NFL Week 17 Predictions: Can't-Miss Picks and Matchup Guide

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2013

Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) talks with San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen (13) after a missed third down attempt during the second half against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 26-13. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The 2013 NFL regular season is drawing to a close with gamblers having one more opportunity to wager on a complete slate of contests.

Whether you cleaned up this year or are looking to bounce back with one incredible week, I have you covered.

Keep reading to find out which games are worth betting big on, plus a look at the updated lines and my picks for each contest on tap in Week 17.

Week 17 Lines and Predictions
Home TeamAway TeamPick (Spread)
Carolina PanthersAtlanta FalconsPanthers (-6.5)
Green Bay PackersChicago BearsN/A
Houston TexansTennessee TitansTitans (-7)
Washington RedskinsNew York GiantsRedskins (+4)
Cleveland BrownsPittsburgh SteelersBrowns (+7)
Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsBengals (-6.5)
Jacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsColts (-11.5)
Philadelphia EaglesDallas CowboysEagles (-7)
New York JetsMiami DolphinsDolphins (-6.5)
Detroit LionsMinnesota VikingsVikings (-3)
Buffalo BillsNew England PatriotsBills (+9.5)
Tampa Bay BuccaneersNew Orleans SaintsSaints (-13)
Denver BroncosOakland RaidersRaiders (+13)
San Francisco 49ersArizona Cardinals49ers (-1.5)
Kansas City ChiefsSan Diego ChargersChargers (-9.5)
St. Louis RamsSeattle SeahawksSeahawks (-10)


San Diego Chargers (-9.5) over Kansas City Chiefs

The Bolts have a distinct edge in this one considering they might still be fighting for their postseason lives while the Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

According to Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, there seems to be a decent chance that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid winds up resting his starters ahead of their upcoming playoff opener:

San Diego will be in position to punch a ticket to the playoffs if both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins lose. Those teams kick off at 1 p.m. ET, opening the door for the Chargers to know if they have a chance or not to continue their season when they take to the field at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Regardless, expect the Bolts to try to end their season on a high note and play their starters for much of the way, even if they are mathematically eliminated by the time things get underway.

According to Marcus DiNitto of Sporting News, LVH SuperBook assistant manager Ed Salmons revealed that this spread was difficult to pin down:

It’s kind of weird, because they usually have these teams (whose results can affect one another's playoff chances) playing at the same time, but for whatever reason they’re having San Diego play after the fact. Kansas City figures to rest everyone or maybe play them a quarter at most. We knew San Diego was going to be the favorite, we just didn’t know how high. I still think it’s going to be somewhere between 7.5 and 10 – I think 10 will be the high point.

Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid walks on the field during a timeout against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 56-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TOD
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

If you are convinced that both the Dolphins and Ravens are going to lose, it may not be a bad idea to bet this line now. If you aren’t so certain, wait until the final result of one of those contests and get in a last-second bet if the spread shifts in Kansas City’s favor.

Either way, the Chargers are a smart bet to get behind this week due to one of those unique situations that only arise in the NFL’s final week of the regular season.


Buffalo Bills (+9.5) over New England Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots catches a pass during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Both of these AFC East rivals put on clinics in Week 16. The Patriots dismantled new-found rival Baltimore in a 41-7 blowout that may have ended the Ravens season, while Buffalo blanked the Dolphins in a 19-0 rout.

This Foxborough-based matchup is a must-win game for the Pats, but the Bills aren’t about to roll over and let the division winners walk all over them. While the Pats will be playing hard and eyeing both home-field advantage and a bye—which they will more than likely have to beat Buffalo in order to earn, it isn’t going to be easy.

The Patriots understand that mistakes and poor play are going to haunt them more so than these things were at the start of the season. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports noted that superstar quarterback Tom Brady recently admitted as much:

"Our margin of error is very slim. We can't make any mistakes or give them any opportunities. If we have plays that are there to be made, then I've got to throw it and hit it. We've got to come up with them."

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a second half touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the Patriots 41-7 win at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob
Rob Carr/Getty Images

That will be difficult against an elite Bills defense that is second in the league in turnovers and first in the league in sacks. Brady is going to be under pressure throughout the contest and will likely make at least one critical mistake.

Factor in the high-powered Buffalo rushing attack, which has gained an average of over 142 yards per game, against a New England front that averages allowing over 131 yards per game, and you are looking at the recipe for a close contest.

The Pats won their first meeting, 23-21, in Week 1. The final score this Sunday could look very similar. Expect the final drive of the game to decide which team emerges victorious.

Take the points in this situation, as Buffalo is too good to allow its opposition to win by more than a touchdown.


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