Happy New Year everyone!
Actually, I’m kind of jumping the gun here because it’s not quite New Year’s yet, but it will be on Sunday when Week 17 kicks off. With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, I feel like now is a good time to talk about resolutions and I’d like you guys to know that my resolution for 2023 is to get all my picks right. Sure, that’s a horrible resolution and it has a zero percent chance of happening, but that basically describes all of my resolutions for the past 12 years, so this is nothing new.
Anyway, if your New Year’s resolution is to read more of the things that I write, you can do that by signing up for our daily NFL newsletter here at CBSSports.com. I’m in charge of it and if you want it in your inbox every weekday morning, all you have to do is click here and then enter your email address.
On the other hand, if your resolution is to listen to more podcasts featuring me, then you’re in luck because I’ll be podcasting a lot over the next six weeks. From now until the Super Bowl, I’ll be joining Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson on the Pick Six podcast multiple days per week to talk football and anything else we can think of. Earlier this week, Brinson and I decided to ditch Wilson to do a podcast where he covered our best bets for Week 17.
If you want to subscribe to the podcast, all you have to do is click here. In related news, my other resolution is to stop asking you to subscribe to things every week.
Alright, let’s get to the picks.
NFL Week 17 Picks
Dallas (11-4) at Tennessee (7-8)
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Amazon Prime)
Featured Game | Tennessee Titans vs. Dallas Cowboys
I’m not sure what the rule is on forfeits in the NFL, but if I owned the Titans, I’d at least call the league office this week and try to find out If I’m allowed to wave the white flag and just give the Cowboys the win.
In one of the most bizarre situations of the year, the Titans can literally forfeit this game and it wouldn’t have any impact on whether they can win the AFC South. If the Titans lose to Dallas on Thursday night, they’ll still have a chance to win the AFC South in Week 18 with a win over Jacksonville and that will be the case whether the Jaguars win or lose in Week 17 against the Texans. If the Titans somehow win on Thursday night, it won’t help them at all when it comes to clinching the AFC South.
What I’m trying to say here is that the Titans-Jaguars game in Week 18 will be for the division title no matter what happens this week. The upside for the Titans is that it means they can rest their starters on Thursday night and let me just say, there is no team in the NFL that needs to rest its starters more than the Titans.
If you want to know how badly this team needs rest, just look at their injury report.
There are 12 players on that report, which is more than 20% of their 53-man roster. There is no reason for Mike Vrabel to play any of those players. Just think about it: If Mike Vrabel decides to play Derrick Henry on Thursday in a meaningless game and Henry gets injured, it will kill any chance they have of beating Jacksonville in Week 18 and Vrabel will be run out of Nashville.
If the Titans are smart, they’ll hold a pregame raffle this week where the prize is that the winning fans get to play offense for them against the Cowboys. Sure, letting fans play would probably break every rule in the collective bargaining agreement, but it would definitely make this game more watchable, because as things currently stand, I don’t think this one is going to be too much fun to watch unless you like blowouts.
The pick: Cowboys 31-13 over Titans
Miami (8-7) at New England (7-8)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Featured Game | New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
I can’t say this for sure, but I have to think that no one is more excited to see the month of December come to an end than the Dolphins and Patriots. These two teams are probably thrilled that this game is being played in January because they both had an ugly December. On the Patriots’ end, their December ended with them losing two straight games in the most improbable fashion possible: In Week 15, they lost to Las Vegas because a Patriots player decided to lateral the ball to a Raiders player on the final play of the game. In Week 16, the Patriots were five yards away from beating the Bengals, but then Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled the ball away.
If the Patriots win either one of those games, they would be on the cusp of a playoff berth right now, but instead, their postseason hopes are done if they lose this week to Miami. The good news for the Patriots is that if there’s one team you want to be facing right now, it’s definitely the Dolphins, who are playing their worst football of the year.
If you want a recap of how December went for the Dolphins, here’s a quick one: They lost every game they played and their quarterback might have suffered another concussion.
The Dolphins went 0-4 in December, which I’m only pointing out because NO TEAM in NFL history has EVER made the playoffs after going 0-4 or 0-5 in December. Eighty-seven teams have done it and none of those 87 made the postseason.
I don’t think Tua will play Sunday, but if he does, I’m not sure how effective he’s going to be. During Miami’s four-game losing streak, Tua is completing just 53% of his passes, which is the second-lowest number among qualified quarterbacks in that span, ahead of just Trace McSorley. Think about that: Tua is playing Trace McSorley-level football right now.
One common thing for the Dolphins during this losing streak is that all four teams Miami lost to did a good job of putting pressure on Tua. The Dolphins are 3-4 this year when Tua gets sacked multiple times in a game, and now, they have to go up against a Patriots defense that ranks second in the NFL in sacks.
If Tua can’t play this week — and I don’t think he will — that means that Teddy Bridgewater will get the start. Bridgewater has never faced a Bill Belichick defense before and for the most part, things don’t usually go so well for quarterbacks who are facing Belichick for the first time.
The Dolphins haven’t won a road game since Week 9 and I don’t think that streak is going to end this week.
The pick: Patriots 23-20 over Dolphins.
Carolina (6-9) at Tampa Bay (7-8)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers
If you would have asked me before the season who I was going pick in this game, I would have taken the Buccaneers by two touchdowns, but after watching Tom Brady over the past three weeks, I’m not even sure the Buccaneers are going to be able to score two touchdowns in this game. Since Week 14, Brady has thrown six interceptions compared to just five touchdowns and the Bucs have gone 1-2 in those games. Although Brady struggled when these two teams played back in Week 7, a 21-3 Panthers win, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go off on Sunday since Carolina will be down a key defensive back in Jaycee Horn, who broke his wrist in Week 16, but the question is: Can he get the Buccaneers to 20 points, because that seems to be the key number with Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are 0-7 this season in any game where their opponent has scored at least 20 points and a big reason for that is because Tampa Bay’s offense seems to struggle every week so Horn’s absence might not matter. On the other hand, the Panthers offense has turned into a wrecking ball over the past few weeks with Chubba Hubbard and D’Onta Forman steamrolling everyone in their path. Over the past four weeks, the Panthers are averaging 187.3 rush yards per week, which is notable, because the Panthers are 5-0 this season in any game where they’ve rushed for at least 170 yards.
This is a huge game and conventional wisdom says I should pick the Buccaneers to win since they have Tom Brady, who has a 22-year track record of winning huge games, but I’m flushing conventional wisdom down the toilet this week. Sure, there’s a 80% chance that this pick will totally backfire and that Brady will continue his two-decade streak of winning huge games, but right now, the Panthers are playing better football, so I’m going to say they win the game and throw a giant wrench into the division title race.
With how bad the NFC South has been this year, it would definitely be the cherry on top of a trash sundae if the Buccaneers were to lose this game, because it would then guarantee that the division winner would finish the season with a losing record.
The pick: Panthers 20-17 over Buccaneers
N.Y. Jets (7-8) at Seattle (7-8)
4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Featured Game | Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Jets
Remember five minutes ago when I told you that NO TEAM in NFL history has EVER made the playoffs after going 0-4 in December. Well, not only does that apply to the Dolphins, but it also applies to the Jets, who went through the entire month of December without winning a game.
In this game, we have a team on a four-game losing streak getting set to face a team on a three-game losing streak and the biggest loser is definitely me, because I have no idea who to pick. Thanks to their losing streaks, both of these teams now have less than a 30% chance of making the playoffs.
Now, I’m not good with numbers, but I have to say, it seems like the odds are against either team getting in. However, that DOESN’T MEAN IT CAN’T HAPPEN. The odds also said that a movie about a time-traveling hot tub would never work, but that didn’t stop “Hot Tub Time Machine” from becoming the best movie about hot tubs that’s ever been made. Also, the odds said Trent Dilfer would never win more Super Bowl rings than Jim Kelly and Dan Marino combined, but that happened. And let’s not forget, the odds also said that there’s no way a kicker would ever win MVP, but that very thing happened in 1982, so let’s not pretend like the Seahawks or Jets getting into the postseason is impossible.
Actually, getting into the postseason will be almost impossible for the loser of this game and I think the loser is going to be the Jets. Even though the Seahawks’ home-field advantage isn’t as intimidating as it used to be, AFC teams still struggle when playing in Seattle. The Seahawks have gone 16-4 in their past 20 home games against AFC teams and I feel like AFC teams struggle because they only get to play in Seattle once every eight years and they’re not quite ready for the craziness that comes with playing at Lumen Field.
Also, this feels like the ultimate revenge game for Geno Smith, who has been the king of revenge games this year. He already beat two of his former teams this season (Chargers and Giants), and now, he has a chance to beat the team that drafted him back in 2013. I feel like he has nine years worth of frustration that he’s going to want to take out on the Jets.
The pick: Seahawks 23-16 over Jets
Minnesota (12-3) at Green Bay (7-8)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Featured Game | Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
I’m starting to think I should stop picking against the Vikings. Every time I pick them to lose, not only do they win, but they do it in the most improbable way possible. Last week, I predicted that the Giants would upset the Vikings, and although that prediction almost came true, it didn’t because Minnesota kicked a 61-YARD FIELD GOAL on the final play of the game.
One week after pulling off the biggest comeback in NFL history, the Vikings follow it up by kicking the fourth-longest walk-off field goal in NFL history.
The only thing the Vikings haven’t done this season is win a game on a Hail Mary, which is probably how they’ll end up winning this week.
The Vikings are like a movie that you didn’t really like the first time you watched it, but after watching it a few more times, you now appreciate it more and it’s one of your five favorite movies, like the Baywatch movie for me. Every week, I tell myself that there’s no way the Vikings can pull off another miraculous win, and every week, they end up pulling off another miraculous win. At this point, I’m just going to accept that this is going to happen every week, so I might as well start predicting it so I look smart when it actually happens.
The Vikings have won 11 one-score games this year, which is the most by any team in a single-season in NFL history. Of their 12 wins, the only win that didn’t come by one score came in Week 1 against, yup, you guessed it, the Packers. The Vikings blew out Green Bay 23-7 in Week 1 in a game where Dalvin Cook had 90 yards. Cook has had a quiet season so far, but I do think we could see him have a huge game against a Packers defense that has struggled to stop the run (Green Bay is one of seven teams this year that is surrendering more than 140 yards per game on the ground)
This is basically a playoff game for the Packers, which, now that I’m thinking about it, might actually be a bad thing based on what’s happened to them in the playoffs over the past three years.
The pick: Vikings 27-23 over Packers
Buffalo (12-3) at Cincinnati (11-4)
Monday, 8:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Featured Game | Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills
The last time these two teams played each other in January came at the end of the 1988 season when they met in the AFC Championship, which seems kind of fitting, because there’s a good chance this game could end up being a preview of this year’s AFC Championship. We have the two hottest teams in the AFC going at it: The Bills are riding a six-game winning streak and the Bengals haven’t lost since October.
I’m not sure which team has the advantage in this game, but I feel like it’s the Bengals since they didn’t have to spend half their week shoveling snow off their cars.
If you like offensive fireworks, then this is the game for you: Both teams rank in the top eight in the NFL in points per game, offensive yards per game and passing yards per game. On other other hand, maybe this game will turn into a defensive struggle and that’s because both of these teams rank in the top-nine for fewest points allowed and fewest rushing yards surrendered per game.
Although you’ll be reading a lot about Joe Burrow and Josh Allen this week, the one matchup that could end up deciding things on Monday night is whether the Bengals defense can slow down a Bills ground game that has flown under the radar this year. Over the past six weeks, Josh Allen is averaging just 216 passing yards per game, but the Bills offense has been rolling along thanks to a rushing attack that’s averaging 162.2 yards per game.
Actually, who am I kidding? This game is going to come down to Allen vs. Burrow and the quarterback who has the ball last is probably going to win. The Bengals could be in some trouble this week and that’s because they just lost their starting right tackle (La’el Collins) for the season. The Bengals are one of two teams in the NFL this year that has started the same offensive line in every game, so the loss of Collins could throw them off a little bit and if that happens, they could be trouble.
The Bengals are 0-3 this year when Burrow gets sacked five or more times, so they just need to make sure that the new right tackle is functioning well enough so that Burrow doesn’t spend the entire game running for his life.
This is arguably the biggest Monday night game in franchise history for the Bengals and I feel like they’re going to make a statement by putting an end to the Bills’ six-game winning streak.
The pick: Bengals 27-24 over Bills
NFL Week 17 picks: All the rest
Falcons 19-16 over Cardinals
Lions 24-17 over Bears
Chiefs 27-14 over Broncos
Giants 24-16 over Colts
Eagles 25-22 over Saints
Commanders 23-16 over Browns
Jaguars 27-23 over Texans
49ers 30-23 over Raiders
Chargers 30-27 over Rams
Steelers 22-19 over Ravens
Best pick: Last week, I said that Gardner Minshew would almost lead the Eagles to an upset win over the Cowboys and guess what happened? Gardner Minshew almost led the Eagles to an upset win over the Cowboys. With the Eagles down to their backup QB, most people thought the Cowboys were going to roll to a win, but not me. Look, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my nearly 10 years of covering the NFL, it’s that if a player spends his offseason living in a prison bus, then you can never count him out under any circumstance.
I think the moral here is that everyone should live on a prison bus at least once in their life.
Worst pick: I’m not sure what rock bottom is when you write a picks column, but I’m pretty sure I hit it in Week 16 when I picked the Broncos to beat the Rams. Not only did the Broncos lose, but their starting quarterback got mocked by a character from “SpongeBob SquarePants” and their head coach got fired less than 24 hours after the game, and to be honest, I’m not sure which one of those is worse.
If you see Russell Wilson living in the woods, now you know why.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look at my best and worst teams when it comes to picks this year.
Teams I’ve been the best at picking this year: Chiefs (14-1), Patriots (12-3), Bills (12-3), Texans (11-3-1)
Longest current streak of picking a team’s games correctly: Chiefs (12 straight games picked correctly)
Teams I’ve been the worst at picking this year: Raiders (5-10), Jaguars (6-9)
Longest active streak of picking a team’s games wrong: Titans (Four straight games picked incorrectly)
Every other team is somewhere in the middle.
Straight up in Week 16: 8-8
SU overall: 145-93-1
Against the spread in Week 16: 6-10
ATS overall: 113-118-9
Exact score predictions: 1.
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably watching Hot Tub Time Machine or The Baywatch movie.