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I need a remarkable seven-point turnaround in week seventeen to stop Dan from winning the picks competition and I really can’t see myself pulling that one off. Still, let us see if I can pick my way through the odd permutations of play-off motivation, resting teams and my stuttering form to at least make it interesting. Right now I’d settle for seven different picks to Dan, which as I always make my picks before I look at his is not guaranteed but I will try to take some big swings if I see them.

Gee:Week 16:  7 – 9Overall:  116 – 125
Dan:Week 16:  6 – 10Overall:  122 – 119

Survivor Competition

Dan wrapped up the inaugural TWF Survivor competition with another point picking against the Vikings and oh boy did the Saints win that game. Meanwhile I failed to see that the Bengals were going to make it a streak with their first road win under Zac Taylor that both confirmed Dan’s win in this competition and likely saw the Dolphins vault the Bengals in the 2021 draft with the Dolphins in possession of the Texans’ pick. This week Dan discovered that he hadn’t picked the Seahawks and so is backing them against the 49ers, whilst the best game I could find was the Cowboys visitng the Giants. Congratulations to Dan on his win and I just hope that I can keep his lead down to three.

Current Score

Gee: 10
Dan: 13

Week 17 Selection:

Gee:    Cowboys
Dan:    Seahawks

Early Games:

Week seventeen is often a difficult one to pick through and while there are several games to watch in the early slate with play-off implications, they all seem to have flaws as contests so let’s look at the four games with play-off stakes.

The Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo to face a Bills team who might want to wrap up the number two seed if they can, but we don’t know how invested they are in achieving that but the fact they are facing divisional rivals might factor into their performance in this game. Things get even more complicated when you factor in that Ryan Fitzpatrick has tested positive for Covid-19 and so the Dolphin’s backup quarterback cannot enter the game if Tua Tagovailoa struggles again. I am leaning towards the Dolphins keeping the game within five points as they did in week two, but I don’t know if they can win and even with Dan telling me there are only two out of a possible thirty-two combinations of results that see the Dolphins miss the play-offs, I am sure he is in for a nervous evening of score watching.

The Cincinnati Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens who need to beat the Bengals or have the Browns or Colts lose to get a play-off berth. I am sure the Ravens will want to keep matters in their own hands and given how they have been playing in recent weeks it is hard to see the Bengals getting the upset win. That said, whilst the consensus line is even bigger, the Bengals have won two straight and I just wonder with the chance to act as spoiler whether the Bengals will keep this game closer than twelve and with the need to take some swings if there is any chance of me winning the picks competition I’m going to back the Bengals to cover.

The Pittsburgh Steelers go to Cleveland with Ben Roethlisberger getting the week off as the Steelers have not had a proper bye this season, and with the Browns most likely chance of making the play-offs being a win and facing a backup quarterback the line has got pretty big. As much as I like what Kevin Stefanski has done with the Browns in his first year as head coach, the Browns lost to the Jets last week having not had most of their receivers available thanks to close contacts with a positive Covid-19 test and there have been more positive tests this week with the facility closed as recently as Saturday. I think the Browns should get the win, but I am not totally sure they will do so by a touchdown even if they are facing a Steelers offence that has really struggled even before starting a backup quarterback and with stories of last week’s turnaround being Roethlisberger changing more calls. I expect the Browns to win but in the quest for enough differences to Dan to win I’m going to swing for the fences and back the Steelers to cover.

The last game with direct play-off implications is the Dallas Cowboys travelling to New York to take on the Giants. The mess of the NFC East will be finally resolved this week, even if it will have a losing team hosting a Wildcard play-off game. The Cowboys come into this contest on a three-game winning streak while the Giants have struggled with Daniel Jones playing despite injuries affecting his mobility as Jones is simply not an effective pocket quarterback. The Giants have slim hopes of making the play-offs, but I think that with their late run of form the Cowboys should win this game and will then turn their eyes nervously to the last game of the day.

Points from the rest:

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have started to come together in recent weeks, winning three in a row and this week likely look to maintain momentum as a team built through the season thanks to the lack of pre-season so I see them rolling through the Atlanta Falcons who have nothing to play for
  • The Minnesota Vikings may have lost Dalvin Cook as he has left the team early due to the death of his father, but they should still have more than enough to beat a bad Lions team. The lines suggest the Lions are the team to pick with this sized line, but they were truly woeful last week and with me needing big swings I’m going to back the Vikings and hope the passing game can hold up in Cook’s absence.
  • The New England Patriots have had a tough year and will be looking to rebuild in the off-season just like the New York Jets. As much as there is no love loss between these two franchises, the Jets come into this game with a better run of form and whilst the Pats could well win this game, the extra half-point required for them to cover is having me back the 2020 Jets one last time.

Falcons @ Buccaneers (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Buccaneers

Dolphins @ Bills (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:      Dolphins

Ravens @ Bengals (+11.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Ravens

Steelers @ Browns (-6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Browns

Cowboys @ Giants (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Vikings @ Lions (+7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Jets @ Patriots (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:      Jets

Late Games:

The Green Bay Packers head to Chicago needing a win to clinch the number one seeding whilst the Bears need to at least match the Arizona Cardinals’ result to get into the play-offs. It is a big task for the Bears to beat a team who have four more wins and are 24% better by total overall DVOA, but since their meeting in week twelve the Bears have scored thirty points each week and won their last three. I think the Packers will run out winners in a game they want to make sure the path to the Super Bowl runs through Green Bay, but the numbers see some value in backing the Bears to cover.

The Tennessee Titans come into this game needing a win to secure their play-off berth and given that they are facing a Houston Texans team whose defense couldn’t stop the Bengals last week I think the Titans should run out winners in this one. However, I am a little nervous about an eight point win given the Titans’ own defensive frailties and how well Deshaun Watson is playing so with the numbers on my side I’m going to follow them and go with the Texans.

The Indianapolis Colts’ play-off situation is both simple and complex. The Colts need a win to stay in the race but are reliant on one of the other four ten-win AFC teams losing to actually make the play-offs and could in fact finish 11-5 and be on the outside looking in. They should beat a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars who are guaranteed the number one pick in the draft, and the Colts have been playing well but this line is huge and as much as I think the Colts will win, I can’t back them to win by fifteen even if it is plausible that they could.

The LA Rams followed up their surprising loss to the Jets with another loss to the Seahawks and so come into week seventeen needing a win a to guarantee their place in the play-offs, although they also will get in if the Bears lose. They might well need that Packers’ win as the Rams come into this game without Jared Goff after he had surgery on Monday to stabilise his fractured thumb and will also miss Cooper Kupp who has tested positive for Covid-19. They face an Arizona Cardinals team who have looked better since Kyler Murray seemed to recover from whatever injury was troubling jim through the middle of the season, but the Cardinals lost to the 49ers last week and Murray picked up a leg injury on the final play of the game. This is a matchup of backup QB versus a possibly injured one but with the Rams’ still having the best unit in the game thanks to their defense and with Sean McVay’s ability to scheme offence I think they should win. The line makes me nervous with backup quarterback John Wolford starting but I need to make big calls this week so here’s another.

Points on the Rest:

  • The New Orleans Saints will want to win and hope that results go their way to get the number one seed, but to get it they need the Bears to beat the Packers and the Seahawks to beat the 49ers. The first part of this scenario got a bit more complicated with Alvin Kamara testing positive for Coivd-19 and the whole running back room being ruled out of their game against the Carolina Panthers. I wouldn’t rule out the Saints beating the Panthers, but I kind of like the home team’s chances of keeping the game within seven.
  • I’m really not sure what to make of either the Las Vegas Raiders or the Denver Broncos and in a dead game I’m not totally sure of the result. However, this a chance for Gruden to have his first non-losing season with the Raiders and as the better team I’d like to think they manage to do just that.
  • The line that sees the Chiefs getting points against the Chargers is a result of Andy Reid likely resting players in a game that doesn’t matter to the Chiefs who have the number one seed secured. The extra half point is enough to make me nervous but bold picks are what is needed this week.
  • The Seattle Seahawks secured the NFC West with their win over the Rams last week and so come into their games with only play-off seeding to play for. The 49ers beat the Cardinals last week and given how they have been playing they could well give the Seahawks trouble this week, but the numbers are pointing towards the Seahawks firmly enough that I’m not going to back the 49ers. I just hope I don’t regret it…

Packers @ Bears (+5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Raiders @ Broncos (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Titans @ Texans (+7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Jaguars @ Colts (-14.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:      Jaguars

Chargers @ Chiefs (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Cardinals @ Rams (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Saints @ Panthers (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Seahawks @ 49ers (5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Sunday Night Football:

Washington @ Eagles (+1.5)

The finale of the NFL regular season sees the Washington Football Team taking on the Philadelphia Eagles looking to secure the division and book a place in the play-offs. While Washington’s defensive and their defensive line in particular have continued to impress, their offence has wobbled without Alex Smith until Taylor Heinicke played better than Dwayne Haskins last week. This was enough Haskins to be cut form the Football Team and with Smith returning to the starting line-up and a better backup Washington are now favourites on the road. This would seem to make sense with the Eagles eliminated from the play-offs and their defense losing Fletcher Cox from the middle of their defensive line. For all the talk of the Eagles not wanting to have Washington win the division in their stadium, the Eagles feel like a team who could be dangerous but don’t ultimately have the team right now to stop Washington.

Gee’s Pick:      Washington
Dan’s Pick:      Washington

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.