NFL Week 17 will be showcasing 11 games that will have an impact on which teams make the postseason field. The playoff picture is so crazy that all six seeds are up for grabs in the AFC.
Nostrathomas Predicts NFL Week 17
As for Nostrathomas, his season has also come down to Week 17. He’s right at the .500 mark against the spread in 2018 and needs a strong finish to put himself over the top.
Nostrathomas is 24-27-3 with his top picks this season, 101-101-3 against the spread and 133-64 straight up for a .675 win percentage.
NFL Week 17 Game of the Week
Indianapolis Colts -3.5 vs Tennessee Titans (Sunday Night Football; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN)
Winner gets to play football next weekend, loser gets to watch on television. You can’t do any better to wrap up the 2018 NFL season than that.
The Indianapolis Colts have won eight of their last nine to put themselves in a position to crash the postseason party for the first time since 2014. The Tennessee Titans have won their last four in their attempt to make the playoffs for the second straight season.
Indianapolis is the better team on offense, especially if Marcus Mariota isn’t at full strength, but the Titans are decidedly tougher on defense.
The Colts have the better offensive line when it comes to protecting quarterback Andrew Luck but Tennessee has the better running game. Derrick Henry has rushed for 492 yards in his last three games with a 6.9 yards per carry average.
If it weren’t for Mariota’s injured elbow, Nostrathomas would take the Titans to win this game. This is not the game though where Tennessee wants to be relying on Blaine Gabbert. Take the Colts to win and cover.
Indianapolis Colts 25 Tennessee Titans 20
NFL Week 17 Best Bets
Chicago Bears +5.5 vs Minnesota Vikings (4:25 ET PM; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
For Chicago, Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson, linebacker Aaron Lynch and wide receiver Allen Robinson will be sitting out but everyone else is expected to play. Matt Nagy said this past week that the Bears are playing to win this game no matter what.
Despite Matt Nagy and the Bears players saying all the right things, common sense says that the Bears starters will be in the game as long as the San Francisco 49ers are giving the Los Angeles Rams a battle.
Considering that there’s much less at stake for Chicago than the Vikings in this game it’s tough to pick them to win in their season finale. Still, even if the starters do start disappearing from the field in the fourth quarter they should cover the generous point spread
Minnesota Vikings 23 Chicago Bears 21
Philadelphia Eagles -7 vs Washington Redskins (4:25 ET PM; FedEx Field, Washington DC)
The Philadelphia Eagles have won four of their last five games in their run for a second straight postseason appearance. Quarterback Nick Foles has been leading the charge the past two weeks, just as he did last season.
Philadelphia needs a win over the Washington Redskins to keep alive any postseason possibilities. Combined with the way they’ve been playing over the past month, seven points is a small spread to ask the Eagles to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 Washington Redskins 17
Los Angeles Chargers -6 vs Denver Broncos (4:25 ET PM; Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO)
The Los Angeles Chargers still have a shot at a first-round bye in the AFC. The Denver Broncos don’t even have a shot to save the head coach Vance Joseph’s job. If the Chargers can’t put Denver away early in the game and keep them down then don’t expect them to have what it takes to go far in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers 29 Denver Broncos 20
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans -6.5 (1 PM ET; NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been a train wreck since appearing in the AFC Championship Game last season and opening this year with a 3-1 record. It’s highly likely head coach Doug Marrone will be a “Black Monday” casualty. Still, Jacksonville is a big reason why the Colts are playing a win and in game. They also knocked the Miami Dolphins out of the playoff competition in Week 16.
The Houston Texans can finish with anywhere from the first to the sixth seed after Week 17 is complete. Houston is also playing in the early slate of games. They can put direct pressure on the remainder of the playoff field with a win at home, where they’re 5-2 this season.
The Texans haven’t been reliable and both these teams have enjoyed ruining weeks for Nostrathomas this season but he’s taking the Houston to win and cover.
Houston Texans 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Best of the Rest
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs -13.5 (4:25 ET PM; Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)
If the Kansas City Chiefs can knock off their traditional rivals in Week 17 they’ll lock down the AFC’s top seed heading into the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders won their “playoff game” last weekend, 27-14 over the Broncos.
Kansas City should be able to take care of business this week against Gruden the Elder’s over-matched squad.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Oakland Raiders 16
Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks -13.5 (4:25 ET PM; CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA)
A loss by the Seattle Seahawks in this game would either send them to a wintery, first-round battle against the Bears in Chicago or a warm, but equally tough, fight against the Rams in Los Angeles. A win would pit them against the Dallas Cowboys in the first round, possibly at home.
The Arizona Cardinals need a win, okay they don’t need a win but a loss would lock down the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. That would give Arizona a step up from the failures of 2018. The worst part of that result is that head coach Steve Wilks will end up taking all the blame and likely lose his job after one season.
There are too many reasons for Seattle to go all out and not enough for the Cardinals to be doing anything but counting down the minutes to the final gun. This is one double-digit spread to expect to be covered.
Seattle Seahawks 26 Arizona Cardinals 10
San Francisco 49ers +10 vs Los Angeles Rams (4:25 ET PM; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA)
Nick Mullens has been playing strong enough at quarterback for San Francisco to earn a shot as the backup next season. That’s the reason why this game is primed for a backdoor cover. Take the Rams to do just enough to win and the 49ers to keep the score within 10 points.
Los Angeles Rams 25 San Francisco 49ers 20
Cincinnati Bengals +14.5 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (4:25 ET PM; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost four of their last five games to put themselves in a position where they not only need to win this game but will need help if they expect to play football next weekend.
The question here though isn’t whether they can beat the Cincinnati Bengals to close their season. They will. The question is whether they can cover the ridiculously large spread in this game. They won’t.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Cincinnati Bengals 17
Cleveland Browns +5.5 vs Baltimore Ravens (4:25 ET PM; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)
The Baltimore Ravens are trying to lock up the NFC North championship after going into their bye week with a 4-5 record. Unfortunately for Baltimore, they’re playing a Cleveland Browns team that may have been knocked out of the playoff picture last week but is still motivated to finish 2018 over .500. For a team that put together a 1-31 record over the previous two seasons, 8-7-1 would be a triumph the Browns can build on in 2019.
In this battle of rookie quarterbacks, Baltimore knows that if they win they’re in. The Ravens are 5-1 with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. The most impressive of those wins was last week, a 22-10 win over the Chargers.
Even if Cleveland does lose this game they’ve already proved that the arrow is pointing up for this franchise. Baker Mayfield and crew will keep this game tight but Baltimore has more to lose and should finish the game on top.
Baltimore Ravens 20 Cleveland Browns 18
New York Jets vs New England Patriots -13.5 (1 PM ET; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)
The New England Patriots are at home where they are 7-0 this season. They’ve won those seven by an average of 13.6 points per game. That’s not a good sign if you’re the New York Jets. Another bad sign for New York is that their two starting cornerbacks may not play against the Patriots. Morris Claiborne has been declared out with an injured ankle and Trumaine Johnson was held out of practice for disciplinary reasons.
New York isn’t healthy enough to keep this game close and the Patriots still have an open window for a first-round bye.
New England Patriots 31 New York Jets 16
Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants -5.5 (1 PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
The Cowboys are locked into the number four spot in the NFC. Publically they’ve been saying all the right things this past week. Realistically, it’s unlikely that they’ll be playing Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott more than a quarter to keep them fresh, especially with guard Zack Martin declared out.
For the New York Giants, they’re looking to finish the season strong after opening 1-7. Defeating Dallas would allow the Giants to feel like they finished the season on a high note.
New York will be ready to play in this game. The Cowboys will be ready to play next week.
New York Giants 27 Dallas Cowboys 21
Games of the Weak
Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints -7.5 (1 PM ET; Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Orleans, LA)
No, the New Orleans Saints aren’t weak. They’ve locked up the top postseason seed in the NFC. But this week their lineup will look like a final preseason effort. New Orleans will be starting Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback to finish the 2018 season.
The Carolina Panthers will also be starting a lineup that will look more preseason caliber. Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Taylor Heinicke will be watching this game from the sidelines. Rookie Kyle Allen will be starting for the Panthers.
Can Carolina avoid losing eight straight games to finish the 2018 season? It’s unlikely. Say what you will about Bridgewater and whether he can eventually live up to expectations coming out of college, he still has enough NFL experience to keep the Saints offense moving enough to win this game and cover the seven points and the hook spread.
New Orleans Saints 16 Carolina Panthers 6
Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers -8 (1 PM ET; Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI)
Things are so bad right now for the Detroit Lions that the home fans cheered when starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was pulled from the game last week. Detroit has been held to 17 points or less in each of their last five games.
The Green Bay Packers put up 44 points on in New York against the Jets last week and should finish the season strong at home with a win and cover.
Green Bay Packers 27 Detroit Lions 16
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills -6 (1 PM ET; New Era Field, Buffalo, NY)
For Miami, head coach Adam Gase and quarterback Ryan Tannehill will likely be auditioning for new jobs in 2019. The Bills will be trying to end the season on a positive note after a 2-7 start. Buffalo is 5-1 against the Dolphins in their last six games at home.
Buffalo Bills 26 Miami Dolphins 17
Atlanta Falcons -1 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 PM ET; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)
The Atlanta Falcons are going to finish 2018 as one of the most disappointing teams in the league. They were never able to put together even an average defense to go with their high-powered offense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably be waving goodbye to head coach Dirk Koetter after tomorrow’s game.
Take the team with the better quarterback and the head coach who’s likely to still be employed past Monday morning.
Atlanta Falcons 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19