Week 17 NFL Picks

Jaren Hall is the right answer, Hurts is not Wentz but kind of is, and all the teams that will miss the playoffs because they mismanaged their replacement quarterbacks.

Last Week:  7 – 8 – 1
Season:       113 – 113 – 5

Look at me. Perfectly mediocre through 16 weeks.

Thursday (8:15PM ET)

Jets 20 at Browns 37
That was a cool moment for Cleveland. Not sure I’m willing to back Joe Flacco in a playoff game, but the Browns overcoming all their injuries this season is a great story and also a testament to what a great defense can accomplish.

Saturday (8:15PM ET)

Lions at Cowboys
It’s been a pleasure watching the Dallas Cowboys fall flat on their face the last two weeks. Dak Prescott was real good in Miami, especially on that final drive, so it’s not like the team can’t perform well on the road. Even in a loss, that alone should give Dallas fans some hope for the postseason where they’ll likely be on the road throughout. I think Dallas routs the Lions. Unless Detroit rushes for 200+ yards I don’t see how their defense survives. COWBOYS -5.5

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Patriots at Bills
I don’t know… it still feels like the same disappointing Buffalo team is lingering, ready to pop out at the absolute worst time. Losing to a hapless division rival at home would be peak Bills. I don’t think it will happen, but last week was a near disaster for Buffalo. I understand all the factors in play (new coach theory, on the road against a bad team during the holidays, big win hangover, etc, etc…), but that was still gross. The Bills and Eagles should meet in the Super Bowl just so we can watch two teams who can’t get anything straight fight it out for 60 minutes and then both try to lose in devastating fashion. I know we already saw it, but it was exciting then, too. PATRIOTS +14

Falcons at Bears
The NFC was massively mismanaged this season. It became clear in October there were three teams head and shoulders above the rest and a fourth lingering behind. That left an entire division up for grabs and two Wildcard spots. Washington, Atlanta and Minnesota all fumbled their quarterback situation so badly that none will likely make the playoffs. Desmond Ridder should’ve been benched after Halloween. The Vikings kept starting the wrong quarterback after the Kirk Cousins injury, and Washington let Sam Howell flounder for a full month. I don’t necessarily believe Taylor Heinicke would’ve led the Falcons to an NFC South title, but it was painfully clear Ridder absolutely would not and yet he continued to start. FALCONS +2.5

Raiders at Colts
The Raiders get shut out. The Raiders score 63 points. The Raiders don’t score an offensive touchdown and have zero passing yards in the final three quarters and still win. It’s been a wild three-week stretch for Las Vegas. I loved the Colts in Atlanta last week even without Michael Pittman Jr. and man was I wrong. He makes so many plays out of nothing for them and the Colts could not throw the ball or convert a 3rd down without him. He’s trending toward returning this week. If he’s back, I think the Colts roll in a do or die situation at home. COLTS -3.5

Rams at Giants
Everyone hates on the Giants but that’s a playoff team in the NFC if they had a quarterback (remember, the NFC is bad). Brian Daboll is the best coach in the NFC East. When he gets enough of his guys in that locker room the Giants will be a problem. The Rams will be a problem in the NFC playoffs. They’re the hottest team in the NFC and a road overtime loss to the Ravens was their only slip up since Week 9. Good luck to the three seed in the NFC playoffs. RAMS -5.5

Cardinals at Eagles
Even in victory the Eagles are a mess. The coach has lost the locker room to an extent; you can see the panic and the players are no longer shy about how unhappy they are with the scheming and direction of the team. I still think the 2022 version of Jalen Hurts rises above the muck and nullifies most of the issues plaguing this team; sloppy offense, missed opportunities, subpar defense. Unfortunately, the 2023 version was not an upgrade. Hurts’ 2023 season resembles Carson Wentz’s 2018 season after a stellar 2017 MVP worthy campaign. Don’t believe me?

2018 Wentz (11 games): 279/401, 3,074, 69.6%, 21 TD, 7 Ints, 6 fumbles lost
2023 Hurts (15 games): 327/499, 3,636, 65.5%, 20 TD, 13 Ints, 5 fumbles lost
The biggest difference here is beyond the stats. Wentz lost the locker room. Hurts has universal approval and is beloved. The play on the field is alarming nonetheless. I’m trying not to think bad thoughts but it gets more and more difficult every week. CARDINALS +11

Saints at Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield was available to anyone with a roster spot. Mayfield is top ten in yards per attempt, touchdowns, and interceptions. He’s 12th in yards. Not bad for a game manager. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say any team outside of Carolina would’ve won the NFC South if they chose Mayfield. BUCCANEERS -2.5

49ers at Commanders
On the one hand, you can’t feel great about Brock Purdy melting down in a huge game if you’re a 49ers fan. On the other hand, he crushed the Cowboys and Eagles, the Lions defense is a joke and the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC still goes through San Francisco. I think if Kyle Shanahan was given truth serum, he’d say the Rams are the biggest hazard on the road to Super Bowl 58. Speaking of melting down… Sam Howell’s last five games look like this… 0-5, 2 TD, 8 Ints, benched twice, completion percentages of 52.2, 42.3 and 27.3. The Commanders are a mess. 49ERS -13.5

Panthers at Jaguars
Bryce Young looked his best yet in the 2nd half against the Packers last week. It was also his 3rd straight game without an interception. He also threw his first touchdown pass in over a month. Not sure how you can play quarterback in today’s NFL and not throw a touchdown in four consecutive games but Young found a way. As for Trevor Lawrence… he’s playing like he’s injured. He throws balls that land so far short/wide/beyond receivers that injury is the only explanation. I said this weeks ago and it’s still true, Jacksonville has been a mess since their running game fell off a cliff. A year ago the Jaguars stormed into the playoffs with a 6-1 record after Thanksgiving. They’re 1-4 this year. JAGUARS -6

Dolphins at Ravens
There’s too many early games this week. This matchup was a thriller early in 2022 and it deserves our undivided attention. Not sure why they couldn’t bump it to later, especially when looking at the lackluster options in the late window. I want to take the Dolphins but no Jaylen Waddle is a big hole to fill. Remember when Chase Claypool was good at football? RAVENS -3

Titans at Texans
I can’t decide. Of the Colts, Texans (or Jaguars), Steelers, Bengals, who is the more exciting playoff watch? It’s the Bengals, right? Even without Burrow the offense still has so many weapons. I’d say Texans but that offense is 20% less fun without Tank Dell. TITANS +4.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Steelers at Seahawks
Seattle wins back-to-back weeks with clutch drives to rally from behind. I don’t think the Steelers will be as vulnerable. If you want to watch two grown men fight, claw, yap and go at each other’s throat for three straight hours you should definitely key in on DK Metcalf and Joey Porter Jr. on Sunday. It’ll be just like Holiday spirit but the complete opposite. Also, I completely forgot to include the Steelers in the mismanaged quarterback group from earlier. Mitch Trubisky was never the right option. It was clear from his first relief appearance way back in October. I love Mike Tomlin but he’s made some curious calls over the last two seasons and this one may ultimately cost Pittsburgh a playoff berth. STEELERS +3.5

Chargers at Broncos
The Broncos did Russell Wilson dirty and then blamed him for all their problems. Sean Payton is the most overrated coach in history. I can’t imagine blatantly pointing the finger at individual players wins locker room support. The truth is this Denver team was good enough to be a Wildcard team but losses to the Jets, Commanders and Patriots cost Denver their season. You can blame that on the quarterback if you’d like, but Wilson wasn’t the reason for those losses. Payton was. He was out-coached. CHARGERS +3.5

Bengals at Chiefs
It’s not fun watching the Chiefs anymore. They remind me of the 2018 Eagles. All the major players of an explosive, exciting 2017 offense returned but the explosive and exciting competent did not. Every drive was fighting tooth and nail against the defense and themselves. There was no rhythm. No smiling. Climbing uphill. It was all pain. Patrick Mahomes is in no way Carson Wentz, so this won’t be a terminal thing, but I don’t see how the Chiefs find their way back this year unless they just run the ball down the defense’s throat and beat over the top with play action. Isiah Pacheco is good enough to do that but it doesn’t appear his body can handle the toll of that kind of offense. BENGALS +6.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Packers at Vikings
Finally! It’s Jaren Hall’s turn. I said before Joshua Dobb’s final start the Vikings should give the reigns to Hall. They didn’t listen and nearly fell to the Raiders. Then Kevin O’Connell went with Nick Mullens. Mullens was exciting and could produce stats but he was careless and it cost the Vikings in both starts. Hall won’t have the gaudy numbers like Mullens but he will move the offense and protect the ball. With a little help from the Steelers, the Vikings are in a win and in situation. Hall will bring them home. VIKINGS -1

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