NFL Power Rankings Week 17
This is the first season in which the NFL will play 17 games. However, right now, with COVID absolutely ravaging the sports world (and the real world, for that matter), I think everyone in professional football – from players to coaches to owners to fans to bettors – just wants this season to end as quickly as possible.
The playoffs can’t come fast enough. The Super Bowl can’t come fast enough. And The End cannot possibly arrive for this season in a swift enough fashion.
Every week that passes right now is another week in which the NFL is setting itself up for the nightmare scenario of having a game wiped out by the coronavirus. Even with new protocols each and every week changing availability measures, the odds of star players and whole position groups getting infected, and thus becoming ineligible for games, increases.
Usually, the NFL Higher Ups masturbate over the amount of weekday coverage that the league receives. More attention means more hype, more hype means more interest, more interest means more viewers, and more viewers mean more money. But right now, the only stories that are coming out of league camps are COVID updates, painting the league as the bumbling, obtuse, reactive, in-way-over-its-head entity that it really is. It’s not a great look.
Last year I took solace in the unstoppable avarice and overt sociopathology of NFL owners. They were going to have a season no matter how many lives it cost. And in turn pro football was going to give people an outlet from the active horrors of the fall and winter of 2020. Now, it like literary figures from Narcissus and Icarus to Victor Frankenstein and Prince Humperdinck, the NFL may watch its season be felled by its own hubris.
I’m not rooting for that. But I’m also not rooting for Them. And you can’t tell me that it wouldn’t be hilariously ironic if the NFL, in its relentless pursuit of profit, actually ended up screwing itself over this season because of its own greed.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL expert picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Green Bay Packers (12-3) – Aaron Rodgers has 28 touchdowns to just three interceptions against the Vikings in 14 games against them since Mike Zimmer took over. The Packers have taken back-to-back backdoor losses against the spread the last two weeks after their incredible 11-2 ATS start to the season. It is tough to know if this team is still overvalued or if those last two ATS losses were flukes.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) – I suppose we are long past the point where we should be blindly betting on the Chiefs every week. Kansas City has won eight straight up and is on a 6-0 run against the spread. Only one team, the Chargers, has been able to stay within 10 points of Kansas City over the last six weeks, and right now this team is playing elite football.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) – This is the third time since Oct. 31 that Tampa Bay is playing back-to-back road games. The first time they lost both away games to New Orleans and Washington. The second they tallied solid wins over the Falcons and Colts.
4. Dallas Cowboys (11-4) – It is remarkable that the Cowboys have been the best team in the NFL against the spread, considering they are always the most overrated team in the NFL. They have now won and covered four straight. However, all four wins have come against teams below .500, and they have just one win – over New England, in overtime, on Oct. 17 – against a team that is currently projected to make the playoffs.
5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) – The Cardinals are desperate, and they always play Dallas tough. Arizona has dumped three straight games, and the vultures are circling this team. However, they hammered the Cowboys last year (38-10) and they are 5-1 SU and ATS against Dallas going back to 2008, winning all five times as an underdog and scoring victories in their last two trips to Big D.
6. New England Patriots (9-6) – For the first time ever, a Bill Belichick defense did not force an opponent to punt. The Patriots have been great after a loss, going 5-0 ATS after a double-digit loss at home, but I don’t know that they have the firepower to cover a monster 15-point spread this week, even if it is against the Jaguars.
7. Los Angeles Rams (11-4) – A good friend of mine texted me Sunday: “You can take the quarterback out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the quarterback.” This team continues to be an absolute mirage.
7. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) – This is why the preseason matters. If you remember – and I’m sure you don’t – Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger had a battle for the backup quarterback job behind Carson Wentz. The two played almost dead even, but Frank Reich decided to keep Ehlinger, waiving Easton in October when Ehlinger recovered from a knee injury. Now Ehlinger – who threw three interceptions in 31 attempts this preseason – is responsible for Indy’s playoff hopes.
9. Buffalo Bills (9-6) – I’m giving Josh Allen a golf clap for his heroic effort in Foxboro last Sunday. However, that game didn’t change the calculus for this team. They still needed to throw the ball 47 times (!) and received just 50 rushing yards from non-Allen sources. They will go as far as Allen can carry them. But A) no single guy can carry a team to a Super Bowl in today’s NFL, and B) that’s not a recipe for a very long career.
10. Tennessee Titans (10-5) – The underdog is now 8-2 ATS in Tennessee’s last 10 games. (They are basically the AFC’s Vikings at this point.) They are favored over Miami despite the Dolphins’ seven-game winning streak, which should be a red flag, and Tennessee is on a solid 5-2 ATS run at home.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) – It’s hard to knock a guy that just threw for 525 yards in a 20-point win. But one play that stayed with me from the game was an interception that Burrow threw that was called back by a gift penalty. It was still a 24-14 game at that point, and the throw was just awful, lofted up to a man that was obviously covered. I know Burrow has supreme confidence in himself. But mark my words: that confidence is going to bite him in the postseason.
13. San Francisco 49ers (8-7) – Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Jimmy Garoppolo is hurt again. That means it is Trey Lance time in San Francisco. That is going to hurt the 49ers offense. But I do expect Lance to be slightly more prepared to play now than he was when he was shoehorned into action in September.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) – That right there is what happens with a young team and a young coach in December in the NFL. The Chargers were not ready to play and got bullied by Houston last week. Los Angeles has revenge for a 28-13 loss at Denver on Nov. 28. But I am concerned that the Broncos will be able to physically manhandle Los Angeles in the same way the Texans did. The Chargers are 1-4 ATS against the Broncos and 3-7 ATS at home against Denver.
12. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) – The NFL absolutely screwed Los Angeles and gave Baltimore a gift this week by moving the kickoff of Sunday’s game from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. West Coast teams coming east and playing in the afternoon slot this year showed little impact of jet lag. But – as we saw with Arizona at Detroit two weeks ago and with the Chargers in Houston last week – teams playing in that 10 a.m. PST window are still at a disadvantage.
15. Cleveland Browns (7-8) – There is no way that the Browns should be favored in this week’s Monday Night Football game at Pittsburgh. I know the Steelers stink. But Cleveland, which is just 3-7 SU and ATS in its last 10 games, hasn’t been much better. The Browns are 11-29 ATS in divisional games, and they are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine games as a road favorite.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) – Miles Sanders is out, and Jordan Howard is questionable for the Eagles this Sunday, a major blow to a team that leads the NFL in rushing and has moved up to No. 9 in points scored. The Eagles were not sharp in their 27-17 win over Washington on Dec. 21, winning by just 10 points despite outgaining WFT by nearly 300 yards. They will be facing a healthier, more motivated team this week on the road.
17. Miami Dolphins (8-7) – Tua was only slightly better than Ian Book on Monday. That’s not a great sign. I know Miami is surging right now and has been a cash cow (6-1 ATS) during its seven-game winning streak. However, only one of those wins have come against a team over .500 (Baltimore, at home, on a short week, in terrible weather). Be wary.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) – It is kind of fitting that the final home game of Ben Roethlisberger’s career will come against Cleveland. Big Ben has gone 25-3-1 SU in his career against the Browns, dominating them like few quarterbacks in NFL history have ever dominated a single opponent. The home team has won seven straight Steelers games, and the host is 8-2 SU in Pittsburgh’s last 10.
19. Minnesota Vikings (7-8) – One thing that we can all count on in this uncertain world is Kirk Cousins’ predictable mediocrity in big games.
20. New Orleans Saints (7-8) – Taysom Hill should be back this weekend, and not a moment too soon as Ian Book threw up on himself on Monday Night Football. The Saints are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 divisional games, and they are just 5-16 ATS in their last 21 home games against the Panthers.
21. Denver Broncos (7-8) – There is absolutely no way we can bet on the Broncos if Drew Lock is under center; that guy is horrendous. Denver is just 8-18 ATS in its last 26 divisional games and 1-7 ATS in their last eight conference games.
23. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) – The good news is that the Raiders are likely facing the Colts without Carson Wentz and Indy’s entire starting offensive line. The bad news is that Vegas is likely going into that game without its entire linebacking corps. Welcome to the NFL in 2021. The Raiders are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games but 5-2 ATS as a road underdog.
22. Washington Football Team (6-9) – I have zero problem with Jonathan Allen and Deron Payne going after one another during the Dallas game. If you ever saw me and my best friends play sports together when we were younger, you would’ve thought we hated each other. And those games were much lower stakes than the NFL. WFT is 8-21 ATS in its last 28 divisional games.
24. Atlanta Falcons (7-8) – This is how regression works in the NFL. After going 1-8 straight up in games decided by seven points or less last year (thanks, Dan Quinn!), the Falcons are now 6-2 SU in gams determined by a touchdown or fewer. The Falcons are 0-4 ATS against teams with a winning record.
25. Seattle Seahawks (5-10) – I have no idea how the Seahawks, who just lost outright as a six-point favorite, are favored by more than a touchdown over the Lions this week. Seattle does have blowout wins over lightweights Houston and Jacksonville by 20 and 24 points, respectively. However, they were actually outgained by those two opponents (-7 yards).
26. Carolina Panthers (5-10) – The Panthers are on an 0-5 SU and ATS run since mid-November. We will see if this locker room continues to play hard for Matt Rhule over these last two weeks. The Panthers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against New Orleans, including a 26-7 beat down in Week 2 of this season.
27. Chicago Bears (5-10) – Wow, who saw that coming from Nick Foles? Oh, wait: ME! I SAW THAT COMING! I have been saying it OVER…and OVER…and OVER…and OVER again all season that Foles should’ve been starting for this team while Justin Fields sits and learns and Andy Dalton sells insurance in Texas. The Bears are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games, 5-12 ATS as a favorite and 3-13 ATS in their last 16 conference games.
28. New York Giants (4-11) – New York has been outgained in eight straight games by an average of 99 yards per game, and they have been outscored by an average of 17.2 points per game over their last five losses. This is the seventh time in 11 years that these teams have met, with the home team winning the six previous meetings and the underdog going 5-1 ATS.
29. Detroit Lions (2-12-1) – Pin last Sunday’s loss on Dan Campbell. His play-calling was a mess in Atlanta, a fact he admitted to after the game. Campbell didn’t simplify the offense enough for his backup quarterback, and his ridiculous overreliance on hard counts led to six – SIX! – false starts by the Lions. The result was just nine points out of four red zone opportunities and another crushing loss in the final 30 seconds.
30. Houston Texans (4-11) – I have been saying this for weeks: I have no idea why people are suggesting that David Culley lose his job. This guy has done amazing work with the worst team in football. Look at this roster! The fact that he has had this team competitive this year is impressive work.
31. New York Jets (4-11) – The Jets had fewer total yards, fewer first downs, more penalties, lost the time of possession by five minutes and passed for just 100 yards – and won the game. Only against the Jaguars, man, only against the Jaguars.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) – Jacksonville’s final four plays are the perfect encapsulation of the fact that Trevor Lawrence is actually a loser and is going to be a bust. Despite missing wide open throws and potential touchdowns all day, the Jaguars have first-and-goal from the New York 5-yard-line with 33 seconds left. A touchdown wins the game. The first down pass is thrown short of the end zone for some reason and incomplete. The second down pass is thrown short of the end zone for some reason, completed, and keeps the clock moving with 25 second left. With 13 seconds left Lawrence decides to spike the ball! Why did he throw short of the end zone? Why didn’t he get a play called? Why waste a down spiking the ball? Sure enough, Lawrence throws another incomplete pass from 4th-and-goal from the 1, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because he didn’t get the team lined up properly and there was an illegal shift penalty.
Trevor Lawrence is a loser and is a bust. I’ve seen rookie mistakes. This ain’t that. This guy just isn’t very good.
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