NFL Week 17 Gambling Picks
Last Week: 4-3
Last week of the regular season!
Packers -4 @ Bears
The Packers need a win to lock up the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That alone should be motivation enough for this Green Bay team. Seattle and New Orleans are both still in contention for that top seed, and I think the Packers will go all out in this one against their division rival. Aaron Rodgers loves playing at Solider Field, and I think he will have some added motivation himself given his stance in the MVP race. Rodgers has been excellent all season, and the Packers offense has scored at least 30 points in five of their last six games. The Bears defense is not what they normally are, as they currently rank outside the top 10 in the league. The Packers tore them apart in their first matchup, taking a 41-10 lead into the 4th quarter before the Bears got some late garbage time touchdowns. Chicago has bounced back from their six game losing streak with three straight wins, and Mitch Trubisky has looked better in those games. However, those three wins were against Houston (4-11), Minnesota (6-9), and Jacksonville (1-14). The Packers offer a much tougher challenge. The Packers have won three in a row over the Bears, with all three wins coming by seven points or more. Wanting to lock up that No. 1 seed, I think the Packers come out strong with a win and cover over the Bears.
Raiders @ Broncos Under 51
This isn’t exactly a marquee game this Sunday, and unless you are betting it, you probably aren’t watching it. But, I like the Under here. Broncos QB Drew Lock has been a mess this season. His 50.0 QBR is 27th in the league, and he has more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). He is leading a Broncos offense that is scoring just 19.5 points per game, which is tied for the 3rd-fewest in the NFL. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Raiders defense has been atrocious as well. Vegas is 24th in total defense, allowing 385.3 yards per game, and 29th in scoring, giving up 29.8 points per game. They are still adjusting to new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, and have been battered with injuries. However, I still think that Denver’s anemic offense does not pose that big of a threat, and Vegas should be able to hold their own. Defensively, Denver has been decent against the pass (12th in the league), and they have the best red zone defense in the league. Opponents are scoring touchdowns on just 47.46% of their red zone trips against Denver, and the Raiders have one of the worst red zone offenses. Vegas finds the end zone on just 54.39% of their trips, which is 25th in the league. I think both offenses will have a tough time in this one, and I think we see the Total stay Under 51.
Cardinals -3 @ Rams and Under 41.5
This is a massive game for the NFC playoff picture. If the Cardinals win, they’re in; if they lose, they’re out. If the Rams win, they’re in; if they lose, they need the Bears to lose to the Packers in order to still make the playoffs. The second half of the season has not been as kind to the Cardinals as the first half was, but with them controlling their own playoff destiny, I think Cliff Kingsbury will have his team heading into this game with the right mindset. However, Kyler Murray is battling some injuries and isn’t 100% healthy, and he will be going up against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The Rams are allowing a league-low 286.5 yards per game, and are No. 1 against the pass, as well as No. 3 against the run. They are second in the league with 49 sacks, and are one of just three teams to be holding their opponents to below 20 points per game. WR Christian Kirk is out for Arizona, so I really think Kyler Murray will rely on DeAndre Hopkins a lot. Obviously he is a tremendous player, but Jalen Ramsey has proven he can shut down top receivers, and I think he will be tough against Hopkins in this one. On the other side, the Rams will be without QB Jared Goff, and John Wolford will be making his first ever NFL start. Wolford last started 644 days ago with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF. Goff has not played well in recent weeks, but there is nothing as of now to suggest that Wolford is by any means an upgrade. Not only that, but WR Cooper Kupp will be out, and he provides a ton of productivity and yards after the catch. I think all of this favors a sluggish and low-scoring game that could be a bit of a defensive battle. With so much on the line, play-calling may be extra conservative to preserve the chances of turnovers, and with a lot of notable players out for both teams, I think this one stays Under.
I am also taking the Cardinals -3. As mentioned, Kyler Murray is a little banged up, but he still going to give his team an advantage at the QB position over John Wolford. With a potential playoff birth on the line, this is an extremely tough position for Wolford to be making his first career NFL start. Arizona is also more healthy overall, so I think that gives them an advantage as well. The Rams offense has been sluggish the last two weeks, scoring just 29 points combined in their last two games, and without Goff and Kupp, I don’t have much confidence that they will suddenly start clicking. The Cardinals control their own destiny, and I think they will come out with a strong game plan and put together a winning effort enough to cover the three-point spread on the road.
Saints @ Panthers +6
The Saints have no running backs for this game. Not only is Alvin Kamara out with a positive test, but the entire running backs room (Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington, Michael Burton) are all out due to contact tracing. The Saints love their running game and versatility with their RB’s, so it will be interesting to see how they approach this game offensively. They still have super-utility man Taysom Hill, and WR Ty Montgomery is a former RB, so I’m sure he will be utilized in some capacity. The Saints are averaging the most rushing yards per game in the Payton/Brees era (140.6), so having their entire RB room out for the season finale definitely hurts. I would think the Saints will rely on Drew Brees to throw the ball down the field a decent amount. However, three of their top receivers are also on IR—Michael Thomas (ankle), Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and Deonte Harris (neck). Brees is also still a little banged up after breaking multiple ribs, so there are a lot of questions with the Saints offense. They were able to show out with 52 points on Christmas Day against the Vikings, but six TD’s came from Alvin Kamara, and I expect them to come back down to Earth in this one. For Carolina, this game pretty much means nothing, but they have a first year head coach who will be wanting to end the season on a high note. They are back at home after back-to-back road games, and they played this New Orleans team down to the wire in their first matchup, losing a hard fought battle 27-24 in the Superdrome. The Panthers were able to keep it that close despite getting out gained 415-283. With so many people out for the Saints offensively, I think the Panthers have a better shot here. No team has ever gone 6-0 in the NFC South, and even if the Saints are able to do that, I think the Panthers do enough to keep it within 6 and cover the spread.
Jaguars @ Colts -14 and Under 50
The Jaguars have locked up the No. 1 pick in the draft, and have appeared to throw in the towel on this season. The Jaguars have lost their last three games by at least 21 points. Their defense has been awful, and their offense has been anemic. They have lost those three games by scores of 31-10, 40-14, and 41-17. I think this game will be similar to those. The Colts defense has played extremely well against lesser teams, and Jacksonville will be without one of their few bright spots this season, as RB James Robinson will not be playing. I don’t think QB Mike Glennon will be able to lead this Jaguar offense to the end zone very often against a stout Colts defense. The Jags beat this very Colts team alllll the way back in Week 1, and that is still their lone victory of the season. Playing for their playoff lives, the Colts will not let that happen again. I think Indy will also be a little pissed off after their second-half collapse last week against the Steelers. I think they win convincingly here and cover the two-touchdowns spread at home.
I also think the Under makes some sense here. As mentioned, the Jaguars offense has struggled, and James Robinson is not playing. The Colts defense should be feasting on this Jags offense on Sunday. The Colts will be without LT Anthony Castonzo, and their offense just doesn’t look quite the same without him. Philip Rivers is quietly have a tremendous season, and he should be able to have a strong day against a weak Jacksonville secondary that is 27th in the league against the pass. RB Jonathan Taylor has also merged as a key part to this offense, and even without Castanzo, the Colts trust their O-line and will still utilize the running game a lot. I think they get up big in the first half, then turn to the running game in the second half. I don’t think the Jags offense has enough to hang around, and I think the Jags are already looking forward to April 29. I like the Under.
Title Photo: Stacy Revere / Getty Images