Win. Your. League.

Receive 3 Free Downloads More Details

For The Win: Week 17

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season. 

Last week was an average one, as I went 9-7 overall but missed on several teasers.  We have just one week left before the postseason, and Week 17 can be a tricky one.  The good news is that we can find some teams that are clearly motivated (Playoffs!) and a few others shooting to get to 8-8 or 9-7.  Hopefully those incentives help to identify which teams to target this week.  Let’s jump right in.  Here we go:

Bye week teams:  None

Teams returning from a bye:  None

BALTIMORE (+2.5) at CINCINNATI  
At first glance, motivation would appear to be lacking here, but that is not 100% true.  The Ravens are going to be playing with some disappointment after a tough loss to the Steelers last week that ruined their postseason hopes, but Baltimore still has a shot at 9-7 and a winning record.  Head coach Jim Harbaugh paid that some lip service this week, but we will have to see if that indeed holds true.  I am going with it because otherwise we just have two teams playing out the string, but that motivational statement does lead me towards a team that could be up for a win and getting points.  Don’t go crazy with this call but I like the Ravens to get the victory over a Bengals team that is limping towards the final 60 minutes with Tyler Eifert also done for the year as well.  PICK: Ravens

JACKSONVILLE (+5) at INDIANPOLIS
Here is another game where one team has been playing out the schedule for weeks (Jacksonville) going against a team that just had their playoff hopes dashed (Indianapolis).  The Colts are going to be lacking motivation in this one, and that is evidenced by the line movement already.  Indianapolis was originally a touchdown favorite, but the number is now in the 4-5 range.  Vegas will not let it cross three points, as they do not want to take a bath on this game to those who got it at six or more (some smart gamblers try for both sides of a contest, hoping to land in the middle and get both wins), so this game will be in the 4-5 range at kickoff.  Jacksonville has played the Colts well for a number of years and Blake Bortles is close to 4,000 yards for the season.  I think he gets to that mark and the Jaguars win as a result.  PICK: Jaguars

NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) vs. MIAMI
The Patriots have been playing angry all season long, especially Tom Brady.  This is the game where he will go off against a Miami team that they could face in the playoffs, and they want to make a statement, buth towards potential opponents and for Brady’s MVP case.  New England dominates here and wins by at least two touchdowns to secure the #1 seed in the AFC.  PICK: Patriots

MINNESOTA (-5) vs. CHICAGO
The Minnesota run game has been a mess all year long, but the silver lining here has clearly been both Sam Bradford and Adam Thelien.  Both players are hot right now and gunning for personal goals – Bradford needs 372 yards to get to 4,000 yards passing, while Thelien is getting close to 1,000 yards as well (he currently has 960).  The Bears are playing out the string, while the Vikings want to close out with a win, get to 8-8 and win one more time in their new stadium before a very patient and appreciative home crowd.  I like Minnesota by a touchdown or more with the defense also showing up one last time to close out the year.  PICK: Vikings

BUFFALO (-3.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
Be sure to know that this game is going to be ugly.  Buffalo is cleaning house by firing not just Rex Ryan but also his coordinator brother Rob on defense.  Couple that with a quarterback change because they are afraid that a Tyrod Taylor injury could lock them into a big contract next year, and this organization is completely disorganized.  The saving graces here are LeSean McCoy and the Jets being a shambles themselves.  The Bills want to lose this game to get a better draft pick, but that might take more effort.  I expect McCoy to be the focus of the offense, but I don’t trust either side here.  I am taking Buffalo to win based on talent, but they could easily just lay down and hope the Jets score some points.  On paper, Buffalo should be favored by almost a touchdown or more, so the math guy in me says to take the Bills.  Avoid this one if you can.  PICK: Bills

DALLAS (+4) at PHILADELPHIA
The funny thing about teams potentially resting players is that if the second string is also good, well, it does not really matter then does it?  Dallas has a good squad from top to bottom while the Eagles may ask Duce Staley to suit up again (he’s the running back coach and played many years ago, for those who don’t follow my strange references).  Philadelphia will have just Darren Sproles and UDFA Byron Marshall available at tailback on Sunday.  Yikes.  Dallas can win this game without too much effort, and getting more than field goal here is too much.  PICK: Cowboys

PITTSBURGH (-6) vs. CLEVELAND
The “Killer B’s” (Big Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell) will all rest, but so what?  This is Cleveland everyone, and the Browns just got their first win.  Do you think that they want to lose the first overall pick in the draft?  Of course not.  The Steelers are talented enough to win over Cleveland no matter who plays.  Steelers still win with their backups by more than a touchdown.  PICK: Steelers

TAMPA BAY (-5.5) vs. CAROLINA
Look what we found here – a game with a motivated team!  Well, mostly motivated as Tampa Bay has to win to keep their very slip playoff hopes alive.  I could tell you the six games that have to go their way to qualify, but I can sum it up that the Buccaneers only make it if Washington – Giants ends in a tie.  Yes, Tampa Bay is done, but they are still going to have plenty of chances to throw against Carolina on Sunday.  Mike Evans also needs nine catches for 100 on the year and Jameis Winston should top 4,000 yards with a modest day (only 112 yards away).  I like the home team to get one more win to close out the season and cover the points.  PICK: Buccaneers

TENNESSEE (-3) vs. HOUSTON
If the Texans-Bengals game was not ugly enough for you, now we have Houston heading to Tennessee in an epic battle between Tom Savage and Matt Cassel!  Who does not have that circled on their calendars?  Must-not-see-TV here.  Neither team is motivated to play hard in this one, so I am taking the better run game and the more experienced quarterback at home.  PICK: Titans

ATLANTA (-6.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
This game is going to be a shootout, as Las Vegas has it pegged for a 55-56 point game ON AVERAGE.  Wow.  The Falcons are gunning for a bye with a win as they can get to the second seed with a home victory over New Orleans, but Drew Brees always loves to throw as much as he can and put up points.  He would like nothing better than to knock the Falcons down a playoff peg with a road win, so expect fireworks in this one.  Atlanta has a lot of talent and motivation, so I am going with a motivated favorite for a home win, but it is going to be close.  I see it like a 34-27 game with Atlanta winning on their final possession.  PICK:  Falcons

OAKLAND (+2) at DENVER
This is another tough one, but the later afternoon games all feature a lot of motivated teams to close out the week.  Oakland is clearly incentivized by a potential bye week with a victory, but a trip to Denver is never easy.  Paxton Lynch is the likely starter for Denver, while the Raiders will have to rally behind Matt McGloin under center.  Look for Oakland to run the ball quite a bit and work the shorter passing game to tight ends and Michael Crabtree out of the slot or in motion for better releases.  This is going to be a tight game, but Denver’s offense is really not very good of late and 17-20 points from the Raiders should get the job done. PICK: Raiders

ARIZONA (-6) at LOS ANGELES
The Cardinals may appear to lack motivation, but David Johnson can become only the fourth player to ever have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season if he gets 151 yards as a receiver on Sunday.  If there is one thing I have learned this year, it is to never fade a motivated David Johnson.  The fact that Los Angeles is terrible only helps in this selection.  PICK: Cardinals

KANSAS CITY (-5) at SAN DIEGO
I completely get the motivation for the Chargers – last game in San Diego, possibly ever, and Antonio Gates has a legitimate shot at the tight end touchdown record if he gets in the end zone (breaking the record if he gets two).  All of that considered, the Chiefs have much more motivation in that if they win and the Raiders lose, Kansas City gets the second seed and a bye week for the postseason.  I like both things to happen (Gates to score, but Kansas City to win) and I will give the Chargers a head start on the scoreboard.  PICK: Chiefs

SEATTLE (-9.5) at SAN FRANCISCO
Seattle has been playing better of late, and the 49ers are just abysmal on defense.  Throw in that Carlos Hyde is done for the year and Seattle should win and cover in this game even if they lacked a lot of motivation.  Once you factor in that Seattle needs a victory and some help to get a bye, and I love the Seahawks in this spot.  PICK: Seahawks

WASHINGTON (-7.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
Washington’s only hope for a playoff spot is to win and then Green Bay and Detroit do not rig the system and tie on Sunday Night Football.  Any other result in the late game and Washington is the six seed, giving the Giants their already clinched five spot in the postseason.  With Kirk Cousins and Pierre Garcon also chasing personal marks (Cousins needs 370 yards for 5,000 yards passing, Garcon needs 55 yards to reach 1,000), I like the motivation for Washington to secure a win against a Giants team that really does not care if Washington gets in to the postseason as there is no likely scenario where both teams meet again.  With New York guaranteed to play next week, the Giants could view this game as a chance to rest starters before a playoff push.  Washington wins by double digits.  PICK: Washington

DETROIT (+3.5) vs. GREEN BAY
Detroit was embarrassed on Monday Night Football by Dallas, but they still have a chance to rebound and win a spot in the playoffs with a huge game at home against the Packers.  A motivated home squad getting points is one of my favorite targets, and that is what the Lions represent here.  Throwing out the Cowboys result is not easy, but Detroit’s defense in the second half of the season has been outstanding.  Darius Slay missed Week 16 against Dallas and that was a huge factor.  Slay is already back practicing on Wednesday, so I am assuming he plays and boosts that defense.  His availability, along with Detroit’s motivation and getting more than a field goal, points me squarely at siding with the home team to close the NFL regular season.  PICK: Lions

 

BEST BETS

Once again this year I will give not only the "Best Bets" but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 "Star" scale. The more stars, the more I like that side of the game.

 

* ONE STAR GAMES *

  • MINNESOTA (-5) vs. CHICAGO
  • DALLAS (+4) at PHILADELPHIA
  • TAMPA BAY (-5.5) vs. CAROLINA
  • ATLANTA (-6.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
  • OAKLAND (+2) at DENVER
  • BALTIMORE “FOR THE WIN” (+120) at CINCINNATI  
  • JACKSONVILLE “FOR THE WIN” (+190) at INDIANPOLIS
  • NEW YORK JETS “FOR THE WIN” (+165) vs. BUFFALO (Bills lacking motivation and may want to lose)
  • DALLAS “FOR THE WIN” (+175) at PHILADELPHIA
  • SAN DIEGO  “FOR THE WIN” (+200) vs. KANSAS CITY (big narrative for the Chargers)
  • DETROIT “FOR THE WIN” (+170) vs. GREEN BAY
  • -TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+265 ODDS):
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+410 ODDS):
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
    • BALTIMORE (+8.5) at CINCINNATI  
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+610 ODDS):
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
    • BALTIMORE (+8.5) at CINCINNATI  
    • ARIZONA (EVEN) at LOS ANGELES
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+890 ODDS): 
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
    • BALTIMORE (+8.5) at CINCINNATI  
    • ARIZONA (EVEN) at LOS ANGELES
    • MINNESOTA (+1) vs. CHICAGO
  • 8-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+1275 ODDS): 
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
    • BALTIMORE (+8.5) at CINCINNATI  
    • ARIZONA (EVEN) at LOS ANGELES
    • MINNESOTA (+1) vs. CHICAGO
    • SEATTLE (-3.5) at SAN FRANCISCO
  • 9-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+1825 ODDS): 
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • OAKLAND (+8) at DENVER
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA
    • BALTIMORE (+8.5) at CINCINNATI  
    • ARIZONA (EVEN) at LOS ANGELES
    • MINNESOTA (+1) vs. CHICAGO
    • SEATTLE (-3.5) at SAN FRANCISCO
    • JACKSONVILLE (+11) at INDIANPOLIS

** TWO STAR GAMES **   

  • BALTIMORE (+2.5) at CINCINNATI  
  • JACKSONVILLE (+5) at INDIANPOLIS
  • BUFFALO (-3.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • ARIZONA (-6) at LOS ANGELES
  • SEATTLE (-9.5) at SAN FRANCISCO
  • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
  • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
  • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA 
  • 3 TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+165 ODDS): 
  • BUFFALO (-7.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
  • TENNESSEE (-6.5) vs. CLEVELAND  
  • LOS ANGELES “FOR THE WIN” (+150) at DETROIT
  • NEW ENGLAND (-8.5) vs. CINCINNATI
  • SEATTLE (-6) vs. ATLANTA
  • (Monday) ARIZONA (-7.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • 5-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (4.1-1 ODDS): 
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) at MIAMI
    • NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) vs. CINCINNATI
    • (Monday) ARIZONA (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS  
    • BUFFALO (-1.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • TENNESSEE (-0.5) vs. CLEVELAND   
  • 6-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (6.1-1 ODDS): 
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) at MIAMI
    • NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) vs. CINCINNATI
    • (Monday) ARIZONA (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS  
    • BUFFALO (-1.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • TENNESSEE (-0.5) vs. CLEVELAND  
    • SEATTLE (EVEN) vs. ATLANTA
  • 7-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (8.9-1 ODDS): 
    • PITTSBURGH (-1.5) at MIAMI
    • NEW ENGLAND (-2.5) vs. CINCINNATI
    • (Monday) ARIZONA (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS  
    • BUFFALO (-1.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO
    • TENNESSEE (-0.5) vs. CLEVELAND  
    • SEATTLE (EVEN) vs. ATLANTA
    • LOS ANGELES (+9.5) at DETROIT

** TWO STAR GAMES **

  • BALTIMORE (+2.5) at CINCINNATI  
  • JACKSONVILLE (+5) at INDIANPOLIS
  • BUFFALO (-3.5) vs. NEW YORK JETS
  • ARIZONA (-6) at LOS ANGELES
  • SEATTLE (-9.5) at SAN FRANCISCO 
  • 3 TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (+165 ODDS): 
    • WASHINGTON (-1.5) vs. NEW YORK GIANTS
    • ATLANTA (-0.5) vs. NEW ORLEANS
    • TAMPA BAY (+0.5) vs. CAROLINA 

*** THREE STAR GAMES ***

  • None this week.   

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK:  Baltimore, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Oakland, Arizona, Washington, Detroit

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 9-7 (56.3%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 4.9-12 (29.0%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 6-5 (54.5%)

Season

  • OVERALL: 118-117-5 (50.2%)
  • BEST BETS (STARS): 200.35-199-1 (50.2%)
  • PICK OF WEEK: 65-63-1 (50.8%)

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.