This NFL season has been, by far, the most difficult to bet on in my memory. Whether it be because of injuries, Covid craziness, or something else, it's been so hard to correctly predict the outcomes of most of the games that have occurred so far. We finished 3-4 in week 16 to take our season record to 48-52, meaning we have to have a strong showing these final two weeks to finish above .500 on the year. But alas, I will try my best to ensure that happens with the eight, that's right, EIGHT, picks I'm giving out for week 17.
Chicago Bears -6.0 vs. New York Giants
Do we even know who will be playing quarterback for the Giants anymore? Mike Glennon? Jake Fromm? Whoever it is, the poor guy is set up for disaster given half his receiving corps is still hurt and the rest of his team is hot garbage. The Giants haven't come close to beating anyone in the last four weeks and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Chicago has been hanging in there (somewhat) with some pretty good teams in recent weeks and I think they're gonna win by double digits regardless of who they have under center on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins +3.5 at Tennessee Titans
There's no team hotter than the Dolphins right now, as they've won seven in a row immediately following a seven game losing streak, which is just a phenomenal turnaround. The Titans, though I hate to admit it, had a pretty good win last week against the 49ers. But it's hard to bet against Miami to at least cover in a massive game for them in terms of their playoff potential. Tennessee is typically tough to beat at home, but they've also tended to disappear at times this season. Honestly, I could see this game going many different ways, but Miami getting 3.5 points is irresistible.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals Over 51.0
Last week, I lost in my fantasy football playoff semifinals by 0.6 points due to Tee Higgins putting up 43 points against me. And that's not necessarily a reason why I'm making this bet, but I did want to complain about it once, at least. The reality is that the Chiefs' offense is rolling, as they've put up 34 or more in their last three games (one of which without Travis Kelce). This Bengal defense is pretty good against the run, but they've been torched through the air in several games this year. But I won't count out Cincinnati completely, as they have quite an explosive offense in their own right. This could potentially be one of the more exciting games of the weekend and I think points could come in bunches.
Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts Under 44.5
I began writing this article before Carson Wentz was activated from the Covid list, and while I thought about changing from this pick, I've decided I'm still going to roll with it. The Raiders haven't scored more than 17 points in four straight games, and with Indy coming back to near full strength after a host of their defensive starters have been cleared from Covid protocols, Las Vegas will likely continue their inefficient scoring streak. Indianapolis's game plan, which is to just give the ball to Jonathan Taylor as much as possible, doesn't usually translate to a ton of points, either. I think the Colts win with a score around 24-13, allowing the under to cash with ease.
Denver Broncos +7.5 at Los Angeles Chargers
I was high on the Chargers coming into the season, but they've been somewhat of a disappointment, especially given their terrible loss last week to the Texans. I think they're able to turn it around and get a win this week against the middling Broncos, but I don't think this game will be decided by that many points. While Denver has lost three out of their last four, they've kept it close in all of those contests against playoff-caliber teams. Not to mention the fact that the Broncos won 28-13 the last time these teams met, albeit with a different quarterback. I'll take the Broncos to keep it within a touchdown.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Under 37.5
I messed up last week by deciding that 37.5 was too low of a number for the Saints and Dolphins. But upon substituting Miami for Carolina, I'm convinced that this number might even be too high. The Saints have scored 12(!) total points in their last three games, and their defense is legit, holding those last three opposing offenses to 13, 0, and 9 points respectively. The Panthers have been just as terrible on offense (even worse maybe), and while they've given up quite a bit of points in their recent games, they've played some teams with respectable offenses. I don't think this New Orleans offense is good enough to take advantage of even the Panthers' paltry defense, so I think the under here is a very safe bet.
Arizona Cardinals +6.5 at Dallas Cowboys
I absolutely love the Cardinals as 6.5-point underdogs here. Yes, they've lost three in a row (including to the Lions) and are without their top receiver. And yes, the Cowboys looked tremendous in a blowout win over the Football Team last Sunday night. But Arizona is still one of the best teams in football and I think they'll definitely keep this game tighter than the sports books are expecting. Let's remember that the Cowboys are a franchise that have been known to collapse in big moments for the entirety of the 21st century. And while I'm not saying that they'll actually fall apart and lose to the Cardinals at home this week, there's no part of me that can take Dallas to cover a 6.5-point spread against a team that was universally declared the best in football for much of the season. Give me the Cards to at least keep it under a touchdown difference by the end of the game.
Fade of the Week: Detroit Lions +7.5 at Seattle Seahawks
Say what you will about the Lions, but they've been cover machines recently this season. This team still wants to win as bad as anyone and they're not going to pack it in at any point Seattle has been a monster disappointment this year and there has to be a lot of grievances and disagreements taking place in both the locker room and the front office. Meanwhile, all Detroit cares about is finding a way to win another game for their first-year head coach, Dan Campbell. Now, I don't actually think they're going to win this game, but I'll be darned if the Lions don't cover 7.5 on Sunday afternoon. And if, in fact, they don't, then that's just a lesson to be learned on why you should never bet on the Lions.
Written by Nick Swatson