For The Win: Week 17 - Footballguys

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Week 17 is always a challenge, but it comes down to motivation – even more so than any other week. Remember, these are your young athletes, and while they all have a very high level of competitiveness, the season is long and grueling – and the end is in sight for many. A 10-0 deficit for a team that is three hours away from cleaning out their lockers and getting ready for New Year’s Eve quickly changes that level of intensity. The key to one of the most challenging weeks of the year is to find out who still cares, and then go with that team and do not look back. So incentive not just to win but also to play hard will be the main topic as we close out the last 16-game slate of the year. With Week 17 being a little bit different than most weeks with so much at stake for many teams, let’s break down the week according to each division. Here we go:

AFC EAST

Both games are at 1PM (all times will be in Eastern), and the Patriots have won the division but have a shot at a bye and an outside chance at the #1 seed in the AFC.

NEW ENGLAND (-13 to -13.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS (Over/Under 45)
The AFC East is relatively simple to break down for the final week. New England currently has the #2 spot in the AFC, which will give the Patriots both a home game and a bye in two weeks should they beat the Jets. The point spread is a big one, but New England needs to win by double digits to encourage a lackluster offense to start ramping it up for January. PICK: Patriots

BUFFALO (-3 to 3.5) vs. MIAMI (Over/Under 38.5 to 40)
Both the Bills and the Dolphins are playing out the season, with just the finale left in Buffalo. Miami has to be tired of these winter trips, and closing out the year in upstate New York is just one more reason to take their talents to South Beach for New Year’s Eve and beyond. Miami was in the hunt for the postseason before two consecutive losses (at Minnesota, Jacksonville). A loss to the Jaguars screams “we’re done”, while the Bills are fighting to the finish. Take the home team in the cold. PICK: Dolphins

AFC NORTH

Both games are at 4:25PM with the Ravens and Steelers fighting for the division crown and (likely) the #4 spot on the AFC. The loser is likely out of the postseason tournament altogether.

PITTSBURGH (-14 to -14.5) vs. CINCINNATI (Over/Under 45.5 to 46)
Pittsburgh took a tough loss to New Orleans last week, and that loss (along with several others earlier this year, plus a key tie) could cost the Steelers dearly. Pittsburgh must win and hope that Baltimore loses at home to the Browns, or an unlikely tie happens between the Colts and Titans on Sunday Night Football. Regardless, Pittsburgh must win to have a shot, so look for the Steelers to beat up on Cincinnati in Pittsburgh and cover a big number – just barely. Steelers 34, Bengals 17. PICK: Steelers

BALTIMORE (-6) vs. CLEVELAND (Over/Under 41)
The Ravens have the inside track to the AFC North title and outside shots at moving up the seeding – but odds are that a Baltimore win puts them at the fourth spot, giving the home fans one more game to cheer on their favorite purple squad. The Browns may be out of it, but they have a shot at a winning record and a great finish to the season to build for 2019. Baltimore will continue their winning recipe – run the ball and play great defense – and that should be enough at home over the Browns. PICK: Ravens

AFC WEST

Both games are at 4:25PM with both the Chiefs and the Chargers already in the playoffs – but the winner of the division likely gets the #1 seed, while the other falls all the way to fifth in the conference tournament.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6.5) at DENVER (Over/Under 41.5)
The Chargers need to win on Sunday and hope that somehow the Chiefs lose at home to the Raiders. That is rather unlikely (Kansas City has a 90% chance of a win), but Los Angeles still needs a strong performance to shake off the loss last Saturday to Baltimore. The Chargers are most likely traveling to those same Ravens on Wild Card weekend (if the Ravens beat Cleveland and the Chargers are the #5 seed), so momentum is a big desire here. A win for Los Angeles also avenges (somewhat) a loss to Denver (23-22 in Week 11) that cost the Chargers a realistic chance at the AFC West title and the #1 seed. Look for the Chargers to treat this one as a much-needed tune-up for next weekend. PICK: Chargers

KANSAS CITY (-13.5) vs. OAKLAND (Over/Under 53 to 54)
Speaking of teams that need tune-ups, enter the Chiefs after two tough losses in a row (Chargers, Seahawks). Kansas City needs a win to assure themselves of the top seed in the AFC and the AFC West crown, but more importantly, the Chiefs just need a win. Oakland got their last Monday at home against Denver in what likely was the last ever game in Oakland and the Black Hole for the Raiders. Now Oakland heads to Arrowhead in Kansas City, where Pat Mahomes and company lie in wait to run up the scoreboard before taking a week off. The Chiefs will look to score, score and score some more to get revved up for what they hope will be a deep playoff run, and this game could be one-sided from the start. Kansas City is unlikely to let up until late, so covering two touchdowns should not be that challenging against an Oakland team already looking forward to the offseason. PICK: Chiefs

AFC SOUTH

The two games are split on the schedule with Houston playing in the early (1PM) window, while the Titans and Colts square off on Sunday Night Football in a virtual playoff game.

HOUSTON (-6.5 to -7) vs. JACKSONVILLE (Over/Under 40.5)
The Texans are just one of those teams that have been very hard to figure out all year long. First, they lose three games, including an embarrassing loss to the Giants at home in Week 3. Then they go on a nine-game winning streak to take control of the AFC South. Now they are struggling after losing two of their last three (Colts, Eagles) and hurting at wide receiver (Demaryius Thomas now out for the season – torn Achilles) and their top back (Lamar Miller) is not at full strength. Jacksonville comes to Texas with just one last game before a thankful end to a miserable season for the Jaguars, so do not expect much from Jacksonville this week. The Texans have plenty to play for – a win gives them the division and some hope for a bye if New England stumbles – but Houston had even more to play for last week before a tough loss to the Eagles. This one is at home, and the Texans need to regroup and act like a playoff team. Playoff teams win games like these, so side with the home squad to get the job done. PICK: Texans

INDIANAPOLIS (-3) at TENNESSEE (Over/Under 43.5 to 44)
The only game where both teams are really pushing to get into the playoffs wraps up Week 17 and the regular season on Sunday Night Football. Both the Colts and the Titans are in a spot where if they win then the winner gets to play on Wild Card Weekend – but the loser goes home. The only possibility that may cost either team would be a tie (they would lose a tiebreaker to Pittsburgh for a Wild Card) – but throwing out that unlikely scenario, this game should have a playoff atmosphere from the first whistle. The Titans have been riding their defense and Derrick Henry for weeks now, so expect more of the same. Indianapolis is far more balanced behind Andrew Luck’s 36 passing touchdowns and a surprising run game led by Marlon Mack, plus an underrated (and relatively unknown) defense. The Colts are the better team all-around, and even on the road, they should be able to get a hard-fought, closely contested win in Nashville. PICK: Colts

NFC SOUTH

The NFC South is all wrapped up with the Saints winning the division and securing the top seed in the NFC, which is why both divisional matchups are being played in the early (1PM) window. Carolina, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay are all eliminated, so all four teams are just playing out the string, including New Orleans who will be resting players on Sunday.

NEW ORLEANS (-9) vs. CAROLINA (Over/Under 44.5 to 45)
This one looks tricky, seeing as how both teams are going to rest players, but with Carolina dipping all the way down to a quarterback that was on the practice squad less than two weeks ago to start in Week 17, it is not hard to see why the Saints are favored by more than a touchdown. Kyle Allen (Texas A&M) gets the start for Carolina and his claim to fame will be short-lived against a New Orleans defense that has been playing very well for more than a month. Even if the Saints decide to give Drew Brees the afternoon off, Teddy Bridgewater will be ready to play hard as an audition for a 2019 starting role. PICK: Saints

ATLANTA (+1 to +1.5) at TAMPA BAY (Over/Under 51 to 51.5)
Here is another game between two teams looking forward to the offseason, but both the Falcons and the Buccaneers have been given their walking papers for December 31st several games ago. Atlanta takes the trip to Florida on the back of a two-game winning streak, while the Buccaneers have lost three games in a row. Neither side is a strong play, but Atlanta has more firepower on offense and protect the ball better than Tampa Bay, so a slight nod goes to the road underdog in this matchup. PICK: Falcons

NFC WEST

The NFC West is another division where the champion has already been determined, but there will be two teams representing the division come January. The division wraps up starting at 4:25PM with both the Rams (12-3) and the Seahawks (10-5) looking to win to earn higher seeds, including a bye for Los Angeles.

SEATTLE (-13.5) vs. ARIZONA (Over/Under 38.5 to 39)
Seattle enters Week 17 after a major victory over the Chiefs last Sunday night, and with another win, the Seahawks will secure the top Wild Card spot in the NFC. That is important, as the #5 seed will head to Dallas, a much more favorable route to the Super Bowl than having to face the Bears and Saints (most likely) before the NFC Championship Game. Seattle is a hot team and peaking at the right time, but delaying facing the Saints is a smart move. Look for the Seahawks to play hard for four quarters, locking up an 11-5 record with a double-digit win before their home fans. PICK: Seahawks

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-9.5 to -10) vs. SAN FRANCISCO (Over/Under 49)
The Rams have won the NFC West, but a bye has not been locked up yet for Los Angeles. That alone should motivate the Rams to perform well against the 49ers, as will building on their 31-9 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona last week. Los Angeles had lost two games in a row (Bears, Eagles) before that win over Arizona, so creating a two-game winning streak with a strong performance to close out the regular season is important for a Rams team that left the postseason quickly last year. The 49ers have been a tough matchup despite just four wins on the season. Los Angeles is the stronger, more motivated team at home, so take the Rams in this matchup. PICK: Rams

NFC EAST

The Cowboys have won the NFC East, and they are locked into the fourth spot for the playoffs. With nothing to gain in Week 17, Dallas may be resting their starters Sunday against the Giants in the early (1PM) window. Dallas may not be alone in the postseason as the Eagles can get in as a Wild Card with a win and Vikings loss. With playoffs on the line, the Philadelphia-Washington game has been moved to a 4:25PM kickoff.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-6 to -6.5) vs. DALLAS (Over/Under 41.5 to 42)
Dallas has won the NFC East and has nothing to play for this Sunday. Further, with a home game assured for Wild Card Weekend, giving key players time off creates a virtual bye week for the Cowboys, affording rest for those who need it most. Of course, with limited rosters, teams cannot rest everyone, but the second string for the Cowboys will likely see the vast majority of the playing time in Week 17. The Giants close out the year with a home finale, and they will try and beat the hated Cowboys, even if it is just a meaningless contest. Saquon Barkley should put up another big performance as the Giants win a game that has no bearing on anything aside from draft pick order. PICK: Giants

PHILADELPHIA (-6.5 to -7) at WASHINGTON (Over/Under 41.5 to 42)
The Eagles are playing in the late window so that they are playing at the same time as the Vikings, and if Philadelphia wins and the Bears beat Minnesota, it will be the defending Super Bowl champs that play on in January as the second NFC Wild Card team. Washington will be trotting Josh Johnson out again at quarterback while the surging Eagles will have Nick Foles under center. Look for Philadelphia to secure the victory and hope for the best from the Bears-Viking matchup. PICK: Eagles

NFC NORTH

Chicago has won the NFC North, but there are plenty of reasons to focus on the Bears-Vikings (4:25PM) game in Minnesota. Entering Week 17, both teams are slated for the playoffs, but a Minnesota loss will put that in jeopardy. Chicago has something to play for only if the Rams lose, but both teams could fight to the finish.

GREEN BAY (-7.5 to -8) vs. DETROIT (Over/Under 44.5 to 45)
The NFC North is split across the early window (Packers-Lions) and late afternoon (Chicago-Minnesota), as Green Bay versus Detroit has no playoff implications at all. Detroit is limping to the finish line after a tough year, while the Packers have come to grips with injuries and missing the playoffs yet are still playing hard. Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a win at the Jets last week, and he will likely do the same one last time for 2018 before the home crowd. PICK: Packers

CHICAGO (+4 to +4.5) at MINNESOTA (Over/Under 40 to 41)
The Bears travel to Minnesota for a late afternoon (4:25PM) kickoff that has quite a bit of impact on the NFC playoff picture. Chicago has won the NFC North and will likely be the third seed in the conference unless the Bears win and the Rams lose. That scenario moves the Bears up to the two-spot, giving Chicago a bye. Minnesota is more desperate, as they have to win to keep their Wild Card spot, and a Seattle loss could actually move them up to fifth. A loss by the Vikings and a win by Philadelphia knocks Minnesota out entirely, so the Vikings will be going all out for the win. Chicago has quite the predicament, for if the Vikings beat the Bears, that could force a rematch in Chicago between these two same teams. The Bears may treat this game as a tune-up for their offense that has not been clicking of late, and a win will give them the added confidence (plus push the Vikings out). Chicago will play hard all game and keep this close either way. PICK: Bears

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK: New York Giants, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers

THIS WEEK'S PLAYS

The intent of this column is to give out not only the Plays for the Week in the NFL but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 Unit scale. The more units, the bigger the emphasis on that side of the game. (More units = More $$$).

* ONE UNIT PLAYS *

  • BALTIMORE (-6) vs. CLEVELAND
  • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6.5) at DENVER
  • HOUSTON (-6.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
  • INDIANAPOLIS (-3) at TENNESSEE
  • NEW YORK GIANTS (-6) vs. DALLAS
  • PHILADELPHIA (-6.5) at WASHINGTON
  • CHICAGO (+4.5) at MINNESOTA
  • CHICAGO “FOR THE WIN” (+190) at MINNESOTA
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (4.1-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (12.75-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (18.25-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • KANSAS CITY (-7.5) vs. OAKLAND
    • SEATTLE (-7.5) vs. ARIZONA
  • 10-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (26-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • KANSAS CITY (-7.5) vs. OAKLAND
    • SEATTLE (-7.5) vs. ARIZONA
  • 11-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (37-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • KANSAS CITY (-7.5) vs. OAKLAND
    • SEATTLE (-7.5) vs. ARIZONA
    • NEW YORK GIANTS (EVEN) vs. DALLAS
  • 12-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (52-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER
    • CHICAGO (+10.5) at MINNESOTA
    • GREEN BAY (-1.5) vs. DETROIT
    • LOS ANGELES RAMS (-3.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • NEW ENGLAND (-7) vs. NEW YORK JETS
    • KANSAS CITY (-7.5) vs. OAKLAND
    • SEATTLE (-7.5) vs. ARIZONA
    • NEW YORK GIANTS (EVEN) vs. DALLAS
    • INDIANAPOLIS (+3) at TENNESSEE

** TWO UNIT PLAYS **

  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
    • LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-0.5) at DENVER

*** THREE UNIT PLAYS ***

  • 3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (9-5 ODDS):
    • BALTIMORE (EVEN) vs. CLEVELAND
    • PHILADELPHIA (-0.5) at WASHINGTON
    • HOUSTON (-0.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 8-7-1 (53.3%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 5-3-1 (62.5%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 7-18-1 (28.0%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 118-113-9 (51.1%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 56-44-5 (56.0%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 340.4-185-3 (64.8%)

Good luck this weekend!

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