NFL Week 17 Predictions: Latest Odds and Picks Against the Spread
Welcome to the 12th round of this classic heavyweight fight.
In one corner, stands your prognosticator. In the other, a level of success that seemed impossible.
A .500 record.
The 2012 NFL season came out throwing haymakers, but I've managed to stay on my feet. In time, I landed a few body blows and now have a puncher's chance.
Click through for Week 17's NFL picks against the spread, also known as my strategy for landing a knockout.
Or at least making it to the decision stage.
Last Week's Record: 10-6
Season Record: 116-122-2
All lines provided by footballlocks.com.
New York Jets vs. BUFFALO BILLS (-3.5)
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I learned a valuable lesson about giving up on lame-duck coaches. When even a renowned competitor like Tim Tebow throws in the towel, you do not lay points with said team. Ever.
Of course, I didn't know that prior to last week's New York Jets pick, but I should have seen it coming. It's important to spot these situations and ride them before Vegas catches on.
The Buffalo Bills seem to have more give-a-crap left than the Jets and they are essentially only giving up a half-point.
This is like starting out with a light jab just to test mediocrity's reactions.
Miami Dolphins vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-10)
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Basically the same analysis from last week, but with an even higher probability of success.
Partly because the Miami Dolphins passing defense is atrocious. Mostly because Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren't going to allow the possibility of home-field advantage or a first-round bye to be squandered.
If either the Broncos or Texans lose, New England jumps up a spot due to head-to-head wins. If both lose, the Pats gain the No. 1 spot by virtue of having the best conference record.
Ten points is not enough against a ticked off Brady with a goal to achieve.
Baltimore Ravens at CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3)
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I called out Joe Flacco last week, and he responded. If I were a betting man, I'd be willing to wager that he doesn't do it two weeks in a row.
At least not in Cincy.
The Cincinnati Bengals broke through to a new level of respect against the Steelers. The defense and Geno Atkins are not to be trifled with. Or, in this case, picked against.
Lastly, with the division firmly in hand, it will be difficult for the Baltimore Ravens to ratchet up the intensity after such a stress-relieving win.
Cleveland Browns vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (No Line)
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Nothing on the line here except draft positioning and possibly Pat Shurmur's job. Therefore, the Pittsburgh Steelers have zero motivation to win this game.
Yet, I still can't take Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh. That's way too big of a leap of faith for me.
He's only managed two quarterback ratings over 80 in wins (92.7 against Cincy and 88.2 against Oakland). He even posted a meager 55.9 in one victory.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-4.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts
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One team got the big win last week. The other did not.
One team has something on the line (home-field advantage). The other does not.
The Indianapolis Colts are excited to be in the playoffs.
If you read Monday Morning Quarterback (and you should), it seemed like a huge sigh of relief has already been released. The postseason party has started, and the Colts don't appear to be focusing as intently this week.
The return of Chuck Pagano will be inspirational, yet his return could diminish the whole win-one-for-him mantra. Nobody pumps that story when it is about himself.
There has been plenty of chatter that Arian Foster has taken too many hits and has lost his burst. He'll silence the noise versus a defense that just surrendered 352 yards on the ground.
Chicago Bears vs. DETROIT LIONS (+3)
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Because this is exactly what the Detroit Lions do. They win games they shouldn't and vice versa.
Because, again, this is what the Lions do. They get their fans' hopes up when there is nothing on the line.
Because this is what the Chicago Bears do. At least recently. Start out the season on fire and then watch it all go down the toilet.
Because it's a home dog in a divisional rivalry.
Because these teams are too unpredictable.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+4) vs. Tennessee Titans
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I don't know.
This game...ugh. Is anyone anywhere excited to watch this game?
Presumably, they're going to play this one out. If Roger Goodell had a shred of humanity in him, he'd euthanize this game and put us all out of our misery.
Regardless, the Tennessee Titans have been shellacked too many times. I'll take those four points and enough whiskey to remove all memory of this pick please.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (+9.5) vs. New York Giants
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Is there a more frustrating team to wager on than the New York Giants?
They've won two titles in the last five years, so the fans can't complain. However, therein lies the problem. We've seen this team's potential.
They are capable of pounding the San Francisco 49ers. They are also capable of having their lunch money taken by the Atlanta Falcons.
Therefore, 9.5 points is too many to lay.
Dallas Cowboys vs. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (-3)
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It all comes down to this game. The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys will battle for the right to lose to the Seattle Seahawks.
Tony Romo continued his recent hot streak versus the New Orleans Saints, and the Skins secondary doesn't pose much of a threat. But Robert Griffin III can keep pace and Washington can run the ball, giving it control over the clock.
Basically, I'll call the Skins front seven and the Cowboys secondary a wash, as well as allow the two quarterbacks to cancel each other out. Since Alfred Morris is better than anybody Dallas has to offer, I'll lay the three.
It's all very scientific.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings
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The Minnesota Vikings walked into the Texans' house and soundly trounced them. That's great. It really is.
But the Green Bay Packers are a completely different animal. Aside from looking somewhat pedestrian against the Bears, they're straight murdering folks.
Aaron Rodgers, who for some reason isn't getting any MVP buzz, will be more than Adrian Peterson and company can overcome. Seriously, after 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions, what more does Rodgers need to do?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. ATLANTA FALCONS (No Line)
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There's probably no line because people are having a hard time counting as high as this line needs to go.
Also, the oddsmakers have no idea how long Mike Smith is going to risk an injury to his starters. It's a dangerous guessing game figuring out how long players should stay on the field when they won't play for two weeks.
How many teams have we seen derailed by rust?
As for this game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers no longer resemble the Fighting Schianos of yester-month. They look meek and disinterested.
Carolina Panthers vs. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-4.5)
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Tough game to figure.
Cam Newton has looked great lately. He's confident and not taking flak from anyone. Especially referees.
Think that might be in the back of the zebras' minds when Newton lines up against a team that was recently involved in a pay-for-pain scandal?
No? Me either. But it is an interesting coincidence.
Anyways, Drew Brees will continue his Sean Payton reminder tour. As in, remember-that-I'm-one-of-the-best-quarterbacks-in-the-league-and-don't-go-to-Dallas tour.
Oakland Raiders vs. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (No Line)
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I've been trying to figure out how the San Diego Chargers even market this game.
Get some fresh air in sunny San Diego while drinking overpriced beer? I'd rather grab a 30 pack (roughly the same price as two stadium beers) and hit the beach.
The Oakland Raiders suck more than us? Might turn a few head and get a few chuckles. Ultimately, I don't see it selling many tickets.
Norv Turner's going-away party? Bingo.
As for the lack of football discussion on this slide, I'll start discussing football when these two start playing it.
Arizona Cardinals vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-15.5)
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"That's a lot of points for a team that just got trounced."
I know. But can't you see the San Francisco 49ers coming out breathing fire and piling up points to lock up their NFC West title.
"Still dude. That's more than two touchdowns."
Again, I can count. But the Arizona Cardinals are so bad that they've been playing a quarterback they signed off the street. A quarterback that no team bothered to sign all year (although the lack of interest in Brian Hoyer was somewhat surprising).
The Cards are throwing everything against the wall in the hopes that something will stick. That's not worth 15.5 points.
St. Louis Rams vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-10)
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I love betting on the St. Louis Rams when they're underdogs. Usually. Although I strayed last week.
They are a scrappy team molded in Jeff Fisher's and Cortland Finnegan's images. Being underdogs suits them.
However, we're talking about a Seattle Seahawks squad that doesn't mess around at home (read: undefeated). We're also talking about a squad that has smashed through the last month of the season like a wrecking ball.
The offense has a systematic look to it. Just plug it in and watch it spit out points.
And the defense has done the job all season long.
Ten points seems appropriate.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. DENVER BRONCOS (-16)
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I can't think of a single way that the Kansas City Chiefs score in this game.
Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis? The Denver Broncos strangle opponents' rushing games, allowing just 91 yards per game.
The passing game? You mean the one helmed by Brady Quinn?
The Broncos are solid against the pass, but they don't need to be. Quinn isn't scoring.
So that leaves the defense. Against Peyton Manning.
Sixteen doesn't seem like such a high number anymore.
Plus, we've been touting Manning's effect on Denver's focus for awhile. With a first-round bye on the line, this would be a dumb time to abandon that line of thinking.