So here we are going into the final week and thanks to my best week all year I somehow have managed to take a slender point lead over Dan’s Dad going into the final week.
Gee: Week 16 13-3 Overall 126-114
Dan’s Dad: Week 16 7-9 Overall 125-115
Dan: Week 16 8-8 Overall 117-123
However, not only is this an important week but it’s one of the trickiest to pick as we don’t know how teams are going to react to playing meaningless games or what teams are trying players with an eye on who they want for next year rather than performance this week. But before we get to the giant week seventeen picks there’s the minor matter of our trivia competition and after getting to the same answer via very different (and in my case insanely jammy) means we move to a somewhat deceptively simple question:
‘Who is the only NFL Player to have a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?’
Now I’m sure there are others, but the only former NFL player that is working as an actor that leaps to my mind is Terry Crews so that is going to be my answer.
‘Firstly, I was convinced that I’d at least tie it up last week but that plan was thwarted by Gee’s random team generator (and a little bit of logic) in the end. This week’s is tough too… it’s got to be someone who has done something noteworthy outside of football to be on the walk of fame. My first thought was Dan Marino, but having been to the Hollywood walk of fame (and as a Dolphins fan of course) I would have spotted and remembered that if he was there. I think I’m going to go with OJ Simpson though. Little less obvious and something just tells me he’s the kind of person who would have a star.’
Falcons @ Buccaneers (-1.5)
The first one of these games is almost an archetypal week seventeen game with both teams not having anything to play for except for individuals trying to keep themselves in the league. However, the Falcons have won two games straight with pretty convincing scorelines including a fourteen-point win over the Panthers in Carolina and that is convincing enough for me.
Gee’s Pick: Falcons
Dan’s Pick: Buccaneers
Dolphins @ Bills (-3.5)
I really don’t like this line as the extra half point tempts towards the Dolphins except they have been a bad road team all season and are a warm weather team travelling to play outdoors in the cold. When you add to that the fact that the Dolphins have only won in one of their last six visits to Buffalo and I’m going to go against my numbers and hope it doesn’t bite me.
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Cowboys @ Giants (-6.5)
This is a curious game in that the New York Giants are actually ranked as the better team by overall DVOA and yet it is the Dallas Cowboys who are resting players having got their playoff seeding set whilst the Giants have only won five games this season. More worrying is the fact that with their recent form there is now noise that Eli Manning will be back next season, which only delays the inevitable transition that needs to take place. Not knowing how much the important players for the Cowboys will play is making this a really hard game to pick, I hate the line and the situation, and want to stay away but as I don’t have that choice and I just don’t have this much faith in the Giants I’m going to grab the points and hope for the best.
Gee’s Pick: Cowboys
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys
Lions @ Packers (-7.5)
The Green Bay Packers don’t have that much to play for but Aaron Rodgers wants to finished the season with his teammates and having come back from behind last week they welcome a struggling Detroit Lions teams. I don’t like this line going past the -7 but the Lions have real problems on offence thanks to injuries at the skills positions and have the worst defence in the league by DVOA. My spreadsheet actually has a higher number than this and so I’m going to throw caution to the wind and back the Packers to cover this line.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Lions
Jets @ Patriots (-13.5)
It would not surprise me at all if the New England Patriots do well in the playoffs, but things are not quite right with Tom Brady and for a team that often runs the ball and tries to shorten the game in week seventeen this line seems too big. The New York Jets look to have found their long term answer at quarterback, but a lot depends on how they build round him. However, for the last four weeks the Jets have at least been competitive, they beat the Bills in Buffalo and didn’t lose by more than a touchdown, which either means I am right in thinking they will keep this game within two touchdowns or the Patriots are about to get a big score ahead of going into the playoffs.
Gee’s Pick: Jets
Dan’s Pick: Jets
Panthers @ Saints (-10.5)
This game sits squarely in the awkward pick category as the Saints are openly talking about game planning without their starters whilst the Panthers are down to their third string quarterback. Having sat Cam Newton for the rest of the season to start the recovery from his shoulder problems, Taylor Heinicke injured his elbow last week and so undrafted rookie Kyle Allen will get the start at quarterback this week, on the road, in New Orleans. I don’t have a lot of confidence in how this game will go and so I’m going to grab the points, but it would not exactly be surprising if there was a lopsided game.
Gee’s Pick: Panthers
Dan’s Pick: Panthers
Jaguars @ Texans (-7.5)
Here we are with another line that I don’t like. The Houston Texans can get up to the second seed in the AFC if they win and the Patriots falter, but they are a hard team to rely on given the quality of their offensive line and the injury to Lamar Miller. Meanwhile the Jacksonville Jaguars essentially punted the season when they sat Blake Bortles for the rest of the season and stuck to that decision, even after it Cody Kessler was only able to generate single digit points in his first two games. They have still not cracked twenty points with him at quarterback and this is unlikely to be enough to beat the Houston Texans but with a top five defence by DVOA they might well keep this game closer than eight points, which is what my spreadsheet says and so that’s where I’m going, but I can’t pretend I feel great about it.
Gee’s Pick: Jaguars
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Bears @ Vikings (-5.5)
This is one of the games with meaning for both teams as if the Chicago Bears win and the Rams lose they could get the second seed, whilst the Minnesota Vikings need to win to get into the playoffs. I’m not sure how much of their offence tricks that the Bears will want to show in this game as it is a potential playoff preview, but this seems like a lot of points to be laying by a Vikings team who have three less wins than their opponents. The Bears currently possess the league’s best defence by DVOA, and by ten percentage points at that so I think they will cause problems for a Vikings offence that has improved in recent weeks thanks to a new direction but that still has limitations. In a competitive game I’m going to back the Bears to keep this one within six points.
Gee’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Pick: Bears
Bengals @ Steelers (-14.5)
This line worries me slightly as it is not inconceivable that a Pittsburgh Steelers team who need a win to get into the playoffs and who are playing at home could cover this line, but I basically never lay this number of points as it is one of my guiding principles when making picks. That said part of me does worry about this game because of how banged up and poor the Bengals defence has been this season, but they’ve seemed somewhat better in the last few weeks and so I’m going to hope my usual rules hold in week seventeen.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals.
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Browns @ Ravens (-6.5)
If the Baltimore Ravens win they are in the playoffs and whilst they also get in if the Bengals beat the Steelers, they will not want to rely on that. However, the Cleveland Browns are no slouches and in this biggest of rivalry games I can’t see anything but a competitive game. The Ravens turned their season around with the addition of Lamar Jackson into their starting line-up but the Browns have gone 5-2 under their current coaching setup and have won three straight. My spreadsheet has this as a pick for the Ravens but I don’t like this number in this situation given how the teams have played in recent weeks and so I’m going to back the Browns to keep the game closer than seven.
Gee’s Pick: Browns
Dan’s Pick: Ravens
Chargers @ Broncos (+6.5)
The LA Chargers still have a chance of getting a bye if they win and the Chiefs lose, but it feels likely that they will end up as a wildcard even though they have one win more than any AFC team not named the Chiefs. The Denver Broncos have nothing left to play for but pride, which explains the line which is tempting despite the problems on the offence and that might be what tips it for me. The Broncos lost their one-thousand-yard undrafted rookie Pro-Bowl running back Phillip Lyndsay last week, and so even with their home field advantage I wonder how competitive they can make this game given they have lost to the 49ers, Browns, and Raiders in the last three weeks. That said they did beat the Chargers last time they played and my spreadsheet is very clearly indicating Broncos and with this many points and in a divisional game I feel like the smart play is to back the Broncos. I could regret it and look very silly, but my turnaround was down to trusting the numbers so that’s what I’m going to do.
Gee’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
Raiders @ Chiefs (-13.5)
The Kansas City Chiefs have something to play for this week as they can tie up the number one seed and home field advantage with a win. Despite this being a divisional game I do expect them to win against an Oakland team who have gone 3-3 in their last six games. However, the Chiefs have lost their last two games and haven’t beaten a team by fourteen points or more since week nine and so this line is too rich for me.
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs
49ers @ Rams (-9.5)
The LA Rams should be looking to rest Todd Gurley another week and trust themselves to win and get themselves a further week to get Gurley healthy for the playoffs. They welcome a San Francisco 49ers team who got two of their four wins in the last three games and have been competitive in all of them. That said this was also a three game home stand but still, travelling to face a Rams team who haven’t quite looked the same since the bye week they could keep it close. My worry is that the spreadsheet says one thing completely counter to what my natural inclination is in this game and with it being week seventeen, I’m not sue which way to lean but in the end this is just too many points for me.
Gee’s Pick: 49ers
Dan’s Pick: Rams
Eagles @ Washington (+6.5)
The Philadelphia Eagles need a helping hand as well as a win to get into the playoffs but their divisional game takes them to Washington to face a team who have struggled all season and been overcome by injuries. I think the Eagles will get their win but this is too many points for me to ignore given that Washington have made life difficult for too many teams this season. That said, it would not exactly be a surprise if the Eagles were to win by a touchdown but they have too many problems for me to predict it.
Gee’s Pick: Washington
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
Cardinals @ Seahawks (-12.5)
This is a surprisingly tricky pick given that it is a huge line, but the Arizona Cardinals have been pretty woeful this season and are bottom of the league by DVOA by quite some gap. They finish the season in the notoriously difficult to play in CenturyLink Field and the spreadsheet says that the Seahawks should cover this line and looking at the Cardinals’ results I can see why and so despite my instincts saying otherwise I’m going to back the Seahawks.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals
Colts @ Titans (+1.5)
The final game of the weeks is a winner gets in to the playoffs matchup between the Tennessee Titans hosting the Indianapolis Colts. I have been bullish on the Colts for a lot of the year whilst the Titans have tripped me up a lot thanks to their up and down play, but with Marcus Mariota suffering a re-occurrence of his nerve issues and questionable to play I’m going to ignore the home underdog and back the Colts to come out winners in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Titans