NFL Week 17 Picks: Expert Predictions for Saints vs Eagles & Bears vs Lions
Sam Hodde/Getty Images. Pictured: Gardner Minshew.
- Chris Raybon enters Week 17 on a season-long heater in the NFL.
- For the early slate of games in Week 17, he has made two picks.
- Check out Raybon's best bets for the 1 p.m. ET slate on Sunday below.
NFL Odds & Picks
The Saints defense should be able to keep them in this game.
New Orleans has allowed just 15.6 points per game over its last eight and is up to eighth in weighted defensive DVOA. Schematically, the Saints are conservative, blitzing just 16.4% of the time, the seventh-lowest rate in the league.
This could play to their advantage as Gardner Minshew has posted a 79.5 passer rating from a clean pocket and a 62.1 rating when not blitzed this season. Minshew will also be without right tackle Lane Johnson (groin), who ranks as the seventh-best tackle in the league with a 83.2 PFF grade.
Defensively, the Eagles are weaker against the run (16th in weighted DVOA) than the pass (sixth), which aligns with what the Saints want to do offensively. New Orleans’ run game has gotten a huge boost from the return of center Eric McCoy in Week 15. In the 11 games McCoy has suited up, the Saints are averaging 133.1 yards on the ground compared to 61.5 in the four he missed.
Intangible factors should also favor the Saints. While a win would clinch the No. 1 seed for the Eagles, they don’t have much incentive to run up the score, as they obviously don’t want to lose another player the caliber of Johnson.
What’s more, a tie could also clinch if the Vikings lose to the Packers, which is conceivable with the Vikings listed as three-point underdogs on the road. The lower the score is expected to be, the more it benefits the underdog, and we’ve seen that play out time and time again this season.
According to our Action Labs data, underdogs by a field goal or more with a total of 47 or below are 67-42 (61%) ATS this season, covering by 1.9 points per game.
Luck should also be on the Saints’ side, as they rank 24th in our Luck Rankings while the Eagles clock in as the second-luckiest team, a differential of 22 spots. In games with a luck differential of 16 or more, the unluckier team has gone 35-21 (63%) ATS since we began tracking results in Week 3.
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Backing teams eliminated from playoff contention over the last two weeks of the season is a counterintuitive approach that has been consistently profitable.
According to my colleague and Action Network Podcast co-host, Stuckey, eliminated teams playing teams that need to win are 95-57-4 (62%) ATS since 1990. In other words, if there is a motivational advantage that comes with still being alive for a playoff berth, it is already priced in and then some. The Lions fit the bill as a team with an inflated line as they’re still alive heading into the penultimate Sunday of the regular season.
The Lions blitz at the third-highest rate (32.3%), and Justin Fields’ passer rating goes from 81.7 when not blitzed to 105.2 when blitzed. The Lions blitzed Fields on 53.8% of his dropbacks in Week 10, and Fields took advantage by throwing for two touchdowns on his 12 blitzed dropbacks.
Regardless of scheme, the Lions defense is once again a concern after trending up since early November. The Panthers ripped off 320 rushing yards on 43 carries (7.4 yards per carry) and 250 passing yards on 22 attempts (11.4 yards per attempt) for an astounding 570 total yards and 8.8 yards per play.
This is the same Lions defense that allowed 408 total yards and 7.0 yards per play to the Bears in Week 10, which came during Detroit’s “good stretch.” The Bears offense should get a boost with Khalil Herbert in his second game back, Equanimeous St. Brown (no injury designation) set to return from a concussion and Chase Claypool (questionable; knee) trending toward a return.
The Bears defense has been just as much of a disaster, but unlike Detroit, they are trending up. Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon has two picks and ranks 22nd of 106 qualified cornerbacks with a 74.3 PFF coverage grade over the past two weeks. Fellow rookie Jaylon Jones has allowed just 59 yards on 10 targets with two pass breakups over that same span.
Despite having already parted ways with Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith when these teams faced off in Week 10, the Bears defense held the Lions to 323 total yards, Detroit’s lowest output in its last seven games.
The ability of a favorite to bounce back off a big loss tends to be overvalued. Per our Action Labs data, favorites coming off a loss of 10 or more are just 97-122-5 (44%) ATS since 2017. Meanwhile, underdogs coming off a loss of 20 points or more are 108-70-3 (61%) ATS over that same span.
Luck should also be on the Bears’ side. Chicago clocks in as the unluckiest team in the league this season, 11 spots lower than Detroit. In games with a luck differential of 10 or more, the unluckier side has gone 55-41-1 (57%) ATS since we began tracking results in Week 3.