NFL Week 17; Game previews

Week 17 of the NFL season and things are getting interesting.

NFC

A win for the Packers against the Vikings on Sunday night pretty much ensures the #1 seed, but the Cowboys (who have a better conference record) and Buccs are just a game behind on 11 wins, both having won their divisions already. The Rams are also on 11 wins and will win the NFC West with victory over the Ravens. The Cardinals are in and likely the 5th seed, setting up a probable divisional game against the Rams. 6th and 7th seed are a bit tougher to call.

Currently the 49ers and Eagles at 8-7, but there are 3 teams just 1 win behind, the Vikings, Falcons and Saints sit at 7-8.

Remaining schedule for these 5 teams;

TeamRemaining matches
49ersTexans, @Rams
Eagles@Washington, Dallas
Vikings@Packers, Bears
Falcons@Bills, Saints
SaintsPanthers, @Falcons

It’s tough to see any of the 5 winning both games, you would have to say the Saints have the best chance of doing that and making it to 9 wins. The 49ers should get 1 more and that may well get them in, as should the Vikings, I think the Eagles split their remaining games, and the Falcons unfortunately finish as they are now. So, for me, I have the 49ers, Eagles and Saints on 9 wins. If all three finish on 9 wins then I believe the Eagles and Saints get in due to their better conference records.

So, Packers, Cowboys, Bucs, Rams, Cardinals, Eagles and Saints would be the playoff teams from the NFC.

AFC

Things are even more of a mess in the AFC, this might take some time. There’s 32 permutations for the Ravens this week…

Remarkably with two games remaining, the Chiefs are the only team to have sealed their spot in the post-season having won the AFC West, they will essentially secure the #1 seed with a win against the Bengals this week. The Titans need one more to win the AFC South as they swept the Colts this year, that will get them the #2 seed as well. I assume the Bills win out and take the AFC East (hosting Falcons and Jets) and 3rd seed. I also have the Colts winning out and finishing on 11 wins. That makes them #5.

That’s the “easy” bit. The AFC North is a mess. It’s simple for the Bengals. Win against the Chiefs and it’s done. Seems unlikely, so then they’re looking at the Browns v Steelers on MNF. IF the Browns win that it goes to a decider in Week 18 (I would not be a confident Bengals fan). UNLESS The Ravens win against the Rams AND Steelers. Then they’d sneak it with 10 wins. Either way the AFC North winner is pretty much the 4 seed and hosting the Colts in Week 19.

Seed 6 and 7… The Patriots have the Jags and Dolphins remaining, if they win both they’ll be the #6 seed, however. If the Dolphins win their remaining games (@Titans and vs Pats) then they will be 6 and the Pats at 7, and the AFC East sends 3 teams forward. I am assuming the Chargers beat the Broncos and Raiders – I will get lost in a massive rabbit warren if I go into Broncos/Raiders/Steelers chances of making it in.

IF THE CHARGERS win both and the Dolphins games go as expected (they lose both) then the Chargers are the 7th seed. If the Chargers only win one of their games and the Dolphins beat the Titans then the Bengals get in as 7th seed at 9-8…


You know what’s easier than playoff permutations? Entering my Playoff Competition this year.

£25 entry, all goes into the prize pot, Winner takes all, unless there are 20+ entrants then I’ll sort out a split for Winner/2nd.

On to the actual previews!


Atlanta Falcons +14 @ Buffalo Bills: 44

After the brain-melting trying to sort the playoff picture, this should be a little easier, and one I can handicap without even mentioning the teams, like a proper nerd.

The Bills have been 10+ point favourites 5 times this year, winning 4 of them, losing inexplicably to the Jaguars, but the important thing for us is the spread. They are 3-1-1 ATS in those matches, obviously, the loser is that Jags game. Thanks to spanking the shit teams, the Bills point differential is +163 this season, the best in the league.

Despite being in the play-off hunt with 8 wins so far, the Falcons have a point differential of -122, worse than the Giants, Bears and Panthers, and only a few points better than the Lions who they beat last week. That’s largely due to getting obliterated by the good teams. This season they’ve been Underdogs of more than 4 points in 6 games, they beat the Saints, but lost the other 5 straight up and against the spread, losing those 5 by nearly 100 points in total.

Bills win. Probably cover. Numbers.

Jacksonville Jaguars +16.5 @ New England Patriots: 41

The Jaguars are a terrible, terrible franchise and this week they’ll be without the only talented player they’ve got with James Robinson done for the year. They could have won last week, they didn’t want to. They didn’t bother trying to stop Wilson on his long rush “QBs are too protected” – Get fucked with that opinion, they didn’t want to stop him so didn’t try, and don’t get me started on Trevor Lawrence not trying to get into the endzone at the end of the game. They’re shit and deliberately trying to be shitter.

The Pats need to win more of their remaining games than the Bills to steal the AFC East. It shouldn’t happen, this should be a gimme, but they lost to the Dolphins in week 1 and face them next week, that might be interesting. A win here pretty much secures a playoff spot for the Pats, an impressive bounceback from last year with a rookie QB and something that some of us predicted with their defensive players returning. “I actually have the Patriots leap-frogging the Dolphins” – me.

Numerically it’s a correlated parlay, Jags to cover and under on the total. But I won’t be betting either. Jags team total is 12.5. TWELVE POINT FIVE.

Kansas City Chiefs -4 @ Cincinnati Bengals: 50.5

Now, THIS is a game. The Chiefs basically secure the #1 seed with a win, the Bengals get the AFC North title.

The Chiefs defense was the issue earlier in the year, once again Andy Reid used the bye week well and they’ve only allowed over 20 points once in the second half of the season, admittedly the only good offense they faced was the Cowboys who they held to 9 points, but it’s still impressive. The offensive line seems a lot better and they showed last week they can win without Hill or Kelce doing anything which is new. Kelce returns to this one and should do well against a Bengals team that allows the second-most yards to the TE. Typically the Bengals have done worse against big body receivers so they might actually be OK against Hill and the rest of the WRs.

The run game has been better since Clyde came back from injury even if it’s not always him moving the ball, last week was Darrel and young man Gore on the ground and through the air. Clyde has been on the report this week with a shoulder and is considered “week to week”.

The Chiefs secondary is probably still their weakest spot, they’ll have to get pressure on Burrow and Chris Jones being back in the middle of the DL with Melvin Ingram joining earlier in the year and bumped his numbers, he should do well against the interior of the Bengals line. DVOA Ranks the Chiefs at 13 vs the Pass and 21st vs the run.

The Bengals decimated a cast of randoms in the Ravens secondary last week, Joe Burrow throwing for the 4th most passing yards in NFL history. He became the first QB to throw for 400+ in two games against the same opponent. That probably means very little against an actual NFL defense though. He was great, he has been great for a lot of the year despite taking a lot of sacks (many of them holding onto the ball and not on the line) but with the weapons the Bengals have they should be putting up yards/points.

Higgins, Chase and Boyd are all above 750 yards and Joe Mixon is second in the league in rushing yards. The beauty of the offense is that one of them should be able to get open on most plays, they should be able to exploit match-ups and with 71, 68 and 63 receptions between the WRs respectively is shows that Burrow will generally find the open man. CJ Uzomah can do it at TE when needed as well. They have been bringing in Drew Sample more on passing downs and he’s been blocking well while they used empty sets more last week to over-load that poor Ravens D. They will probably go back to running on every first down this week though.

The defense has been a surprise this year, especially against the run, they probably lose Germaine Pratt who’s been playing well at LB although the new rules mean he might be available, but Luke Wilson should return and he was great early in the year, full strength at most other spots providing DJ Reader makes it off the Covid list though.

Long preview there for not a lot of help. I think the Chiefs win and cover, but I do think the Bengals put up points, so I’d have to say over on the total.

Las Vegas Raiders +8 @ Indianapolis Colts: 45.5

Darren Waller is done for the year, the Raiders have had one game since their bye week where they’ve scored more than 16 points, yet somehow won their last two games vs. the Covid Browns and Drew Lock Broncos last week, similar disabilities for their respective teams apparently. The run game isn’t great, Josh Jacobs seems to have plateaued but he can bash in scores. Hunter Renfrow is the boy without Waller and should do well. The Colts pass defense isn’t exactly good.

Carson Wentz should play after a covid scare but the league changed the rules for him, Quinton Nelson should return as well, their offensive line was down to scraps last week as they beat the Cards. Jonathan Taylor may well win offensive player of the year as the huge leader in rushing yards. Raiders run D actually ranks 10th against the run according to DVOA, but that probably won’t stop JT.

The Raiders have a chance of the playoffs still, but this should be the end of it. Colts win, cover and under on the total.

Miami Dolphins +3 @ Tennessee Titans: 40.5

https://bookies.com/nfl/picks/miami-dolphins-at-tennessee-titans-free-picks-betting-predictions

An important one in the AFC playoff race, the Dolphins are currently 7 seeds having won 7 games in a row.

The Titans win the division with a win, and pretty much secure the 2 seed. They have really struggled the second half of the year and the game-winner last week, AJ Brown, may miss this one after not practicing with a calf injury. Injuries have been brutal for them this year yet they’ve still won 10. It’s really quite impressive.

Looking at Waddle receptions, obviously, I’d still say o7.5, and Duke Johnson score/yards, got the bulk of the work even with Gaskin healthy last week. 29/10 the best on Friday night.

I want the Titans to win, they probably should but the Dolphins are the form team. Total is a no-go.

New York Giants +6.5 @ Chicago Bears: 36

I doubt even Giants or Bears fans care about this one. Jake Fromm gets another start for the Giants after being benched last week.

Dalton probably starts for the Bears with Fields logging a light practise on Thursday. Foles back to the bench. David Montgomery is still running hard.

No idea, it’s such a low total I’d have to ignore the utter ineptitude on show and lean over, down a point to just 36 from 37 on Friday.

Los Angeles Rams -6.5 @ Baltimore Ravens: 46.5

The Rams need wins to keep their chance of the #1 seed while the Ravens need wins to make the playoffs.

The Rams have found a bit of form after they stuttered although Stafford still isn’t playing clean ball, 1 TD: 3 INTs in a win last week. Darrell Henderson has gone on IR, but Sony Michel has been getting the work for the last few weeks anyway, Cam Akers has been activated so he can put toward his pension but is very unlikely to play this week. Cooper Kupp is the guy challenging Taylor for the OPOY title though, he needs 231 yards and 18 receptions to break the all-time single-season record, that could be possible vs. this secondary.

The Ravens were destroyed, mullered, obliterated, demolished, annihilated by the Bengals last week, their secondary came in weak and got weaker as they lost players in the game and somehow the 6th/7th stringers couldn’t stop the opposition. That area should be a little better this week with minor reinforcements but it won’t be much better. It looks like Lamar Jackson will miss out again but Tyler Huntley should be off the covid list and back at QB, which is huge for them.

I was a little surprised to see this at 4.5, it makes more sense to me at 6.5 now, I have to take the Rams covering at that line still though.

Philadelphia Eagles -4.5 @ Washington Football Team: 44.5

Another road favourite and line that seems off. The last few weeks have shown the Eagles the far better team in this matchup. The Eagles are without Miles Sanders but should have Gainwell and possibly Jordan Howard at RB, they have shown they can put up yards with Jalen Hurts probably leading them in rush yards. The passing game hasn’t been great but hasn’t needed to be in their wins for most of the year. They should win on both lines and probably win the game.

Antonio Gibson is out, JD McKissic is out. So, Jaret Patterson gets the start at RB? It’s basically Terry McLaurin vs. the world.

I’ve got to take the Eagles covering, even if it has added a point since Friday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -13.5 @ New York Jets: 45.5

The Superbowl Champs vs the 2nd pick last year? Less than 2 TDs? Interesting.

https://bookies.com/nfl/picks/tampa-bay-buccaneers-at-new-york-jets-free-picks-betting-predictions

Jets pass D has actually been all right, Antonio Brown would be the man to look for but tweaked his ankle on Friday, one to keep an eye on.

A weakened Bucs took care of a poor team and should do the same this week, I’d say Bucs cover, nothing on the total.

Denver Broncos +8 @ Los Angeles Chargers: 45.5

So, this tweet dropped on Friday with the line +6.5

It actually wasn’t as bad as that tweet seemed but the line moved through the 7 to 8 points now, both RBs will be playing and they didn’t lose much on offense through covid at all.

The Chargers have had Covid issues in recent weeks but should have most returning for this one, although Jared Cook is out, so Stephen Anderson maybe worth a look at.

I think the Chargers still cover, they win both their remaining games and they’re in the playoffs, they need it like blood, but they have a habit of fucking up, so I’m not touching this one.

Houston Texans +12.5 @ San Francisco 49ers: 44

Somehow the Texans are the 3rd pick in the draft at the moment. I guess sweeping the Jaguars will do that to you, they have Brandin Cooks off the Covid list and needing just 55 yards for another 1,000 yard season. Davis Mills has actually been pretty good at QB in recent weeks. Sexy Rexy Burkhead has been running pretty well.

The 49ers probably have Trey Lance starting at QB although they’re whispering about Jimmy G coming back for it. He didn’t do much starting against the Cardinals earlier in the year, but reports say he’s been running the ball more in training and that’s what we expected coming into the year. The Texans actually rank 18th in defensive DVOA, better vs. the pass than run. Elijah Mitchell should be back to mix in with Jeff Wilson, but Deebo is the man. Arguably the most fun player in the league to watch this year.

The 49ers need to win out to have a chance of getting in, their home form isn’t good, but they should beat the Texans, arguably I’d lean Texans on the spread, and over.

Arizona Cardinals +6.5 @ Dallas Cowboys: 51.5

A big game at the top of the NFC. The Cards need a win to have a chance of winning the NFC West, the Cowboys need wins to improve their seeding.

It’s been a rough month for the Cardinals with losses to the Rams, Lions and Colts last week leaving them chasing for an NFC West title which they thought they had locked up. They’ll be hoping James Conner returns, he’s officially questionable, so probably gets some game time, without him Chase Edmonds had a big workload last week and Kyler topped his rush numbers. The passing game has dropped with Nuk out until the playoffs and that’s hurt them.

The Cowboys have been stumbling on offense but the defense has stepped up this year and helped take them to 11 wins, the NFC East title and a potential 1 seed in the NFC with the Eagles in week 18. They put up a 50-burger on Washington last week with Pass, Run, and Defense all finding the endzone. They’ve got all the talent it’s just whether Dak can do it while still not looking back to his best after injury.

Cardinals last-season failures are mounting year on year now, the Cowboys might have figured things out, have to take the Cowboys winning.

Carolina Panthers +6.5 @ New Orleans Saints: 38

Not one many will be keeping an eye on. The Panthers welcome back(?) Sam Darnold who looks like getting the start, but will probably get hauled off for Cam Newton, who will probably get hauled off for PJ Walker, who will then get hauled off for Sam Darnold. It’s a mess. I am very disappointed with them this season. Stupid Carolina.

The Saints might scrape into the playoffs and should do if they win the remaining two games, they have Taysom back at QB after Covid ruled him out last week. Taysom and Kamara is probably all they need to win this game though, oh, Adam Trautman is back, might be worth a look again on props.

Saints win, cover, it’s hard to go under such a low total but it seems likely

Detroit Lions +7.5 @ Seattle Seahawks: 41.5

One team who have impressed despite their record and one who have hugely disappointed.

The Lions are still going for wins despite their season being done months ago, they will be brining back D’Andre Swift this week for some reason. Team spirit? Mantra? It seems weird to me not to just shut him down for the year but it makes them more fun to watch at least. Goff returns from Covid, he and Amon-ra St. Brown have impressed in recent weeks as the rookie took the monthly award.

A summer of “will he, won’t he” is already under way for Wilson and the Seahawks. Great. Rashaad Penny should have a big day, Lockett returns and probably takes all the work from DK Metcalf as they hate him at the moment.

I’d have to lean to the Lions covering. Could be a sneaky high-scoring game, both defenses are shit.

Minnesota Vikings +12.5 @ Green Bay Packers: 42

Well, this isn’t as interesting as it should have been, the line jumped 7 points on the news that Cousins finally contracted Covid, one of the most highly publicised non-vaxxed people in the league, he’s done well to avoid it all year. It means Sean Mannion starts, he’ll be fine at handing the ball off to Dalvin Cook who will probably have a huge game. It’s hard to say anything about any pass-catchers though, Justin Jefferson probably got you to your fantasy championships, good luck playing him now.

Rodgers and Adams are unstoppable, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are a good 1-2 on the floor, the defense is getting pieces back. Things are looking good for the likely 1 seed in the NFC.

Packers win, I’d have to lean Vikings covering 14 pts though, it’s meant to be FREEZING in GB which makes putting up points tough and it’s likely the Vikings run the ball a lot. Under on total, it’s moved from 46.5 earlier in the week already though.


Best Bets (2 pts stake unless stated)

Main lines

  • Eagles -4.5
  • Chiefs -3.5 (365)
  • Lions v Seahawks o41.5

TD Scorers

  • Rashaad Penny – 6/4 (Unibet)
  • Darrel Williams – 11/8 (Skybet)
  • Ashton Dulin (Colts) – 15/2 (Skybet/Betfair) – 1 pt
  • Van Jefferson – 9/4 (365) – Basically just choosing the highest price of the 3 Rams WRs
  • Sony Michel – 1/1 (Betfred) – Fine with any around Evens
  • Adam Trautman – 9/2 (PP/Betfair)
  • Dalvin Cook – 8/5 (365) – I can’t say no to plus money on Cook.

I’ve got a lot again, that’s a worry but I couldn’t pick any to leave out. Van Jefferson probably but that Ravens pass D is atrocious.

Player props

  • Ja’Marr Chase u70.5 rec. yards – 10/11
  • Jaylen Waddle o6.5 receptions – 1/1 (Skybet)

Lets go with that, it’s getting late.


If you like DFS then obviously have a read of Tom’s preview at NFL-DFS.com. I am hoping to extend over there next year

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