Sports News

NFL Week 17 game picks, schedule guide, playoff scenarios, fantasy football tips, odds, injuries and more


Jan 1, 2021

ESPN staff

The Week 17 NFL schedule is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score picks.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a stat to know for each game and a look at current playoff scenarios, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy’s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk’s Dave Bearman hand out helpful nuggets, as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.

Let’s get into the full Week 17 slate, including plenty of games with playoff implications.

Jump to a matchup:
ATL-TB | MIA-BUF | PIT-CLE
BAL-CIN | NYJ-NE | MIN-DET
DAL-NYG | SF-SEA | GB-CHI
NO-CAR | ARI-LAR | LAC-KC
TEN-HOU | JAX-IND | LV-DEN
WSH-PHI

See all playoff scenarios

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating:
73.7 | Spread: TB -7 (50)

What to watch for: The Falcons had a 17-0 lead on the Bucs at halftime two weeks ago and became the only team this season to hold the Chiefs to fewer than 20 points last week. But they haven’t been able to close out games. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are hoping they can put four quarters together as a final tuneup heading into their first postseason since 2007. And make no mistake about it, they want to go streaking into the playoffs. This would be their fourth straight win if they can do it. — Jenna Laine

2 Related

Bold prediction: Bucs receiver Mike Evans had 110 yards receiving against Atlanta two weeks ago and 181 last week against Detroit. But the Falcons will hold him to 55 yards on Sunday. However, quarterback Tom Brady will surpass 300 yards passing for a third straight game, marking the first time he will have done so since Weeks 2-4 of 2017. — John Keim

Stat to know: Brady already has a team-record 36 passing touchdowns this season, and he could become the first player with 40 passing TDs in a season at age 40 or older. His Atlanta counterpart, QB Matt Ryan, has 24 passing touchdowns this season, one shy of reaching 25 for the ninth time in his career.

Playoff/draft picture: The Buccaneers already locked up a playoff berth and are eliminated from the NFC South race. So what are they playing for? Well, with a win against Atlanta or a Rams loss, Tampa Bay will secure the top wild-card seeding, for which FPI is giving it an 83.6% chance. That would give the Bucs a wild-card matchup with the winner of the dreadful NFC East. The Falcons are eliminated from the playoffs and are currently projected to end up with the NFL draft’s third pick. They have a 76.2% chance of finishing with at least a top-five pick.

Injuries: Falcons | Buccaneers

What to know for fantasy: Since Week 12, Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley is the fourth-highest-scoring receiver in fantasy and leads the league with 575 receiving yards. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Each of the past five meetings between these teams, and eight of the past nine, have gone over the total. Read more.

Keim’s pick: Buccaneers 30, Falcons 23
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 21
FPI prediction: TB, 74.3% (by an average of 8.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Are Falcons closer to being a contender than their 4-11 record suggests? … Even at 4-11, Falcons will test Bucs in areas where they’ve struggled … Before Bucs embark on playoff run, Evans has some history to make

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
67.8 | Spread: BUF -4.5 (47.5)

What to watch for: Now locked into either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the AFC, the Bills have a tough decision to make — do they rest their starters and risk playoff positioning by losing to Miami, allowing a division rival entry into the postseason in the process? Or do they risk injury, play their starters and try to secure home-field advantage through at least the first two rounds? Whether or not the Bills’ stars play will have a big impact on the outcome. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard will get his 10th interception of the year, making him the first defender in 13 years to get double-digit picks (Antonio Cromartie, 2007). Howard getting a pick shouldn’t be a surprise, but his overall frequency will be. Buffalo QB Josh Allen has made a routine of torching the Dolphins (17 touchdowns to three interceptions). But Miami’s defense is due a big game against the Bills, though it’s unclear if Allen or Matt Barkley will take most of the reps for a team that already clinched the division. — Cameron Wolfe

Stat to know: Miami leads the NFL in scoring defense (18.8 points allowed per game) after ranking last in 2019 (30.9). Per the Elias Sports Bureau data, the only team in NFL history to go from worst to first in scoring defense is the 1966-67 Houston Oilers in the AFL, who jumped from 28.3 points allowed per game to 14.2.

Playoff/draft picture: The Dolphins can clinch a playoff berth with a win or a loss by either the Ravens, Browns or Colts. FPI says they have an 80.8% chance to make the playoffs. The Bills, meanwhile, have locked up the AFC East but can’t finish atop the conference. Buffalo can clinch the second seed with a win against Miami or a Pittsburgh loss.

Injuries: Dolphins | Bills

What to know for fantasy: Buffalo receiver Stefon Diggs has 96.3 fantasy points over the past three weeks, pacing the position by 17.4 points. If he can rack up 130 receiving yards for a fourth straight game, he will become just the fourth player with such a streak over the past decade (Odell Beckham Jr. and Calvin Johnson). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Miami is 15-5 against the spread (ATS) in its past 20 games as an underdog, including four straight covers. And it is 15-9 ATS as an underdog under coach Brian Flores. Read more.

Wolfe’s pick: Dolphins 23, Bills 20
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Dolphins 17, Bills 14
FPI prediction: BUF, 69.7% (by an average of 6.9 points)

Matchup must-reads: Fitzpatrick, Tagovailoa and the art of mentoring the competition … Bills transitioning from underdog to a big dog in AFC as playoffs approach … Dolphins coach Flores defends decision to stick with Tagovailoa as starting QB … Bills granted permission to have fans at playoff game, first crowd of season

play

1:03

Louis Riddick explains how Ryan Fitzpatrick missing this weekend’s game because of a positive COVID-19 test affects Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
57.8 | Spread: CLE -10.5 (42)

What to watch for: How will Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph respond in going back to the scene of the helmet swing, where defensive end Myles Garrett and the Browns will be waiting in a must-win for Cleveland? The Browns, however, might still be navigating COVID-19 issues within their roster. — Jake Trotter

Bold prediction: Rudolph might start the game, but Joshua Dobbs will be the one to finish it. The Steelers are resting Ben Roethlisberger, giving their backups a chance for game action. The Steelers know what they have in Rudolph after last season, and he’ll get at least a half to show them his improvement. But they should also give Dobbs some reps to see what they have in their No. 3. — Brooke Pryor

Stat to know: The Steelers rank last in offensive efficiency over the past four weeks at 19.5 (scaled 0-100). They have gone without a first down on a league-high 37.4% of their drives this season.

Playoff/draft picture: The Browns have a 57.6% chance to make the playoffs and can clinch with a win or an Indianapolis loss. There is also a scenario in which they make it in if the Ravens, Colts and Dolphins all win, but the Titans lose. The Steelers have locked up the AFC North, but they are eliminated from the chance for No. 1 in the conference — they can clinch the second seed with a win and a Buffalo loss. The Steelers’ chances to be the No. 2 seed in the AFC sit at 16.4%.

Injuries: Steelers | Browns

What to know for fantasy: Pittsburgh receiver Diontae Johnson has been a top-15 receiver in five of his past seven games, but can he keep it up with Rudolph under center? The next time Rudolph throws for 255 yards or three touchdowns in a game will be the first, so be careful in trusting any and all Steelers this weekend. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Cleveland is 2-9 ATS this season in conference games and 0-5 ATS in division games. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is 11-21-1 ATS in his career in conference games, including 6-10 ATS in division games. Read more.

Pryor’s pick: Browns 20, Steelers 17
Trotter’s pick: Browns 24, Steelers 23
FPI prediction: PIT, 55.4% (by an average of 1.9 points)

Matchup must-reads: Wait, what did Tomlin say? Deciphering the Steelers coach’s (many) slogans … Chubb, Hunt revive Browns’ running back glory days of Mack, Byner … Steelers’ Roethlisberger to sit, Rudolph to start against Browns … Flip phones, ‘Friends’ and LeBron’s debut: It’s been 18 years since the Browns made playoffs … How Roethlisberger’s halftime message helped Steelers have fun again … It’s been 25 years since the Browns broke Cleveland’s heart and left for Baltimore … Browns shut down facility for second straight day

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
65.3 | Spread: BAL -13 (44)

What to watch for: With Baltimore needing a win to clinch a playoff spot, Cincinnati is looking to play spoiler and end the season on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2015. But the Ravens’ No. 1 rushing attack is a big reason the visitors will be the heavy favorites against Cincinnati. — Ben Baby

• Game picks from our NFL experts »
• PickCenter » | ESPN Chalk »
More NFL coverage »

Bold prediction: Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will become the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in two seasons. Jackson needs 92 yards on Sunday to do so. He averaged 112 yards rushing in his first three meetings with the Bengals before rushing only twice (for a career-low 3 yards) against them in Week 5. — Jamison Hensley

Stat to know: Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is 92 receiving yards shy of joining A.J. Green (2011) and Cris Collinsworth (1981) as the only Bengals rookies with 1,000 receiving yards.

Playoff/draft picture: The Ravens can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Browns loss or a Colts loss. FPI likes those odds, giving them a 90.6% chance to make the postseason. The Bengals, however, are more concerned with draft position. They are projected to have the No. 5 pick, and FPI has them at a 73.3% chance of staying in the top five come Sunday night.

Injuries: Ravens | Bengals

What to know for fantasy: Here comes Lamar! Jackson is averaging 40.4% more fantasy points per game over the past three weeks than he did prior to Week 14 this season. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Ravens have covered five straight and are 41-0 outright as a double-digit favorite in the regular season. They are the only franchise that is undefeated in such games. Read more.

Hensley’s pick: Ravens 31, Bengals 10
Baby’s pick: Ravens 30, Bengals 14
FPI prediction: BAL, 74.1% (by an average of 8.6 points)

Matchup must-reads: Kings of chill: Ravens rank as NFL’s most dominant team in December … Strong finish by offense just what Bengals need going into 2021 … Dominant run game? Torrid pass rush? Ravens’ biggest strength is focus

1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
29.0 | Spread: NE -3 (39.5)

What to watch for: Does the telephone on the Patriots’ sideline work? After coach Bill Belichick fired it in frustration in a Week 16 loss to the Bills, communications could be stressed in a finale that has no meaning other than draft position. — Mike Reiss

Bold prediction: Jets quarterback Sam Darnold — who hasn’t faced the Patriots since the infamous “ghost” game in 2019 — will get his first career victory over the Patriots in what could be his final game with the Jets. The Jets have been outscored 71-3 in Darnold’s two starts against the Patriots (four interceptions). — Rich Cimini

Stat to know: The Patriots have eight passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season. They have finished with fewer than 10 passing TDs in a season just once: 1970, when they accumulated seven touchdowns and 28 picks.

Playoff/draft picture: The Jets have secured the No. 2 spot in the draft, but the Patriots can still slide up or down the draft board. They are currently projected to hold the 15th pick, with a 0.7% chance to move into the top 10.

Injuries: Jets | Patriots

What to know for fantasy: New York receiver Jamison Crowder came through last week (29.3 fantasy points) and saved you with a score in the first meeting with New England. But be aware that he was targeted on just 10.5% of his routes in that game, his second-lowest rate of the season. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Patriots have won each of the past nine meetings, but they are just 5-4 ATS in those games. Read more.

Cimini’s pick: Jets 17, Patriots 16
Reiss’ pick: Jets 20, Patriots 17
FPI prediction: NE, 73.1% (by an average of 8.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Gase blames himself for Jets’ woeful offense, says ‘that’s on me’ … Belichick remains right person to help restock Patriots’ roster … Let’s be frank: Jets’ Gase should’ve fired Williams sooner … Patriots’ Newton vents after blowout loss: ‘It’s extremely frustrating, knowing what you’re capable of’ … Jets’ Gore out for Week 17 with future uncertain

play

1:40

Mina Kimes makes a case for why not even Tom Brady would have carried the Patriots to the playoffs this season.

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating:
26.5 | Spread: MIN -7 (53.5)

What to watch for: Trickery! Week 17 is usually full of randomness — the Lions, for instance, have thrown in fake field goals and offensive linemen catching touchdown passes in the last week of the regular season in the past. With everyone knowing a regime change is coming in Detroit, perhaps we’ll see some deep-in-the-playbook plays in the finale. It’s at least one thing that could make this game interesting. — Michael Rothstein

Bold prediction: How’s this for bold: If the Lions play quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is dealing with an ankle injury sustained in Week 16, this will be his final game in Detroit. The Lions’ downtrodden organization is looking for a clean slate, so don’t be shocked if new hires happen in the front office even before this game kicks off. And a clean slate probably means moving on from the QB the Lions drafted No. 1 overall in 2009. — Courtney Cronin

Stat to know: Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson has six games with 100-plus receiving yards this season, one shy of tying Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) for the most by rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. He also needs 111 yards to break Anquan Boldin’s mark for most receiving yards by a Vikings rookie in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

Playoff/draft picture: This one is all about draft position. No playoff implications to see here. The Lions are projected to pick at No. 7, and their odds to remain in the top 10 are 86.8% per FPI. They even have a 27.5% chance to climb into the top five. The Vikings are looking at the 13th pick, per FPI projections, with a slim 2.9% chance of maneuvering into the top 10 picks.

Injuries: Vikings | Lions

What to know for fantasy: How lucky do you feel? Marvin Jones Jr. has been held to fewer than 13.5 fantasy points in six of eight games against the Vikings since joining the Lions. He does have three games of over 23 points this season, but that comes with the risk of seven single-digit performances. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Something has to give. The Vikings have failed to cover in six straight games, but they have covered each of their past six against the Lions. Read more.

Cronin’s pick: Vikings 28, Lions 16
Rothstein’s pick: Vikings 28, Lions 14
FPI prediction: MIN, 73.6% (by an average of 8.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: There’s no quick fix for worst defense Vikings’ Zimmer has ever had … Lions interview Smith, Dimitroff and Pioli for general manager’s job … Source: Cook out vs. Lions after father’s death … Why 49ers defensive coordinator Saleh would be an intriguing candidate for Lions

1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating:
21.4 | Spread: DAL -2 (44.5)

What to watch for: The Cowboys have dominated this rivalry, winning seven straight. The last time the Giants beat the Cowboys was more than four years ago, late in the 2016 season, when Odell Beckham Jr.’s 61-yard touchdown proved to be the difference. The Giants are hoping the streak finally ends now, along with their playoff drought. They haven’t made the playoffs since that 2016 season. — Jordan Raanan

Here’s how the postseason bracket looks at the moment and what scenarios lie ahead.
• Playoff picture (ESPN+) »
• Playoff Machine: See scenarios »
• Standings » | Football Power Index »

Bold prediction: The Giants will rush for fewer than 100 yards against the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed 2,416 yards on the ground this season, the second-most in team history. Even during their three-game winning streak, the Cowboys are allowing 134 yards per game on the ground. They have gone just two games this season not giving up 100 yards on the ground. The first came against New York (89 yards on 27 carries). Since rushing for 190 yards in their last win — against Seattle in Week 13 — the Giants have not topped 78 yards in a game on the ground. — Todd Archer

Stat to know: Turnovers and takeaways have been crucial to the Cowboys’ turnaround. In their first 12 games, they carried a minus-13 turnover margin and a minus-92 points off turnover margin. In their past three games, they have a plus-9 turnover margin and a plus-48 points off turnover margin — with zero points allowed off them.

Playoff/draft picture: The winner of this game will make the playoffs — and win the NFC East — if Washington loses to the Eagles on Sunday night. If the Giants win the division, their would-be .375 win percentage would be the all-time worst win percentage for a playoff team. The Cowboys have a 16.5% chance to do so, while the Giants are at 24.0%, per FPI. Win or lose, both teams might be looking at draft order if Washington pulls off a win. FPI has the Giants with the 11th pick (a 52.5% chance to pick in the top 10 and 10.1% chance for the top five), while the Cowboys are one spot back at No. 12 (52.4% chance for the top 10).

Injuries: Cowboys | Giants

What to know for fantasy: Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup is coming off his best game of the season (30.1 points against the Eagles), but can he do it twice in a row? He failed to score even five fantasy points in the game following his other two 20-point performances this season. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: In the past 30 seasons, New York is 7-1 outright and 6-2 ATS when still alive in the playoff race entering Week 17. Dallas is 2-6 outright and 3-5 ATS in those games. Read more.

Archer’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 17
Raanan’s pick: Giants 23, Cowboys 21
FPI prediction: NYG, 59.5% (by an average of 3.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: With playoff chances below 1%, the Cowboys found their formula … Giants’ road to the postseason not so complicated … Dalton to earn $1 million if Cowboys reach playoffs … Who’s going to win NFC East? Washington the favorite, but Giants and Cowboys aren’t far behind

4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
76.6 | Spread: SEA -6 (46)

What to watch for: They’re a long shot, but the Seahawks still have a chance to steal the NFC’s No. 1 seed with some help elsewhere, which means they’ll be hungry to finish strong here. The 49ers enjoyed playing the spoiler role last week for Arizona and would love nothing more than to make their biggest rival’s postseason path more difficult. Considering that three of San Francisco’s six wins this season have come within the division, don’t be surprised if the 49ers keep it closer than the last meeting between these teams. — Nick Wagoner

Bold prediction: Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. will make another big play against his former team. He picked off Jimmy Garoppolo in his Seahawks debut in Week 9, a game he had circled on his calendar since the 49ers waived him in August. He has played his way into a starting job at right cornerback since and has been a part of Seattle’s defensive turnaround. As the team’s primary punt returner, it seems only a matter of time before he breaks off a long return. — Brady Henderson

Stat to know: The Seahawks have allowed an NFL-low 13.7 points per game since Week 11, going 5-1 in that stretch. They allowed 29.6 per game through the first 10 weeks of the season, which ranked 28th in the league.

Playoff/draft picture: The Niners won’t be returning to the playoffs, but the Seahawks have locked up the NFC West and can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win, a New Orleans loss and a Green Bay loss. Their FPI chances to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC sit at 5.5%. The 49ers are currently projected to have the 14th draft pick, with 1.4% chance at clipping the top 10.

Injuries: 49ers | Seahawks

What to know for fantasy: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson carried you through the first two months of the season, but, on a per-game basis, he is QB16 since Week 10 (16.2 points per game, ranking behind Philip Rivers and Baker Mayfield). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Seattle is 14-4 ATS against San Francisco since 2012, including a cover in Week 8 this season. Read more.

Wagoner’s pick: Seahawks 23, 49ers 20
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 26, 49ers 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 60.1% (by an average of 3.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Injuries, ominous skies and relocation: 49ers’ nightmare season finally comes to close … What a difference a year makes: Seahawks’ backfield at full strength entering January … Shanahan maps out future with Garoppolo … Playing ‘lights out’: Seahawks’ defensive turnaround key to NFC West title

4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating:
76.0 | Spread: GB -5.5 (51)

What to watch for: Everything is on the line for the Bears and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago last faced Green Bay in a regular-season finale of this magnitude in 2013, when the Packers pulled out a late victory to clinch the division and crush the Bears’ playoff hopes. Green Bay has won 18 of the past 21 in the series, and Trubisky — out of contract after the year — usually struggles versus the Packers. A Bears win puts them in the postseason for the second time in three years and could provide Trubisky with a second life in Chicago. — Jeff Dickerson

• Meet the loaded, elite QB class »
• 30 big questions for Kiper & McShay »
• Mini mock of the projected top 10 »
• Rankings: Kiper » | McShay »
Full ranking » | Pick order » | More »

Bold prediction: The Packers will prove last week’s near-dominant defensive performance against the Titans was no fluke. The Bears have scored 30 points in four straight games — the first time they’ve done that since 1965 — and have averaged 35.0 points over the past four weeks (third best in the NFL in that stretch). But they’ll have trouble getting past 20 against a resurgent Packers defense. — Rob Demovsky

Stat to know: Bears running back David Montgomery trails only Derrick Henry (698) in rushing yards since Week 12 (529). And his six TDs on the ground have him trailing only Alvin Kamara in that same span.

Playoff/draft picture: The Bears need either a win against Green Bay or an Arizona loss to head to the postseason (75.0% chance per FPI). The Packers are the NFC North champs and can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win or a Seattle loss (79.8% chance).

Injuries: Packers | Bears

What to know for fantasy: In these two teams’ first meeting this season, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put up 25.6 fantasy points, his best game against the Bears since Week 10 of 2014. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Packers have covered three straight meetings and are 18-7 ATS against Chicago when Rodgers starts (including playoffs). Read more.

Demovsky’s pick: Packers 33, Bears 18
Dickerson’s pick: Packers 30, Bears 21
FPI prediction: GB, 65.9% (by an average of 5.4 points)

Matchup must-reads: Lambeau Leaps aside, Dillon shows what he can do for Packers’ offense … Everything for Trubisky hinges on Bears beating Green Bay … Packers’ Adams, Rodgers ‘on the same page’ right into record books … Local artist keeps Bears’ team photo tradition alive during pandemic

4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating:
73.1 | Spread: NO -7 (47.5)

What to watch for: Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s protection will be down to a fifth left tackle (converted guard Michael Schofield). The Saints have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, ranking eighth in sacks with 42. It could be a long day for Bridgewater, who has struggled under duress. — David Newton

Bold prediction: Saints running back Alvin Kamara will score fewer than six touchdowns. But undrafted rookie Saints receiver Marquez Callaway will catch the first touchdown pass of his career as the Saints become the first team to sweep the rest of the NFC South division in a season. — Mike Triplett

Stat to know: Kamara has 59 career touchdowns. With a TD in Week 17, he’d become the third player in NFL history to score 60 times in his first four seasons, joining Terrell Davis (61) and LaDainian Tomlinson (60).

Playoff/draft picture: The Saints won the NFC South and can still clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference with help. They need a win, a Green Bay loss and a Seattle win, though FPI says that’s only 14.7% likely to happen. The Panthers are projected to have the No. 8 draft pick next April. FPI is still giving them an 8.9% chance to land a top-five spot and says they are 78.9% likely to hold in the top 10 this week.

Injuries: Saints | Panthers

What to know for fantasy: Panthers receiver DJ Moore has underwhelmed lately, with a missed game and a pair of single-digit performances over the Panthers’ past four games. But his best game of the season did come in Week 7 against these Saints (23.3 fantasy points). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Road-field advantage? The Saints are 17-6 ATS in road games since 2018. Read more.

Triplett’s pick: Saints 27, Panthers 16
Newton’s pick: Saints 38, Panthers 10
FPI prediction: NO, 72.8% (by an average of 8.1 points)

Matchup must-reads: ‘Are we really in the NFL?’ Saints recall nomadic 2005 season after Hurricane Katrina … Panthers could go with substance over style on Moton payday … Why Kamara’s monster game was so important to Saints, Brees … McCaffrey finishing 2020 season on sideline

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
57.4 | Spread: ARI -3 (40.5)

What to watch for: The Rams have won seven straight against the Cardinals under coach Sean McVay, and despite an injury-depleted offense, a top-ranked defense makes eight possible. Watch for defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey to wreak havoc against quarterback Kyler Murray and his arsenal of playmakers. In Week 10, Murray was sacked twice and limited to 173 passing yards, though he did toss three touchdowns. The Cardinals’ defense has a chance to capitalize on a Rams offense that will be led by backup quarterback John Wolford, who will be making his first NFL appearance. — Lindsey Thiry

• Why Dolphins’ Brian Flores should be NFL Coach of the Year
• Texans receiver Brandin Cooks wants to stay, Deshaun Watson could use him
• For sizzling Bills, two teams loom as tough first-round playoff matchups
• Washington QB Taylor Heinicke’s journey
• Colts’ Philip Rivers typically comes through with playoffs on the line

Bold prediction: The Cardinals will finish with fewer than 250 yards of total offense in the most important game for this franchise in the past five seasons. The Rams’ defense is ranked first overall in yards per game, yards per play, passing yards per game and passing yards per play, along with third in rushing yards per game and per play. With Murray dealing with a leg injury, the Cardinals’ offense will feel the effects, which will be compounded by the Rams’ stout defense. — Josh Weinfuss

Stat to know: Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins can become the fourth player in franchise history with eight 100-yard receiving games in a season. Rob Moore had eight in 1997, David Boston had nine in 2001 and Anquan Boldin had eight in 2005.

Playoff/draft picture: This one is huge for both sides. The Rams can clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Chicago loss, while the Cardinals can punch their ticket with a win. The Rams have an 87.7% chance to make the playoffs, according to FPI projections, while the Cards are at 37.3%.

Injuries: Cardinals | Rams

What to know for fantasy: Murray has 29 rushing attempts over his past three games, nearly doubling the 15 he had in his prior three games. He has only 43 rushing yards in three career matchups with the Rams, but at least the effort is being made to utilize his most fantasy-friendly trait. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Rams have covered each of the past seven head-to-head matchups (six of which were by more than a TD). Read more.

Weinfuss’ pick: Rams 24, Cardinals 21
Thiry’s pick: Rams 13, Cardinals 10
FPI prediction: LAR, 62.7% (by an average of 4.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: Cardinals’ roller-coaster season comes down to one game … Rams place Kupp on reserve/COVID-19 list … Murray says he’ll play in must-win game … Who is QB Wolford?

4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
37.1 | Spread: LAC -3.5 (43.5)

What to watch for: The Chiefs will try to keep as many of their regulars out of harm’s way after clinching the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed last week. So Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is in line for a big day. He got his NFL career started in Week 2 against the Chiefs by throwing for 311 yards and a touchdown in an overtime defeat. — Adam Teicher

Bold prediction: Herbert will finish strong with a 400-plus-yard game. With the Chiefs likely sitting some defensive starters, he will break the rookie passing-yard record. His 4,034 yards are currently fourth on the list, and he needs 341 to pass Andrew Luck for the most. — Shelley Smith

Stat to know: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has 1,416 receiving yards this season, most ever by a tight end. He needs 44 more than Stefon Diggs in Week 17 to move into first overall this season — if he plays. No tight end has ever led the NFL in receiving yards in a season.

Playoff/draft picture: The Chiefs have locked up both the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the conference. They will receive both home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and a wild-card round bye. The Chargers, meanwhile, are 33.5% likely to lock up a top-10 draft pick for April. FPI currently has them picking at No. 10.

Injuries: Chargers | Chiefs

What to know for fantasy: Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler has scored over seven fantasy points as a pass-catcher in four of his five games since returning to action in Week 12. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Since 1990, teams that have previously clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs are 9-23 ATS in Week 17 games. Read more.

Smith’s pick: Chargers 24, Chiefs 21
Teicher’s pick: Chargers 26, Chiefs 20
FPI prediction: KC, 65.5% (by an average of 5.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: ‘We didn’t know he was this good’: Chargers’ Herbert excels despite unusual rookie year … Mahomes has work to do, even while sitting Sunday … Chargers’ Herbert sets rookie record for TD passes … Chiefs to rest Mahomes during regular-season finale

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
51.5 | Spread: TEN -7.5 (56)

What to watch for: Will Tennessee running back Derrick Henry top 2,000 rushing yards for the season? He’s at 1,777 entering the game (223 short) and facing the 31st-ranked run defense. In Henry’s past two games against the Texans, he has finished with more than 200 rushing yards. — Sarah Barshop

Through conversations with former players, coaches and key figures, Peyton Manning gets to the heart of football history and its cultural impact. Watch on ESPN+

Bold prediction: Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will have 300 passing yards, and both A.J. Brown (924 yards) and Corey Davis (945 yards) will get the necessary production to cross the 1,000-receiving-yard plateau for the season. The Titans will take advantage of a Texans pass defense that is allowing 7.6 yards per completion and an NFL-worst 69.8% completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks. — Turron Davenport

Stat to know: Tennessee has 15 sacks this season. The fewest sacks by a team to make the playoffs in a 16-game season is 19 (1979 Broncos), and only four teams have finished a 16-game season with 16 or fewer sacks.

Playoff/draft picture: The AFC South is still up for grabs. The Titans can clinch it with a win or a Colts loss. But they can also simply clinch a playoff berth with a loss from the Ravens or Dolphins. What does FPI say? They have a 92.3% chance to make the playoffs and a 64.8% chance to win the AFC South. The Texans are truly playing for nothing, win or lose. They’re eliminated from the playoffs, but they also do not have a first-round draft pick. For what it’s worth, their original pick — traded to Miami — is currently projected to be No. 4 overall with a 63.1% shot of ending up in the top five. Rough.

Injuries: Titans | Texans

What to know for fantasy: The running back on the other sideline gets the majority of headlines, but David Johnson has quietly posted his best two games of the season over the past two weeks (28.4 points last week against the Bengals). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: In Tannehill starts since the beginning of last season, the Titans are 20-4-1 ATS. Read more.

Davenport’s pick: Titans 35, Texans 20
Barshop’s pick: Titans 31, Texans 17
FPI prediction: TEN, 58.1% (by an average of 2.8 points)

Matchup must-reads: Titans need to start fast in season finale vs. Texans to win AFC South … Watt rants on Texans’ lack of professionalism, feels bad for fans … Cooks shows in loss why Texans should find a way to keep him

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
38.0 | Spread: IND -14 (49.5)

What to watch for: How will the Colts’ offensive tackles match up against the Jaguars’ pass-rushers? Yes, the Colts will have starting right tackle Braden Smith (reserve/COVID-19 list) back for the game, but there’s still a gigantic hole on the left side after the losses of veteran Anthony Castonzo (ankle) and backup Will Holden (ankle). Indianapolis gave up a season-high five sacks against Pittsburgh in Week 16. There’s no better way for the Jaguars to boost their woeful sack numbers (18 on the season) than going against a backup left tackle. — Mike Wells

Bold prediction: The Jaguars will sack quarterback Philip Rivers three times. Rivers has been sacked only 19 times this season — his ability to get the ball out quickly is a large part of that — but with Castonzo out, the Jags will get home. Jaguars rookie defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson has come on late in the season, recording 11 of his 20 QB pressures in the past four games, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Chaisson will get the second sack of his career on Sunday. — Mike DiRocco

Stat to know: The Colts are allowing 92.9 opponent rushing yards per game this season, the second fewest in the NFL. And Jacksonville running back James Robinson will not play.

Playoff/draft picture: Currently on the outside looking in, the Colts still have a 78.7% chance to play postseason football, per FPI. Better yet, FPI is giving them a 35.2% chance to even win the AFC South. The Colts can clinch the division with a win and a Titans loss, but they also can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a loss from either the Ravens, Browns or Dolphins. The Jaguars are locked into the No. 1 draft pick, win or lose.

Injuries: Jaguars | Colts

What to know for fantasy: Since returning to action in Week 13, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has been the third-best fantasy running back with 91.9 fantasy points. Over that stretch, he has more rushing touchdowns (five) than he had this season prior (four). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Jags are 9-1-1 ATS against the Colts since 2015, and their only win this season came in Week 1 against these Colts as a 7-point underdog. Read more.

DiRocco’s pick: Colts 31, Jaguars 12
Wells’ pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 14
FPI prediction: IND, 84.1% (by an average of 13.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Jaguars RB Robinson ruled out, falling short of undrafted rookie record … Colts won’t share scores of playoff rivals during must-win Week 17 game … Eight plays and players who helped send Lawrence to Jaguars … Colts LT Castonzo set for season-ending ankle surgery … Colts need help to avoid becoming third 11-win team to miss playoffs

play

1:15

Field Yates and Mike Clay predict T.Y. Hilton to have another solid game as the Colts face the Jaguars in the season finale.

4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
34.7 | Spread: LV -2.5 (51)

What to watch for: It is Denver quarterback Drew Lock’s final chance in 2020 to show whether he can be the 2021 starter. He has gotten some votes of confidence along the way, and the Broncos do figure to amp up the competition in the quarterback room a bit this offseason, but this is his closing argument in a decidedly up-and-down year. He goes into this one tied for the league lead in interceptions and ranking last in completion percentage. — Jeff Legwold

Bold prediction: After leaving so many points on the field last week, settling for field goals from 23, 38, 20 and 22 yards, the Raiders will unleash a Marcus Mariota package deep in the red zone to try to score TDs rather than FGs. Starting quarterback Derek Carr, with his strained groin, was nowhere near mobile last week, but Mariota is healthy and not against extending plays or running the ball in. — Paul Gutierrez

Stat to know: The Raiders are 5-14 in December/January regular-season games since 2017, the worst record in such games in the NFL over that span.

Playoff/draft picture: With the Raiders officially out of it, this is another game whose implications are limited to draft position concerns. Denver is projected to have the ninth draft spot per FPI, and it has a 54.7% chance to stay in the top 10. It even has an ever-so-slight chance at the top five (0.3%, per FPI). The Raiders are currently looking at the No. 17 draft spot, and they cannot enter the top 10 at this point.

Injuries: Raiders | Broncos

What to know for fantasy: Over the past two weeks, the Broncos’ Noah Fant ranks inside the top five tight ends in targets (21), receptions (14) and fantasy points (33.3). See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: The Raiders have covered five straight meetings, and each of the past seven meetings went under the total. Read more.

Gutierrez’s pick: Broncos 27, Raiders 26
Legwold’s pick: Broncos 23, Raiders 21
FPI prediction: LV, 53.4% (by an average of 1.2 points)

Matchup must-reads: Waller, Jacobs vibrant foundation pieces in bleak end to Raiders season … Jeudy’s drops ‘unacceptable’ during difficult rookie season … Raiders’ Gruden on not going for TD: ‘Don’t regret it one bit’

8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating:
23.1 | Spread: WSH -1.5 (43.5)

What to watch for: The Eagles set a record with 13 different offensive line combinations over their first 14 games, and further changes could be coming if left tackle Jordan Mailata isn’t cleared from concussion protocol. Regardless, Philadelphia has its hands full against a Washington defense that ranks fifth in sacks with 44. — Tim McManus

Relive the NFL’s greatest games, original series and more. Watch on ESPN+

Bold prediction: Regardless of starting quarterback, it’ll be the defense and run game that flourish for Washington. Running back Antonio Gibson will run for 75 yards and a touchdown, and defensive end Chase Young will record two sacks. But maybe this is the boldest prediction: Washington will score on its opening possession for the first time all year. — John Keim

Stat to know: Washington has a minus-106 score differential in the first half this season (30th in NFL) and a plus-106 score differential in the second half (best in NFL). That 212-point gap in differentials between halves would be the largest by any team in the past 20 seasons.

Playoff/draft picture: Win and in for Washington. That’s all. A victory secures the NFC East and a playoff berth. The Eagles are out of it, but they are currently projected to pick at No. 6 in the draft. They have a lock on the top 10 and a 40.6% chance to rise into the top five.

Injuries: Washington | Eagles

What to know for fantasy: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has scored north of 17 fantasy points in all three of his starts this season, with his 75.7 points ranking third at the position over that stretch. See Week 17 rankings.

Betting nugget: Philadelphia is 3-0 ATS as a home underdog this season and 11-4 ATS in such situations under coach Doug Pederson (including the playoffs). Read more.

Keim’s pick: Washington 21, Eagles 17
McManus’ pick: Washington 24, Eagles 23
FPI prediction: WSH, 58.9% (by an average of 3.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: Win or go home: Washington playing with ‘house money’ in familiar scenario … Pederson can lead an Eagles turnaround, if the front office lets him … Who’s going to win NFC East? Washington the favorite, but Giants and Cowboys aren’t far behind … Pederson ‘fully expects’ to return as Eagles’ head coach in 2021 … Rivera cements his power in Washington by releasing Haskins Jr.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker