This could be a typically weird Week 17, with some teams resting their players. Look for the Eagles, Rams, Chiefs and Jaguars to give players time off to prepare for the playoffs, even if the Jags suggest they’re playing to win.
On to the Week 17 picks, with selections being both straight up and against the spread unless noted otherwise. If you have any questions, catch me on Twitter (@jhalpin37).
(Home team in CAPS.)
Week 16 records: 13-3 SU, 9-6 ATS (OAK-PHI was a push)
Overall: 152-88 SU, 120-108 ATS
STEELERS (-14) over Browns
The tricky part is that both the Steelers and Patriots play at 1 p.m. ET. If the Pats blow out the Jets, the Steelers could conceivably pull some of their starters as the game progresses, as they’ll have nothing to play for. This makes me wary of giving two touchdowns, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
The pick: Steelers win and cover
Redskins (-3.5) over GIANTS
Can we agree that the Giants are terrible? OK, good. With that said, their last three home games have been a win over the Chiefs, a 30-10 loss to the Cowboys that was tied heading into the fourth quarter, and a back-and-forth 34-29 loss to the Eagles. This game will probably be close, so let’s take the points and give the G-Men a victory in what could be Eli Manning’s Meadowlands finale.
The pick: Giants win and cover
LIONS (-7) over Packers
The Lions are almost the definition of mediocre, and probably shouldn’t be favored by a TD against anyone. However, they beat the Packers 30-17 at Lambeau Field in Week 9, controlling the ball for 36:55 as Matthew Stafford threw for 361 yards. Look for them to post another convincing win over the Rodgers-less Pack.
The pick: Lions win and cover
VIKINGS (-12) over Bears
The Vikings could lose the NFC’s second seed if they lose this game while the Saints lose and the Panthers win. The Vikings won’t lose this game, or ever be in danger of doing so. Adios, John Fox.
The pick: Vikings win and cover
Cowboys (-3) over EAGLES
This point spread accounts for the Eagles resting players. They’ll probably let Nick Foles play some of the game to get more reps, but look for a preseason atmosphere otherwise. The Cowboys will want to close their season on a positive note.
The pick: Cowboys win and cover
PATRIOTS (-15.5) over Jets
The Pats need a win or a Pittsburgh loss to clinch the AFC’s top seed. Bryce Petty and the Jets won’t even be a speed bump in their path.
The pick: Patriots win and cover
COLTS (-4) over Texans
If there’s a current starting quarterback worse than Petty, it might be T.J. Yates, who has piloted the Texans to just a pair of touchdowns in his two starts. Yes, I know those games were against the Jags and Steelers, but Yates isn’t good. Even though the Colts have lost nine of their last 10, we’re giving them a season-ending home win. My sympathies go out to anyone paying to attend this miserable game.
The pick: Colts win and cover
DOLPHINS (+3) over Bills
The Bills can make the playoffs with a win and some unlikely help from other teams. However, they’re 2-5 on the road, while the inconsistent Fins are 4-3 at home and arguably have twice as many quality wins as the Bills do. Sure, that’s a subjective metric, but I see a Miami victory.
The pick: Dolphins win and cover
Panthers (+3.5) over FALCONS
Is this a homer pick from your resident Charlottean? You betcha. The Panthers struggled last week, but they’ve won seven of their last eight and are 5-2 ATS on the road. This game appears to be a tossup, so I’ll take the points, even with the Falcons facing a win-and-in playoff scenario.
The pick: Panthers win and cover
Saints (-7.5) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs have lost all four games since Jameis Winston returned from his injury – by six, three, three and three points. The point isn’t that they’re good, but that they play just well enough to lose. The Saints should win this road contest, but not by a lot.
The pick: Saints win, Bucs cover
RAVENS (-10) over Bengals
Just when we thought the Bengals were ready to roll over and die, they post a strong home win over the Lions. Unfortunately, they’re facing a surging Ravens’ squad that needs a win to clinch a postseason berth. This shouldn’t be close.
The pick: Ravens win and cover
TITANS (-6) over Jaguars
If the Titans win, they’re in the playoffs, so they’ll be motivated. The Jags say they’re all in to win this one, but they’re locked as the AFC’s No. 3 seed. They’re CRAZY to consider playing Leonard Fournette and some of their defensive stars, and I don't think they’ll do so for most of the game, no matter what Doug Marrone is saying.
If the Titans win, we’ll probably see a rematch in Jacksonville on Wildcard Weekend. That game will have a 147 percent chance to be in the Saturday afternoon slot.
The pick: Titans win and cover
SEAHAWKS (-9) over Cardinals
The Cardinals are mediocre, not terrible. The Seahawks need a win and a Falcons’ loss to reach the playoffs, but they’re 4-4 over their last eight games and 2-5 ATS at home. I think Seattle will win, but this spread is a bit too high for me.
The pick: Seahawks win, Cardinals cover
CHARGERS (-8) over Raiders
According to OddsShark, 55 percent of bets had come in on the Raiders as of Wednesday morning. The point spread is large for a game that isn’t a mismatch, but the Chargers are desperate, needing a win and some help to reach the playoffs. Also, the Raiders have lost three in a row, and haven’t beaten a decent team in more than two months. Oh, and I’ve been on the Chargers playoff bandwagon for three months, so I’m not getting off now.
The pick: Chargers win and cover
BRONCOS (-3) over Chiefs
If you look closely at the Chiefs’ sideline during this game, you’ll see Alex Smith in a lounge chair reading a book, Kareem Hunt drinking a strawberry daiquiri and Travis Kelce doing water aerobics with some elderly women. The Chiefs get back to work next week as the AFC’s No. 4 seed.
The pick: Broncos win and cover
49ers (+3) over RAMS
Rams’ head coach Sean McVay says he might rest key players, which makes perfect sense. First, why risk injuries to Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Aaron Donald, etc., with a game next week? Second, a Wildcard Weekend win as the No. 3 seed sends the Rams to Minnesota, while a win as the No. 4 seed might earn a trip to Philadelphia … which seems like the much easier path now that Carson Wentz is out for the season. Finally, we all need Jimmy Garoppolo to close the season with five consecutive victories, setting himself up for the largest contract in NFL history.
The pick: 49ers win and cover
The Redskins beat the terrible Broncos in Week 17, giving us another win in this weekly endeavor.
We’ve already used three of this week’s double-digit favorites, with the Vikings being the only omission. What do you think the odds are of the Vikes beating the Bears at home with the NFC’s No. 2 seed on the line? Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent seems about right. If you can still use the Vikings, do so without hesitation. If you need to dig deeper, the Cowboys and Broncos are reasonable options against resting playoff teams.
Week 1: Bills (win)
Week 2: Ravens (win)
Week 3: Panthers (loss)
Week 4: Seahawks (win)
Week 5: Eagles (win)
Week 6: Broncos (loss)
Week 7: Rams (win)
Week 8: Bengals (win)
Week 9: Texans (loss)
Week 10: Lions (win)
Week 11: Chiefs (loss)
Week 12: Patriots (win)
Week 13: Chargers (win)
Week 14: Steelers (win)
Week 15: Saints (win)
Week 16: Redskins (win)