We’re here to guide you with weekly picks against the spread every week, and we’re still well above .500 approaching entering the final weekend of the year. Here are 16 fresh takes for Week 17.
Several playoff spots are up for grabs, but that type of ‘must-win’ motivation doesn’t always mean victories or covers. Check out the latest NFL odds and matchup reports before making your bets here. Odds are Wednesday lines at FanDuel, visit them for lines and bonus specials closer to kickoff.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-13.5): Broncos
The Chiefs haven’t been blowing out teams consistently and the head-coaching shakeup should give Denver a boost against a familiar foe. This number is simply too high.
Miami Dolphins (-1) At New England Patriots: Dolphins
The Pats are toast while the Dolphins are way better than what we’ve seen from them lately. Teddy Bridgewater can get it down in a get-right game against a team that has lost its touch even in Foxborough.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3): Packers
The Vikings have been so damn lucky this year. In terms of DVOA, Green Bay is a top-12 team and Minnesota is a bottom-10 team. The Packers also have life and momentum. This might be a blowout.
Buffalo Bills (-1) at Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals
The Bengals are playing at around Buffalo’s level right now and I love Joe Burrow at home. I’m really surprised Cincinnati isn’t at least a tiny favorite.
Archived Week 17 NFL picks article from Jan. 2, 2022
Miami @ Tennessee -3.5
Miami’s luck runs out here in a low-scoring game. We prefer the UNDER 41 to the spread, but the Titans can cover this number at home against the luckiest, 7-game-win-streak team you ever saw. 17-9 TITANS
NY Giants @ Chicago -6
Suddenly the Bears are 6-point favorites? Because of Nick Foles? Justin Fields may play, but this game is a race to the bottom, we think the Giants get there first. 20-10 BEARS
Kansas City @ Cincinnati +5.5
For two months, the Chiefs couldn’t cover a spread. Now they have covered 6 straight. Do not expect the Bengals to go crazy against the KC defense, KC can win by a TD easy. 30-20 CHIEFS
Philadelphia @ Washington +3.5
Here is your coin toss of the week. The Eagles are not as good as their current streak, WFT is not as bad – but Covid can create plenty of edges. WFT can avoid elimination and the Eagles need to win as well. The hook is hazardous for Eagles backers. My coin toss leans Eagles win 16-13 so… WFT
Tampa Bay @ NY Jets +13
The Bucs lose to one bad team, then smack another bad team in consecutive weeks. What will they do to a third bad team? Minus receivers, we see TB busting the ball on the ground and grinding the Jets to bits. 31-9 BUCCANEERS
Jacksonville @ New England -15.5
This is a lot of points for a team on two-game losing skid. But this is also the Jaguars and a get-right thumping is just what the Pats’ team doctor ordered. This reeks of backdoor cover after the Pats get a lead. 35-21 Pats means…. JAGUARS
Las Vegas @ Indianapolis -6
Carson Wentz is out of Covid protocol and may or may not play. And here’s the rub. If he plays, we like the Raiders to cover. If he doesn’t, we like the Colts to grind the ball on the ground and cover.
Atlanta @ Buffalo -14.5
The Falcons should be doing their very best to lose and improve draft position. Wait, that doesn’t happen in the NFL. But another get-right stomping by the Bills and nobody will be the wiser. 42-13 BILLS
LA Rams @ Baltimore +4
The Ravens can fall straight out of the playoff picture with a loss and the Rams are just the team to help them do it. The Ravens usually cover as underdogs but their injury situation is a special circumstance. 27-21 RAMS
Houston @ San Francisco -12.5
The Texans were 13.5-point HOME dogs to the Chargers last week and won outright. Do you think they can’t cover 12.5 points against a Niner team with no QB? Beware the don’t-give-a-f!!! Texans. 27-24 49ers
Denver @ LA Chargers -5.5
Speaking of those Chargers, is this a bounce game or a dead-cat bounce game? The Broncos have the slimmest of playoff hopes, which may be extinguished by kickoff. LA covers here to stay in the hunt. 31-17 CHARGERS
Carolina @ New Orleans -7
Ugh, Carolina must be bad to catch seven points at New Orleans. But the Saints get some Covid relief and some revenge on a truly dreadful Panthers team. SAINTS 20-10
Arizona @ Dallas -5.5
Everyone is very excited about the Cowboys right now. About as excited as everyone was last month about the Cardinals. This a surge game for Arizona and a sag game for Dallas, who are happily reading their own press clippings about how great they are. That terrific Dallas defense will flush Kyler Murray out of the pocket, but that is where the trouble begins. Upset? 31-28 ARIZONA
Detroit @ Seattle -7
Another bad team laying a TD, wow. The Seahawks look beat, the Lions are just working like crazy. If the Seahawks are just paying for pride, how the hell did they lose at home to Chicago? We’ll play the hard-working, give-a-shit Lions here, possibly to win outright. 17-14 LIONS
Minnesota @ Green Bay -6.5
The Vikings are the last team to beat Green Bay and need a win. But needing a win and getting one (especially at Lambeau in January) are two different things. Green Bay almost always wins at home but they may have to fight to the end against Kirk Cousins. 28-27 PACKERS, so VIKINGS
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh +3
Watch the Covid situation as always and be mindful of Pittsburgh’s awesome record as an underdog and 19-1 SU mark in their past 20 Monday Night home games. Browns may be the better team, but they find a way to lose again. 23-21 STEELERS
Archived Week 17 NFL picks article from Jan. 1, 2021
2020 RECORD: 118-109-9
Week 17 NFL Picks
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-12.5) AT CINCINNATI BENGALS: RAVENS
The Ravens have won 17 games by 14-plus points since the start of 2019. No other team has done that on more than 11 occasions. This line would be way higher if the Bengals didn’t win their last two games, but they still suck and the Ravens know how to step on throats. This is a big spot for them, and they’ll take care of business with ease.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (-9): STEELERS
The Browns are the Browns, and even against a resting Steelers squad, I don’t trust them one bit in a big spot — especially as they deal with a COVID-19 outbreak within their facility. They might still win this game, but I’m not spotting Pittsburgh’s backups more than a touchdown.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO BILLS (-3.5): DOLPHINS
I can’t believe how much this line moved based on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s positive COVID-19 test. He wasn’t slated to start anyway, Tua Tagovailoa has plenty of big-game experience and the Bills have practically nothing to play for. Miami should at least keep this within a field goal.
DALLAS COWBOYS (-1.5) AT NEW YORK GIANTS: COWBOYS
The Giants look like they’re toast coming off three straight dud losses, while the Cowboys have rallied with three consecutive wins of their own. They’re not beating great teams, but the Giants don’t qualify as a good team. Andy Dalton, Ezekiel Elliott and that trio of receivers should easily be enough in a critical game.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-7): BUCCANEERS
The Bucs have been taking care of business all season long against bad teams, and the Falcons are certainly a bad team. They might not have much left here, whereas Bruce Arians says Tampa Bay wants this W to lock in the No. 5 seed. Tampa in a rout.
NEW YORK JETS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-3): JETS
The Jets are fired up about winning games right now, while the calculating Patriots know that they’re better off losing. This isn’t a good matchup for them anyway because they can’t throw and the Jets are good against the run. New York might win this thing outright.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-6.5) AT DETROIT LIONS: LIONS
Neither the Vikings nor the Lions should give a damn about the result of this game, but it looks like Matthew Stafford is going to fight through about 11 injuries to play what might be his last home game as a Lion, and Minnesota won’t have top weapon Dalvin Cook. The Lions could win, but they’ll at least cover.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-5.5) AT CHICAGO BEARS: PACKERS
The Packers have been blowing out teams all year, and Aaron Rodgers has won seven of his last eight games at Soldier Field, with five of those wins coming by a touchdown or more. After feasting against bad competition, look for Mitchell Trubisky to come back to earth in a critical game for the Pack.
TENNESSEE TITANS (-7.5) AT HOUSTON TEXANS: TEXANS
Houston usually puts up a fight against the Titans. And while Derrick Henry could go to town on a bad run defense, so could Deshaun Watson against a weak pass defense. The Texans should also be inspired to finish strong at home after J.J. Watt gave a rousing rant after a Week 16 loss. They’ll keep it close.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-14): COLTS
The Colts have five 17-plus-point wins this season, while only the Jets have more 17-plus-point losses than the Jags, with three of their six three-score defeats coming in the last three weeks. They’ve just run out of gas. That said, they beat the Colts in Week 1, Philip Rivers is hurt and Anthony Castonzo is out for the Colts. I wouldn’t bet on this game.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-6.5) AT CAROLINA PANTHERS: PANTHERS
The Saints know they’re not likely to land the top seed in the NFC anyway and they barely got past the Panthers when the two met at the Superdome earlier this season. Why should we expect them to win by a touchdown or more this time around?
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-3.5) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS: RAMS
The Rams are very good at bouncing back. They won’t have Jared Goff but he hasn’t been carrying them anyway, and I don’t trust the Cardinals at all. No way I’m giving up a field goal and a hook with them on the road, especially with Kyler Murray also less than 100 percent against a great defense.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-6.5) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: SEAHAWKS
San Francisco has practically no healthy players left. I’m not sure how the 49ers beat the Cardinals under those circumstances last week but I doubt lightning will strike twice against the league’s hottest defense in a crucial game for Seattle.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-3.5) AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: CHARGERS
This line wouldn’t be lower than 10 if not for the fact nobody trusts the Chargers and the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions. Take advantage of that. A bunch of backup Chiefs won’t stand a chance against a Bolts team trying to go out with a bang. The Chargers hang with the Chiefs when they’re trying to win, so they should win big when Kansas City’s only priority is rest.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (-3) AT DENVER BRONCOS: BRONCOS
The Raiders have been exposed down the stretch as a mediocre football team, and they should be deflated after that season-destroying Week 16 loss to the Dolphins. They might phone this one in on the road. And even if they pull it off, I’ll take the three points.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (-2.5) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: EAGLES
Alex Smith wasn’t playing well even before getting hurt and he’s unlikely to be close to 100 percent in this spot. Washington is coming back to earth after a hot streak and the resilient Eagles will be out to make a statement in their home finale with energizing quarterback Jalen Hurts. They win a close one and play spoiler against a rival.