I hate this week. I really do. Because you never know how long starters are going to play, which backups are going to play well, and whether or not teams have one last surge in them to play spoiler. It’s gross. I hate it. Rant aside, we’re on the homestretch now. After this, we’re only talking playoffs… Playoffs? We’re talking… playoffs?
Last Week’s Record: 11-5
Overall Record: 153-81
LOCK Record: 12-4
Disclaimer- I have a brutal headache and a case of the Holidaze, so if these picks feel rushed, or in any way half-baked… it’s because they are.
Ryan’s NFL Picks (2019): Week Seventeen
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals: Cleveland Browns
Man, what a disappointing season for the Cleveland Browns. They came into 2019 with so much hype, so much hope, and it ends like this. Ultimately, the finger has to be pointed at Freddie Kitchens, the overwhelmed former assistant coach, who couldn’t win with such a loaded roster. Hopefully they beat the worst team in the NFL, the one-win Cincinnati Bengals, and a different man (or woman, @ condoleezza rice, there’s still time) will be holding the clipboard next year.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots: New England Patriots
I wouldn’t hold my breath here, Chiefs fans. I have a hard time imagining Tom Brady and company losing to the Miami Dolphins, at home, to end the season. Much like a spare limb in a Star Wars movie, the Patriots are set to go off at any time as the post-season crawls closer.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota Vikings
How good would the Chicago Bears be if they just had a quarterback? As great as Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith are, they are held back by the offense. I’d say get one in free agency, but they’re strapped for cash for the foreseeable future. It’s okay, Bears fans, you can always just use your first round pick on one! It looks like you’ll be picking near the top ten, so maybe a Justin Herbert or a Jake Fromm?
Oh… wait… that’s right…. bummer.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Kansas City needs to win and have the Patriots lose to secure a first-round bye and homefield advantage against every team not-named Baltimore in the AFC, so they won’t take it easy on their division rivals. Keep an eye on Kansas City, because Patrick Mahomes is starting to get healthy and their defense is a far, far more cohesive unit this season.
Meanwhile, this might be Philip Rivers’ last game in a Charger uniform. I have my own personal feelings about Rivers, but the AFC West won’t be the same without him.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills: Buffalo Bills
What a weird game. Hypothetically, the Bills could rest their starters, as a wildcard team. But I don’t think they will. Even though it could be argued wildcard teams need more rest than the top tier teams, I think momentum comes into play as well. You don’t want the guys to get rusty, especially since this is likely the last home game of the year for the Bills.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions: Green Bay Packers
This is pretty much a lock. The Packers need to win this one to guarantee they take home the NFC North crown, and the Lions are just so, so damn bad.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers: New Orleans Saints
Congratulations to the Carolina Panthers. Your star back had a historically brilliant season and it means absolutely nothing because you couldn’t put a competitive team around him. Maybe next year?
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Atlanta Falcons
Jameis Winston needs fewer than 100 yards to break 5,000 on the season. That is preposterous. That makes absolutely no sense. He’s 14 interceptions away from passing George Blanda for the most in a season, and ya know what, I think he can pull it off.
In a shootout, I guess I’m taking the most confusing team in NFL history, Julio Jones’ Atlanta Falcons.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants: Philadelphia Eagles
Man, if the Eagles don’t win this one, we need to start giving Carson Wentz a really serious look. I know he doesn’t have the best weapons, and I know Philadelphia’s secondary is hot and cold. But look across the field, who do the Giants have? Eli Manning, Daniel Jones, and a Saquon Barkley that clearly came back way, way too soon. I’ll play it safe and pick the Eagles.
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans: Houston Texans
Bill O’Brien says he’s gonna keep his starters out there, and I believe him. The AFC South Champions stand pat and do their part to keep their division rivals out of the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, who would’ve guessed that it would be the Titans presenting the biggest challenge to Deshaun Watson and company?
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have to hope against hope that the Eagles find a way to blow it against the Giants, but that doesn’t mean they can take it easy. They have to take care of business against Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins. I think they can.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens: Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m sorry Raider Nation, I like the idea of waiting and seeing too. I wanted so desperately to pick everything so that we made the post-season, but I just think the Ravens will be missing enough of their starters, and the Steelers are underrated on defense. Sure, they’re plagued with quarterback issues, but the rest of the team should be able to handle Baltimore’s second string.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Indianapolis Colts
When the pre-season started, I wasn’t just on the Colts bandwagon, I was the conductor. I thought they came up just short last year, Andrew Luck was healthy, and they had a solid draft. Then Luck retired, and, I don’t know, things just fell apart. They have a shot at the playoffs, but they need more help than the Raiders. I guess they’ll do their part and silence Gardner Mineshew’s Jaguars.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos: Denver Broncos
I just don’t trust this Raiders team. It’s going to be cold, the Raiders haven’t won in Denver since 2015, and the Broncos are better than people realize. I have this recurring nightmare where everything else falls into place and the Raiders lose this game.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams: Los Angeles Rams
Man, what a far fall. I think I’m going to go back and find my preseason Las Vegas power rankings and see just how accurate they ended up being. The Rams were Super Bowl contenders in August, and now? They’re playing meaningless games against the Cardinals. Absolutely wild.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks: Seattle Seahawks
No joke, I would’ve picked the 49ers if Marshawn Lynch hadn’t come out of retirement. Not even because of what he does on the field, but because of the energy he brings with him.