It is important to look at potential playoff scenarios before placing any bets. A few top teams have already cemented their spot in the playoffs, so a team like the Washington Redskins could sit their starting quarterback. Also, there will be a few teams that will bench their kind-of-banged-up stars this week.
Will we finish strong heading into the NFL playoffs? We’ve had a pretty good season so far, so we hope to have a solid Week 17.
We pick every NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 17 of the 2015 NFL season.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (OFF) – My pick is TBD
The Colts quarterback situation is a mess. They will name a starter soon and I’ll post a pick when a line is on the board.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-1) – My pick is Detroit Lions
The Lions come into this game with a two-game winning streak. I believe they are fighting for their coach’s job. The Bears are banged up and might not even play Matt Forte. Calvin Johnson always shows up against the Bears. I’m taking the Lions to cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston ‘kind of’ needs to win this game to win the AFC South. It would take a weird eight-game parlay for the Colts to pass them. Brian Hoyer is out of the concussion protocol, so he should start this game. The Jags owner said Jags coach Gus Bradley is safe for another season. I’ve liked Jacksonville in stretches late this year. Blake Bortles might not be the bust I assumed he was heading into the year. I think they have one more fight left in them. I’m taking the points.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-3.5) – My pick is New York Giants
The Eagles didn’t wait until after the season to can Chip Kelly. He got the axe this week. I’m curious to see what the response will be from the team. I know he is disliked by players that are no longer on the team, but I haven’t heard much hate from the current players. The Giants will have Odell Beckham Jr. back, so last week’s beating shouldn’t be a foreshadow. I believe the Giants are playing for Tom Coughlin’s job. I’m taking them to cover.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) – My pick is Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins could sit out this game since there aren’t any playoff implications tied to this game. Washington will be the #4 seed in the NFC playoffs. Colt McCoy will probably get the start. I don’t feel comfortable putting a penny on Kellen Moore after watching him play the last two weeks. I’m taking the points and possibly putting a few jellybeans on the Redskins moneyline.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (+3) – My pick is New York Jets
The Jets need to win, or have the Steelers lose, to secure a wild-card spot. I like how Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing lately. He has been placing the ball where Brandon Marshall can only get it. The Bills would love to finish 8-8 in Rex Ryan’s first year, but wouldn’t it be apropos for the Jets to clinch a playoff spot with Ryan on the other sideline? I’m taking the Jets to cover.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+11) – My pick is New England Patriots
New England can still get home-field advantage in the playoffs. They just need to win this game or have Denver lose to San Diego. The last time the Patriots played the Dolphins, New England trounced them 36-7. I believe a similar score could end up having again. I’m taking the Pats to cover.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-4) – My pick is Atlanta Falcons
Where has this Atlanta team the entire year? They started out the season great, then hit a wall. They ruined Carolina’s bid for a perfect season last week. I predict we see a ton of Julio Jones in this game since he needs a lot of receptions to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season receptions record. I’m not sure if he will get all he needs to break it, but I have a feeling Atlanta will try to do it. I’m taking Atlanta to cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+11) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
Austin Davis will start for Cleveland in place of Johnny Manziel (concussion). The Steelers need a win and a New York Jets loss in order to make the playoffs. The Steelers will air it out in this game since Joe Haden is on IR for Cleveland. I’m taking Pittsburgh to cover the lofty spread on the road.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-9) – My pick is Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati has been one of the most consistent teams against the spread this season (12-2-1 ATS)…but the offense hasn’t looked as potent with A.J. McCarron under center. Their defense has been strong, so they haven’t need to score many points to still cover. Ryan Mallett surprised me last week in Baltimore’s win against Pittsburgh. He barely had enough time to sniff the playbook, but he looked calm and comfortable. He will have issues against Cincinnati, but I think this line is a few points too high. I’m taking the points.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) – My pick is Oakland Raiders
Kansas City needs a win and a Denver loss to win the AFC West. If they lose, they’ve already earned a wild-card spot. Kansas City beat Oakland 34-20 just a few weeks ago. Oakland out-gained Kansas City by a good margin in that game. Derek Carr threw three costly picks (one that went for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter). I think Oakland can correct their wrongs and possibly win this game. I’m taking the points.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-9) – My pick is Denver Broncos
Denver’s playoff scenario could place them with home-field advantage or they could fall all the way down to a wild-card spot. They need to win this game to have any chance of getting a potential bye week. This line feels a bit high, but San Diego has struggled to score points against good defenses. I don’t think Brock Osweiler needs a lot of points to cover this spread. I’m taking Denver to cover.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (+3.5) – My pick is St. Louis Rams
I believe the Rams are playing for Jeff Fisher’s job. He was hired with much fanfare, but they’ve been underwhelming since his hire. I think an 8-8 finish could save his job for one more season. Case Keenum hasn’t been bad as a starting quarterback for the Rams. He’s played better than every other Rams quarterback this season. I like his shot at at least earning a backup role next season (since the Rams will most likely get a quarterback in this draft). I’m taking the Rams to cover on the road.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-10.5) – My pick is Carolina Panthers
If Carolina wins, they get homefield advantage in the NFC. They need to get back to playing dominating football. Tampa Bay has made strides this season to build on next season. They will be much better a year from now. The half-point scares me a little in this game. Jameis Winston threw four interceptions the last time they faced each other. I think he will once again have issues since Vincent Jackson went on IR this week. I’m taking Carolina to cover this double-digit spread.
Seattle Sehawks at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) – My pick is Arizona Cardinals
Arizona was a beast against Green Bay last week. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned to death. The defense is playing great, even with Tyrann Mathieu on IR. Seattle is stuck in their role as the #6 seed in the NFC. Arizona will turn it up in hopes of a Carolina loss, so they could possibly get home-field advantage. I’m taking Arizona to cover at home.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3.5) – My pick is Minnesota Vikings
The winner of this game will win the NFC North. The weather won’t play a huge factor. It will be cold (probably in the high-teens at kickoff), but snow or wind isn’t expected. The way the Packers looked last week, I’m scared to pick them. Their offensive line played horrible. The Packers did out-play the Vikings in their last game, but that was when Eddie Lacy was playing great. I’m taking the points in this game.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob