I went 9-7 last week straight-up, and 6-10 against the spread. For the season, that puts me at 158-82 straight-up, and 121-112-7 against the spread. For a comparison, check out the NFL “experts” over at ESPN.
What follows are my picks for the NFL’s Week 17 games. (Note: I will be making all of my picks for the NFL playoffs in the comments section of this article.)
*SUNDAY, JANUARY 1ST, 2012*
Carolina 6-9 at New Orleans 12-3 1:00 [Line: Saints by 9]
The Saints need a win and a San Francisco loss in order to clinch the 2nd seed (and a first round bye) in the NFC playoffs. Panthers QB Cam Newton looks likely to win the Offensive Rookie Of The Year Award.
—RJ’s Pick: New Orleans by 15
Buffalo 6-9 at New England 12-3 1:00 [Line: Patriots by 11.5]
The Patriots can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win here. The Bills are 1-6 on the road this season.
—RJ’s Pick: New England by 19
Chicago 7-8 at Minnesota 3-12 1:00 [Line: Bears by 1]
The Bears have dropped five straight but still have a shot at a .500 season. The Vikings are 0-5 against division rivals this season.
—RJ’s Pick: Minnesota by 4
New York Jets 8-7 at Miami 5-10 1:00 [Line: Dolphins by 1]
The Jets can still make the playoffs as a wild card with a win and losses by the Titans, the Bengals, and either the Broncos or the Raiders. The Dolphins have gone 5-3 since starting the season 0-7, and two of those three losses were in close games on the road against good teams.
—RJ’s Pick: Miami by 6
San Francisco 12-3 at St. Louis 2-13 1:00 [Line: 49ers by 10.5]
The 49ers will clinch the 2nd seed in the NFC with a win. The Rams will clinch the top pick in the NFL draft with a loss and an Indianapolis win.
—RJ’s Pick: San Francisco by 16
Detroit 10-5 at Green Bay 14-1 1:00 [Line: Lions by 3]
The Packers have already clinched the top seed in the NFC and will likely be resting a lot of starters. The Lions can clinch the 5th seed in the NFC with a win and would then travel to face either the Cowboys or the Giants in the first round.
—RJ’s Pick: Detroit by 8
Washington 5-10 at Philadelphia 7-8 1:00 [Line: Eagles by 9]
Redskins WR Jabar Gaffney needs just 81 more receiving yards to reach 1000 for the season. The Eagles are on a three game winning streak and can finish the season at .500 with a win here.
—RJ’s Pick: Philadelphia by 3
Indianapolis 2-13 at Jacksonville 4-11 1:00 [Line: Jaguars by 4]
The Colts can draft Andrew Luck with a loss. Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has the lowest passer rating in the NFL (among players who have thrown at least 14 passes per game).
—RJ’s Pick: Indianapolis by 2
Tennessee 8-7 at Houston 10-5 1:00 [Line: Titans by 2.5]
The Texans are locked into the AFC’s 3rd seed regardless of the outcome of this game. The Titans need a win and a bunch of help in order to earn a wild card spot.
—RJ’s Pick: Tennessee by 7
Seattle 7-8 at Arizona 7-8 4:15 [Line: Cardinals by 3]
The Cardinals are 5-2 at home this season. The Seahawks have the NFL’s 5th ranked defense (in points allowed).
—RJ’s Pick: Arizona by 9
Kansas City 6-9 at Denver 8-7 4:15 [Line: Broncos by 3]
The Broncos will win the AFC West with a victory this week, and will then host either the Steelers or the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. Chiefs QB Kyle Orton hopes to get revenge against the team that released him earlier this season.
—RJ’s Pick: Denver by 6
Tampa Bay 4-11 at Atlanta 9-6 4:15 [Line: Falcons by 13]
The Falcons have clinched a wild card spot in the NFC and can land the 5th seed with a win and a loss by Detroit. The Buccaneers are allowing nearly 30 points per game, worst in the league.
—RJ’s Pick: Atlanta by 10
Baltimore 11-4 at Cincinnati 9-6 4:15 [Line: Ravens by 2.5]
The Ravens can clinch the 2nd seed in the AFC with a win and can clinch the top seed with a win and a New England loss. The Bengals can clinch the 6th seed in the AFC with a win.
—RJ’s Pick: Baltimore by 7
Pittsburgh 11-4 at Cleveland 4-11 4:15 [Line: Steelers by 7]
The Steelers can clinch the 2nd seed in the AFC with a win and a Baltimore loss, and can clinch the top seed with a win and a loss by both the Ravens and the Patriots. The Browns have not scored 20 points in a game since November.
—RJ’s Pick: Pittsburgh by 14
San Diego 7-8 at Oakland 8-7 4:15 [Line: Raiders by 3]
The Raiders can win the AFC West with a victory and a Denver loss, and have a shot at a wild card spot with a win and a loss by both Cincinnati and Tennessee, or a win and a loss by the Bengals and a win by the Jets. The Chargers have the best point differential in the AFC West, but will not be playing this postseason.
—RJ’s Pick: Chargers by 5
Dallas 8-7 at New York Giants 8-7 8:20 [Line: Giants by 3]
This one is rather simple: The winner of this game gets in as the 4th seed in the NFC, and the loser watches the playoffs on the couch. If there is a tie, the Giants would be the winners of the NFC East. The Cowboys have a plus-39 point differential, compared to the Giants at minus-23. The Giants are just 3-4 at home this season, while the Cowboys are 3-4 on the road. I believe the Cowboys are the better team, but I fully expect another epic Tony Romo choke job.
—RJ’s Pick: New York Giants by 1
(If you’re interested, you can check out the full list of Danny Sheridan’s Odds here.)