One of the worst chores in Week 17 in the NFL is figuring out who will go full-out for victory.
A few teams have little incentive to play their stars as they prepare for the postseason. Others just want to get home, especially after this pandemic-impacted year, and forget about the disappointment that has been 2020.
That said, Pro Picks will push what some term as meaningless contests to the side except for the top upset while concentrating on the games that don’t fall into those troublesome categories. We’ll still make a choice for every matchup; it’s our obligation. Even if it’s an exercise in futility in some cases.
KNOCKOUT POOL: The Saints carried us through Christmas weekend, and we head into 2021 taking, gulp, DALLAS to finish off the schedule.
No. 20 Dallas (minus 3) at No. 24 New York Giants
The Cowboys might fall short of winning the NFC Least, but they’ve been presentable recently.
BEST BET: COWBOYS, 27-16
No. 31 New York Jets (plus 3) at No. 21 (tie) New England
A fitting way to conclude the Tom Brady-less season in Patriots Land.
UPSET SPECIAL: JETS, 16-12
No. 11 Miami (plus 1) at No. 3 Buffalo
What a memorable turnaround for Miami as it seeks a playoff spot. But …
No. 2 Green Bay (minus 5) at No. 14 Chicago
Almost as good as winning the Super Bowl for Packers would be sending the Bears home.
No. 9 Tennessee (minus 7) at No. 29 Houston
Some say Derrick Henry reminds them of Earl Campbell. He’ll run wild in Campbell’s old stomping grounds.
No. 32 Jacksonville (plus 14) at No. 10 Indianapolis
Trevor Lawrence hasn’t arrived yet in North Florida. All Colts here.
No. 17 (tie) Washington (plus 1 1-2) at No. 26 Philadelphia
Double selection here, depending on Washington’s QB situation.
WASHINGTON, 22-16 (with Alex Smith)
PHILADELPHIA, 16-13 (without Alex Smith)
No. 4 New Orleans (minus 6 1-2) at No. 23 Carolina
With a slight chance at the NFC’s top seed and lone bye, New Orleans stays serious.
No. 5 Seattle (minus 5) vs. No. 19 San Francisco at Glendale, Arizona
With a slight chance at the NFCs top seed and lone bye, Seattle stays serious.
No. 15 Arizona (OFF) at No. 13 Los Angeles Rams
No Jared Goff for LA, maybe no Kyler Murray for Arizona. The winner advances.
No. 6 Pittsburgh (plus 10) at No. 12 Cleveland
Mike Tomlin chooses rest for his guys rather than extending Cleveland’s playoff drought.
No. 7 (tie) Baltimore (minus 12) at No. 28 Cincinnati
The Ravens have begun to look dangerous again, clinch a wild card.
No. 27 Atlanta (plus 6 1-2) at No. 7 (tie) Tampa Bay
Brady and the Bucs also are looking dangerous at the right time.
No. 21 (tie) Minnesota (minus 7) at No. 30 Detroit
This would have been the Best Bet if the game meant anything.
No. 16 Las Vegas (plus 2) at No. 25 Denver
We’re still trying to figure out how the Raiders lost to the Dolphins.
No. 17 (tie) Los Angeles Chargers (plus 3) at No. 1 Kansas City
The NFL’s best team and reigning champion can go through the motions here.
Last Week: Straight up: 10-6. Against spread: 9-6-1
Season: Straight up: 157-81-1. Against spread: 118-104-8
Best Bet: Straight up: 12-4. Against spread: 8-8
Upset Special: Straight up: 7-9. Against spread: 7-7-2
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