NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers Among Week 17 Spreads To Target
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers.
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
I’ll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings‘ Pro Football Millionaire Pick’Em contest. Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. But you can check real-time NFL odds here.
I’ll also outline the rest of my betting card for the week below (click here to skip ahead).
NFL ATS Picks For Week 17
Here were the five sides for this week’s pick’em contest entry:
- Chiefs -5.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Rams -3.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Cowboys -5.5: 4:25 p.m. ET
- Packers -6.5: 8:20 p.m. ET
- Steelers +3.5: 8:20 p.m. ET
Due to COVID and injury concerns among NFL teams, as well as the lack of available information early in the week, we’ve changed many of our preliminary list of picks given out in our weekly YouTube segment and have finalized our picks in this week’s column below.
1. Chiefs -5.5 vs. Raiders
After starting the season 3-4, the Chiefs have won eight straight games while covering six straight against the spread. Since Week 8 the Chiefs defense is third in EPA/play, fourth in Drop back EPA and third in Drop back Success Rate while holding teams to just 12.87 points per game.
Over the last eight games, only two teams have scored 17 points or more. The Chiefs are seventh in pressure rate and 10th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate. They’ll take on a Bengals offensive line which is 30th in ESPN’s pass block win rate, so the Chiefs should be able to get to Joe Burrow.
The biggest reason I like the Chiefs in this matchup is the other side of the ball. Patrick Mahomes and a full-strength offense with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill should be able to capitalize on this Bengals defense. The Bengals are 14th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, despite playing the 14th-ranked schedule of opposing offenses. This is a team that gave up 34 points to the Jets, 41 points to the Browns and 41 points to the Chargers.
Nonetheless, the Bengals have a track record of struggling against above-average offenses, and it should continue here against the Chiefs. With the Bengals likely to be the public underdog of the week, I love this spot to lay the 5.5 points on the Chiefs and potentially pick up a game on the field, should most people play the Bengals.
2. Rams -3.5 at Ravens
I was really reluctant to play this game with the Rams playing their second straight road game on the East Coast with a 1 p.m. ET start time, but the situation is just simply too good to pass up. We’ve faded this Ravens team for the past four weeks for the same exact reason: injuries.
The Baltimore secondary is depleted by injuries to star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The Ravens are also dealing with absences to Marcus Peters and DeShon Elliott. Although Chris Westry and Jimmy Smith are set to the return, it’s a tall task to expect this team to slow down Cooper Kupp who leads the league in receiving with 1,734 yards and is on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season receiving record of 1,964 yards.
They’ll also have to deal with Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. The Ravens are 30th in Dropback EPA/play and are dead last in explosive pass play defense, allowing 12% of passes to go for 20 yards or more.
On the other side of the ball, Lamar Jackson is set to return, but he hasn’t looked good in practice, and if he can’t move, he’s in a tough position against this Rams pass rush. Look for the Rams to cover the 3.5 points.
3. Cowboys -5.5 vs. Cardinals
This game feels like what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The Cardinals are 7-1 ATS on the road this season, while the Cowboys have been a covering machine, going 12-3 against the number this season.
While many may look at this six-point spread as being inflated, given the original look-a-head number of Cowboys -2.5, but I beg to differ. Using full-season priors, it’s clear this number is inflated, but it’s clear that the full season isn’t indicative of what this Cardinals team is today at this present moment.
As this Cardinals team limps into the postseason, we could be looking back on this team the same way we did the 2020-21 Steelers who started the season 11-0 before losing four out of their final five games and were subsequently eliminated in the wild-card round of the postseason.
And unfortunately for the Cardinals, late-season collapses aren’t a new thing for head coach Kliff Kingsbury:
- Cardinals’ Record Before Week 8 Under Kliff Kingsbury: 15-5-1
- Cardinals’ Record Week 8 And Later Under Kliff Kingsbury: 8-19
Nonetheless, it’s no surprise that this Cardinals offense has fallen off a cliff (pun intended).
The offense ranks bottom five in points and is just 23rd in EPA/play, 26th in Dropback EPA and 21st in Dropback Success Rate. Given the absence of DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona should continue to struggle against a Cowboys defense that is first in success rate and has pressured opposing quarterbacks on 39% of drop backs since the return of DeMarcus Lawrence in Week 13.
Given the struggles of the Cardinals defense and the inability to stop the run, I don’t see this team keeping up with Dak Prescott and this Cowboys offense which has found their groove after a 56-14 win over the Washington Football Team. Lay the six points with the Cowboys.
4. Packers -6.5 vs. Vikings
It’s slim pickings for NFL games that I like this week. I have to pick a game in which the the line is stale due to the absence of Kirk Cousins who will miss Sunday night’s game after entering the COVID-19/Reserve List. While this felt like the ideal spot to take the Vikings, given their conservative style of play and tendency to run the ball, at some point you’ll have to be able to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and this Packers offense.
Without Cousins at quarterback and wide receiver Adam Thielen, the Vikings are facing an uphill battle. With this number reaching 13 on the current betting markets, it’s advantageous for us take the stale number on the Packers at -6.5 in a game which will likely be on everyone’s card tomorrow. With us being in the money in the DraftKings Contest, this is a good play to help us maintain our position.
5. Steelers +3.5 vs. Browns
This is a prime “Rah Rah” Mike Tomlin spot against a Browns team which is just 3-5 as a favorite this year. The Steelers have historically been very good in this spot as an underdog under Mike Tomlin going 13-3-2 (81.3%) at home and 43-23-2 (65.2%) overall.
Ben Roethlisberger is likely playing the final home game of his career against the Browns who he’s dominated at Heinz Field, going 8-5 (66.7%) throughout his career.
While all the trends point to the Steelers, from a football perspective the Browns will be missing both of their starting safeties in John Johnson III (hamstring) and Ronnie Harrison Jr. (ankle), in addition to CB Troy Hill (knee).
Nonetheless, I’m expecting Roethlisberger to have no problems getting the ball to Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. The Browns should have some advantages running the ball, but given how Baker Mayfield has played over the stretch of this season, this feels like a pick em game. My math model makes this game Browns -1.5, so at +3.5 I feel like I’m getting a positive expected value proposition.