Last week was a decent showing for my predictions but now we enter one of if not the toughest week of the regular season to predict. With only a few games having playoff implications, many teams who have already clinched will be playing their regulars sparingly or not at all. Some are doing this as they’ve already maxed out their potential playoff seeding, while others such as the Rams seem to be going about it to line up a more favorable second round matchup if they did advance. Regardless, fans are in for a treat Sunday as it will be the last 16 game slate of the season.
Last week: 11-5, Season: 157-83
Last week against the spread: 7-9, Season: 116-124
Game of the weak: Texans vs Colts: Since division realignment in 2002, these are the two teams who since its inception have captured the AFC South title. Now, they’re both playing in week 17 with quarterbacks who weren’t on the roster to start the season. With five different quarterbacks taking snaps and some key blows on the defensive side of the ball, this is a year the Texans would like to forget. The good news is Deshaun Watson before his injury did show plenty of reasons to be excited about the future.
The Colts season rested on the shoulder of Andrew Luck, and even before being shutdown it became inevitable that he’d be shutdown. While the Colts did add some nice pieces on the defensive side of the ball, their best bet to relevance will come through taking advantage of the draft capital they’ll be given. The hardest thing to find is a franchise quarterback and assuming Luck is fully recovered that’s already in place. Texans 17 Colts (-5.5) 24
Game of the week: Panthers vs Falcons: With the Panthers playing for a potential division title and the Falcons having a “win and in” scenario, you can’t ask for much more than this. It may not be a coincidence at this point that the Panthers are now 6-1 since trading away Kelvin Benjamin. Remember, their 2015 run to the Super Bowl also happened to occur when Benjamin suffered a season ending ACL tear in training camp. Since the trade, Cam Newton has thrown 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions while he threw for 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions prior.
While the Panther offense is clicking, the same can’t be said for the Falcons. They’ve shown glimpses over the course of the season, but Steve Sarkisian just hasn’t gotten the same production out of this group. If Matt Ryan and company struggle this week, it will be interesting to see if coaching changes are made on that side of the ball in the offseason. Panthers 21 Falcons (-4.5) 24
Cowboys 26 Eagles (+3.5) 16
Browns 20 Steelers (-7.5) 24
Bears 16 Vikings (-11.5) 28
Jets 17 Patriots (-15.5) 33
Packers 21 Lions (-6.5) 26
Redskins 24 Giants (+3.5) 17
Raiders 20 Chargers (-7.5) 28
49ers 26 Rams (+3.5) 20
Jaguars 24 Titans (-3.5) 20
Chiefs 21 Broncos (-3.5) 23
Saints 28 Buccaneers (+6.5) 21
Bengals 16 Ravens (-9.5) 24
Bills 24 Dolphins (+2.5) 23
Cardinals 20 Seahawks (-9.5) 28