2020 NFL Expert Picks: Week 17

2020 NFL Expert Picks: Week 17

by January 3, 2021 0 comments

Three NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for Week 17.

These three writers will continue to make their picks for the entire season, earning two points for any correct win-loss outcome and an additional three points for correctly predicting the exact score. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A cumulative points total and record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 17 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Mike FanelliJoe Heller, and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

Mike Fanelli: Dolphins 26, Bills 13

With the No. 1 seed out of reach, the Bills might rest key starters like Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs for this game. The Dolphins are in the playoffs with a win, and if Allen sits, the Dolphins get the easy win.

Joe Heller: Bills 27, Dolphins 17

The Dolphins will be without relief pitcher Ryan Fitzpatrick for this game. The Bills will win, but the Dolphins will still back themselves into the playoffs.

Andersen Pickard: Bills 31, Dolphins 24

If the Bills were resting their starters, this game would easily flip in Miami’s favor. However, Josh Allen and many other key players are expected to play with the No. 2 seed still up for grabs. The Bills are the better team and should prove it on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Mike: Ravens 34, Bengals 16

After their win last week, the Bengals fell out of the top three draft slots. However, they won’t have to worry about it this week as the Ravens are in the playoffs with a win and won’t let the Bengals keep them out.

Joe: Ravens 34, Bengals 20

With the postseason still in their grasp, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will do their part to help their cause.

Andersen: Ravens 31, Bengals 17

The Ravens need a win, and they should be able to get just that against the Bengals. While Cincinnati has won two in a row, the Ravens are the superior team and have much more motivation. They should pull away with a three-score lead when all is said and done.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Mike: Browns 26, Steelers 17

Much like the Bills, the Steelers can’t get the No. 1 seed and will sit Ben Roethlisberger this week. The Browns are in the playoffs with a win and should get the victory with Mason Rudolph under center.

Joe: Browns 24, Steelers 20

The Browns will benefit from the Steelers resting many of their starters. Cleveland will end its long-dreaded postseason drought.

Andersen: Browns 27, Steelers 17

After losing to the Jets last week, the Browns should bounce back this Sunday against a Steelers team that is resting some of its starters. Mason Rudolph will get the nod under center for Pittsburgh, and he cannot be trusted against a relentless defense like Cleveland’s. The Browns should snap their postseason drought this week.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Mike: Vikings 27, Lions 13

Both teams will play their final game of this season this week. Matthew Stafford is as tough as nails and will want to play despite his injury. With a critical offseason coming up for the Lions, sitting Stafford would be the wise thing to do.

Joe: Vikings 27, Lions 20

This is one of four games this week that have no bearing on the playoffs. The Vikings get the win to end the season.

Andersen: Vikings 24, Lions 17

With the Vikings out of the playoffs, Justin Jefferson will have one last chance to solidify his status as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Meanwhile, for the Lions, Week 17 starts preparation for the future with a new head coach and general manager at the helm.

New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

Mike: Jets 20, Patriots 16

If not for back-to-back wins by the Jets, this game could have determined the top pick in the draft. However, with the Jets locked into the second slot and the Patriots’ offense struggling, the Jets end the season on a three-game winning streak.

Joe: Jets 24, Patriots 20

The Jets will close out their dismal season on a three-game winning streak. However, it won’t be enough for Adam Gase to keep his job.

Andersen: Jets 21, Patriots 17

Let one thing be clear: Bill Belichick does not tank. He loves to win. He also knows that, in order to win, you have to think about both the present and the future. With that in mind, expect him to use a less-agressive game plan focused on determining which players could stick with the team in 2021. On the other side, the Jets will finish the year on a three-game winning streak, but it won’t be enough to save Adam Gase’s job.

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Mike: Cowboys 24, Giants 20

Win or go home. The winner of this game will need an Eagles victory on Sunday night to win the NFC East. The Cowboys won the matchup earlier this season in the game when Dak Prescott suffered his season-ending injury. Even without their ace, the Cowboys currently have the second-longest winning streak in the NFC and win this game.

Joe: Cowboys 27, Giants 24

The Cowboys will edge out the Giants and wait for the result of the Washington-Philadelphia game to realize their fate.

Andersen: Cowboys 28, Giants 21

Needing a win and a Washington loss, these two teams will battle until the end. However, it will be the Cowboys who extend their winning streak and wait until the evening to learn of their potential playoff fate.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike: Buccaneers 38, Falcons 27

While the Buccaneers have clinched a playoff spot and can’t win the NFC South, they have something to play for this week. If they get the victory over the Falcons, they secure the top Wild Card spot and a first-round matchup with the NFC East winner.

Joe: Buccaneers 27, Falcons 23

This divisional matchup will go the Buccaneers’ way. The Falcons’ offseason will officially begin, bringing many major decisions to the franchise.

Andersen: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 28

The last time these two teams played, the Falcons took a commanding three-score lead before faltering and losing. The same should be true this week, as the Buccaneers squeak out a close win and secure the No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Mike: Titans 41, Texans 31

For the Titans, a win gives them the AFC South title. When these two teams played in Week 6, Deshaun Watson had four passing touchdowns while Derrick Henry had 212 rushing yards and two scores. The Titans need this win while the Texans didn’t bother to show up last week against the Bengals.

Joe: Titans 34, Texans 27

The Titans finally lock up the AFC South with a win. Derrick Henry will eclipse the 2,000 rushing yards mark.

Andersen: Titans 34, Texans 28

This game could end up being close, and the Texans shouldn’t be counted out of a potential upset. However, it’s still hard to pick against an offense fueled by A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry. With the latter pushing 2,000 yards, look for a large focus on the running game against a porous Texans defense. The Titans should win and clinch the division title.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts

Mike: Colts 27, Jaguars 23

With their loss last week, the Jaguars have secured the No. 1 draft pick and the rights Trevor Lawrence. Their only win this season came in Week 1 against the Colts. With nothing to lose by winning, expect the Jaguars to push the Colts but ultimately end the season on a 15-game losing streak.

Joe: Jaguars 24, Colts 20

The Jaguars will bookend their season with the way it started: an upset win over the Colts. This time, they will knock the Colts out of the playoffs.

Andersen: Jaguars 27, Colts 21

The Jaguars opened the year with a win over the Colts, then lost 14 straight. With the No. 1 pick locked up, the Jaguars have nothing to lose by losing. They’ll be motivated in the final week of the season, leading them to an upset win over the Colts.

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

Mike: Saints 26, Panthers 20

If the Packers and Seahawks lose, the Saints (with a win) would secure the No.1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. However, that is unlikely to happen, and the Saints could rest key starters like Drew Brees. Furthermore, the entire Saints’ backfield is out due to COVID-19 protocols. Even with Taysom Hill under center or in the backfield, the Saints get the win.

Joe: Saints 34, Panthers 17

The Saints will fine-tune themselves for their upcoming playoff run against a division foe.

Andersen: Saints 24, Panthers 20

While the Saints will be without their entire backfield and could rest Drew Brees, Taysom Hill has proven that he can be a true threat no matter where he plays. The Panthers, meanwhile, will try to win but come up short.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

Mike: Packers 38, Bears 28

A win for the Packers would mean the NFC playoffs run through Green Bay. However, a win for the Bears secures them a Wild Card spot. When these teams played a few weeks back, the Packers won by two scores and Aaron Rodgers had four passing touchdowns. As well as the Bears have played lately, they aren’t on the same planet as the Packers.

Joe: Bears 24, Packers 20

Mitch Trubisky will lead his team to an unlikely victory and hope the rest of the chips fall in their favor. 

Andersen: Packers 34, Bears 28

As tempting as it was to pick the red-hot Bears, the Packers are the best team in the NFC and will prove it on Sunday. They should pick up a narrow victory, leaving the Bears’ playoff fate in the Rams’ hands.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

Mike: Raiders 27, Broncos 20

After back-to-back last-minute losses by the Raiders, they have been eliminated from the playoffs. Both teams have nothing to play for except pride, and in their matchup earlier this season, the Raiders got the 37-12 victory. While the final score won’t be that lopsided, the Raiders end the season with a .500 record.

Joe: Raiders 24, Broncos 17

Both teams are just playing out their schedules. With nothing on the line, this will likely be one of the day’s faster games.

Andersen: Raiders 24, Broncos 20

Games like these are tough to predict because they could go either way. Despite Jon Gruden’s horrendous inability to coach in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Raiders should hold on to finish the season .500.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Mike: Chargers 27, Chiefs 21

Don’t expect to see Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, or Tyreek Hill in this game as the Chiefs have the No. 1 seed locked up. On the other side of the field, the Chargers have won three in a row and Justin Herbert almost defeated the Chiefs in his first career start in Week 2. Herbert ends his impressive rookie season with a win over the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Joe: Chargers 31, Chiefs 28

Justin Herbert will end the season where it all started for him. This time, he will get the win against the Chiefs, who will be resting most of their starters.

Andersen: Chargers 31, Chiefs 24

As frustrating as a Week 17 loss is, the Chiefs will enter the playoffs as one of the most comfortable teams in the league. Still, they’re resting their starters on Sunday, giving the edge to the Chargers. Justin Herbert finishes a miraculous rookie season with a win.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Mike: Cardinals 20, Rams 13

Jared Goff won’t play in this game as he had surgery on his thumb earlier this week. That means John Wolford will get his first career start in a must-win game. Kyler Murray should be ready to go, but if he can’t play, Chris Streveler will get the start. The winner of this game makes the playoffs, while the Rams can still get in with a loss if the Packers defeat the Bears.

Joe: Cardinals 17, Rams 13

With so much on the line in this game, both teams have players that are already out and others that are unlikely. The Cardinals steal this game.

Andersen: Cardinals 20, Rams 16

The Cardinals are healthy and the Rams are not. With Darrell Henderson, Cooper Kupp, and Jared Goff ruled out, the Rams enter as the underdogs despite a better record. The Cardinals sneak into the playoffs with a win.

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Mike: Seahawks 24, 49ers 16

If they win this game and the Packers lose the Seahawks will land the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. If the Packers get up early on the Bears, Pete Carroll might bench Russell Wilson for the second half of the game. If Wilson plays the entire game, the Seahawks get the win. However, if Wilson gets benched at halftime, the 49ers could pull off the upset.

Joe: Seahawks 31, 49ers 20

The Seahawks win this game handily and will see if they move up in the seeding after outcomes of the rest of the NFC schedule.

Andersen: Seahawks 28, 49ers 21

The 49ers looked dominant last week despite moving on to their third-string quarterback. C.J. Beathard will struggle against Seattle, but a pair of touchdowns from Jeff Wilson Jr. will keep San Francisco in the game. In the end, though, it will be the Seahawks who come out on top.

Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Mike: Washington 24, Eagles 23

It’s simple for Washington: win this game and win the NFC East. For the Eagles, they are the only team in the division that can’t make the playoffs. The Eagles could play spoilers and revenge the loss they got in the Week 1 matchup. If Alex Smith and Terry McLaurin play, Washington should get the win. However, if either sits, the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game will win the division.

Joe: Washington 24, Eagles 10

Chase Young and the Washington defense will dominate this game. Washington will win this game and the NFC East.

Andersen: Washington 21, Eagles 17

Washington needs Alex Smith to be healthy if they have any chance of winning their division. However, with all signs pointing to Smith playing, the odds appear to be in the Football Team’s favor. On the other side, Jalen Hurts has produced three big offensive showings but is just 1-2 as a starter.

Point Totals

Mike: 318
Joe: 293
Andersen: 298

Records

Mike: 159-82
Joe: 145-96
Andersen: 146-95


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Mike Fanelli on Twitter @MikeSports22
Joe Heller on Twitter @JerseyJoe317
Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard

Main Image Credit: 

Embed from Getty Images

Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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