We’ll be back with a regular podcast next week, but honestly, you don’t really want to hear us talk about Week 17 in the NFL anyway. There’s eight games with virtually nothing on the line. Guys like EJ Manuel, Mark Sanchez and Landry Jones will be getting significant playing time. The NFL as a whole, only takes up one day of the week. It’s a bit of a disappointing end to the regular season, even if next week’s playoffs will help football totally redeem itself.
Still, the against the spread race is tight (between two of our hosts), and the guys can’t stop making picks now. So here’s a quick rundown of who the guys are taking this week.
New Orleans at Atlanta (-7)
Sascha: The Saints’ offense on the road is too inconsistent. Gimme the improving Atlanta D to contain Brees, while Matty Ice throws TD passes to, like, seven different receivers, ensuring ATL gets that crucial first-round bye. ATL (-7).
Eric: The only number that matters here is 142: passing yards until Brees breaks 5,000 for the fifth time in his career! But Brees has also enjoyed a healthy rivalry with the Falcons in his career, and I’d have to imagine that 45-32 loss from earlier this year still smarts. NO (+7).
Matt: Atlanta will get the win they need, but Drew Brees is too hot for the game to get out of hand. NO (+7).
Oakland at Denver (-1.5)
Sascha: No Derek Carr? Big problem … down the road. Against Denver’s 29th-ranked run defense? Not such an issue. I’ll take the highly motivated Raiders to lean on Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington, and Jalen Richard, and run to a win [or at least a cover]. OAK (+1.5).
Eric: Oakland is hoping Matt McGloin is more Matt Moore than Matt Barkley. [Side note: the NFL has too many Matts at QB.] Either way, Broncos go out on a high note. DEN (-1.5).
Matt: For Oakland to win, Matt McGloin will have to make a couple plays; I don’t see that happening. DEN (-1.5).
New York at Washington (-7.5)
Sascha: The win-and-in situation Washington is in makes them a tempting play. But they’ve only won three games by more than a TD this year. Two were against the Browns and the Bears. The Giants are talking like their starters are going to play, at least for a while. That makes 7.5 too many for me. NYG (+7.5).
Eric: Given the chance to knock a division rival out of the playoffs, I don’t care if it’s the Giants starters or backups; this spread is too big. NYG (+7.5).
Matt: Eli Manning has not been good this year, and Ben McAdoo will leave him out there until he does look good. NYG (+7.5).
Green Bay (-3) at Detroit
Sascha: No team is hotter than the Packers; Aaron Rodgers is making a case for MVP, which was unthinkable at midseason. That’s how good he’s been lately. Matt Stafford and the Lions are heading in the opposite direction: Stafford has four TD passes in his last six games. Rodgers has 14. GB starts fast and doesn’t look back, stomping the Lions in their own barn. GB (-3).
Eric: Packers with a chance to win the division on the road in Week 17? That brings back some painful memories for this Bears fan. History probably repeats itself. GB (-3).
Matt: Rodgers is 12-3 against the Lions with a 108.0 passer rating in those games. GB (-3).
Sascha’s Individual Picks
Dallas at Philadelphia (-4.5)
Dallas has nothing to play for. They didn’t last week either when they routed Detroit. Their backups (like Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris) are good enough to keep it close. DAL (+4.5).
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-4.5)
Neither team has anything to play for. The Jags can carry a lot of momentum into the offseason – and Doug Marrone can make his case to stick around as the boss – with a win. Blake Bortles had his best game of the year last week and he has a good chance to do something similar against a bad Indy D. There’s not much to separate these teams if Bortles is playing decently (see their Week 4 game in London). JAX (+4.5).
Buffalo (-3.5) at New York Jets
EJ Manuel vs some combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Christian Hackenberg? What a treat! That QB matchup is a wash. I give the edge to the Bills – now under the guidance of OC Anthony Lynn – basically everywhere else. The Jets’ once-vaunted run defense has quit on the season. Shady McCoy and Mike Gillislee will be enough to win and cover. BUF (-3.5).
Seattle (-9.5) at San Francisco
The Seahawks still have a shot at a first-round bye and they need a good showing before the postseason. They have absolutely owned the Niners of late. They’ve won eight of the last nine by an average margin of 15.2 points. This years 49ers don’t have the defensive pieces to make Russell Wilson and company uncomfortable, brutal o-line notwithstanding. SEA (-9.5).
Eric’s Individual Picks
New England (-9.5) at Miami
Either Vegas forgot the Pats history in Miami or they expect the public too. Here’s a reminder: three straight losses in South Florida. Both teams are playing for something, so it should be a decently close affair. MIA (+9.5).
Carolina at Tampa Bay (-4.5)
Buccaneers fans; don’t worry about that crazy permutation required to make the playoffs. It requires you to win this game, and that’s not going to happen. CAR (+4.5).
Arizona (-6.5) at Los Angeles
Jared Goff is going to have to wait until next season to win his first game … and cover his first spread. ARI (-6.5).
Kansas City (-5) at San Diego
Matt’s Individual Picks
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-6)
Houston at Tennessee (-3)
Baltimore at Cincinnati (pick)
Chicago at Minnesota (-6)
Matt Barkley had a nice run, but the Vikings are finally opening up their offense a little. MIN (-6).
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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