2022 Week 17 NFL Picks

Arizona Cardinals (4-11) at Atlanta Falcons (5-10)

The Falcons have the significant edge in DVOA (-4.0% vs. -22.0%) and are the significantly healthier team in terms of SIC score (86.9 vs. 74.1), but their passing offense has struggled mightily since benching veteran Marcus Mariota for rookie Desmond Ridder, so the Falcons can’t be trusted to cover a 5.5-point spread. The Falcons are the better side for pick ‘em purposes, but are not worth betting this week.

Atlanta Falcons 20 Arizona Cardinals 13

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -5.5

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)

The Panthers enter this game as the healthier team in terms of SIC score (88.2 vs. 83.6), but that has been the case for most of the season and the Buccaneers still have a significant edge in DVOA (+0.4% vs. -13.5%). The Buccaneers are favored by four points at home, but they could be favored by more, with my calculated line at Tampa Bay -5.5. There’s not enough line value here for the Buccaneers to be worth betting, but they should be the better side for pick ’em purposes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 Carolina Panthers 17

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -4

Confidence: Low

Chicago Bears (3-12) at Detroit Lions (7-8)

The Lions have gotten significantly healthier since the early part of the season and that has resulted in them going 6-2 since a 1-6 start. The Lions rank 9th in DVOA at +4.4% and are arguably even better than that suggests as it includes the Lions’ slow start to the season. The Bears have been more competitive than their record suggests, with 7 losses by 8 points or fewer, but they still rank 29th in DVOA (-21.2%) and have a good chance to lose by multiple scores against a Lions team that is significantly above average when healthy. This line is relatively high at Detroit -6, but I think there’s still enough line value with Detroit for them to be bettable.

Detroit Lions 34 Chicago Bears 24

Pick against the spread: Detroit -6

Confidence: Medium

Cleveland Browns (6-9) at Washington Commanders (7-7-1)

The Browns haven’t been significantly better since getting quarterback Deshaun Watson back from injury, but that could still change and the Browns have still been the better of these two teams this season in terms of DVOA (+2.4% vs. -4.8%), regardless of who has been under center. Because of that, the Browns should have a good chance to pull the small upset on the road in Washington, but with the Commanders only being 2-point underdogs, there is not enough here for the Browns to be worth betting against the spread. The Browns are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes though and the money line is a decent value at +110.

Cleveland Browns 24 Washington Commanders 23 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +2

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos (4-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)

The Broncos were blown out last week, losing by 37, which actually bodes well for their chances of covering the spread this week, as teams tend to bounce back after losses like that, covering the spread at the 59.1% rate the week following a loss by 35 points or more. It’s counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you consider that teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after blowout losses. That being said, I don’t think the Broncos are worth betting this week. They could easily be overlooked and embarrassed this week, but I’m not sure if they’re undervalued. They are 13-point underdogs in Kansas City, but the Chiefs have the significant edge in DVOA (+19.1% vs. -12.9%) and are significantly healthier in terms of SIC score (92.4 vs. 67.2), so my calculated line is right where this line is at Kansas City -13. The Broncos are still the better side for pick ‘em purposes, but they’re not bettable.

Kansas City Chiefs 33 Denver Broncos 21

Pick against the spread: Denver +13

Confidence: Low

Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1) at New York Giants (8-6-1)

The Giants haven’t blown any teams out this season, with their average margin of victory being 5.4 points and their biggest margin of victory being 8, but the Colts give the Giants one of their easiest chances at a blowout win this week. Not only are the Colts dead last in DVOA at -29.1%, but they are starting underwhelming veteran backup quarterback Nick Foles, with whom they struggled mightily in his first start last week. Because of all of their close victories, the Giants are not as good as their record, ranking 23rd in DVOA (-8.2%), but they should still be able to cover this 5.5-point spread. They aren’t bettable at that number, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

New York Giants 24 Indianapolis Colts 16

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -5.5

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) at Houston Texans (2-12-1)

This game is technically meaningless for the Jaguars, as their playoff chances are entirely dependent on them beating the Titans next week, regardless of what happens in this game, but the Jaguars are still approaching this as a real game and will play all of their regular starters. The Texans have been slightly more competitive than their league worst record suggests, but they still rank 31st at -26.4% and this line is pretty small at Jacksonville -3, so the Jaguars (+2.0%) have a good chance to cover. We’re not getting quite enough line value with the Jaguars for them to be worth betting on the road, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Jacksonville Jaguars 25 Houston Texans 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -3

Confidence: Low

Miami Dolphins (8-6) at New England Patriots (7-7)

The Dolphins are the better team in terms of DVOA (8.5% vs. 1.3%), but that’s not a huge margin and they’ll be without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for this road game in New England. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best in the league and I’m still going to take the Dolphins for pick ‘em purposes, but they’re only underdogs of 2.5 points, so it’s hard to be confident in them at all. My calculated line still has the Patriots favored to win this game, at New England -1.5, so this is going to be a no confidence pick, with games rarely decided by 2 points or fewer.

New England Patriots 19 Miami Dolphins 17

Pick against the spread: Miami +2.5

Confidence: None

New Orleans Saints (6-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

The Eagles have been one of the best teams in the league this season (2nd in DVOA at 28.3%) in large part due to being healthier than most of the league, but injuries have started to pile up in recent weeks, missing MVP candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts, stud right tackle Lane Johnson, and starting defensive backs Avonte Maddox and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. However, the Eagles are starting from such a level in terms of overall talent that, even without those players, they should be able to cover a 5.5-point spread against the middling Saints (20th in DVOA at -5.7%). There isn’t enough here for the Eagles to be worth betting, but they should be the right side.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New Orleans Saints 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -5.5

Confidence: Low

New York Jets (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (7-8)

The Jets have been a significantly better team when Mike White has been under center this season, which he will be this week, but this line seems to take that into account, favoring the Jets by 1.5 on the road, even though the Seahawks are the better team in terms of DVOA (4.4% vs. 2.1%). The Seahawks have not played as well in recent weeks, with quarterback Geno Smith falling back to earth a little bit, but they’ll get wide receiver Tyler Lockett back this week and there’s value with them as +105 on the money line, as they should be considered slight favorites to win this game at home.

Seattle Seahawks 23 New York Jets 21 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Seattle +1.5

Confidence: Low

San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)

This line shot up to 5.5 from 9.5 when the Raiders benched veteran Derek Carr for inexperienced backup Jarrett Stidham, effectively tanking the season for better draft position and not risking Carr to injury, which would guarantee his massive salary for next season. Stidham has never made a start in four seasons in the league and has struggled mightily in limited action, so I don’t think this line is high enough, especially since the rest of the Raiders could lose motivation with the front office clearly writing off the season. The 49ers already had the significant edge in DVOA before Carr was benched (+27.0% vs. -11.0%) and 9 of their 11 wins have come by 13 points or more, which I expect to happen again this week. Even with this high spread, the 49ers are worth a big bet this week.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Las Vegas Raiders 13

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -9.5

Confidence: High

Los Angeles Rams (5-10) at Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)

This is essentially a neutral site game for these teams, which is nothing new for the Chargers, who don’t have many fans in Los Angeles and as a result have gone 18-27 ATS at home since moving in 2017, as opposed to 28-17 ATS on the road. The Chargers are getting healthier (79.1 SIC score) and the Rams are one of the most banged up teams in the league (69.3 SIC score), which gives the Chargers a 6-point edge in my roster rankings, even with these two teams about even in DVOA (Chargers at -5.8%, Rams at -8.1%). The Chargers shouldn’t get any homefield advantage, so we’re getting a little line value with the Rams at +6.5, but it’s not nearly enough for them to be worth betting.

Los Angeles Chargers 23 Los Angeles Rams 17

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +6.5

Confidence: None

Green Bay Packers (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

Given these two teams’ records, it might seem surprising that the Vikings are 3-point road underdogs, but, while the Vikings are 12-3, they’ve had to go 11-0 in one-score games and have just a +5 point differential, despite a +6 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of DVOA, the Vikings rank just 25th at -9.4%, behind the 7-8 Packers at 4.1%, so it’s not surprising the Packers are favored at home. If anything, we’re getting great line value only laying a field goal with the Packers, who have been a significantly better team at home this season (4-2 with a +8 point differential, as opposed to 3-6 and -29 on the road).

That has been the case for years, with the Packers going 49-22 ATS at home in games started and finished by Aaron Rodgers, whose QB rating is 10 points higher at home in his career, significantly above average. The Packers lost by 16 in Minnesota week 1, the Vikings’ only multiscore win of the season, but the Packers are at home now and that game would have been a lot closer if the Vikings hadn’t won the turnover battle by two. If we assume turnover neutral football, the Packers have a great chance to cover this spread and are my Pick of the Week this week.

Green Bay Packers 31 Minnesota Vikings 24

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) at Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

The Ravens are the significantly better team in DVOA (+18.7 vs. -2.0%), but their offense is not nearly the same without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have had injury problems for most of the season and right now they are actually healthier around the quarterback than they’ve been for most of the season, but the Steelers are one of the healthiest teams in the league (91.1 SIC score). The Ravens won in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago without Jackson, but they needed to win the turnover battle by 3, which is not predictive, to only win the game by two, with the Steelers having the significant edge in yards per play and first down rate. We’re only getting a couple points with the Steelers this week, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes against the spread and they are a good value on the money line at +110.

Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Baltimore Ravens 16 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +2

Confidence: Low

Buffalo Bills (12-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

The Bills are 12-3 and one of the best teams in the league, but the 11-4 Bengals have almost been just as good in recent weeks, as they have gotten healthier, with the Bills trending in the wrong direction injury wise. In terms of weighted DVOA, the Bills only have a slight edge (+29.9% vs. +23.4%). We’re not getting great line value with the Bengals as only 1.5-point home underdogs, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as the Bengals should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game outright. The money line is a decent value at +105.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Buffalo Bills 26 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +1.5

Confidence: Low

Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 17 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (11-4) at Tennessee Titans (7-8)

The Titans have collapsed in recent weeks, losing five straight after a 7-3 start. That’s not all that surprising though, as the Titans’ wins were never that impressive. None of the Titans’ wins came against teams that currently have a winning record and almost all came by slim margins of victory. Only two of the Titans’ wins have come by more than a touchdown and neither win was as impressive as that suggests, as they needed a defensive touchdown to push the margin to 9 against the Colts, while their 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time. Meanwhile, the Titans’ seven losses have come by a combined 89 points, leading to an underwhelming -43 point differential, and they rank just 24th in DVOA.

Making matters worse, the Titans have been among the most injury plagued teams in the league, missing several starters on both sides of the ball in recent weeks, and this week is the most short-handed they’ve been, as they are resting anyone who has any sort of injury in what is actually a meaningless game for the Titans, whose playoff chances are not affected at all by the outcome of this game, with a wild card spot out of reach and the division to be decided by the Titans’ matchup with the Jaguars next week.

In total, the Titans will be missing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, four starters on the offensive line, Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and Nicholas Petit-Frere, feature back Derrick Henry, stud interior defender Jeffery Simmons, their top-3 edge defenders Denico Autry, Bud Dupree, and Harold Landry, starting linebackers Zach Cunningham and David Long, expected starting cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Kristian Fulton, and talented safety Amani Hooker, giving them a SIC score of 53.4 which will almost definitely be the lowest in the league this week. 

The relatively healthy Cowboys, on the other hand, are at 86.4 and enter this game 4th in DVOA, so this is a big mismatch. The oddsmakers have pushed this line all the time to favoring Dallas by 12.5 as a result of the Titans’ injuries though, so we’re not getting any line value with the Cowboys. However, I still am going to take the Cowboys for pick ‘em purposes because the Titans’ players who do play may be less motivated than they otherwise would be in a game that doesn’t matter and that the coaching staff is treating like it doesn’t matter, resting players who would otherwise play. There’s not nearly enough here for the Cowboys to be worth betting, but they should be the better side against the spread this week.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Tennessee Titans 10

Pick against the spread: Dallas -12.5

Confidence: None