NFL Pick'em Week 17: Man vs. Machine

Written by John Ferguson
December 27, 2019
335 views

NFL Pick'em Week 17

Pick'em Week 17I hope everyone had a great holiday! We had some great action in the NFL last week that gave us a much more clear picture of what the playoffs are going to look like, but there is still a lot of seeding to be decided.

In the AFC, the Ravens are the only team that has locked in a top seed with a first-round bye. They are resting starters this week against the Steelers which has led to the Steelers coming into that game as small favorites. The Steelers are one of three teams jockeying for the last wild card slot in the AFC along with the Titans and somehow, the Raiders. The Steelers need a win and a Titans loss while the Titans are in a "win and in" scenario. The Raiders need a miracle basically, but if they win, the Colts win, and the Titans and Steelers both lose, it would force a four-way tie in which the Raiders hold the tiebreaker. The Bills are another team with nothing to play for in the AFC as they're locked into the fifth seed. The two seed is the biggest scenario to watch in the AFC with the Chiefs and Patriots fighting for the second first-round bye. If the Chiefs win and the Pats lose, the Chiefs get it. A Chiefs win in the early slate could also impact the Texans' plan to start or rest their starters as they won't be able to advance in seeding.

The NFC has more undecided as both the NFC East and West don't have divisional winners yet. The Eagles have the edge in the east with a win and in on their side while the Cowboys need a win and Eagles loss to secure a playoff berth. The marquee matchup to watch this week is the Seahawks hosting the 49ers to decide the west. It will also greatly shake up the seeding in the NFC. If the Niners win, they get the top seed. A Seahawks win pushes the Packers to the top seed if/when they beat the Lions. The Vikings have nothing to play for as they're locked into their seed and are also likely to rest starters. 

Now, let's get to my weekly battle with the machine! We had one of our closest weekly finishes of the season last week in ATS/OU picks. I went 18-14 (56.3%) while the machine went 17-14 (49.4%), giving man another win. This brings our head-to-head record to 11-5 in favor of man. I have done especially well with straight-up picks going 11-5 each of the last three weeks and picking ATS by going 11-5 there as well last week while the machine has had a better feel for the over/unders as of late. On the season, man has a slight lead in overall accuracy at 50.4% (212-209) with the machine just below at 49.4% (196-201).

In case this is your first time reading this column, here is a quick recap of what we are doing with our weekly pick'em coverage. We have partnered up with the folks over at Betting Antelope who will be providing "the machine" aspect of our weekly pick'em. If you're unfamiliar with their product, Betting Antelope is an impressive machine learning model powered by SportsData.io and designed to predict moneyline, against the spread, over/under, and total team wins for NFL games. The model ingests data and trains itself each week as the season goes on, optimizing profitability by using a combination of regression and decision tree models to make picks. So this season, it's my research, opinions, and instincts vs. the machine.

Now that we have recapped everything and gotten everyone up to speed, let's get to our Week 17 picks!

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.


Cleveland Browns (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (O/U 43.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Nick Chubb has broken 39 tackles this season -- most among NFL RBs
  • The Browns defense has allowed first downs on 37.7% of plays since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 29.3%
  • The Browns defense has allowed rushes of 10+ yards on 38 of 206 carries (18.4%) since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.5%
  • The Browns defense has allowed 194.8 rushing yards per game since Week 13 -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 115.4
  • Andy Dalton has completed just 48.2% of passes (79 completions/164 net pass attempts) against the blitz this season -- lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 58.9%
  • Joe Mixon has broken 12 tackles since Week 13 -- 2nd most among NFL RBs.
  • Joe Mixon has averaged 25.0 touches per game since Week 13 -- highest of 68 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 8.8
  • The Bengals defense has not recorded a sack (55 attempts) in the red zone this season -- highest attempts per sack rate in NFL; League Avg: 18.0
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 6.6 yards after the catch this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.2
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 155.9 rushing yards per game this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 113.1
  • The Browns are averaging 20.8 PPG this season.
  • The Bengals have allowed 26.5 PPG overall this season and 33 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bengals are averaging 16.4 PPG overall this season (fewest in NFL) and 22.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Browns have allowed 24 PPG overall this season and 29.3 PPG over their last three games.

Can the Bengals get more than one win this season? That's basically what they're playing for as they have already locked in the first overall pick in the draft for next season. The Browns and Freddie Kitchens will try and salvage what's left of their pride after a season marred by underperforming and dysfunction. Kitchens is certainly on the hot seat after looking like he has no control of his team for most of the season and not being able to get the most out of what honestly is a very talented roster. The Bengals are coming off a performance where they put up a season-high 35 points against the Dolphins while the Browns have now allowed over 30 points in each of their last two games. The Browns beat the Bengals 27-19 in Week 14. An upset isn't out of the question here and the Browns losing to the Bengals in Week 17 would pretty much be their season in a nutshell, but I wouldn't bet on it.

My Final Prediction: Browns win 26-24

My Pick: Bengals +3, Over 43.5

Machine Pick: Browns -3, Under 43.5


Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) (O/U 45)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Chargers defense has allowed 6.2 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 7.5
  • Mike Williams has averaged 25.9 yards per reception (544 yards/21 catches) since Week 9 -- best of 69 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 13.2
  • Austin Ekeler has averaged 9.3 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 13 -- best of 35 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 4.9
  • The Chargers' opponents have attempted just 29.3 passes per game this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 34.9
  • Travis Kelce has averaged 85.9 receiving yards per game since Week 9 -- best of 35 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 24.0
  • Charvarius Ward (KC) has allowed receptions to receivers he was covering on just 14 of 39 targets (35.9%) since Week 9 -- best of 49 qualified NFL defensive backs; League Avg: 61.5%
  • The Chiefs defense has allowed a passer rating of just 63.3 since Week 13 -- 2nd best in NFL; League Avg: 90.5
  • The Chiefs defense has allowed a completion pct of just 54.4% (136 completions/250 attempts) since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 62.9%
  • The Chargers are averaging 21.1 PPG this season.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 19.1 PPG overall this season and just 7.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chiefs are averaging 28 PPG this season (fourth-most in NFL)
  • The Chargers have allowed 20.9 PPG overall this season and 24.3 PPG over their last three games.

The Chiefs are fighting for a top seed still in the AFC and could get it with a win here against the Chargers if the Pats can manage to lose to the Dolphins. Not a very likely scenario, but it gives the Chiefs all the reason to keep the pedal to the metal in the final week of play. The Chargers, on the other hand, could be looking at their last game with Philip Rivers as their starting QB. The Chiefs defense has continued to stay red hot with only three points allowed in each of their last two games and less than 10 allowed in three of their last four. They're a lock play this week in a game that could see Tyrod Taylor make another cameo under center for the Bolts.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 27-13

My Pick: Chiefs -8.5, Under 45

Machine Pick: Chiefs -8.5, Over 45


New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-2) (O/U 36)

Matchup Notes:

  • Jets WRs have dropped 10 balls since Week 13 -- most in NFL
  • Jamison Crowder has been targeted 11 times in the red zone since Week 9 -- tied for most among NFL WRs
  • Jets RBs have not rushed for any TDs on 94 carries since Week 13 -- tied for highest carries per TD rate in NFL; League Avg: 30.1
  • The Jets defense has stuffed 28.0% (52/186) of rushing attempts since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 17.8%
  • The Jets have converted first downs on just 206 of 892 plays (23.1%) this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 28.7%
  • The Jets have allowed opponents to pressure their QB on 20.7% of dropbacks in the red zone this season -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 12.7%
  • Bills RBs have rushed for one TD on 196 carries since Week 9 -- highest carries per TD rate in NFL; League Avg: 33.3
  • The Bills defense has allowed an average of 3.1 yards after contact per carry (176 carries) since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 2.2
  • The Bills have thrown the ball 45.8% of the time since Week 9 -- 2nd lowest in NFL; League Avg: 55.0%
  • The Bills defensive line has missed 49 tackles on 150 opportunities (32.7%) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 17.5%
  • The Jets are averaging 17.5 PPG this season -- tied for fifth-fewest in NFL.
  • The Bills have allowed 16.4 PPG this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Bills are averaging 20.5 PPG this season.
  • The Jets have allowed 23.5 PPG overall this season and 28.1 PPG on the road.

These teams have nothing to play for and the Bills have more to gain from resting starters. Coach Sean McDermott has said that the majority of his guys will play, but I wouldn't expect more than a half from them. This will mean Matt Barkley should see time under center with the rest of the B-squad all around. Adam Gase will certainly be pushing his team to play hard for him as it becomes increasingly clear that he is not a good coach. I've gone back and forth on this pick. The Jets have been completely erratic in scoring and production all season and have been awful on the road with a 1-6 record there and been held under 20 points on the road five times. While you would like to think that they're a good bet against the Bills' backups, it still carries some risk. The Jets road woes are what ultimately decides it for me.

My Final Prediction: Bills win 20-17

My Pick: Bills -2, Over 36

Machine Pick: Bills -2, Under 36


New Orleans Saints (-13) at Carolina Panthers (O/U 45.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Drew Brees has a passer rating of 129.5 since Week 13 -- best of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 90.3
  • Drew Brees has thrown 9 TDs and no interceptions against the blitz this season -- tied for best of 27 qualified NFL QBs
  • Jared Cook has averaged 19.0 yards per reception since Week 9 -- 2nd best of 35 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 10.7
  • Jared Cook has averaged 10.4 yards after the catch since Week 13 -- best of 23 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 4.7
  • Michael Thomas has averaged 116.1 receiving yards per game since Week 9 -- best of 69 qualified NFL WRs
  • Alvin Kamara has 6.1 receptions per game this season -- 2nd best of 43 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 1.7
  • Christian McCaffrey has averaged 152.0 yards from scrimmage per game since Week 9 -- best among RBs.
  • The Panthers defense has allowed 196.2 rushing yards per game since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 115.4
  • The Panthers defense has allowed 6.5 yards per carry since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 4.5
  • The Saints are averaging 27.7 PPG overall this season (fifth-most) and 39.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Panthers have allowed 28.5 PPG overall this season (second-most) and 36 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Panthers are averaging 22 PPG overall this season and 16.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Saints have allowed 22.1 PPG overall this season and 27.7 PPG over their last three games.

The Saints are still jockeying for a top seed in the NFC and the first step in getting that is by knocking off the Panthers this week. The Saints could still lock in the top seed if the Seahawks beat the 49ers and the Lions beat the Packers (unlikely). They can lock in the two seed with a win here against the Panthers and if the Seahawks and Packers both win. So, essentially both the Saints and Packers are rooting for the Seahawks. This should be a complete blowout as the Panthers are completely lost right now as a franchise. There is a chance of a backdoor cover here if the Saints pull ahead big early and bench starters, allowing the Panthers to close the gap a little in garbage time. 

My Final Prediction: Saints win 30-14

My Pick: Saints -13, Under 45.5

Machine Pick: Saints -13, Under 45.5


Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-1) (O/U 36.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Bears defense has allowed a passer rating of 118.1 in the red zone since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 93.3
  • Bears WRs have been targeted 26.8 times per game since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 19.2
  • Mitchell Trubisky has averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt this season -- lowest of 33 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.2
  • Kyle Fuller (CHI) has 916 receiving yards against him this season -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • Bears RBs have averaged 5.5 yards after the catch this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 7.6
  • The Vikings defense has forced 15 turnovers since Week 13 -- most in NFL
  • The Vikings have run the ball on 59.4% of plays in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 45.7%
  • Danielle Hunter (MIN) has 14.5 sacks this season -- tied for 2nd most among NFL defensive linemen.
  • Xavier Rhodes (MIN) has allowed receptions to receivers he was covering on 65 of 82 targets (79.3%) this season -- highest of 57 qualified NFL defensive backs; League Avg: 62.5%
  • Trae Waynes (MIN) has allowed receptions to receivers he was covering on 69 of 94 targets (73.4%) this season -- 2nd highest of 57 qualified NFL defensive backs; League Avg: 62.5%
  • The Bears are averaging 17.3 PPG this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Vikings have allowed 18.8 PPG overall this season but just 15.4 PPG at home and 13.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Vikings are averaging 25.9 PPG this season.
  • The Bears have allowed 18.6 PPG overall this season (fifth-fewest) and 23.7 PPG over their last three games.

The Bears likely have more to play for in this game with Matt Nagy coaching for job security. The Bears have lost their last two games but their defense has done its best to keep them from getting blown out. A win here on the road could be easier to come by than normal with the Vikings looking to rest starter before their playoff run. The Vikes also desperately need that rest to figure out their lives after they didn't even look like they belonged on the same field as the Packers last week. The Bears beat the Vikings 16-6 back in Week 4 and I like them to win this one as well.

My Final Prediction: Bears win 20-17

My Pick: Bears +1, Over 36.5

Machine Pick: Vikings -1, Under 36.5


Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2) (O/U 47)

Matchup Notes:

  • Devonta Freeman has averaged 1.1 yards after contact per carry (59 carries) since Week 13 -- lowest of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.3
  • Falcons RBs have averaged 4.4 yards after the catch since Week 9 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 7.6
  • Julio Jones has averaged 100.7 receiving yards per game since Week 9 -- 2nd best of 69 qualified NFL WRs
  • The Falcons have run the ball on 31.8% of plays this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 39.9%
  • The Falcons defense has pressured opposing QBs on 10.9% of dropbacks this season -- 2nd lowest in NFL; League Avg: 14.1%
  • The Buccaneers defense has blitzed on 29.8% of plays since Week 13 -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 17.6%
  • Jameis Winston has averaged 379.2 passing yards per game since Week 13 -- best of 30 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 210.2
  • Jameis Winston has committed 33 turnovers on 705 plays (4.7% turnover percentage) this season -- highest of 33 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 2.5%
  • Offenses facing the Buccaneers have thrown the ball 63.0% of the time since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 55.0%
  • The Falcons are averaging 23.5 PPG overall this season, 26.4 PPG on the road, and 31 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Bucs have allowed 28.1 PPG this season -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Bucs are averaging 29.1 PPG overall this season (third-most) and 32 PPG over their last three games, but just 25.5 PPG at home.
  • The Falcons have allowed 25.1 PPG overall this season but just 18 PPG over their last three games.  

This could be one of the more entertaining pointless games of the week as both teams have the ability to light up the scoreboard any given week. The Falcons defense has been hot as of late and should be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on Jameis Winston recklessly airing it out. Winston was in his usual form last week handing out INTs like candy on Halloween to the Texans and was lucky to have gotten away with just four picks. These teams met as recently as Week 12 where the Bucs won 35-22, but with them down their top offensive weapons and the Falcons defense playing better, I wouldn't bet on a similar outcome this week. I think the Falcons even the score against the division rival in this one.

My Final Prediction: Falcons win 28-24

My Pick: Falcons +2, Over 47

Machine Pick: Push, Over 47


Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-16) (O/U 44.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • DeVante Parker has gained 20+ yards on 8 of his 18 receptions (44.4%) since Week 13 -- 2nd best of 66 qualified NFL WRs; League Avg: 18.1%
  • The Dolphins defense has pressured opposing QBs on 9.6% of dropbacks since Week 9 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 14.3%
  • Dolphins RBs have averaged just 2.7 yards per carry since Week 9 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 4.2
  • The Dolphins have allowed opponents to pressure their QB on 20.5% of dropbacks this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 14.1%
  • Offenses facing the Dolphins have thrown deep balls on 16.3% of pass attempts this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 12.1%
  • James White has averaged 7.1 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 13 -- 2nd best of 35 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 4.9
  • Tom Brady has completed just 57.1% of passes since Week 9 -- lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 62.9%
  • The Patriots defense has allowed just 5.2 yards per attempt this season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 6.8
  • The Patriots defense has allowed a passer rating of just 59.8 this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 90.9
  • The Patriots defense has allowed opponents to catch just 274 of 479 passes (57.2% Reception Pct) this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 66.2%
  • The Dolphins are averaging 18.6 PPG overall this season and 26.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Patriots have allowed 13.2 PPG overall this season (fewest in NFL) and 17.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Patriots are averaging 26.4 PPG this season.
  • The Dolphins have allowed 31.3 PPG this season -- most in NFL.

Sony Michel.jpgThe Patriots cupcake schedule will likely save them again this week as they desperately need a win here to secure a top seed in the AFC playoff race. Their offense continues to look stagnant while the defense carries them to wins. No one is afraid of them heading into the playoffs, but this is a good chance for them to change that and make some noise at home against a weak Dolphins team they bashed 43-0 earlier this season. The Dolphins offense has been playing much more competitive football as of late, but their defense continues to hemorrhage points. While the Pats don't look like they're in a place to blow out opponents right now, they did that against the Bengals just two weeks ago winning by 21 points who are on a similar playing field as the Phins right now. The Pats are a lock to win with so much on the line at home, but I am less confident in the spread. 

My Final Prediction: Patriots win 31-17

My Pick: Dolphins +16, Over 44.5

Machine Pick: Dolphins +16, Under 44.5


Green Bay Packers (-12) at Detroit Lions (O/U 43)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Packers defense has allowed a passer rating of just 61.0 since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 90.5
  • The Packers defense has allowed a completion pct of just 36.7% (11 completions/30 attempts) in the red zone since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 54.5%
  • The Packers defensive line has missed 6 tackles on 11 opportunities (54.5%) in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.8%
  • Aaron Jones has averaged 5.7 yards per carry since Week 13 -- 2nd best of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 4.3
  • Aaron Rodgers has not been intercepted (122 pass attempts) against the blitz this season -- tied for best of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 43.4
  • The Lions defense has allowed a passer rating of 114.8 since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 90.5
  • Kenny Golladay has 13 receptions for 20+ yards since Week 9 -- 2nd most among NFL WRs
  • The Lions defense has pressured opposing QBs on 11.2% of dropbacks this season -- 3rd lowest in NFL; League Avg: 14.1%
  • The Packers are averaging 23.5 PPG this season.
  • The Lions have allowed 26.7 PPG overall this season and 29.9 PPG at home.
  • The Lions are averaging 21.4 PPG overall this season and just 13.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Packers have allowed 19.5 PPG overall this season and just 12.7 PPG over their last three games.

The Packers are in the process of trying to secure the top seed in the NFC but they need a win here first to do so. That should be incredibly easy to come by with the Lions riding an eight-game losing streak coming into this. The Packers only beat the Lions by one point earlier this season, but that was against a very different Lions team. Their offense hasn't been able to surpass 20 points in each of their last five games and will now face a Packers team that was firing on all cylinders in a primetime matchup just last week. This should be a rout and I'm surprised the spread isn't a touch higher even to be honest with the Packers still having something to play for this week.

My Final Prediction: Packers win 27-14

My Pick: Packers -12, Under 43

Machine Pick: Lions +12, Over 43


Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) (O/U 45.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Redskins defense has pressured opposing QBs on 20.4% of dropbacks since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 13.5%
  • The Redskins defense has allowed an average of 3.3 yards after contact per carry (99 carries) since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 2.3
  • The Redskins defense has allowed 208.5 yards from scrimmage per game to RBs since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 133.5
  • The Redskins have been sacked on 11.3% of pass attempts in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.6%
  • The Redskins have gone three and out on 30.5% of their drives this season -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 21.0%
  • Ezekiel Elliott has broken 19 tackles since Week 13 -- most among NFL RBs.
  • Sean Lee (DAL) has missed 9 tackles since Week 9 -- tied for 2nd most among NFL linebackers
  • The Cowboys defense has allowed a passer rating of 106.6 since Week 13 -- 3rd highest in NFL; League Avg: 90.5
  • The Redskins are averaging 16.7 PPG overall this season (second-fewest in NFL) and 25.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Cowboys have allowed 20.3 PPG this season.
  • The Cowboys are averaging 25.8 PPG overall this season and 30 PPG at home.
  • The Redskins have allowed 25.9 PPG overall this season and 32.7 PPG over their last three games.

The Cowboys season is wasting away and they can't afford to stumble any further. Their destiny is no longer in their own hands as they need a win here and the Eagles to lose to sneak into the playoffs. The Redskins will be turning back to Case Keenum under center with Dwayne Haskins dealing with an injury. This could actually work against the Cowboys as I like the Skins' chances with Keenum under center better than Haskins. With the Cowboys and Eagles both playing at the same time, expect them to be watching that score closely and using it as a motivation factor for their own performance. I think the Cowboys get the win here but it could be too little too late. A loss could finally cost Jason Garrett his job as head clapper.

My Final Prediction: Cowboys win 30-20

My Pick: Redskins +10.5, Over 45.5

Machine Pick: Redskins +10.5, Under 45.5


Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (O/U 43)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Colts defense has allowed opponents to catch 109 of 138 passes (79.0% Reception Pct) since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 65.7%
  • The Colts defense has allowed a completion pct of 70.2% this season -- 3rd highest in NFL; League Avg: 63.8%
  • Jacoby Brissett has been pressured on 32.6% of dropbacks since Week 9 -- highest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 22.0%
  • The Colts have scored 11 of 19 (57.9%) TDs on the ground since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 33.9%
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 13.4 yards per completion since Week 13 -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.3
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed first downs on 42.2% of pass attempts since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 34.5%
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 6.9 yards after the catch since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.2
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 5.9 yards per carry since Week 9 -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 4.5
  • Leonard Fournette has averaged 3.1 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for 2nd best of 34 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.2
  • The Colts are averaging 22.7 PPG overall this season and 26.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Jaguars have allowed 25.1 PPG this season.
  • The Jaguars are averaging 17.5 PPG overall this season (tied for fifth-fewest) and just 14 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Colts have allowed 22.3 PPG overall this season, 25.4 PPG on the road, and 26 PPG over their last three games.

We get a meaningless divisional tilt here against two teams with nothing to play for. The worst part about this one is that they seem to have zero motivation to finish the season strong. Over the back half of the season, the Colts have only won two of their last eight while the Jags have only won once in their last eight. The Jags especially couldn't stop from getting blown out down the stretch. The Colts are coming off a moral victory by destroying the Panthers and Will Grier in his first NFL start last week. I don't expect many fireworks from this one and it has the feel of kind of a snoozefest. I'll take the Colts and their momentum but it's far from a lock on the road.

My Final Prediction: Colts win 24-21

My Pick: Jaguars +3.5, Over 43

Machine Pick: Colts -3.5, Over 43


Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at New York Giants (O/U 45)

Matchup Notes:

  • Carson Wentz has one interception on 179 attempts since week 13 -- 2nd best among NFL QBs
  • Boston Scott (PHI) has 19 receptions on 19 targets (100.0% Reception Pct) since Week 13 -- tied for best of 34 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 77.2%
  • Eagles WRs have averaged 2.4 yards after the catch since Week 9 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 4.4
  • The Eagles defense has allowed an average of 2.8 yards after contact per carry (9 carries) in the red zone since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 1.6
  • Miles Sanders has averaged 125.5 yards from scrimmage per game since Week 13 -- 3rd best of 68 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 43.3
  • The Giants defense has no interceptions and 11 TD passes allowed since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 2.0
  • Saquon Barkley has averaged 3.8 yards after contact per carry since Week 13 -- tied for best of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.3
  • Giants linebackers have missed 17 tackles on 62 opportunities (27.4%) since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 14.9%
  • The Eagles are averaging 23.4 PPG overall this season, 25.7 PPG over their last three games, and 26.1 PPG on the road.
  • The Giants have allowed 27.8 PPG overall this season (fourth-most), 26 PPG over their last three games, and 24.9 PPG at home.
  • The Giants are averaging 21.6 PPG overall this season and 31.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Eagles have allowed 22.5 PPG overall this season and just 17.7 PPG over their last three games, but have allowed 29 PPG on the road.

The Eagles have some sort of magic this time of the year. They have overcome so many injuries to now all of the sudden be in control of their own destiny for a playoff spot. Despite having no WRs for the better part of the last month, they have gotten it done. All that is standing between them and the postseason are the Giants. The Giants have put up a combined 77 points in the last two weeks against the Dolphins and needed overtime to beat the Redskins last week. The Eagles have won three in a row which started with their rocky 23-17 victory over the Giants in OT Week 14. That was with Eli under center for the Giants though. I don't expect a ton of points again in this one and while the Giants would surely love to play spoiler against their division rival, I think the Eagles magic run continues.

My Final Prediction: Eagles win 20-17

My Pick: Giants +4, Under 45

Machine Pick: Eagles -4, Over 45


Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Baltimore Ravens (O/U 37)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Steelers defense has allowed one rushing TD on 114 carries since Week 13 -- best carries per TD rate in NFL; League Avg: 28.5
  • Devlin Hodges has committed 7 turnovers on 118 plays (5.9% turnover percentage) since Week 13 -- highest of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 2.4%
  • The Steelers defense has sacked opposing QBs on 21.1% of pass attempts in the red zone since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 5.1%
  • The Steelers defense has allowed 6.0 yards from scrimmage per touch since Week 13 -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 7.5
  • The Ravens defense has blitzed on 36.4% of plays since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 17.7%
  • Ravens WRs have been targeted 8.2 times per game since Week 13 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 19.2
  • The Ravens have run the ball on 55.9% of plays since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 39.9%
  • The Steelers are averaging 18.6 PPG overall this season but just 14.3 PPG over their last three games and 14.7 PPG on the road.
  • The Ravens have allowed 18.1 PPG this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Ravens are averaging 33.5 PPG this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Steelers have allowed 18.3 PPG this season -- fourth-fewest in NFL.

We know the Ravens are resting the majority of their starters in this one, but I have to be honest, I don't think they win this one. I think the backups that the Ravens have are quite possibly better than or equal to the caliber of players that the Steelers are rolling out right now. You're looking at Robert Griffin III against Duck Hodges at QB. I would take RG3. The gameplan also I don't think will change much for the Ravens with their run-heavy attack and we know RG3 is good with his legs as well. At RB, we will also likely see Gus Edwards and rookie Justice Hill a lot for the Ravens. Edwards was a stud down the stretch for the Ravens last season and Hill was my favorite rookie RB coming into this season's draft. On top of all of that, the Steelers couldn't even pull off a victory in a must-win scenario last week against the Jets. The Steeler's defense is still solid, but I don't think they have enough deciding factors to warrant being the favorites against the hottest team in the NFL, even without some of its key starters.

My Final Prediction: Ravens win 17-14

My Pick: Ravens +2, Under 37

Machine Pick: Ravens +2, Over 37


Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5) (O/U 49)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Cardinals defense has pressured opposing QBs on 1.5% of dropbacks in the red zone since Week 9 -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 12.9%
  • The Cardinals 4 of 12 (33.3%) TDs have come through the air since Week 13 -- tied for lowest in NFL; League Avg: 64.1%
  • Chandler Jones (ARI) has 19.0 sacks this season -- most among NFL defensive linemen.
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed a passer rating of 110.0 this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 90.9
  • The Cardinals defense has allowed an average of 2.1 yards after contact per carry (58 carries) in the red zone this season -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 1.4
  • The Rams defense has sacked opposing QBs on 10.2% of pass attempts (26/254) since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 6.7%
  • The Rams defense has hurried opposing QBs on 13.8% of dropbacks this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 10.0%
  • Rams WRs have averaged 17.8 receptions per game since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 11.7
  • The Cardinals are averaging 22.5 PPG overall this season and 27.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Rams have allowed 22.7 PPG overall this season and 30 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Rams are averaging 24.2 PPG this season.
  • The Cardinals have allowed 27.4 PPG overall this season and 20 PPG over their last three games.

Kyler Murray's status and true health is a big storyline to follow in this game for betting purposes. Even if Murray does start, he obviously won't be at 100% as he battles a hamstring injury. This is pushing the Rams to be heavier favorites. The Rams though have also hinted at possibly resting some of their starters in such a meaningless game, which doesn't instill much faith in them as favorites. It comes down to coaching for me and I would take McVay all day against Kingsbury in what otherwise looks like it could be a game lacking firepower on both sides of the ball. 

My Final Prediction: Rams win 21-20

My Pick: Cardinals +5.5, Under 49

Machine Pick: Rams -5.5, Under 49


Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3.5) (O/U 41)

Matchup Notes:

  • Derek Carr has a passer rating of 135.2 against the blitz (48 Pass Attempts) since Week 9 -- best of 34 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 87.0
  • Raiders WRs have averaged 7.2 yards after the catch since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 4.4
  • The Raiders defense has allowed 7.1 yards after the catch since Week 13 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.3
  • The Raiders defensive line has missed 13 tackles on 27 opportunities (48.1%) in the red zone this season -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.8%
  • Raiders RBs have no touchdowns on 82 receptions this season -- tied for highest receptions per TD rate in NFL.
  • Noah Fant has averaged 19.6 yards per reception since Week 9 -- best of 35 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 10.7
  • Phillip Lindsay has averaged just 2.4 yards per reception since Week 13 -- lowest of 34 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 7.7
  • Broncos RBs have carried the ball 338 times without a fumble this season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: 132.0
  • The Broncos defense has not forced any fumbles (398 carries) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 66.1
  • The Raiders are averaging 19.9 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos have allowed 20.1 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos are averaging 17.7 PPG overall this season and 22.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Raiders have allowed 26.9 PPG overall this season and 29.9 PPG on the road.

Derek Carr Raiders.jpgThe Raiders are living on a prayer this week as they are somehow still alive in the playoff race despite losing four of their last five games. The Broncos, on the other hand, have found some sort of success as of late having won three of their last four which included that impressive upset over the Texans. The Raiders are limping into this one a bit as their best offensive weapon, Josh Jacobs, continues to battle a shoulder injury that he had a procedure on just this week even. It's hard to see him suiting up this week but it does sound possible. The Raiders would probably be better off figuring out their best game plan with other options in the backfield. The Raiders have not been great on the road this season outside of last week's game against the Chargers that felt more like an Oakland home game than a Chargers one. I'm going with the home favorite in this one.

My Final Prediction: Broncos win 26-20

My Pick: Broncos -3.5, Over 41

Machine Pick: Raiders +3.5, Over 41


Tennessee Titans (-3.5) at Houston Texans (O/U 45)

Matchup Notes:

  • Ryan Tannehill has averaged 10.1 yards per attempt since Week 9 -- best of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 7.1
  • Titans WRs have averaged 17.2 yards per reception since Week 9 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 13.2
  • The Titans defensive line has missed 14 tackles on 46 opportunities (30.4%) since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 16.3%
  • Derrick Henry has averaged 4.1 yards after contact per carry since Week 9 -- best of 33 qualified NFL RBs; League Avg: 2.3
  • The Titans have been sacked on 11.6% of pass attempts this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 6.7%
  • The Texans defense has allowed 13.4 yards per completion since Week 13 -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 11.3
  • The Texans secondary has missed 68 tackles on 345 opportunities (19.7%) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 15.0%
  • Deshaun Watson has a passer rating of just 66.7 in the red zone (20 Pass Attempts) since week 13 -- tied for lowest of 30 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 95.9
  • The Titans are averaging 24.5 PPG overall this season and 30.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Texans have allowed 23.3 PPG this season.
  • The Texans are averaging 24.3 PPG this season.
  • The Titans have allowed 21.1 PPG overall this season and 27.7 PPG over their last three games.

There is a lot to watch for in this game and a lot that can change on Sunday depending on the outcome of the Chiefs' games. The Texans have boasted that they are in it to win it and will be riding out the season with all of their starters active against the Titans. If the Chiefs win in the early slate, however, the Texans will have nothing to gain as they can't improve their seeding any further. This would likely push the line even more in the Titans favor. The Titans are likely pushing harder than anyone this week and have been one of the leagues hottest teams in the back half of the season despite losing their last two games. The matchup between these teams was a back and forth slugfest that ended with the Texans winning 24-21 but had there been an extra two minutes to play the Titans probably could have pushed down the field. I expect this to be another close one but I like the Titans odds and have been pushing for them to make the playoffs

My Final Prediction: Titans win 26-24

My Pick: Texans +3.5, Over 45

Machine Pick: Push, Under 45


San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks (O/U 47)

Matchup Notes:

  • The 49ers defense has intercepted 2 of 277 attempts (138.5 pass attempts per int.) since Week 9 -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 43.5
  • 49ers RBs have averaged 4.1 yards before contact per carry (81 carries) since Week 13 -- best in NFL; League Avg: 1.9
  • George Kittle has averaged 8.4 yards after the catch since Week 9 -- best of 22 qualified NFL TEs; League Avg: 4.7
  • 49ers WRs have averaged 6.2 yards after the catch since Week 9 -- 2nd best in NFL; League Avg: 4.4
  • Russell Wilson has been sacked 4.0 times per game since Week 9 -- tied for highest of 33 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 2.1
  • The Seahawks have allowed opponents to pressure their QB on 21.7% of dropbacks in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 12.7%
  • The Seahawks defensive line have missed 22 tackles on 75 opportunities (29.3%) since Week 9 -- 2nd highest in NFL; League Avg: 16.3%
  • Seahawks WRs caught just 3 of 14 passes (21.4% Reception Pct) last week -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 59.9%
  • The 49ers are averaging 30.2 PPG overall this season and 34.7 PPG over their last three games but just 27.7 PPG on the road.
  • The Seahawks have allowed 24.8 PPG overall this season, 26.3 PPG over their last three games, and 29 PPG at home.
  • The Seahawks are averaging 25.6 PPG overall this season but just 18.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The 49ers have allowed 19.3 PPG overall this season and 35.3 PPG over their last three games.

With no game on Monday night this week, we end the week with a thriller of a matchup loaded with playoff implications. If the 49ers win, they take the division and are in as the top seed with the Packers being second if they beat the Lions. The Seahawks are suddenly a mess after their loss to the Cardinals last week. They have lost basically all RBs which has forced them to reunite with previously retired Beastmode RB Marshawn Lynch for a quick reunion. Despite all these injuries, you have to think that in a desperate situation at home, Russell Wilson should be able to pull something off to keep this game close at least. The 49ers defense also hasn't been firing on all cylinders as of late after being a complete shutdown unit early on. I personally cannot wait for this one. If you can get the Seahawks at +3.5, that's not a bad bet.

My Final Prediction: 49ers win 27-24

My Pick: Seahawks +3.5, Over 47

Machine Pick: 49ers -3.5, Under 47


John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.