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Betting Against the Spread: NFL Picks for Week 17


Week 17 is the toughest of the NFL season to handicap. The three categories of teams I talked about last week —  1) teams that care, 2) teams that don't and 3) teams that don't know if they care or not — still apply, but who knows how long the starters are out there?

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You almost have to guess how long these guys will play based on the other results because there's still a lot at stake. Other than the Texans and Redskins being locked into the No. 4 seed in their respective conference, pretty much every other spot is up for grabs. Should be fun!

Record: 39-22-2

New York Jets (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8)

This is like the 10th "Super Bowl" game for the Bills this season with Rex Ryan’s former team coming to town. Buffalo has hyped up a bunch of games already this season including their first meeting with New York. For the most part, those contests have not gone well outside of that Jets game. The Bills just finished up a tough stretch of five road games over six weeks and are coming off a solid home win against a Cowboys team that is ready for the offseason. My first natural instinct was to take the home team, but we've seen the Bills act so undisciplined in these bigger games that it's hard to believe in them. The under also is in play with a Jets defense that has allowed 20 points or fewer in five games. No LeSean McCoy again for the home team meaning the running attack could struggle. SELECTION: Under 42.5

New England Patriots (12-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-10)

It's been a terrible season for the Dolphins, but they can finish on the right foot with a win in this one. Miami is limping to the finish, having lost three straight and five of its last six. The Dolphins’ offense has been an issue at times, while the defense has been the problem in other games. The first game between these two wasn't even a contest, as the Patriots coasted to a 36-7 win on Oct. 29. New England still has things to play for, but they also have an injured team. Sebastian Vollmer, Danny Amendola, Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich are all question marks that could play some or not at all. At first I wanted to say this is my pick unless Ryan Tannehill is out, but I don't mind Matt Moore at quarterback. New England's offense has struggled to get much done lately with Tom Brady going three straight games with no more than 260 yards passing. Combine that with a run game that continues to fail and you've got a good opportunity for the home team. Miami has been a home underdog of 7.5 to 10 points just once since 1992 and the Dolphins won that game outright. I don't think the Fins win it, but I do think it's close. SELECTION: Miami +10

Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-5)

When you are going well, sometimes you make total hunch plays and this is one of them. Oakland's had a real good season and is coming off a long layoff with their last game coming on Christmas Eve. The Raiders are going for an 8-8 season and have the pieces to make it happen. Oakland's offense will be real good in 2016 and this unit should be able to move the ball on Kansas City. The Chiefs just allowed 368 yards to the Browns at home. Kansas City beat Oakland 34-20 at its place earlier about a month ago. Oakland is 29-14 ATS since 1992 as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points. Kansas City has covered just two of its home games so far this season. Total hunch play but I like the road team in this one especially if it stays at a touchdown or more. SELECTION: Oakland +7

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Washington Redskins (8-7) at Dallas Cowboys (4-11)

Washington is most likely not going to play a lot of starters and if the Redskins do, it won't be for long. They have the fourth seed locked up and will be hosting either Seattle, Minnesota or Green Bay on Wild Card Weekend. Dallas is ready for the offseason and has played that way the last few weeks. The Cowboys have scored just 29 points the last three weeks with Kellen Moore at the helm. Even with backups in, I like the Skins’ defense to hold their own. Dallas' D hasn't mailed it in yet and will be up for this one. Earlier this month, these teams played a 19-16 game in DC. We could see a similar score in this one. SELECTION: Under 39


— The Ravens are in Cincinnati on Sunday. Baltimore won a big game last week, knocking off the Steelers at home 20-17. I think the Ravens put everything they had into that and will fail miserably in Cincy. Ryan Mallett and the offense had no turnovers for the first time in a while. This Bengals team has a lot to play for still and they'll be quite angry after a tough loss to the Broncos on Monday night. The reason this isn't an official selection is that the line keeps skyrocketing. While I think this one will get ugly, I don't know how high I can take this spread getting.

— What could have been for the Lions is what a lot of their fans will be asking. Detroit won three in a row and then was a Hail Mary at home against Green Bay away from a four-game streak. The Lions then followed that up with an uninspired effort at St. Louis but have since won their past two outings. Chicago has lost three of its last four games entering this one. Two teams that have no playoff aspirations, but I think will be motivated makes this an interesting contest.

— I really wanted to make the Giants an official play until the Eagles fired Chip Kelly. Who knows how Philly will come out for this one without him at the helm? Players are saying they didn't like playing for him so you'd think they would be happy, but it is still Week 17. I'll say this… take the over on every Odell Beckham Jr. prop you can find and select him in your DFS leagues as well. He's going to go off after sitting last week because of suspension.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.