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Upset Picks for Week 17 in NFL: Backing Backups in Regular Season Finale

RG3 will start for the Ravens in Week 17
Robert Griffin III will be one of several backup players that play a significant role this weekend. Photo from @tireball (Twitter).
  • The Ravens are rare underdogs in a divisional showdown with Pittsburgh, but their backups are a good play
  • Can Philip Rivers close out his Chargers career with a victory at Arrowhead?
  • Last week was an upset pick Christmas miracle; we went 2-0 and won 5.15 units

It’s the saddest time of the year. Coming off a successful Week 16, we’re heading into the last week of the NFL regular season. It’s the last chance to load up on crazy parlays and teasers, and it just so happens to be one of the hardest weeks to predict.

Week 17 is a complete crap shoot. Last year, there were four dogs of 6-plus points that won outright and another handful of close games. It’s always difficult to anticipate which teams will be motivated to finish the year strong, which ones are already planning their vacation, what the backups on contenders with nothing to play for will look like, and which teams will simply play their starters in a meaningless game anyway.

But here’s a few games we like.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Pittsburgh Steelers -2 -130
Baltimore Ravens +2 +110

*Odds taken Dec. 27

This is the last time you’ll see the Ravens getting points this season and even though they won’t have Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram or other stars, Baltimore is still a dangerous squad here.

RGIII is getting his first chance to start since 2016 and it comes in an offense that he’s got a fair amount of experience running, considering the amount of mop-up duty he’s played this season. Throw in the fact that it only takes about 17 points to beat Pittsburgh and I like his chances of putting the Ravens in a position to win.

Defensively, Baltimore suffered some big blows in last week’s win, so their secondary will be a shell of what we expect come the divisional round. But no defense brings the blitz more than Baltimore, meaning whoever is playing corner will have a chance to nab some ducks from their literal namesake.

All of the pressure in this game is on the Steelers, who are fighting for their playoff lives, while Baltimore can just play loose and try some new things. We see the team that needs the Week 17 game fall flat all the time in this spot, most recently with the Vikings last season.

Take the Ravens. It’ll be a long time before they’re an underdog again.

Pick: 1.5 units on the Ravens moneyline (+110)

Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Los Angeles Chargers +9 +300
Kansas City Chiefs -9 -500

*Odds taken Dec. 27

In what should ultimately be Philip Rivers’ last game in a Chargers jersey, Los Angeles visits a Chiefs team with their seeding still very much up in the air. If New England loses, the Chiefs can jump up and snag a first round bye. If Kansas City loses and Houston wins, they’ll drop to a four-seed. It’ll make for a lot of scoreboard watching at Arrowhead and the possibility of Mahomes getting an early trip to the showers if the Patriots are laying the smackdown on Miami.

There’s no such scenarios for the Bolts. Win or lose, a lot of guys will be out the door this offseason, including Melvin Gordon. Expect L.A. to run their pending free agent into the ground one last time against the Chiefs run-funnel defense.

Under Anthony Lynn, the Chargers have gone 15-8-2 against the number on the road. While it would be the ultimate tribute to Rivers for L.A. to lose this game on a last second play, I still like the value of +300 here. (You can always hedge by live-betting the game once the Bolts take a fourth quarter lead they’ll inevitably cough up.)

Pick: 1 unit on the Chargers on the moneyline (+300)

Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Washington Redskins +11 +445
Dallas Cowboys -11 -570

*Odds taken Dec. 27

Put away all the stats with this pick and ask yourself this: wouldn’t it be the stupidest outcome for Dallas to lose this game?

That’s been the theme of the Cowboys all year. Lose when everyone expects a win. Then when expectations have been lowered enough, blowout a team people think is on the rise.

Every fan of America’s team will be eyeing the Giants-Eagles game on Sunday afternoon, hoping that Daniel Jones can have one more magical moment in an ultimately forgettable rookie season. With everyone so focused on a New York upset, wouldn’t it be so Cowboys to lose at home to Case Keenum and this Washington team? One final act of incompetence from Jason Garrett before Jerry Jones takes him out back for the Old Yeller treatment.

Washington has covered in three of their last five games overall and three of their last five trips to Dallas. They’re definitely the play on the spread, but we’ll throw a little money down on the most chaotic result possible on Week 17.

Pick: .5 units on Washington moneyline (+445)

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