Ah, week 17. Without a doubt, this is the most difficult week to handicap. Several top teams are only showing up because they have to, which makes things pretty difficult to predict. I’ll try and do my best, and hopefully we can close out the regular season above .500.
Ryan: 100-102-6 (9-5-2)
Bills -8 over Colts. Indianapolis clearly didn’t give a damn last week, so there’s no reason to think they’ll bother showing up in Buffalo. What they pulled last week was an incredible disservice to their players, fans and the NFL as a whole. Oh, and it’s not going to help them win a Super Bowl.
Carolina -7 over Saints. Drew Brees is out, so Mark Brunell will take the ball for the Saints. Here’s another strategy I disagree with. The Saints looked terrible in December, and will enter their NFC Divisional Playoff game having not played well in six weeks.
Browns -1 over Jags. The Jags are done, and the Browns have actually played some inspired football down the stretch. They’ve gone from a near mutiny to having a chance to win their last four games. Good for team psyche, but not for draft position. I think the Browns get it done.
Lions +3 over Bears. An interesting spread getting tons of public money on Chicago. Lovie Smith’s job is hanging in the balance, but will his team come out flat after that great overtime win on Monday Night Football? Hard to say. This game is meaningless, but it seems like the spread favors Detroit.
Patriots +7 over Texans. We can expect the Patriots to rest some players, but not all. Bill Belichick is generally pretty aggressive in these meaningless games. The Texans need a win and some help to make it to the postseason, but the Patriots don’t strike me as a “lay down and die” type of team.
Dolphins +3 over Steelers. Both teams need tons of help to advance to the postseason, but my inclination is to take the home underdog here. Chad Henne has played some great football in the last month, and we all know how lousy Pittsburgh’s secondary has been without Troy Polamalu.
Vikings -8 over Giants. This game is the hardest to call for me. The Vikings have played like absolute crap the last few weeks, and lets make no mistake about it. There’s tension up top with Brad Childress and He Who Shall Not Be Named. But…they’re at the Metrodome and playing against the biggest disappointment in the NFL.
Niners -7 over Rams. If the 49ers win, they finish .500. If the Rams lose, they’re in line for Ndamukong Suh. If the Rams are smart, they’ll kneel the ball for four straight quarters.
Bucs +1 over Falcons. The Falcons need a win to ensure two straight winning seasons for the first time in NFL history. But I’ll ride the hot hand in Tampa Bay, who have played well the last two weeks. Once again, meaningless.
Eagles +3 over Cowboys. There’s lots of meaningless games on the week 17 slate, but this definitely isn’t one of them. Philadelphia can win the NFC East and lock up a 1st round bye with a win here. Dallas has an outside chance at a bye, but would still love the NFC East crown and a playoff home game. Gotta go with Philly, though.
Packers +3 over Cardinals. This game will become a scrimmage if the Cardinals find out that they can’t earn a first round bye. If that’s the case, these teams will likely face each other next weekend and Kurt Warner will plop his ass on the bench. Gotta go with the Pack.
Chiefs +10 over Broncos. No Brandon Marshall. No Tony Schefter. No Eddie Royal. I don’t see how you could take Denver.
Ravens -11 over Raiders. Win and you’re in.
Chargers -3.5 over Redskins. I expect the Chargers to rest some guys with the bye locked up, but they seem plenty capable of winning with some reserves. One of the league’s deepest teams, I think we see Philip Rivers for a half against the tanking Redskins. Billy Volek isn’t a bad option to have behind him.
Titans -6 over Seahawks. Chris Johnson is 128 yards away from 2,000. How many carries will it take for him to get that against the pathetic Seahawks? I have the over/under at 5.5.
Bengals +10 over Jets. The Jets control their own destiny, but I still think this is too many points against a Bengals team playing for a 3 seed. If the Jets win, we’ll see this matchup again next week.