NFL capsules for Week 17

December 28, 2021 10:18 PM

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills (-13.5, 44)

The Atlanta Falcons (7-8 SU, ATS) kept their slim playoff hopes alive Sunday as they held off Detroit with a late interception on the goal line, preserving a 20-16 victory. They have a tall task if they wish to continue their playoff push: They must defeat the Buffalo Bills (9-6 SU, ATS) to stay in the wild-card race. The Bills are coming off a statement win in Foxboro, where they overtook the Patriots in the AFC East with a 33-21 victory in which they led throughout. The Bills have a favorable schedule to finish the season, hosting the Falcons and the Jets. If the Bills win their two remaining games, they will win their second consecutive AFC East title.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.5, 45) at New York Jets

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4 SU, 8-7 ATS) clinched the NFC South when they dominated the Panthers in Carolina. They will now look to increase their status as they visit the New York Jets (4-11 SU, 5-10 ATS). Last week’s victory came despite being short-handed, as the Bucs were without wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, while running back Leonard Fournette also missed the game. Godwin is out for the season and Fournette won’t return until the playoffs, but Evans could be back in the near future. And wide receiver Antonio Brown returned after serving a suspension. The Bucs will look to exploit a Jets defense that is at the bottom of the league in many categories, including points allowed.

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-8.5, 45)

In a battle of teams vying for playoff spots, the Las Vegas Raiders (8-7 SU, 6-9 ATS) have won two in a row and look to upset the Indianapolis Colts (9-6 SU, 10-5 ATS). It has been a roller-coaster season for the Raiders, who won their first three games, then lost seven of 10 and have now won back-to-back games to give themselves a shot at postseason play. Tight end Darren Waller has not played since Thanksgiving and remains out. The Colts are inching toward a wild-card berth and scored a big road victory on Christmas against the Cardinals. The win came despite their entire offensive line missing some or all of the game, and the status of those players will be something to monitor. Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this game.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-5, 38)

The New York Giants (4-11 SU, ATS) are on the road to face the Chicago Bears (5-10 SU, ATS) with both teams already looking toward next season. These teams also have something else in common — quarterback uncertainty. The Giants gave Jake Fromm his first career start last week but pulled him after he threw for just 25 yards on 16 attempts. With Andy Dalton and Justin Fields inactive due to injury, the Bears turned to third-stringer and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who helped orchestrate a 25-24 upset victory in Seattle. It is unclear who will start under center for either team. The Giants remarkably threw for only 120 yards on 44 attempts last week.

Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers (-12.5, 44.5)

The San Francisco 49ers (8-7 SU, 7-8 ATS) will try to inch closer to a playoff spot but might have to do so without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He is unlikely to play as he’s dealing with a thumb injury on his throwing hand, meaning rookie Trey Lance would be in line for his second career start. The 49ers will host the Houston Texans (4-11 SU, 7-8 ATS), who earlier this season lost eight in a row but have now strung together two consecutive victories. They buried the Chargers last week, winning 41-29 as 13-point underdogs. The 49ers will have extra rest, having not played since Thursday night.

Philadelphia Eagles (-4, 46) at Washington Football Team

The Philadelphia Eagles (8-7 SU, 8-6-1 ATS) meet Washington (6-9 SU, 5-9-1 ATS) for the second time in 12 days. They played Dec. 21 in Philadelphia, with the Eagles erasing an early 10-point deficit and turning it into a 27-17 victory. The stats from the first matchup were damning for Washington, which was outgained 519-237 and yielded over 7 yards per play. Washington followed that performance with one that was even uglier, trailing the Cowboys 42-7 at halftime Sunday night and later 56-7 before scoring in the final minutes. Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth with a win and some help.

Kansas City Chiefs (-5, 49) at Cincinnati Bengals

An exciting matchup features two of the more high-powered offenses in the league, with the Kansas City Chiefs (11-4 SU, 8-7 ATS) visiting the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6 SU, 8-7 ATS). The Chiefs have won eight in a row, covered their last six and clinched their sixth straight AFC West title. The Bengals can clinch a division title of their own, as they need one victory in their last two games to wrap up the AFC North. They have won their last two games and just put up 41 points on a depleted Ravens defense. The Chiefs still have plenty of motivation, as a win coupled with a loss by the Titans would clinch the top seed in the AFC.

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans (-3, 41)

The Miami Dolphins (8-7 SU, ATS) have followed a seven-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak, the first team in NFL history to do so. They now control their own destiny and will qualify for the postseason with two more victories after beating up on an undermanned Saints team Monday night. While the Dolphins will be coming off short rest, the Tennessee Titans (10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS) will have extra rest, having not played since defeating the 49ers on Thursday night. The Titans can clinch the AFC South with a win and still have a chance to capture the No. 1 seed but would need to make up a game on the Chiefs in the final two weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-15.5, 42)

The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13 SU, 4-11 ATS) were stopped at the goal line in the final seconds last week as they lost to the Jets and are now the front-runners to land the first pick in the draft for the second consecutive year. They visit the New England Patriots (9-6 SU, ATS), who are suddenly desperate for a victory after losing two in a row. The Pats had won seven straight but have been beaten by the Colts and Bills the last two weeks and are looking to close in on an AFC wild-card berth. This is the largest spread of the week, and the Jaguars will look to pull the monumental upset without running back James Robinson, who suffered a season-ending injury last week.

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-6, 45.5)

The Denver Broncos (7-8 SU, ATS) saw any realistic hope of making the playoffs evaporate last week when they lost their second consecutive game. They visit the desperate Los Angeles Chargers (8-7 SU, 7-8 ATS), who closed as 13-point favorites last week against the Texans but were beaten soundly in Houston. Rushing defense continues to plague the Chargers, who have been at the bottom of the league all season defending the run. Those problems continued against the Texans, who gashed the Chargers for 189 yards on the ground and 5.3 yards per carry. The Chargers will be all but eliminated with a loss.

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (-5.5, 50)

The reeling Arizona Cardinals (10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS) look to right the ship when they visit the Dallas Cowboys (11-4 SU, 12-3 ATS). The Cards started 7-0 but have lost three in a row and are looking up at the Rams in the NFC West. They face a tall task against the Cowboys, fresh off a 56-point outburst against Washington. Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins is out for the rest of the regular season, while RB James Conner and a host of defensive backs are also injured. The Cowboys, winners of four in a row, have clinched the NFC East and still hold out hope of catching the Packers for the top seed in the NFC. Standout left tackle Tyron Smith, who has missed five games with an ankle injury, could return for the Cowboys.

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (-7, 42)

While the Detroit Lions (2-12-1 SU, 10-5 ATS) are headed for another high pick in the draft, they have rewarded bettors with one of the more successful records against the spread. They visit the Seattle Seahawks (5-10 SU, 7-8 ATS), who will miss the postseason for just the second time since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012. The Lions were intercepted at the goal line in the final seconds Sunday in Atlanta and fell 20-16 but should get quarterback Jared Goff back from the COVID-19 list. The Seahawks are coming off an upset loss to the Bears, falling 25-24 after allowing a touchdown and two-point conversion with barely a minute to play.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 48) at Baltimore Ravens

The Los Angeles Rams (11-4 SU, 8-7 ATS) have taken first place in the NFC West on the strength of a three-game winning streak after a three-game midseason losing streak. They overcame three Matthew Stafford interceptions last week as they defeated the Vikings and may see the return of running back Cam Akers, who tore his Achilles in July. The Baltimore Ravens (8-7 SU, 7-8 ATS) have been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, including a cluster in a depleted secondary. Quarterback Lamar Jackson hopes to return as he deals with an ankle injury, while backup Tyler Huntley is out due to COVID-19 protocols. The Ravens have lost four in a row and are on the edge of the playoff chase, in dire need of a victory.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7, 38.5)

Both teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues. The Carolina Panthers (5-10 SU, ATS) had to send all players home Monday after six tested positive for the virus. That will be something to watch as they prepare for the New Orleans Saints (7-8 SU, ATS), who played fourth-stringer Ian Book at quarterback in a Monday night loss in which the Saints didn’t crack 100 yards of offense until late in the game. The Saints had over 20 absences due to the virus, including quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian. The Saints should be returning most of those missing players and will need a victory to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-6.5, 48)

The Minnesota Vikings (7-8 SU, ATS) need to win their last two games and need a loss by the Eagles or two losses by the 49ers to clinch a playoff spot. They will need to upset the Green Bay Packers (12-3 SU, 11-4 ATS) and hand them their first home loss of the season to stay in the playoff hunt. The Vikings defeated the Packers 34-31 in a thriller in November, and they won in Green Bay last season. Star running back Dalvin Cook missed last week’s loss to the Rams due to COVID-19 protocols, and his status for this game is in doubt. The Packers can clinch the top NFC seed by winning their final two games.

Cleveland Browns (-3, 41) at Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 17 concludes on “Monday Night Football” with a potentially pivotal AFC North showdown between the Cleveland Browns (7-8 SU, ATS) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1 SU, 6-9 ATS). If the Chiefs defeat the Bengals, the Browns and Steelers will be alive in the race for the division crown. The Browns will control their own destiny, while the Steelers will need to win their final two games and have the Bengals lose their final two. However, if the Bengals beat the Chiefs, both of these teams are eliminated. The Browns have lost two straight heartbreakers but will have extra rest, having not played since Saturday. The Steelers were buried in Kansas City and have struggled on offense, averaging only 5 yards per play, which ranks 27th in the league.


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