2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 17

2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 17

by January 1, 2022 0 comments

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

These two writers will make their picks for the entire season. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 18 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Sam Schneider and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears

Sam: Bears 23, Giants 6

These teams are bad, and it’s probably best to skip this one. With that said, the Bears are going to have a lot easier time scoring than Mike Glennon’s Giants squad. New York is going to try to keep the ball on the ground with Saquon Barkley, which may work for a while before the Chicago defense clamps down and starts forcing turnovers on passing downs. Andy Dalton steers a trio of scoring drives as the Bears win a game they certainly should, given injuries to the entire wide receiver core of New York.

Andersen: Bears 17, Giants 10

With Justin Fields and Daniel Jones both out for this game, we could be in for some sloppy football. Still, at least Andy Dalton is serviceable. New York continues to suffer from the poor play of Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon. A trio of turnovers from the Giants’ quarterbacks will make a big difference.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots

Sam: Patriots 31, Jaguars 13

Jacksonville running back by default, Dare Ogunbowale, could find running room against New England’s middling rush defense. Unfortunately, The Patriots are going to mount an early lead at home and not look back. With Trevor Lawrence forced to throw the ball upwards of 40 times in this game, you can expect several of those to land in the hands of the Pats’ secondary.

Andersen: Patriots 41, Jaguars 16

The Jaguars just can’t have nice things. This season, Jacksonville has lost five of its top offensive players in Travis Etienne, DJ Chark, Jamal Agnew, Dan Arnold, and now James Robinson. They’ll be rolling out Dare Ogunbowale at running back this week and simply don’t have any way to attack this strong Patriots team. New England will cruise to victory.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sam: Rams 30, Ravens 20

After practicing on Wednesday, Lamar Jackson (ankle) was nowhere to be found at Baltimore’s Thursday or Friday sessions. That does not bode well for the Ravens, who’s season would be toast if they lose this week. After having the tar beat out of them by Cincinnati last week, Matthew Stafford should be licking his chops to do what Joe Burrow did. The Rams are fighting for a division title and trying to keep pace with Green Bay and Dallas for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If Jackson plays, things may change. If not, Los Angeles rolls.

Andersen: Rams 35, Ravens 24

Yes, Lamar Jackson is going to be back. No, the Ravens don’t stand a chance. The Rams are cruising as of late and now get rewarded with a matchup against the worst secondary in the NFL. Matthew Stafford could throw for over 400 yards while Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., and Van Jefferson each finish with 100-plus yards and a touchdown. Baltimore’s offense is good, but it won’t be able to keep up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Jets

Sam: Buccaneers 41, Jets 7

Tom Brady is 30-8 against the New York Jets in his career, and this week, he’ll make it 31. There isn’t much to dissect here; Tampa Bay has the top-ranked passing offense, and New York has the worst defense in the NFL, including 28th against the pass. For some reason, Vegas has only installed the Bucs as 13.5-point favorites. That’s just irresponsible.

Andersen: Buccaneers 28, Jets 10

Although the Bucs have lost Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette to injuries, that doesn’t mean they’re going to falter against the Jets. A big game from Ronald Jones will allow Tampa Bay to continue surging.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Buffalo Bills

Sam: Bills 30, Falcons 18

So far, there are a lot of potentially lopsided games on the docket this week, and this should be no different. Buffalo is trying to hold off the Patriots for the division title, as well as improve their seed in the overall playoff standings. They currently reside at No. 4 behind the Chiefs, Titans, and Bengals. The Falcons are a longshot playoff hopeful (No. 9), but can’t keep up with Josh Allen in this one.

Andersen: Bills 28, Falcons 21

This feels like it has the potential to be an upset. I’m not willing to go that far, but I do think the Falcons will keep it close until the waning minutes. In the end, though, Josh Allen will command a beautiful drive culminating in a game-winning touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sam: Chiefs 31, Bengals 30

Everyone is prediction a shootout in Cincinnati, and they may be right. It’s worth noting, however, that Kansas City has allowed the fourth-fewest points in the AFC. That may not matter against the high-flying Bengals. Both teams have big things to play for. The Chiefs continue their quest for the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, while trying to stave off the Titans, who hold the tiebreaker. For Cincinnati, all eyes are on the AFC North crown (it’s theirs if they win), as well as keeping pace to improve their playoff seed. By all accounts, this should likely be the game of the week. Neither team will ever be out of the game, regardless of score, and it should go right down to the wire.

Andersen: Chiefs 33, Bengals 31

Definitely the best game of Week 17, Chiefs-Bengals pits quarterback phenom Patrick Mahomes against former No. 1 pick Joe Burrow, who dropped 525 yards on the Ravens last week. This should be a back-and-forth affair with big plays on both sides of the ball. Look for Kansas City’s defense to stand strong, get the ball back, and let Mahomes work his magic to win the game with less than two minutes left.

Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans

Sam: Titans 23, Dolphins 17

Poof! That’s the sound of Miami’s seven-game winning streak coming to an end, putting their playoff chances in jeopardy. Tennessee avoided a stumble last week, thanks mostly to the old Ryan Tannehill-to-A.J. Brown connection. The Titans have too much at stake to lose at home, while they chase Kansas City for the top seed in the AFC. On top of that, they have the defensive line to neutralize any semblance of a rushing attack, including Tua Tagovailoa.

Andersen: Dolphins 21, Titans 17

How will Ryan Tannehill fare against his old team? We’re about to find out. Fortunately, he has A.J. Brown back at his disposal. However, that’s where the good news ends. Without Derrick Henry, the Tennessee offense just isn’t that scary. Miami will win by less than a touchdown, aided by big games from Jaylen Waddle and the Dolphins’ defense.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sam: Colts 27, Raiders 18

Like their division-mate Titans, the Colts cannot afford to drop a game at home against a lesser opponent. They currently sit in the fifth position for the playoffs, but there is a huge logjam nipping at their heels. Indianapolis got an absolute gift this week when the league adjusted the COVID protocols, clearing the way for Carson Wentz to rejoin the team. A win locks them into the playoffs and leaves the Raiders on the outside looking in.

Andersen: Colts 27, Raiders 10

Derek Carr has been fine this season, but he’ll be rattled by Darius Leonard and an imposing Indy defense this week. Now that Carson Wentz has been cleared to return, the Colts will prevail, fueled by Jonathan Taylor‘s two-score performance.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Football Team

Sam: Eagles 23, Football Team 15

Washington is a beaten team with really nothing left to play for, and they are coming off a 56-14 loss at the hands of Dallas. At this point all they have to play for is pride, and they aren’t looking like a team that has much. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, and company are winners of three-straight and five of their last six. They currently hold a one game lead for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They can’t afford to let their division rivals get the best of them.

Andersen: Eagles 21, Football Team 14

The Football Team seems like it is trending in the right direction, yet they’re struggling to get over the hump. When all is said and done, they’ll draw a critical loss against the Eagles, dropping the season series. Antonio Gibson is expected to miss this game due to COVID-19 while Terry McLaurin will be a non-factor in the Washington offense.

Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sam: Chargers 30, Broncos 16

You can’t trade field goals for touchdowns, and that’s the position Denver is about to find themselves in. With a stacked list of injuries and COVID players, the Broncos are going to find it hard to move the ball against their division foe. On the other side, Los Angeles returns Austin Ekeler and the “good” defense shows up and shows out when they need them. The Chargers are currently the first team outside of the top seven for the playoffs, but they need to keep winning and wait for someone above them to falter. That someone could be the Dolphins.

Andersen: Chargers 44, Broncos 24

After getting embarrassed by the Texans, the Chargers will come out roaring against the Broncos, who are without Teddy Bridgewater, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Bradley Chubb, and others. (Thanks, COVID-19.) On the other hand, Los Angeles is getting some key reinforcements back, including Pro Bowl snub Austin Ekeler. It would be a shocker if the Chargers can’t win by multiple scores.

Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sam: 49ers 30, Texans 13

Credit Houston for putting a hurt on the Chargers last week. The Chargers seemed to walk in and this it’d be an easy win. This time, it’s Houston going on the road to San Francisco and you can bet that Kyle Shanahan won’t let his 49ers take the visitors lightly. Trey Lance is likely to start under center. It is going to be Shanahan’s favorite game plan: Run, run, run, run some more, sprinkle in a pass or two. Davis Mills is a good (not great) quarterback for Houston, but Rex Burkhead is not going to find the running room against San Francisco that he did at home against Los Angeles.

Andersen: Texans 27, 49ers 21

We get another rookie-versus-rookie clash this week as Davis Mills and Trey Lance are expected to start at quarterback for their respective teams. While the 49ers have been the stronger team as of late, Lance will struggle in his first start since Week 5. On the other side, Mills has recently shown signs of being a franchise quarterback and will lead this improbable, scraped-together Texans team to victory.

Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

Sam: Seahawks 34, Lions 24

You read that right. In a battle of two teams that have been completely eliminated from playoff contention, these two offenses are going to get right after the defense. It’s going to start unassuming enough, with a lot of rushes from D’Andre Swift for Detroit and Rashaad Penny of Seattle. They should both have plenty of room to move. It’s only a matter of time, however, before Russell Wilson gets into the act with his arm and legs. Meanwhile, Swift is going to continue to get the lion’ share (no pun intended) of the work amongst their weapons on offense. He’ll find the end zone multiple times en route to nearly 200 all-purpose yards.

Andersen: Lions 21, Seahawks 17

The Lions and Texans winning in the same week? Wow. Detroit gets D’Andre Swift back this week, and there is no doubt that Dan Campbell will unleash him in full. With Jared Goff (knee) out, Tim Boyle will lean on Swift and emerging rookie star Amon-Ra St. Brown quite frequently. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Amani Oruwariye will have a big showing on defense, picking off Russell Wilson late in the game.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sam: Cowboys 27, Cardinals 21

Dallas’ defense has really come on throughout the season, and although Arizona has been up-and-down this season, but more “down” of late, dropping three-straight contests including and ugly affair in Detroit. Kyler Murray and his crew aren’t going to best this Dallas defense, but they do have the firepower. Either way, they need to get an offense that has scored just 51 points in their last three back on track headed into the final week of the season.

Andersen: Cowboys 27, Cardinals 24

The Cowboys are one of the hottest teams in football. What seemed like a glaring weakness in the preseason, Dallas’ defense has arguably become the strongest part of its team. They are well-prepared for a playoff run and will demonstrate such against a similarly strong Cardinals squad in Week 17.

Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints

Sam: Saints 23, Panthers 14

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Cam Newton has been benched. Sam Darnold will start for Carolina and gets tasked with a division game against New Orleans, who is fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Taysom Hill returns at quarterback for the Saints, and both the offense and defense should control the flow of the game against the depth-depleted (COVID) Panthers.

Andersen: Saints 24, Panthers 13

The Saints are grateful to have Taysom Hill back after the Ian Book experiment failed on Monday night. The favorable matchup against Carolina certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Look for Hill and Alvin Kamara to help lead New Orleans to a big divisional win.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers

Sam: Packers 41, Vikings 14

The Vikings playoff hopes are likely to be dashed this week. Not only is quarterback Kirk Cousins out (COVID), but they have to go to Lambeau to face the presumptive No. 1 seed in the NFC in a divisional battle. Green Bay is not one to take it easy on anyone once they have a big lead, particularly not a rival. Aaron Rodgers is going to keep pouring it on.

Andersen: Packers 34, Vikings 17

With Kirk Cousins sidelined due to COVID-19, Minnesota stands no chance. Sure, the Vikings’ offensive playmakers will help them move down the field, so it won’t be an all-out disaster. Still, Sean Mannion isn’t outdueling Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay should win by multiple scores.

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sam: Steelers 28, Browns 17

It’s likely Ben Roethlisberger‘s last game at Heinz Field. The Steelers actually still have a chance at the playoffs, ironically because of their tie earlier this season. With multiple teams ahead of them at 8-7 with tough matchups, a Pittsburgh win would move them to 8-7-1, while others could potentially drop to 8-8. So although the storyline may be retirement, there is still unfinished business this season. Well, that and eliminating their little brother on the lake.

Andersen: Steelers 23, Browns 17

The Steelers will come out strong in Ben Roethlisberger‘s final home game at Heinz Field. The veteran quarterback will play well, but he can’t do it all by himself. Look for Pittsburgh’s defense to come out strong and aggressive, confusing Baker Mayfield and hindering the Cleveland offense.

Records

Sam: 129-95 (57.6%)
Joe: 101-79 (56.1%)
Andersen: 149-91 (62.1%)


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Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard

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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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