Saturday, December 30, 2017

Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 17 NFL picks against the spread:

New Orleans Saints -5.5 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 units)

The Panthers and Saints head into Week 17 with identical 11-4 records and a pair of playoff berths already clinched. Who wins the division and hosts a playoff game next weekend is yet to be settled, however. Since the Saints swept the Panthers in the regular season, they would control their own destiny on Sunday with a win in Tampa.

Although Jameis Winston left the game early, the Saints took care of business against the Bucs earlier in the season with a 30-10 win at home. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 231 yards from scrimmage in that first matchup and I expect the dynamic duo to have another big day. On the season, each back has more than 1,400 yards from scrimmage with 12 touchdowns.

- Related: Favorite Week 17 DraftKings Plays

Baltimore Ravens -9.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (2 units)

Leading the NFL in takeaways (33) and turnover differential (+17), the Ravens are playing great defense. On the other hand, the Bengals have just 13 takeaways -- only the Browns (11) have fewer. When these two teams met in the opener, the Ravens won 20-0 in Cincinnati as Andy Dalton threw a quartet of interceptions and lost a fumble. While he may not turn it over five times this week, I'm going with another team that controls their own destiny as the Ravens are in the playoffs with a win.

Seattle Seahawks -9 over Arizona Cardinals (1 unit)

Not in full control of their playoff destiny, the Seahawks need to win in order to get in. With both Seattle and Atlanta sharing identical 9-6 records and Atlanta beating Seattle earlier in the season, the Falcons get in with a win and/or Seattle loss. Playing at home with the 12th man, the Seahawks may do some scoreboard watching, but I like Russell Wilson at home in a must-win spot.

Minnesota Vikings -12 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

A win for the Vikings guarantees a first-round bye as they have a chance at something historic as no team has won the Super Bowl in their home stadium. A first-round bye would be a first step. That said, the Vikings beat the Saints and lost to the Panthers this season, so they could miss out on a first-round bye if they lose and the Panthers win the NFC South. The Vikings barely beat the Bears earlier this season (20-17), but I expect the outcome to more lopsided this time around. I'll give the 12.

- Note: All of our NFL picks against the spread will be centralized here.

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