NFL Week 17 Breakdown

by Will Rogers

Friday, Dec 31, 2021
BEST GAME – Miami at Tennessee (-3.5)
Miami 8-7 SU, 8-6-1 ATS, 6-9 O/U
Tennessee 10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS, 7-8 O/U
Intent on outdoing the 1914 Miracle Braves, Miami is now two wins away from grabbing a solid seed in the AFC playoffs, just two months after a 1-7 start that had coach Brian Flores with one foot on a banana peel and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa packing his bags in favor of anyone not named Tagovailoa. The Fins dominated yet another no-name quarterback on Monday night, and if they can hold serve against a decent Titans team they’ll go into the final game against New England with a chance to vault past the Patriots. Yikes. The Titans, who needed four of the last five scores in beating the 49ers in Week 16, require this one to stay ahead of a slew of 9-6 teams and get a home playoff game.

WORST GAME – New York Giants at Chicago (-6)
New York 4-11 SU, 6-9 ATS, 5-9-1 O/U
Chicago 5-10 SU, 5-10 ATS, 6-9 O/U
Where to start with the dysfunctional Giants? Quarterback? Offensive line? Special teams? Soft defense? Take your pick. Fact is, the next meaningful game the Giants will play is a good 8+ months away, and it will be hard to find anyone who wants a piece of this action, even against a team with its own troubles such as Chicago. Both teams will use the final two games of the season to evaluate what they have in the cupboard and what should be thrown out. Wild guess – both teams will have lots of rookies and new HCs come opening day 2022.

LARGEST SPREAD – Jacksonville at New England (-15.5)
Jacksonville 2-13 SU, 4-11 ATS, 4-11 O/U
New England 9-6 SU, 9-6 ATS, 7-8 O/U
The last two weeks have turned the tables in the AFC East, and suddenly the Patriots actually NEED this win. They’ve lost two in a row, they need luck to catch Buffalo (the Bills own the tie-breakers) in the division, and opponents are starting to figure out Mac Jones. No one really thinks Bill Belichick will lose at home for the sixth time this season, but covering 15 and a half seems like a heavy lift for a team whose offense has sprung some leaks. Covering such a heavy number could depend on the Jaguars turning the ball over 3 or 4 times, and Jacksonville is certainly capable of that.

SMALLEST SPREAD – Cleveland at Pittsburgh (+3)
Cleveland 7-8 SU, 7-8 ATS, 7-8 O/U
Pittsburgh 7-7-1 SU, 6-9 ATS, 6-9 O/U
Final game at Heinz for Ben Roethlisberger, who will no doubt try to muster up enough adrenaline to keep the Steelers in the hunt for a playoff berth. Doesn’t mean a lot now with both teams average at best, but Roethlisberger is 23-2-1 vs. Cleveland since he came into the NFL, and undefeated (12-0) at home vs. the Brownies. Still, Pittsburgh is the dog in this one, and for good reason: Four losses in its last six, and coming off a non-competitive 26-point head bashing last Sunday at Kansas City. The Browns, meanwhile, gave Green Bay a good run for its money in losing close, but need to beat Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and hope for some crazy results elsewhere to play beyond the regular season.

LARGEST TOTAL – Arizona at Dallas (49.5)
Arizona 10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS, 7-8 O/U
Dallas 11-4 SU, 12-3 ATS, 7-8 O/U
The Cowboys took no prisoners in their 42-point win over the team formerly known as the Redskins last Sunday, no doubt wishing they could have bottled a few of those points and used them this week. The Boys have been the best cover team in the NFL this season but just middling for Over players, but they kept the pedal down against WFT with nearly 500 total yards. The Cardinals want this game but don’t necessarily NEED it as they play the final two games for playoff seeding. They are concerns in Zona about an offense that has produced only 28 points total in the last two games.

SMALLEST TOTAL – Carolina at New Orleans (38)
Carolina 5-10 SU, 5-10 ATS, 7-8 O/U
New Orleans 7-8 SU, 7-8 ATS, 6-8 O/U
Both teams are in quarterback hell. The Panthers can’t seem to make up their mind between veterans Cam Newton and Sam Darnold, with neither able to generate much of an offense. Who plays in this one is anyone’s guess. Both were booed and had to be defended by HC Matt Rhule, who was also booed. Carolina won’t be getting any sympathy in the Big Easy, where the Saints have QB problems so deep that they were begging Drew Brees to come back for the final few games to keep their playoff hopes alive.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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