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Week Seventeen Picks

December 27th, 2018

Uneven. My results in week 16 pretty much define uneven. Which is perfect, because it means I’ve got a negative to focus on, which is always nice.

I went 13-3 straight up last week, 6-9-1 against the spread. That gets me to 151-87-2 (.631) straight up, 114-116-10 (.496) against the spread with a week remaining in the season.

Let’s see what kind of awful note I can go out on.

Here’s what not to expect in week 17.

Dallas (+6) at NY Giants
Let’s get right into the messy side of week 17, shall we? Neither of these teams has anything to play for. And the Cowboys, who are locked in as the NFC four seed and almost guaranteed a visit from the Seahawks in the wild card round, have something important to rest up for. Dallas plays no more than a half of anything resembling actual football, and New Jersey comes out on top by eight.

Carolina (+7.5) at New Orleans
The Saints have clinched home field and have no incentive to play hard. The Panthers are eliminated and arguably are better off losing and improving their draft position than winning. This should look like a preseason game. Saints by four.

NY Jets (+13.5) at New England
Yes, please tell me all about how “impressive” the Jets have looked in their last two games (both home losses) and how they pose a threat to the Patriots. If I chuckle, it’s just because I’m thinking about a funny thing my wife said this morning. It’s totally not that I think you’re an idiot. Scoring differential, Patriots +4.9; passer rating differential, Patriots +13.6; takeaway-giveaway differential, Patriots +14. With the two seed and a first round bye as their reward for a game well played, the Patriots come out ahead by 17.

Detroit (+8) at Green Bay
Looks like they’re gonna go ahead and play this game. Because, well, you know, they sold all those tickets and everything. Packers by a touchdown.

Jacksonville (+7) at Houston
What specifically the Texans are playing for has at least something to do with what happens elsewhere. But at the very least, Houston has the AFC South title and the three seed at stake. That should be more than enough. Texans by nine.

Atlanta (+1) at Tampa Bay
I suspect the Falcons are less bad than the Buccaneers by enough to offset home field advantage. Atlanta by a field goal.

Miami (+3.5) at Buffalo
The Dolphins should win this game. But they’re not going to. What they’re going to do, soon enough, is get a new coach and start rebuilding. Bills by six.

Oakland (+13.5) at Kansas City
The Chiefs managed to hold the Raiders off in Oakland four weeks ago. It’s hard to imagine them not doing better than that in a home game that can prove the difference between a division championship, a bye, and home field throughout the playoffs, and a wild card berth. Kansas City by 14.

Philadelphia (-6.5) at Washington
The Eagles need a win and a Vikings loss to earn a trip to Chicago (probably) on wild card weekend. I’m sure Philadelphia will keep up its end of the bargain. Eagles by 10.

Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore
Well, you know, the Browns did manage to beat the Ravens in Cleveland back in early October. So there’s that. Baltimore by seven.

Cincinnati (+14.5) at Pittsburgh
Too little. Too late. Steelers by 12.

Chicago (+5) at Minnesota
If there were any chance of the Rams losing to the 49ers with a first-round bye on the line, the Bears might have a reason to try here. As it stands, Chicago’s best bet is to reveal as little as possible to the division rival it’s likely to face again next weekend. I expect the Bears to do just enough to stay in it until the out of town scoreboard tells them to take the rest of the afternoon off. Vikings by seven.

LA Chargers (+6.5) at Denver
Another game in which I expect the outcome will be colored by what happens (or, more to the point, what doesn’t happen) elsewhere. Once it becomes clear the Raiders aren’t pulling off a miracle in Kansas City, the Chargers will have no reason not to start pulling starters. That may give the Broncos a shot to manage a fake upset. At the very least, it will set Denver up to cover. Los Angeles by a field goal.

Arizona (+13.5) at Seattle
A win sends the Seahawks to Dallas next weekend. A loss and they may have to travel to Chicago. If you get to choose, you choose the Cowboys. (Not that the Seahawks could realistically even choose to lose this game.) Seattle by 17.

San Francisco (+10) at LA Rams
I know the Rams haven’t been playing their best football of late. But let’s be real. It’s the 49ers coming to town. And a win = a week off and at least one home game in the postseason. Los Angeles by 20.

Indianapolis (-3) at Tennessee
Great way to end the regular season. Winner gets a trip to Houston on wild card weekend (maybe more if the Jaguars pull off an upset in the afternoon). The loser gets to start planning for the draft. The Colts are the better team overall, and they’ve been playing better football lately. I think Indy advances. Colts by a point.

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