NFL Week 17 Picks: Predicting the Winner and Final Scores for All Season FinalesDecember 27, 2016
Week 17 of the NFL season is upon us. The week's schedule isn't especially flashy—there are no Thursday or Monday night games—but there is a lot that can be decided on the field.
There is still a playoff spot up for grabs in the NFC, and there are plenty of seeding issues yet to be resolved. The NFC North and AFC West have yet to crown division champions, and the No. 1 seed is still unsettled in the AFC.
In other words, there are plenty of reasons to watch Week 17, which will begin and end on Sunday.
We're going to take a look ahead at the year's final week and make our predictions for each game. We'll examine the games, the latest odds—courtesy of OddsShark—and look at some of the most significant games of the week.
Week 17 Schedule, Odds and Predictions
|NFL Week 17|
|Dallas at Philadelphia||PHI -6||26-24 DAL|
|Cleveland at Pittsburgh||PIT -7||22-18 PIT|
|Buffalo at NY Jets||BUF -6||28-17 BUF|
|Jacksonville at Indianapolis||IND -4.5||28-20 IND|
|New England at Miami||NE -9.5||30-24 NE|
|Chicago at Minnesota||MIN -5.5||23-19 MIN|
|Houston at Tennessee||TEN -3||25-22 TEN|
|Baltimore at Cincinnati||CIN -2.5||19-17 CIN|
|Carolina at Tampa Bay||TB -6.5||31-22 TB|
|NY Giants at Washington||WAS -8||34-27 WAS|
|New Orleans at Atlanta||ATL -7||37-24 ATL|
|Arizona at Los Angeles||ARI -6||26-20 ARI|
|Oakland at Denver||DEN -2||20-17 DEN|
|Seattle at San Francisco||SEA -9.5||30-20 SEA|
|Kansas City at San Diego||KC -4.5||24-21 KC|
|Green Bay at Detroit||GB -3||26-23 GB|
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday's matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons is huge because it could decide which team gets the No. 2 seed in the NFC. If the Falcons win, they'll own it. If they lose, however, the Seattle Seahawks will have a shot to slip in and steal the first-round bye.
The Saints, who have been competitive this season despite their record, will definitely be trying to spoil the new year for the Falcons. However, we think the Atlanta offense will be too much to overcome at home.
The Falcons are rated first in overall offense by Pro Football Focus and average an NFL-best 33.5 points per game. The offense has ripped through opponents in recent weeks, scoring at least 28 points in each of its past five contests.
While the Saints also feature a potent offense, their defense leaves quite a bit to be desired. As a team, New Orleans is rated just 26th in overall defense by Pro Football Focus. While the Saints might be able to keep pace on the scoreboard for a time, the Falcons should be able to pull away when it matters.
Atlanta is likely to come out firing early and should lock up a first-round bye with a comfortable win over New Orleans.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The New England Patriots have struggled against the Miami Dolphins on the road in recent years. In fact, the Patriots have lost their last three games when playing the Dolphins in Florida.
If New England loses again on Sunday, it will put the team in jeopardy of losing the top seed in the AFC. The Patriots are 13-2 but would lose a tiebreaker to the Oakland Raiders if both teams finish 13-3 for the year.
This is why the Patriots cannot afford a letdown in Week 17.
"Thirteen wins is pretty good," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady explained, per Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald. "We’ve got to try to finish strong, though, next week."
Our guess is that New England gets out to an early lead and then plays just hard enough to earn a comfortable victory down the stretch. As much as the Patriots might want to embarrass their division rivals like they did the New York Jets in Week 16, we're not sure they'll take too many risks against a Dolphins team that may again be without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Both the Patriots and the Dolphins are locks for the postseason. The Patriots, though, are likely to finish as locks for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
There is going to be a lot at stake in Sunday's matchup between the Raiders and the Denver Broncos. If the Patriots lose, the Raiders will have a chance to steal the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win.
If the Raiders lose in Denver, though, they could lose the conference's No. 2 seed and the AFC West division title. The Kansas City Chiefs would also need to beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, which would prompt both teams to finish 12-4 for the season.
Should this occur, the Chiefs would come out ahead because of two head-to-head wins over Oakland.
The problem for Oakland here is that the team will be playing without Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr, who suffered a broken fibula last week against the Indianapolis Colts. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Carr will undergo surgery this week and will likely miss six to eight weeks:
With Carr out, the Raiders will be forced to lean on Matt McGloin, who hasn't started a regular-season game since the 2013 season. He and the Raiders will be going up against a Denver defense that is rated first overall by Pro Football Focus for the season so far.
If the Raiders fail to win, there's a strong chance they end up playing on the road from start to finish in the postseason.