There is no such thing as a meaningless game in the NFL, but there are a handful on the Week 17 slate that come pretty close.
Patriots vs. Jets, Lions vs. Vikings, and Broncos vs. Raiders will all be competing for pride and to see who can make it to the airport first after the final whistle blows. But don’t tell that to the quarterbacks of those respective teams.
As we learned from Washington and Dwayne Haskins, the volatility and competitiveness in the quarterback market has never been greater. And despite the lack of energy surrounding some of these Week 17 games, all eyes are still on these quarterbacks as they head into the offseason.
Sam Darnold led the Jets to a pair of wins, which knocked New York out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Will those two wins keep Darnold in green and white for another season, or will the Jets look at Justin Fields or Zach Wilson to replace him? A good performance on Sunday against the Patriots will bump Darnold’s trade stock even higher.
Darnold’s counterpart in Sunday’s game against the Patriots, either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham, will also have plenty to play for. Newton will likely be auditioning for another team while Stidham tries to prove that he is worth another look in New England.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 27, 2020
John Elway’s track record with quarterbacks in Denver has not been stellar. What will the Broncos do with Drew Lock? Lock will be making his 18th career start on Sunday against the Raiders, and Denver has surrounded him with a plethora of weapons.
The Cowboys and Giants will be playing for a shot at the playoffs on Sunday, and the stakes are high for both quarterbacks. Daniel Jones will be making his 26th start on Sunday. Joe Judge gave him a vote of confidence after last week’s game against the Ravens, but Big Blue may find themselves in the quarterback market.
Andy Dalton’s resurrection got off to a rocky start in Dallas, but he has found a groove over the last few weeks. If Dalton can lead the Cowboys to the playoffs, he may find himself in a starting role somewhere next year.
Steelers +10 at Browns: The Steelers have already announced that Mason Rudolph will be starting, and Pittsburgh will likely rest a number of their key guys. It does not matter who is on the other side of the field. There is no way I am walking up to a betting counter and laying more than a touchdown with Cleveland in this spot. STEELERS
Vikings -7 at Lions: Earlier this week, Cash Considerations host Dave Sharapan said, “Look for every reason to take every single ‘dog in every game and talk yourself off of that. Don’t look for the favorites this week,” on the Bet Sweats podcast.
Dave, I did. I promise I tried. I am still searching for a reason to take the Lions. VIKINGS
Falcons +6.5 at Buccaneers: The Falcons are 4-11 this year, and their point differential through 15 games is -1. They have allowed one more point than they have scored. Atlanta should be a .500 team, not a 4-11 team. These teams played two weeks ago and the Falcons held a lead for 50 minutes and 53 seconds of that game. FALCONS
Chargers at Chiefs, Total 44: In last week’s column, I talked about looking for games to take a second half under. This one has all the ingredients. On one side, you have a team with the No. 1 seed locked up that just wants to enjoy their bye week. On the other side, you have a team that failed to meet expectations this year and wants to go home. UNDER
Seahawks -5 vs. 49ers: Even if Seattle rests players in the second half and takes their foot off the gas, the Seahawks will still be in better shape than the 49ers, who close out their “home” schedule in Glendale, Ariz.. Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Williams and Jordan Willis are all out.
San Francisco already got their end-of-year morale boost last week by beating Arizona. DK Metcalf recorded 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns in their first meeting this season. SEAHAWKS
Raiders at Broncos, Total 51: Early forecasts are calling for sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s, which is as good as you can ask for in Denver during January. Lock needs to enter the offseason on a high note, and there is no better defense to do it against. OVER
Last week: 6-0