NFL Week 17 Picks: Bengals or Bills? Panthers or Bucs? How does this big playoff implication week pan out?

Welcome to Chase’s Sports News Week 17 picks. With just two weeks left in the season, there are some key matchups in Week 17 that can decide a lot for the playoff picture. If New Orleans upsets Philadelphia, than they find themselves in a key position to win the NFC South, and if Philadelphia losses, Dallas is just one game behind them for the division, and the No. 1 seed. The Packers are playing the Vikings, and a win gives Green Bay a great chance to make the postseason. And Buffalo and Cincinnati. If Buffalo wins, Cincinnati is eliminated from No. 1 seed contention, and may be behind in the AFC North going into Week 18. But if Cincinnati wins, they have tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed over Buffalo and Kansas City, and a win against Baltimore in Week 18 would then give themselves incredible chances of winning the conference. Let’s not waist any time, and get into this!

Cardinals (4-11) @ Falcons (5-10) -3 | Winner: Falcons (19-10) | Spread: Falcons

JJ Watt won’t have his favorite farewell tour, as the Atlanta Falcons will beat the four win Arizona Cardinals, mainly because of Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier is currently on pace for 992 rushing yards, just 8 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards as a rookie. The Cardinals run defense is very sub-par, and against one of the better run defenses in the NFL in the Baltimore Ravens, Allgeier ran for 74 yards, after an 139 rushing yard performance against New Orleans. DeAndre Hopkins has been dominant, and Atlanta doesn’t have a great passing defense, but Trace McSorley just won’t be good enough to get the job done. The only positive thing for Arizona is that Atlanta has a very below average run defense, and James Conner could run the ball, but I see them not being able to consistently drive down the field. Give me Atlanta, in a low scoring game between two eliminated teams.

Bears (3-12) @ Lions (7-8) -6 | Winner: Lions (34-31) | Spread: Bears

This is an interesting matchup between two very talented offenses. The Bears have a dominant run game, there’s no doubt about it. Justin Fields has over 1,000 yards on the ground, and is on pace to come just short of Lamar Jackson’s single season quarterback rushing record, 1,206 rushing yards, which he set back in 2019. And it’s not just running the ball. Over these past seven games, Justin Fields has a 67.7% completion percentage, while throwing for 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and running for over 92 yards per game and six total touchdowns on the ground. He is someone Detroit needs to worry about, especially with their run defense, which allowed 320 yards to the Panthers in Week 16. The reason why I’m picking Detroit is because their offense will score enough points against this Chicago defense. They’ve allowed 26.2 points per game throughout the season. And even though the Lions have had a defense just as bad, they’ve proven to turn their offensive success into wins, by winning six of their last eight games, unlike Chicago who’s lost its last eight games. It will be a shootout, but I’m picking the Lions.

Broncos (4-11) @ Chiefs (12-3) -12.5 | Winner: Chiefs (31-16) | Spread: Chiefs

If this were last week, I would contemplate picking the Broncos to keep it close. But after allowing 51 points, 44 of which to a Baker Mayfield led Ram offense, I’m seeing this team is just a disaster. They have a first time head coach and Brett Rypien in at quarterback, and the team chemistry is terrible after that loss. Compare that to Kansas City who has won eight of its past nine games, with role players continuously stepping up, and a defense getting the job done when needed. And they also have the best quarterback-wide receiver/tight end combination in the league with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. If you want to watch a close game, don’t what this!

Dolphins (8-7) @ Patriots (7-8) -2.5 | Winner: Patriots (23-16) | Spread: Patriots

There is no way I’m picking the Miami Dolphins to win this game. As great broadcaster Bill Simmons once said, ‘the Dolphins collapse is like Hanukkah. You don’t know exactly when it’s coming, but you know it’s in December’. Well, this entire month of December has been an utter disaster for Miami fans. The Dolphins have lost four straight games, and haven’t won one game in December. Tua Tagovailoa, who was an MVP candidate for the majority of the year, now has just one 100.0+ passer rating game since Week 10, as he has six touchdowns to five interceptions, a 1.2 touchdown to interception ratio in this time span. And he’s not even playing! He’s hurt, putting Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. New England on the other hand has played okay, as their defense hasn’t allowed more than 24 points since Week 12. Mac Jones has also played better, throwing no interceptions in six of his last seven games. And New England’s last two losses were very close/fluky losses, which were Jakobi Meyers disaster lateral, and then Rhamondre Stevenson’s fluky fumble. They’ve been so close to 9-6. They’ll be able to sneak by a hurt and struggling Miami team, like they always seem to do in December.

Colts (4-10-1) @ Giants (8-6-1) -5.5 | Winner: Giants (20-9) | Spread: Giants

I am not that fond of this 2022 version of the New York Giants. But this 2022 version of the Indianapolis Colts is terrible, mainly because they are now starting Nick Foles. Their defense isn’t terrible, holding the Chargers to 20 points on Monday Night. However, Foles’ three interceptions and 31.9 passer rating, basically guaranteed the Chargers victory. The Giants, if they score 17 points, should win the game, and I have confidence in them being able to do that. Especially if they run the ball with Saquon Barkley, who has ran for over 1,200 yards on the ground, against a sub-par Colts run defense. I’ll pick the Giants in a very important playoff implication game for them, which will extend this Colt losing streak to 6.

Saints (6-9) @ Eagles (13-2) -6.5 | Winner: Eagles (20-17) | Spread: Saints

This is going to be a good game. Nobody knows if Jalen Hurts is going to play, and whether he does or doesn’t, my prediction stays the same. The Eagles are a talented team of course, they’ve won 13 games. However, they’ve had a lot of close performances against mediocre teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders and others. The New Orleans Saints will be added to that list. The Saints are in a must-win situation if they want hopes of the postseason, and they’ve won their past two games. I think Alvin Kamara is going to have a lot of fun running all over this Eagle run defense, as he’ll have over 150 yards of scrimmage and at least one scrimmage touchdown. Andy Dalton has also been very impressive, as he’s had his best season since 2016, with 17 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, with over a 95.0 passer rating. He’ll have a good game as well. However, like the Indianapolis Colts game, the Colts had the advantages, they dominated the game, but the Eagles talent is too much for the opposition to handle. They’ll get outplayed, but not beaten, give me the Eagles!

Panthers (6-9) @ Buccaneers (7-8) -3 | Winner: Buccaneers (19-16) | Spread: Panthers

This is a very interesting and important game. If the Panthers win, they take the lead in the NFC South, with tiebreaker of Tampa Bay for the remainder of the season. But if Tampa Bay wins, Carolina and New Orleans are eliminated from playoff contention, while the Bucs would clinch their 2nd straight NFC South title. But who will win? Well this is what makes it interesting. The Panthers main source of offense in this “streak” has been their running game, as they’ve flipped between Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker and now Sam Darnold at quarterback. Last game they ran for 320 yards on the Detroit Lions run defense, which is one of the worst in the league. Tampa Bay’s run defense is sub-par but not terrible. Here’s the thing, I don’t trust the Buccaneers, but I trust Tom Brady. And in all of these kinds of close games this season, Brady’s been able to come up in the biggest stage, and come up with game winning drives and big plays in the 4th quarter and overtime. And that will happen again. Give me Tampa to clinch the South!

Browns (6-9) @ Commanders (7-7-1) -2 | Winner: Commanders (20-17) | Spread: Commanders

This is basically a meaningless matchup for the Browns, but a super important game for the Commanders, who could find themselves the 10th seed in the NFC going into Week 18 if they lose. However, will they win? Because they are making the switch from Taylor Heinicke back to Carson Wentz for starting quarterback, despite coming off of a two touchdown, one interception, 114.3 rating performance. Wentz came in for part of that 17 point loss for the Commanders, and had a touchdown with an 117.5 passer rating. Personally, I think Wentz is not great, but better than fans suggest, and will play very decently in the victory. Brian Robinson will also run all over this Browns defense like every other team has this season. Deshaun Watson and the Browns offense just hasn’t been as productive as the talent suggests they could be, and won’t score more than 20 points in this matchup, considering the Commanders have allowed 23 or less points in four of its last five games. Carson Wentz will lead a game winning drive to win the game, and put the Commanders in a great spot for the postseason with one week remaining.

Jaguars (7-8) -3 @ Texans (2-12-1) | Winner: Jaguars (26-13) | Spread: Jaguars

“A small spark can start a great fire” – Emmet Fox. That quote perfectly describes the Jacksonville Jaguars. A two point conversion against Baltimore in Week 12, a small spark, has started one great fire! The Jaguars, who were 3-7, are now 7-8, winning four of its past five games with upset wins over the Ravens and the Cowboys. Well, this is the perfect time to get hot during an NFL season. Trevor Lawrence has been terrific in this streak, throwing just one interception since Week 8, and in that game had four touchdowns and an 109.0 passer rating. Lawrence has lived up to his 1st overall pick hype in year two, and now has the 4th best touchdown/interception ratio in the NFL. Even though the Texans have had close losses against Dallas and Kansas City, and then a win over Tennessee, that small spark has started a very large wildfire, that the Texans won’t be able to control.

49ers (11-4) -9.5@ Raiders (6-9) | Winner: 49ers (31-13) | Spread: 49ers

The Las Vegas Raiders are in a must win situation, and if they are able to take care of business in Week 17, and then in Week 18 against Kansas City, the rest of the path to the postseason (which is outside of their control), isn’t overly unrealistic:

However, the winning out is the very unrealistic part. The Raiders are benching Derek Carr, after he has the 2nd most losses by a quarterback in nine seasons with 79 losses in NFL history! Jarrett Stidham is instead starting at quarterback for the first time this season, so expect a lot of Josh Jacobs in this game. But the 49ers are just overall a too talented team. Brock Purdy has been amazing, and may be the future quarterback of the organization over Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, and the defense has been consistently one of the best in the NFL throughout the entire season. Give me Niners in a blowout!

Jets (7-8) -1.5 @ Seahawks (7-8) | Winner: Jets (20-17) | Spread: Jets

This is an important game for both teams, and also a somewhat boring game. The Seahawks offense has struggled to score over their past few games, and same goes for the Jets. But since Mike White and worse case scenario Joe Flacco is starting over Zach Wilson, the Jets offense is good enough to score 20. And with the way Geno Smith has been throwing the football recently, the Jets defense may be good enough to hold Seattle to under that total. The Seahawks have more talent, but the Jets have been the better team, In a low scoring, pound the football game, the Jets eliminate the Raiders from playoff contention, and put themselves in a clear but still dark playoff tunnel.

Vikings (12-3) @ Packers (7-8) -3 | Winner: Packers (26-24) | Spread: Vikings

I still think Minnesota should be the favorite, but Green Bay will win this game. The Vikings could be 15-0, and I’d still say that an Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay team in Green Bay is a tough game, especially when that team is in your division. The Vikings are 11-0 in one possession games this season. They’ve had a lot of close games. And the Packers have won two straight, and are a better team since both faced off in Week 1. Christian Watson has proven to be a threat in the receiving game, and A.J. Dillion has stepped up more in the 2nd half of the season. Even though Justin Jefferson is amazing, I think he’ll be “contained” for under 115 yards by Jaire Alexander. Rodgers will come up with a game winning drive that results in a Mason Crosby field goal, to give Green Bay a legitimate chance to get back to the postseason!

Rams (5-10) @ Chargers (9-6) -6.5 | Winner: Chargers (23-17) | Spread: Rams

The LA Showdown! However, it shouldn’t be much of a showdown. Even though the Rams were somehow able to put up 51 points on the Broncos, I doubt they’ll be able to do anything close to that against the Chargers. The Chargers defense has been terrific, allowing just over 11 points per game in this three game winning streak. The Chargers offense hasn’t been amazing, averaging just 20 points per game over this stretch, against sub-par defenses like Miami, Tennessee and Indianapolis. However, it has been good enough to win. And they still have Justin Hebert, Austin Ekeler and a really talented offense, that could easily go off 30 points in any game. The Chargers are getting hot at the right time, and with the Chargers stellar defense, I see them pulling away with a one possession win.

Steelers (7-8) @ Ravens (10-5) -2 | Winner: Ravens (17-13) | Spread: Ravens

This will be a low scoring game, with Tyler Huntley starting his 4th consecutive game for the Ravens, and rookie Kenny Pickett going against a defense that has allowed under 15 points in six of its last seven games. The Ravens were able to run for 215 yards and a touchdown over the Steelers in Week 14, and since Gus Edwards has played even better while Tyler Huntley has improved his play, I need to go with Baltimore. But the difference maker was turnovers. Overall the team that wins the turnover battle, and the field position battle, should win the game, when it comes to a game with sub-par offenses and/or really good defenses. Well, Baltimore won the turnover battle by three last time, and things like that should continue at home, as the Ravens run for over 150 yards on the ground in a close victory over their long-time rival! See more on the Cool Sports Newsletter, where we did an extensive preview about the game.

Game of the Week! Bills (12-3) -1.5 @ Bengals (11-4) | Winner: Bengals (31-27) | Spread: Bengals

This is, without a doubt, the game of the week! If Buffalo wins (and Kansas City), Cincinnati will be eliminated from No. 1 seed contention. If Cincinnati wins however, they will then have the same record as Buffalo, with tiebreaker over both Buffalo and Kansas City. There is a lot of components that go into this game. Joe Burrow is familiar with being a home underdog against great quarterbacks. He’s been it twice against Patrick Mahomes. He won both times. Now he’s a home underdog against Josh Allen. Do you get the pattern? The Cincinnati Bengals are easily one of the best teams in the NFL on all aspects of the game! They can pass the ball with Burrow to Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, which is the 2nd best wide receiver duo in the NFL, and they can run the ball efficiently with Joe Mixon as well. Their defense has also stepped up, as they’ve allowed just 20 points per game for the season. They are also the only team in NFL history to start 0-2 and make the playoffs!

However, let’s look at Buffalo. Buffalo has just three losses this season, and has also been one of the best teams in the NFL. Josh Allen has been terrific, and Stefon Diggs is quietly playing like one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. They’re rushing offense has also started to step up as a whole, as it’s not just Josh Allen being a threat in Buffalo on the ground. But now Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook are running for nearly 100 yards. If they’re running game can be that valuable in the postseason, a Lombardi trophy may finally come to Buffalo.  Not only that, but their defense is stellar, as they’ve allowed just 17.5 points per game this season, 2nd best in the NFL.

However, this one stat changes the game: This season on the road, Josh Allen has completed just 63% of his passes, for just 6.9 yards per attempt, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions, which is just an 88.9 rating, the equivalent to what Jacoby Brissett has done this season. Also, that touchdown to interception ratio is around Derek Carr’s and Carson Wentz’s touchdown to interception ratio for the season. That is an average quarterback! I don’t think this is a coincidence. He struggles on the road. It’s that simple. And he’ll do it again. He’ll have a few turnovers in Cincinnati, as Burrow and the Bengals come up with a tight home victory, and a decent chance at the No. 1 seed.

This was Chase’s Sports News Week 17 NFL game preview article. There is a lot that can happen. A lot of important things for the postseason. One result could change everything! We’ll see what Week 17 really has in store!

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