Is there a better time in the football season? It’s fantasy championship week, and several playoff spots are up for grabs. I don’t think there has ever been a more chaotic football season, and I’m all here for it!
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 17 slate. Every week, I’ll be providing my projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 17 from a betting perspective!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 17 Personal Projections
ARI at DAL (Under 51.5)
I’m certainly taking a risk here, as this matchup features the fastest combined neutral situation pace of the slate, per Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus
Mismatch Manifesto Week 17: combined situation-neutral pace.
Low combined numbers (blue) = two fast-paced offenses
High combined numbers (red) = two slow-paced offenses
Data from 2021, Football Outsiders pic.twitter.com/k05S4LOc7n
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 30, 2021
That being said, I’m still comfortable taking the under here. As of late, the Cardinals offense has been on the struggle bus. Without DeAndre Hopkins, they have averaged just 14 points over their last two games, and that comes despite playing two defenses in the bottom-ten in yards/play allowed (Colts, Lions). During that span, Kyler Murray is averaging just 6.05 yards/pass attempt, while his average depth of target has been under eight yards (7.6, 7.5) in both games. Now, they have to face a Cowboys defense that is the second-best unit in expected points added (EPA) per pass attempt, which isn’t ideal.
The Cowboys certainly lit up the Washington Football Team defense with 42 offensive points last week. Before that, though, Dak Prescott had averaged six yards per attempt or under in three straight games. Remember that Washington, who has the league’s third-worst PFF coverage grade, was without several key defensive players due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Plus, with the Cardinals being a run-funnel defense this season, we could see Dallas opt to not air out, leading to fewer points being scored.
These are two talented offenses, but they have both been struggling as of late, and 51.5 points is a lot. 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 longer 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.
LAC (-0.5) vs DEN
NO (-0.5) vs CAR
Both of these favorites can be teased to under one point, essentially a pick-em, and are facing Drew Lock and Sam Darnold, respectively. This isn’t the greatest weeks for teasers, but I like the sound of fading two subpar quarterbacks.
Parlay (Four Games and Eight Games)
ARI at DAL (Under 51.5)
NYG (+6) at CHI
JAX at NE (Under 41.5)
ARI (+6) at DAL
LAR (-5.5) at BAL
LAR at BAL (Over 46.5)
CAR (+6.5) at NO
PHI (-4.5) at WSH
I’m forcing myself to deliver an eight-game parlay, which is a significantly worse option than the four-game parlay this week. With Andy Dalton under center for a Bears team that hasn’t exactly shown the ability to blow a team out, I’ll reluctantly side with the Giants, and the same reasoning goes for the Panthers over the Saints. Meanwhile, as much of the Cardinals have struggled and the Cowboys are coming off of a blowout victory, six points is a large amount between two playoff-caliber teams. From there, fade the Ravens’ and Washington’s decimated defenses! With playoff spots on the line, expect the Rams and Eagles to attack two very vulnerable units, though I have enough faith in Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley to still feel comfortable in the game total of Rams/Ravens exceeding 46.5 points.
TB at NYJ
NE vs JAX
This week, there are four teams favored by double-digit points:
- Patriots (-16.5) vs Jaguars
- Bills (-14.5) vs Falcons
- Bucs (-13) at Jets
- 49ers (-12.5) vs Texans
Thus, those would be the obvious survivor picks this week. I will note that the Bills are playing the Jets next week, so it may be worth holding onto them if you have not used them yet, while the 49ers are somewhat risky with Trey Lance under center.
Parting Bold Predictions
Neither Kyler Murray or Dak Prescott Throw More Than One Touchdown
The Giants Upset The Bears Outright
Rams/Ravens Is The Highest Total Of The Week
Remember, these are BOLD predictions! All of these align with my betting picks, but allow us to get a bit spicy here. Enjoy an exciting week of football, and please remember to bet responsibly!
(Photo by Kevin Reece/Icon Sportswire)