NFL Week 17: Predictions for who wins this weekend

We’ve reached the final week of the NFL regular season, and with it, our final chance to gamble on a full Sunday slate of games. It’s been a profitable year for our NFL bets — with the help of a little Christmas magic from the Eagles on Monday night, our picks went 10-6 last weekend to bring us to a hearty 123-108-9 on the season.

With this in mind, I recommend you be careful with your bets during Week 17. With some teams already locked into a playoff spot and other teams fighting to extend their seasons, motivations are varient across the league and the lines in Las Vegas are especially volatile.

So we will proceed with caution as we take a look at the Week 17 spreads. If you’re a fan of a team with a fringe chance of making the playoffs, consider the prudent thought of placing an emotional hedge bet, so that if your postseason hopes crash and burn on Sunday you’ll at least make a profit off of your misery. Other than that, stick to what you know, watch the lines as they move, and make sure you have the most up to date information on who is sitting and who is starting before laying down any serious cash on a game.

Let’s get to the picks.

OVERALL: 123-108-9


NFL coaches who could be fired during 2017 season

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Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

Season record: 5-6

Career record with team: 46-28-1

The 65-year-old Arians has denied rumors that he’ll retire at the end of this season. But Arians, who is only signed through 2018, might not have a say as to whether he’ll coach Arizona through the end of his contract.

The Cardinals have fallen sharply since reaching the NFC Championship after the 2015 campaign. Carson Palmer looked like a shell of himself before getting injured (again) and Arizona’s rushing attack is the worst in the NFL, having failed to replace the injured David Johnson.

But Arians, who became the winningest coach in Cardinals history last week — with Blaine Gabbert throwing passes to the Jaguars’ stout defense, no less — has earned a good amount of leeway in the organization.

(Photo via USA Today Sports / Reuters)

Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins

Season record: 4-7

Career record with team: 14-12

Gase guided Miami to a surprise playoff appearance last year, but the team has floundered following the loss of quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a torn ACL during the preseason. Luring Jay Cutler out of retirement to fill in has gone about as well as chortling Bears fans expected.

The team’s 4-7 record doesn’t tell the full story here, as the Dolphins possess the league’s second-worst point differential (-115). If Miami’s current five-game losing streak extends to the end of the season, the powers that be could very well opt to move on from Gase. Then again, this is the team that gave Joe Philbin (career record: 24-28) more than three seasons at the helm.

(Photo via USA Today Sports / Reuters)

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

Season record: 4-7

Career record with team: 19-23

Many predicted the Jets would finish near the bottom of the league in 2017, but they’ve actually managed to exceed expectations. Their -29 point differential is tied for 19th in the NFL.

But if New York limps to the finish line, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if the Jets cut ties with Bowles, who was fiercely criticized after the Jets went 5-11 last season.

(Photo via USA Today Sports / Reuters)

Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos

Season record: 3-8

Career record with team: 3-8

It’d be out of character for Broncos GM John Elway to fire a coach after one season, but it’s been an absolute mess in Denver this season.

The team is 0-7 since their Week 5 bye, and that losing streak includes some truly embarrassing defeats. Which is worst — a 23-10 setback to the previously winless Giants at home, a 51-23 blowout against the Eagles that was even more of a blowout than the score indicates, or a 41-16 beatdown from the Patriots in Denver?

The once intimidating defense has sagged to allow 25.5 points per game, which ranks 26th in the NFL. The quarterback situation got so bad, the Broncos extended an olive branch to Brock Osweiler and let him start a few games. Joseph only had one year of experience at the coordinator level prior to this season, a one-year stint as the Dolphins’ defensive boss. He might be in over his head here.

(Photo via USA Today Sports / Reuters)

Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns

Season record: 0-11

Career record with team: 1-26

Jackson was always going to be given a long leash as the Browns committed to yet another rebuild when they hired him before the 2016 season. But he’s really testing the patience of Cleveland’s brain trust.

The Browns have the worst point differential in the NFL, ranking last in points scored (15.1 PPG) and second to last in points allowed (26.3 PPG). The biggest problem is they haven’t been able to develop any of their quarterbacks, even to a level of mere adequacy — rookie DeShone Kizer and second-year players Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler have thrown a combined nine touchdowns and 20 interceptions this year.

It’s not like the team’s front office was expecting to compete for the playoffs this season, but it’d be hard to imagine Jackson surviving a winless campaign. If that nightmare scenario comes to fruition, Jackson would have the worst winning percentage among coaches in the Super Bowl era with at least 48 games under their belt.

(Photo via Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

Season record: 5-6

Career record with team: 123-111-3

Will the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL finally see his time in Cincinnati come to an end after this season, his 15th with the organization?

The Bengals rank last in the NFL in yards gained (274.3 YPG) and seem destined to miss the postseason with several tough games still remaining on their schedule. If they do, it’d be the first time since 2006-08 they’ve failed to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive seasons.

(Photo via USA Today Sports / Reuters)

Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Season record: 4-7

Career record with team: 13-14

The Buccaneers were a trendy playoff pick during the preseason. However, an underachieving defense (last in the NFL with 395.5 yards allowed per game) and quarterback (Jameis Winston threw just 10 touchdowns in 8 games before injuring his shoulder) have left Tampa Bay at the bottom of the NFC South.

Koetter was promoted to head coach two years ago after serving as offensive coordinator for predecessor Lovie Smith in 2015 to provide Winston with some continuity. But Winston’s regression in his third NFL season doesn’t speak well to Koetter’s credentials.

(Photo via Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

Season record: 3-8

Career record with team: 52-39

Pagano won the war with former Colts GM Ryan Grigson, whom he battled with for years and was fired by team owner Jim Irsay in January. But Pagano might follow him out the door soon.

Indianapolis’ defense has been the worst in the league by points allowed (27.3 PPG) – not a good look for a team led by a former defensive coordinator — and the offense is 27th (17.7 PPG) by the same measure.

The Colts have always looked pretty hapless without a healthy Andrew Luck, but at least managed .500 records the last two years. Now, the bottom has fallen out, and Pagano might pay the price for it.

(Photo via Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

John Fox, Chicago Bears

Season record: 3-8

Career record with team: 12-31

The Bears are doomed to their third consecutive last-place finish in the AFC North under Fox. Even though the blame can’t be completely laid at his feet — any coach would have trouble winning with the amount of talent on Chicago’s offense — the team has a bit of a hopeless aura around it right now.

That shouldn’t be the case with a No. 2 overall draft pick in Mitchell Trubisky under center, but the rookie hasn’t looked like a top-shelf prospect. Chicago might opt to hire a more offensive-minded coach to help groom Trubisky in the next stage of his career.

The team’s remaining home games against easy opponents in San Francisco and Cleveland feel like must-wins, and even victories in those matchups might not be enough to save Fox.

(Photo via Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ben McAdoo, New York Giants

Season record: 2-9

Career record with team: 13-14

McAdoo did just about the only thing that could fire up New York’s fan base during a long-lost season — bench two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning. Most Giants fans have a love/hate relationship with Manning, but they were all up in arms after McAdoo cast aside Manning for Geno Smith, of all quarterbacks, this week.

That decision only grew the chorus of voices calling for McAdoo’s head, which has been present since the team’s 0-5 start. The team now plans to split time at quarterback between Smith — who already ran out of chances with one New York team — and 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb. At this point, it seems McAdoo will only be retained if Smith or the rookie out of California provides a sustained spark for the offense, which would be shocking given the unit’s total ineptness this season.  

(Photo by Dustin Bradford via Getty Images)






Green Bay Packers (+6.5) at Detroit Lions (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Packers +6.5

The logic: The Packers’ offense looked bewildered last weekend in their shutout loss to the Vikings, but as home dogs in the final game of the season between two teams with nothing to play for but divisional pride, I like them to keep things close. The Lions are going to be cold and still licking their wounds from blowing a chance at the playoffs last week with their loss against the Bengals. The Packers will just be cold, and they’re pretty used to that.

Houston Texans (+3.5) at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Colts -3.5

The logic: I have no faith in either of these teams, but the Colts haven’t won at home since October and when in doubt I take the side I’d rather cheer for.

Chicago Bears (+11.5) at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Bears +11.5

The logic: The Vikings still have something to play for, as a win will secure a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. But despite their dismal record, the Bears have lost by double-digits just once since Week 4 of the season — even in losses, the Chicago defense has been able to keep things close.

The Vikings present a difficult matchup for the Bears, as the Minnesota defense should be able to stifle some of Chicago’s most explosive weapons, but I still like Mitchell Trubisky and company to keep things within a touchdown.

New York Jets (+15.5) at New England Patriots (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Jets +15.5

The logic: While in any other week I’d be betting on Tom Brady over Bryce Petty no matter how high the spread got, in Week 17 with their first round bye in the AFC already sealed, it’s just tough to see Belichick risking injury to any of New England’s most important players. Brady shouldn’t play more than a half in this game and Gronk shouldn’t play a snap.

This is all a guess, mind you, but I’d rather take the points and hope than find myself in the second quarter hoping that Brian Hoyer and the Patriots second unit and win by two touchdowns.

Washington Redskins (-3) at New York Giants (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Redskins -3

The logic: It’s possible that this is Eli Manning’s final game in New York, and what would be a more fitting send off than a drubbing at the hands of a division rival?

Jokes aside, Kirk Cousins is still playing for his next contract, be it in Washington or elsewhere, and the Giants defense can’t stop arguing with each other long enough to shout out coverages to each other.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Cowboys -3

The logic: The Cowboys looked about as bad as a football team can possibly look last week against the Seahawks, losing what was essentially an elimination game despite the fact that Seattle had more penalty yards than they had actual yards.

But this week they’re going against the Eagles, who didn’t look to sharp themselves, and have already sealed the top seed in the NFC no matter what happens on Sunday. And with injuries already plaguing the Philadelphia roster, it’s hard to imagine starters staying in for too long in what is a meaningless game to them.

Chances are you want to stay away from this one, but if you have an urge to potentially bet money on or against Nate Sudfeld, this is likely the best chance you’ll get.

Cleveland Browns (+11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

The pick: Browns +11

The logic: It’s my last chance to lose money on the Browns this season, and there’s no way I was going to miss it. If you need me this offseason, I’ll be swimming in a lake with Hue Jackson.

Carolina Panthers (+3.5) at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Panthers +3.5

The logic: The Falcons need to win to make the playoffs, while a win for Carolina could get them in position to win the division and get a home game in the Wild Card round. While I don’t doubt the Falcons’ ability, watching the Panthers of late, they look like a Super Bowl contender, and I don’t see them rolling over when they have a chance to end a division rival’s season. 


The best photos from the NFL season

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NASHVILLE, TN- SEPTEMBER 10: Safety Karl Joseph #42 of the Oakland Raiders deflects a pass intended for wide receiver Eric Decker #87 of the Tennessee Titans in the first half at Nissan Stadium on September 10, 2017 In Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) )

FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 07: Kareem Hunt #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs stiff arms Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots as he runs for a 4-yard rushing touchdown during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 7, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 10: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns rushes for a touchdown in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, CA – SEPTEMBER 10: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 11: Jerick McKinnon #21 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the first quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints on September 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 17: Tight end David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates his touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr /Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 17: J.J. Nelson #14 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a juggling catch in the second quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 11: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers dives over strong safety Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Corey Grant of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled Tony Jefferson of the Baltimore Ravens during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 08: Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars dives into the end zone for a 2 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks for an open receiver in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 08: Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans makes a reception for a touchdown as he slips behind Terrance Mitchell of the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 15: Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons stretches for a touchdown against Kiko Alonso #47 and Nate Allen #29 of the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 15: Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins #88 of the New York Jets is seen fumbling the ball after what was originally called a touchdown against strong safety Duron Harmon #30 and cornerback Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of their game at MetLife Stadium on October 15, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Replay Official reviewed the runner broke the plane ruling, and the play was reversed and called a fumble. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 15: Marshon Lattimore #23 of the New Orleans Saints breaks up a pass thrown to Golden Tate #15 of the Detroit Lions at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Lions 52-38. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 15: The New Orleans Saints defense celebrates during the second half of a game against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 15: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is upended by linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis #57 of the Kansas City Chiefs after a catch over the middle during the second half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. ( Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images )

CARSON, CA – OCTOBER 22: Adrian Phillips #31 of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts an interception on a pass to A.J. Derby #83 of the Denver Broncos during the third quarter at StubHub Center on October 22, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MD – OCTOBER 26: A cat runs on the field during the fourth quarter of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium on October 26, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 22: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a touchdown pass as he is defended by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 29: Ted Ginn #19 of the New Orleans Saints catches a pass as he is defended by Eddie Jackson #39 of the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

GREEN BAY, WI – NOVEMBER 06: Brett Hundley #7 of the Green Bay Packers avoids a tackle attempt by Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on November 6, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, TX – NOVEMBER 05: Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs passes the ball under pressure from Jaylon Smith #54 of the Dallas Cowboys and Brian Price #92 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)






Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at Denver Broncos (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Broncos -3.5

The logic: It’s Paxton Lynch vs. Patrick Mahomes this Sunday! Should be a barnburner. Backing the home team as the Chiefs are locked into their spot.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Jaguars +3

The logic: The Titans need a win if they want to control their own destiny to get into the playoffs, and I can think of no end more fitting to their mediocre season than losing to a Jaguars team with close to nothing to play for.

San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: 49ers -3

The logic: I am going to continue to blindly back Jimmy Garoppolo until the strategy fails me. It has not failed me yet. And while I normally have concerns about motivation in Week 17, I am absolutely positive that the Niners are going to be giving their all this week to keep their late-season surge going and bring the momentum into the 2018 season.

Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Bills -2.5

The logic: This line feels incredibly suspect, as the Dolphins don’t have anything to play for and the Bills can still make the playoffs with a win. It’s so suspicious I almost want to back the Dolphins because it makes me feel like Las Vegas knows something that we don’t. But for now, we’re sticking with Tyrod Taylor and Shady McCoy as they try to make the postseason for the first time since 1999.

Oakland Raiders (+7.5) at Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Raiders +7.5

The logic: The Chargers can still make the playoffs with a win on Sunday, but knowing the Chargers, they’ll blow it at the last second thanks to an errant throw from Philip Rivers. Also, the Raiders surprised me with their effort Christmas Day against the Eagles — if they can step up for a meaningless game in the cold on Christmas, they should have an easy time playing in sunny California.

Arizona Cardinals (+9.5) at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Seahawks -9.5

The logic: The Seahawks need a win and a Falcons loss to make the playoffs, and with the games both kicking off at 4:25 p.m. ET, there will be plenty of scoreboard watching in Seattle. Since I like the Panthers to beat the Falcons, I’m imagining a scenario where the Seahawks get the ball after a stop, see that Carolina has taken a lead over Atlanta, and the Seattle crowd starts going nuts and willing Russell Wilson and company to a blowout victory.

New Orleans Saints (-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Buccaneers +7

The logic: The Buccaneers may have lost five straight games, but their last four have all been one score games. Tampa Bay is still winless against the NFC South, but I think Jameis Winston has enough spite in him to bring his best on Sunday.

Cincinnati Bengals (+9.5) at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

The pick: Ravens -9.5

The logic: The Ravens opened their 2017 season with a 20-0 win over the Bengals and continued to beat up on bad teams all season. The Bengals have continued to be a bad team since that Week 1 loss. The Ravens can still make the playoffs with a loss in this one, but they have little reason to risk it when they could just roll the Bengals with ease again instead.

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