagles’ offense has looked much better. Jalen Hurts is the leading man now and last week he showed that he belongs in the starting spot. He threw for 342 yards, about nine yards per pass, but he also threw two interceptions which hurt the team. Philadelphia’s defense got torched last weekend. Against the Cowboys, the Eagles let Andy Dalton throw for 377 yards, about 13 yards per pass, and three touchdowns. They could not stop the rush either. This is the largest problem with this team and they will need to be much better if they want to stop Washington. This will be a fun game to watch, Washington wants to make the playoffs and a rival can stop them. Both teams will play hard and it promises to be a good match. 

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos Sun @ 4:25 PM CBS, NFL 

 The Las Vegas Raiders travel over to Denver to take on the Broncos this weekend. Neither of these teams are in playoff contention, but it will still be a good divisional game to watch. Both teams have been fairly strong this season, however, they came up a little short for the postseason. The Raiders were in playoff contention and still would have been, had they not lost to the Dolphins last week. It was a very close game, in the end, the Raiders gave the Dolphins too many opportunities that they should have shut down. They looked good in the game and will need to continue that form against the Broncos. Derek Carr was back in action and did not miss a step. He threw for 336 yards, 9.9 yards per attempt, and a touchdown. The Raiders offense has been potent this year and if they are allowed, they will punish teams in the air and on the ground. Denver needs to be in their best form if they want to combat this. This season they have struggled on the defensive end. Against a team like the Raiders, they will be in trouble if they do not show up. On the year, they have allowed teams seven yards per pass attempt, and almost five rushing. The Broncos are not much better on the other end of the field. Last week, the offense struggled to put anything together. Drew Lock threw two interceptions and their only touchdown came from him rushing. They were sharper on the defensive end, but compared to how they need to play against Las Vegas, they are still lacking. Despite this, it will still be a good game. The Raiders have been upset by teams worse than the Broncos and the Broncos have proved that they can play with big teams. Both squads will be fighting to finish their seasons strong and each has nothing to lose. 

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Sun @ 4:25 PM NFL

The Green Bay Packers will fly over to Chicago to take on the Bears in another divisional matchup. The Packers are coming off of a big win against the Titans and have already clinched the division and a playoff spot. The Bears are on a three-game win streak which has allowed them to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. This game is important for them because they will want to participate in the post-season and losing is not an option. Last week, they faced the Jaguars. It was not a hard game for them, they handled the game easily. They looked sharp on offense and defense. Mitchell Trubisky played well, he threw for 265 yards, almost eight yards per pass attempt, and also threw an interception. There will be no room for error in this game. Trubisky cannot afford to give up possession easily, he needs to be on his game if Chicago wants a chance to take down Green Bay. David Montgomery is another large asset that the Bears possess. On the year, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards and has seven touchdowns. If he can break through the Packers’ defense, the Bears will find success. This will not be an easy feat, Green Bay has a solid defense that will challenge Montgomery, they have held teams to just under five yards per carry. There is room for Montgomery to succeed, however, he will need to be on his game. On the other end of the field, the Packers are lethal. Aaron Rodgers is on another level and he has so many great assets around him. Green Bay’s offense will be extremely tough to shut down. The Bears defense is fairly weak at defending the pass, so it will be paramount for the defense to show up if they want to have a chance against the Packers. This will be a great game to watch. Both of these teams have been outstanding this season and the game will be a battle. The Packers want to keep a division rival out of the playoffs and the Bears will want to take their rival down and have a greater chance of playoff football. 

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams Sun @ 4:25 PM FOX, NFL

In another great divisional showdown, the Arizona Cardinals will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams this weekend. This is a crucial game for each of these teams. They are both in playoff contention and need a win. They also each need the Bears to lose their game to solidify their entry into the playoffs. So, if the Bears lose, whoever wins this game is in. Both teams are coming off of losses so they will want to turn it around this week especially given the importance of this game. Los Angeles lost to the Seahawks last week. Jared Goff had a horrible performance, he was 24/43, threw one interception, and did not throw any touchdowns. This weekend will be extremely important for him; he needs to have a good game. Last week, he just was not efficient, the Rams held the ball more but Goff could not convert. The Cardinals have a similar defense, in terms of ability, compared to the Seahawks, so if Goff cannot improve, the game will be lost. The Cardinals lost last week for the same reason, a bad performance from the quarterback. Kyler Murray has been dangerous this season, however last week he did not show up. He was 31/50, did not throw a touchdown, and threw one interception, almost identical to Goff. The Los Angeles defense will punish Arizona if they play like this, no matter how good the offense is. If Arizona cannot put together any deceive drives they will be in trouble. The Rams have one of the strongest defenses in the league, on the year, they have held teams to 6.2 passing yards per game and 3.8 rushing. The Cardinals do not have a strong passing game. Their strong suit is the run and this week they have to face one of the best rush defenses in the league. This week’s game will be up to the quarterbacks. Whoever can put together the best performance and lead their team in the most efficient way will win this game. It will be a great matchup to watch and promises to be exciting. 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Sun @ 1 PM CBS, NFL 

The Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns this Sunday. This is another hot divisional matchup that is important for playoffs. The Steelers have already clinched the AFC North division and secured a spot in the playoffs. The Browns on the other hand are right on the edge. There are a lot of scenarios that would give them an entry into the playoffs. But the most important one is a win against the Steelers. Cleveland was upset last week by the Jets and have faced some problems with COVID-19. Several of their players were listed on the IR-list and missed that game. This game is their season and the whole team needs to be ready to play their best. This year they have been strong. On offense, they have done very well and will need to bring that back into this week’s game. Cleveland has taken down big teams and shown that they can play with big teams, this is the ultimate test. Pittsburgh is sitting comfortably this game, coach Mike Tomlin even decided to sit Big Ben in preparation for the playoffs. That leaves Mason Rudolph to start this game against Cleveland. The Browns can capitalize off of this on the defensive end. Rudolph has only played four games this season and has hardly done anything in those games he played in. The Browns have a strong defense, efficient in stopping the pass and run. If they can continuously force Rudolph to turn the ball over they will find success. If they can get their offense as many chances as possible, Cleveland will have a great chance to win this game. On the offensive side, Cleveland has lots of assets. But they will be going up against a very strong Steelers defense. This is why it will be important for the Browns’ defense to stop Rudolph as fast as possible. This will be another interesting game to watch. The Steelers seem to be stepping on the brakes a bit and Cleveland needs a win to have a chance at playoff football. This will be another fun game to watch.

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