The penultimate week of the 2021-22 NFL season is nearly upon us, and there’s still so much yet to be decided in the playoff standings. 14 of the 16 games in Week 17 feature at least one team in playoff contention, while nine of them feature two teams that still have a chance to get into the postseason.
Week 17’s biggest matchups include:
- The 11-4 Kansas City Chiefs looking to lock up a first-round bye against the 9-6 Cincinnati Bengals, who can still earn a bye themselves if Kansas City loses out
- The 8-7 Miami Dolphins look for their 8th straight win, and a playoff spot, against a 10-5 Tennessee Titans squad clinging to the AFC South lead
- The 8-7 Las Vegas Raiders fighting to stay alive against the 9-6 Indianapolis Colts, who could be without starting quarterback Carson Wentz
- The 11-4 Los Angeles Rams looking to lock up the NFC West while the 8-7 Baltimore Ravens try to keep their season alive
- The 10-5 Arizona Cardinals looking to end their slide against the 11-4 Dallas Cowboys
- The 7-8 Minnesota Vikings making a last-ditch effort to stay in the NFC Wildcard race, while the 12-3 Green Bay Packers aim to lock up the NFC’s #1 seed on Sunday Night Football
- The 7-8 Cleveland Browns and 7-7-1 Pittsburgh Steelers squaring off to each potentially stay in the AFC playoff race for one more week
With no shortage of important games, let’s dive right in to my Week 17 picks. To debate or discuss these picks, be sure to join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.
Week 1: 6-10
Week 2: 12-4
Week 3: 11-5
Week 4: 12-4
Week 5: 13-3
Week 6: 10-4
Week 7: 9-4
Week 8: 9-6
Week 9: 5-9
Week 10: 9-4-1
Week 11: 12-3
Week 12: 6-9
Week 13: 9-5
Week 14: 12-2
Week 15: 9-7
Week 16: 13-3
Overall: 152-73-1 (68%)
Week 16 was tied for my strongest showing of the season for a full slate of games. One of my losses was a blindside upset (Houston beating the Chargers) while my other two incorrect picks were toss-ups between the Seahawks/Bears and Broncos/Raiders.
In Week 16 I incorrectly predicted:
- Chargers over Texans
- Seahawks over Bears
- Broncos over Raiders
See Also: 2021-22 NFL Season Predictions
- AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West
- NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West
- Playoff Predictions and Super Bowl Matchup
- Midseason Predictions and Super Bowl 56 Matchup
- Half Season MVP Watch
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-5.0)
Joe Burrow absolutely tore up Baltimore’s depleted secondary last week in a 41-21 win over the Ravens, tallying 525 passing yards and four touchdowns. But that was against an injury/COVID-riddled Ravens defense: the Kansas City Chiefs defense hasn’t been letting anything fly lately, and smothered the Steelers last week in a 36-10 win.
Hopefully, we get a good game between these two AFC division leaders. The Bengals can even earn the #1 seed in the AFC with a head-to-head win over the Chiefs this week, paired with a Bengals win and Chiefs loss in Week 18. However, I think Cincinnati’s hot play won’t be enough to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s stingy defense.
Chiefs win 31-23, Chiefs win ATS
Atlanta Falcons (7-8) at Buffalo Bills (9-6)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-14.5)
Despite just two wins separating their records, these teams aren’t very close at all. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills aren’t perfect, but they tend to beat bad teams, and last week, made a huge statement by upsetting the Patriots on their home turf to claim the AFC East lead. As the Bills return to Buffalo to try and maintain their AFC East lead, I don’t think they’ll allow an Atlanta Falcons team that barely snuck past Tim Boyle and the Lions to spoil their playoff aspirations.
Bills win 34-22, Falcons win ATS
New York Giants (4-11) at Chicago Bears (5-10)
Line: Chicago Bears (-6.0)
In one of the few games this week that features two teams eliminated from playoff contention, the Chicago Bears, fresh off a wintery win in snowy Seattle, take on an ice-cold New York Giants squad. Interestingly, the Giants own the Bears first-round draft pick, so one of their picks will improve as a result of this game while the other will not.
Whether the Giants throw Mike Glennon, Jake Fromm, or heck, even a retired Eli Manning, at quarterback, the team just isn’t playing winning football right now. Assuming Nick Foles starts for a second week in a row, h should be able to lead Chicago to victory.
Bears win 24-15, Bears win ATS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at New York Jets (4-11)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.0)
The New York Jets only play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once every four seasons, but they’ll see a familiar face opposite their defense: Tom Brady. With a 29-7 career record against his old AFC East rivals, Brady should have no problem taking care of the New York one more time. Zach Wilson and the Jets are coming off a win over the Jaguars, but won’t be able to keep up offensively or defensively.
Buccaneers win 33-13, Buccaneers win ATS
Miami Dolphins (8-7) at Tennessee Titans (10-5)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
This is a tough game to pick featuring two AFC playoff contenders. Of course, the Miami Dolphins are one of the hottest teams in football, with seven straight wins, but have feasted largely on teams that aren’t all that good. The Tennessee Titans were in the middle of a 1-3 slump before defeating the 49ers 20-17 last week to maintain their AFC South lead.
This should be a good, back-and-forth football game, with neither team quite able to put the other one away. Overall, I think the Titans are probably the better team, but I don’t mind taking Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins in the underdog role.
Dolphins win 23-20, Dolphins win ATS
Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) at Indianapolis Colts (9-6)
Line: No Line
With Carson Wentz testing positive for COVID-19, the outcome of this game is uncertain, but with new CDC and NFL guidelines, Wentz could actually play on Sunday if he isn’t experiencing symptoms. Sam Ehlinger, a 2021 sixth round pick out of Texas, is the Indianapolis Colts backup, and while that would mean a downgrade in the passing game, perhaps Jonathan Taylor could run all over the Las Vegas Raiders defense and carry the Colts to victory all by himself.
For now, I’ll offer a split pick based on who starts, as realistically, Indianapolis’s chances of winning drops drastically if they’re forced to go with the rookie under center on Sunday.
Wentz Starts: Colts win 31-17
Ehlinger Starts: Raiders win 16-13
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) at New England Patriots (9-6)
Line: New England Patriots (-15.5)
The New England Patriots have lost back-to-back games, as well as the AFC East lead, but get a reprieve in Week 17 against a hapless Jacksonville Jaguars team. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in over a month, and Jacksonville is 0-7 away from home this season. Surprisingly, with a record as solid as 9-6, New England is just 3-5 at home, but should have no problem taking care of business against the NFLs weakest team.
Patriots win 27-15, Jaguars win ATS
Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) at Washington Football Team (6-9)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
Don’t count out Washington Football Team here despite last week’s embarrassing 56-14 loss to the Cowboys. Washington has been banged up the past few weeks, including the prior week’s 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The schedule makers really weren’t creative with Washington’s schedule, as they alternate matchups with the Cowboys and Eagles for four straight weeks. But with some more key players available, Taylor Heincke and company could give Philadelphia a harder time this go-around.
I’m still picking Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, but it’s one of my least confident picks of the week: I absolutely wouldn’t be surprised if Washington spoiled the Eagles playoffs chances with an upset.
Eagles win 26-23, Washington wins ATS
Los Angeles Rams (11-4) at Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
If desperation counts for anything, then the Baltimore Ravens just might have a chance here. Baltimore has lost four straight games, with the first three coming by two points or less against the Steelers, Browns, and Packers. Unfortunately, it’s unclear if Lamar Jackson will be ready to go, but even getting Tyler Huntley, as well as other players from the COVID list, back would be a welcome addition.
While Huntley and the Ravens have gone toe-to-toe with the likes of the Packers, the Los Angeles Rams are still the hotter team in every way. Matthew Stafford, Odell Beckham Jr. and company should be able to keep about a touchdown difference between themselves and the Ravens on Sunday.
Rams win 30-23, Rams win ATS
Denver Broncos (7-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5)
Both AFC West squads are coming off Week 16 losses that dampened their playoff chances: Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos narrowly lost to the Raiders, while Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers suffered a head-scratching loss to the Houston Texans. This of course came just a week after the Chargers took the Chiefs to overtime. Los Angeles also defeated Kansas City i Week 3, but lost to Denver 28-13 a little over a month ago.
This division rivalry game could go either way, but even after last week’s loss, I trust the Chargers just a little more.
Chargers win 27-23, Broncos win ATS
Houston Texans (4-11) at San Francisco 49ers (8-7)
Line: San Francisco 49ers (-12.5)
Don’t look now, but Davis Mills and the Houston Texans have won two games in a row. Can they make it three, and spoil the San Francisco 49ers playoff chances? The 49ers are coming off a narrow loss to the Titans, but should have an easier time handling Houston. I don’t think San Francisco will make as many mistakes as the Chargers did, which allowed the Texans to beat them last week. Jimmy Garoppolo, Elijah Mitchell, and Deebo Samuel should lead a slow, balanced attack against Houston to keep the 49ers in playoff position.
49ers win 30-16, 49ers win ATS
Sak Sports Blog Game of the Week: Arizona Cardinals (10-5) at Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-5.5)
In the only matchup of Week 17 featuring two teams with 10 wins or more, the reeling Arizona Cardinals take on the Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off a 56-point performance against Washington. Dallas enters this game on a four-game winning streak, while Arizona has lost three straight and hasn’t looked the same without DeAndre Hopkins.
So why am I picking the Cardinals? Quite a few reasons, thanks for asking. Simply put, I think the Cardinals bleeding will stop, and they won’t lose out to end the regular season. And while Dallas has been hot, they haven’t beaten a team in the current playoff field since knocking off the Patriots in Week 6.
This may not be my smartest pick, as the Cardinals really aren’t the same team without Hopkins. But I’m going with my gut, and after all, I can’t pick the favorites in every matchup. Give me Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in a redemption win, which also gives them a head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas for potential seeding purposes.
Cardinals win 27-22, Cardinals win ATS
Carolina Panthers (5-10) at New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
The Carolina Panthers have been downright bad during their latest five-game losing streak. Sam Darnold returning at quarterback isn’t nearly enough to fix Carolina’s problems, and no matter who plays quarterback for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon, they should be favored to win. The Saints have better players on both sides of the ball, and should be able to even their record to 8-8 in this NFC South matchup.
Saints win 23-16, Saints win ATS
Detroit Lions (2-12-1) at Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-7.0)
The Detroit Lions have been pesky over the last four to six weeks, upsetting superior teams or otherwise giving them a hard time. The Seattle Seahawks are a vulnerable team, but the second I pick the Lions, the opposite result will happen. I’d expect Detroit to play like they did last week in a 20-16 loss to the Falcons: they’ll keep it close and maybe even take a late lead, but ultimately fall short.
Seahawks win 22-17, Lions win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings (7-8) at Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers can lock up the #1 seed in the NFC by defeating Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. Minnesota was actually the last team to beat Green Bay, winning 34-31 five weeks ago, but this game will take place at Lambeau Field, where the Packers are a perfect 7-0 on the season. Throw in the Vikings losing Adam Thielen for the season, and the Packers should be able to put the finishing touches on a #1 finish in the NFC this Sunday night.
Packers win 30-24, Vikings win ATS
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns (7-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)
Line: Cleveland Browns (-3.0)
The Cleveland Browns lost to the Packers on Christmas Day: by two points, despite four interceptions from Baker Mayfield. Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers looked absolutely lost on both sides of the ball in a 36-10 loss to the Chiefs last week. Neither team is playing their best football right now, but its clear that the Browns are in much better shape at this moment in time. In what could be Big Ben’s final home game of his career, the Steelers fail to overcome the Browns, ending their season’s playoff chances.
Browns win 26-20, Browns win ATS
- 2021-22 NFL Power Rankings: Post-Week 1, Post-Week 2, Post-Week 3, Post-Week 4, Post-Week 5, Post-Week 6, Post-Week 7, Post-Week 8, Post-Week 9, Post-Week 10, Post-Week 11, Post-Week 12, Post-Week 13, Post-Week 14, Post-Week 15, Post-Week 16
- 2021-22 NFL Picks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15, Week 16
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