NFL Picks Week #17



University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.



Hi everyone, I hope you had a great Christmas and that you had fun with your relatives. It is freezing here in Quebec City these days, as the current temperature feels like -34 degrees Celsius, or -29 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Weather Network. So if you are living in a warm region, please send us some of your heat!

Ok let’s move on to the serious stuff since we have what should be a very exciting week #17 in the NFL with many playoff implications. Last week our picks went 2-1-1; the Titans covered the +7 spread against the Rams and the Chiefs won by more than 10 points against the Dolphins, but the Bills failed to cover the +12.5 point spread in New England. We got very lucky with the Eagles pick as they scored a meaningless defensive touchdown on the last play of the game to push the -9 spread against the Raiders.


Our updated record is now 33-21-3, which corresponds to a 61.1% success rate. My goal of finishing above 60% is certainly achievable, let’s hope we don’t crash down this week. I’ve got 4 picks and 2 leans for you.

PICK #1: Green Bay Packers +7 at Detroit Lions

I tend to fade teams who are coming off a loss that just eliminated them, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. The Lions are out of the playoff picture following a very disappointing loss in Cincinnati. Their spirits are probably low, while the Packers have had time to digest the fact that they, too, are eliminated.

Green Bay is getting an extra day of rest and preparation since they lost 16-0 against the Vikings last Saturday. Speaking of that loss, quarterback Brett Hundley will do his best to leave a good impression if he wants to get a chance to become a NFL starter someday. I thought he had shown good signs of improvement after throwing 6 touchdown passes versus only one interception over a 3-game period, but he struggled big-time last week against Minnesota. Granted, he was facing one of the toughest defenses in the league, which won’t be the case this week. The Lions have allowed the 8th highest number of points this season.

Back on week #9, the Lions dissected the Packers with 417 total yards of offense versus 311 for Green Bay. They dominated the game from start to finish. Mike McCarthy and his team certainly remember that game, and they’ll do everything they can to leave the Lions fans with a sour taste in their mouth.

PICK #2: Denver Broncos -3 vs Kansas City Chiefs

The only thing I don’t like about this pick is the fact that the Broncos are coming off two consecutive road games, while the Chiefs played at home three matches in a row. However, Kansas City is likely to rest many key players since they are locked into the #4 seed. Head coach Andy Reid has already announced that rookie Patrick Mahomes will be the starting QB, and I expect many other key players to be on the bench. That’s the strategy that Andy Reid adopted in 2013 when he was in the same situation where his team was playing a meaningless game.

Paxton Lynch will start at quarterback for the Broncos. He appeared in one game this year, and three games in 2016. To me, the big difference is Lynch will benefit from a better surrounding cast since the Broncos won’t be resting players.

The line might grow even bigger if Andy Reid clearly states his intention of resting good players, so I suggest grabbing the -3 point spread as soon as possible.

PICK #3: Indianapolis Colts -4 vs Houston Texans

The Colts played last Saturday, while the Texans were on the field for one of the Monday night games, so Indy is benefiting from two more days of preparation. With both teams clearly out of playoff contention, I also feel like Houston is the team who is more likely to pack it in early. They are coming off two bad outings: after losing 45-7 in Jacksonville, they dropped a 34-6 decision against Pittsburgh last week.

Also, I trust quarterback Jacoby Brissett a lot more than T.J. Yates. Brissett has completed close to 59% of his passes compared to an awful 45% for Yates. Brissett has thrown 12 TD passes versus 7 picks, while Yates has 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Indianapolis’ signal caller is also a running threat; he has run for 4 touchdowns this year and has close to 4 rushing attempts per game, on average.

Houston is on a 5-game losing skid and Indy has dropped its past six matches. It’s easier to play softer when playing the final game of the season on the road, as opposed to the Colts who will want to leave a good impression to their faithful fans.

PICK #4: Arizona Cardinals +10 at Seattle Seahawks

These two teams hate each other, as shown by an extremely physical meeting back in week #10. So even though the Cards have nothing to play for, don’t expect them to hand the game to the Seahawks easily. They will fight hard to play spoilers. Their defense has done a tremendous job recently; they have allowed just 27 points over their past three contests, which equals to just 9 points per game. Arizona is 3-2 over their past five games, including wins over Jacksonville and Tennessee.

I’m curious to see how the Seahawks respond in their first game at CenturyLink Field after one of their worst home losses in a very long time. Remember that the Rams demolished the Seahawks by a 42 to 7 score a couple of weeks ago. Will Seattle be on fire, or will they play nervously, especially considering the high stakes at play?

In order to qualify for the postseason, Seattle needs to take care of business against the Cards, and must hope for a Falcons loss against Carolina.

LEAN #1: Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 at Tennessee Titans

I’ve got some very interesting numbers for you about the Jaguars. Did you take a look at how Jacksonville responded following a loss this season? Here is the answer: they are 4-0, outscoring their opponents by a combined 131 to 26 score! Wow, that’s what I call rebounding nicely, winning by an average of 26 points! More specifically, they handled the Ravens 44-7, they beat the Steelers 30-9 in Pittsburgh, they shutout the Colts 27-0 in Indy, and they dismantled those same Colts 30-10. In other words, this Jaguars team comes out firing after a loss.

Despite being locked into the #3 seed, head coach Doug Marrone said he won’t rest any players and that they are all in on beating the Titans. That’s good news for the Ravens, the Bills and the Chargers who are fighting for a playoff spot.

Tennessee has been struggling of late, dropping their past three games. One thing goes in their favor, though: Jacksonville had to travel all the way to San Francisco last week, so fatigue could play a bit of a role. However, Jacksonville will be looking to avenge a bad 37-16 home loss back on week #2. The Jags would be happy to knock out of the playoffs their division rivals.

LEAN #2: Los Angeles Chargers -8 vs Oakland Raiders

Once again I’m counting on the Raiders to give up following two heartbreaking losses in a row. Remember that they lost a crazy Sunday Night game against the Cowboys by a 20-17 score when Derek Carr fumbled close to Dallas’ end zone with about 30 seconds left. Last week they put out a great effort in Philadelphia, but came up short once again.


Meanwhile, the Chargers will be firing on all cylinders as they need a win, plus a Tennessee loss, and either a Buffalo loss or a Baltimore win to clinch a playoff spot. I don’t like the way they have played their past two matches, though; they lost 30-13 in Kansas City and barely beat the Jets 14-7 last week despite finishing +3 in terms of turnovers and facing a bad quarterback in Bryce Petty. They will need to step up their game against Oakland this week, and I believe they will but I’m not confident enough to place a bet on them.

Notice that the Raiders are losing one day of preparation after playing on Monday Night. They will also be playing a third road game in four matches, including a long travel to Philly last week. Granted, the Chargers also traveled on the East Coast on week 16 after facing the Jets.

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I’ll be back next week for picks for the wild card weekend. As you already know, I usually don’t make picks on every single game because not all of them provide a value bet. For example, there were a few weeks where I came up with only 2 picks and I decided to stay away from the other ones. During the playoffs, I’ll make an exception. I will be discussing every game and making a pick for each one, but I’ll do it for entertainment purposes only. These picks won’t count towards my official record. However, I’ll let you know my level of confidence in each pick. There will be games where I would usually stay away, but I’ll still try to make a good pick, just for fun.

All right, so thanks a lot for being here, I hope you were able to profit from my picks this season, I wish you good luck for week #17 and I’m looking forward to talking to you again for the playoffs next week. Since this is my last post in 2017, I want to wish you a Happy New Year in advance, may 2018 bring you good health, happiness and profitable sports investments! Cheers everyone!

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Professor MJ