NFL Week 17 Picks and Predictions: Dolphins Win 8th Straight Game; Bengals Upset Chiefs

By Akiva Wienerkur   December 31, 2021 

NFL Week 17 Picks and Predictions: Dolphins Win 8th Straight Game; Bengals Upset Chiefs

Week 17 used to be the final week of the season, but with the extended NFL schedule, it’s now the penultimate slate of games. With the playoffs looming, Sunday carries 15 of the 16 games this week, and Monday’s Cleveland Browns/Pittsburgh Steelers contest stands as the final Monday Night Football game of the regular season.

NFL Odds favorites continued their recent run of against the spread success. Favorites covered in nine games last week, and went 4-2 in games with a spread greater than a touchdown. The Underdogs still hold a 125-113-2 lead for the season. Road teams, particularly away underdogs, have been really good this season, covering over 56 percent of the time (79-61-2).

Scoring totals were up last week, with the Over going 9-7 last week. It’s the second time in three weeks that the Over hit more often than the Under, something that hasn’t happened very often this season. The Under still holds a comfortable 131-108 lead, including hitting in 57.5 percent of non-overtime games this season (127-94).

NFL Byes have ended, so there’s a full slate of 17 games to bet on this week. Here’s a look at every NFL Week 17 game, with best odds, picks and predictions for each contest.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

Moneyline Spread Totals
Giants Best Odds +220 (Caesars) +5.5/+100 (FoxBet) Under 36.5/+100 (FoxBet)
Bears Best Odds -233 (DraftKings) -6/-108 (Sugar House) Over 37/-110 (BetMGM)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Damiere Byrd (10) catches a two-point conversion against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones (23) and outside linebacker Jordyn Brooks (56) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Damiere Byrd (10) catches a two-point conversion against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones (23) and outside linebacker Jordyn Brooks (56) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants play the Chicago Bears in a matchup of once mighty NFL franchises now playing merely for draft position. This is one of the few games in the NFL Week 17 slate of games without any playoff implications. Neither of these teams has much to play for beyond draft position and the evaluation of their young talent.

The New York Giants (4-11, 6-9 ATS) took yet another disappointing loss last week, a 34-10 drubbing at the hands of division rival Philadelphia. The Giants started Jake Fromm at quarterback, who they signed recently from Buffalo’s practice squad, and he struggled mightily in his first NFL start. New York pulled Fromm from the game, replacing him with Mike Glennon, who threw a pick-six in the second half. Fromm finished 6 of 17 for 25 yards and one interception before he was benched.

The Giants surrendered 31 second-half points to Philadelphia in the loss. New York’s offensive struggles continued throughout, with their lone touchdown coming on a Glennon pass in the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided.

New York sports the league’s worst offense over the last four weeks, each game played without Daniel Jones in the lineup. The Giants have scored just one non-garbage time touchdown over that span. The Giants fell to 0-4 both straight up and against the spread over those four games, losing by an average margin of 16.5 points.

At least Week 17 is a win-win for New York. The Giants hold the No. 5 overall pick and Chicago’s first rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft, so win or lose, they improve draft positioning.

The Chicago Bears (5-10, 5-10 ATS) grabbed a rousing win in the final minute of their Week 16 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, snapping a three-game losing skid. Nick Foles, playing for an injured Justin Fields, found Jimmy Graham for a touchdown with 1:01 left to play, and hit Damiere Byrd for the two-point conversion to score a 25-24 victory.

Foles finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, and David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert each had rushing touchdowns. Montgomery had 21 carries for 45 yards and seven receptions for 61 yards. Chicago rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit to score the surprising road victory.

The Bears enter with a top-10 running game, averaging 122.7 rushing yards per contest. New York surrenders 125.3 yards per game on the ground (26th in the league). That will be the best way to attack the Giants’ defense, considering New York is sixth in the league in yards per passing play (6.7).

The Giants’ offense is 30th in the league averaging 303.5 yards per game, while the Bears rank ninth in yards allowed (326.3). New York’s 222.4 passing yards per game ranks 23rd in the NFL. Chicago’s defense allows 223.3 through the air (fourth in the league).

Most book make Chicago a six-point favorite in this ball game, their largest spread of the season. The Bears have been the moneyline favorite a total of four times this season, and they’ve won all of those games. The Giants have been an underdog by 6 points or more nine times this year, and covered the spread in two of those matchups.

The Giants are 6-1 against the spread and 4-3 straight up in their last seven games against Chicago, but this offense is completely broken and losing this game ultimately helps their draft positioning more.

Picks and Predictions

Chicago 24, New York Giants 16

ML: CHI -233 (DraftKings); Spread: CHI -6/-108 (Sugar House); O/U: Over 37/-110 (BetMGM)

Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:25 PM

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

Moneyline Spread Totals
Rams Best Odds -179 (Wynn Bet) -3.5/-110 (BetMGM) Under 46.5/-105 (DraftKings)
Ravens Best Odds +168 (FanDuel) +3.5/-110 (BetMGM) Over 46.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) rushes Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) as guard Oli Udoh (74) blocks during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) rushes Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) as guard Oli Udoh (74) blocks during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams play the Baltimore Ravens in this non-conference matchup on Sunday afternoon. This game carries with it serious playoff ramifications for both conferences. The Rams now lead the NFC West division chase and have an outside chance at the NFC’s 1-seed. The Ravens, meanwhile, hope to rebound from recent losses to remain in the AFC playoff picture.

The Los Angeles Rams (11-4, 8-7 ATS) clinched a playoff berth with their Week 16 win over the Minnesota Vikings, despite having only four days to prepare. Matthew Stafford struggled early and finished with three interceptions. He finished 21 for 37 for 197 yards, a touchdown, and those three INTs. Stafford also threw several other passes that could have been intercepted.

But the Rams had enough to secure the victory behind a season-high 131 rushing yards from Sony Michel, solid defense that kept Minnesota from getting in the end zone on two first-half trips inside the 10-yard line, and a clutch special teams touchdown. Cooper Kupp finished with 10 catches for 109 yards. Michel has averaged an impressive 105.8 rushing yards per game since taking over as the team’s starting back on December 5.

The Baltimore Ravens (8-7, 7-8 ATS) took yet another tough loss, although this one wasn’t by one score. The Ravens played without Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, and others, and ultimately couldn’t keep pace with Cincinnati in the 41-21 defeat. Baltimore started Josh Johnson at quarterback, someone they’d signed just 10 days prior.

The Ravens secondary surrendered a historic day to Joe Burrow, who broke a Bengals’ single-game franchise record with 525 passing yards. Cincinnati kept throwing late in the game, despite being up 20, to ensure Burrow broke that record. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown for more yards in a single game.

Baltimore’s recent losing skid has seen them tumble from the top of the AFC North division standings. Injuries and COVID-19 concerns continue to submarine the season, leaving their postseason hopes in jeopardy. The Ravens enter Week 17 outside of the AFC playoff picture thanks to a tiebreaker.

Baltimore is hoping to have Lamar Jackson back Sunday; the team’s starting quarterback has missed each of Baltimore’s last two games with an ankle injury. He is questionable to return against the Rams while primary backup Tyler Huntley is expected to be good to go after a stint on the COVID-19 list.

The Ravens placed EDGE Justin Houston and DE Justin Madubuike on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. That’s two starters up front after they’ve already lost almost their entire secondary. A very challenging assignment with the Rams offense awaits, with the Ravens plus-3.5 at home. The Rams have the No. 1 offense in the NFL in terms of yards per play (6.1), and will be up against the No. 32 defense in that category, owned by the Ravens (6.1).

Los Angeles ranks third in the NFL at 8.0 yards per pass attempt. Baltimore allows 8.2 yards per passing play (31st in the league). The Ravens’ defense allows 295.5 yards through the air per game (32nd in the NFL). The Rams’ 289.7 passing yards per game is sixth in the league.

But the Ravens are the more desperate team in this matchup. Baltimore’s four-game losing skid has ruined their 8-3 start and this is a must-win for their playoff hopes. The Ravens have been good at home, going 8-2 over their last 10 at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Rams have covered the spread four times this season (4-7 ATS) when playing as at least 3.5-point favorites. The Ravens have covered the spread twice when an underdog by 3.5 points or more this season (in three opportunities). So far this season, Baltimore has played seven games that have ended with a combined score over 46.5 points, while the Rams have 11 times.

Picks and Predictions

Los Angeles Rams 27, Baltimore 22

ML: LAR -179 (Wynn Bet); Spread: LAR -3.5/-110 (BetMGM); O/U: Under 46.5/-105 (DraftKings)

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: FedExField, Landover, MD

Moneyline Spread Totals
Eagles Best Odds -167 (Sugar House) -4/+100 (FoxBet) Under 44.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Washington Best Odds +155 (BetMGM) +3/+105 (Caesars) Over 45.5/-105 (FoxBet)
Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Alex Singleton (49) celebrates after his interception for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Alex Singleton (49) celebrates after his interception for a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Football Team in this matchup of NFC East division rivals. This game carries with it playoff implications for the NFC, as Philadelphia holds hope of a postseason run. Washington, meanwhile, took a tough loss against the Dallas Cowboys that left their playoff hopes on life support.

The Philadelphia Eagles (8-7, 8-6-1 ATS) cruised past division rival New York last week to grab a hold of the NFC’s final Wild Card berth. It was Philly’s sixth win in their last eight, which is quite a reversal after starting the season 2-5. The Eagles can clinch a playoff spot with a win this week and some help.

Philly started slowly, likely because they played only after five days of rest. But the Eagles soared in the second half, scoring 31 points, including a Jalen Hurts touchdown to offensive linemen Lane Johnson. Hurts struggled in the first half, but finished with 199 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Running back Mils Sanders suffered a broken bone in his hand during Philly’s Week 16 win over the Giants. Head coach Nick Sirianni ruled him out for Week 17, but Sanders will be re-evaluated next week. The team is hopeful he will return at some point this season and he will not be placed on IR.

The Washington Football Team (6-9, 5-9-1 ATS) surrendered their most points since 2010 in what was the most lopsided loss in the team’s long history against the Dallas Cowboys. Washington couldn’t recover from two first quarter turnovers and ultimately allowed the Cowboys to gain 389 yards and score 42 points in the first half.

Taylor Heinicke struggled mightily in his return to the lineup. Heinicke completed just seven of his 22 pass attempts before being replaced. He threw for 121 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. The Cowboys sacked him four times. Washington went 3-of-13 on third down and allowed the Cowboys to score touchdowns on all six of their red zone trips.

Philadelphia beat Washington 27-17 in Week 15. Hurts was responsible for three touchdowns in that game. The Eagles outgained Washington 519-237 in the win. Philly outrushed Washington 238-63 and would’ve won by more than 10 had they not turned the ball over twice.

The Eagles convert 45.5 percent of their third downs (fifth in the league), while Washington’s defense ranks 31st in that category (50.5 percent). The Eagles’ offense is the eighth-best in the NFL in yards per play (5.8), while Washington’s defense is 29th (5.9). Philadelphia’s ninth-ranked scoring offense puts up 26.5 points per game. Washington has the 30th-ranked scoring defense (27.1 points per game).

When playing as at least 3.5-point favorites this season, the Eagles have an ATS record of 3-1. Philly is 6-2-1 against the spread in the last nine meetings between these clubs. Washington has covered the spread twice this season (2-7 ATS) when playing as at least 3.5-point underdogs. In eight of 15 games this season, Philadelphia and its opponents have gone over 45 points. The same is true for Washington.

Picks and Predictions

Philadelphia 26, Washington 17

ML: PHL -167 (Sugar House); Spread: PHL -4/+100 (FoxBet); O/U: Under 44.5/-110 (BetMGM)

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

Moneyline Spread Totals
Dolphins Best Odds +155 (BetMGM) +3.5/-110 (BetMGM) Under 39.5/-105 (PointsBet)
Titans Best Odds -164 (Sugar House) +4/+100 (FoxBet) Over 40/-106 (Sugar House)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) calls for the snap from center Michael Deiter (63) during the first half against New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome | Sidelines
Dec 27, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) calls for the snap from center Michael Deiter (63) during the first half against New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins play the Tennessee Titans in a pivotal matchup with major implications for the AFC playoff picture. The Dolphins kept their winning streak alive with a dominant defensive performance against New Orleans last week. The Titans, meanwhile, maintained their spot atop the AFC South division with a come-from-behind victory in Week 16. The Titans are a win, or an Indianapolis loss, away from clinching their second-straight AFC South division title.

The Miami Dolphins (8-7, 8-7 ATS) became the first team in NFL history to have both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season. Miami’s rebounded from a 1-7 start to grab the AFC’s final Wild Card berth entering Week 17. Efficient play from Tua Tagovailoa and a dominant defense has sparked the Dolphins’ resurgence this season.

The Dolphins’ eight sacks tied a team record for a game. They became the first team in the Super Bowl era to have that many sacks, score a defensive TD and hold an opponent under 200 total yards while allowing no TDs or third-down conversions. Miami held the Saints to 0-for-12 on third down.

The Tennessee Titans (10-5, 9-6 ATS) found themselves trailing by 10 against the San Francisco 49ers last week before a second-half rally put them on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. A lackluster offensive performance in the first half was buoyed by a solid defensive effort. The Titans harried Jimmy Garoppolo all night, sacking him twice, intercepting two passes, and forcing a turnover on downs.

Ryan Tannehill threw for only 40 yards in the first half, but came alive in the second to finish with 209 yards. His 18-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown gave Tennessee the lead early in the fourth, then he led them down the field for the game-winning field goal. Brown finished with 11 catches and 145 yards with the score, just hours after being activated off the injured reserve. The Titans offense covered on six huge third-down plays in the second half of this win.

During their 1-7 start to the season, Miami’s defense struggled mightily. The Dolphins ranked 26th in yards allowed per play (6.0), 30th in points allowed per game (28.9), and sacks per pass attempt (3.8 percent). In this 7-0 stretch from Week 9 through Week 16, Miami’s defense ranks first in each of those categories, 4.3 yards per play, 10.7 points per game, and 13.5 percent sacks per attempt. Tagovailoa has led the offense to an average of 23.9 points per game over that stretch.

Expect Miami’s defense to continue to attack the quarterback. The Dolphins lead the league with 45 sacks this season, and Tennessee’s allowed the third-most so far (45). The 5.1 yards per play the Titans’ offense averages ranks 20th in the NFL, compared to the 5.2 per play the Dolphins’ defense allows (sixth in the league).

Miami’s offense enters as one of the worst on the ground, ranking 30th in the league with 86.6 yards per game. The Dolphins will likely rely on Tagovailoa and the short passing game, considering Tennessee features one of the top rushing defenses in the league. The Titans rank second in rushing yards per game (86.7) and fourth in yards per rushing attempt (3.9).

The Titans placed EDGE Bud Dupree, WRs Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and WR Julio Jones on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. However, they did get G Rodger Saffold III back.

The Titans have an ATS record of 3-2 when playing as at least 3.5-point favorites this season. The Dolphins are 3-3 ATS this season when playing as at least 3.5-point underdogs. Miami has played eight games this season that have gone over 39.5 combined points scored. Tennessee and its opponents have gone over 39.5 combined points in 10 of 15 games this season.

While Tennessee remains in the race for the top-seed in the AFC and a potential Bye to start the playoffs, the Dolphins enter this matchup as the more desperate team. Miami must win its final two games to get into the playoffs.

Picks and Predictions

Miami 20, Tennessee 17

ML: MIA +155 (BetMGM); Spread: MIA +3.5/-110 (BetMGM); O/U: Under 39.5/-105 (PointsBet)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Moneyline Spread Totals
Buccaneers Best Odds -667 (DraftKings) -13.5/-106 (Twin Spires) Under 44.5/-105 (FoxBet)
Jets Best Odds +600 (FoxBet) +12.5/-105 (FoxBet) Over 45.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) and linebacker Anthony Nelson (98) celebrate after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) and linebacker Anthony Nelson (98) celebrate after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the New York Jets in this non-conference matchup with ramifications for both the NFC playoff picture and the 2022 NFL Draft. The injury-riddled Bucs have their sights set on another Super Bowl run and can ill-afford a slip-up against this hapless New York squad. The Jets, meanwhile, have little to play for beyond draft positioning and the evaluation of their young talent.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4, 8-7 ATS) clinched the NFC South with their 32-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 16. Tampa Bay put up 391 yards on offense after being shut out 9-0 by the New Orleans Saints last week. The injury-riddle Bucs welcomed Antonio Brown back to the huddle after his three-game suspension, and he finished with 10 catches and 101 yards.

The Bucs defense smothered any chance Carolina might have had in this one. Tampa Bay registered seven sacks and surrendered only six points on the day. But Pro Bowl linebacker Shaquil Barrett left with a knee injury in the second quarter and will be out the remainder of the season.

The Bucs placed Mike Evans on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. He’s vaccinated, though, so he has a shot to return this weekend against the Jets. It’s possible he was going to sit anyway as he continues to rehab a strained hamstring.

The New York Jets (4-11, 5-10 ATS) managed just their fourth win of the season, thanks in large part to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson outplaying the No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. And a late goal line stand from the defense sealed the win.

Wilson set a Jets record for a quarterback with 91 yards rushing, highlighted by a 52-yard score, the longest run by a QB in franchise history. He finished 14 of 22 for 102 yards passing, including a touchdown pass to backup offensive lineman Conor McDermott. He wasn’t the only o-linemen to score, as one of Jacksonville’s recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score as well. New York also got solid effort from rookie running back Michael Carter, who finished with 118 rushing yards on 16 carries, and a 102-yard kickoff return touchdown from Braxton Berrios.

No. 1 receiver Elijah Moore is set to make his return against the Buccaneers after a three-game absence and the Jets will need all their weapons to make a dent in that elite Tampa Bay defense.

The metrics all point to a Tampa Bay rout in this one. The Buccaneers average 0.44 points per play (first in the NFL) compared to the 0.45 per play the Jets give up (32nd). Tampa Bay has the second-ranked offense in the NFL in yards per game (401.7). They take on a New York defense ranked 32nd, allowing 391.3 yards per game. The Buccaneers’ second-ranked scoring offense puts up 29.5 points per game. The Jets have the 32nd-ranked scoring defense (29.9 points per game).

Tampa Bay’s defense ranks second in sacks this season (44), and faces a Jets offensive line that’s surrendered 43 sacks, seventh-most. The Bucs have forced 26 turnovers (sixth-most in the NFL), and New York has committed 26 turnovers (second-most).

The Buccaneers have been favored by 12.5 points or more three times this season, and covered the spread in two of those contests. The Jets have been an underdog by 12.5 points or more this year once, and failed to cover the spread. Tampa Bay and its opponents have combined to score more than 45 points in 10 of 15 games this season. New York has played nine games this season that have had more than 45 combined points scored.

Although Tampa Bay’s already clinched their division, the Bucs remain in the running for the NFC’s top seed. That makes this a must-win game for that effort. The Jets, meanwhile, enter Week 17 holding the No. 4 overall pick for the 2022 NFL Draft, and a win here could very well see them slide to the No.8 spot.

Picks and Predictions

Tampa Bay 31, New York Jets 13

ML: TB -667 (DraftKings); Spread: TB -13.5/-106 (Twin Spires); O/U: Under 44.5/-105 (FoxBet)

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Jaguars Best Odds +750 (FanDuel) +15.5/-110 (BetMGM) Under 41.5/-109 (Sugar House)
Patriots Best Odds -909 (DraftKings) -16/-109 (Sugar House) Over 41.5/-110 (BetMGM)
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) runs the ball against Buffalo Bills cornerback Dane Jackson (30) in the second half at Gillette Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) runs the ball against Buffalo Bills cornerback Dane Jackson (30) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars play the New England Patriots in a game that carries with it implications for both the AFC playoff chase and the 2022 NFL draft. The Jaguars have little to play for at this point, beyond draft positioning and the evaluation of their young talent. The Patriots, meanwhile, have their sights set on a return to the postseason after missing last season. New England can ill-afford a slip-up against the hapless Jags.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13, 4-11 ATS) lost a heartbreaker in New York last week, falling to the Jets 26-21. The Jags couldn’t score from the one-yard line on their final play, and lost for the 28th time in their last 30 games. But Jacksonville strengthened their hold on the No. 1 overall pick for next year’s draft with the loss.

No. 1 overall pick from last year’s draft, Trevor Lawrence, has only thrown one touchdown pass over the last eight games. He finished 26 of 39 for 280 yards for the Jaguars, who lost top running back James Robinson early in the game.

The New England Patriots (9-6, 9-6 ATS) squandered their opportunity to remain atop the AFC East with a futile showing at home against the Buffalo Bills in Week 16. After dominating the Bills on the ground in their last matchup, New England’s offense couldn’t replicate that performance.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones completed less than half of his passes, going 14 of 32 for 145 yards and two interceptions. The Patriots offense converted only one of 10 tries on third down, but they did get five of six fourth down tries. New England’s defense struggled to stop the Bills as well, allowing 428 total yards and 33 points. They didn’t force a turnover for the first time since Week 4.

The Patriots placed EDGE Matt Judon on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. Meanwhile, Jacksonville added G Andrew Norwell, C Brandon Linder, DE Malcolm Brown and LB Jihad Ward to their list. For the Jags, James Robinson suffered a torn Achilles and is out for the season.

Although the Jaguars occupy the cellar of the NFL standings, a 15.5-point spread is nothing to scoff at. The Patriots aren’t exactly a high-scoring offense so I don’t see this number getting bigger as the matchup approaches. The Over 41.5 is a great look considering the Jaguars have put up at least 16 points in back-to-back weeks.

The Jaguars pass rush is one of the NFL’s worst, ranking 28th with 26 sacks this season, while the Patriots offense is one of the best at protecting the passer, giving up only 25 (third in the league). The Jaguars average 0.24 points per play on offense (32nd in the NFL), while New England gives up just 0.28 per play (first). New England has the top-ranked scoring defense (17.3 points per game). Jacksonville’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense averages 14.5 points per game.

The Patriots have gone 7-3 as moneyline favorites this season, but haven’t had to cover a double-digit spread all season. Their largest spread was minus-8 in Week 5 against Houston, and they failed to cover that one on the road. Their largest home spread this season (minus-7) came against Tennessee in Week 12 and they covered that one.

The Jags are 2-0 against the spread as a double-digit underdog this season. Jacksonville’s games this season have had a combined scoring total higher than 41.5 points in eight of 15 outings. The same is true for the Patriots.

New England needs this win to keep pace in the AFC playoff race. A loss could cripple their postseason hopes. Jacksonville, meanwhile, sits atop the draft order by virtue of the league’s lowest win percentage, so a victory here could see them lose that top spot.

Picks and Predictions

New England 28, Jacksonville 16

ML: NE -909 (DraftKings); Spread: JAX +15.5/-110 (BetMGM); O/U: Over 41.5/-110 (BetMGM)

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Moneyline Spread Totals
Raiders Best Odds +245 (DraftKings) +6.5/-105 (Caesars) Under 44.5/-109 (Sugar House)
Colts Best Odds -263 (Sugar House) -6.5/-110 (Sugar House) Over 44.5/-105 (PointsBet)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) makes a touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at State Farm Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 25, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) makes a touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

The Las Vegas Raiders play the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup of AFC playoff hopefuls on Sunday afternoon. Both teams aim to grab an AFC Wild Card berth. The Raiders kept their slimming playoff hopes alive with a come-from-behind win last week. The Colts have positioned themselves for a run at the AFC South crown should Tennessee falter down the stretch.

The Las Vegas Raiders (8-7, 6-9 ATS) won their second game in a row after struggling through a seven-game stretch at 2-5. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr completed 20 of 25 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Josh Jacobs gained over a 100 yards for the first time this season, finishing with 127.

The Raiders defense has limited opponents to 17 points or fewer points in three of their last four games. Las Vegas held the Broncos to 1-of-10 on third down and outgained them on the ground 160-18. The Raiders could qualify for the playoffs for just the second time since 2002 if they win their final two games this season.

The Indianapolis Colts  (9-6, 10-5 ATS) came away with an impressive, come-from-behind victory in the desert last week. Indy defeated the Arizona Cardinals 22-16 despite playing with something of a patch-work offensive line. The Colts enter Week 17 winners of three straight games, and six of their last seven. This late-season surge has kept the pressure on the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South division.

Caron Wentz went 18 of 28 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-sealing score midway through the fourth quarter. Jonathan Taylor continued his breakout season, starting the game with a 43-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Taylor finished with 108 yards, running behind an offensive line without four regular starters by game’s end.

Wentz and eight other Colts landed on the reserve/COVID list recently, but Wentz may be able to play following changes to the NFL’s return-to-play guidelines. If he can’t go, rookie Sam Ehlinger could get the start at quarterback. Colts all-pro guard Quenton Nelson has returned from the reserve/Covid list, so that’s a help for the offense.

The Colts offense ranks first in the NFL in points per play (0.44). The Raiders’ defense ranks 24th, allowing 0.40 points per play. Indy scores 28.0 points per game (fifth-best in the NFL), and will be up against the Raiders’ defense which is seventh-worst in the league (25.8 points per game). Las Vegas’ D ranks 19th against the run (115.7 yards per game).

The Colts are 3-1 against the spread this season when playing as at least 7-point favorites. The Raiders have covered the spread twice when an underdog by 7 points or more this year (in three opportunities). Indianapolis and its opponents have combined to score more than 44.5 points in seven of 15 games this season. The Raiders have done that seven times.

This contest is essentially a playoff game for both of these clubs. Although the Colts are securely in the Wild Card race, they have not clinched their spot. The Raiders, meanwhile, must win-out to qualify for the postseason.

Picks and Predictions

Indianapolis 23, Las Vegas 16

ML: IND -263 (Sugar House); Spread: IND -6.5/-110 (Sugar House); O/U: Under 44.5/-109 (Sugar House)

Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Moneyline Spread Totals
Chiefs Best Odds -208 (BetMGM) -5.5/-105 (FanDuel) Under 50.5/+100 (FoxBet)
Bengals Best Odds +193 (Sugar House) +4.5/-105 (FoxBet) Over 51/-108 (Sugar House)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs out of the pocket in the fourth quarter during a Week 16 NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati | Sidelines
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs out of the pocket in the fourth quarter during a Week 16 NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Photo by: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kansas City Chiefs play the Cincinnati Bengals in a pivotal matchup in the AFC playoff race. Both teams have their sights set on division titles and home playoff games. The Chiefs clinched the AFC West, despite spending part of the early season in the division’s cellar. Meanwhile, the Bengals stand poised to take the AFC North.

The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4, 8-7 ATS) secured their sixth-straight division crown, despite not having Travis Kelce, among others in Week 16. The defense dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Patrick Mahomes played well, too. Mahomes finished with 258 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Kansas City remained atop the AFC with the win, maintaining a one-game lead over the Tennessee Titans. The loss by the Los Angeles Chargers gave the division to the Chiefs last week. Kansas City forced three turnovers, their seventh-straight contest getting at least two. Their defense has now limited opponents to 10 or fewer points in four of their last five games.

Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a bruised shoulder and is unlikely to play in Week 17. Kansas City expects to have Kelce back for this contest.

The Cincinnati Bengals (9-6, 8-7 ATS) snagged the 3-seed in the AFC with their 41-21 victory over division rival Baltimore last week. Joe Burrow went off, throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

Burrow snapped Boomer Esiason’s team record of 522 yards with his performance. He completed 37 of 46 passes with two touchdowns to Tee Higgins and one each to Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. Higgins had 12 receptions for a career-high 194 yards. Ja’Marr Chase caught seven for 125 yards, and Boyd had three catches for 85 yards. Mixon finished with 135 yards from scrimmage, with six catches for 70 yards and 18 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown.

The Bengals’ defense gives up 270.9 yards through the air per game (29th in the NFL). The Chiefs’ 293.9 passing yards per game is second in the league. Cincinnati allows third-down conversions on 40.4 percent of its opponents’ attempts (19th in the NFL). Kansas City has a 51.7 percent third-down conversion rate, which ranks first in the league. The Chiefs have the third-ranked offense in the NFL in yards per game (396.1). The Bengals defense ranks 17th, allowing 344.9 yards per game.

The Bengals have the No. 5 offense in the NFL in terms of yards per play (5.9), and will be trying to take advantage of the No. 27 defense in that category, owned by the Chiefs (5.8). The Bengals average 8.7 yards per pass attempt (first in the NFL), and the Chiefs give up 7.1 per pass (15th). Cincinnati averages 281.6 passing yards per game (seventh in the NFL) compared to the 257.2 per game Kansas City allows (21st).

The Chiefs have covered in six-straight games, with all but one of those contests being double-digits wins. A win here for Kansas City, coupled with a Dolphins victory over Tennessee, means the Chiefs clinch home-field advantage in the AFC.

Kansas City is 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games, and the Bengals are just 3-5 against the spread at home this season. The Chiefs have covered the spread five times this season (5-5 ATS) when playing as at least 5-point favorites. The Bengals have been an underdog by 5 points or more once this season, and covered the spread. Cincinnati has played seven games this season that have gone over 51 combined points scored. The Chiefs have played in nine games over that total.

Picks and Predictions

Cincinnati 24, Kansas City 23

ML: CIN +193 (Sugar House); Spread: CIN +4.5/-105 (FoxBet); O/U: Under 50.5/+100 (FoxBet)

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 1:00 PM

Where: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY

Moneyline Spread Totals
Falcons Best Odds +660 (FanDuel) +14/-105 (DraftKings) Under 43.5/+100 (FoxBet)
Bills Best Odds -833 (Sugar House) -14.5/-105 (FanDuel) Over 44.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) celebrates after intercepting a pass in the last seconds of play against the New England Patriots in the second half at Gillette Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) celebrates after intercepting a pass in the last seconds of play against the New England Patriots in the second half at Gillette Stadium. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons play the Buffalo Bills in a non-conference matchup on Sunday afternoon. The Falcons used a fourth quarter touchdown to get the lead they needed in a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 16. The Bills, meanwhile, regained their spot atop the AFC East with a crucial win over the New England Patriots. Buffalo needs a win here to improve its playoff positioning heading into Week 18.

The Atlanta Falcons (7-8, 6-9 ATS) kept their slim playoff hopes alive with their 20-16 victory last week. Matt Ryan completed 18 of 24 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown, finding Kyle Pitts on six passes for 102 of those yards. A last-minute interception at the one-yard line by Foye Oluokun sealed the victory for Atlanta.

The Falcons improved to 7-2 in one-possession games, including four wins by no more than four points. Atlanta finally earned their first win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season, after five losses there. Even with the victory, however, the postseason is far from guaranteed for the Falcons. They must win their remaining two games, including this one in Buffalo, and get some help.

The Buffalo Bills (9-6, 9-6 ATS) played without several key contributors against the Patriots, but handled their business, 33-21. Josh Allen finished 30 of 47 for 314 passing yards and three touchdowns. He gained 64 rushing yards on 12 carries as well. Buffalo’s offense didn’t punt or turn the ball over.

Buffalo’s defense limited the Patriots to 288 total yards. The Bills picked off Mac Jones twice, and kept him to just 4.2 yards per pass. Buffalo outgained the Patriots through the air 314-139. The Bills now hold tiebreakers in the AFC East over both New England and Miami.

The Bills are more than comfortable in the role of heavy favorites, going 4-1 both straight up and against the spread this season as chalk of 10 points or more. Atlanta is 0-2 straight up and against the spread as an underdog of 10-plus points this season. Both of those losses came against the Buccaneers.

Atlanta’s offense ranks 25th in the NFL at 18.5 points per game. Buffalo gives up 17.6 per game (third in the league). The Falcons are 25th in the league, gaining 309.5 yards per game, while Buffalo ranks first in yards allowed (287.9).

The Bills’ third-ranked scoring offense averages 28.5 points per game. The Falcons have the 28th-ranked scoring defense (26.7 points per game). Buffalo ranks fourth in the NFL with a 45.8 percent third-down conversion rate, compared to the 47.6 percent rate of Atlanta’s opponents (30th).

The Bills have been favored by 14 points or more four times this season, and covered the spread in two of those matchups. The Falcons have won only three of the nine games they’ve played as underdogs this season. Both teams and their opponents have combined to score more than 44 points in nine of 15 games this season.

Buffalo needs this win to maintain their lead in the AFC East, and a loss here could jeopardize their playoff chances altogether. For Atlanta, any shot for their first postseason berth in four seasons involves winning out and getting help, but Buffalo’s the far better team here. Only one of the Falcons’ seven wins this season have come against a team with a winning record.

Picks and Predictions

Buffalo 30, Atlanta 13

ML: BUF -833 (Sugar House); Spread: BUF -14.5/-105 (FanDuel); O/U: Under 43.5/+100 (FoxBet)

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:05 PM

Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Broncos Best Odds +235 (FanDuel) +6.5/-105 (FanDuel) Under 45.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Chargers Best Odds -263 (DraftKings) -6.5/-109 (Sugar House) Over 46/-106 (FanDuel)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass that is intercepted by Houston Texans cornerback Tavierre Thomas (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass that is intercepted by Houston Texans cornerback Tavierre Thomas (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos play the Los Angeles Chargers in this matchup of AFC West division rivals. This game sports serious ramifications for the AFC playoff chase, with both teams coming off disappointing defeats. The Broncos saw their postseason hopes take a tough blow with their loss last week. The Chargers, meanwhile, look to rebounds for a terrible Week 16 loss that really hurt their playoff chances.

The Denver Broncos (7-8, 7-8 ATS) held a halftime lead against the Las Vegas Raiders, but couldn’t do enough to get the win. Denver converted just one of their 10 third down tries and rushed for a season-low 18 yards. Las Vegas outgained the Broncos on the ground by 142 yards. Denver’s offense, with Drew Lock at the helm, managed just 158 total yards on the day.

The inept offensive performance squandered a good effort from the Denver defense. The Broncos forced three turnovers. Denver is just 2-4 both straight up and against the spread over its last six games, despite allowing only 15.4 points per game on defense over the team’s last five games. This offense has averaged a measly 11.3 points per game in its last four losses.

The Los Angeles Chargers (8-7, 7-8 ATS) suffered a difficult loss last week and lost their hold on an AFC Wild Card berth as a result. The Chargers turned the ball over three times, including a fumble and a pick-six in the fourth quarter, and allowed Houston to run up a season-high 189 rushing yards.

Justin Herbert threw for 336 passing yards, a late touchdown and two interceptions. The Chargers played without outside linebacker Joey Bosa, running back Austin Ekeler, receiver Mike Williams and center Corey Linsley, among others, but faced one of the league’s worst teams, which was similarly affected by COVID. The loss sent Los Angeles tumbling down the AFC standings. The Chargers sit ninth in the conference, thanks to losing several tiebreakers.

The Chargers added rotations DBs Chris Harris Jr., Michael Davis and Nasir Adderley to the COVID-19 list this week, but activated Ekeler, which should help the offense. Denver gives up 4.4 yards per rushing attempt (19th in the NFL). Los Angeles is eighth in rushing, averaging 4.5 per carry. The Chargers are third in the NFL in third-down percentage (46.3 percent), and will be up against the 26th-ranked defense in that category, owned by the Broncos (42.9 percent).

Denver has the top-ranked scoring defense (17.3 points per game). Los Angeles’ eighth-ranked scoring offense averages 27.2 points per game. The Chargers give up 4.7 yards per rushing attempt (27th in the NFL). The Broncos are 11th in yards per carry (4.4), and will likely lean on the run if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater misses another game. Denver’s rushing game ranks 13th in the NFL (116.7 yards per game). Los Angeles allows 140.3 rushing yards per game (29th).

The Broncos are 4-1 both straight up and against the spread in the last five meetings with Los Angeles, including a 28-13 victory in Week 12. Rookie Patrick Surtain picked off Herbert twice in the fourth quarter of that ball game, returning one of the picks for a touchdown.

The Chargers have covered the spread once this season (1-2 ATS) when playing as at least 6.5-point favorites. The Broncos have covered the spread once this year (1-1 ATS) when playing as at least 6.5-point underdogs. The last eight meetings between these two clubs on the Chargers’ home field have hit the Under. Denver has combined with its opponent to score more than 45.5 points in four of 15 games this season.

Picks and Prediction

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Denver 14

ML: LAC -263 (DraftKings); Spread: LAC -6.5/-109 (Sugar House); O/U: Under 45.5/-110 (BetMGM)

Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:05 PM

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Texans Best Odds +550 (BetMGM) +12.5/-110 (BetMGM) Under 43.5/+100 (FoxBet)
49ers Best Odds -625 (DraftKings) -12.5/-106 (FanDuel) Over 44/-110 (BetMGM)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs for a first down after a reception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 23, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs for a first down after a reception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans play the San Francisco 49ers in a matchup with serious implications for both the NFC playoff picture and the 2022 NFL Draft. The Texans have nothing but pride to play for at this point, and a loss here only improves their draft position. The Niners, meanwhile, took a tough loss last week and need a win in Week 17 to keep pace in the playoff race.

The Houston Texans (4-11, 7-8 ATS) scored the biggest upset of the week, with their surprise victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Houston forced three turnovers and Rex Burkhead ran for a career-high 149 yards in the 41-29 Week 16 win.

The Texans scored consecutive wins for the first time this season, and did so despite missing 16 players. Houston put up a season-high 189 rushing yards and saw rookie quarterback Davis Mills throw for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

The San Francisco 49ers (8-7, 7-8 ATS) squandered a 10-point lead in their Week 16 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The loss drops the Niners into the morass of the NFC conference standings, joining several other teams jostling for one of the final Wild Card berths. The 20-17 loss stands as San Francisco’s first defeat after having a halftime lead of at least 10 points under head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo failed to put up enough points in this one. He threw two interceptions, including a critical turnover in the end zone. He finished with 322 passing yards and a touchdown, but ultimately couldn’t do enough to get the win. The Niners are now 3-7 when the offense turns the ball over this season.

But the Niners will be without Garoppolo down the stretch, as the QB suffered a torn UCL in his throwing thumb and a fracture in the same hand. Trey Lance could start but Garoppolo may try to play through the injury. Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has made one start and seen action in five games, completing 25 of 48 pass attempts for 354 yards and carrying the ball 30 times for 137 yards.

The Niners’ offense averages 6.0 yards per play (second in the league). The Texans’ defense allows 5.9 (29th). San Francisco is ranked second in the NFL in yards per pass (8.4), and will be up against Houston’s No. 28-ranked defense in that category (7.8).

San Francisco enters this matchup 4-1 when it rushes for more than 150 yards. The 49ers’ running game ranks seventh in the NFL (123.7 yards per game). The Texans give up 141.3 rushing yards per game (30th).

The 49ers allow 318.9 yards per game (fourth-fewest in the league), and the Texans accumulate 276.8 per game to rank 32nd. Houston averages 3.4 yards per carry (31st in the league) compared to the 4.2 per attempt San Francisco gives up (ninth in the NFL). The Texans’ 84.8 rushing yards per game is good for 32nd in the NFL. The 49ers’ defense allows 107.3 on the ground (11th in the league).

The 12.5-point spread is San Francisco’s largest this season. The Niners’ previous large spread was minus-9 against Atlanta, and they covered that easily in a 31-13 victory. When playing as at least 12-point underdogs this year, the Texans have an ATS record of 3-2. Houston has played seven games this season that have had more than 44 combined points scored. San Francisco’s games this season have featured more combined points than this contest’s total of 44 points 11 times.

Picks and Predictions

San Francisco 27, Houston 16

ML: SF -625 (DraftKings); Spread: HOU +12.5/-110 (BetMGM); O/U: Under 43.5/+100 (FoxBet)

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:25 PM

Where: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Panthers Best Odds +250 (FanDuel) +6/+100 (FoxBet) Under 37.5/-105 (DraftKings)
Saints Best Odds -263 (Sugar House) -6.5/-109 (Sugar House) Over 38/-106 (Sugar House)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass as Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) pressures in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass as Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) pressures in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers play the New Orleans Saints in this matchup of NFC South division rivals. The Panthers can play spoiler to New Orleans’ postseason hopes, but can’t make the playoffs themselves. The Saints, meanwhile, come to this one after playing shorthanded on Monday Night Football and taking a tough loss.

The Carolina Panthers (5-10, 5-10 ATS) struggled throughout their Week 16 matchup with Tampa Bay. Despite facing an injury-riddled Bucs squad, Carolina managed just six points on the day. The Panthers played two quarterbacks last week, splitting reps between Cam Newton and Sam Darnold, but surrendered seven sacks.

Newton finished seven of 13 for 61 yards and ran for 42 yards. He lost his 13th straight game as a Carolina starter, a streak dating back to the 2018 season. Darnold went 15 of 33 for 190 yards. He was greeted by a chorus of boos when he first checked into the game. Carolina head coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday that Darnold will be the starting quarterback for the Panthers, presumably for the remainder of the season.

The New Orleans Saints (7-8, 7-8 ATS) were down to their fourth-string quarterback and backup tackles, among other replacements, in Week 16. Ian Book made his first NFL start and threw a pick-six on his second pass attempt. Miami’s defense dialed in on the rookie, and limited him to 12 of 20 passing for just 135 yards.

The Saints went 0-for-12 on third down and allowed eight sacks in the game. New Orleans converted just one of three fourth down tries and managed only 164 total yards. The Dolphins limited them to 83 rushing yards and forced two turnovers.

The Panthers come to this contest with a number of significant defensive players on the reserve/COVID-list, including edge rusher Brian Burns, and linebackers Haason Reddick Shaq Thompson, among others. But they’ll be facing the worst passing attack in the league with the Saints. New Orleans averages just 202.5 passing yards per game.

The Saints’ offense is 31st in the league averaging 301.9 yards per game, and 28th in terms of yards per play (4.9). But New Orleans’ defense remains among the best in the league. The Saints’ defense is the fifth-best in the NFL allowing 0.32 points per play. The Panthers have the 27th-ranked offense in the league in points per play (0.28).

The Saints have not covered the spread this season (0-2 ATS) when playing as at least 6.5-point favorites. The Panthers have been an underdog by 6.5 points or more three times this year, and covered the spread in one of those contests. Carolina’s 2-1 both straight up and against the spread in its last three road games.

Carolina has played nine games this season that finished with a combined score over 37.5 points. In 10 games this season, New Orleans and its opponents have scored more than 37.5 combined points.

New Orleans enters this one in a must-win situation, and they’re looking to avenge a 26-7 loss at the hands of the Panthers in Week 2. These teams look very different coming into this contest at this point of the season. While the Saints need the win, their offense looks broken, no matter who’s at quarterback. They’ve scored just four field goals in their last two games combined.

Picks and Predictions

Carolina 20, New Orleans 17

ML: CAR +250 (FanDuel); Spread: CAR +6/+100 (FoxBet); O/U: Under 37.5/-105 (DraftKings)

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:25 PM

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Moneyline Spread Totals
Cardinals Best Odds +210 (BetMGM) +5.5/+100 (FoxBet) Under 51.5/-105 (FoxBet)
Cowboys Best Odds -233 (FanDuel) -6/-105 (FanDuel) Over 51.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Malik Turner (17) run with the ball after making a catch in against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Malik Turner (17) run with the ball after making a catch in against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals play the Dallas Cowboys in a matchup of NFC title contenders on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals come to this one on something of a losing skid, failing to clinch a playoff spot yet again, despite starting the year 7-0. The Cowboys, meanwhile, knew entering their Week 16 game that they’d clinched the division, but Dallas beat down their NFC East rivals nonetheless.

The Arizona Cardinals (10-5, 9-6 ATS) have stumbled down the stretch this season. After navigating their first seven games without a loss, Arizona’s dropped five of their last eight games, including two in a row. Their Week 16 loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts, a game in which they held a second-half lead, is just the latest setback for a team that once looked like the class of the conference.

The Cardinals played a sloppy game against the Colts, with missed opportunities preventing them from clinching their first playoff spot since 2015. Kicker Matt Prater missed two field goals, including a potential go-away try in the fourth quarter, and missed an extra point. On offense, Arizona surrendered a safety and a turnover on downs. The Cardinals committed seven first half penalties that robbed them of any momentum.

Kyler Murray threw for 245 yards and a touchdown. He also for 74 yards. But the offense played without DeAndre Hopkins, as well as running back James Conner, three-time Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson, and rookie receiver Rondale Moore. The loss loosened the once vice-like grip the Cardinals had on the NFC West division.

Arizona ended up clinching a playoff spot after their loss, thanks to losses from the Saints and Vikings last week. But the recent struggles continue a trend of stumbling down the stretch. Thus far into head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s third season in Arizona, the Cardinals are 15-5-1 in Games 1 through 7 and 8-18 the rest of the season.

The Cardinals have lost five of their last eight entering Week 17, and need to improve their red zone efficiency. Arizona’s production in the red zone has dropped from 68.8 percent in the first seven games to 53.8 percent in the last eight. Dallas allows a score on 61.5 percent of its opponents’ red-zone appearances (22nd in the league).

The Dallas Cowboys (11-4, 12-3 ATS) put up the franchise’s highest point total since 1980 in their 56-14 rout of the Washington Football Team. Dak Prescott threw his four touchdown passes in the first half, and Dallas’ offense put up 389 total yards through the first two quarters. The Cowboys scored a franchise-record 42 points in the first half, and lead by 35 at halftime.

The Cowboys defense forced two turnovers and registered five sacks in the game. Dallas remains in the mix for the NFC’s top seed, Making this game versus the Cardinals a must-win. Even with a victory, though, the Cowboys need Green Bay to lose as well.

Dallas averages 0.44 points per play (first in the NFL) compared to the 0.33 per play Arizona allows (eighth in the league). The Cowboys’ offense ranks first in the NFL in yards per game (409.5), while the Cardinals rank eighth in yards allowed (324.3). Dallas’ running game ranks sixth in the NFL (126.9 yards per game), while Arizona allows 113.7 per game (15th-ranked run defense).

The Cardinals average 272.9 passing yards per game, eighth in the NFL. They’ll face a Cowboys pass defense that has struggled, allowing 258.1 per game and ranking 23rd. The Cardinals rank third in the NFL at 8.0 yards per pass attempt. The Cowboys give up 7.2 yards per passing play (17th in the league). Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs leads the league with 11 interceptions this season.

Arizona enters this contest 7-1 both straight up and against the spread as the road team this season, but that lone loss came in their last away game against the Lions. The Cardinals come to this one on a 5-0 against the spread winning streak against the NFC East. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are 5-2 both straight up and against the spread at home. Dallas is 10-0 against the spread this season against NFC opponents.

The Cowboys have an ATS record of 6-3 when playing as at least 6-point favorites this season. The Cardinals are 2-0 against the spread as an underdog of a 5.5-point underdog this season, and 5-0 both straight up and against the spread playing as an underdog.

Dallas and its opponents have gone over 52 combined points in eight games this season. Arizona has played four games this season that ended with a combined score higher than 52 points. The total has gone Under in eight of the last 12 meetings between these teams.

This game could be a playoff preview, and with both teams having clinched a berth, they may play this one close to the vest. Both teams have something to play for, however, with Dallas hoping to overtake the Packers atop the NFC and the Cardinals seeking an NFC West division title.

Picks and Predictions

Dallas 27, Arizona 23

ML: DAL -233 (FanDuel); Spread: AZ +5.5/+100 (FoxBet); O/U: Under 51.5/-105 (FoxBet)

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 4:25 PM

Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Lions Best Odds +260 (Sugar House) +7/-110 (BetMGM) Under 42.5/-105 (PointsBet)
Seahawks Best Odds -303 (BetMGM) -7/-105 (DraftKings) Over 42.5/-110 (BetMGM)
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (20) rushes against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (20) rushes against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions play the Seattle Seahawks in this matchup of NFC conference rivals. This is one of the few games on the Week 17 slate that doesn’t carry with it playoff implications. It will affect the 2022 NFL Draft order, though. With their loss in Week 16, Seattle was officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Detroit Lions (2-11-1, 10-5 ATS) couldn’t build on their positive momentum following a Week 15 upset of the Arizona Cardinals, losing in Week 16 to the Atlanta Falcons. Detroit entered the game without starting quarterback Jared Goff, who landed on the reserve/COVID list, and top running back D’Andre Swift, who missed his fourth straight contest.

Despite those missing players, the Lions hung around and had a chance to win in the closing minute of the game. But Tim Boyle threw an interception at the Atlanta one-yard line to seal the loss. Boyle, making just his second career start, Boyle 24 of 34 passes for 187 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown to Amon-Ra St. Brown, and one interception. St. Brown finished with nine catches for 91 yards and the score.

The Seattle Seahawks (5-10, 7-8 ATS) took a tough loss at home, their loss second in five days after having their Week 15 game postponed. Seattle held a 24-14 third quarter lead, but couldn’t hang on against the Chicago Bears, eventually losing 25-24. That loss marked the first time in head coach Pete Carroll’s tenure that the team has lost double-digit games in a season.

Russell Wilson finished 16 of 27 for 181 yards and two touchdowns, including the first TD for DK Metcalf since Halloween. Rashaad Penny rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown for Seattle. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner set a new single-season franchise record for tackles, beating the old mark of 168. He finished with 12 tackles in the game, getting his season total to 170.

Wilson could very well be playing in his final home game as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. There are rumors swirling that the all-pro quarterback will ask for a trade for the second-straight offseason. Despite the dismal straight up record, the Seahawks can still go for the win here, considering they don’t own their first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

The Seahawks have scored 28 points or more in all five of their wins and totaled more than 24 in only one of their losses. In Detroit’s last three non-covers, the defense surrendered an average of nearly 39 points.

Seattle sports the NFL’s seventh-ranked red zone offense (62.2 percent), and will be up against the No. 31 defense in that category, owned by the Lions (69.4 percent). Seattle averages 7.6 yards per pass attempt (sixth in the NFL), and Detroit gives up 8.0 per pass (30th in the league).

The Lions are 32nd in the NFL in red-zone percentage (43.2 percent), and will be facing the Seahawks’ third-ranked red zone defense (49.1 percent). The Lions are 31st in the NFL in third-down percentage (33.9 percent), and will be up against the ninth-ranked Seahawks third down defense (37.8 percent).

Goff should be back under center for the Lions at Seattle as the team activated him from the reserve/COVID list. He’s gone 2-2-1 straight up and 4-1 against the spread in his last five starts. The Lions hope to get Swift back soon, too.

Picks and Predictions

Seattle 27, Detroit 17

ML: SEA -303 (BetMGM); Spread: SEA -7/-105 (DraftKings); O/U: Over 42.5/-110 (BetMGM)

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Picks and Predictions

When: Sunday, January 2nd, 8:20 PM

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

Moneyline Spread Totals
Vikings Best Odds +250 (BetMGM) +6.5/+100 (FoxBet) Under 46/-105 (FoxBet)
Packers Best Odds -286 (Sugar House) -7/+100 (Caesars) Over 46.5/-108 (FanDuel)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with teammates after completing a touchdown pass making him the all time leader in touchdown passes in the first quarter during their football game Saturday, December 25, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay | Sidelines
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with teammates after completing a touchdown pass making him the all time leader in touchdown passes in the first quarter during their football game Saturday, December 25, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Photo by: Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Minnesota Vikings play the Green Bay Packers in a matchup of NFC North division rivals on Sunday Night Football. This game carries with it some serious seeding implications for the NFC playoff picture. The Vikings remain in the race for an NFC Wild Card berth. Meanwhile, Green Bay has already clinched the division title, but seeks to secure the NFC’s 1-seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings (7-8, 8-7 ATS) sit a game behind the pace in the NFC playoff chase. Minnesota’s 30-23 loss to the LA Rams hurt, especially considering San Francisco’s loss last Thursday. The Vikings failed to get above .500 for the fourth time this season.

It was a particularly frustrating game, too. The Vikings didn’t score touchdowns on two first-half trips inside the 10-yard line and picked off Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford three times. Only one of Minnesota’s first nine drives of the game went beyond 15 yards. And the one that did ended with a Kirk Cousins interception at the goal line.

Cousins went 27 of 38 for 315 yards, a touchdown, and the interception. That INT was Cousins’ fourth in the last three games, which is notable, considering he threw only three through the first 12 games of the season. Alexander Mattison filled in for Dalvin Cook, who was on the reserve/COVID list, and finished with 70 total yards and a touchdown.

Adam Thielen returned after missing the last two games and made three catches for 40 yards, but he aggravated his injury twice and barely played in the second half. He underwent season-ending surgery on his ankle earlier this week.

The Green Bay Packers (12-3, 11-4 ATS) held on to their top spot in the NFC with a 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdowns, breaking Brett Favre’s franchise record for career touchdown passes. But it took a game-sealing interception from Rasul Douglas to come away with the win.

The Packers defense harried Cleveland’s quarterback all afternoon, forcing four interceptions, including Douglas’ with less than a minute remaining and the Browns driving into field goal range. Green Bay sacked Mayfield five times, and each of their three touchdowns came following an interception.

Rodgers threw two of his touchdown passes to Davante Adams, who finished with 10 catches for 114 yards and those scores. Adams has now caught at least 10 passes for 100 yards with two touchdowns in eight times in his career, the most of anyone in NFL history.

The Vikings defeated Green Bay at home in their Week 11 matchup with the Packers. Minnesota won 34-31 on a game-winning field goal as time expired, getting the victory despite Rodgers throwing for a season-high 385 yards and four touchdowns.

For this matchup, the Vikings will likely lean on Dalvin Cook, if he’s cleared to play. Cleveland gashed the Packers on the ground last week, and Cook ran for 163 yards in a 28-22 win in Lambeau Field last season. Minnesota ranks 16th with 4.3 yards per carry, compared to the 4.8 per rush Green Bay gives up (31st in the NFL).

The Packers have the 15th-ranked offense in the NFL in yards per game (357.1). They take on a Vikings defense ranked 29th, giving up 379.0 yards per game. Minnesota’s defense allows 269.7 yards through the air per game (28th in the NFL). Green Bay’s 263.1 passing yards per game is 11th in the league.

When playing as at least 7-point favorites this season, the Packers have an against the spread record of 3-2. The Vikings have been an underdog by 7 points or more only once this season, and covered the spread. The Packers have won nine of the 11 games they were listed as the moneyline favorite this season (81.8 percent).

Minnesota has combined with its opponent to score more than 46 points in 11 of 15 games this season. Green Bay’s 15 games this season have gone over this contest’s total of 46 points eight times.

Picks and Predictions

Green Bay 27, Minnesota 23

ML: GB -286 (Sugar House); Spread: MIN +6.5/+100 (FoxBet); O/U: Over 46.5/-108 (FanDuel)

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Picks and Predictions

When: Monday, January 3rd, 8:15 PM

Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Moneyline Spread Totals
Browns Best Odds -164 (Sugar House) -3.5/-105 (FanDuel) Under 41/-110 (BetMGM)
Steelers Best Odds +155 (DraftKings) +3/+100 (Wynn Bet) Over 41/-108 (Sugar House)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) in the huddle during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium | Sidelines
Dec 26, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) in the huddle during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of AFC North division rivals. These two teams have jockeyed for position in the competitive conference race, but inconsistent offensive play has hampered their results. The Browns took a difficult loss in Week 16, a defeat that levied a major blow to their playoff chances. The Steelers, meanwhile, took a tough loss in Week 16, severely hampering their postseason hopes.

The Cleveland Browns (7-8, 7-8 ATS) played the Green Bay Packers pretty evenly in their Week 16 showdown last Saturday afternoon. But the Browns couldn’t overcome four interceptions from quarterback Baker Mayfield, ultimately losing to Green Bay 24-22. Mayfield’s final interception came as Cleveland was driving late in the fourth quarter for a potential game-winning field goal. Mayfield’s pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones was picked off by Rasul Douglas in a bang-bang play that may have been worthy of a penalty flag.

Mayfield completed 21 of 36 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with those four INTs, in his return from the reserve/COVID-19 list. He threw four interceptions for the first-time in his career. Missing left tackle Jedrick Wills and center JC Tretter, both on the COVID-19 list, left the offensive line vulnerable, and they surrendered five sacks as a result. Nick Chubb ran for 126 yards and a touchdown to lead the Cleveland’s ground attack, which gained 219 rushing yards.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1, 6-9 ATS) continued their recent struggles last week. The Steelers became the first team in NFL history to trail by at least 23 points at halftime in three straight road games. They’ve failed to score a first-half touchdown in five straight games. The inept offense in the first half produced two punts, an interception, a turnover on downs, and a missed field goal.

Ben Roethlisberger finished 23 of 35 for 159 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Rookie running back Najee Harris put up 110 total yards on 24 touches. But the Steelers went 1-for-4 in the red zone and struggled to consistently convert on third down.

The Browns enter this one as a rare favorite in Pittsburgh. Prior to Cleveland’s lopsided playoff win at Heinz Field last season, the Browns hadn’t won in Pittsburgh in 15 years. The Steelers, though, come to this one 1-4 against the spread in their last five Monday Night Football games, and 0-6 against the spread against teams with a losing record.

The Browns average 5.1 yards per rushing attempt (first in the NFL), and the Steelers allow 4.8 per carry (31st in the league). Cleveland’s rushing game ranks third in the NFL (144.9 yards per game), while Pittsburgh allows 142.7 per game (32nd-ranked run defense).

The matchups don’t favor the Pittsburgh offense in this game, with the No. 29 rushing attack in the NFL (87.6 yards per game), facing the No. 10 defense in that category. Cleveland allows 105.9 yards per game on the ground.

The Browns have covered the spread once this season (1-3 ATS) when playing as at least 3.5-point favorites. The Steelers have been an underdog by 3.5 points or more nine times this season, and covered the spread in five of those matchups. Pittsburgh’s 17-1 straight up at home versus the Browns and haven’t lost a Monday Night Football game at home since 1991.

The Steelers are 5-0 straight up and 3-2 against the spread when Harris carries the ball more than 20 times, with all three covers coming when they closed as underdogs, including two times at home. Pittsburgh has gone 5-0-1 in its last six home games, and this one will obviously be the biggest of the year, especially if Roethlisberger is truly set to retire.

Picks and Prediction

Pittsburgh 23, Cleveland 21

ML: PIT +155 (DraftKings); Spread: PIT +3/+100 (Wynn Bet); O/U: Over 41/-108 (Sugar House)

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