Here are my Week 17 picks with confidence level selections. The picks with a confidence level of 1-5 will be available for all NFL Pickwatch readers.
The picks with a 6+ confidence level, a group of selections that have netted a 142-51-1 record over the past two seasons (including a 59-23-1 mark this year), will be available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.
Pickwatch Pro is a great service that allows subscribers to download the best expert data in the industry, see team-by-team winners for every expert, and provides access to Upset Watch, which has been the ultimate cheatcode to beat the sportsbooks over the last five years. Combine those elements with the top level of my weekly picks and it makes for a must-subscribe service for anyone serious about betting.
Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 5
The Rams are on a tear right now, as they have won four straight games due to a powerhouse offense that has scored 28+ points in four of the past five games. The depth of their roster has come to fore in that span, as Odell Beckham, Jr. has scored touchdowns in four of the past five games and thus filled in admirably for Robert Woods, while Sony Michel has posted 20+ scrimmage plays in four straight contests. The Rams could get Cam Akers back this week to replace the injured Darrell Henderson and they have very few notable injuries outside of that. Injuries and COVID issues have crushed the Ravens over the past month, which is a big part of why they have lost four straight following an 8-3 start. Combine these factors and the Rams get this pick by a solid margin.
New York Giants at Chicago Bears
KC’s pick: Chicago | Confidence level: 4
Chicago’s offense rightfully took a ton of grief earlier this year, but this platoon has now posted 347+ yards in six of the past seven games and led the Bears to score 22+ points in three of the past four games. Chicago has had some defensive issues of late, but help is on the way in the form of several players returning from the COVID list. The Giants are also getting some players back from COVID, yet their bigger problem is an offense that might be the worst in the league right now. That group’s issues are why New York has scored 13 or fewer points in five of the past six games and likely won’t get enough in this contest, so rate the Bears as the victor.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
KC’s pick: Kansas City | Confidence level: 3
The Chiefs offense is back, as Kansas City has scored a ridiculous 118 points over the past three weeks despite dealing with injury issues at many positions. The Chiefs defense has also been one of the most opportunistic groups in the NFL over the month, as Kansas City has racked up 13 takeaways in that span. Cincinnati’s offense was a supercharged engine for fantasy managers last week, but that had as much to do with the Ravens defensive injuries as it did the Bengals talent level. Cincinnati’s best chance to win in this game would be to run at a Kansas City defense that has allowed 130+ rushing yards in three of the past four weeks, but the Bengals aren’t well suited for that, having rushed for 100+ yards only once in the past month. Combine that with Cincinnati posting only two takeaways in the past three games and it’s enough to push this into the Chiefs column.
Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
KC’s pick: Indianapolis | Confidence level: 5
It’s amazing that Las Vegas actually controls its playoff destiny, as following consecutive wins over Cleveland and Denver, the Raiders need to simply win out over the Colts and Chargers to clinch a postseason berth. That may be easier said than done, as Las Vegas has an abysmal track record of scoring points, having tallied 17 or fewer in seven of the past eight games. That is not a comforting track recording when facing a Colts squad that hasn’t scored fewer than 22 points since Week 3 and should be getting center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson back this week. Indianapolis may be without Carson Wentz, who was put on the COVID list on Monday, but there is a very good chance Wentz can return in time for this game. The Colts are still the pick either way, with a “5” confidence level if Wentz plays and “3” if he doesn’t.
Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans
KC’s pick: Miami | Confidence level: 2
These teams are trending in opposite directions. With their victory over New Orleans on Monday night, the Dolphins became the first NFL team to ever post a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season. Tennessee has lost three of its last five, including defeats to an abysmal Houston club and a dismal road loss to the mediocre Steelers as well as a 20-0 win over an overmatched Jaguars squad that couldn’t say goodbye to their head coach fast enough. The Titans also were outplayed by the 49ers in their Week 16 Thursday night matchup, which they probably won due to Jimmy Garoppolo trying to play through a thumb injury. Team momentum counts for a lot and no club has more of that right now than Miami, so the Dolphins get this one in an upset pick.
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
KC’s pick: San Francisco | Confidence level: 4
There are more than a few elements here that point towards this being a potential upset for the Texans. Houston quarterback Davis Mills has been playing at a much higher than expected level and that has resulted in the Texans scoring 71 points over the past two weeks. The 49ers offense stumbled against the Titans due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb injury, an ailment that could keep him out of this contest. Reading between the lines, San Francisco stopped putting Trey Lance into the lineup a while back because he just wasn’t consistent enough to trust, which doesn’t engender trust if he has to fill in for Garoppolo. This pick does not end up landing in the upset category as a straight up win for Houston, as the 49ers talent edge is just too large to call for that, but the odds are very good that the Texans keep this game closer than the 12.5 point spread and thus get an upset cover.
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers
KC’s pick: Los Angeles | Confidence level: 4
This season has shown that there are two ways to beat the Chargers. The first is to get them into a shootout (a contest where each team scores 24+ points), as Los Angeles has been in seven of those this year and has a 4-3 record in them. Denver’s offense isn’t anywhere near capable of doing that, so they need to go the other route, which is to hold the Chargers to 20 or fewer points. Los Angeles is 1-4 in that type of matchup, including a 28-13 loss at Denver in Week 12. The Broncos have allowed 20+ points only twice since Week 6, but they have also scored 13 or fewer points in three of the past four and seem to be stuck in neutral with Drew Lock under center. This means Denver probably can’t score enough even if their defense does hold up, so take the Chargers here.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
KC’s pick: Green Bay | Confidence level: 4
The Vikings have won the last two matchups between these teams, but they have a big problem in that they have a penchant for getting into shootout games. Minnesota has been in eight shootouts this year and has a meager 3-5 mark in those contests. They also were only a single point away from being in a shootout in a 30-23 loss against the Rams. Green Bay does not mind those high scoring affairs, as they are 4-1 in shootouts this year. The problem for the Packers is their only shootout loss this year was a 34-31 defeat at Minnesota in Week 11, but that was when the Vikings still had Adam Thielen, who is now out for the year with an ankle injury. Minnesota’s offense just hasn’t been as impactful without Thielen, so Green Bay should get the better end of the high score this time around.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
KC’s pick: Seattle | Confidence level: 3
These two clubs have been out of playoff contention for a while now, but you wouldn’t know it by how much effort the Lions and Seahawks have put into their games of late. Detroit has registered wins over Minnesota and Arizona in the past four weeks, while Seattle fought until the bitter end of their loss to Chicago last Sunday. Since effort won’t be an issue for either squad, this will come down to talent, and Seattle has a lot more of that even before accounting for Detroit potentially having to start Tim Boyle at quarterback again this week. Combine that with home field advantage and the Seahawks are the selection.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
KC’s pick: Pittsburgh | Confidence level: 3
The Browns know what type of team they want to be, as Cleveland still aims to lean on its ground game early and often, but a variety of issues have kept the Browns under 100 rushing yards in five of the past ten games. That problem is compounded by an awful passing attack, as Cleveland has posted fewer than 200 passing yards in five of the past six games. The Steelers suffer from similar woes, as Pittsburgh’s rush defense has been among the worst in the league this season and they have gained 100+ yards on the ground only twice in the past six games. The key factor here is this is likely the last Steelers home game for Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh faithful will be fired up to send him out on a winning note and Cleveland may have trouble matching that emotion, so this one goes to the Steelers.
KC’s 6+ confidence level picks, a group of selections that have gone 142-51-1 over the past two seasons (including a 59-23-1 mark this year), are available exclusively to Pickwatch Pro subscribers.