NFL Predictions Week 17: Picks and Projections for Top Upsets on the Schedule

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2016

As usual, Week 17 offers plenty of strong upset opportunities.
As usual, Week 17 offers plenty of strong upset opportunities.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Those NFL bettors who love the upset picks and the potential huge payouts that come with them have one more week to take advantage of a full slate. 

Luckily for those folks, Week 17 is ripe with more underdog opportunities than the usual action. The NFL unleashes plenty of rivalry games as the playoffs hang in the balance. The allure to play the spoiler or finish the season with a bang always produces some chaos, which smooth bettors know how to exploit.

Even huge lines aren't safe this week. Keep in mind playoff-bound teams might rest starters randomly. Heck, keep in mind the Cleveland Browns got a win last week (as we projected).

Let's take a look at the full intriguing slate and narrow down some of the top upset chances.

     

NFL Week 17 Odds

MatchupSpreadO/UPredicted Winner
Dallas at PhiladelphiaPHI -642.5DAL 24-20
Cleveland at PittsburghPIT -744PIT 28-20
Buffalo at NY JetsBUF -644BUF 23-20
Jacksonville at IndianapolisIND -4.547IND 30-24
New England at MiamiNE -9.544.5NE 27-20
Chicago at MinnesotaMIN -5.541CHI 20-17
Houston at TennesseeTEN -340HOU 23-17
Baltimore at CincinnatiCIN -2.541BAL 26-23
Carolina at Tampa BayTB -6.546.5TB 27-24
NY Giants at WashingtonWAS -844WAS 34-28
New Orleans at AtlantaATL -756ATL 35-30
Arizona at Los AngelesARI -641LA 23-20
Oakland at DenverDEN -240.5OAK 24-23
Seattle at San FranciscoSEA -9.543SEA 27-14
Kansas City at San DiegoKC -4.545KC 24-17
Green Bay at DetroitGB -346.5GB 28-24
OddsShark; author's projections

    

Chicago at Minnesota (-5.5) 

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Look, sometimes the most unattractive of games leads to nice upset payouts—San Diego-Cleveland didn't look like much fun last week.

This week, take a gander at a showdown between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, two flailing teams without much of a direction. The Bears have lost three in a row, the Vikings two.

Minnesota stands as the favorite at home here because of a 7-8 record, though bettors know five of those wins came at the start of the season. The entire team has fizzled and Adrian Peterson hasn't exactly returned and created a boon.

In fact, the Vikings haven't even shown much of a fight over the past two weeks in 34-6 and 38-25 losses. Chicago, at least, has lost two of its last three by a field goal. 

Again, unattractive, but the Bears hold an advantage in this matchup on paper, hence the team winning 20-10 in the Week 8 encounter. There, Jordan Howard ran for 153 yards and a score in a lopsided affair.

"We're a good team," guard Brandon Fusco said after, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "It's not us. It's not Viking football. That's what is frustrating, we're such a good team. What we're putting out on the field is not us. We have to watch the film and get better from this."

This has been a running theme with the Vikings since the Week 6 bye, after which the team has gone 2-8. The Bears keep fighting and have talented players like Howard who can carry the roster in a bad game. Minnesota just shows up.

Prediction: Bears 20-17

      

Houston at Tennessee (-3)

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Bettors should pounce on this one before it changes too much. 

If Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota were healthy, this line would look more appetizing. But he suffered a leg injury in Week 16, per the team.

Now pair this with the fact the Houston Texans have already upended the Titans once, and one can begin to see why this is one of the better upset picks of the week.

In the first matchup, a 27-20 Texans win in Week 4, the Houston defense held Mariota to 202 yards and an interception. Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler tossed a pair of touchdowns and picks and the ground game churned out 115 yards on a 4.8 per-carry average.

J.J. Watt or not, the defense continues to make notable strides, as Texans PR helped to point out:

Said defense has stepped up big over the course of the team's three-game winning streak to close the season and bust into the playoffs, holding opponents to 20 points or less. Tennessee, Mariota or not, dropped a 38-17 game to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16.

With Tennessee forced into a one-dimensional attack on the ground and deflated after an injury popped its postseason balloon, look for the Texans to take advantage and grind out a victory.

Prediction: Texans 23-17

     

Baltimore at Cincinnati (-2.5)

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Though both teams have played ugly as of late, an AFC North encounter between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals always makes for a good time.

Cincinnati has lost two in a row and sits on a miserable 5-9-1 record. Baltimore had playoff aspirations, but the team dropped two of its last three to fall to 8-7. For the former, the losses were merely shrug-worthy formalities, while the latter lost understandably tough games against the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers by no more than seven points in each on the road.

Bettors can see where this one is headed. The Bengals threw up the white flag weeks ago, ensuring they didn't give Cleveland its first win but doing little else since. The team just placed tight end Tyler Eifert on injured reserve.

These rivals met in Week 12, and Eifert scored the only touchdown for the Bengals in the 19-14 loss. Joe Flacco's one touchdown doesn't sound like much, but it started a nice tear, and he now has 10 touchdowns to five interceptions over the last five games.

Simply put, Baltimore has played much better football in more difficult circumstances by comparison. A team going through the motions against a team angry with how the season played out has an obvious outcome.

Bettors can bank on the Ravens keeping the Bengals at bay for most of the day before winning on a field goal late.

Prediction: Ravens 26-23

     

Odds according to OddsSharkStats courtesy of NFL.com. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus

Follow Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) on Twitter.

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