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NFL Picks Week 17: Reviewing Expert Predictions, Vegas Odds and Final Schedule

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2019

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks for a receiver under pressure in the first half against the Tennessee Titans in the game at Nissan Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With the playoff picture close to complete, the NFL regular season often ends with a thud instead of a bang. This isn't going to be one of those years.

Nearly half of the league (15 teams) have locked down a playoff spot or are still eligible. Three first-round byes, two divisions and one wild-card spot will be determined in the final week. For invested fans and casuals alike, there should be plenty of excitement in Week 17.

The playoff picture could look drastically different depending on how games unfold. The San Francisco 49ers, for example, could finish as the No. 1 seed in the NFC or the fifth seed.

Here, you'll find a look at how some of the web's experts believe things will play out. We'll dig into the consensus predictions—from NFLPickWatch.com—along with the latest lines and over/unders from Caesars.

       

Week 17 Lines, Over/Unders and Score Predictions

Atlanta Falcons (+1.5, 47.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Atlanta 30-27

Cleveland Browns (-3, 44.5) at Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati 24-20

Chicago Bears (+1, 36.5) at Minnesota Vikings: Chicago 20-17

Los Angeles Chargers (+9, 44.5) at Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City 31-21

Miami Dolphins (+15.5, 44.5) at New England Patriots: New England 27-14

Green Bay Packers (-12.5, 43) at Detroit Lions: Green Bay 33-20

New Orleans Saints (-13, 46) at Carolina Panthers: New Orleans 28-20

New York Jets (+1.5, 36) at Buffalo Bills: Buffalo 18-13

Indianapolis Colts (-4, 43) at Jacksonville Jaguars: Indianapolis 30-20

Oakland Raiders (+3.5, 41) at Denver Broncos: Oakland 26-24

Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5, 45) at New York Giants: Philadelphia 28-26

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5, 37.5) at Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore 16-15

Tennessee Titans (-3.5, 45.5) at Houston Texans: Tennessee 27-17

Washington Redskins (+11, 44.5) at Dallas Cowboys: Dallas 30-18

Arizona Cardinals (no line) at Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles 28-26

San Francisco 49ers (-3, 47) at Seattle Seahawks: San Francisco 26-23

     

Experts' Week 17 Locks

Craig Lassig/Associated Press

Only four teams have received 100 percent of the picks compiled at NFLPickWatch.com. They are the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. None of these four should be seen as a surprise.

The Patriots need a win over the Miami Dolphins to secure the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The Packers need a win over the Detroit Lions to secure a first-round bye in the NFC—either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, depending on the outcome of the San Francisco versus Seattle Seahawks clash.

The Dolphins and the Lions have been two of the league's worst teams this season—though Miami has shown a lot of fight down the stretch—so, naturally, the Patriots and Packers are heavy favorites.

The Chiefs can only secure a bye with a win over the Los Angeles Chargers and a Patriots loss. Since Kansas City and New England play at the same time, though, the Chiefs will play to win.

"We have to take care of business," head coach Andy Reid said, per Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star.

Still, the Chargers have pulled off some surprising wins this season—like their Week 9 beatdown of Green Bay—so there is the potential for an upset here.

The Saints need a loss by either the Packers or the 49ers to earn a bye, and losses by both would give them the No. 1 seed. Therefore, they will play to win against the rival Carolina Panthers, though a blowout may be unlikely.

The last time the Panthers and Saints met, New Orleans escaped with a field-goal victory.

     

The Heavy Favorites

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Twelve more teams are backed by at least 60 percent of experts. The Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers,  Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all backed as considerable favorites. 

The closest margin for Week 17 is the Titans versus Houston Texans matchup, where Tennessee owns 63 percent of the picks.

The Titans are one of the favorites to be a little wary of, as the Texans are likely to play their starters:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Despite likely being the AFC’s No. 4 seed, Texans’ HC Bill O'Brien told reporters on a conference call today that he had no plans to rest players in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Titans and “we are playing to win".

The Ravens have already announced that they're resting stars like Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, so seeing them so highly favored is a bit surprising. It's hard to predict what the Bills and Vikings will do, as both are locked into their current playoff positions—though the Bills appear prepared to play many of their starters against the New York Jets.

"We're planning to play a majority of our guys this Sunday, including [quarterback] Josh Allen," Bills coach Sean McDermott said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post.

The Browns are another unpredictable team, as they have nothing to play for and appeared to pack it in for the season weeks ago. The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, are eager to go out on a high note.

"I know the city wants us to beat Cleveland, as they should—the fanbase, the coaching staff, everyone in this building," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, per Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "There's plenty to play for this week."

Don't be shocked if the Browns find a way to disappoint their fans one last time in 2019.

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