Week 17 Regular Season Finale Spreads & Week 16 Takeaways
Photo Credit: Michael David Smith via profootballtalk.nbcsports.com
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Week 17 Picks & Spreads
By Brandon Caputo & Miklos McMaster
We got Football on Christmas this year, which was nice. Just too bad that the Vikings defense were serving up Christmas cheer for all Saints fans & also handing many gifts to RB Alvin Kamara, who must have been a good boy this year for what Santa graced him with that day with 6 touchdowns.
Alvin also did it in style by rocking those red & green Christmas inspired cleats. 👟
If anyone had Kamara in their Fantasy Football Championship lineup last week, it sure was a Merry Christmas for your wallets. Congratulations to all of those who won this year and just like the hosts NFL teams, we were very happy to get the 2020 Fantasy Football season over with as fast as it started. 💸
All games on Sunday this week, which means that most of these teams are going to start off the 2021 calendar with the "New Year, Same Losing Me" mindset for 1 more game on the 2020 game schedule, as most are happy to bid farewell to in many more ways than 1.
*Nonetheless, another Jason Garrett-like week for Miklos as he finishes off the 2020 picks just as it started in the Fall, as optimistic as his Las Vegas Raiders' playoff hopes were before Captain Gruden hit the iceberg with the Silver & Black Titanic
As for Brandon, despite being under .500 for the Over/Unders, he is content with going 10-5-1 on the Spreads, & his Texas Longhorns locking up the Alama Bowl for a 2nd straight year in NCAA Football;
a sad consolation of football watching for him as 2020 comes to close. #HookEm 🤘🏻
Photo Credit: twitter.com/TexasLonghorns
Week 15 Spreads
Week 15 Over/Under's
Most confident picks of the week
Gold Pick: Cleveland over NY Jets ❌
*THE JETS DID HIM DIRTY, 2 WEEKS IN A ROW
Silver Pick: Buffalo over New England ✔️
Bronze Pick: New Orleans over Minnesota ✔️
Gold Pick: Arizona over San Francisco ❌ *KYLE SHANAHAN CONTINUES TO HAUNT BRANDON
Silver Pick: Washington over Carolina ❌ *THERE'S A REASON WHY QB HASKINS IS NOW UNEMPLOYED
Bronze Pick: Tampa Bay over Detroit ✔️
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills (1.5) O/U 44.5
Miklos: BUF over 44.5
This is a huge week 17 match up with Miami's playoff hopes on the line. The real question is what Bills team are we going to see rolled out as they have already locked in their playoff spot?
Will they rest their starters or will try they knock their AFC East rivals from Florida out of the playoffs as a tune up for their own playoff run? Only time will tell.
Photo Credit: J.J. Territo
Brandon: MIA Over 44.5
Despite Ryan Fitzpatrick being out this week at QB for the Dolphins due to a positive COVID-19 test, this is still a massive game for Miami who is in a dogfight to secure one of the final Wild Card spots in the AFC.
They will have to go through their division rival & division winners this year in the Buffalo Bills to do so, but with Buffalo virtually playing for nothing than seeding (with there only being 1 bye in each conference this year) it is an opportunity for Maimi to play against a Bills team who will most likely be in preservation mode, when it comes to their starters looking forward to the playoffs.
Would be nothing but disrespect for this Dolphins team who have come so far in the last 2 years, to think that they cannot take down their rivals 2nd & 3rd string starters. Dolphins win & clinch their ticket to the Playoffs.
Still an exciting time for the Bills & Bills Mafia as they get ready to host their 1st home playoff game since the colour television was invented.
Baltimore Ravens (12.0) vs Cincinnati Bengals O/U 44.5
Miklos: BAL Under 44.5
Brandon: BAL Under 44.5
Cincinnati has really showed some moxy these past few weeks. We think that is a testament to the coaching job by Zac Taylor and the rest of his staff for getting them to play hard despite being without their franchise QB for the rest of the season.
Despite it being a divisional matchup, the Ravens should take care of business in their last regular season game before a hopefully deep playoff push after what has been an impressive run these last few weeks to get back into contention. Baltimore will be a team that are not to be taken lightly despite being a Wildcard road team this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns (10.0) O/U 42.5
Miklos: PIT over 42.5
Another huge matchup in a week that is full of them. After righting the ship with a victory over the Colts I am sure the Steelers would like nothing more than to put the Browns back in their place and knock them out of a playoff spot. Having the Browns favoured by ten after their upset loss to the Jets seems crazy to me especially with the Steelers looking like they have figured their issues out.
Photo Credit: AP/Gene J. Puska
Brandon: CLE Over 42.5
The Steelers stumbled their way to another AFC North title after losing 3 of their last 4 games and starting 11-0. The biggest 2nd half comeback in Steelers history against the Colts last week was huge, but with virtually nothing to play for other than #2-3 seeding, they can safely rest most of their starters.
The Browns on the other hand, need to win this game to punch their ticket to the playoffs for what has been a very long time coming for this franchise and their loyal fanbase. Despite a winning record this year, it sure would be a disappointment for the Browns to miss the playoffs after what has been such a great resurgence season for Baker Mayfield & 1st year Head Coach Kevin Stefanski.
If the Browns win this game & get in, Stefanski should be a finalist for Coach Of The Year, along with my vote.
Minnesota Vikings (6.5) vs Detroit Lions O/U 54.0
Miklos: MIN Under 54.0
Brandon: MIN Over 54.0
Unlike the Jets who have looked inspired in recent weeks, the Lions have looked anything but and are limping to the finish line. Despite the Vikings being eliminated from the playoffs, they would sure love to end the season on a positive note by stomping one of their division rivals.
Minnesota's defense (more specifically their secondary) have been very much of a transitional growing pain for Mike Zimmer's usually stout unit but with star QB Matt Stafford's status in jeopardy, its hard to believe that Chase Daniel gives much more than the 86 passing yards that he had in relief last week vs the Saints.
New York Jets vs New England Patriots (3.5) O/U 40.0
Miklos: NYJ Under 40.0
What a matchup and what a world where I am seriously skeptical of the Patriots being favoured. As mentioned early the Jets have been playing some inspired football and what better way for them to end a forgettable season than to beat their hated rivals in New England.
Speaking of forgettable, this has been the worst season for the Patriots in two decades and it says a lot that I truly don’t know if they can win this week. As unbelievable as it sounds I have more faith in the Jets this week than the Patriots (something I never thought I would say).
Brandon: NE Under 40.0
Now that the Jets have won 2 straight games and worked their way out of the Trevor Lawrence #1 Overall Pick conversation, it puts to rest my conspiracy theory of Bill Bellichick losing this game intentionally to save the Jets from drafting a franchise QB who they would have to play twice every year moving forward.
With that said, the Patriots playoff dynasty run has come to an end, but don't think that this storied franchise wouldn't have pride in wanting to take down a divisional opponent in a game that means next to nothing to finish out strong as they look to the draft & free agency to rebuild this team on the fly.
Would be nice to see Jarrett Stidham get some action to see what they might have in him, as we already know what they have (and don't have for that matter) in Cam Newton.
Dallas Cowboys (2.5) vs New York Giants O/U 45.0
Miklos: NYG Over 45.0
Brandon: NYG Over 45.0
Photo Credit: Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Yet another huge week 17 matchup with huge playoff implications between these historic rivals, who both look a shell of their former Champion-selves. Even though they have been laughably bad all year, the NFC East remains a tight race all the way to the last week of the season.
Both Dallas and the Giants have been wildly inconsistent throughout the year but with playoffs on the line, it's completely keeping with tradition that the Cowboys & their depleted offensive line will lay an egg on the big stage against a Giants defense that has been surprisingly stout in the 2nd half of the season.
The winner of this game would still need some help, as Washington would need to lose to the Eagles on
Sunday Night to win the snails race to the 2020 NFC East crown.
Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6.5) O/U 50.0
Miklos: TB Over 50.0
With a playoff spot clinched it will be interesting to see if the Buccaneers rest their starters in this meaningless game. The Falcons will definitely be looking for revenge after their heartbreaking loss only a couple weeks ago to these same Bucs. But it would be just like the Falcons to get up big and then blow it to the Tampa Bay B team. It has just been that kind of season in Atlanta.
Brandon: ATL Over 50.0
As painful as it has been to watch Atlanta Falcons football this year, they have been leading in 9 of their 11 losses, which has made it that much more frustrating. Look no further than another blown 4th quarter lead to the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs last week; after holding them to a record low in points, despite being the 32nd ranked defense against the pass.
A great performance by Atlanta giving them confidence to hang with the big boys, paired with another heartbreaking loss to a great team, along with playing against the division rival Buccaneers 2nd stringers (which includes Blaine Gabbert at Quarterback); makes me believe that the Falcons come out & finish the season on a high note. Coincidentally hurting themselves & taking them out of top 5 pick for the 2021 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints (6.5) vs Carolina Panthers O/U 48.0
Miklos: CAR Over 48.0
I think the goal for the Saints this week will be to get out of this game with as few injuries as possible. I am sure Brees will start, as it does appear he is still getting his game legs under him. But don’t be surprised if the Saints treat this like a preseason game and pull all their starters early on. The Panthers are only playing for pride but have played hard for Matt Rhule all season and I don’t expect that to change here.
Brandon: NO Under 48.0
Despite the fact that the Saints are more than likely locked into the #2 seed in the NFC, I think we see
Drew Brees for most of this game, as he is still getting back to form from the injury that kept him out for several weeks this season. With that being said, we should expect to see a sprinkle or 2 of Taysom Hill at QB if this game gets out of hand early, as the Saints are just way too much to handle for this young rebuilding Panthers squad.
Carolina were able to handle the scary Washington Front 4 last week, but New Orleans has a stout defense on all levels, so this should be a momentum booster for a Saints team that has "Super Bowl or Bust" aspirations going into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers (5.5) vs Chicago Bears O/U 51.5
Miklos: CHI Under 51.5
Brandon: CHI Under 51.5
A classic show down between two of the oldest rivals in football. While the Packers have already punched their playoff ticket & home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs as the #1 seed, still expect them to play hard against their most hated rivals.
This is Miklos' game of the week, as the Bears are fighting for their playoff lives with a vastly improved offense and an always stout defence. Some help from mother nature this week at Soldier Field would be ideal for them to sneak in as one of the final Wild Card teams in the NFC.
Although that didn’t seem to slow Aaron Rodgers at all this past week in Lambeau, the most intriguing part of this game is "when & for how long will we get to see 1st Round QB Jordan Love in some game action" with Rodgers taking a much earned rest going into the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts (14.0) O/U 49.5
Miklos: IND Over 49.5
Brandon: IND Under 49.0
Here is a chance for the Jaguars to play spoiler and keep the Colts out of the playoffs. While that is a possibility the 14 point spread and the past few weeks of Jaguars football will tell you how small that chance it.
A must win game for Indianapolis if they want to see post season football. Luckily for the Jaguars, they are already on the clock as the holders of the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans (7.5) vs Houston Texans O/U 56.0
Miklos: TEN Over 56.0
Brandon: TEN Over 56.0
After getting dismantled by Green Bay in the snow the Titans are in a must win situation as they still have not clinched a playoff berth. Luckily, they play the Texans this week and should be able to take care of business despite Deshaun Watson always seeming to own the Titans with some miraculous performances.
Concerns remain for the playoffs, but that is next week’s problem as King Henry and the Titans should punch their ticket as the AFC South Champions, baring laying an egg of epic proportions vs a Texans team in shambles that are still searching for their next Head Coach & GM tandem.
Los Angeles Chargers (3.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs O/U 44.0
Miklos: KC Over 44.0
Brandon: KC Over 44.0
We imagine the reason for this spread is that this game does not mean anything to the Chiefs and they will likely rest their starters as the #1 seed in the AFC.
Regardless, given the Chargers track record of losing games they are favoured in and the wealth of talent in Kansas City, winning by more than a field goal seems like a stretch to us; even with Chad Henne starting at QB for the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes taking a well deserved seat on the sidelines going into Round 2 of the playoffs.
Las Vegas Raiders (2.0) vs Denver Broncos O/U 50.5
Miklos: DEN Under 50.5
Brandon: DEN Under 50.5
Will it may be a divisional matchup only pride is at stake in this game. The Raiders really want to finish the season on a strong note after a string of defeats and back to back heart breakers. The Broncos are at home and have been a tough matchup all season despite their wealth of injuries, which have led to a disappointing season. Will the Raiders be able to rise to the challenge in Mile High? It hurts Miklos to say it but…"I doubt it."
Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals (3.0) O/U 40.5
Miklos: ARI Under 40.5
The first of two big NFC West matchups. These teams have beaten each other up all season and we have seen that anyone can beat anyone in this division. Both teams are fighting to be in the playoffs and with the way that the Rams have been slumping, I think the edge goes to the home team. Move over Sean McVay there is a new Wunderkind in town.
Photo Credit: Mike Florio via Getty Images
Brandon: LAR Over 40.5
As much as the Rams have been struggling as of late and how much high praise I have been giving the Cardinals all season, the egg they laid vs a depleted 49ers team at home last week really concerns me.
Even battling for their playoff lives, the Cardinals have been a jackal & hyde all season with looking like a team who could compete for an NFC crown, to a team who looks like they should have a top 5 draft pick.
The unfortunate inconsistent play of both of these offenses leads me to believe that this game could truly go either way, but I am going to go with the experience of Sean McVay & Jared Goff in this instance who still are not out of the woods & need to win to clinch their ticket into another playoff redemption tour as Super Bowl runners up just 2 seasons ago. This season will ultimately be a very good learning experience for QB Kyler Murray & Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, as they try to rebuild this franchise from the ground up but the future is bright in Arizona in more ways than 1.
Seattle Seahawks (4.5) vs San Francisco 49ers O/U 46.5
Miklos: SEA Over 46.5
Brandon: SEA Under 46.5
The second big NFC West matchup that shouldn’t be as close as it might turn out to be. The Seahawks should easily win this game and even though they have clinched the division they have shown all year that they are incapable of playing a normal game. The 49ers have been tough on divisional opponents all season (despite leading the NFL in key injuries) and this week will be no different.
We have faith that Russel Wilson and Co. will get the job done to get some winning momentum for the playoffs and clinch another NFC West title, in what has been the toughest division in the NFL this 2020 season.
Washington Football Team (1.5) vs Philadelphia Eagles O/U 43.0
Miklos: PHI Over 43.0
On any normal week a matchup between two sub .500 teams with a rookie and practice roster QB starting for each team, you would expect it to get flexed out of a primetime slot immediately. This is no normal week however as the playoffs are on the line. We don’t know who Washington is going to role out at QB but despite how it looks I am sure this will be a sloppy but entertaining game.
Photo Credit: Brad Mills
Brandon: WAS Over 43.0
Despite a turnover filled effort vs the Panthers last week in Ron Rivera's revenge game, the Football Team did the right thing this week by cutting ties with negative & regressing 1st round QB Dwayne Haskins after his abysmal effort last week.
The status of starting QB Alex Smith is still in question, but I believe that Washington's Defense will carry them to victory against a horrible Eagles offensive line & punch their ticket to the playoffs by beating up on their division rivals and taking this NFC East crown, which has been one for the ages in all the wrong ways.
With Philadelphia all but imploding from within as a franchise after this season, congratulations to Washington and Head Coach Ron Rivera, who should get to host a playoff game with this win;
then proceed to be blown out by whatever NFC Wild Card team that comes in as the road team,
who probably had 2-3 more wins than they did.
Most confident picks of the week
Gold Pick: Indianapolis over Jacksonville
Silver Pick: Minnesota over Detroit
Bronze Pick: Baltimore over Cincinnati
Gold Pick: Tennessee over Houston
Silver Pick: Washington over Philadelphia
Bronze Pick: Seattle over San Francisco
Week 16 Takeaways
By Miklos McMaster
Photo Credit: AP/Steven Senne
1. The Raiders struggles down the stretch.
As the resident Raiders expert, I feel it is my obligation to address what has been happening in the past few weeks. The Raiders have seriously struggled down the stretch which is something that also occurred last year. In fact, the Raiders would have lost the last seven consecutive games if it wasn't for Gregg Williams’ inexplicable cover zero blitz in the dying moments of their game against the Jets. Now there have been many questions about Jon Gruden's coaching and if he just has a great scheme to start the year and once teams figure him out that's it for him. But, in watching all of their games this season I think it's just the Raiders regressing to the mean and showing who they actually are as a team. And who they are is a very talented and potent offense that must be absolutely perfect to cover up for a very thin and inexperienced defense.
I mentioned it previously on the podcast that the common theme in the games that they had lost early in the season was turnovers by the offense, leading to more opportunities for the opposing team to score.
The Raiders defense, especially in the secondary, is so thin and young and has been struggling all year. Especially with a minimal and struggling pass rush. This has only been exposed more with the rash of injuries that they have had late in the season and by teams learning more about them with more and more weeks of film . The pressure on the offense has been tremendous and in games where they have struggled they've been put in positions where they can't do what they do best. Which is to consistently pound the ball on the ground and then turn play action into big plays to their speedy wide receivers.
Even in this most recent game against the Dolphins, the offense executed some perfect end of the game football in what should have been an easy win in the end. But a combination of penalties and just poor play in the secondary allowed the Dolphins to get in game winning field goal range and steal a victory from the jaws of defeat. While it has made for some heartbreaking football near the end of the season, especially in a year where the playoffs seemed like a very realistic opportunity early on, I still am extremely hopeful for this team next year.
There are tons of positives and taking the lumps like this are going to teach the young players on the defense, and the offense for that matter, tons about what it takes to play and win in the NFL. If they attack the offseason like they should I am sure there is going to be some tremendous growth over the offseason.
With some added depth and experience improving the defense they should be ready to make the playoffs next year. I very much believe that the Raiders are on upward trajectory and remain positive moving forward.
2. The Jets win again!
Photo Credit: Neil Reynolds via skysports.com
Well they did it again. The Jets have made me look stupid yet again with my gold pick by upsetting the surging Cleveland Browns. It is true that the Browns were missing all of their wide receivers due to positive COVID-19 tests and given that fact it seems pretty ridiculous that they made Baker Mayfield throw the ball 53 times.
It seems that the Jets are determined to try and save Adam Gase's job after what has been a truly embarrassing season.
With back to back wins they are showing that there truly is no tanking in the NFL and that these guys want to win every week. This is especially important given the postgame speech given by JJ Watt and just gives even more truth to what he said. If you truly want to be in the NFL and play at the highest level of football you want to win no matter what the season's been like and a matter what it means to the draft status of your team. This second win is truly a testament to the Jets players and the grit that they have shown given how their season has gone up to this point.
Credit where credit is due and kudos to the Jets players for continuing to battle even when no one (including myself) thought it was worth it or believed in them to do it. As for the rest of their organization, they need to take a lesson from their players at dig deep and figure out how to turn things around for next year because these players deserve to be on an organization that puts him in the best positions to win week after week, in order to avoid another horrendous start to a season.
3. Da Bears!
HOW BOUT THEM BEARS! After a mid season slump where everyone believed that they were finally showing their true colours the bears went back to Mitchell Trubisky and have been on a tear. Granted, the team that they just played this week was the locked in last place Jacksonville Jaguars but the Bears have been showing for the last several weeks the one thing that had been severely missing at the beginning of the season. That is consistent good offensive production to go along with their A+ caliber defense.
Now, a win was always expected against Jacksonville but putting up 47 points shows that the Bears offense is continuing to put points on the board week-in & week out and that the first couple weeks of the return of Mitchell Trubisky was not a fluke. All of this recent positive production is making for an absolutely dynamite match up against their historical hated rivals in Green Bay to finish off the season.
The Bears are continuing to stay hot at the right time and even if they lose to Green Bay this week, they are a team I would definitely not want to face in the playoffs. They have done damage with worse offenses and have made the Super Bowl with a quarterback that I would argue is of similar or worse capability than Mitchell Trubisky in Rex Grossman. I've touted them before and I'm still on the Bears train And it looks like the best is yet to come.
4. How good is Alvin Kamara?
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
I think a quick shoutout is deserved for Alvin Kamara. He hasn't always gotten the rushing yardage because he has been in a shared backfield his entire career first with Mark Ingram and now with Latavius Murray.
But my God is he good! In fact if it wasn't for Sean Payton turning to Taysom Hill for one of the touchdowns in their game against Minnesota he easily could have had seven touchdowns in the game breaking the all time NFL record.
He is easily one of the hardest running backs in the NFL to tackle and is a threat out of the backfield as a receiver as well. He is quietly in the top three running backs I would say that you would want on your team and is going to have to continue this production and play for the Saints to succeed the rest of the way, especially with their lack of depth at Wide Receiver without Michael Thomas for most of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if they start heaping the load onto Kamara at making their offense run through him. It's certainly what I would do and I'm sure it's what he wants as well.