The Post’s Dave Blezow gives his picks for NFL Week 17 games. Home team in CAPS.
(Note: Selections and point spreads are from Thursday’s Bettor’s Guide).
By the end of Sunday night, the New York Giants could be the winners of the NFC East title and heading to the playoffs. They could be the owners of the third-worst record in the NFL, which carries with it the third pick in the 2021 draft. Or the result could end up somewhere in between and not nearly as good as either of those extremes.
This line has flipped six points from a lookahead of Giants -3 to Dallas Cowboys -3. The public clearly is enamored with the Cowboys offense — which finally has taken off with Andy Dalton and scored 30, 41 and 37 points the past three weeks, all wins. The Giants have scored as many as 30 points exactly once this season, and that was in the 37-34 loss to the Cowboys on Oct. 11, the game where Dak Prescott got injured. The Giants haven’t scored more than 17 points in any of their past five games.
I think you can throw the recent scores, and the Cowboys’ winning streak and Giants’ losing streak out the window come kickoff on Sunday, though. For as much of a talent edge as the Cowboys have in this matchup, they’re also just as likely to waste that talent. The Giants will come at them hard, with a good plan. If Daniel Jones is healthier and can do more, the Giants can stay alive long enough to turn on the Washington-Philadelphia game.
The pick: Giants, +3.
New York Jets (+3) over NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Jets have won two games in a row, but just as important for a column such as this, they’ve covered the spread in five of their past seven games. That run started on Nov. 9 in a 30-27 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, a game the 9-point-underdog Jets led by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter. The Patriots are on a short week off a loss to the Bills that had “season over” written all over it. The Jets will play hard one more time for the soon-to-be-fired Adam Gase, and this time a win won’t cost them in draft position.
BUFFALO BILLS (-1) over Miami Dolphins
Miami clinches a wild card with a win, and that’s usually a bigger motivator than seeding. Buffalo rested stars in Week 17 last year and lost to the Jets, then lost in the first round. I think Sean McDermott plays this one straight.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+12) over Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens also would clinch a wild card, and they destroyed Cincinnati, 27-3, on Oct. 11 when Joe Burrow was healthy. There are no style points, though. A safe, 7-10 point win would do the trick. Brandon Allen, who threw for 371 yards last week, can keep the Bengals hanging around or get them through the backdoor.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-10) over Pittsburgh Steelers
The wide receiver cavalry will be returning for the Browns, who would be in with a win. The Steelers are going the opposite way, sitting Ben Roethlisberger and some others. Under normal circumstances, Mason Rudolph might give the Steelers a shot, but essentially this is Mike Tomlin telling his team the regular season is over.
Minnesota Vikings (-7) over DETROIT LIONS
Matthew Stafford says he’ll play if he can, but he’s already donated enough body parts to the Lions’ hopeless cause. Dalvin Cook is out, but the Vikings have other backs who can get some yards and maintain the dual threat.
Atlanta Falcons (+6.5) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Good for Bruce Arians for keeping his foot on the gas after clinching a playoff berth, Makes sense because the fifth seed faces the NFC East in the first round. But let’s stick with the Matt Ryan and the Falcons, who were a late missed field goal away from overtime in Kansas City.
CHICAGO BEARS (+5.5) over Green Bay Packers
The Bears have won three in a row and would get in with a win here. The Packers could clinch top seed, which would allow them to be the only NFC team to rest next week. They’ll go all out, but there’s a lot of room under this number.
Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) over DENVER BRONCOS
The Raiders are 1-5 in their past six, and the win was the Gregg Williams blitz disaster. But every game, you can still see how dangerous this team is. The archrival Broncos will bring out the best in them.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+14) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The Jaguars are facing the one team they beat, way back in Week 1. Colts need a win and a Tennessee loss, and could suffer a letdown if the Titans are winning big on the scoreboard. No need for Jags to tank now that Trevor Lawrence is secured.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
KC has clinched the AFC top seed and Andy Reid will rest players, including Patrick Mahomes. The Chargers have had a frustrating season but still have the firepower to beat a disinterested foe.
Arizona Cardinals (+1) over LOS ANGELES RAMS
As much as I respect Sean McVay and fear Aaron Donald, this game looks as if it will come down to Kyler Murray playing (possibly diminished), and John Wolford filling in for Jared Goff (and being without Cooper Kupp).
San Francisco 49ers (+5.5) over Seattle Seahawks
Seattle needs both the Packers and Saints to lose to have a shot at the top seed. If there’s bad news on the scoreboard in Glendale, Ariz., it could give the 49ers a shot at a cover or an upset.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (+6.5) over New Orleans Saints
New Orleans still has a shot at the No. 1 seed and bye, but can’t envision Sean Payton letting Drew Brees take too many hits here. Teddy Bridgewater is still 7-3 ATS as an underdog this season and 24-6 as a ’dog in his career because the Panthers closed as a 1-point favorite in Washington last week.
(Update: Saints will be without Alvin Kamara, who tested positive for COVID, and all of their running backs will miss the game because they were close contacts. WR Ty Montgomery will move to running back, and Taysom Hill should get some carries. The line has dropped just a half point to Saints -6).
Tennessee Titans (-7.5) over HOUSTON TEXANS
Houston has burned me several times as an underdog, but I have faith in Mike Vrabel to bounce back from the loss in the snow to the Packers. Before that, the Titans averaged 37.4 ppg in their previous five games, and the Texans D has been horrendous.
Washington (-1.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
It’s still early in the week, so we have to guess whether Alex Smith will be playing for the WFT. Though his availability will have a big say in the outcome, the defensive line of Chase Young, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat is what gives Washington its best chance to get over the NFC East finish line.
Best bets: Bengals, Falcons, Jaguars
Lock of the week: Bengals (Locks 4-11-1 in 2020).
Last week: 9-7 overall, 2-1 Best Bets.