We are somehow already at the end of the 2013 NFL regular season, but there are plenty of games that matter in Week 17.
Some teams are scrapping for a playoff berth, others jockeying for postseason seeding. Some teams are just playing for pride and the opportunity to finish the year with a positive performance (I’m looking at you, Houston Texans).
For the last time of the year, here are against-the-spread picks and a breakdown of why some favorites are guaranteed to cover the spread.
|Away Team||Home Team||ATS Pick|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||CAR -6.5|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||No Line Set|
|Houston Texans||Tennessee Titans||TEN -6|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||CLE +7|
|Washington Redskins||New York Giants||WAS +3.5|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -6|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Indianapolis Colts||JAC +11.5|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Dallas Cowboys||PHI -6.5|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||NYJ +6.5|
|Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings||DET +3|
|Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots||NE -9.5|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New Orleans Saints||TB +12.5|
|Denver Broncos||Oakland Raiders||DEN -12.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||SF -1.5|
|Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||SD -9.5|
|St. Louis Rams||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -10.5|
All odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com
Seattle Seahawks (-10.5) over St. Louis Rams
The unthinkable happened last week: Russell Wilson lost at home for the first time in his career. The Seattle Seahawks are one win away from clinching home field for the playoffs, but their opponents will have some cause for hope after their Week 16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Pete Carroll will look to squash that hope in the final game of the year.
That won’t be an easy feat against the St. Louis Rams, who have won four of their last six games and have done it without their starting quarterback.
When the two teams met in St. Louis, it was a narrow five-point win for the Seahawks—who needed a goal-line stand at the very end to avoid the upset loss. This week it’ll be a very different outcome.
For starters, despite last week’s loss, Seattle is a tremendously difficult place to play—the Seahawks are outscoring opponents by an average of 15 points per game at home.
In addition, the Rams pass rush won’t dominate the game like they did in Week 8 to the tune of seven sacks. With starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini back in action and fully healthy, the Seahawks will re-establish their home-field advantage in convincing fashion.
San Diego Chargers (-9.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
That nine-and-a-half-point line would look very different if both teams were playing at full strength, but that’s not going to be the case according to NBC Sports:
According to Andy Reid, the Chiefs are going to "mix and match" starters and reserves this week. http://t.co/3oQnOC0bZf— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 25, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs have nothing to play for, and head coach Andy Reid is going to treat Week 17 like a glorified preseason game. We’re not going to see a whole lot of Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali or any of the other superstars.
On the other hand, the San Diego Chargers have everything to play for. They need other things to go right for them to have a chance at the playoffs, but they need a win to keep their hopes alive.
Even if San Diego can’t make the playoffs by the time their 4:25 p.m. ET game rolls around, the home game against a second-string Chiefs team will be one-sided.
Carolina Panthers (-6.5) over Atlanta Falcons
With a win, the Carolina Panthers will secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, so you know they will come to play with a lot of intensity. Their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, have been decimated by injuries and hampered by an abysmal defense, and they won’t be able to make Tony Gonzalez’s last game a victory.
This game will be decided on the ground, where the Panthers have a huge advantage.
|Team||Rushing Yards Per Game (NFL Rank)||Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game (NFL Rank)|
|Carolina Panthers||126.1 (11th)||87.7 (2nd)|
|Atlanta Falcons||78.1 (32nd)||135.9 (31st)|
Carolina will dominate time of possession and move the ball with ease considering how porous the Falcons’ defense is.
|Passing Yards Per Game||250||25th|
|Passer Rating Allowed||103.6||32nd|
|Yards per Attempt Allowed||8.1||31st|
|Points Allowed Per Game||28.1||29th|
Week 17 will be an easy win for the Panthers, as they set their sights on their first playoff game since 2008.