NFL Week 17 PicksPosted: December 26, 2014
We are not gamblers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. Some of these choices have actual thought put into them. More of these choices were made with gut, intuition, and a little thing called grit.
Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.
[Home team in caps. All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus.]
HOUSTON (-9.5) vs. Jacksonville
Derek: Happy Boxing Day, everyone! We’re still in the midst of the holidays, and most of the games don’t mean anything and are pretty much impossible to predict. So, we’re going to have a bit of a speed round today, with our full slate of mediocre analysis returning next week for the playoffs. Let’s get it!
As we all know, when Case Keenum hunts … he hunts … to kill. Also, Arian Foster and J.J. Watt are the best players on the field, and the Texans are still in the playoff hunt. Since the Texan defense has been on fire lately, I like them to cover.
Will: I asked Santa for a Jaguars win for Christmas. He did me like the Santa kicking Ralphie down the slide in A Christmas Story. Texans all the way.
Indianapolis (-7) at TENNESSEE
Derek: The Colts have nothing to play for, which means the Titans are going to get less of zero fantasy point Andrew Luck and more of the man, the myth, the legend: Matthew Hasselbeck. Under Hasselbeck’s flawless leadership, the Colts cannot fail.
Will: Is this the same Hasselbeck who does fantasy analysis on ESPN? No? Are we sure? I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy, which probably means he’s out of shape, so I’ll take Tennessee.
BALTIMORE (-10) vs. Cleveland
Derek: The chances of Connor Shaw starting for the Browns are just a little too high for my taste. Surely, at home and with a playoff spot on the line, the Ravens will cover.
Will: The Connor Shaw era is upon us. I’m gonna go cry for a while. Browns keep it close, I guess.
NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) vs. Buffalo
Derek: No one can guess how long the Patriots will actually try in this one, if at all. But hey, 4.5 points is pretty good value considering the Patriots are at home and way more talented. I’m going with New England.
Will: The Bills’ only real motivation to win is that a better record will make the pick they traded to the Browns worse. Bad things tend to happen to the Browns this time of year. Bills cover.
MIAMI (-6) vs. New York Jets
Derek: Rex has to go out with a bang, right? The Jets will probably be way more motivated for this meaningless game. I like New York.
Will: Agreed. If he isn’t mic’d up for the whole day then we have failed as a country. Get this win, Jets, and then you can all go eat a goddamn snack. Jets.
MINNESOTA (-6) vs. Chicago
Derek: Jay Cutler is back! As fun as it is picturing him carelessly throwing interceptions at every turn, I think he’ll have one final good game just so the Bears are tempted to keep him. Logic says to take the Vikings, but I think Cutler can ruin the Bears just a tiny bit more before he gets run out of town. The Bears valiantly cover.
Will: Disagreed. I think this will be Jay’s magnum opus, a quarterbacking display so abominable that the entire state of Illinois will abandon football for a decade. Can’t wait. Vikings.
KANSAS CITY (-4) vs. San Diego
Derek: Breaking: No Alex Smith for this one. The line will probably change, but I’m not waiting around for that. I think the Chargers win outright.
Will: It’s nice of Smith to miss this game just as his wideouts have missed every game this season. Chargers.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) vs. Philadelphia
Derek: If you read our Week 16 NFL Recap, you may recall when I wondered how many times a wide receiver could swing the opinion of a game the way a quarterback could. Well, this line is proof that noted cyborg Odell Beckham is in that zone. The previously 9-3 Eagles are underdogs, even though they beat the 6-9 Giants 27-0 in Week 6.
And I’m still taking the Giants. The Eagles are let down because their season ended last week, and Odell Beckham feeds on misery. The only thing that can stop him is the end of the season.
Will: The Eagles decline has been swift. I blame Chip Kelly for having the hubris to bring science into footbawl. G-Men.
Dallas (-5.5) at WASHINGTON
Derek: I’m torn. Surely the Cowboys won’t finish December undefeated, but the Redskins, despite their upset victory over the Eagles, just aren’t very good. Well, I’m not betting any money on this, so fortune favors the bold! Give me Washington.
Will: I’m in on the Cowboys! Undefeated December! Playoffs! Super Bowl! Stomp on the throat of Washington’s awful season! Cowboys!
New Orleans (-4) at TAMPA BAY
Derek: Yawn. Saints.
Will: Yawn. Bucs.
GREEN BAY (-7.5) vs. Detroit
Derek: Opposing teams haven’t had much success in Lambeau this season. I see no reason why that won’t continue. The Packers take the NFC North.
Will: Hey, this game means something! That’s all I need to not believe in the Lions. They’re my new Cowboys, and I don’t care if there’s any logic behind it. Packers.
ATLANTA (-3) vs. Carolina
Derek: The Falcons are fairly competent at home, and they are undefeated against the rest of the NFC South this season. Plus, no team is capable of winning the NFC South two years in a row. The Falcons return to the playoffs.
Will: I hate the NFC South, and thus I want to see Carolina win it. What a stupid division. Panthers.
SEATTLE (-12.5) vs. St. Louis
Derek: The Seahawks are at home, and they have the number one seed and REVENGE on their minds. The spread is a little scary, as four of the last five meetings between these teams have been settled by a touchdown or less. The one that wasn’t? That would be Week 17 of last season, when the Seahawks needed to win to secure home field advantage and won 27-9. History repeats itself!
Will: I’ve picked against Seattle one time too many. They’re going to stymie yet another offense, in which case they only need to score about 20 to cover. Seahawks.
SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) vs. Arizona
Derek: How bad must Logan Thomas have been to get benched again for Ryan Lindley after one practice? Did he just fall down every time he dropped back to pass? I’d like to know.
I don’t feel good at all about backing Lindley, but the 49ers have lost four in a row and they’re favored by 6.5 points? I simply can’t support that. I reluctantly back the Cardinals.
Will: The Niners blow, but Ryan Lindley blows more. That is my complete analysis. Niners.
DENVER (-14) vs. Oakland
Derek: The Broncos will probably win this game, but Peyton’s recent performance has been alarming enough that I don’t feel good about laying 14 points them. No doubt I’ll regret this, but I’m going with Oakland.
Will: I’ve liked Oakland all year long, and I’m not sure why. We may hear Brock Osweiler’s music before this one is decided, and that’s reason enough for me to back the Raiders.
PITTSBURGH (-3.5) vs. Cincinnati
Derek: I’m on to you, Andy Dalton. Your team may have won on Monday night, but you still kind of sucked. My faith in Bengals primetime ineptitude is unshaken. The Steelers cover.
Will: Nice try, Dalton. You can’t throw us off the scent that easily. Yinzers winzers.