Bleacher Report's Expert Week 17 NFL Picks

NFL StaffContributor IDecember 30, 2021

Bleacher Report's Expert Week 17 NFL Picks

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    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    We're on fire.

    Consensus selections against the spread from Bleacher Report national NFL writers Gary DavenportBrad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski, B/R Gridiron editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell, and B/R Betting host Connor Rogers are 16-7 the last two weeks, with the gang going 105-87 ATS overall.

    Can they keep rolling on the penultimate weekend of the 2021 NFL season? Here are their ATS picks for every game on the Week 17 slate.


    Lines are from DraftKings as of Wednesday, Dec. 29, at 5 p.m. ET. Check DraftKings for the latest odds info. Information on public betting trends courtesy of the Action Network.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at Washington Football Team (6-9)

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    DraftKings LinePhiladelphia -3.5

    The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team are moving in separate directions, with the Eagles having won and covered in three consecutive games while the WFT has done the exact opposite. And while oddsmakers surely account for those trajectories to an extent, the majority of the gang is leaning Philly's way for its matchup Sunday in D.C. 

    "This feels like a fairly easy call," Davenport said. "The Eagles are on a nice little roll, having won six of their last eight games thanks to a newly found identity as a ground-and-pound running team. Washington, on the other hand, is reeling, having lost three straight NFC East games. That streak includes a Week 15 loss in Philadelphia in which the Eagles ran for 238 yards. Washington would no doubt love to play spoiler—but the defense just isn't good enough to make it happen."

    It hurts to give up that hook if you're on the Eagles, especially with Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard hurting for Philly, so consider buying back to an even field goal if possible. Regardless, Washington doesn't look like a great play. We're talking about a top-12 team and a bottom-eight team in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders

    The public's on the Eagles, which can be a red flag. In this case, we are siding with the public.



    Davenport: Philadelphia
    Gagnon: Washington
    Kenyon: Philadelphia
    O'Donnell: Philadelphia
    Rogers: Philadelphia
    Sobleski: Philadelphia


    Score Prediction: Eagles 28, Washington 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at New York Jets (4-11)

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    Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineTampa Bay -12.5

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked downright angry in easily disposing of the Carolina Panthers last week, and now the majority of the crew is having a hard time rolling against them even with a big line to work with Sunday against the New York Jets. 

    "The Bucs were special on the road down the stretch last year," Gagnon said, "and while injuries are a factor for them right now, this should be another road laugher. The Jets won last week but aren't good enough to string together decent performances. Their last two wins were followed by blowout losses, and I'm expecting the same here."

    Elijah Moore And Jamison Crowder could return from injury for the Jets but are likely far from 100 percent. This team is just 5-10 ATS this season with seven 15-plus-point losses.

    Expect more of the same here, and join the public on the defending champs. 



    Davenport: Tampa Bay
    Gagnon: Tampa Bay
    Kenyon: New York
    O'Donnell: Tampa Bay
    Rogers: Tampa Bay
    Sobleski: Tampa Bay


    Score Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Jets 13

Miami Dolphins (8-7) at Tennessee Titans (10-5)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineTennessee -3.5

    The Miami Dolphins have won seven consecutive games, and they covered easily in New Orleans Monday night. But their Week 16 matchup with the Tennessee Titans might be the biggest challenge they've had in months, and most of our experts figure it's time for Brian Flores and Co. to come back to earth as a 3.5-point underdog. 

    "The Titans offense looked much better with A.J. Brown back on the field last week in their 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers," Kenyon said. "This week they get a hot Dolphins team that has won seven straight, but I still don't believe in the Dolphins as a legitimate threat in the AFC. The Titans remain the better team and should win by at least a touchdown at home."

    Tennessee is also operating on extra rest, while the Dolphins are on short rest and on the road again. Meanwhile, Brown should only be healthier this week, and it looks like Tennessee will have left tackle Taylor Lewan despite a short stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    Oddsmakers are assuming with this line that these teams are about on even ground, which doesn't seem quite right considering their records and pedigree. Don't get spooked by the hook.



    Davenport: Miami
    Gagnon: Tennessee
    Kenyon: Tennessee
    O'Donnell: Tennessee
    Rogers: Tennessee
    Sobleski: Miami


    Score Prediction: Titans 23, Dolphins 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) at New England Patriots (9-6)

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    Boston Globe/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineNew England -15.5

    The Jacksonville Jaguars hung close with a bad Jets team in Week 16, but now they're on the road yet again for a much tougher matchup with a New England Patriots team that desperately needs a W.

    So while 15.5 points is daunting, it's not surprising that the majority of the gang is backing Bill Belichick's squad. 

    "The Pats are coming off two straight tough losses," O'Donnell said. "Now Belichick's team gets a struggling rookie quarterback, at home, while looking to hold onto a playoff spot. This is a lot of points, but a morale-boosting game that New England needs badly ahead of a battle with division rival Miami in Week 18. Total domination incoming."

    Belichick is 14-0 at home against rookie quarterbacks in his New England career. The Pats should roll over Trevor Lawrence and Co., who have six 16-plus-point losses this season and are not in a good spot here.



    Davenport: New England
    Gagnon: Jacksonville
    Kenyon: Jacksonville
    O'Donnell: New England
    Rogers: New England
    Sobleski: New England


    Score Prediction: Patriots 31, Jaguars 10

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) at Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineIndianapolis -6.5

    The Indianapolis Colts were giving up a touchdown plus a hook to start the week. That's changed, but the majority of our panel is still on the Las Vegas Raiders as 6.5-point underdogs with Carson Wentz's status in doubt. 

    "The Raiders deserve credit for surviving contests against the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, though they've barely scraped by both," Sobleski said. "However, fate stepped in and Wentz might not play. Instead, Las Vegas could face sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger in his first-ever professional start. As a result, the Raiders should load the box to stop Jonathan Taylor and force Ehlinger to beat them. The odds aren't in the Colts' favor if that occurs."

    You might want to wait to see what happens with Wentz, who is on the reserve/COVID list for now. They might have star guard Quenton Nelson, and Vegas might be without tight end Darren Waller who has been battling an injury and was just placed on the reserve/COVID list.

    All nine Colts wins this year have come by six or more points, but they could be due for a close one, and it's tough to back them with Wentz's status so cloudy. 



    Davenport: Las Vegas
    Gagnon: Las Vegas
    Kenyon: Las Vegas
    O'Donnell: Indianapolis 
    Rogers: Indianapolis
    Sobleski: Las Vegas


    Score Prediction: Colts 23, Raiders 20

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineKansas City -5

    The Kansas City Chiefs are back to demolishing teams on a weekly basis, so the majority of the gang is just fine laying a handful of points with Kansas City taking on a strong but inexperienced and sometimes inconsistent Cincinnati Bengals squad Sunday. 

    "Twenty-six, 6, 39, 13, 10 and 27," Rogers said. "That's how much Kansas City has won by in its last six games. This is an offense going full throttle again and, more importantly, a defense that has been able to put the ball back in the offense's hands. I love Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense, but it doesn't matter who the Chiefs are playing right now: They should be trusted to win by at least two field goals."

    Cincy is 9-6, but the Bengals haven't strung together three consecutive wins at any point this season and they've won their last two. They could drop this game and still cover, but two of their last three losses have come in blowout fashion. 

    Kansas City might also be able to get a lot more from top targets Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, both of whom were recently on the reserve/COVID list.



    Davenport: Cincinnati
    Gagnon: Cincinnati
    Kenyon: Kansas City
    O'Donnell: Kansas City
    Rogers: Kansas City
    Sobleski: Kansas City


    Score Prediction: Chiefs 28, Bengals 21

New York Giants (4-11) at Chicago Bears (5-10)

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineChicago -6

    The Chicago Bears haven't won a game by more than two points since Week 5, which explains why nearly the entire crew was surprised to see them laying nearly a touchdown against the New York Giants. 

    "I know," Gagnon said, "the Giants aren't a good team. They've lost four straight games by double-digit margins. But we're talking about the Bears and six points? Come on. This should be a field-goal game between two mediocre squads. The Bears should get Allen Robinson back, but he has said COVID-19 did a number on him, and Chicago's quarterback play has been brutal."

    Justin Fields is banged up for the Bears. As is Andy Dalton. Neither has been reliable, though, and third option Nick Foles is inconsistent. That could make it tough against a solid Giants pass defense. 

    That said, we wouldn't fault you for staying away from both teams, as they're a combined 11-19 ATS this season. 



    Davenport: Chicago
    Gagnon: New York
    Kenyon: New York
    O'Donnell: New York
    Rogers: New York
    Sobleski: New York


    Score Prediction: Bears 20, Giants 17

Atlanta Falcons (7-8) at Buffalo Bills (9-6)

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    Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineBuffalo -14

    Our first deadlock of the week comes with the Buffalo Bills laying a daunting 14 points against an Atlanta Falcons squad that has generally hung around this year but isn't exactly considered reliable. 

    Davenport on Buffalo: "Any double-digit spread is cause for concern right now—you never know when half a team could pop positive for COVID-19. And the Falcons aren't terrible. But Buffalo is at home, still has plenty to play for with the AFC East not yet decided and possesses a defense that should make every drive a struggle for Atlanta. Buffalo gets it done 30-13 and holds off a late back-door attempt."

    Kenyon on Atlanta: "The Bills will win this game, but 14 points is a big number and a big ask against a Falcons team that has won five road games this year. This feels like a backdoor cover scenario where the Bills go up three scores in the second half and take the foot off the gas a bit. Matt Ryan and Co. are more than competent to put up some garbage-time points to cover this line."

    For what it's worth, all nine Bills wins this season have come by 12 or more points. But again, Atlanta has been strong away from home. Will that change here? The Falcons' last four losses have all come by 13-plus points, so who the heck knows.



    Davenport: Buffalo
    Gagnon: Atlanta
    Kenyon: Atlanta
    O'Donnell: Buffalo
    Rogers: Buffalo
    Sobleski: Atlanta


    Score Prediction: Bills 30, Falcons 16

Los Angeles Rams (11-4) at Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineLos Angeles -3.5

    The Los Angeles Rams have won and covered in each of the last four weeks, while the Baltimore Ravens are mired in a rare four-game losing streak. An argument can be made that a reversal of fortunes is in order when the two meet Sunday in Maryland, but it's also possible the Ravens are just toast for 2021 and not even a hook will save them against the spread. 

    That's where five of our six correspondents essentially come down. 

    "The Ravens are as on the ropes as any team in the league," O'Donnell said. "Losers of four straight, currently on the outside looking in of the playoff picture, and still unsure of the status of quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has clinched at least a playoff berth already but still has plenty to play for in the final two weeks. Even if one or both of Baltimore's QBs are fit to play, it's not enough to push me away from a Rams squad that is rolling right now, even with the hook."

    Still, the lone wolf on Baltimore, Gagnon, is leading all pickers this season. He figures the Ravens are due, or will at least put up a fight, and that hook is too rich for his blood. 

    You might want to wait for more clarity on Jackson and/or Huntley.



    Davenport: Los Angeles
    Gagnon: Baltimore
    Kenyon: Los Angeles
    O'Donnell: Los Angeles
    Rogers: Los Angeles
    Sobleski: Los Angeles


    Score Prediction: Rams 28, Ravens 20

Houston Texans (4-11) at San Francisco (8-7)

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineSan Francisco -13

    What have the San Francisco 49ers done to merit laying 13 points against a Houston Texans team that isn't great but has won back-to-back games?

    That's the sentiment from the vast majority of the panel. They're taking the points with a Texans team that beat a quality Los Angeles Chargers team by a double-digit margin last week. 

    "After a rough start to his NFL career, Davis Mills has settled in well," Rogers said. "While Houston is nowhere near the 49ers in terms of talent or coaching, this spread is asking for a blowout. I don't expect the Texans to keep the upset party going (they've taken down the Jaguars and Chargers in back-to-back weeks), but I also don't think they'll allow themselves to be embarrassed in this one."

    Meanwhile, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a Grade 3 sprain in his right (throwing) thumb for San Francisco. Put it all together and this doesn't seem like a remotely obvious blowout.



    Davenport: Houston
    Gagnon: Houston
    Kenyon: Houston
    O'Donnell: San Francisco
    Rogers: Houston
    Sobleski: Houston


    Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Texans 20

Denver Broncos (7-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineLos Angeles -5.5

    The Denver Broncos have been competitive much of this season, but they've now lost three of four. The Los Angeles Chargers are also looking to bounce back after losing back-to-back games, but they've got the talent edge and might have more fight in them right now than Denver. 

    With that in mind, most of our guys are laying 5.5 points with L.A. at home Sunday afternoon. 

    "Too many will look at last week's effort to write off the Chargers after their embarrassing loss to the Texans," Sobleski said. "But the Chargers still have one of the league's most potent offenses with Justin Herbert behind center. Los Angeles is now in must-win mode against a division rival, who sits a game behind. However, Herbert should be the difference, particularly with Drew Lock expected to start for Denver."

    The Bolts should also have Corey Linsley, Nick Bosa, Austin Ekeler and several others back from the reserve/COVID-19 list for a critical game, while Lock himself is dealing with an ankle injury and the Broncos' top two backs continue to be banged up. Don't overthink this one.



    Davenport: Los Angeles
    Gagnon: Los Angeles
    Kenyon: Los Angeles
    O'Donnell: Los Angeles
    Rogers: Denver
    Sobleski: Los Angeles


    Score Prediction: Chargers 28, Broncos 17

Carolina Panthers (5-10) at New Orleans Saints (7-8)

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineNew Orleans -6.5

    A total of 32 points have been scored in the last two New Orleans Saints games, which is why it's fair to wonder if dropping 6.5 points with a short-rested New Orleans team is smart right now. But the Panthers have hardly shown up while being outscored 63-20 the last two weeks. 

    That being the case, the gang is unanimously behind Sean Payton's squad with 6.5 points on the line Sunday at the Superdome. 

    "This one is less about confidence in the Saints than a complete lack of any in the Panthers," Davenport said. "Carolina has completely fallen apart offensively, and given how well the Saints are playing on defense, it's hard to see where even 10 points are coming from. Provided that New Orleans gets one of its actual NFL quarterbacks (complimenting Trevor Siemian, that's what 2021 has reduced us to) back, New Orleans should cruise to a double-digit victory in this one."

    Siemian should be good to go for New Orleans, but all that matters is that D has been lights-out, and it's hard to believe strongly in Sam Darnold and Co. at the moment.



    Davenport: New Orleans
    Gagnon: New Orleans
    Kenyon: New Orleans
    O'Donnell: New Orleans
    Rogers: New Orleans
    Sobleski: New Orleans


    Score Prediction: Saints 27, Panthers 7

Detroit Lions (2-12-1) at Seattle Seahawks (5-10)

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    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineSeattle -7

    Do the Seattle Seahawks have anything left after a loss to the Bears basically ended their season in Week 16? They're dropping seven points at home this week against a Detroit Lions team that has fought for much of the season despite having nothing to play for. 

    The group is divided. 

    Gagnon on Detroit: "I'm done with the Seahawks, and I think they're done with 2021 after that loss to the Bears. This team has always rode Russell Wilson's coattails, and he's not playing remotely well enough to keep them in contention this season. Against a punchy Lions team, there's no way I'm dropping a full touchdown with Seattle."

    Kenyon on Seattle: "The Lions, despite their 2-12-1 record, are 10-5 against the spread this season and have been consistent overachievers relative to expectation. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 7-8 against the spread and have been one of the season's biggest disappointments with a 5-10 record. But this line feels too low for a Lions road game. If Wilson can't cover seven points at home against the Lions, maybe the wheels truly are falling off in Seattle."

    The Lions are still quite low on talent and have a handful of one-sided losses this season. We'll see.



    Davenport: Seattle
    Gagnon: Detroit
    Kenyon: Seattle
    O'Donnell: Seattle
    Rogers: Detroit
    Sobleski: Detroit


    Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Lions 20

Arizona Cardinals (10-5) at Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

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    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineDallas -5.5

    The Arizona Cardinals may or may not be free-falling following a strong start. They're 0-3 ATS and straight-up in the last three weeks, and now they're getting 5.5 from the rejuvenated Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. 

    The majority of the gang figures those trends will continue and Dallas will take care of business rather handily in a critical spot.

    "Two teams going in opposite directions right now, but it wouldn't be surprising at all to see this one come down to the wire," O'Donnell said. "However, having never been a true believer in the Cardinals nor Kyler Murray, less than a touchdown at home is just fine with me as I expect the Dallas defense to cause all sorts of problems for Kliff Kingsbury's offense."

    The Cards have also been hit again by the injury bug, while Ezekiel Elliott is getting healthier for a Dallas team that might also get left tackle Tyron Smith back from an ankle injury. 



    Davenport: Arizona
    Gagnon: Arizona
    Kenyon: Dallas
    O'Donnell: Dallas
    Rogers: Dallas
    Sobleski: Dallas


    Score Prediction: Cowboys 30, Cardinals 23

Minnesota Vikings (7-8) at Green Bay Packers (12-3)

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    DraftKings LineGreen Bay -6.5

    The rolling Green Bay Packers hit a speed bump earlier this season against the Minnesota Vikings, but nearly the entire gang is confident they'll take care of business with a lot on the line Sunday evening. Five of our six predictors are laying 6.5 points with a Green Bay team that is 11-4 ATS this season. 

    "The only team to beat the Packers since mid-November is the Vikings," Rogers said, "but going to Lambeau this time of year is a different beast. Yes, Kirk Cousins threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns the last time these teams met, but that was a complete outlier for this 2021 Packers pass defense. Green Bay is getting healthy down the stretch run, and everyone is aware how vital that playoff bye week is. I see a big win for them at home before closing out the season in Detroit."

    The Packers will also get receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, while the Vikes have lost star receiver Adam Thielen to a season-ending ankle injury. Resist fading the public and take advantage of the fact that there's no hook in play with the more reliable squad here. 



    Davenport: Green Bay
    Gagnon: Minnesota
    Kenyon: Green Bay
    O'Donnell: Green Bay
    Rogers: Green Bay
    Sobleski: Green Bay


    Score Prediction: Packers 30, Vikings 17

Cleveland Browns (7-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    DraftKings LineCleveland -3.5

    We wrap up the week with a hung jury in a key AFC North battle between the desperate Cleveland Browns and the even more desperate Pittsburgh Steelers—a matchup made more complicated by the fact that there's a hook in play with Cleveland on the road. 

    Gagnon on the Browns: "I don't trust either team and I hate that hook, but it's also true that the Browns are the much more talented team and Pittsburgh is coming off a humiliating loss. I think that team might be out of gas, so I'll back the Browns but would prefer to get them at -3 if possible."

    Sobleski on Pittsburgh: "Why should anyone believe in Baker Mayfield at this point? To be fair, the Browns quarterback has dealt with injuries and the team lacks consistency at the wide receiver position. At the same time, Mayfield hasn't been good enough. Granted, Ben Roethlisberger isn't any good at this point in his career, either. But the Steelers have a much longer track record of finding ways to win games. Considering how poorly Cleveland's offense has played in recent weeks, they're not the team to make a late-season playoff run, like they were a year ago."

    Tell us how you really feel, Sobo.



    Davenport: Pittsburgh
    Gagnon: Cleveland
    Kenyon: Cleveland
    O'Donnell: Cleveland
    Rogers: Pittsburgh
    Sobleski: Pittsburgh


    Score Prediction: Browns 23, Steelers 20


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