The end of the NFL regular season is here. After 16 weeks, (does anyone remember the Lockout?) questions still remain as far as who makes the Playoffs. A few former Mountaineers can play a role in pivotal games to deciding whether their teams make the postseason. Some former Mountaineers already know that they’ll be free men, so to speak, after this weekend.
Even after this weekend, and the Playoff spots are determined and some teams will go home, questions will remain about players in contract years such as Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt. Those are two of the more prominent Mountaineers set to be free-agents after this season. This could be the last weekend you see some of your favorite Mountaineers suit up for their teams. For others, like Anthony Becht, it may be the last time we ever see them in an NFL uniform. (I’ll have an article after the season on all the former Mountaineers’ situations with their respective teams.)
In the rundown of the schedule, I’ll tell you what to expect from former Mountaineers in Week 17 NFL action. All games are played on New Years Day.
Jets @ Dolphins 1:00 CBS
Steve Slaton could be in his last game as a member of the Dolphins. He has been inactive for most of the season with both the Texans and Dolphins. Ellis Lankster has been a key special teams contributor for the Jets and a back-up in the secondary. His strong play in the second half of the season could propel him to a larger role next year.
Bills @ Patriots 1:00 CBS
After a hot start to the season, the Bills cooled off and now have a 6-9 record with only one win away from Buffalo. The trip to Foxboro to take on the Patriots is a tall order to capture their 7th win of the season. Corey McIntyre has helped to open holes for the Bills’ running-backs this season. The Patriots have the worst rushing defense in the league, so McIntyre might have a part in a big rushing day for the Bills.
Redskins @ Eagles 1:00 FOX
Chris Neild checks in at DT on plays where the Redskins suspect the other team to run the ball. Owen Schmitt mostly plays to open holes for RB LeSean McCoy. What do you think the odds are that Schmitt and Neild go head-to-head at some point?
Colts @ Jaguars 1:00 CBS
Pat McAfee will end his best season as a pro against the Jaguars. McAfee should finish with career highs in punts, punting average, touchbacks on kickoffs (mostly due to moving the kickoffs up by 5 yards), and tackles.
Panthers @ Saints 1:00 FOX
After not playing for the first 14 Weeks of the season, Brandon Hogan should be active for the third week in a row to support a battered Panthers secondary.
Ravens @ Bengals 4:15 CBS
For Cincinnati, it’s “win and you’re in.” If they win this game, the will earn one of the Wildcard spots in the Playoffs. Adam Jones has played a big part in the Bengals defense since his return from the PUP list. Rookie Robert Sands has been inactive in 14 of 15 games this season. With the Playoffs on the line, it’s likely he will sit out again.
Steelers @ Browns 4:15 CBS
Mortty Ivy has been a key member of the Steelers special teams units. At his weekly press-conference, head coach Mike Tomlin singled Ivy out for his contributions. Ryan Mundy is the primary backup in the secondary to Troy Polamalu. Polamalu missed a couple of days of practice this week because of a knee injury. If Polamalu is limited or out, look for Mundy to spend a lot of time on the field.
Chiefs @ Broncos 4:14 CBS
Could this be the last game of Antony Becht’s career? The 34-year-old TE has been an on-again off-again member of the Chiefs this season after sitting out all of last year. He said this week on Twitter that he would like to play again next year, and that the passion and fire to keep playing is still in him. He played a team-high 60 snaps for the Chiefs last week.
**NOTE** There will be no Week 17 Recap next week. I will be in Florida all week and at the Orange Bowl on Wednesday. Tweet at me if you’re going to be there.