Many of the games this week have big play-off implications. You can read all about those here….. If however your team is in a dead rubber so to speak, get a sneak peak below. For one final time this year, welcome to your preview of all things Week 17.
We will be giving away a t-shirt of your team’s choice to the competition winner at season-end, along with a weekly prize to any entrant who manages to predict the outcome of all games correctly in any given week. If we get over 100 entrants, we will give away a jersey instead of a t-shirt as the overall prize, so get involved and sign up your mates.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Spread / TAM-7.0
Tom Brady and company are cooking just at the right time. TB12 could have comfortably broken the single NFL passing game record on Boxing Day had he bothered to come out for the second half. Still, Blaine Gabbert tossed the rock around with glee as the Bucs look to tune up ready for meaningful games from next week and beyond. With a likely visit to Washington next week and that ferocious pass rush, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see plenty of short passes and a focus on the run game to get it in sync. The Falcons should have beaten the Chiefs last weekend. The Falcons should have won more games than they have this year. The AJ Terrel drop of a would-be game-clinching interception was a microcosm of their season; close but yet so far. It feels like a rebuild is on the horizon in Georgia as this will likely be the last time we see Raheem Morris on the sidelines. A promising start to his interim management gave hopes of a permanent offering but that now seems unlikely.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – TAM
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions – Spread / DET+7.0
The Vikings were embarrassed on Christmas Day, shipping 52 points to the Saints. Of course, Alvin Kamara rightly grabbed the headlines but the resistance, or lack of, from this Vikings D was abysmal. All year, offensively they have been competitive with Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson as good as any WR/RB combo going, but more often than not that porous D has let them down. Mike Zimmer was feisty in his press conferences this week: is he another man on a very hot seat? The Lions of course have already made their head coaching decision and the off-season can’t come quickly enough. On the positive side, they are likely to have Matt Stafford healthy enough to go in this one so at least they will not be subjected to Chase Daniel to bring in the new year. There is plenty of chatter however that this could be his last game in a Lions uniform. Watch this space.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – DET
New York Jets @ New England Patriots – Spread / NE-3.0
All of a sudden the Jets have found some form. Back-to-back wins after going 13 long weeks without have Gang Green
happy angered at missing out on Trevor Lawrence. The defence played well against a short-handed Browns last weekend, with the rushing defence particularily impressive. That will give them confidence to end the season with a three-game streak as we all know the Patriots are terrible at throwing the football. The Cam Newton experiment has quite simply failed. He looks a shadow of his former MVP self and the position needs addressing in the offseason (see Matt Stafford above). It’s the first time in forever the Patriots are playing a Week 17 game without the play-offs either on the line or in the bag so it could at least be entertaining. Who am I trying to kid? This could be the worst game of the year; field goals anyone?
Shaun’s Spread Pick – NYJ
LA Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs – Spread / KC+3.5
You haven’t read that spread wrong, the Chargers are favoured on the road against the Champs. Probably more to do with the fact that many of the Chiefs regular cast members will be sitting out the week, which is mildly surprising considering they have secured a bye next week anyway. Still, wrapping Mahomes and company in cotton wool in a meaningless game for them is probably sensible. The Chargers have all of a sudden found the formula to win close games and have been victors of three in a row. Hopefully for fans of the team, it is coming too late to save Anthony Lynn’s job as back-to-back underwhelming seasons shouldn’t be glossed over. A chance of course in this one for Justin Herbert to now extend his NFL rookie passing touchdown record to close out his impressive camapign.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – KC
Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos – Spread / DEN+2.5
Had Vegas not given up the best “no look” pass in NFL history to the Dolphins last weekend, then this game might have meant something. As it is, a team that once again looked really good around 10-11 weeks into the season are nose diving towards the finishing line. Nelson Agholor, however, is playing himself into reclamation project of the year reckoning, he has been great. The Raiders are a truly talented group that are surely just some good coaching away from doing something special. The Broncos have been the most up and down team I think I have written about this year. I’m pleased to hear that Vic Fangio will be coming back as I truly believe with better luck on the injury front, the Broncos could make some noise. Drew Lock will be the question mark throughout the off-season so he will want to sign off with one of his better days.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – DEN
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers – Spread / CAR+6.5
So the Saints looked pretty good last week, right? Yes I know about Alvin Kamara and his record day but bigger picture… Drew Brees looked more comfortable. If the Saints are really serious about a deep play-off run, they will need the old man to be playing well. It could be more of Kamara this week however against a Carolina team that have consistently been beaten up in the running game. Carolina themselves are a difficult team to evaluate but on the whole, you have to say 4-11 has been disappointing. Yes, they have played without Run CMC for much of the season but despite some early season promise, they have faded away. Teddy Bridgewater against his former employers adds a small amount of intrigue as you would have to say based on what we have seen this year, the Saints were right to move on.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – NO
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers – Spread / SF+6.5
The pre-season favourite to be the Week 17 SNF flex ends up in the bargain bucket. The Seahawks have the divisional crown, while the 49ers are out of the play-off running. Yet the Niners proved last week in victory over the Cardinals that they are more than happy to play spoiler. The defence still plays hard and despite the limitations on offence, they will be more than a match for Russell Wilson and co. In fact, the Seahawks offence has kind of vanished in recent weeks. The much-maligned defence from the first half of the year has been steadily improving and is now becomming the main factor behind Seahawk victories. With just one regular season game left, I’m sure Pete Carroll will be trying to establish a greater balance.
Shaun’s Spread Pick – SF
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