NFL Week 17 Predictions: Tough Sledding

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Well, we’ve almost made it.

After a year filled with surprises, excitement, and great football action, the 2021-22 NFL regular season is winding down.

As I have talked about before, every NFL franchise goes through some sort of turmoil during their respective season. It wouldn’t be life if there weren’t challenges along the way. Whether it be injuries, coaching changes, or just some bad football, certain issues plague the teams annually. Somehow, the great ones always seem to rise above the challenges on-hand.

This inaugural season for this column was a tumultuous one for me as well. I had my fair share of good moments (two twelve-win weeks/six parlays hit) and bad ones (last eight weeks lol). But again, it’s about the progression over the year. What can you take away from it? Did you get better?

I feel as though I have and will continue to do so. This column will be in action for the remainder of the season, and I expect it to continue into the foreseeable future as well.

Like what most coaches are telling their players as the playoffs approach, it’s important to finish the year strong. You might not be able to fight another day if you let this week slip by.

Happy second-to-last week!

Last Week’s (Week 16) Pick Record: 9-7

My Overall 2021-22 Pick Record: 146-94

Note: All betting information comes from BetMGM (https://sports.in.betmgm.com/en/sports/football-11)

Must-Watch Week 17 Matchups

Arizona Cardinals (10-5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

Date/Time/Channel: 1/2/22 @ 4:30 PM on FOX

Spread: Dallas (-5.5)

As these two contenders collide, it is apparent that the outcome will heavily shape the NFC’s playoff race. With QB Dak Prescott and QB Kyler Murray both being primetime performers, I expect this to be an entertaining game. While the Cardinals have been on a downward trend over the last month, knowing that a divisional crown still is in the cards will motivate Arizona. Despite great play from Dallas’ defensive stars, Murray and the reeling Cardinals pick up a much-needed win over an elite conference foe.

My Prediction: Arizona defeats Dallas, 27-23

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Date/Time/Channel: 1/2/22 @ 1:00 PM on CBS

Spread: Kansas City (-5.5)

Kansas City is the best team in football right now. The defense has been outstanding, and the playmakers on offense always find a way to step up, even during their COVID-week. On top of that, the presumptive return of TE Travis Kelce will only aid in QB Patrick Mahomes III’s efforts. While the Chiefs are certainly surging, the QB Joe Burrow-led Bengals just shredded Baltimore with a dynamic passing attack. With their division crown also hanging in the balance, I expect the full-strength Cincinnati team to show poise and discipline while ending Kansas City’s nine-game winning streak.

My Prediction: Cincinnati defeats Kansas City, 35-32

Minnesota Vikings (7-8) vs. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Date/Time/Channel: 1/2/22 @ 8:20 PM on NBC

Spread: Green Bay (-6.5)

The second installation of the battle between the NFC North’s top two teams is back in Lambeau. Green Bay, led by another historic season from QB Aaron Rodgers, has hopes of their first Super Bowl appearance since 2011. While a victory for the Packers all but locks up the NFC’s top overall seed, it’s fair to note that the Vikings beat them in Week 11. I believe QB Kirk Cousins, WR Justin Jefferson, and Co. lead a spirited effort again to keep their playoffs hope alive, but Rodgers, WR Davante Adams, and the more talented Packers get their revenge on their most difficult divisional foe.

My Prediction: Green Bay defeats Minnesota, 24-20

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) vs. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

Date/Time/Channel: 1/2/22 @ 1:00 PM on FOX

Spread: Indianapolis (-6.5)

In what is likely a game that determines the final AFC wildcard spot, this game just became significantly important. Indianapolis RB Jonathan Taylor is continuing to prove his worth week in and week out, but the passing game has taken a surprise leap this year under QB Carson Wentz. His efficient passing game has sparked a run of dominance for the Colts, but he could be sidelined this week due to a positive COVID-19 case. While his potential absence is cause for concern, with the way Taylor is churning through eight-man boxes and the defense holding down the fort, an undermanned Raiders squad won’t be able to keep up.

My Prediction: Indianapolis defeats Las Vegas 24-16

Los Angeles Rams (11-4) vs. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

Date/Time/Channel: 1/2/22 @ 1:00 PM on FOX

Spread: Los Angeles (-3.5)

QB Lamar Jackson’s health has been the storyline for this Ravens team since their Week 13 defeat to the Cleveland Browns. His bone bruise was more severe than initially thought by Baltimore’s medical staff, which ultimately bruises the outlook for the rest of Baltimore’s season. Now a full game behind Cincinnati in the AFC North, the remaining two games are must-wins. Regardless of the injuries on this team, they are still loaded with playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Rams have been leakier on defense than expected since the addition of LB Von Miller, despite the standard DPOY-level play from DT Aaron Donald. With that being said, I expect Baltimore to rally around their signal-caller (whoever it may be) and keep their postseason hopes alive in the process.

My Prediction: Baltimore defeats Los Angeles, 27-21

My Week 17 Quick Picks:

Philadelphia (-3.5) defeats Washington, 20-17

Tampa Bay (-13.5) defeats New York (A), 31-13

Tennessee (-3.5) defeats Miami, 24-17

New England (-14.5) defeats Jacksonville, 24-10

Chicago (-6) defeats New York (N), 23-14

Buffalo (-14.5) defeats Atlanta, 28-14

San Francisco (-12.5) defeats Houston, 27-16

Los Angeles (A) (-6.5) defeats Denver, 23-17

New Orleans (-7) defeats Carolina, 27-21

Seattle (-7) defeats Detroit, 24-18

Pittsburgh defeats Cleveland (-3), 19-16

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Gavin Smith

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