NFL WEEK 17: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend12/31/2020
- Through 16 weeks of the NFL season, there's never been a more chaotic year to bet.
- In the final week of the regular season, we'll try once more to pick out some winners from what's sure to be an unpredictable week.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
We've reached the final week of the NFL regular season, and teams are still scrambling to secure their postseason positions.
As the season heads into the homestretch, games become even tougher to bet. Some teams are still playing for a playoff spot, while others might already be looking forward to the offseason.
For anyone looking to bet big money this week, proceed with caution — some teams will be resting their starters, and it may be best to wait until just before kickoff on Sunday, so you know precisely which players you're betting on winning the game.
Last week our picks went a disappointing 5-10-1 against the spread. We're down on the year as a whole, but with a perfect week this Sunday, we can get back to even. Let's see if we can pull off the miracle (* indicates home team).
LAST WEEK: 5-10-1
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) over New York Giants*
Both teams are playing to keep their postseason hopes alive, but the Giants will have to go with either a hobbled Daniel Jones or a healthy Colt McCoy at quarterback in their biggest game of the year. The Cowboys have the weapons on offense to put up points, and the Giants should struggle to keep pace.
Cleveland Browns* (-9) over Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have already sealed their division and will likely be resting starters to keep everyone healthy for the postseason. Meanwhile, the Browns still need to ensure their spot in the playoffs and likely want to put up some points and get momentum back in their favor, coming off a disappointing loss against the Jets while shorthanded last weekend.
New England Patriots* (-3) over New York Jets
The Jets are 3-17 in their past 20 meetings against the Patriots. Of those three wins, two came by a field goal in overtime before the rules changed to allow both teams an overtime possession barring a touchdown. The Jets have not beaten the Patriots in regulation since 2011. Congratulations to the Jets on their two-game win streak. That's plenty.
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) over Detroit Lions
Key players on both sides of this game could wind up sitting out, including Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. This is a game I would avoid betting unless you have a really good feeling either way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers* (-6.5) over Atlanta Falcons
The Buccaneers offense appears to have found its stride over the past three weeks, averaging nearly 35 points per game over that stretch and rattling off three straight wins. While their spot in the playoffs is secured, they will want to win to hold on to the fifth-seed in the NFC, which would give them a first-round matchup against whichever team winds up winning the NFC East.
Cincinnati Bengals* (+12.5) over Baltimore Ravens
It's difficult to tell how hard the Ravens are going to push their starters in this game. Their spot in the playoffs is already secured, but they likely won't be eager to drop lower in the standings due to potential matchups. Regardless, 13 points feel like too many to spot to a team with unclear motivations heading into Week 17.
Miami Dolphins (+2.5) over Buffalo Bills*
The Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives, while the Bills already have punched their ticket to the postseason. Why not let a little more FitzMagic happen on the final Sunday of the regular season?
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) over Kansas City Chiefs*
The Chiefs have already announced that backup quarterback Chad Henne will be starting on Sunday. The Chargers have played too many close games this year to fall apart completely at the end. This feels like a good spot for them to build on something heading into next year.
Seattle Seahawks (-6) over San Francisco 49ers
Seattle is peaking, with a defense that has looked much sharper over the past few weeks. The 49ers played admirably all year but likely are looking forward to the offseason when the team can finally get healthy.
Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) over Denver Broncos*
Both of these teams are finishing off disappointing seasons. I think the Raiders have more talent on offense, but this is a toss-up. I'd stay away if you could. There are better places to put your money.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) over Los Angeles Rams*
Whichever team wins this game is in the postseason. If the Rams lose, they'll still have a shot of making the playoffs if they get some help from across the NFC. If the Cardinals lose, their season is over. Given that the Cardinals are likely to have starting quarterback Kyler Murray, while the Rams will be without Jared Goff, we'll take the more desperate team in this spot.
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) over Carolina Panthers*
The Panthers are likely going to be without both Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis in this game. The Saints are still hoping to win to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC and match up against the conference's weakest wild card team. Carolina could be a fun team to watch as they make a postseason run next year, but this weekend's game against the Saints will be an uphill battle.
Tennessee Titans (-7.5) over Houston Texans*
The Texans have burned me too many times in recent weeks to take them here. The Titans offense should move the ball well against the Texans, no matter how many emotional speeches J.J. Watt gives his teammates.
Green Bay Packers (-5.5) over Chicago Bears*
The Bears can win their way into the postseason against the Packers, but Green Bay won't be rolling over in this game. The Packers are still playing to win a first-round bye in the postseason, and Aaron Rodgers is working to claim the MVP award.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+14) over Indianapolis Colts*
The Jaguars opened their season with a shocking upset win over the Colts. Since then, they've lost 14 straight. Now, the Colts are playing to keep their playoff hopes alive and need only to avenge their embarrassing loss from earlier in the year to do it. Wouldn't it be funny if they blew it?`
Philadelphia Eagles* (+2.5) over Washington Football Team
There are two ways that the 2020 NFL regular season can end: either the Washington Football Team wins their way into the postseason, or they lose their way out of it. Given the dumpster fire that the NFC East has been all season, it feels like the only fitting resolution to the year is for Washington to lose in spectacular fashion and gift either the Cowboys or the Giants an unlikely spot in the playoffs.
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