Early NFL Week 17 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread: Impacts of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and Others

If you're betting on 2022 NFL games -- whether props, point spreads, or moneylines -- here are our early NFL Week 17 predictions and picks.

We’ve gone 42-29 picking against the spread and 50-20-1 on moneylines the past four weeks. Here’s an early look at our NFL Week 17 predictions and picks for all 16 games. The following betting odds are for picks against the spread, as well as moneylines based on DraftKings Sportsbook.

NFL Week 17 Predictions and Picks

Each week of the NFL season features the expected, the moderately unexpected, and the completely unexpected. When betting on point spreads and moneylines, we need to focus on the first two outcomes.

What are the highest-probability game scripts? Which interesting subplots could emerge? For example, we cannot anticipate when a little-used fullback will fall into the end zone twice in one half. But we can assess the likelihood that one team’s backfield will earn more scoring opportunities.

With that in mind, here are our preliminary assessments of how each game might proceed.

Tennessee Titans (+9.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys

  • Date: Thursday, Dec. 29
  • Start time: 8:15 p.m. ET

The deflated Titans have lost their starting QB and five straight games. A win-at-all-costs matchup looms against the Jaguars in Week 18. And not just any Jaguars. We’re talking about the AFC-South-leading Jaguars.

As formidable as the Cowboys are, there’s a bigger issue when betting on this Week 17 game. If Tennessee trails early (a strong possibility), how likely will they be to overwork Derrick Henry?

They’ll need him the following week because these days he is their offense. There’s a real chance this could be a blowout win for Dallas, as the Titans conserve their top playmaker for their biggest game of the year.

Against-the-spread prediction: Cowboys
Moneyline winner: Cowboys

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Both teams have abandoned the playoff hunt, and obviously not by choice. Both teams have significant personnel issues . . . and only partially by choice.

Whether or not Desmond Ridder is a long-term answer in Atlanta, he’s fared surprisingly decently in his first two NFL starts. Both were on the road against somewhat tough defenses. Certainly nothing easy about either matchup, and he escaped unscathed.

For the Cardinals, much depends on the return of Colt McCoy (concussion), who would be a likely upgrade over Trace McSorley. Arizona has the firepower to keep pace with Atlanta at a minimum and to capitalize on their big-play talent if things break right.

Against-the-spread prediction: Cardinals
Moneyline winner: Falcons

Detroit Lions (-5) vs. Chicago Bears

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Two NFC rivals coming off ugly defeats. Fortunately for Detroit, losses by the Giants, Commanders, and Seahawks keep them firmly in the postseason picture. The bad news is that the Panthers gashed them on the ground, and facing the Bears’ vaunted rushing attack, that won’t fly (ironic pun intended).

With only one team playing for something more than pride, I’m betting that the more dynamic Lions offense will take this one.

Against-the-spread prediction: Lions
Moneyline winner: Lions

Kansas City Chiefs (-12) vs. Denver Broncos

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

A century from now, sports historians will look back in wonder at how the Chiefs nearly blew a 27-0 in Denver in Week 13. Of course, Patrick Mahomes’ three interceptions didn’t help. Two of them led to Bronco touchdowns. The third set up a possible game-winning drive for Denver.

As good as the Broncos pass defense is, it fell apart against the lowly Rams. I believe K.C. will make adjustments as they vie for the top seed in the AFC. With Denver’s offense perpetually a work in progress (to put it kindly), the Chiefs should win this one comfortably.

Against-the-spread prediction: Chiefs
Moneyline winner: Chiefs

New England Patriots (+2) vs. Miami Dolphins

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

What. A. Battle. The Patriots are seemingly a team without an identity. Rhamondre Stevenson has looked all too human in two of his last three outings, and New England’s defense hasn’t kept a good offense under 20 points since the Lions in Week 5.

Psychologically, this marks a huge hurdle for Miami as they try to lock down a playoff spot. They’ve lost four straight and are no longer fearsome AFC East title contenders. In fact, they’re barely favorites. Like the Patriots, they need to regain their footing in a high-stakes contest. It won’t be easy.

Against-the-spread prediction: Patriots
Moneyline winner: Patriots

New York Giants (-3.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The Giants might just hang in on the NFC. Admittedly, I didn’t think they could do it, believing a split with Washington would be more likely than a win and a tie. They’re now in the driver’s seat, facing the wildly underperforming Colts.

Indy’s defense has, at times, been a difference-maker. But so has the Giants’ D. For the Colts to seize an advantage, they’ll need to overpower one of the league’s worst run defenses . . . but obviously, without Jonathan Taylor.

Against-the-spread prediction: Giants
Moneyline winner: Giants

New Orleans Saints (+7) vs. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Gardner Minshew played heroically on Saturday in only his third start since the beginning of last season. He might need to do it again against a revitalized Saints team that remains relevant even at 6-9.

On paper, the Eagles should win by double digits. Alvin Kamara isn’t his past dominant self, and both Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry are on the shelf. New Orleans’ defense has improved dramatically in their past six games. Yet during this stretch, they haven’t faced an offense as effective as Philly’s — even with Jalen Hurts hobbled.

Against-the-spread prediction: Eagles
Moneyline winner: Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) vs. Carolina Panthers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

Despite losing records, both of these teams are squarely in the postseason picture. The Bucs should win this critically important matchup if their defense can contain the fearsome Panthers running game.

When Carolina traded Christian McCaffrey midseason, the notion of a “fearsome Panthers running game” in December and January seemed farfetched at best. But here we are.

Tampa Bay has been middling against the run. To win comfortably, they’ll need to be elite. To win narrowly, they’ll need to play much better than in Week 7, when the Panthers crushed them 21-3.

Against-the-spread prediction: Buccaneers
Moneyline winner: Buccaneers

Washington Commanders (-2) vs. Cleveland Browns

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

The Browns are finished. Their $250 million (guaranteed) bet on a QB facing ongoing legal turmoil was, to put it mildly, a wager for the ages. Now they must decide whether to bring back Jacoby Brissett for these final two games.

No, it wouldn’t be a benching. You can’t bench someone you owe that much money to. But the Browns’ best hope is to return in 2023 healthy and prepared. A fluke injury to Deshaun Watson would set back this franchise another year, and perhaps more. I expect Washington — fighting for a Wild Card spot — to play more aggressively and effectively.

Against-the-spread prediction: Commanders
Moneyline winner: Commanders

Baltimore Ravens (-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

In Week 18 last year, the Steelers pushed past the injury-depleted Ravens for the final AFC playoff slot. This year, Pittsburgh needs a few things to break right to return to the postseason, beginning with an upset road win over one of their biggest rivals.

I picked Pittsburgh to win and cover last week because I liked how they matched up against the Raiders. Not so with Baltimore, which boasts a better defense and a fresher backfield.

Against-the-spread prediction: Ravens
Moneyline winner: Ravens

Houston Texans (+4.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 1 p.m. ET

It’s come to this. After nearly knocking off the Cowboys and Chiefs, the one-win Texans toppled the AFC-South-leading Titans on the road. Houston averaged only 2.3 yards per carry in the victory. Their leading receivers were Phillip Dorsett and Jordan Akins.

Can they upend the high-flying Jaguars at home? Well, ironically, this might be their toughest matchup of this four-game stretch. The Cowboys and Chiefs seemingly underestimated them, while Tennessee operated almost entirely through Derrick Henry with a mostly untested rookie at QB.

Jacksonville’s won four of five, with victories over Baltimore, a healthier Tennessee squad, Dallas, and the Jets. They are battle-tested and ascending.

Against-the-spread prediction: Jaguars
Moneyline winner: Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders (+6.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:05 p.m. ET

What are the 6-9 Raiders playing for? Not much. This is an aged, frustrated team that dreamt of a deep playoff run when the season began. Can they keep things close at home? Sure, as long as their starters take the field (as long as they’re not mathematically eliminated, they will).

Perhaps they’ll figure things out against San Francisco and prevail. But that’s like saying a 10-time divorcee is ready to put his whole heart into marriage No. 11.

Against-the-spread prediction: Raiders
Moneyline winner: 49ers

Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) vs. New York Jets

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:05 p.m. ET

Two 7-8 squads in an essentially must-win situation. Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around in Week 17.

Zach Wilson apparently isn’t the answer in New York, although we’ll reserve judgment until September 2023. For now, there’s no conceivable way the team will entrust him with the reins this weekend.

But regardless of who’s under center, this team has scored more than 22 points only once in their last nine games — a nine-game stretch that coincided with Breece Hall’s season-ending injury.

I don’t see how the Jets’ middling running game and questionable passing attack can keep pace with a Seattle offense that might get Tyler Lockett back.

Against-the-spread prediction: Seahawks
Moneyline winner: Seahawks

Green Bay Packers (-3.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 4:25 p.m. ET

The Packers have somehow won three straight to remain playoff contenders. They last played Minnesota in Week 1, losing 23-7. Their wideout corps featured, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in their NFL debuts, as well as Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, and Juwann Winfree.

In other words, today’s Packers are much farther along in their development, particularly through the air. While the Vikings wisely added T.J. Hockenson before the trade deadline, only one of their 12 wins has been by more than a touchdown — that Week 1 defeat of Green Bay.

I expect the confident Packers to play some of their best football with the playoffs in sight. Aaron Rodgers might have lost a step. But he’s not accustomed to falling short — at least during the regular season.

That said, this point spread seems a little bullish for the supposed underdogs. I like Minnesota covering, aided by a stellar offense that just won’t quit.

Against-the-spread prediction: Vikings
Moneyline winner: Packers

Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 1
  • Start time: 8:20 p.m. ET

Miami’s loss to Green Bay gives the Chargers a huge cushion for a Wild Card berth. But don’t expect them to let up against the flailing defending champions. The Chargers are healthy and looking dangerous on both sides of the ball, with recent wins over the Titans and Dolphins bolstering their standing as a team no one wants to play in the postseason.

Despite facing a tough Rams defense, I expect the Chargers to keep Baker Mayfield and Cam Akers in check while coasting to a victory behind their near-elite passing game.

Against-the-spread prediction: Chargers
Moneyline winner: Chargers

Cincinnati Bengals (+1) vs. Buffalo Bills

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 2
  • Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

1,000 words or more could be written about this contest, covering multiple realistic game scripts and the nuances of sizing up two prolific offenses with no obvious weaknesses.

The ultimate tiebreaker for me comes down to defense. Buffalo can turn it on like few other teams. The Bengals have the fourth fewest sacks, and injuries have contributed to their being sub-par against the pass. The Bills maintain a distinct defensive edge, and that should prove to be the difference.

Against-the-spread prediction: Bills
Moneyline winner: Bills

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