There are only two weeks left in the 2017 NFL regular season. As is usually the case this time of the year, things are crazy with the top seeds battling for home-field advantage while many other teams are just hoping for a coveted playoff spot. Packers fans were all excited last week with Aaron Rodgers coming back, but they lost to the Panthers and now Rodgers has been shut down for the year since the Packers are out of the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, Steelers fans are mad about the incomplete pass they thought was a catch by Jesse James that cost them an important game against the Patriots. What would the NFL be without controversy? There’s always something! Losing Antonio Brown sucks too.
It’s also championship week for most fantasy football leagues. I made it to four finals out of the eight leagues I have, which makes it probably the best year I’ve ever had in over 20 years of doing fantasy football. Of course, I’ve got my Rams RB Todd Gurley on three of those teams. Thanks, Todd.
No Thursday game this week. There are two on Saturday, twelve on Sunday Christmas Eve and two on Monday Christmas Day to wrap it up.
Last Week’s Results:
13-3 Straight Up (147-77 Season, .656)
8-7-1 Point Spread (113-107-4 Season, .514)
Great bounce back after a rough 8-8 straight up the week before.
Note: The point spreads I use come from VegasInsider. All times listed are in the Eastern Time zone.
Indianapolis (3-11) @ Baltimore (8-6) -13.5 [4:30pm SAT]
The Ravens are on the outside looking in now, but the two teams they are battling with (Titans and Bills) have much tougher matchups this week, so I expect the Ravens to come out motivated. Keep it simple with the run game led by RB Alex Collins and the defense should carry them as well. Colts have lost five in a row and appear to have given up.
The Pick: Baltimore 27-10
Minnesota (11-3) -9 @ Green Bay (7-7) [8:30pm SAT]
If Aaron Rodgers was at QB for the Packers, the spread would be around even. With Brett Hundley running the show, the Vikes deserve to be favored by more than a touchdown. The Packers are likely going to struggle to get the run game going and relying on Hundley hasn’t worked out too well. Minnesota is second against the pass and third against the run while also shutting down great offenses like the Rams and Falcons this year. They should have no problem stopping the Packers. On the other side of the ball, QB Case Keenum could have a huge game passing to his weapons Thielen, Diggs and Rudolph.
The Pick: Minnesota 33-13
Atlanta (9-5) @ New Orleans (10-4) -5.5 [1:00pm SUN]
This is their second time playing in three weeks after the Falcons won 20-17 at home. This time it’s going to be tougher in New Orleans against a Saints team with two Pro Bowl RBs in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. I thought that game two weeks ago would have more points, but both defenses are better than the average fan gives them credit for. It’s probably because they are two of the best offenses too. The Saints run game looked amazing last week, so they’re going to rely on that again while focusing on stopping WR Julio Jones, who had 98 receiving yards against the Saints last time. What’s concerning for the Falcons is Matt Ryan threw picks in that win two weeks ago. The Saints know how to defend him and they should get the win this time out.
The Pick: New Orleans 31-23
Cleveland (0-14) @ Chicago (4-10) -6.5 [1:00pm SUN}
Sorry Browns. It’s not happening. Bears run game led by RB Jordan Howard should control this game between two of the worst teams.
The Pick: Chicago 23-13
Buffalo (8-6) @ New England (11-3) -12 [1:00pm SUN]
Game of the year for the Bills and just another divisional home game for the top-seeded Patriots. I don’t think the Bills have the offensive firepower to keep up on the road. When they played in Week 13, the Patriots dominated in a 23-3 win. I’ll give the Bills a few more points this time, but I don’t see them keeping up with Patriots QB Tom Brady looking to pad his case as the league MVP with another impressive season at the age of 40. Can the Bills stop Pats TE Rob Gronkowski after he rumbled for 168 receiving yards? I doubt it. Pats roll here.
The Pick: New England 34-10
Denver (5-9) @ Washington (6-8) -3.5 [1:00pm SUN]
I’m going with the Broncos because they have allowed just 13 points after winning their last two games. It seems like that good defense they have has woken up. I can’t figure out Washington, so relying on the better defensive team sounds good to me.
The Pick: Denver 20-16
Detroit (8-6) -4.5 @ Cincinnati (5-9) [1:00pm SUN]
The Lions are currently in 7th in the NFC, so they really need this win while hoping some teams ahead of them falter down the stretch. With the Bengals coming into this game with three straight losses including two blowouts, they may have given up too. The Bengals are last in rush defense and the Lions are 31st at running the ball, so perhaps the Lions’ QB Matt Stafford will focus on former Bengal WR Marvin Jones, who has come up huge for the Lions of late. Maybe the Bengals will care enough to cover the spread, but I think the Lions win on a late field goal.
The Pick: Detroit 24-21
LA Chargers (7-7) -6.5 @ NY Jets (5-9) [1:00pm SUN]
Tough loss for the Chargers in KC last week. I think they’ll bounce back here against a Jets offense that is really struggling with Bryce Petty at QB. The Chargers rank 4th against the pass, so I expect them to create some turnovers and then capitalize on offense. Big game coming for QB Phil Rivers too after an awful performance last week.
The Pick: LA Chargers 28-17
LA Rams (10-4) -6.5 @ Tennessee (8-6) [1:00pm SUN]
The Titans are on their way to 8-8. That may have sounded crazy two weeks ago when they were sitting pretty at 8-4, but I think they will lose this home game to my Rams and at home to the Jaguars next week. The reason is they are an easy team to defend because they’re 25th in passing. When they run with RBs Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, they rely on Murray too much even though Henry is the more explosive player. While I don’t expect 4 TDs from RB Todd Gurley like last week because the Titans are 4th against the run, I think the Rams should have no problem scoring through the air with Gurley being a part of that. Big game for QB Jared Goff and that Rams offense as they look to hold onto that third spot in the NFC while hoping to somehow move up.
The Pick: LA Rams 34-20
Miami (6-8) @ Kansas City (8-6) -10.5 [1:00pm SUN]
The Dolphins are pretty good at home with a 4-3 record, but they are just 2-5 on the road and will probably have troubles stopping the Chiefs offense. Credit the Chiefs for their convincing wins the last two weeks over the Raiders and Chargers to take control of the AFC West. I like what I’ve seen from RB Kareem Hunt the last two weeks while QB Alex Smith is doing a good job of finding WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce as well. The Chiefs defense is a bit shaky right now, but they should be able to beat the inconsistent Dolphins.
The Pick: Kansas City 27-16
Tampa Bay (4-10) @ Carolina (10-4) -10 [1:00pm SUN]
This should be an ass kicking for the Panthers. I don’t see how the Bucs will be able to slow them down and score enough to win considering the Bucs have checked out on soon to be fired coach Dirk Koetter. Nobody in the NFC wants to face the Panthers in the playoffs with QB Cam Newton looking healthy like his old self while rookie RB Christian McCaffrey had a monster game last week. Plus, TE Greg Olsen is finally healthy. They will be a tough out, that’s for sure.
The Pick: Carolina 34-16
Jacksonville (10-4) -4 @ San Francisco (4-10) [4:05pm SUN]
There may be an upset here. That might sound crazy when looking at the records, but the Niners have won three in a row and new QB Jimmy Garoppolo has done a fantastic job for them. Where I see a problem is the Jaguars offense should be able to score plenty especially with rookie RB Leonard Fournette expected back in action. I see the Niners putting up a fight, but that Jags defense will slow them down enough to win a close game.
The Pick: Jacksonville 23-17
Seattle (8-6) @ Dallas (8-6) [4:25pm SUN]
Huge game. The loser likely has no chance of making the playoffs while the winner would stay in the race although it’s no sure thing they get in because of the NFC South trio of teams. The big story is that Dallas has superstar RB Ezekiel Elliott back after being suspended for six games. With the Seahawks dealing with a lot of injuries to key defensive players and the Cowboys having a great O-Line, I think a fresh Elliott is going to have a huge game. The Cowboys should run him early and often, so when the Seahawks try to stop him, that should open up the pass. I also think the Seahawks can score a lot with QB Russell Wilson playing so well of late (other than last week). I like the over in a high scoring game with the Cowboys prevailing in the end.
The Pick: Dallas 37-31
NY Giants (2-12) @ Arizona (6-8) [4:25pm SUN]
Two disappointing teams in a game that doesn’t matter. I’m actually going with the Giants because they are showing some heart playing for interim coach Steve Spagnuolo and there are reports that players want him to be the head coach full-time next year.
The Pick: NY Giants 27-20
Pittsburgh (11-3) -9.5 @ Houston (4-10) [4:30pm MON]
The Steelers are without superstar WR Antonio Brown due to a calf injury. Lucky for them, they face the lowly Texans, who are losers of seven of their last eight with one of the worst offenses in the league. Think they miss rookie QB Deshaun Watson? They sure do. Pittsburgh’s offense might struggle at times without Brown, but they should rely heavily on RB Le’Veon Bell as a receiver and in that run game. The Texans may be able to keep it close early, but the Steelers should win comfortably.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 31-17
Oakland (6-8) @ Philadelphia (12-2) -9 [8:30pm MON]
It’s over for the Raiders. They had a shot two weeks ago when they were 6-6, but they dropped that game to the Chiefs and then choked in the end against the Cowboys last week. I don’t see them doing much against an elite team like the Eagles. Great matchup for QB Nick Foles to get some reps in since the Raiders are 23rd against the pass. Eagles win big at home.
The Pick: Philadelphia 33-20
My Fave Five Bets Of The Week
Last week: 1-4 (Season 36-36-3)
Here are my five favorite bets for this week.
@ Philadelphia -9 Oakland
Seattle @ Dallas OVER 47
@ New Orleans -5.5 Atlanta
Denver +3.5 @ Washington
@ New England -12 Buffalo
That’s all for this week. I’ll be back for more next week. Enjoy the games.