NFL Week 17 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
While the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers enter NFL Week 17 with the most at stake, there are also plenty of other games on Sunday with critical playoff implications. Here is a look at all sixteen matchups, with predictions and picks against the spread.
One nice thing about the final week of the season for football fans is that two networks televise both an early and late game, plus restrictions that prohibit another game being televised while the local team plays a home game are lifted. There was a time when this was actually standard operating procedure: the AFL would televise two games on NBC, and the NFL would televise two games on CBS. Once the two leagues merged that ended though, and now pro football fans are forced to either pay big bucks or watch crappy games between losing teams far too often.
Most of the nation will receive the Jets game at Buffalo early on CBS, followed by Denver-San Diego in the late slot. FOX will telecast two of their favorite big market teams, Dallas vs Washington in a meaningless early game to most of the country, and then Seattle at Arizona gets the bulk of distribution in the late slot. The Pats-Dolphins game will only be available in New England and south Florida up to Tampa; for a full look at what is being broadcast where you are check out JP Kirby’s NFL Maps.
Happy 61st Birthday to Raymond Clayborn. The three-time Pro Bowler played in 191 games for the New England Patriots from 1977 to 1989, and was a finalist for the team’s Hall of Fame in 2014 and 2015. Clayborn holds the franchise record for most career interceptions with 36 (tied with Ty Law); in his rookie season he led the NFL with three kickoffs returned for touchdowns and a 31.0 yard return average. In 1985 Clayborn was a major factor in New England winning the AFC and making it to the Super Bowl, picking off six passes for interceptions that season. Clayborn is a member of both the Patriots 1970s and 1980s all-decade teams, and set a franchise record by playing in 161 consecutive games.
★★★★★ 12-3 New England Patriots at 5-10 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Patriots -10 (opened at -8) . . . . over/under 47 . . . . NEP -500, Mia +400
Missing their top two tackles, running backs and receivers has caused the New England offense to sputter of late, while the defense has been tested due to injuries to five key players. That should be enough for Miami to keep it close, but if the Dolphins could not beat a team with Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, it is highly doubtful that they can defeat a club quarterbacked by Tom Brady.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 20
Dolphins +10 . . . . . over 47 . . . . . Dolphins +400
★★★★★ 10-5 New York Jets at 7-8 Buffalo Bills
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Jets -3 (opened at -1½) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . NYJ -160, Buf +140
As difficult as it is to root for the Jets – or any team from New York – there would certainly be a bit of ironic humor with Gang Green clinching a playoff spot with a victory over Rex Ryan. Todd Bowles has completely out-coached the toe lover this season, while Ryan’s defense in Buffalo has under achieved and can now be considered no better than average at best. Undisciplined play and no LeSean McCoy leads to yet another ‘Super Bowl’ loss for Rex.
Prediction: Jets 24, Bills 20
Jets -3 . . . . . over 41½ . . . . . Bills +140
★★★★ 5-10 Baltimore Ravens at 11-4 Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Tony Siragusa
Bengals -9½ (opened at -7) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . Cin -450, Bal +350
I believe that last week was the biggest game of the season for Baltimore, as they upended arch rival Pittsburgh to put a huge dent in the Steelers’ playoff aspirations. This could be an emotional letdown for the Ravens, while Cincinnati is playing for a first round bye.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 13
Bengals -9½ . . . . . under 41½ . . . . . Bengals -450
★★★★ 9-6 Pittsburgh Steelers at 3-12 Cleveland Browns
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Steelers -11 (opened at -8½) . . . . over/under 47 . . . . Pit -600, Cle +450
The season is on the line for Pittsburgh, thanks to last week’s shocking debacle at Baltimore. The Steelers are allowing 278 yards passing per game, third worst in the NFL. The Browns are down to Austin Davis at quarterback, but he’s an improvement over Johnny Manziel – and is capable of keeping it interesting with WR Travis Benjamin (913 yards, 5 TD) and TE Gary Barnidge (977 yards, 9 TD) against a very shaky Pittsburgh pass defense.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Browns 21
Browns +11 . . . . . over 47 . . . . . Steelers -600
★★★ 6-9 New Orleans Saints at 8-7 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Matt Millen, Peter Schrager
Falcons -5½ (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 52½ . . . . Atl -250, NO +210
Is this the last game for either Drew Brees or Sean Payton with New Orleans? Perhaps, but it is undoubtedly the final game for many Saints defensive players. The New Orleans D ranks 32nd in points allowed, 31st in yards allowed, 31st in passing yards, 32nd in yards per pass attempt, 32nd in touchdown passes, 32nd in opponent passer rating, 31st in rushing yards, and 32nd in yards per carry.
Prediction: Falcons 34, Saints 31
Saints +5½ . . . . . over 52½ . . . . . Saints +210
★★★ 5-10 Jacksonville Jaguars at 8-7 Houston Texans
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Texans -6½ (opened at -5½) . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . Hou -270, Jax +230
Houston’s defense has been schizophrenic this year. In the Texans’ eight wins they have allowed just 10.0 points per game, but in their seven losses that figure is more than doubled, at 22.7 points per game. Jacksonville rookie RB TJ Yeldon is out for this game, which means old friend Jonas Gray should get some extended playing time; Gray averaged 6.2 yards per carry last week and is at 4.3 yards per carry for the season.
Prediction: Jaguars 27, Texans 24
Jaguars +6½ . . . . . over 45½ . . . . . Jaguars +230
★★ 8-7 Washington Redskins at 4-11 Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Cowboys -4 (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . Dal -200, Was +170
Washington is locked in to the number four seed, so I would think that many starters will see little or no action in this game. The Skins were perceived by many to be one of the worst teams in the league entering the season; with that in mind Jay Gruden is deserving of some consideration for Coach of the Year.
Prediction: Redskins 20, Cowboys 17
Skins +4 . . . . . under 39½ . . . . . Skins +170
★★ 6-9 Detroit Lions at 6-9 Chicago Bears
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Molly McGrath
Pick’em (opened w/Bears -1½) . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . Det -110, Chi -110
And the battle for last place in the NFC North goes to…. da Bears, who delivered just one home win to Chicago land faithful this season. However, a victory should mean nothing to Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell; how he has managed to stay employed in the NFL for 15 years is baffling.
Prediction: Lions 27, Bears 20
Lions pk . . . . . over 45½ . . . . . Lions -110
★★ 6-9 Philadelphia Eagles at 6-9 New York Giants
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
Giants -4½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 51 . . . . NYG -240, Phil +200
On one hand you have Eagle players who would probably love to show that they can win without Chip Kelly. On the other sideline you have Giant players who would probably love to give Tom Coughlin a victory if this is indeed his final NFL game. If you hear anguished moans when New York does well on offense it is probably from a despondent fantasy football player who had to sit Odell Beckham last week due to his suspension, while fantasy football championship games were being played.
Prediction: Giants 31, Eagles 24
Giants -4½ . . . . . over 51 . . . . . Eagles +200
★ 3-12 Tennessee Titans at 7-8 Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Colts -6 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . Ind -320, Ten +260
The Colts need an eight-team parlay that would pay out over $150k on a $100 bet to go their way in order to make the playoffs. The most difficult leg of that scenario may be winning their own game, since they may have to rely on either Josh Freeman or Ryan Lindley to be their starting quarterback. Freeman wasn’t even good enough to start full time for something called the Fall Experimental Football League a few weeks ago, so watching him play Sunday may be deviously entertaining if you enjoy a bit of Indy schadenfreude.
Prediction: Titans 20, Colts 17
Titans +6 . . . . . under 41½ . . . . . Titans +260
★★★★★ 9-6 Seattle Seahawks at 13-2 Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Cardinals -6½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 47 . . . . Ariz -260, Sea +220
Seattle is locked into a wild card spot, and will be without both left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy for this game. However, Pete Carrol and his troops don’t want to enter the post-season on a two-game losing streak, and would love to wash away the stench from last week’s loss to the Rams.
Prediction: Cardinals 30, Seahawks 24
Seahawks +6½ . . . . . over 47 . . . . . Seahawks +220
★★★★ 7-8 Oakland Raiders at 10-5 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Chiefs -7 (opened at -6½) . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . KC -320, Oak +260
Kansas City has clinched a playoff spot but could win the division and take the number three seed with a win plus a Denver loss. The Raiders would love to spoil plans for their division rival. The Chiefs have not had that much of a home field advantage recently. Last week the 3-win Browns rushed for 232 yards in a 17-13 game at KC, and two weeks prior the Chiefs were only able to score ten points at Arrowhead against the 4-win Chargers.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 20
Raiders +7 . . . . . over 43½ . . . . . Raiders +260
★★★ 4-11 San Diego Chargers at 11-4 Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Broncos -9 (opened at -7½) . . . . over/under 41 . . . . Den -450, SD +350
Denver’s vaunted pass defense has shown some vulnerabilities recently, so Philip Rivers and company do have a puncher’s chance here. The problem for San Diego is that their offensive line is a mess, and that is something Denver’s front seven will feast on.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Chargers 13
Broncos -9 . . . . . under 41 . . . . . Broncos -450
★★★ 6-9 Tampa Bay Bucs at 14-1 Carolina Panthers
Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink
Panthers -11½ (opened at -9½) . . . . over/under 46 . . . . Car -650, TB +475
How valuable was LB Kwon Alexander to Tampa Bay’s defense? The Bucs were 6-6 and just a game out of the playoff picture three weeks ago, but have lost three in a row since the rookie was suspended by the NFL for HgH.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Bucs 24
Bucs +11½ . . . . . over 46 . . . . . Bucs +475
★ 7-8 St. Louis Rams at 4-11 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, January 3 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS; Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta
Rams -3½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 37½ . . . . StL -185, SF +165
The two worst offenses in the league. Nobody should have to watch this game.
Prediction: Rams 17, Niners 13
Rams -3½ . . . . . under 37½ . . . . . Rams -185
★★★★★ 10-5 Minnesota Vikings at 10-5 Green Bay Packers
Sunday, January 3 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Packers -3 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . GB -170, Min +150
Green Bay’s offensive line is in shambles, which is resulting in Aaron Rodgers getting hit far too often and having no time to wait for his receivers to finish their routes. The Packers would be wise to bring safety Morgan Burnett up near the line of scrimmage to limit Adrian Peterson, and dare the Vikings to win with Teddy Bridgewater. It is quite possible that the Packers could be swept at home within their division for the first time in franchise history.
Prediction: Vikings 24, Packers 20
Packers -3 . . . . . under 45½ . . . . . Vikings +150
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