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PIGSKIN PERFECTION: The glorious ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview of NFL Week 17

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Packers-Bears, Cowboys-Giants, Cardinals-Rams, Steelers-Browns and Seahawks-Niners highlight the back-loaded slate of Week 17 matchups.

Four years ago, we began honoring radio legend Steve Czaban — who was surprisingly booted from the SB Nation Radio morning lineup in 2016, despite having perhaps the most engaging program in the radio marketplace — with a “You Are Looking Live!” preview of each NFL weekend.

The bit was so well-received, so roundly praised by media pundits (including a few SB Nation writers) and Czabe’s legion of fans alike, that we decided to make You Are Looking Live! a permanent Friday staple of the BATSBY Sports Network programming.

So, without further ado, here’s a print doppelganger to the best 60 minutes in sports radio — Hour #3 of Czabe’s NFL-heavy Friday show (heard daily from 3-7 p.m. in Washington D.C).

As such, it makes perfect sense to include Brent Musburger and Joey Porter into the presentation, via YouTube:

WEEK 17

SUNDAY

DALLAS (6-9) @ N.Y. GIANTS (5-10)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Giants (+1 1/2) … Over/Under: 44.5
REFEREE: Brad Allen
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (FOX)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Cowboys and Giants have a combined record of 11-19; and yet, this clash of NFC East, uh, contenders gets top billing in this column … along with FOX’s No. 1 broadcast team of Buck, Aikman and Andrews.

Why is that?

It’s the only Week 17 matchup in which both clubs are still alive to claim the division crown, assuming that Washington falls to Philadelphia later Sunday evening.

In other words, three weeks ago, the Cowboys (winners of three straight) were among the candidates for a top-3 selection in the April draft; but now, they’re on the plausible precipice of securing a home game for Wild Card Weekend.

BALTIMORE (10-5) @ CINCINNATI (4-10-1)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bengals (+13 1/2) … Over/Under: 44
REFEREE: Land Clark
TV ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta (CBS)
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
 It’s a simple proposition for the surging Ravens (four straight victories): Beat the shorthanded Bengals on the road, and clinch a playoff berth.

The Ravens would also reach the postseason with a loss, and then subsequent defeats from the Browns or Colts.

But then again, if Baltimore (averaging 37 points since Week 13) cannot handle Cincinnati in a must-win scenario … it’s not like the Ravens would be strong favorites for Super Bowl contention anyway.

ATLANTA (4-11) @ TAMPA BAY (10-5)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Buccaneers (-7) … Over/Under: 50.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Greg Jennings, Jennifer Hale (FOX)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Buccaneers would clinch the No. 5 seed with a Sunday win over the Falcons; and with that honor … comes the eminently doable assignment of facing the NFC East champion during Wild Card Weekend (albeit on the road).

NOT DEAD YET! In his last four quarters of action (two against Atlanta, two versus Detroit), 43-year-old Tom Brady has amassed 680-plus yards passing and six touchdowns.

PITTSBURGH (12-3) @ CLEVELAND (10-5)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Browns (-9 1/2) … Over/Under: 41.5
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (CBS)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Browns will be under immense pressure come Sunday, knowing that only a Week 17 victory or unlikely Colts loss (to the Jaguars) would clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2002.

(There are other complicated scenarios at play, but let’s just save that logistical nightmare for another discussion.)

Adding to the high stakes, Pittsburgh will sideline a handful of reasonably healthy stars (including QB Ben Roethlisberger) … which explains why Cleveland’s betting line suddenly JUMPED to 9 1/2 points.

That’s right, folks. A team that lost to the sad-sack Jets just seven days prior … is now a blowout favorite against a possible Super Bowl contender.

N.Y. JETS (2-13) @ NEW ENGLAND (6-9)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Patriots (-3) … Over/Under: 40
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Tom McCarthy, Jay Feely (CBS)

NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE: It’s been 18 loooooooooong years since Patriots czar Bill Belichick partook in a Week 17 matchup that didn’t have a postseason-or-bust OR resting-for-the-playoffs vibe.

So, in that vein, we’ll happily look the other way if New England (three straight blowout defeats) mails in Sunday’s performance, as a (hush-hush) means of improving the club’s standing in the upcoming NFL draft.

MINNESOTA (6-9) @ DETROIT (5-10)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Lions (+4 1/2) … Over/Under: 54
REFEREE: John Hussey
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Davis, Robert Smith, Kristina Pink (FOX)

HAPPY/SAD FUN FACT: This wonderful/frightening nugget comes from my buddy John Tuvey, whose company assists the FOX broadcasters with all the Sunday telecasts. (Hat tip to SportRadar.com.)

This weekend’s clash of the Lions and Vikings marks the first time, since 1952, that a pair of teams separately surrendered 47 or more points the previous week … and then met the following Sunday.

And yet, the over/under tally sits at 54 points. Hmmm, something smells here.

MIAMI (10-5) @ BUFFALO (12-3)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bills (-2) … Over/Under: 42
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, A.J. Ross (CBS)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The red-hot Bills (averaging 34.6 points during their five-game winning streak) can lock up the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a home victory (or Steelers loss).

For the Dolphins, they’ll qualify for the AFC postseason party, IF …

a) Miami beats Buffalo, regardless of whether Josh Allen suits up for the Bills.

b) The Dolphins lose … but get outside help in the form of a Ravens, Colts or Browns defeat.

GREEN BAY (12-3) @ CHICAGO (8-7)

TIME: 4:25 p.. EST
LINE: Bears (+4) … Over/Under: 50.5
REFEREE: Craig Wrolstad
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Darryl Johnston, Pam Oliver (FOX)

WHAT’S AT STAKE, PART I: The Packers would secure home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs with a win at Chicago … or either losses from New Orleans and Seattle.

WHAT’S AT STAKE, PART II: It’s been a long time since an NFC team endured a six-game losing skid during the regular season and still qualified for the playoffs.

And yet, the Bears are in remarkably good shape for the postseason … if they can either beat the Packers or benefit from a Cardinals loss to the Rams.

ARIZONA (9-6) @ L.A. RAMS (8-7)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Rams (+3) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: Sure, the Rams (middling averages of 21.8 points in their last 10 games … no Jared Goff or Cooper Kupp for Week 17) and Cardinals (QB Kyler Murray playing at less than 100 percent) may be limping into the season’s final weekend.

But still, an over/under tally of 40.5 points seems ridiculously low for a game that has far-reaching playoff implications, and no weather concerns.

(The clubs combined for 66 points in Week 13.)

Besides, you don’t think CBS would really send its No. 1 team of Nantz, Romo and Wolfson to a 13-7 stinker? Take the over, with high confidence.

NEW ORLEANS (11-4) @ CAROLINA (5-10)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Panthers (+5 1/2) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANALYSTS: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Lindsay Czarniak (FOX)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The NFC South champion Saints are still in the running for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. That’s about it.

Moving on …

TENNESSEE (10-5) @ HOUSTON (4-11)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Texans (+7 1/2) … Over/Under: 56
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Rich Gannon, Amanda Balionis (CBS)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Titans would hammer down the AFC South title with a victory over the slumping Texans (four straight defeats).

There’s some poetic justice in the above scenario … since Houston locked up last year’s division crown, after knocking off Tennessee in Nashville.

SEATTLE (11-4) @ SAN FRANCISCO (6-9)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Niners (+7) … Over/Under: 46
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake (FOX)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: At first blush, it’s insulting to see the Niners as seven-point home underdogs, especially with the club putting forth terrific effort in the season’s final weeks.

But ay the rub: San Francisco’s last seven defeats all entailed a spread of eight or more points. Hmmm …

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Seahawks remain viable candidates for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs; so, there won’t be much rest for Seattle’s cavalcade of offensive stars.

L.A. CHARGERS (14-1) vs. KANSAS CITY (6-9)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Chiefs (+3 1/2) … Over/Under: 44
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman

TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Kugler, Brock Huard, Laura Okmin (FOX)
DO … YOU … CARE? The Chiefs have already locked up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

As such, there’ll be minimal drama for Sunday’s game, knowing that Patrick Mahomes will remain sidelined for all 60 minutes.

LAS VEGAS (7-8) vs. DENVER (5-10)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Broncos (+2 1/2) … Over/Under: 51
REFEREE: Scott Novak

TV ANNOUNCERS: Beth Mowins, Tiki Barber (CBS)
THE JURY’S STILL OUT ON … second-year Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.

On the plus side, Lock looked fantastic in comeback victories over the Chargers (Week 8) and Panthers (Week 14).

On the negative side, only four of Lock’s 12 starts involved multiple touchdowns.

Bottom line: Sunday may be Lock’s final audition with Orange Crush Nation, before the club explores a major quarterbacking acquisition during the offseason.

JACKSONVILLE (1-14) vs. INDIANAPOLIS (10-5)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Colts (-14) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Shawn Smith

TV ANALYSTS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Sherree Burruss (CBS)
HOOFIN’ IT: The Colts are the NFL version of the famous Schrodinger’s Cat scientific theorem, meaning their chances of earning the AFC South title (Sunday win, plus a Titans loss) OR missing the playoffs altogether … are both alive and dead at the same time.

Thanks to the 4:25 p.m. kickoff time.

WASHINGTON (6-9) @ PHILADELPHIA (4-10-1)

TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Eagles (+3 1/2) … Over/Under: 43.5
REFEREE: Ron Torbert

TV ANALYSTS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)
HERE’S THE SCOOP: Let’s give some props to the programming eggheads at NBC. Their out-of-the-box selection of Washington-Philadelphia promises to have major ramifications on the NFC East title … regardless of how Cowboys vs. Giants shakes out earlier in the day.

And for that, we’re grateful to draw an attractive matchup of big-market clubs, even if their seasonal records are wretched, at best.

For the sake of game-long entertainment, though, let’s hope that Washington leans on nicked-up Alex Smith as the starting quarterback, and not some random cat named Taylor Heinecke (77 career NFL passes, two touchdowns).

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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