December 29, 2022
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.
Cowboys (-12.5) at Titans: The Titans and Jaguars are in a weird situation in which they play each other Week 18 for the AFC South, but their Week 17 games against the Cowboys and Texans, respectively, don't matter. As such, the Titans are resting their best players:
Ruled OUT for the #Titans vs Cowboys:— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) December 28, 2022
QB Ryan Tannehill
DL Jeffery Simmons
T Nicholas Petit-Frere
S Amani Hooker
OLB Bud Dupree
LB Zach Cunningham
LB Dylan Cole
DB Josh Thompson
RB Derrick Henry
CB Kristian Fulton
OLB Denico Autry
The Cowboys will probably celebrate this win like they just won the Super Bowl.
Saints at Eagles (-5.5): There are two matchups in this game that are extremely tilted toward the Eagles:
The Eagles will be without their two most important players in Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson, but they also have enough quality depth to overcome those kinds of losses against a 6-9 team.
The Eagles haven't played a home game since they smoked the Tennessee Titans 35-10 on December 4. I expect them to win comfortably and clinch the 1 seed, giving Philly fans a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.
Cardinals at Falcons (-3): Has anyone watched the Cardinals' in-season Hard Knocks on HBO? That team is dead inside. I mean, HBO found positive things to say about the Colts during their epic choke job down the stretch last season when they were the in-season Hard Knocks subject in 2021. They are struggling to find anything positive with the Cards.
Bears at Lions (-6): The Lions were absolutely rolling, looking like a team that could make the playoffs, and possibly put a scare into a team like the Vikings or 49ers in the wildcard round... and then... they gave up 320 rushing yards to the Carolina Panthers, lol.
I suppose they'll take care of the Bears, but it may be too little, too late.
Broncos at Chiefs (-12.5): The Broncos fired their first-year coach in-season after an embarrassing 51-14 Christmas Day loss to the sucky-ass Rams. And with good cause!
I'm a believer in the "new head coach bump," in that a coach's firing can sort of put the team as a whole on notice that their jobs are on the line, too. But in this case, against a Chiefs team still competing for the 1 seed in the AFC, that new coach bump isn't going to help.
Dolphins at Patri*ts (-3): At one time the Dolphins were 8-3 and looking like potential Super Bowl contenders. However, they have lost four straight, and their chances of even making the playoffs at all are in jeopardy.
Tua Tagovailoa is out with his third concussion of the season, and Teddy Bridgewater will get the start.
The Patri*ts, meanwhile, are a mess themselves. They've lost four of five, and have been one of the worst-coached teams in the NFL this season. I'll take the Dolphins and the points.
Colts at Giants (-6): The last time the Giants were in the playoffs was the 2016 season, when the Packers make quick work of them after the infamous OBJ boat picture. Only two teams, the Jets and Broncos, have a longer playoff appearance drought. The Giants can get back in the playoffs if they can take care of business at home against a dysfunctional Colts team, and I believe they will.
Panthers at Buccaneers (-3): Both of these teams "control their own destiny," a dumb phrase, but one we use nevertheless. If the 7-8 Bucs win this game, they are NFC South champs. They will get to rest starters Week 18, and then play a home game in the wildcard round. If the Panthers win this game, and then again Week 18 against the Saints, then they are NFC South champs. What a garbage division this was this season.
Browns at Commanders (-2): The Commanders have been a better football team under Taylor Heinicke this season than they were under Carson Wentz. But if anyone is surprised that they are benching Heinicke in favor of Wentz, then you weren't watching when they traded a couple a valuable picks for Wentz and took on his $28 million salary in full when the Colts had no other legitimate suitors.
Heinicke isn't a legitimate NFL starter, and Wentz stinks, so they're not going anywhere either way. May as well go down with the player you've invested more heavily in, I suppose.
The Commanders may even get to the postseason with Wentz, too! They play the loser Browns on Sunday, and then they may get a Cowboys team resting their starters Week 18 (as long as the Eagles beat the Saints).
Jaguars (-4.5) at Texans: At one point this season the Jaguars were 2-6. Since then they have won five of seven as well as their last three.
As noted above, this game is just a speed bump in the way of the game that matters next weekend against the Titans. Tennessee's approach is to rest their best players, which makes sense for a team that is limping to the finish line. The Jaguars seem to be playing their starters in their meaningless game, which I think makes sense for a hot team on a roll that does not want to lose its momentum.
49ers (-10) at Raiders: If Derek Carr were to suffer a serious injury over the next two games, he would be guaranteed $32.9 million next season, plus another $7.5 million in 2024, per OverTheCap. The Raiders decided instead to move on permanently from Carr, and they benched him to ensure that his 2023 salary does not become guaranteed. If you'll recall, Washington did something similar with Robert Griffin III during the 2015 season before releasing him in March of 2016.
Carr will get a starting job somewhere next season. Jets? Saints? Buccaneers if Tom Brady leaves? I'm gonna say Commanders.
Anyway, the Raiders will start Jarrett Stidham in this game, and they're going to get smashed.
Jets (-1.5) at Seahawks: At one point this season, the Jets got to 6-3 after beating the Bills, which was one of their biggest wins in recent franchise history. They have since lost five of six, and four straight.
Similarly, the Seahawks got out to a surprising 6-3 start, before they too lost five of six, including three straight.
I guess we can call this the "Crap the Bed Bowl." If the Jets lose, they're done. If the Seahawks lose, they probably will be done pending other results around the league.
Mike White was cleared to play for the Jets, so Zach Wilson is heading back to the bench. The Jets have at least looked functional with White at quarterback, so give me them in this matchup of frauds.
Vikings at Packers (-3): The Packers have won three straight, and if they're able to win out against the Vikings and Lions (both home games), they will still need help, but will likely get into the playoffs. I would guess that teams like the Vikings and 49ers would rather play teams like the Giants or Commanders in the wildcard round than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Rams at Chargers (-6.5): The Chargers have already clinched a playoff berth, which I guess is why this line is only 6.5 points. I do think they still have something left to play for. If they can catch the Ravens for the top wildcard seed, they would get to play the winner of the garbage AFC South in the first round as opposed to the Bills, Chiefs, or Bengals.
Steelers at Ravens (-2.5): Are the Ravens even good? I guess they're good enough to beat the Steelers at home, but this is one of the more unimpressive 10-5 teams you'll see.
Bills (-1.5) at Bengals: This is obviously a huge game that could shape the AFC playoffs, and should be a fun game to enjoy just purely as a football fan. The Bills have won six straight, while the Bengals have won seven straight. I have more trust in Joe Burrow to play smart football than I do in Josh Allen, and this is going to be a wild crowd in Cincinnati.
• Last 8 years, ATS: 339-285-13 (0.542)
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