Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (7-8) at Detroit Lions (8-7)

The Packers’ season was derailed by an injury to Aaron Rodgers earlier in the season, but that’s not the only injury they are dealing with now. The Packers will also be without wide receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson, outside linebacker Nick Perry, right guard Jahri Evans, and possibly outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who was missed last week’s game against the Vikings and was limited all week in practice. Given everyone that they are missing, they are currently one of the worst teams in the entire league.

The Lions, meanwhile, get right tackle Ricky Wagner and right guard TJ Lang back this week, after both missed last week’s loss in Cincinnati. That being said, I can’t be too confident in the Lions as 7-point favorites, as they really haven’t had that many blowout wins over the past couple years. Just 6 of their 17 wins over the past 2 seasons have come by more than a touchdown, which is particularly relevant given where this line is. They’ve also been worse than their record has suggested in general, finishing last year with a -1.90% first down rate differential despite a 9-7 record and having a -4.25% first down rate differential this season despite a 8-7 record. They still have a good chance to cover this line against a terrible opponent, but I wouldn’t recommend betting on it.

Detroit Lions 27 Green Bay Packers 17

Pick against the spread: Detroit -7

Confidence: Low

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

The Cardinals’ season was derailed by injuries, particularly on offense, where they have lost quarterback Carson Palmer, running back David Johnson, and their three best week 1 starting offensive linemen (left tackle DJ Humphries, left guard Mike Iupati, and right tackle Jared Veldheer) for the season. I’ve bet against the Cardinals frequently since they have had all these injuries, but I won’t be doing that this week because I’ve been underrating their defense.

Their defense has remained strong throughout the season, as they rank 7th in first rate allowed at 31.90%, despite losing outside linebacker Markus Golden and safety Tyvon Branch for the season earlier this year. Young players like Budda Baker, Olsen Pierre, and Kareem Martin have stepped up in big ways, though the Cardinals will be without talented safety Antoine Bethea in this one. I’m still taking the Seahawks as 9-point home favorites this week because of the Cardinals’ abysmal offense with Drew Stanton under center, but I only have this line calculated at Seattle -9.5, so we aren’t getting any line value with them.

Seattle Seahawks 20 Arizona Cardinals 10

Pick against the spread: Seattle -9

Confidence: None

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (5-10) at Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

I’ve bet the Bears frequently this season because I’ve thought they were underrated for most of the season. However, I won’t be doing so this week because they are way too banged up. They’ve had injury issues all season, but just in the last few weeks they’ve lost three starters on the offensive line (left guard Josh Sitton, right guard Kyle Long, and right tackle Bobby Massie) and a pair of valuable contributors in their front 7 (outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and defensive end Mitch Unrein). With that in mind, I’m actually taking the Vikings this week, though only for a no confidence pick. I have this line calculated at Minnesota -12.5, so we aren’t getting any line value with them at -12, even as banged up as the Bears are.

Minnesota Vikings 23 Chicago Bears 10

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -12

Confidence: None

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (6-9)

Both of these teams have had a lot of close wins and big losses. The Bills’ have just 1 victory by more than 10 points, as opposed to 5 losses by more than 10 points. Their 8 wins have come by a combined 68 points (8.50 points per game), while their 7 losses have come by a combined 131 points (18.71 points per game). The Dolphins, meanwhile, have just 1 victory by more than 7 points, as opposed to 8 losses by more than 7 points. Their 6 wins have come by a combined 47 points (7.83 points per game), while their 9 losses have come by a combined 153 points (17.00 points per game). In point differential, the Bills rank 23rd at -63, while the Dolphins rank 29th at -106.

The Bills have been even worse than their point differential suggests though, as they’ve been overly reliant on winning the turnover margin, which is unpredictable on a week-to-week basis. They rank 6th in the NFL with a +8 turnover margin, making them the only team with a turnover margin of +5 or better and a negative point differential. In first down rate differential, they rank just 31st at -6.46%, even worse than the Dolphins, who rank -4.93% at 29th.

The Bills are better with Tyrod Taylor under center instead of Nathan Peterman, who has seen some action this season, but the Dolphins have been better since promoting running back Kenyan Drake to the feature back role. At the very least, these two teams are about even right now. Given that, we’re getting good line value with the Dolphins as 2.5 point home underdogs in this matchup. I would need a full field goal with the Dolphins to bet on them, but the money line is worth a small bet at +110, as this game is no worse than a toss up for the Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins 19 Buffalo Bills 17 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Miami +2.5

Confidence: Low

Washington Redskins at New York Giants: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (7-8) at New York Giants (2-13)

The Redskins got off to a disappointing 5-8 start, but that was largely the result of a tough schedule, as they had the toughest schedule in the league through 13 games. Their schedule has gotten a lot easier over the past few weeks and they have gotten better results because of that, as they have beaten the Cardinals and Broncos in Washington by scores of 20-15 and 27-11 in the past two weeks, covering the spread in both games.

This week, they are 3-point road favorites in New York against the Giants, who have the 2nd worst record in the league at 2-13. Making matters even worse for the Giants, they enter this game very banged up, as safety Landon Collins, tight end Evan Engram, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard have all gone down in the last week. The Giants struggled mightily on the road in Arizona last week in a 23-0 loss, especially struggling after those players went down with injuries.

The Redskins have a good chance to cover this spread, but I’m not that confident in them because they aren’t healthy either, losing left tackle Trent Williams, center Spencer Long, running backs Rob Kelley and Christian Thompson, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, tight end Jordan Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen, middle linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, and safety Montae Nicholson since the start of the season. If this was earlier in the season when the Redskins were competitive with teams like the Seahawks, Saints, Rams, Chiefs, and Vikings, I would take the Redskins in a heartbeat, but I only have this line calculated at Washington -4 because of the Redskins’ injury situation, so this is just a low confidence pick.

Washington Redskins 24 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Washington -3

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (4-11) at Indianapolis Colts (3-12)

Both of these teams are absolutely terrible. The Texans’ defense has not been the same since losing both JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus back in week 6 and their offense has been abysmal since losing quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season in practice in week 9, thanks to horrible quarterback play and arguably even worse offensive line play. Things have actually gotten even worse for them in recent weeks, as they are now down to 3rd string quarterback TJ Yates, who is somehow noticeably worse than Tom Savage, and they are now without #1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who will miss the first game of his career this week with a calf injury.

Hopkins has been their entire offense since Savage went down, accounting for 294 of their 459 passing yards over the past 3 weeks, a ridiculous 64.05%. The only success Yates has had has come when he’s tried to force the ball to Hopkins, who might be the best contested ball receiver in the league. Even with Hopkins out there, the Texans have been outscored 105-29 over those 3 games, although their competition has been pretty tough (the Jimmy Garoppolo led 49ers, the Jaguars, and the Steelers).

The Colts are a major step down in competition. Outside of the Texans, the Bryce Petty led Jets, and the Browns, the Colts are the worst team in the league right now. Their 3 wins have come by a combined 12 points, while their 12 losses have come by a combined 162 points, giving them a point differential of -150, 2nd worst in the NFL, despite the fact that they actually have a positive turnover margin at +4. They enter this game dead last in first down rate differential at -6.70% and have a league high 5 losses in which they won the turnover margin.

They have also lost safety Malik Hooker, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, outside linebacker John Simon, defensive end Henry Anderson, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and left guard Jack Mewhort in the last couple months, all of whom were key players, so this team is even worse than they were earlier in the year, a big part of the reason why they haven’t won a game in about 2 months. All 3 of their wins have come against terrible teams, the Browns, the Brian Hoyer led 49ers, and the Tom Savage led Texans and none of those wins would have covered this 6-point spread.

Their only win by more than a field goal was their 20-14 win in Houston back in week 9, but, just because the Colts won by 6 in Houston doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to win by more than 6 at home in Indianapolis in this game, even though the Texans are now starting Yates and are now without Hopkins. For one thing, the Colts are also more banged up than they were then, as Henry Anderson, Johnathan Hankins, and Rashaan Melvin played in that game and played well defensively for the Colts.

On top of that, teams tend to cover in same season revenge games, as road underdogs are 68-39 ATS since 2002 in regular season divisional revenge games against a team that previously defeated them earlier in the season as road underdogs, as the Colts were in Houston. I have no interest in actually betting on this game because both teams are terrible and both teams could have one foot in the off-season at the end of an awful season, but this line is too high, so the Texans are the pick for pick ‘em pool purposes.

Indianapolis Colts 17 Houston Texans 13

Pick against the spread: Houston +6

Confidence: Low