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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in NFL Football

Jan 1, 2021 · 9:00 AM PST

Sean McVay Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay congratulates cornerback Troy Hill (22) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)
  • Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season continues Sunday, January 3rd
  • Our Best Bets were 1-1-1 in Week 16 (20-29-2 overall, -10.83 units)
  • Read below for analysis on the Week 17 NFL slate and our favorite ATS picks

The final week of the NFL regular season is upon us. Just one playoff seed in either conference is officially locked in meaning there will be plenty at stake when the games kick-off on Sunday, January 3rd.

Two of the teams fighting for their postseason lives will clash in LA, as the 9-6 Rams host the 8-7 Arizona Cardinals. Both squads can clinch a playoff berth with a win, while Los Angeles can still get qualify with a loss if the Chicago Bears lose at home to the Green Bay Packers.

Week 17 ATS Picks

Matchup Spread Pick Units Risked
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams ARZ (-3.5) LAR (+3.5) 1
Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals BAL (-13) BAL (-13) 1
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns CLE (-9.5) PIT (+9.5) 1

Odds taken Dec. 31st at FanDuel. See bottom for rest of Week 17 Picks.

The Rams failed to cover as one of our best bets in Week 16, but we’re going right back to them despite the fact that Jared Goff will not play.

Pick #1: Rams Upset Cardinals

With Goff sidelined, Los Angeles is currently a 3.5-point underdog. Sean McVay is 7-0 all-time versus Arizona, and let’s face it, Goff is simply a puppet McVay’s scheme. 25-year-old John Wolford will make his NFL debut in place of Goff, and there’s no real reason to believe McVay can’t put him in a position to succeed.

Wolford was a star in the now defunct AAF, and played well when given an opportunity in the 2019 NFL preseason. He’s incredibly mobile, as evident by his 1,120 rushing yards during his collegiate career, and won’t be asked to anything outside his comfort zone.

The Cardinals defense is certainly no juggernaut, ranking 28th in Pro Football Focus’ overall metrics, and coughed up 38 points to LA last time they met.

On the other side of the ball, Kyler Murray is banged up with a lower leg injury, and we’ve seen how ineffective Arizona’s offense is when he’s not operating at 100%.

During a three-game losing streak from Week 11-13, Murray rushed just 15 times for 61 yards. The Cardinals averaged 21.6 points per game during that stretch, which is nearly a touchdown less than their season average. Now, with a potentially limited Murray, they face Aaron Donald and the number five ranked defense by DVOA. I don’t like Arizona’s prospects for success.

Pick #2: Ravens Over Bengals

Is there a scarier team to face in the Wild Card round than the Baltimore Ravens? Lamar Jackson and company have won four straight, covering the spread in each outing by an average of 6.6 points. The Ravens are a 13-point favorite in Cincinnati this week, and can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Baltimore have averaged 37 points per outing during its winning streak, and Lamar Jackson is back playing at an elite level. They crushed the Bengals by 24 earlier this season, when Joe Burrow was still under center, and should feast on a Cincinnati squad poised for a let down. If you remove last week’s win over the dreadful Houston Texans and their 30th ranked defense, Cincy is averaging under 4.0 yards per play without Burrow.

Jackson meanwhile, is 12-5 ATS on the road in his career, which includes a 36-point win at the Bengals in 2019 as a 10.5-point favorite.

Pick #3: Steelers Over Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers are resting a handful of starters in Week 17 versus the Cleveland Browns, but don’t expect them to roll over. Even without Ben Roethlisberger, T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey, it’s outrageous that the Steelers are a 9.5-point underdog versus Cleveland.

A week after being decimated due to COVID, the Browns are still batting the pandemic as the team was forced to shut down their facility on Thursday due to move positive tests.

The drop-off from Big Ben to Mason Rudolph is significant, but no near its as bad as the line currently suggests. Mike Tomlin is 12-3-2 all-time against the spread without Roethlisberger, including 3-1 with Rudolph under center.

Week 17 Quick Picks

  • Buccaneers (-6.5) vs Falcons: Tampa Bay needs a win to lockup a playoff date with the eventual NFC East winner.
  • Giants (+2.5) vs Cowboys: Sure Dallas has won three straight, but let’s not forget they beat a decimated Philly squad, San Fran (who outgained them by 165 yards) and Cincinnati with Brandon Allen at QB.
  • Dolphins (+3.5) vs Bills: Expect Buffalo to rest its starters in the second half. Best bet for this contest may be Buffalo in the first half.
  • Vikings (-7) vs Lions: No Dalvin Cook, no problem against the league’s worst defense who may not have starting QB Matthew Stafford.
  • Jets (+3) vs Patriots: New York should have beaten New England earlier this year. They’ll get some revenge in Week 17.
  • Texans (+7.5) vs Titans: Houston’s defense is atrocious, but Tennessee looked just as bad last week in Green Bay.
  • Packers (-5.5) vs Bears: Speaking of Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers and company lock up the NFC’s top seed and crush Chicago’s playoff dreams.
  • Jaguars (+14) vs Colts: Too many points. Yes, Indy needs a win to keep its postseason hopes alive, but there will be plenty of room for a backdoor cover here.
  • Raiders (-2.5) vs Broncos: Las Vegas reaches the 8-win mark for the first time since 2016.
  • Chargers (-3.5) vs Chiefs: LA ends the season on a high note versus a KC team that will rest all its key pieces.
  • Saints (-6.5) vs Panthers: New Orleans needs a win to lock up the NFC’s 2nd seed and still has an outside shot at #1.
  • 49ers (+6) vs Seahawks: San Fran shocked Arizona last week and will surprise a Seattle squad that has lost its offensive mojo.
  • Eagles (+1.5) vs Washington: It’s a must-win game for Washington, but I’m not backing an injured Alex Smith in this spot. Jalen Hurts meanwhile, should be able to allude Washington’s vaunted pass rush a good portion of the time and make enough big plays to get the W.
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