Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season is fast approaching as the NFC has two playoff positions that remain up for grabs with five teams still in the hunt. However, the recent upsurge in the COVID-19 pandemic still affects every aspect of play in the NFL.
Bengals Look To Hold Onto AFC North Lead Against Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs will arrive in Cincinnati riding an eight-game winning streak and looking to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Bengals need to get their third straight win to hold onto the #3 playoff position in the AFC. A loss could threaten to put them out of playoff contention altogether as their lead in the division is only one game ahead of Baltimore and one and a half games over Pittsburgh.
QB Joe Burrow is looking to continue his dominance of the passing game after coming off a career-high 525 passing yards against the Ravens. Although he was pretty much playing against a practice squad secondary, this should help him build confidence coming into this game against the best team in the AFC.
This will be a hard-fought close game, with Cincinnati taking the win at home to break the Chiefs’ winning streak.
Miami Try To Keep Streak Alive
The Dolphins will travel to Tennessee to face the Titans in an extremely important game for both teams. Besides the Chiefs, Miami is the hottest team in the league, running off seven straight wins after a 1-7 start to the campaign.
Their defense has been stellar in those wins, as they’ve only given up 11.7 points per game during the streak. The Titans will be missing a couple of key players in this game, with Julio Jones being placed on the COVID-19 list on Monday along with LB Bud Dupree.
The Dolphins’ defense will continue to dominate as they pull off a close win.
Eagles Barely Holding Onto Final Playoff Spot
The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Washington Football team in a game they have to win in order to stay in the playoff race. They’ve won three of their last four games, beating Washington 27-17 on December 21.
Washington is out of the playoff race after losing their previous three games and could be without RB Antonio Gibson for this matchup. LG Ereck Flowers will also be out of this game after being placed on the COVID-19 list. Philadelphia has been riding their defense during the last several games, and they should be able to hold off a Washington team that has been declining since winning four straight games earlier in the season. The Washington Football team doesn’t have anything at stake in this matchup, so they probably won’t be very pumped up for the game.
The Eagles will get the win as the defensive pressure will be too much for Washington QB Taylor Heinicke.
COVID-19 Ramps Up Attack
So far this month, 521 players have been placed in the NFL‘s health and safety protocol, with no slowdown in sight and this past Monday set a record with 106 players being added to the COVID list. Some of the biggest names added to the list this week were QB’s Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings and Carson Wentz of the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are still in the playoff race and are in must-win situations in order to keep playoff hopes alive.
The Colts will host Las Vegas and the Vikings must travel to Green Bay, where no road team has won this season. With so much on the line, teams can’t afford to keep losing key players every week, but it seems that fans will just have to live with it for now.