Beating the Spread: Week 17 Picks

Our Week 17 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

As we enter the penultimate week of the 2021 NFL season we’re looking to finish strong and get everybody above .500 for the season.  Everybody is at or above there now with 10 selections to go, so let’s see where we’re looking to get wins this week.

Two of the upper-echelon teams in the NFC are popular as both the Buccaneers and Rams find themselves on three cards.  Beyond that, there isn’t a lot of agreement among the four of us as we all have differing opinions on several of this week’s games.

Gamblers know that 60% is the magic number to come out ahead, so that’s the goal again this season.  We didn’t make it last year, which just motivates us, even more, this season.  Every week the four of us will pick five games against the spread or on the over/under.  We’ll track the picks every week and see where we end up.  Feel free to play along in the comments or find us on Twitter!

Let’s get to the lines and picks for Week 17!

The following lines were captured on Wednesday this week. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

Week 17 Betting Lines
Away Home Line O/U
Dolphins Titans Titans -3.5 39.5
Giants Bears Bears -6 36.5
Chiefs Bengals Chiefs -5 51
Eagles Football Team Eagles -3 44.5
Buccaneers Jets Buccaneers -13 45.5
Jaguars Patriots Patriots -15.5 41.5
Raiders Colts Colts -6.5 45
Falcons Bills Bills -14.5 44
Rams Ravens Rams -3.5 46.5
Texans 49ers 49ers -12.5 44
Broncos Chargers Chargers -6.5 46.5
Panthers Saints Saints -7 39.5
Cardinals Cowboys Cowboys -5.5 51.5
Lions Seahawks Seahawks -6.5 42.5
Vikings Packers Packers -6.5 47
Browns Steelers Browns -3 41
Staff Picks

 

Analysis

 

Justin Dunbar: Justin puts together an article analyzing some of his picks in more detail.  Check out his Week 17 Betting Preview for more! Here is a snippet from his pick for this week.

There is also not much turnover potential in this game with the two quarterbacks who are playing, meaning that points will have to be earned through long drives. That makes it difficult for a total over 50 points to hit, and I’m opting with this being more of a defensive battle than you’d expect. ARI/DAL Under 51.5

COVID-19 outbreaks have had a great effect on the second half of the football season, and in the biggest game of their season, the Vikings will be without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins- he tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, we’re getting a quarterback matchup between Sean Mannion and Aaron Rodgers. Yikes. With this not even crossing the key number of seven, I’ll gladly take the Packers here. GB -6.5
Adding onto the Green Bay pick, it’s hard to see the Vikings scoring many points here. Sean Mannion is a 29-year-old who has passed for 384 career yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. Meanwhile, the Packers are tied-3rd in PFF defense grade and have the second-highest graded pass rush. With Mannion being protected by the league’s fifth-lowest graded pass-blocking offensive line, that’s a problem. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings get shut out. It’s expected to be under ten degrees at kickoff, so expect points to be at a premium here, particularly for Minnesota. MIN/GB Under 47
The Ravens’ secondary is decimated due to injuries, and it’s showing. Here are their PFF coverage grades and points allowed over their past two games:
-Week 15: 41.8 coverage grade, 31 points allowed vs Packers
-Week 16: 36.9 coverage grade, 41 points allowed at Bengals
The Rams are currently averaging the most yards/play in the NFL, while the Ravens are the league’s worst defense based on yards/play allowed. We could easily see Matthew Stafford and an explosive, pass-heavy Rams offense score 30 points on a poor defense that continues to stick to their roots with heavy man-to-man coverage and blitz packages, and I don’t expect a mediocre offense led by Tyler Huntley to be able to match them. Expect Los Angeles to come out firing here. LAR -3.5
Does the Washington Football Team have anything left in the tank? Here are their notable PFF grades during their three-game losing streak:
-Week 14: 27-20 loss at DAL, 57.2 overall grade, 48.5 offense grade
-Week 15: 27-17 loss at PHI, 57.4 overall grade, 44.1 defense grade
-Week 16: 56-14 loss at DAL: 49.2 overall grade, 37.4 defense grade
In other words, it hasn’t been pretty. Head coach Ron Rivera stated that Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are likely to split snaps at quarterback in this game, which tells you all you need to know about the state of their passing offense- it’s non-existent. Facing an Eagles defense that ranks third in yards/play allowed this year it’s hard to see points being scored. Meanwhile, can we trust Washington (31st in yards/play allowed) to stop any offense right now? With the spread being just three points, thus not crossing a key number, I’ll take my chances with the team on the rise over the team that is fading away. PHI -3

Brennan Rampe: The Titans started slow last week, but were able to complete an impressive comeback win over the 49ers. The comeback was made possible primarily due to the return of A.J. Brown. They should have him available the rest of the season, and they will get offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold back. Derrick Henry might even return, which could potentially lead to the Titans having a chance to make a deep playoff run. The Dolphins did enough on offense to beat the Saints. The defense was dominant, but they were playing a rookie quarterback in his first career start. Ryan Tannehill is going up against his former team for the first time, so that may provide some additional motivation. I think the Titans will win and cover at home. Inside the Numbers: Tennessee is 6-3 against the spread under Mike Vrabel with a rest advantage. TEN -3.5

The Chiefs crushed the Steelers last week and scored 30 points, even without Travis Kelce. The Bengals beat up their divisional rival Ravens 41-21, and Joe Burrow threw for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win. This is a really important game, and I believe it’ll be very high-scoring as well. The Chiefs’ defense has been fantastic recently, but they haven’t played against the greatest competition. The Bengals have Joe Mixon and a great wide receiver trio, but the defense has been a little inconsistent this year. I think that the Chiefs win this game, but I anticipate a shootout in the first career meeting of Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. Inside the Numbers: Cincinnati is averaging 27.3 points per game while Kansas City averages 28.1 points per game.  KC/CIN Over 51

The banged-up Buccaneers destroyed their divisional rival Panthers 32-6, just a week after getting shut out 9-0 by the Saints. They’re going on the road for the second straight week, and it should be another easy win. The Jets beat the Jaguars last week, but they just barely beat the worst team in the league. That’s a little concerning because they’re about to play the defending champions. The Buccaneers have gone up against two rookie quarterbacks this year in Justin Fields and Mac Jones, and they beat both of them. Zach Wilson has shown flashes of good play, but he is still a work in progress and the Jets are still a year or two away from contending. Tom Brady is 29-6 against the Jets in his career. This is a huge spread, but I think the Buccaneers win big on the road in consecutive weeks. This could potentially be the last time Brady plays and beats the Jets in his legendary career. Inside the Numbers: Tampa Bay is 7-2 against the spread in non-conference games with Tom Brady as the quarterback. TB -13

The Rams did enough to beat the Vikings last week despite Matthew Stafford throwing three interceptions. The Ravens got destroyed 41-21 by their divisional rival Bengals, but they are the most injured team in the league by far. Still, they hung with the Bengals for most of the game despite starting third-string quarterback Josh Johnson. Lamar Jackson has started to practice again but has been limited the past couple of days. Whoever the quarterback is, they’re going to have to deal with a tough Rams pass rush as well as Jalen Ramsey. Nearly every major defensive player on the Ravens is hurt, which is probably why Joe Burrow passed for over 500 yards and four touchdowns. I don’t think Stafford will throw for 500 yards, but I think the offense will score plenty, and the talented defense should be able to limit the Ravens offense. Inside the Numbers: Los Angeles is 25-18 against the spread as the away team under Sean McVay. LAR -3.5

It seriously seems like the Browns are trying to compete with the Vikings when it comes to heartbreaking losses. They lost on a last-second field goal to the Raiders two weeks ago and followed that up by falling just short of beating the best team in the league, the Packers. The team has been decimated by their players being added to the coronavirus reserve list, but nearly all of their starters will return for this game. The Steelers are tough to watch. The offense can’t score, and the defense has been shredded over the past couple of weeks. Ben Roethlisberger just can’t play at a high level anymore, and the offensive line can’t create space for Najee Harris or protect Roethlisberger. This is most likely Roethlisberger’s last game at Heinz Field, and I think it ends up being a loss. The Browns lost to the Steelers earlier this year, but I don’t think it’s going to happen again. I predict the Browns get a win on the road and cover. Inside the Numbers: Cleveland is 9-8 against the spread as the away team under Kevin Stefanski. CLE -3

 

Erik Smith: As of this writing, the Titans enter Week 17 with Julio Jones and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine on the COVID reserve list, leaving AJ Brown and a decent running game to carry the load on their shoulders. Miami is on fire, albeit against weak competition, but their strength is a blitz-heavy defense that muddies things up for opposing quarterbacks. Tennessee’s defense is good against the run but is exploitable through the air, and Tua Tagovailoa can move this offense down the field with the short passing game. I expect an ugly game, and the Titans may pull out a win at the end, but I give the Dolphins a decent chance of winning this one outright, so I’ll grab the points. MIA +3.5

Baltimore has a decimated secondary and has just reached the point of no return on the injury front. Their once strong running game is a shell of its former self, so their offense will amount to a hobbled Lamar Jackson or a competent backup quarterback in Tyler Huntley trying to match haymakers with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams just have too many stars, while too many of the Ravens stars will be watching from the sidelines. LAR – 3.5

I can’t help picking the Cowboys anymore, I’m in love with their defense. They have freak athletes all over the field, and their pass rush nearly broke Taylor Heinicke last week is an across-the-board whooping. With their offense beginning to get back on track, this may be the most dangerous team in the league, and they face a Cardinals team that is trending in the wrong direction. Maybe Arizona rights its ship this week, but I’m betting on more of the same as I don’t think this Cardinals offense can keep up with Dallas when DeAndre Hopkins is missing from action. DAL -5.5

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand this line, as the Browns passing game looks just as broken as the Steelers passing game. In Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game I expect emotions to be high, and it’s just hard to imagine the team sending him off with a loss against a puttering Browns passing game. If they can just keep Nick Chubb in check, I think turnovers swing this game for the Steelers in the end. This feels more like a pick ’em game to me, so these points are just a bonus. PIT +3

Tom Brady against the Jets… yeah. I know Tampa Bay is missing a ton of weapons, with Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, and potentially Mike Evans set to miss this game. But they still have Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and Tom Brady, and the Jets are missing weapons of their own. Elijah Moore and Jamison Crowder look iffy to play, and I just don’t see how this Jets team has the firepower to keep up. Tampa Bay wins this one going away. TB -13

 

Bryan Sweet: This is a bit of a cheat pick as Kirk Cousins has been ruled out of this game for Minnesota as a result of being placed on the COVID/Reserve list.  I would have taken the Packers regardless because they are the far superior team and might be the best team in the NFC.  The Packers are looking to secure the #1 seed in the playoffs and they should be able to overwhelm the Vikings by at least a touchdown. GB -6.5

If Green Bay is arguably the best team in the NFC then Kansas City is arguably the best team in the AFC.  The Chiefs went through a mini-slump earlier in the season but are playing as good as or better than the 2019 Super Bowl-winning team.  The Bengals have beaten up on bad teams but shown struggles with good teams.  I think Kansas City uses last week’s video-game numbers from Burrow as motivation to show the rest of the NFL how good they are.  I think the Chiefs cruise in this one.  KC -5

The Texans have one of the worst rosters in the NFL and have no reason to be at four wins already but Davis Mills is playing good enough and San Francisco is content to use the running game and short passing game to wear down opponents.  I don’t think Houston wins this game but I do think they can at least keep it respectable and I expect a fairly low-scoring affair.  I’ll take the points here.  HOU +12.5

In one of the few games without playoff implications, we have two teams playing out the season.  Detroit has a chance to land the #1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft but they need Jacksonville to win another game while they don’t.  That starts this weekend in Seattle as the Seahawks have the better players and should be able to secure an easy victory in front of their home crowd.  SEA -6.5

Injuries have stripped Tom Brady of almost all of his offensive weapons, but their late-season schedule doesn’t require a lot of playmakers.  This week Tampa Bay travels to a familiar stadium for Brady as they face the hapless Jets.  The Buccaneers are trying to track down the Packers for the #1 seed in the NFC and that quest continues with an easy victory over the Jets.  TB -13

 


 

What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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