We’re back with the 17th and final (regular season) edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. Perry’s Week 16 picks went 8-7-1 (2-2 on his Pledges). Here’s how he’ll wrap his season up.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 17 Picks ATS
Sunday, January 1
New England Patriots (-9.5) at Miami Dolphins
Color me impressed by Matt Moore. He’s proving to be a reliable quarterback, but I’m not ready to count on him out-dueling Tom Brady just yet, especially with New England still battling for homefield advantage. Brady will pick apart Miami’s 30th-ranked total defense early and often and give himself an extended week’s rest, putting an end to the Pats’ three-game losing streak in Miami.
Pick: Pats (-9.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-4.5)
Both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs (one much earlier than the other). The only thing being played for here is pride, and potentially jobs. Jags’ interim head coach, Doug Marrone, would like to remove the interim tag, while Chuck Pagano is hoping to maintain his position.
The Jags won the earlier meeting in London, and are coming off their best offensive performance of the year (38-17 over Tennessee). Meanwhile, Indianapolis’ defense once again proved inadequate, giving up 31 to New Orleans.
This is just too many points to lay against a team that looked really good in its first week under a new head coach.
Pick: Jags (+4.5)
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6)
Tampa Bay’s defensive line is going to manhandle the Panthers and take away their revitalized ground attack. But Jameis Winston is going to have to go back to the mistake-free football he was putting on display during the team’s five-game winning streak.
Carolina’s secondary will be generous, but I can’t see Cam Newton letting this game get out of hand.
Pick: Panthers (+6)
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
The 446 total yards the Vikings recorded on offense last week were the most of the season, and the first time they surpassed 380. The bad news was they gave up 300-plus yards through the air for the first time all year. This once stingy defense has now given up 72 points, combined, in the last two games.
Luckily, they’re back at home and Matt Barkley is coming to town. Barkley proved last week that he is not the answer for the Bears’ quarterback conundrum, and will now face the toughest defense he has seen in his young career.
Bradford and the Vikings finish their season on a high-note.
Pick: Vikings (-5.5)
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
Even with Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown expected to sit this one out, it is way too difficult to put any trust in the Browns, especially on the road. Now that they have the 0-16 monkey off their back, I expect they too will lose their sense of urgency.
Whomever Pittsburgh lines up in the backfield will rush for over 100 yards against Cleveland’s 31st-ranked rush defense.
Pick: Steelers (-6.5)
Buffalo Bills (-3.5) at New York Jets
Tyrod Taylor was not the problem in Buffalo. E.J. Manuel will slow down the league’s top-ranked rushing attack, and he won’t be able to pick on a very weak Jets secondary.
The Jets have two options at quarterback this week. One is really bad, the other is worse. I’ll let you decide which is Ryan Fitzpatrick and which is Christian Hackenberg. Fitzy has had one good game this season. Hackenberg is simply not ready for the NFL.
Regardless of who starts, Todd Bowles is trying to keep his job and will at least have his defense getting after a rusty Manuel quarterback.
Pick: Jets (+3.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-4)
With nothing to play for this week, will the Cowboys play it safe and turn to Tony Romo? It won’t matter if they do. Their offensive line is too good, and their defense ranks first against the run and fourth in scoring.
Carson Wentz is working his way through some rookie struggles, and the Eagles defense has struggled against the pass recently. In spite of the possibility that Dallas will rest a lot of starters, I can’t turn down all those points with a 13-2 team.
Pick: Cowboys (+4)
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-3)
Exotic smashmouth has led to the Titans ranking ninth in total offense, but the threat of Marcus Mariota pulling the ball was a big factor. Having Matt Cassel under center removes all the “exotic” from the equation.
Ryan Savage wasn’t great in his first start, but he’s not giving games away. Even though the Texans have the AFC South wrapped up, getting Savage comfortable and their offense on track is vital.
Pick: Texans (+3)
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)
The possible return of A.J. Green was all this Bengal offense had going for it. That’s probably not going to happen. Tyler Eifert will also miss the game, and it doesn’t make sense for Vontaze Burfict to return from his concussion in a game Cincy would be better off losing (for draft purposes).
Baltimore’s playoff hopes ended in heartbreaking fashion last week, and I see them taking that frustration out in Week 17. They held the Bengals to 64 yards rushing earlier this season, and their second-ranked rush defense will be able to do that again.
Pick: Ravens (+2.5)
Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have just had enough. They have too many players on the IR, and have lost too many close games this year. Their loss to the Browns last week was the final straw. I wouldn’t expect to see an inspired showing in Week 17.
Kansas City’s offense was very impressive last week against a tough Bronco defense. Tyreek Hill looks like the most explosive player in the league, while Travis Kelce is a monster over the middle. A first-round bye is on the line, and Andy Reid won’t let it slip away.
Pick: Chiefs (-5.5)*
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
This game is shaping-up to be a battle of backup quarterbacks. The Raiders season is now in the hands of Matt McGloin, while the Broncos will likely opt to get another look at Paxton Lynch before the season ends. One of the two will have to deal with the league’s top pass defense, and the other gets the 25th-ranked unit against the pass.
Neither team has had much success stopping the run this season, but the Broncos won’t hang their heads after allowing 238 on the ground last week.
McGloin will be forced to throw and Denver’s talented secondary will capitalize on less-than-perfect passes.
Pick: Broncos (-1.5)
Seattle Seahawks (-9.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Do not be fooled by the 49ers’ second win of the season. They are not turning a corner, nor do they have any hope of competing against anyone other than LA or Cleveland.
The Seahawks have not traveled well this season (2-4-1 on the road), which is all the more reason for them to keep battling for the second seed in the NFC and a divisional-round game at the Clink.
Seattle will be able to run the ball down San Francisco’s throat and frustrate their 29th-ranked total offense.
Pick: Seahawks (-9.5)*
Arizona Cardinals (-6) at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams offense is absolutely pathetic. In a game against the league’s worst defense (49ers), they managed 177 total yards. Jared Goff has a long way to go before he’ll be an effective NFL quarterback, and he won’t be taking any of those steps this week against the fifth-ranked pass defense.
Carson Palmer can turn the ball over as many times as he’d like here; it won’t matter unless LA’s defense returns it to the house.
Pick: Cardinals (-6)*
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
With a win, the Falcons would earn a first-round bye and avoid having to make another trip back to Seattle in the divisional round. To get that win, though, they’ll likely have to do it in shootout fashion.
Drew Brees has snapped out of his funk and has the Saints’ offense back on track. Meanwhile, their defense has generated two takeaways in each of the last two games.
But don’t expect to see that against the Falcons, who have committed the second-fewest giveaways this year. Matt Ryan and the offense are playing at too high a level right now.
Pick: Falcons (-6.5)
New York Giants at Washington (-8)
The Giants have little to play for this week; their playoff spot is already locked. However, Eli Manning has not had a good season, and Ben McAdoo may want to use this game against the 28th-ranked pass defense to get him into a groove.
The biggest concern is the possibility of both Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple watching Washington’s second-ranked pass attack go to work. But even if they don’t, the Giants should be able to move the ball against the 29th-ranked total defense.
If Manning and Odell Beckham do not suit-up, I’d go the other way.
Pick: Giants (+8)
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
The Packers have won five straight and Aaron Rodgers is in MVP form; the Lions have lost two-straight and Matthew Stafford’s finger has him looking like an average quarterback.
Rodgers won’t let the Packers lose this game.
Pick: Packers (-3.5)*
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.