Impacts of Injuries to Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Benching Derek Carr

We’ve gone 44-29 (60%) picking against the spread and 52-20-1 (72%) on moneylines the past five weeks. Here’s a final look at our NFL Week 17 predictions and picks for the remaining 15 games. The following betting odds are for picks against the spread, as well as moneylines based on DraftKings Sportsbook.

NFL Week 17 Picks

Each week of the NFL season features the expected, the moderately unexpected, and the completely unexpected. When betting on point spreads and moneylines, we need to focus on the first two outcomes.

What are the highest-probability game scripts? Which interesting subplots could emerge? For example, we cannot anticipate when a little-used fullback will fall into the end zone twice in one half. But we can assess the likelihood that one team’s backfield will earn more scoring opportunities.

With that in mind, here are our final assessments of how each game might proceed.

Atlanta Falcons (-5) vs. Arizona Cardinals

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Earlier this week, I was struggling with this one. But with David Blough under center for Arizona, it’s hard to expect their passing game to stabilize, even against a vulnerable secondary. On the other hand, the Cards’ defense has been even worse against the pass.

This game likely will be close, with Tyler Allgeier serving as the X-factor for a running game that’s amazingly fourth in the league in yards per carry (4.9).

Against-the-spread prediction: Falcons
Moneyline winner: Falcons

Detroit Lions (-6) vs. Chicago Bears

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The point spread has shifted from -5 to -6. I’m not concerned, remaining all in on Detroit’s near-elite offense. Can Justin Fields do damage on the ground? Absolutely. Can the Bears keep the Lions under 30 points? Probably not.

Against-the-spread prediction: Lions
Moneyline winner: Lions

Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5) vs. Denver Broncos

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

A century from now, sports historians will look back in wonder at how the Chiefs nearly blew a 27-0 lead in Denver in Week 13. Of course, Patrick Mahomes’ three interceptions didn’t help. Two of them led to Denver touchdowns. The third set up a possible game-winning drive for the Broncos.

As good as the Broncos’ pass defense is, it fell apart against the lowly Rams. I believe K.C. will make adjustments as they vie for the top seed in the AFC. With Denver’s offense perpetually a work in progress (to put it kindly), Kansas City should win this one comfortably.

Against-the-spread prediction: Chiefs
Moneyline winner: Chiefs

New England Patriots (-2) vs. Miami Dolphins

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The point spread has swung four points to New England in the past few days. That’s the difference between Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater under center.

MORE: Teddy Bridgewater Can Still Lead the Miami Dolphins to the Playoffs

Earlier this week, I picked the Patriots to cover as two-point underdogs. With Tagovailoa now officially out, I’m just as bullish about the Pats covering, even as favorites. Miami has to right the ship quickly. The timing of this tough road matchup couldn’t be worse.

Against-the-spread prediction: Patriots
Moneyline winner: Patriots

New York Giants (-5.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The Giants were 3.5-point favorites on Monday. After Nick Foles’ disastrous Monday Night Football performance, the line has moved two points. Perhaps it should be more. Indy is broken. Only an impressive defensive performance can keep this one close, and I don’t see it happening.

Against-the-spread prediction: Giants
Moneyline winner: Giants

New Orleans Saints (+6.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

A seven-point line narrowed to 5.5 before jumping back up to 6.5, with Gardner Minshew possibly entrenched as Philly’s starter.

But wait! Jalen Hurts practice Thursday. So what’s happening here? Ah, he’s officially doubtful as of Friday evening. We’re assuming Minshew once again will be under center as the Eagles compete for the NFC’s all-important No. 1 seed.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is clinging to relevance. They scored 24+ points in five straight games from Weeks 4 through 8. In their seven games since, they’ve exceeded 21 points only once, during which Alvin Kamara has averaged only 3.4 yards per carry.

Against-the-spread prediction: Eagles
Moneyline winner: Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) vs. Carolina Panthers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Despite losing records, both of these teams are squarely in the postseason picture. The Bucs should win this critically important matchup if their defense can contain the fearsome Panthers running game.

When Carolina traded Christian McCaffrey midseason, the notion of a “fearsome Panthers running game” in December and January seemed farfetched at best. But here we are.

Tampa Bay has been middling against the run. To win comfortably, they’ll need to be elite. To win narrowly, they’ll need to play much better than in Week 7, when the Panthers crushed them 21-3.

Against-the-spread prediction: Buccaneers
Moneyline winner: Buccaneers

Washington Commanders (-2.5) vs. Cleveland Browns

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The Browns are finished. Their $250 million (guaranteed) bet on a QB facing ongoing legal turmoil was, to put it mildly, a wager for the ages. Now they must decide whether to bring back Jacoby Brissett for these final two games.

No, it wouldn’t be a benching. You can’t bench someone you owe that much money to. But the Browns’ best hope is to return in 2023 healthy and prepared. A fluke injury to Deshaun Watson would set back this franchise another year, and perhaps more. I expect Washington — fighting for a Wild Card spot — to play more aggressively and effectively, even with (or because of?) Carson Wentz returning to the helm.

Against-the-spread prediction: Commanders
Moneyline winner: Commanders

Houston Texans (+4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Last weekend, the Texans vanquished Tennessee despite averaging only 2.3 yards per carry while registering barely 100 passing yards in the first three quarters. Against the Titans’ one-dimensional offense, their game plan worked.

But keeping things close against the high-flying Jaguars presents an entirely different challenge. While Jacksonville’s eyes remain firmly on Week 18’s tilt against the Titans (to decide the AFC South champion), they still really need a win on Sunday.

Why? Because even if they lose to Tennessee next week, they’d still have a narrow path to claiming the final Wild Card spot. If the Dolphins lose both of their final games, the Seahawks defeat the Jets this week, the Bills beat the Patriots next week, and the Steelers lose to the Ravens or Browns (all realistic scenarios), then the Jags could sneak in as the No. 7 seed.

Against-the-spread prediction: Jaguars
Moneyline winner: Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders (+9) vs. San Francisco 49ers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:05 p.m. ET

With news that Derek Carr has been benched (seemingly first and foremost for financial reasons) in favor of Jarrett Stidham, the Raiders have joined a somewhat exclusive club. Rarely does a postseason contender replace its healthy starting QB at the end of the season.

But in fairness, Vegas is an extreme long shot, and the millions of dollars they can save if they cut a healthy Carr is too tempting to pass up.

MORE: Fantasy Outlook for Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller with Jarrett Stidham at QB

As a result, the point spread has jumped from 6.5 to 9.5. However, the Niners have exhibited some caution with Christian McCaffrey, limiting him to 18 or fewer touches in six of nine games. And Brock Purdy — while impressively helping to guide this team to victory after victory — is averaging only 23 pass attempts per start.

The Raiders could come out flat, or they might play inspired with a chance to crush their rival’s chances at the NFC’s top seed. I still believe the Raiders’ offense can do enough to keep this game within a touchdown.

Against-the-spread prediction: Raiders
Moneyline winner: 49ers

Seattle Seahawks (+2) vs. New York Jets

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:05 p.m. ET

Two 7-8 squads in an essentially must-win situation. Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around in Week 17.

The Jets are favorites because they’re returning to Mike White. But I’m not buying it. Even with a somewhat hobbled Kenneth Walker III and Tyler Lockett remaining sidelined, this game isn’t like any other game for the Seahawks.

Yes, a shot at the playoffs is on the line. But more than that, Geno Smith is facing the team that drafted him . . . and then let him go. The Jets added Brandon Marshall the season they pivoted to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick went on to enjoy a career year. Could Smith have taken a similar leap if New York had stuck with him?

Obviously, we’ll never know. But don’t think for a moment that Smith has forgotten. I think he’ll play inspired football on the ground and through the air, winning one for Seattle and for his burgeoning legacy.

Against-the-spread prediction: Seahawks
Moneyline winner: Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:25 p.m. ET

The line has held steady all week, but it should have gone up.

That’s not to say Cam Akers is a fluke. He was one of the league’s best young RBs before getting hurt last year. But there’s not enough “there” there to keep the Rams competitive against a Chargers squad enjoying all the momentum of a healthy team with the playmakers to avenge their early-season struggles.

Against-the-spread prediction: Chargers
Moneyline winner: Chargers

Green Bay Packers (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:25 p.m. ET

The Packers have somehow won three straight to remain playoff contenders. They last played Minnesota in Week 1, losing 23-7. Their wideout corps featured Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in their NFL debuts, as well as Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, and Juwann Winfree.

In other words, today’s Packers are much farther along in their development, particularly through the air. While the Vikings wisely added T.J. Hockenson before the trade deadline, only one of their 12 wins has been by more than a touchdown — that Week 1 defeat of Green Bay.

This should be quite a battle — and a close one.

Against-the-spread prediction: Vikings
Moneyline winner: Packers

Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 8:20 p.m. ET

A fascinating faceoff. Baltimore was a four-point favorite a few days ago. What’s changed? Maybe Lamar Jackson’s continued absence. The 10-5 Ravens are only one game behind the Bengals in the AFC North. Baltimore beat them earlier this season and gets them again next week. If they win on Sunday and in Week 18, they’ll claim the division title and a first-round home game.

Easier said than done, especially with Baltimore’s passing game nearly non-existent. But their near-elite pass rush and run defense should keep Pittsburgh in check. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards can handle the rest.

Against-the-spread prediction: Ravens
Moneyline winner: Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals (+1) vs. Buffalo Bills

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 2
  • Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

I’ve continued to hope the point spread would move. But then again, it wouldn’t matter unless Cincy was favored by three or more.

In what might be a preview of a rematch during the playoffs, these two teams are evenly matched on offense. The key differences are Buffalo’s higher-upside defense and the highly mobile Josh Allen.

Against-the-spread prediction: Bills
Moneyline winner: Bills

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