December 28, 2017
For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 17 NFL picks. To note, the helmets indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.
Packers at Lions (-6.5): The Lions had a chance to be playing for something Week 17, but they lost to the freaking Cincinnati Bengals Week 16. This is merely the first of a slew of meaningless Week 17 games.
Texans at Colts (-3.5): I can't believe I'm picking the Colts, but when the Texans have dropped the last two games by a combined score of 79-13, I don't see how anyone can take the Texans. I'm also not sure how Bill O'Brien survives this season.
Bears at Vikings (-11.5): The Vikings can still lose their first-round bye if the following occurs:
Jets at Patriots (-15.5): The Pats still need a win to assure themselves of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Jets have had their bags packed for vacation for a month.
Redskins (-3) at Giants: The Giants suspended CB Eli Apple, which will end his 2017 season. That's the third cornerback the Giants have suspended this season, after previously punishing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins. That has to be a record. Meanwhile, the Redskins beat a pair of bad teams the last two weeks in the Cardinals and the Broncos. They'll beat one more to close their season.
Cowboys (-2.5) at Eagles: The Eagles are a little banged up defensively, so my guess would be that they'll hold out a number of their starters on defense, while continuing to get Nick Foles reps to prepare for the playoffs. The Cowboys have nothing to play for, but they'll be a full go, so they'll mess up their draft position.
Browns at Steelers (-11): There was maybe some hope for the Browns that this might be a meaningless game for the Steelers, which would have helped their chances at getting a win this season. However, if the Pats lose and the Steelers win, Pittsburgh will gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That means that the Browns will go winless and Hue Jackson's record in Cleveland will go to 1-31.
Panthers at Falcons (-4): The Falcons really need this game. If they win, they're in. The Panthers, meanwhile, want this game. With a win and a Saints loss, the Panthers will secure an NFC South title, and thus a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
The Panthers are a better team, but the Falcons are favored by four, presumably because of their need for a win as opposed to the Panthers' want for a win. How do you weigh need vs. want? In my view, I think the Panthers play this game like any other, and win outright. I'll certainly take the four points on top of it.
Bengals at Ravens (-9.5): The Ravens need to win to clinch a playoff spot. Easy pick here in what will almost certainly be Marvin Lewis' last game as head coach of the Bengals.
Bills (-3) at Dolphins: The Bills will make the playoffs if they win, and any two of the Titans, Chargers, or Ravens lose. They'll be going all out.
Saints (-7) at Buccaneers: If the Saints win, they'll wrap up an NFC South title. The Bucs have lost five in a row, though they have lost by just three points in each of their last three games. Still, I like the Saints to put in on them to close the season.
On a side note, old friend DeSean Jackson is in trouble again. Ah, March of 2014, the most stressful month of my life.
Jaguars at Titans (-3.5): This is by far the toughest game to call on the NFL schedule this week. The Jags are locked into the No. 3 seed, and if they win, they would almost certainly knock the Titans out of the playoffs, and likely have to face the Chargers instead. The Titans have a -27 point differential on the season, while the Chargers are +63.
I don't know who in their right mind would prefer to play the Chargers over the Titans, but Doug Morrone has said that he intends on playing his starters. That's just downright stupid. I have to imagine he'll come to his senses by game time. Vegas certainly thinks he will, with the Titans favored by 3.5.
Chiefs at Broncos (-3.5): The Chiefs are locked into the No. 4 and will start Patrick Mahomes. I'm almost inclined to wonder if they're better off with him. Even with the Chiefs having nothing to play for, and resting their starters, the Broncos have been such hot burning trash all season that I'm taking the Chiefs.
Raiders at Chargers (-7.5): The Chargers are still alive, though they need help. They should be able to take care of this crap offense.
49ers (-3) at Rams: The Rams would own the No. 3 seed if the playoffs began today, but they could drop down to the No. 4 seed if they lose and the Saints win. It appears that Sean McVay has decided to rest his starters Week 17, which is an indication that he would rather face the Eagles in the second round of the playoffs, should the Rams get that far, instead of the Vikings. Be careful what you wish for.
Cardinals at Seahawks (-9.5): With a Seahawks win and a Falcons loss, the Hawks are in. They'll be going all out.
• Picks against the spread: Panthers (+4), Bills (-3), Saints (7).
• Eagles picks: 12-3
• 2017 season, straight up: 164-76 (0.683)
• 2017 season, ATS: 30-28-2 (0.517)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS: 41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)
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