Happy New Year! It’s Week 17 in the NFL and we’ve still got one more week to go before the playoffs start. That extra game in the schedule has given a lot of teams extra life and there are plenty of playoff implications on deck. With no Thursday and no Saturday games this week, it’s all on the line the old-fashioned way. It’s still a National Holiday, so I’m not going to deep dive every game but I’ll take a close look at a couple of key matchups.
(+300) Raiders at (-380) Colts (-8, o/u 45)
Carson Wentz got cleared under the new Covid protocols, but he’ll still need a doctor’s approval to play. Confusing? Agreed. It looks like the Colts will potentially have their full O-line together as well which doesn’t bode well for the Raiders who still don’t have Darren Waller. Las Vegas is playing for their potential playoff lives so I expect them to pull out all the stops to give themselves a chance in this one. Four of their last five games have been decided by 4-points or less, so I like them to keep it close. However, if Indy does their thing, Jonathan Taylor should lead them to victory.
Pick: Colts | ATS: Raiders +8| O/U: Over 45
(+230) Giants at (-280) Bears (-6, o/u 36.5)
There’s not much on the line besides draft position here as the (4-11) Giants head to Chicago to take on the (5-10) Bears. The G-Men are still decimated by injury and I can understand them just wanting to get this season over with.
Pick: Bears | ATS: Bears -6 | O/U: Under 36.5
(-800) Buccaneers at (+550) Jets (+13, o/u 45.5)
Tampa Bay is still technically in the hunt for the #1 seed in the NFC and they’ll look to handle business at the Meadowlands. The Jets would like nothing more than to play spoiler to Tom Brady, but it’s a tall order. The Bucs tend to chew up bad teams.
Pick: Bucs | ATS: Bucs | O/U: Under 45.5
(+650) Falcons at (-1000) Bills (-14.5, o/u 44)
The brotherly love is real between Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle Patterson, as Diggs has sent over a metric ton of chicken wings to his former Vikings’ teammate. Buffalo’s Reid Ferguson did the same for Atlanta’s Mike Davis. I’m not sure if it’s bribery or an elaborate plan to slow down the competition, but it’s Bills by a billion either way.
Pick: Bills | ATS: Bills -14.5 | O/U: Over 44
(-220) Eagles at (+180) Washington (+3, o/u 44.5)
With no Antonio Gibson available for Washington, they are going to have to find a way to keep pace through the air. It won’t be favorable for them either as their 4-game win streak turned into a 3-game skid of increasingly bad beats. The Eags can clinch with a win, so I think they’ll get it done.
Pick: Eagles | ATS: Eags -3 | O/U: Under 44.5
(-210) Chiefs at (+175) Bengals (+4, o/u 51)
Maybe the most interesting game on paper, the (11-4) Chiefs ride their 8-game win streak into Cincinnati to take on the (9-6) AFC North-leading Bengals. I’ve got a vested interest in this one as a Bills fan, but I’m genuinely curious as a football fan. After what Joe Burrow and the Bengals did to the Ravens last week, they are as ready as they are going to be to take on KC. The Chiefs can potentially clinch the #1 seed with a win, so I’ll be pulling for the Bengals and I genuinely think they are a live underdog. Cincy has all the tools to get it done, but they have to execute.
Pick: Bengals | ATS: Bengals +4 | O/U: Over 51
(+800) Jaguars at (-1400) Patriots (-16.5, o/u 41.5)
The Jaguars are experiencing a raging Covid outbreak that saw 27 players end up on the reserve list. They got seven of them off the list on Friday, but they barely have enough players to take the field. New England can clinch a playoff spot with a win and the door is wide open.
Pick: Patriots | ATS: Pats -16.5 | O/U: Under 41.5
(+140) Dolphins at (-160) Titans (-3.5, o/u 40)
Miami has won 7-games in a row, which is a solid accomplishment, but they’ve done it mostly against scrap teams with two narrow wins against the Jets. The Titans managed to rebound to beat the 49ers last week and may have found enough momentum to carry them forward. AJ Brown is back but Julio Jones is listed as out again. It’ll be the tale of two styles as the Titans’ power lines up against the Fins’ speed. Tennessee is 6-2 at home while Miami is 3-4 on the road. It should be close.
Pick: Titans | ATS: Fins +3.5 | O/U: Over 40
(-270) Rams at (+220) Ravens (+6, o/u 46.5)
The spread for this one almost doubled in favor of the Rams after Lamar Jackson was seen badly limping at Ravens’ practice. Given the magnitude of the game, there’s a chance he’ll give it a go but Tyler Huntley may be the better option. The Rams are rightly favored here but could wind up in a close one if they aren’t careful. John Harbaugh is an excellent coach but he’ll need some help in this one, even if Jackson plays.
Pick: Rams | ATS: Rams -6 | O/U: Over 46.5
(+280) Broncos at (-350) Chargers (-7.5, o/u 45.5)
Denver has their own Covid situation to add to the injury report with 15 players currently listed as out, including Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Bradley Chubb. That’s why the spread moved towards the Chargers even more. I have believed the Bolts were the better team all season, but they’ve already lost to the Broncos once and looked aimless against Houston last week. They still have growing pains, but there should be no excuse for them to lose this game at home.
Pick: Chargers | ATS: Chargers -7.5 | O/U: Under 45.5
(+475) Texans at (-700) 49ers (-12.5, o/u 44)
Jimmy G probably won’t play with his jacked-up thumb, but the 49ers should have enough to get it done against the Texans. Even with rookie QB Davis Mills playing reasonably well coming off a huge upset over the Chargers, the Niners are in a must-win game and can’t let this one slip by.
Pick: Niners | ATS: Texans +12.5 | O/U: Under 44
(+220) Cardinals at (-270) Cowboys (-6.5, o/u 51)
Both of these teams are in the playoffs, so it’s more a matter of who’s going to be playing where. Dallas is still alive for the #1 seed if the Packers lose and the Cardinals could maybe still win the NFC West if the Rams lose, but that’s a lot of ifs. Arizona is struggling mightily right now and Dallas is just better on both sides of the ball. The Cards need it more and maybe the Boys sort of bow out and let them have it, but I doubt that.
Pick: Cowboys | ATS: Boys -6.5 | O/U: Over 51
(+235) Panthers at (-290) Saints (-6.5, o/u 37.5)
After the first month of the season, this looked like it could be a big-time NFC South game, but not so much now. The Saints are technically alive while the Panthers play spoiler. Carolina doesn’t have much to play for and currently has a bunch of guys listed as OUT. New Orleans gets Taysom Hill back they’ll look to work Alvin Kamara into the mix against a fading defense. Plus the Saints’ defense can overwhelm Carolina, no matter who is playing QB.
Pick: Saints | ATS: Saints -6.5 | O/U: Over 37.5
(+270) Lions at (-340) Seahawks (-7.5, o/u 41.5)
I wish this game mattered for Seattle but it doesn’t. I’d like to think they bounce back from that late-game collapse against the Bears last week, but the Lions play hard. The Seahawks and Russell Wilson need to show something before the season ends. With no Goff, the Hawks better get it done.
Pick: Seahawks | ATS: Hawks -7.5 | O/U: Under 41.5
(+500) Vikings at (-800) Packers (-13, o/u 42.5)
This would have been an interesting one with Kirk Cousins under center for Minnesota, but that’s not the case. The line more than doubled in favor of Green Bay at home and the Viking’s season will rest on the shoulders of Sean Mannion. The Packers’ defense has been getting lit up lately, so good luck.
Pick: Packers | ATS: Vikes -13 | O/U: Under 42.5
(-170) Browns at (+150) Steelers (+3.5, o/u 41)
Week 17 wraps up with an AFC North showdown on Monday night. These teams hate each other and have had a lot of recent history. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season and it’s crazy to see the Steelers as underdogs at home, but their defense has been that bad, especially against the run. With two starting linebackers out, Nick Chubb might feast although Pittsburgh found a way to slow down the run game when the teams first met. The Browns are missing two starters in the secondary, so it’ll be on Big Ben to find a way to force the issue in the passing game. It’s a coin toss but, I guess I’m going with the Browns.
Pick: Browns | ATS: Steelers +3.5 | O/U: Under 41
Thanks for reading! I still believe word of mouth is the best way to help, so if you enjoy what I’m doing, please tell somebody. Liking, subscribing, and sharing go a long way too. And, as usual, be well, stay safe, and Go Bills! Happy New Year!