Well, it’s a good thing I continued my torrid betting streak in Week 16, going 11-5 for the third consecutive week (138-102 overall on the year) because we are no on the verge of the betting crapshoot of the season.
Week 17 is always insanely difficult because many teams will either bench their starters or only play them for a half. It can throw off a lot of results, which is why some lines are perplexing at first sight. Regardless, I’m going to give it my best shot. Also as a little bonus, I’m going to be making my picks for the College Football Playoff games this upcoming Saturday!
So without any further ado, let’s try not to be embarrassed!
(Betting lines via Caesar’s Sportsbook; last updated December #27th)
NEW YORK JETS (6-9) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (10-5) [-1.5]
Many of the 1 P.M. games have to carry zero weight to them this week, and this is one of them. The Jets are obviously looked forward to next year, and the Bills have the #5th seed locked up.
It’s kind of crazy that with so much drama going on with New York this year, they could still finish 7-9. They should fire Adam Gase (especially after this report), but acting owner Chris Johnson has said he’ll be back. This team has a lot of talent, so hopefully, they can turn things around next year.
Despite having nothing to play for, I like the Bills in this one. They’ve played hard every week and I would imagine they want to have as much positive momentum heading into their Wild Card matchup in Houston as possible.
THE PICK: Bills (-1.5)
CLEVELAND BROWNS (6-9) [-2.5] vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS [1-14]
If it wasn’t for LeBron, Ohio State and the 2016 Indians, the state of Ohio would be a miserable sports town.
I try to remain unbiased in my articles, but I really hope the Bengals get the win. Not only would it give Zac Taylor something positive going into the offseason (besides drafting Joe Burrow), but it would seal the deal of Freddie Kitchens’ firing. If the Browns can find a competent, experienced coach and shore up their pathetic offensive line, they will be contenders next season. Mark my words.
I’m going with Cleveland anyway, because even though they have been a massive disappointment, Cincinnati is just too bad.
THE PICK: Browns (-2.5)
GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-3) [-12.5] vs. DETROIT LIONS (3-11-1)
Now here’s a game that the Packers will certainly be trying in. There is a chance they can get the #1 seed if they win and the Seahawks beat the Niners.
The line is very large for a road team in a divisional game, and it gives me pause only because if Green Bay is blowing the Lions’ doors off by halftime, they could rest their starters and Detroit could bounce back. That seems unlikely, so I’m going with Green Bay here.
THE PICK: Packers (-12.5)
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-10) vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-4) [-9.5]
The Chiefs need to win this game to clinch the #3 seed because unless New England loses to Miami and they get the #2 spot, a loss here + the Texans winning would push them to #4th.
Patrick Mahomes should be able to piece apart this Chargers secondary, although I’m sure Anthony Lynn will be desperate to play spoiler against the Bolts’ divisional rival. It has been a long season for Chargers fans, and hopefully, they can get betting injury luck and quarterback play next year. The Chiefs have simply been too good to bet against them, however, especially in KC.
THE PICK: Chiefs (-9.5)
CHICAGO BEARS (7-8) vs. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-5) [-1.0]
The Vikings are locked into the #6 seed in the NFC no matter what happens, so this game bears no meaning.
Minnesota looked awful against the Packers in Week 16, so I do believe they’ll at least play their starters the first half of this game. The Bears have been another letdown this year, and hopefully, Matt Nagy will get back on the right track next season. With the small line, I still like the Vikings to get their #11th win.
THE PICK: Vikings (-1.0)
MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-11) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-3) [-16.0]
Alright alright, let’s settle down.
I’m not saying New England has a good chance to lose this game, but this late in the season against a hard-coached Miami team won’t be a walk in the park. All New England has to do is win this game, and if they have a semi-comfortable lead at the half, the starters are getting pulled.
New England will most likely get their #2 seed, but I don’t think this will be a demolition.
THE PICK: Dolphins (+16.0)
ATLANTA FALCONS (6-9) vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (7-8) [-1.5]
Despite this game having no meaning outside of draft selection placement, this matchup is a must-watch.
Two high-powered offenses going at it, and Jameis Winston has a chance to be the first player in NFL history with over 5,000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions! Truly remarkable stuff.
I like the improvement Tampa Bay showed this season, and it looks like their defense is starting to come into its own. However, I trust the Falcons slightly more in this game because if this is a likely-potential shoot-out, turnovers will make a difference.
THE PICK: Falcons (+1.5)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-3) [-13.0] vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-10)
Similar to the Packers/Lions affair that I wrote about earlier, this is a game that the Saints should not only win fairly easily but need to for a chance to get the #1 seed. It’s an unlikely scenario, but they would be happy with any bye as well.
The Panthers have been in free-fall mode for over half of the season, and they have a lot of questions to answer over the offseason. I’m still going to pick them, however, only because I’m certain New Orleans will bench their starters if they’re up comfortably by halftime.
THE PICK: Panthers (+13.0)
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-12) vs. DALLAS COWBOYS (7-8) [-11.0]
Both of these teams have something to play for. On Dallas’ side, a win plus an Eagles loss would put them in the playoffs. For the ‘Skins, a loss would guarantee them Chase Young.
I expect the Cowboys to play their starters for the entire game, and even if they win the game as they should, it’ll all depend on if the Eagles somehow choke against the Giants. Washington’s defense looked nauseating against Daniel Jones last week, and I expect Dak and company to have similar success.
THE PICK: Cowboys (-11.0)
OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-8) vs. DENVER BRONCOS (6-9) [-3.5]
Believe it or not, the Raiders and their -105 point differential STILL have a shot at the playoffs.
A list of what needs to happen for Oakland to make it can be found right here. Maybe it’s just me, but that list isn’t asinine or anything. Still, it would be horrific if this team made the playoffs (although KC would beat them to a pulp in the first round anyway).
It remains unlikely for me to see through anyway because I like Denver here. Drew Lock has shown flashes that he is ready to be the full-time starter for the Broncos, and I have more faith in their defense.
THE PICK: Broncos (-3.5)
ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-9-1) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (8-7) [-7.5]
This is one of two late-afternoon games that have no playoff implications (both teams are obviously on the West Coast).
The Rams were bumped from playoff contention last week by the 49ers, and Arizona shocked Seattle on the road and put their chances at a playoff bye in serious jeopardy. For as much improvement as the Cardinals have shown this year, especially Kyler Murray’s promise, I believe the Rams will play ticked off and try to demolish their opponent. They need as much momentum heading into next year as possible.
THE PICK: Rams (-7.5)
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-7) [-4.5] vs. NEW YORK GIANTS (4-11)
Giants fans have to be torn on this one.
It would be fun to play spoiler to your division rivals, but a win would give Pat Shurmur three consecutive wins to end the year. Would the Giants retain him with that positive momentum?
Personally, I don’t see it being a real issue. Despite the multitude of injuries Philly has dealt with this year, the Giants defense has been one of the most torched in the league and Carson Wentz is on a hot streak right now. A loss here would be great for the Giants, as they can finally clean house and bring in a staff that doesn’t run a playbook from 1982.
THE PICK: Eagles (-4.5)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-8) [-4.0] vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-10)
The second late-afternoon game with no playoff implications, this game will easily draw the lowest ratings of the week. At least Kyler Murray is fun and the Rams are better than about three potential AFC wild-card teams!
The Colts had a down year, which is understandable when your elite quarterback retires out of the blue two weeks before the year. I still believe in this team, but I’m not sure if Jacoby Brissett is the long-term answer in Indy. Speaking of quarterback issues, the Jaguars have an $88-million dilemma on their hands with Nick Foles. Their best hope for any future success is to build their offense on the ground and retool their defense.
After some internal debate, I’ve decided that this game will be the Week 17 #StinkerOfTheWeek only because it’s on when so many meaningful games are on, a matchup like this is pointless.
THE PICK: Colts (-4.0)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-7) [-1.5] vs. BALTIMORE RAVENS (13-2)
I’m going to keep this short and sweet.
I don’t care how good the Pittsburgh defense is. I don’t care that a majority of the Ravens’ starters aren’t playing. All I know is that Devlin Hodges isn’t putting up more than 17 points on this team. The Steelers’ offense has been dreadful recently, and even against a stud-laden Ravens’ D that will sit a few starters, I don’t see how they outscore them.
THE PICK: Ravens (+1.5)
TENNESSEE TITANS (8-7) [-3.5] vs. HOUSTON TEXANS (10-5)
You might ask yourself why would the Texans care about this game if they won the division?
First off, it’s their rival. Second, a win would knock Tennessee out of the playoff hunt. Third, they could possibly sneak to the #3 seed as I said before if the Chiefs somehow blow it.
The Texans won the first battle two weeks ago on the road in a very tight game, and I don’t expect any difference. I’d love to see this Tennessee team in the playoffs against the Chiefs, but that is more of a heart over head pick right now. It’s a shame that Marcus Mariota coasted this team a few wins at the beginning of the year because the road to January would’ve much easier for the Titans had that not happened. I’ll take Houston even though they might bench the starters at the half, but it would be nice to be wrong on this one. Anything to prevent the Raiders from getting in.
THE PICK: Texans (+3.5)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-3) [-3.5] vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-4)
The game of the week, the winner will not only win the NFC West and get a playoff bye but could also achieve that #1 seed in the NFC.
These two juggernauts faced off on Monday Night Football earlier in the year, and it was Russell Wilson who led the Seahawks to victory that night. That was back when Seattle actually had healthy running backs and wasn’t desperate enough to sign Marshawn Lynch for the playoffs. I expect Russell Wilson to be slinging the rock in this game like there is no tomorrow. Looking at the entire 49ers’ schedule, all three of their losses came by a combined 13 points! That is ridiculous, and a major reason why they rank second in the league in point differential.
It’s going to be another close one, and the line makes it hard to pick a side, but give me San Fran. They have been elite all year and taking care of Seattle would lock up coach of the year honors for Kyle Shanahan.
THE PICK: 49ers (-3.5)
#4 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (12-1) vs. #1 LSU TIGERS (13-0) [-13.5]
This year’s College Football Playoff is the best iteration in my view because we have three teams who are not only undefeated but different in their own way and have a more than likely shot of winning it all.
We all know Joe Burrow’s greatness, but the rest of the LSU offense cannot be discounted. They have a future top-10 pick at receiver in JaMarr Chase, another stud in Justin Jefferson, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (though he is questionable for this one)
Oklahoma is easily the worst team out of the group, but quarterback Jalen Hurts has the next DeAndre Hopkins to throw too in CeeDee Lamb. The Sooners have also seen their defense improve over the season, which is a promising development.
At the end of the day, I’m going with LSU easily. Nobody wants a blowout, but I believe they will cover this spread easily.
THE PICK: LSU (-13.5) [FINAL SCORE PREDICTION – 45-24 LSU]
#3 CLEMSON TIGERS (13-0) [-2.0] vs. #2 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (13-0)
The most exciting football game of the weekend (yes, including NFL), this could be a championship game in its own right.
Clemson has somehow become forgotten playing in an incredibly poor ACC, but in the second half of the season they have been dominant. Trevor Lawrence is the next Andrew Luck, and he has a slew of offensive weapons to use.
Ohio State has been remarkable on both sides of the ball, being led by Justin Fields and Chase Young. They hadn’t had to face much adversity this season until Wisconsin a few weeks ago, but the dominance that Ryan Day’s team has maintained all season is superb.
Neither team winning would surprise me, but I still like Clemson. We saw what this team did to a better Alabama defense in the National Championship last year, and it’s not like they got any worse.
THE PICK: Clemson (-2.0) [FINAL SCORE PREDICTION – 34-27 CLEMSON]