NFL Predictions: England Cricket's Liam Plunkett takes on Richard Graves in Week 17
Last Updated: 31/12/17 11:52am
England cricketer Liam Plunkett is the challenger taking on Sky Sports News' NFL reporter Richard Graves in Week 17 of NFL predictions...
It's a difficult ask for Plunkett, as he faces Graves fresh from a 13-3 record for the second straight week. His Week 16 win over Sky Sports Darts' John Part extends his nine-week unbeaten run.
2017 Prediction Results
|Richard Graves||Opponent's score||Graves' season record|
|v Paul Merson||9-6||10-5||0-1|
|v Sam Quek||13-3||12-4||1-1|
|v Vernon Kay||10-6||6-10||2-1|
|v Laura Wright||9-7||10-6||2-2|
|v Anya Shrubsole||7-7||4-10||3-2|
|v Gethin Jones||4-10||7-7||3-3|
|v Jen Welter||11-4||12-3||3-4|
|v Anthony Watson||11-2||9-4||4-4|
|v Jim White||9-4||7-6||5-4|
|v Laura Woods||9-5||9-5||5-4-1|
|v Jade Clarke||9-5||8-6||6-4-1|
|v Jack Sock||12-4||11-5||7-4-1|
|v Rob Lee||12-4||10-6||8-4-1|
|v Baron Corbin||7-9||6-10||9-4-1|
|v Nasser Hussain||13-3||9-7||10-4-1|
|v John Part||13-3||10-6||11-4-1|
Will he keep hold of that streak with another victory as the NFL regular season draws to a close on New Year's Eve? Or will die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan Plunkett hand him a final-week defeat?
Plunkett is out in Philadelphia to watch their game on Sunday against their NFC East divisional rival Dallas Cowboys before joining up with the England ODI squad for the series in Australia in January.
"It's always nice to watch another sport live," said Plunkett. "Especially a game of this magnitude, in front of thousands and thousands of people. In America, the crowds are amazing - the NFL is like cricket is in India.
"With the No 1 seed secure, I think the Eagles will play their back-ups, so that makes me worried. But, according to my Philly friends, the Cowboys don't have much heart, so I'm still backing us for the win.
"I can't wait to join up with England in the New Year. The last few years playing for England in the one-day formats have been the best of my career - I feel this team is now one of the best in the world and I'm backing us to win in Australia.
"I've been trying to follow the Ashes as much as possible. I sent Cooky a text to say well done on his double ton in the fourth Test, but it's been tough cricket generally for the guys out there. Hopefully we can end the tour well."
Here's a look at Plunkett's, and Graves' Week 17 picks...
New York Jets @ New England Patriots, NFL Sunday LIVE
Sky Sports Action (407), 5.30pm, Sunday
Graves: Remember back in September when the Patriots were 2-2 and their epitaph was being written? Well, since then they've gone 10-1, they've won the AFC East again and another win over the Jets will secure home-field advantage through the playoffs. Never one to rest on his laurels, Bill Belichick has moved to strengthen their push for another Lombardi Trophy by signing free agent pass rusher, James Harrison, after his release from AFC rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unsurprisingly the Jets are 17/2 outsiders to win in Foxborough, but it's fair to say head coach Tom Bowles has exceeded expectations this season in guiding them to five wins. Even so, pitting their 24th ranked defense against New England's No 1 offense is too great a challenge to overcome.
Plunkett: Never say never in a divisional game, but I just can't see the Jets, with Bryce Petty at quarterback, pulling off a win against New England this week - not with the No 1 seed on the line.
The Patriots have been there, done it before. As an Eagles fan, I want to avoid them in the Super Bowl as much as possible.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons, NFL Sunday LIVE
Sky Sports Action (407), 9.25pm, Sunday
Graves: This is undoubtedly the game of the weekend. Victory for the Panthers, combined with a Saints loss in Tampa Bay, would give them the NFC South title. If the Vikings and the Rams also both lose, then victory would also give Carolina a first-round bye.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are now in playoff mode - win or go home. The equation isn't quite that simple, as Atlanta can still qualify despite a defeat, so long as Seattle also slip up at home against Arizona. But, they can't afford to think like that.
The Panthers edged the Week Nine meeting between these two 20-17, in a game where Falcons star receiver Julio Jones inexplicably dropped a potential game-winning TD in the endzone. And, worryingly for Atlanta, their offense appears to have stalled over the past four weeks - they have only score more than 20 points in one game - and they now face Carolina's seventh-ranked defense. The Panthers are also sharpening their claws at just the right time of year - they have won seven of their last eight games
Plunkett: The Panthers have the better record, but I'm still not buying Cam Newton and Carolina as a legitimate contender just yet. Plus, I think Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been better than their stats would indicate this year.
I see Atlanta winning this one and sneaking into the playoffs.
Week 17 Predictions
|Richard Graves||Liam Plunkett|
|Jets @ Patriots||Patriots||Patriots|
|Redskins @ Giants||Redskins||Redskins|
|Bears @ Vikings||Vikings||Vikings|
|Packers @ Lions||Lions||Lions|
|Texans @ Colts||Colts||Colts|
|Browns @ Steelers||Steelers||Steelers|
|Cowboys @ Eagles||Cowboys||Eagles|
|Panthers @ Falcons||Panthers||Falcons|
|49ers @ Rams||Rams||49ers|
|Raiders @ Chargers||Chargers||Chargers|
|Chiefs @ Broncos||Chiefs||Chiefs|
|Jaguars @ Titans||Jaguars||Titans|
|Saints @ Buccaneers||Saints||Saints|
|Bills @ Dolphins||Bills||Dolphins|
|Cardinals @ Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Bengals @ Ravens||Ravens||Ravens|