Poupart's picks: Week 17

And then there was one. We have arrived at the conclusion of the 2005 regular season. Four playoff spots are still up for grabs on the last weekend of the season, but the top two seeds in each conference already have been determined. Here are this week's selections.

Saturday, December 24

Denver (12-3) at San Diego (9-6): It's a tough game to handicap because the Broncos already have clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and the Chargers already have been eliminated from postseason contention. Marty Schottenheimer has said he's going to play this game to win, which means Drew Brees at quarterback. San Diego, 24-16.

N.Y. Giants (10-5) at Oakland (4-11): The Giants need this game to clinch the NFC East title, and the Raiders have shown no sign in recent weeks of being able to offer much of a challenge. N.Y. Giants, 27-10.

Sunday, January 1

Carolina (10-5) at Atlanta (8-7): The Panthers suffered a crushing loss last week against Dallas and could find themselves out of the playoffs if they lose this game. The Falcons were eliminated last Sunday, but they have a chance to clinch their second consecutive winning season, which would be a first in franchise history. The Panthers spanked Atlanta at home a few weeks ago, and we're thinking the Falcons get revenge here. Atlanta, 23-21.

Baltimore (6-9) at Cleveland (5-10): Kyle Boller actually has looked pretty good at quarterback the last couple of weeks. Baltimore, 20-16.

Arizona (5-10) at Indianapolis (13-2): Tony Dungy will be back on the sideline for the Colts, who certainly don't want to go into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. Manning, James and Harrison won't play the whole game, but long enough to make sure Indy wins. Indianapolis, 28-20.

Cincinnati (11-4) at Kansas City (9-6): The Chiefs will be eliminated from playoff contention if San Diego beats Denver on Saturday, but we're still looking for them to go out on a high note and push the Bengals down to the No. 4 seed. Kansas City, 31-27.

Chicago (11-4) at Minnesota (8-7): The Vikings' season unraveled quickly after a six-game winning streak put them in playoff contention. The Bears have nothing to play for, but will want to keep their momentum. Chicago, 20-9.

Miami (8-7) at New England (10-5): A win would be a great way to close out a remarkable turnaround for the Dolphins, but this isn't the Jets or Titans they're facing. The Dolphins now are competitive with just about any team in the league, but New England still is a better team at the moment. New England, 20-17.

Buffalo (5-10) at N.Y. Jets (3-12): The Bills are slightly less bad than the Jets. Buffalo, 24-14.

Detroit (5-10) at Pittsburgh (10-5): The Steelers clinch a playoff berth with either a San Diego victory, a Kansas City loss or a victory of their own over the Lions. Regardless of how the other two games play out, this one is a mismatch. Pittsburgh, 27-6.

New Orleans (3-12) at Tampa Bay (10-5): The Bucs suddenly find themselves in position to win the NFC South with a victory in this game. It should be no problem against a team that just can't wait to end a miserable season. Tampa Bay, 17-6.

Tennessee (4-11) at Jacksonville (11-4): Byron Leftwich might wind up seeing some action for the Jaguars, who will become perhaps the weakest 12-4 team in the history of the NFL. Jacksonville, 20-10.

Houston (2-13) at San Francisco (3-12): The Texans clinch the Reggie Bush title. San Francisco, 23-16.

Seattle (13-2) at Green Bay (3-12): This could be Brett Favre's last game in Green Bay. The Seahawks have nothing to play for. That's how you get a 3-12 team beating a 13-2 team. Green Bay, 24-21.

Washington (9-6) at Philadelphia (6-9): The Redskins clinch a playoff berth with a victory here. They have been playing great defense lately and should have an easy time against an Eagles offense that has few, if any, playmakers left. Washington, 23-10.

St. Louis (5-10) at Dallas (9-6): The Cowboys will know by the time they take the field whether they still can make the playoffs with a victory. We're thinking they'll win regardless. Dallas, 24-13.

Last week's record: 11-5

Season record: 168-72

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