NFL Picks Week #17 (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #17)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Tuesday December 27th, 2022 at 10 am Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
This article will present my top 3 NFL picks for Week 17.
We suffered a small setback last week via a 1-2 record with my official NFL picks. No big deal after posting a 7-4 record over the previous four weeks, right?
Let’s rebound right away with a winning week, shall we?
Ready, set, go!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): CLEVELAND BROWNS +3 AT WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Most sportsbooks currently have a spread of 2.5, but I’m buying the half point for extra security. But that’s just my personal preference.
Over the entire season, the Commanders’ defense ranks 8th in terms of the EPA statistic compared to 25th for the Browns. So, on the surface, Washington seems to have the much superior defense. However, if you only focus on the past five weeks, Washington ranks 20th versus second for Cleveland! You read that right: the Browns have the second-best defense in the league since Week 12.
Indeed, the Browns’ defense seems to have waken up after a slow start. They have allowed just 14.8 points per game since Week 12. The team as a whole has been playing better, as evidenced by their 3-2 record, with one of those losses occurring on the road against the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals.
Meanwhile, can’t you feel how the Commanders seem to be crashing down? After winning six of seven games, they have now posted an 0-2-1 record during the past three matches. Their offense has not scored more than 20 points in any of their past four games. For this reason, beating the Browns by 4 points or more seems pretty unlikely to me.
Deshaun Watson’s completion percentage went from 55% to 62% to 64% in his first three games. He seemed to be progressing. He completed less than 50% of his passes against the Saints last week, but the weather conditions made it difficult, so I would not read too much into it. I am hopeful that he can do enough to pull off the win in Washington, or at the very least to keep it within three points.
Here are some trends to consider:
- The Browns are 4-1 ATS following a straight up loss;
- The Commanders are 1-5 ATS after an ATS loss;
- Washington holds a 1-6 record ATS after allowing more than 150 rushing yards.
In summary, I like how the Browns have performed lately, and even though they are eliminated from the playoff race I believe they can keep up with a reeling Commanders team. I’m taking Cleveland +3 points in Washington.
PICK #2 (2 STARS): UNDER 21.5 FIRST HALF COWBOYS-TITANS
I don’t have actual data about this, but here is an observation I have made recently: when a team starts a QB that we expect to struggle a lot, games tend to be low scoring. It seems like the team’s defense does everything it can in order to keep the game tight for its inexperienced signal caller.
For example, last week the Cards started Trace McSorley in his first NFL start. At halftime, the score was tied 6-6. Arizona’s defense did a great job.
The Titans started Malik Willis against the Texans and at halftime the score was 10-7. You might even include the Falcons, whose game was 14-3 at halftime in Desmond Ridder’s second NFL start.
Each of the Cowboys’ past five games have led to the “over” being the winning bet. However, the “under” has generated an impressive 10-2 record in Tennessee’s last 12 home games. Something’s gotta give this Thursday!
The Titans’ defensive unit knows they must step up their game because Malik Willis won’t put up many points on the board. I think Tennessee’s defense will play super hard, especially in front of their home fans, to stop Dak Prescott and company.
My main concern are injuries. Right now the Titans have six defensive starters listed as questionable. Hopefully, the majority of them suits up on Thursday night.
My NFL statistical model projects 19.2 points to be scored during the first half of this game. Give me under 21.5 points here.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): SEATTLE SEAHAWKS +0.5 FIRST HALF VS NEW YORK JETS
Both teams hold a 1-5 record over their past six games, and both teams desperately need a win to improve their chances of reaching the postseason.
Mike White will be back under center for the Jets. He is certainly an improvement over Zach Wilson, who looked miserable.
However, keep in mind that White did well against the vulnerable Bears defense before struggling quite a bit in his next two games: at the Vikings and at the Bills. In those outings, he threw 0 TD pass versus two interceptions.
After a super-hot start, Geno Smith seems to be fading. What the heck is happening to him? He has already beaten two of his former teams this year: the Chargers and the Giants. Why not make it three against the team that drafted him back in 2013?
The Jets will be traveling through three time zones to play this game. I don’t trust Mike White to move the ball consistently, especially in the first half after missing two games. He could be rusty early on, which is one of the reasons I chose to go with the FIRST HALF spread, rather than the full game spread.
Based on those arguments, I am betting the Seahawks to either win the first half, or keep the score tied at halftime. In my opinion, this event has more than a 52% chance implied by the current line.
Here are a few predictions that are borderline acceptable, in my humble opinion. For now, I am not betting them, but I might consider taking a stab later in the week:
- Bears +6 at Lions (Detroit got hammered in Carolina last week, and I believe that will shake their confidence. They allowed a jaw-dropping 320 RUSHING yards to the Panthers. Back in Week 10, the Bears squandered a 24-10 lead through three quarters against those same Lions before losing 31-30. Therefore, the revenge factor goes in full effect. Here is a betting system that I trust: betting a bad team on the road in a divisional matchup, coming off a loss by a margin of at least 8 points. Since Chicago qualifies as a “bad” team and they lost by a 22-point margin against Buffalo last week, I like the Bears. This system has generated a 60-40-2 record ATS over several seasons, by the way.);
- Vikings +3.5 at Packers (How often will you see a 12-3 team being a 3.5-point underdog when playing on the road against a team with a 7-8 record? I know the Vikings may not be as good as their record indicates, and that Green Bay has been playing better of late, but a 3.5-point spread seems too high to me. The game will be played in cold temperatures, but in my opinion Minnesota has what it takes to keep the game close. Dalvin Cook has had a quiet season, but I think he goes off against a very suspect Green Bay run defense.);
- Patriots -2.5 vs Dolphins (New England will be looking to avenge a 20-7 defeat suffered in the opening week of the 2022 NFL season. The Pats played last Saturday, while the Dolphins battled with the Packers on Sunday, so Miami loses one day of preparation compared to their AFC East rivals. Tua might miss the game, but even if he plays he has been completing just 52% of his passes in December, the second-lowest figure in the NFL, just ahead of Trace McSorley. Finally, let’s mention the fact that Miami will be on the road for the fourth time over the past five weeks.).
I wish you all a great Holiday period!!!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)