Week 17 Sunday Preview
One of the worst weeks to try and pick games is the final week in the season. For many of the teams out of the playoff race, they use the game to look at young players. The same can be said for clubs that are in the playoffs and don’t need a win to hold their seeding. Then, you have clubs that could be making coaching changes and the players don't care. With that said, the best games to handicap are the games with meaning.
Cleveland at Baltimore (-13.5)
This is a lot of points to give up, but Cleveland is playing with a rookie quarterback with no experience. The Browns have also suspended their best receiver in Josh Gordon for the game. Baltimore on the other hand has to win this game to even have a chance at the playoffs. The game is at home and it means too much for the team not to be going all out. Just for that reason, I like the Ravens to win big.
Buffalo (+5) at New England
The Patriots have already locked up home field advantage for the playoffs. That said, I don’t expect the key players on the Pats to play much more than a quarter, if that. The Bills, on the other hand, want to win the game to have their first winning season in years. A win will just about solidify Head Coach Doug Marrone holding on to his job. This is a game the players are going to want to win for the coach. Not only do I feel the Bills will cover in this game, I think they will win outright. It just may be the best bet of the day.
Carolina (+3.5) at Atlanta
Who would have thought back on Labor Day that this game would be for the division championship and both teams would have losing records? Odd as it may seem, that is the case and the winner will go into the playoffs next week with a losing record. A month ago, Carolina looked out of the race, but they have won three games in a row. This team is one of the best coached teams in the NFL and they play hard for Ron Rivera. Atlanta has been a disappointment all year. Coach Mike Smith is on the hot seat and if Atlanta loses there could be changes made.
Atlanta looked good last week against a poor New Orleans club on the road and I expect them to play well today, but the reality is they have lost four home games already this season. I feel this game will be close with the difference no more than three points. With the spread at 3.5, I feel Carolina is a lock to cover.
Detroit at Green Bay (-7)
Three weeks ago, it looked like Green Bay was going to coast into the division championship. Then, they went to Buffalo and played their worst game in years and maybe Aaron Rodgers career worst game. The Pack still struggled some last week at Tampa Bay but held on to win 20-3.
Detroit is a tough team to figure out. They look great one week and then struggle the next. The talent is there but they are inconsistent and undisciplined. Add to that is the fact that the Lions can struggle on the road. Green Bay is a difficult play for any visiting team but it seems it’s even more difficult for Detroit. I feel Green Bay bounces back but two disappointing performances and easily beats the Lions. Give the points.
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