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NFL Picks Week 17: Latest Spreads for Sunday's Games

John RozumCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2011

NFL Picks Week 17: Latest Spreads for Sunday's Games

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    One week left in the 2011 NFL regular season means just one more opportunity to bet on every team until 2012.

    And with some non-playoff teams having a chance to play the spoiler role, well, count on Week 17 being quite exciting.

    So, here are the latest spreads for Sunday's games.

     

    Click the link for a listing view of the Week 17 NFL Line. All FAVORITES are in CAPS.

WSH-PHI, TB-ATL, SF-STL, CHI-MIN

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    Washington at PHILADELPHIA -8.5

    The last time these two met, Rex Grossman threw four picks and the Redskins lost 20-14 at home. And Washington may have upset the Giants in New York, but so did the Eagles.

    As for this game, being that Philadelphia has been rolling (three straight wins) and the Redskins still need to work with consistency, the 8.5-point spread is no surprise. The Eagles average almost 150 rush yards per game (rank No. 5) while the Redskins allow 120 (rank No. 19).

    Also, Washington lacks a consistent rush offense, and with Grossman under center, you can't expect the Redskins to really move the rock like Philadelphia's offense.

    Take the Eagles against the spread.


    Tampa Bay at ATLANTA -11.5

    The Falcons already clinched a playoff berth but need a win and a Lions loss to get the NFC's No. 5 seed. In turn, that will prevent the Falcons from playing at New Orleans in the Wild Card Round.

    The Buccaneers are on an eight-game losing streak, and they have arguably the NFL's worst defense and a flaky offense at best. The Falcons offense will score and move the ball effectively, but not nearly as much, since they can be turnover prone.

    Tampa's offense will have some success throwing the ball against Atlanta's weak pass defense, so despite losing in the long run, the Bucs will keep it within 12 points.

    Take the Buccaneers and the points.


    SAN FRANCISCO at St. Louis -10.5

    The Rams may have beaten the Saints at home, but we all know that was a fluke game. San Francisco's No. 7 ranked rush offense (averaging almost 130 yards per game) will bowl over the NFL's worst rush defense in St. Louis (allowing over 150 yards per game).

    Don't expect much from the 49ers passing game unless it's early on, which will put the Rams off balance quickly.

    San Francisco's defense will shut down Steven Jackson with the front seven and blanket Brandon Lloyd to negate any chance of success through the air. Not to mention, their pass rush will own the trenches.

    Take the 49ers against the spread.


    Chicago at MINNESOTA -1

    Two teams banged up by injuries, this is an interesting game to watch, as it gives backups a chance to shine. Both defenses are weak against the pass and decently respectable against the run.

    Each have one stud pass-rusher (Julius Peppers for Chicago, Jared Allen for Minnesota), and the offenses are just horrendous because of injuries. The difference here, though, comes in the form of rookie QB Christian Ponder.

    In addition, the Vikings do play well at home, and for as great as Devin Hester is on special teams, we can't expect Minnesota to punt to him.

    Take the Vikings against the spread.

DET-GB, NYG-DAL, CAR-NO, TEN-HOU

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    DETROIT at Green Bay -3.5

    Whether the Packers decide to rest their starters or not, the Week 17 game between Green Bay and Detroit will be a barn-burner.

    The Lions have already locked up a playoff spot, however they need a win to avoid the Saints in the Wild Card Round. Expect the starters of both teams to play quite a bit, but Detroit's will play more.

    So, count their solid pass offense against an already vulnerable Packers pass defense, and the Lions will move the ball regardless of who's in. And no matter the outcome, it will be within four points.

    Take the Packers and the points.


    Dallas at NY GIANTS -3

    Ah, we come to the Sunday night game that will determine the NFC's final seed: Cowboys at Giants.

    Both teams are literally duplicates of one another, as they can air it out offensively, have at least one stud pass-rusher and a pass defense that's quite weak. Not to mention, both have dealt with some significant injuries throughout the year.

    The difference in this game will simply be who has the ball last. They'll score and go back and forth all game long. That said, when in doubt, take the points.

    Take the Cowboys and the points.


    Carolina at NEW ORLEANS -8

    On some level, the New Orleans Saints have nothing to play for because they'll either get the NFC's No. 2 or 3 seed in the playoffs. So, that means they'll most likely play San Francisco on the road or at home in January.

    Well, they need the Rams to upset the 49ers to have a chance, which won't happen.

    Therefore, once they build a solid lead, New Orleans will hit cruise control. Carolina, on the other hand, also has a Top 10 offense and can score almost at will.

    They can get a decent pass rush from Charles Johnson, but the question is whether they can stay within one scoring possession of The Big Easy in The Superdome.

    Take the Saints against the spread.

     

    TENNESSEE at Houston -3

    The Texans have literally nothing to play for unless they want to completely knock out the Tennessee Titans' chances of making the postseason.

    A win and some help gives the Titans an outside shot at the playoffs, however they would then have to play at Houston in the Wild Card Round. As for this game, neither team has much confidence since both lost to the Indianapolis Colts in consecutive weeks.

    Add in Houston's injuries and Tennessee's inconsistency, and this will be an ugly game. The Texans still have a Top Five defense though, as well as the No. 2 ranked rushing offense.

    To prevent a division rival from any shot at the playoffs seems like motivation enough.

    Take the Texans and the points.

BAL-CIN, PIT-CLE, IND-JAX, NYJ-MIA

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    BALTIMORE at Cincinnati -2

    Arguably the game of the week because of its postseason implications on the rest of the AFC, the Ravens and Bengals meet in Cincinnati.

    Here, we see Baltimore having struggled on the road (3-4) despite having a Top 5 defense. Thing is, they also have stepped up in every big game of 2011 (Steelers twice, 49ers, Texans). Cincinnati, though, was without rookie WR AJ Green in the first meeting where Balty won, 31-24.

    It's certainly going to be a nail-biter, but Baltimore has a lot to play for as the division, a playoff bye and keeping a division rival out of the postseason is on the line.

    Cincinnati is still a few steps back because of its youth.

    Take the Ravens against the spread.


    PITTSBURGH at Cleveland -7

    Although the game is in Cleveland, it doesn't matter. The Steelers simply have too much talent for Cleveland to overcome on both sides of the ball.

    Regardless of the starting QBs, Pittsburgh's defense will completely blank the Browns' offense, and the Steelers' offense will methodically gain momentum as the game progresses.

    Cleveland lacks confidence (as evidenced by its No. 30 ranked rush defense) and has arguably the NFL's worst offense.

    The Browns won't score more than seven points, and Pittsburgh will at least get 14 like the first meeting.

    Take the Steelers against the spread.


    Indianapolis at JACKSONVILLE -3.5

    A game with literally nothing on the line except pride, the Colts head into Jacksonville on a two-game win streak.

    Neither team has much of a passing offense, but Jacksonville has a man named Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's current leading rusher, and the Colts rank No. 29 against the run (allow 141 per game).

    Also, the Jags do have a respectable defense and are capable of shutting down solid offenses, like Baltimore in Week 7.

    Take the Jaguars against the spread.


    NY Jets at MIAMI -2.5

    The Jets come into Miami needing a win and some help to make the playoffs. Well, based on how well the Dolphins have played since the middle of the season, don't expect Miami to lay down.

    Reggie Bush has become a wrecking force on the ground, gaining over 100 rush yards in each of his last four games (200 in one of them). Also, the Dolphins defense has been winning in the trenches thanks to their No. 3 ranked rush defense (allowing 93.4 yards per game).

    The Jets have struggled with consistency all season, and the offense has lacked explosiveness for quite some time. The Dolphins offense is much more balanced and will win the game.

    Take the Dolphins against the spread.

BUF-NE, SD-OAK, KC-DEN, SEA-ARZ

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    Buffalo at NEW ENGLAND -11

    If there's one team we know won't rest its starters, it's the New England Patriots. And especially because a win earns them the AFC's No. 1 seed.

    All playoff implications aside, though, New England wants a win over Buffalo to avenge its early-season loss to the Bills. Buffalo's pass defense still thrives on turnovers, and Tom Brady is still one of the best gunslingers in the game.

    The Bills may score more than most expect thanks to a vulnerable New England pass defense, but the Pats know they're capable of shutting Buffalo down.

    Take the Patriots against the spread.


    San Diego at OAKLAND -3

    Not much has changed since these two last met. Oakland still counts on Michael Bush on the ground, and San Diego continues to be an inconsistent team. They may have won three in a row, which included a win over Baltimore, but the Ravens struggle on the road.

    As for Oakland, the Chargers have no answer to slow the Raiders' rushing attack. Carson Palmer has improved under center, and based on last week's performance in Detroit, Philip Rivers and Co. are no longer on track.

    Oakland also has the special teams advantage with kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler—an area of football that has cost the Chargers quite a bit the past few seasons.

    Take the Raiders against the spread.


    Kansas City at DENVER -3.5

    The difference in this game will be the Broncos' pass rush versus the Chiefs' pass rush. Kansas City has Tamba Hali, and Denver has a duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

    Pass rush is the difference because K.C. QB Kyle Orton is nowhere near as mobile as Tim Tebow. Both have solid rushing attacks, however the Chiefs are much better at throwing the rock.

    That being said, the game will likely come down to Broncos kicker Matt Prater. The Chiefs are susceptible on special teams, unlike Denver, so the most unnoticeable aspect of the game will be a major factor.

    Take the Broncos against the spread.

     

    Seattle at ARIZONA -3

    Another game with no meaning other than to play for pride, Arizona hosts Seattle for the right to be No. 2 in the NFC West.

    Both have made late-season surges and were on the cusp of the postseason until after Week 16.

    Seattle has the beast, RB Marshawn Lynch, whereas Arizona has WR Larry Fitzgerald, a man the Seahawks can't cover one-on-one. Unfortunately for the Cardinals though, the Seahawks have an excellent pass rush.

    In turn, that's the difference with Lynch controlling the game tempo on the ground.

    Take the Seahawks and the points.

     

    Follow John Rozum on Twitter @ Sportswriter27

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