Week 17 NFL Picks: League-Wide Predictions for Loaded Sunday Slate

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2013

Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) celebrates his touchdown against the New England Patriots in the first half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL regular season will culminate in Week 17 as teams make their final push for the playoffs. 

With four division titles up for grabs and four postseason berths remaining, nearly every game will carry significant weight. Whether it's for a spot in the tournament, a division crown or improved seeding, there'll be everything to play for on the regular season's final Sunday.

Without further ado, here are my picks for every Week 17 matchup.

Week 17 NFL Picks
Carolina Panthers (-5.5)Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore RavensCincinnati Bengals (-6.5)
Tennessee Titans (-7)Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts (-10.5)Jacksonville Jaguars
Miami Dolphins (-5.5)New York Jets
Minnesota Vikings (-3)Detroit Lions
New York Giants (-3.5)Washington Redskins
Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)Cleveland Browns
Denver Broncos (-11)Oakland Raiders
New England Patriots (-8)Buffalo Bills
New Orleans Saints (-13)Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Arizona Cardinals (Even)San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers (-9.5)Kansas City Chiefs
Seattle Seahawks (-11.5)St. Louis Rams
Green Bay Packers (-3)Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)Dallas Cowboys
Lines via Covers.com


Carolina Panthers (-5.5) Over Atlanta Falcons

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 03:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers talks to Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons after defeating the Falcons 34-10 at Bank of America Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Gett
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers can lock up the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win over the reeling Atlanta Falcons in Week 17. However, a loss combined with a New Orleans Saints' win would see Drew Brees and company steal the division title and send Carolina on the road next month as an NFC Wild Card.

Therefore, given the stakes, watch for the Panthers to pull out a big win in the Georgia Dome this weekend.

Carolina will be a 5.5-point favorite on the road and for good reason. In addition to being 4-11, the Falcons are 0-8 against teams with winning records this season, including suffering a 24-point loss at Carolina back in Week 9.

The Panthers' stout defense forced four turnovers and held the Falcons offense to just 289 total yards in the rout. Meanwhile, Cam Newton and the Panthers offense found success both on the ground and through the air, racking up 373 total yards and three touchdowns. 

Although the Panthers were dealt an excruciating loss in the Georgia Dome in Week 4 of last season, many players, including defensive back Captain Munnerlyn believe this Carolina team is different than that one and capable of redemption, per Panthers.com's Max Henson: "We had a heartbreaking loss last year in the Georgia Dome. But it seems like everything is going our way this year. This is a different team."


Miami Dolphins (-5.5) Over New York Jets

While the Carolina Panthers have already secured a playoff berth, the Miami Dolphins will need a win in Week 17 in order to keep their postseason prospects alive, per The Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly on Twitter:

Fortunately, Joe Philbin's resilient Dolphins will host a struggling and turnover-prone New York Jets squad this weekend at Sun Life Stadium. The oddsmakers have made Miami a 5.5-point favorite over its division rival, and it's certainly not hard to see why.

After all, the Dolphins blasted the Jets in Week 13, crushing them 23-3 at MetLife Stadium to ignite a crucial three-game winning streak. Miami forced three turnovers in the victory and outgained New York 453-177 in total yards.

Therefore, the Jets will have to make some drastic changes to their approach this week in order to spring the upset in South Florida.

Keep in mind that the Jets' minus-17 turnover differential is tied with the Houston Texans for worst in the NFL through 16 weeks.


Seattle Seahawks (-11.5) Over St. Louis Rams

The Seattle Seahawks will attempt to bounce back at home and erase any doubt regarding their championship potential in Week 17 when they play host to the upset-minded St. Louis Rams. 

Seattle will be a mighty favorite to win its seventh home game of the season, and you've got to like their chances of doing just that on Sunday. After all, prior to Week 16's stunning loss to Arizona, Seattle had gone two years without losing a home game and still boasts one of the league's top defensive units.

In addition to their stellar defense, the Seahawks feature a top-five rushing attack that is sure to neutralize St. Louis' exceptional pass rush. Led by bruising running back Marshawn Lynch, the 'Hawks are averaging over 138 rushing yards per week and will wear the Rams down if they can continue to earn quick stops defensively.

Seattle possesses the best defense in the NFL in terms of fewest yards allowed and second-best in fewest points allowed. As a result, Russell Wilson and the offense should have plenty of room for error in Week 17, as they have all season long.  


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