NFL Power Rankings Week 17
Well, this is it. Another NFL regular season is about to settle into the books.
This week is the dreaded Week 17 of the NFL season. For some teams, like the Titans and Colts, the playoffs start on Sunday. For others, this week is the last hurdle between their players and an offseason of recreation and recovery.
I will give the same bit of advice that I give out every year heading into Week 17: tread lightly.
Week 17 in the NFL is similar to betting on Week 4 of the NFL Preseason. There is simply no reliable information about who is going to play or for how long. Motivation is critical in pro football. And since the majority of the teams suiting up this week are out of the playoff hunt, it is nearly impossible to predict what, if any, motivation half of the teams in the league will have.
I have seen more than one gambler flush four good, hard, grinding months' worth of profit down the toilet with some ill-conceived NFL Week 17 wagers. Yes, there is value on the board. There always is. There are 16 games on the docket, and that means there will be 16 winners against the spread and 16 losers. There is money to be made, and there are winners out there. The big question, though, is at what cost and what is worth the risk this week with even more uncertainty than normal.
Consider yourself properly warned.
With that in mind, here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New Orleans Saints (13-2) - Keep in mind Saints are just 6-15 ATS in their last 21 games in Week 17. They just clinched home-field advantage and they have nothing to play for this week.
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-3) - The Rams still need to win this week to ensure a bye week and to avoid a return trip to either New Orleans or Chicago. They were actually blown out by the 49ers last year in Week 17, losing 34-13 while resting their starters for the playoffs. It should be a whole different ball game this time around.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) - The Chiefs need to beat Raiders this week to earn home-field advantage. However, Kansas City is on an 0-6 ATS slide and is 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall. This looks like some vintage Andy Reid melting down to me.
4. New England Patriots (10-5) - It is impossible to argue with New England's astounding success this decade. However, I think that one day Bill Belichick will admit that if he could do it all over, he would've continued to build the Patriots as a running-and-defense team in the second half of his dynasty, similar to what they were in the first half.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) - The Chargers have revenge for a 23-22 loss at home to Denver back on Nov. 18. Los Angeles dominated that game, controlling the ball for nearly 38 minutes and outgaining the Broncos by nearly 200 yards, but lost on the final play of the game.
6. Chicago Bears (11-4) - The Bears are catching nearly three-quarters of the betting action this week at Minnesota. That has helped cut the spread in half, dropping from an open of 6.0 to its current spot at 3.5.
7. Houston Texans (10-5) - I'm not a big Demaryius Thomas fan, but it does suck that he blew out his Achilles and is done for the year. I would've liked to see what he could do with this offense in the playoffs.
8. Seattle Seahawks (9-6) - I think Pete Carroll is smart not to rest his starters this week. Seattle is as hot as any team in the NFL right now. Their only hope at winning the NFC is if they can ride that wave and have the momentum carry them into a Super Bowl.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) - I would again like to point out that I was way, way ahead of the curve betting against the Steelers this season . Here is what I said in the preseason: 'I honestly think that the Steelers won't win their division and they may not even make the playoffs. I know that sounds bizarre. And I know there isn't another handicapper, analyst, or TV commentator in the country that is making a proclamation like this about Pittsburgh. But that's why I'm smarter than all of those guys.'
10. Dallas Cowboys (9-6) - The last time that the Cowboys went into Week 17 with nothing to play for and a home playoff game the following week was 2016. They rested all of their starters in that game and got bombed 27-13 at Philadelphia.
11. Baltimore Ravens (9-6) - It has all come full circle for the Ravens. Just like last year they simply need to win their Week 17 game against an overmatched division rival to punch a ticket into the playoffs. Last year they failed spectacularly. How will rookie Lamar Jackson handle it this year?
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) - Dan Bailey has hit 12 straight kicks (field goals and extra points) for the Vikings. But keep in mind that if Minnesota's playoff hopes come down to his right leg, he was not exactly Mr. Clutch during his time in Dallas.
13. Tennessee Titans (9-6) - Marcus Mariota's biggest knock out of college was that people didn't think he could stay healthy. He is yet to start all 16 games in a season, and I don't think the Titans have a chance of winning their play-in game with the Colts.
14. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) - The Colts have absolutely had Tennessee's number over the last few years. Indianapolis has gone 11-3 ATS in the last 14 meetings, and they have won three of their last four trips to Tennessee.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) - If the Eagles played the first two months of the year with half of the urgency they have shown over the last three weeks, they would've won this division going away.
16. Cleveland Browns (7-7-1) - The Browns have won three straight and five of six games overall. However, their last four games against playoff-caliber teams have resulted in losses by 16 (Houston), 16 (Kansas City), 15 (Pittsburgh) and 24 (Chargers) points.
17. Denver Broncos (6-9) - The Broncos are 2-7 ATS in their last nine divisional games and 8-19 ATS in their last 27 games overall. Denver is just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 home games.
18. Carolina Panthers (6-9) - Kyle Allen will make his first career start in New Orleans this weekend. I don't expect it to go well.
19. Washington Redskins (7-8) - The Redskins are 1-4 ATS in their last five season finales and 3-9 ATS in their last 12 divisional games. They have 22 players on injured reserve right now.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) - Jameis Winston showed once again on Sunday that he is nothing but a loser. His numbers? Solid. But if you actually watched him play, his third-quarter fumble pissed the game away, and his effort on the ensuing drive, which ended at the Cowboys one-yard line, was sorry. If the Bucs were smart, they would cut bait with Winston as soon as possible.
21. Miami Dolphins (7-8) - Forecast temperature in Miami, Florida this Sunday: high of 80 degrees. Forecast temperature in Buffalo, New York this Sunday: high of 30 degrees.
22. Atlanta Falcons (6-9) - If the Falcons were smart, after their game on Sunday they would walk right across the field and offer Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter, who is almost guaranteed to be fired, Atlanta's offensive coordinator position. Koetter held that position from 2012-14.
23. Green Bay Packers (6-8-1) - I have no idea how the Packers are an eight-point favorite this week. I don't care who they are playing. They are just 6-9 ATS this season, and they haven't covered back-to-back numbers once this season.
24. New York Giants (5-10) - If I'm the Giants, the first call that I am making on Monday after this dreadful season is over is to Nick Foles' agent.
25. Detroit Lions (5-10) - The Lions have gone 'under' in six straight games and eight of their last nine. They have scored more than 20 points just one time since Week 17, and this offense is a mess.
26. Buffalo Bills (5-10) - The Bills are 0-2 ATS this year when they are favored, and they are 6-9 ATS the last 15 times that they have been laying points, dating back to 2016.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) - It is going to be incredibly interesting to see what the Bengals do with Andy Dalton this offseason. They can cut him and owe him zero dollars. Or they can hold onto him for the remaining two years of his deal, which will pay him in the lower half of all quarterbacks.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) - Blake Bortles is getting the start this week for the Jaguars. He has proven that he's better than Cody Kessler, not proven that he should be an NFL starter.
29. New York Jets (4-11) - I actually think that this is a big game for Sam Darnold this week. You can't replicate a playoff-type atmosphere, and that's what it will be in Foxboro as the Patriots try to wrap up an opening-round bye. The Jets generally have played the Patriots tough, and we'll see if they embrace the spoiler role this week.
30. San Francisco 49ers (4-11) - San Francisco is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games and 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games against a team that is above .500.
31. Oakland Raiders (4-11) - Don't be fooled by the final score of Oakland's first game with the Chiefs (40-33). That game was really never close, and Kansas City led by 17 heading into the fourth quarter.
32. Arizona Cardinals (3-12) - Most of the truly vile teams in the NFL get better against the spread as the season wears on. The books start to shade their numbers higher and higher, and these bottom feeders normally start to pay out. The Cardinals are 0-3 ATS in their last three games - losing all three by at least 14 points - and they are 1-5 ATS in their last six.
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