Here are Derrick Gunn’s games to watch for Week 17 of the NFL season:
Saints at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)
Head coach Sean Payton says his starters will play. The Saints currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC and still have a shot at the 1 or 2 seed but need help along the way. But first thing's first — taking care of the Panthers. Drew Brees has a minor knee ailment, and his big play wideout Michael Thomas is dealing with a hand issue, but both will be on the field. Carolina's season is done, but there are so many questions about this team. Who will be the new head coach? Will Cam Newton be back? The only highlight left for what has been a dismal year for the Panthers is Christian McCaffrey. He needs 67 receiving yards to become only the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. McCaffrey will get his yards, but the Saints will get the win, and then sit and wait.
Redskins at Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX)
The Cowboys have no one to blame but themsevles for being in the situation they’re in. Dallas should have wrapped up the division a few weeks ago, but losing four its last five, including a crucial showdown in Philadelphia, leaves its playoff hopes hanging by a thread. The Cowboys need to beat Washington, then hope the Giants do them a favor and knock off the Eagles. Dak Prescott is still dealing with a shoulder injury that appears to be affecting the velocity on his passes. Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins will miss the season finale, and its not known if WR Terry McLaurin will be available (concussion protocol). Dallas wins this divisional confrontation with one eye on the Redskins, and the other eye on the scoreboard.
Steelers at Ravens (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS)
When the 2019 schedule came out, many felt this AFC North finale would be for the divisional crown. The Ravens lived up to expectations all season long and have clinched home field advantage. As for the Steelers, injuries piled up. They’ve gone through three quarterbacks. Pittsbugh is right outside the playoff door and needs some help to walk through it. The Ravens are sitting most of their regulars, including Lamar Jackson, which bodes well for Pittsburgh. The Steelers take the gift from Baltimore, but will they get generosity from outside help? The drama builds.
Titans at Texans (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.., CBS)
The help Pittsburgh needs has to come from Houston. If the Texans knock off the Titans and the Steelers win, Pittsburgh is in. But if the Titans win, they knock the Steelers out and Tennessee heads to the postseason dance. Houston is champs of the AFC South for the four time in the last five years. They have a slim chance of getting the No. 3 seed. The Texans won at Tennessee two weeks ago. They’ll win Sunday to make it a season sweep and sweep the Titans' playoff hopes under a rug.
49ers at Seahawks (Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC)
The 49ers have been waiting for this rematch. It was Seattle who dealt San Francisco its first loss of the season. From that point on the Niners, who began the season 8-0, have gone on a 4-3 journey. Seattle's backfield has been decimated by injuries. Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise's seasons are over. So, Seattle has re-signed two former 'Hawks, 33-year-old Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Neither has played in a year. Russell Wilson will have to put his team on his back, but the load may be too much to bear. The Niners' big incentive is if they win, they are the top seed in the NFC. This should be a great matchup to close out the 2019 regular season. The Niners take the win, the division and the top seed.
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