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December 27, 2018

Week 17 NFL picks

Eagles NFL
122718DarrenSproles James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

Darren Sproles and the Eagles should take care of business in Maryland on Sunday.

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 17 NFL picks. To note, the team logos 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.


Jaguars at Texans (-6.5): The Jaguars can't wait to get on a plane out of Houston and have this wretched season just be over already. The Texans can still earn a first round bye with a win and an unlikely Patriots loss.


Jets at Patriots (-13.5): The Patri*ts' playoff seeds the last 18 years: 

 YearSeed Year Seed 
 2002No playoffs 2011 
 2008No playoffs 2017 
 20092018 ??? 

With a win, the Patri*ts will clinch a 2 seed. If they win and the Chiefs and Chargers both lose, they'll clinch the 1 seed. The Patri*ts are in a position to clinch that 2 seed because of the Eagles' win over the Texans last Sunday, after which the Patri*ts tweeted the following about Nick Foles.

Obviously, that picture is not from Super Bowl LII, a game in which T*m Brady ran straight to the locker room like a baby after he lost, and did not congratulate Foles until like six months later.


Dolphins at Bills (-3.5): Aaaaaaand the rest of the 1:00 p.m. games are chock full of meaninglessness. 


Lions at Packers (-7.5): Aaron Rodgers is playing out this season with knee and groin injuries. That should be good for winning a meaningless game over the Lions, but bad for draft position.


Panthers at Saints (-9): The Panthers are so bad, they're 9-point underdogs to a team almost certain to rest its starters Week 17.


Cowboys at Giants (-6): Nobody wins meaningless, draft position-ruining Week 17 games at MetLife Stadium like Pat Shurmur.


Falcons at Buccaneers (-1.5): The Falcons are beginning to play like they should have been playing all year. Too little, way too late.


Eagles (-6.5) at Redskins: The Eagles are playing by far their best football of the season over the last few weeks, and can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Vikings loss to the Bears, as you likely already know.

Meanwhile, after a 6-3 start to the season, the Redskins have completely fallen apart, losing five of their last six. They lost several offensive line starters, and are on their fourth quarterback. They've also faced intense criticism for claiming Reuben Foster, a player with two domestic violence arrests in the last year, after he was released by the 49ers. After their loss to the Titans last Saturday, safety D.J. Swearinger harshly criticized the Redskins' coaching staff, something Swearinger has done repeatedly over the last two years. So the team cut him.

If the Eagles finish at 9-7 and don't make the playoffs, this season should be viewed as a major disappointment. Because of terrible losses to the Titans and Panthers, among others, the Eagles find them in the position they are in, needing help from the Bears to get in over the Vikings. All the team can do on Sunday is win their game and hope for the best. They should easily take care of their end of the bargain against this dumpster fire of a Redskins team.


Bears at Vikings (-4): This line was originally Vikings (-7), but it has since fallen to Vikings (-4). I assume that the betting public has bought into Bears head coach Matt Nagy emphatically saying his team will be going all-out to win this game, as they can still earn a first round bye with a win and a Rams loss to the 49ers.

I don't buy it.

To begin, Nagy left wiggle room for the Bears to pull their starters, notably if the Rams jump out to a big lead against the 49ers. But also, the Bears' first round playoff opponent, should they lose, will be this very same Vikings team. The Vikings will have gone all out to win, revealing their A+ game plan, while the Bears have to be tempted to withhold their best scheme ideas.


Browns at Ravens (-6): The Ravens are the team with something to play for in this game, but that doesn't mean the Browns are going to roll over. Cleveland has won three straight, and is still playing hard. They have a chance for their first winning record since 2007.


Bengals at Steelers (-14.5): At one point this season, the Steelers were 7-2-1, while the Ravens were 5-5. Now, the Steelers have to win this game and have the Ravens lose to win the AFC North.


Raiders at Chiefs (-13.5): With a win, the Chiefs will clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs.


Chargers (-6.5) at Broncos: With a win and a Chiefs loss, the Chargers would clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Chiefs win, the best the Chargers can do is a 5 seed. The NFL's seeding system is flawed.


49ers at Rams (-9.5): The Rams had a couple down games against the Bears and Eagles, but rebounded with a dominating win last Sunday over the hapless Cardinals. They could use another emphatic win over the Niners Week 17, to carry over their confidence into the postseason, while clinching the 2 seed in the process.

Last year, Sean McVay maybe got a little cute, when he rested his starters to get the 4 seed instead of the 3 seed, with some thinking he did so to set up a second-round matchup against an Eagles team that looked lost at the time with Nick Foles at the helm. The Rams never made it to the second round, as they were beaten by the Falcons in the wildcard round. There will be no such cuteness this year. The Rams will be motivated to take care of business.


Cardinals at Seahawks (-13.5): With a win, the Seahawks will earn the 5 seed, and will set up a matchup against the Cowboys, a team they handled earlier this season.


Colts (-3.5) at Titans: I mean, Blaine Gabbert is starting for the Titans.

• Picks against the spread: Falcons (+1.5), Eagles (-6.5), Vikings (-4).

• Eagles picks: 8-7

• 2018 season, straight up 153-88-2 (0.631)
• 2018 season, ATS: 36-33-2 (0.521)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 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)

• Last 4 years, ATS: 159-129-6 (0.551)

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