NFL Week 17 Picks: Predicting the Winner and Final Scores for All Season Finales

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2016

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws during the first quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Getty Images

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 PhiladelphiaPHI -626-24 DAL
Cleveland at PittsburghPIT -722-18 PIT
Buffalo at NY JetsBUF -628-17 BUF
Jacksonville at IndianapolisIND -4.528-20 IND
New England at MiamiNE -9.530-24 NE
Chicago at MinnesotaMIN -5.523-19 MIN
Houston at TennesseeTEN -325-22 TEN
Baltimore at CincinnatiCIN -2.519-17 CIN
Carolina at Tampa BayTB -6.531-22 TB
NY Giants at WashingtonWAS -834-27 WAS
New Orleans at AtlantaATL -737-24 ATL
Arizona at Los AngelesARI -626-20 ARI
Oakland at DenverDEN -220-17 DEN
Seattle at San FranciscoSEA -9.530-20 SEA
Kansas City at San DiegoKC -4.524-21 KC
Green Bay at DetroitGB -326-23 GB


Key Matchups

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers in the 1st quarter during the game at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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.

Joe Schad @schadjoe

Adam Gase says he does not know if Ryan Tannehill will play this week.

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:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Raiders QB Derek Carr expected to undergo surgery on fractured fibula Tuesday in Los Angeles, per source. Recovery timetable is 6-8 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.