Week 17 NFL game picks: Chiefs best Bengals for 9th straight win; Cowboys hand Cards 4th straight loss

Gregg Rosenthal went 9-7 straight up and 8-8 against the spread on his Week 16 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 138-101-1 and 128-110-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 17? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 30 unless otherwise noted below.

SUNDAY, JAN. 2

Philadelphia Eagles
ML: -175 · 8-7
  • WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Md.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Eagles -3 | O/U: 45


I was flummoxed, floored, flabbergasted by this line. That's never a good sign because I'm a basic bro, and if I'm that surprised Philadelphia's only favored by 3, then many others probably are, too. The Eagles rarely put together complete games on offense, but they don't need to. When they start rolling downhill, they are one of the most unstoppable groups in the league. Even with players back on Washington's roster from the COVID-19 list, injuries have decimated the Football Team defense. Taylor Heinicke's glass slipper no longer fits, and the WFT has the profile of a 4-11 squad that is no longer punching above its weight.

Los Angeles Rams
ML: -190 · 11-4
Baltimore Ravens
ML: +160 · 8-7
  • WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Rams -3.5 | O/U: 46.5


The return of many Ravens from the COVID-19 list will help, but it won’t fix their secondary. Baltimore's defensive collapse started early in the season, with Lamar Jackson’s struggles and subsequent injury taking attention away from the Ravens' biggest problem. They are now 30th in pass defense efficiency. Good offense will expose them, forcing a compromised Jackson (if he plays) to keep up in a shootout. The Ravens remain dangerous in this spot because they are the Ravens, but there is just too much going against them.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -800 · 11-4
New York Jets
ML: +550 · 4-11
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bucs -13 | O/U: 45.5


The Bucs have lost a lot of their best players lately, but they quietly are healthier in the secondary than they have been all season. That allows Todd Bowles to blitz and run stunts up front, something that will short-circuit young quarterbacks and makeshift offensive lines. Tampa's offense may not be as explosive with Tom Brady's bunch running a lot of jumbo formations featuring extra tackles and tight ends, but Brady thrives when challenged. With the Jets uncertain to hit double digits here, I still like the Bucs to cover a big number. 

Tennessee Titans
ML: -175 · 10-5
Miami Dolphins
ML: +150 · 8-7
  • WHERE: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Dolphins +3.5 | O/U: 40


The Belichick-tree teams are so similar. Both defensive fronts are nasty. Both come up with weekly defensive game plans that often give them an edge. Both offensive lines struggle to pass protect, with resourceful quarterbacks who are better than they are given credit for. Both teams have one special wideout who tilts the field. Ultimately, I trust Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown and Mike Vrabel a bit more than their counterparts. The Titans have been in these games, and they’ve proven they can win them. 

New England Patriots
ML: -1100 · 9-6
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +700 · 2-13
  • WHERE: Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Patriots -16 | O/U: 41.5


This is a tough one. The Patriots are limited offensively and have played sloppy football since their bye week. Then again, my rule to never, ever pick the Jaguars to win has recently extended to never, ever picking them to cover. It's been a sound strategy, and New England should be able to grind them down even if it takes longer than the Foxborough faithful want. 

Indianapolis Colts
ML: -400 · 9-6
Las Vegas Raiders
ML: +310 · 8-7

NOTE: All betting lines are current as of 11:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.


  • WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Colts -8.5 | O/U: 46


Carson Wentz needs to gain medical clearance and be asymptomatic by Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Anyone assuming how that goes is probably assuming too much. I’d take the points if you were so inclined to pick this game early in the week (like I have to) because Sam Ehlinger starting at quarterback is scary. The Colts are getting back a lot of starters, though, so I believe they will win either way. If Wentz starts, I’ll have them winning by double digits.


UPDATE: The Colts activated Carson Wentz from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday and he cleared protocols on Sunday, allowing him to play against the Raiders. The score prediction has been updated (original pick: Colts 23, Raiders 17) to reflect Wentz's return to the starting to lineup.

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -230 · 11-4
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: +190 · 9-6
  • WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chiefs -5 | O/U: 51


The Chiefs' offensive line was fixed in the offseason. The Chiefs' offense was fixed sometime after Thanksgiving. Patrick Mahomes is comfortable again in the pocket and players like Byron Pringle and Derrick Gore are now taking center stage for drives at a time. Joe Burrow and this Cincinnati offense could keep up with Kansas City if all things were equal, but they aren’t. The Chiefs' defense, especially in the secondary, is much tougher than the Bengals' D to consistently move the ball against.

Chicago Bears
ML: -270 · 5-10
New York Giants
ML: +220 · 4-11
  • WHERE: Soldier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Bears -6 | O/U: 37


I watch every game in order to write QB Index and make these picks. There is an argument that the New York Football Giants are currently the worst team in the NFL, which is probably obvious when they are six-point underdogs in Chicago. This is a tough one. Laying six points with a team as mediocre as the Bears is a tough pill to swallow, but that Giants' injury/COVID-19 list is almost as ugly as Joe Judge’s threat to play both Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm on Sunday. They should make Week 18 optional for some teams.

Buffalo Bills
ML: -1000 · 9-6
Atlanta Falcons
ML: +650 · 7-8
  • WHERE: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Bills -14.5 | O/U: 44


Beating down bad teams is the Bills’ specialty. Every one of their wins is by at least 12 points, making them one of the most misleading, talented 9-6 teams of all time. The Falcons are the opposite, experts at winning close games against bad teams. They are somehow 7-8 and dead last in DVOA. The reason this line is so high is that Vegas is begging someone, anyone to take the Falcons.

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -700 · 8-7
Houston Texans
ML: +475 · 4-11
  • WHERE: Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Texans +12.5 | O/U: 44


The 49ers could clinch a playoff spot this week or they could fall out of playoff positioning entirely. That makes their quarterback decision fascinating, with Jimmy Garoppolo's thumb putting his status in doubt. Kyle Shanahan is obfuscating to make Houston prepare for Trey Lance, whether the rookie is playing or not. It's not as simple a game to pick as it appeared before the Texans' bye week. Their defense is playing better, and rookie QB Davis Mills has improved. I'd stay away from this game, but it's too many points for me if Lance is starting.


UPDATE: The 49ers have listed Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) as doubtful for Sunday's game. 

Los Angeles Chargers
ML: -380 · 8-7
Denver Broncos
ML: +300 · 7-8

NOTE: All betting lines are current as of 11:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.


  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Broncos +8 | O/U: 45.5


These have been two of the toughest teams for me to get right all year, especially the Broncos. Their defense is finally playing like Vic Fangio wants it to, and they dominated the first meeting with the Chargers only a month ago. Drew Lock played better than the numbers showed last week, but Denver's offensive line and play calling are both so uninspiring that it may not matter what the young QB does in his second start of the season. The Chargers should get a raft of key starters back from Reserve/COVID-19, while the Broncos have a lot of new additions to the list. Check back Friday for a potential score update.


UPDATE: The Broncos are short a number of starters due to COVID, including Jerry Jeudy and Time Patrick, so don't expect a lot of offense out of them (original pick: Chargers 27, Broncos 21).

New Orleans Saints
ML: -290 · 7-8
Carolina Panthers
ML: +235 · 5-10
  • WHERE: Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Saints -6.5 | O/U: 38


The Panthers, who mollywhopped New Orleans back in Week 2, are 6.5-point underdogs to this diminished version of the Saints. That's one sign of Matt Rhule's regression this year. New Orleans is also catching Carolina at the right time. The Panthers have a COVID outbreak this week, while the Saints are getting much of their roster, including their quarterbacks, back in the mix. Stephon Gilmore is also expected to be out for Carolina. Named the starter on Wednesday, Sam Darnold did not look any better last week than he did before his long absence. 

Seattle Seahawks
ML: -330 · 5-10-0
Detroit Lions
ML: +270 · 2-12-1

NOTE: Betting lines are current as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday.


  • WHERE: Lumen Field (Seattle)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Seahawks -7.5 | O/U: 41.5


I had the Lions winning last week in Atlanta until Tim Boyle was announced as the starter, then only had them covering. Success! I had the Bears winning last week in Seattle until Nick Foles was announced as the starter, then only had them covering. Half-success! Detroit's defense is playing hard every week, Jared Goff is off the COVID list, and the Lions are more invested than a 5-10 Seahawks squad that isn't used to playing in games that don't matter. Detroit is 10-5 ATS and one of the few teams I've had pegged well all year. This is all admittedly terrible analysis, but it's Week 17 for everyone.


UPDATE: I had the Lions winning this game with Jared Goff, who's doubtful to play Sunday with a knee injury (Original pick: Lions 20, Seahawks 19). I have lost my nerve with Tim Boyle starting. Boyle was fine in Atlanta when he didn't face any pass rush pressure, but I don't trust him against a Seahawks defensive line that is getting a lot of pressure on opponents lately.

Dallas Cowboys
ML: -250 · 11-4
Arizona Cardinals
ML: +205 · 10-5
  • WHERE: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
  • WHEN: 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cardinals +6 | O/U: 51


My instinct is that 6 points is way too much to give to Kyler Murray in the year 2021, no matter how lackluster December of 2021 has looked for Arizona. The Cardinals were without three of their four best offensive players (WR DeAndre Hopkins, C Rodney Hudson and RB James Conner) in last week's loss to Indianapolis, and Rondale Moore's absence further depleted the unit's depth. No Hopkins still hurts, but Hudson, Conner and Moore were back in practice on Thursday. If they play, I like the Cards to cover.

Green Bay Packers
ML: -900 · 12-3
Minnesota Vikings
ML: +600 · 7-8

NOTE: Betting lines are current as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday.


  • WHERE: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Packers -13 | O/U: 42.5


It's been a minute since the last complete Packers performance: Nov. 28 against the Rams, to be precise. This game makes sense for a coronation. It's in Lambeau with the No. 1 seed in play and the chance to knock out a division rival that beat the Green Bay earlier in the year. The Packers' offensive line remains ravaged, however, and they are dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak this week. Mike Zimmer's history against Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay's recent defensive struggles and Minnesota's penchant to make life as painful as possible for its fans have me seeing this one coming down to the last few plays, like so many other Packers wins this year. 


UPDATE: I really liked the Vikings to cover 6.5 (Original pick: Packers 27, Vikings 24) and possibly win with Kirk Cousins, who landed on the COVID list Friday and is out for Sunday's game. Is Cousins worth that much that I don't even like them to cover Sunday night against the Packers now? 


Considering the Vikings' quarterback depth chart, the answer is yes. Backup Sean Mannion was activated off the COVID-19 list Friday and is in line to start despite missing practice all week. He’s struggled in limited previous spot duties, so Vikings fans may realize by default what they have with Cousins isn’t so bad.

MONDAY, JAN. 3

Cleveland Browns
ML: -180 · 7-8
Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: +155 · 7-7-1


A depressing season in Cleveland can get happy fast, even if it's only for a week. The Browns only need the Bengals and Ravens -- both underdogs -- to lose Sunday in order to control their AFC North fate. Knocking out the Steelers in Ben Roethlisberger's last home start would be almost as sweet as making the longtime Browns tormentor sadly sit on the bench during the playoff loss a year ago. Both teams are worse than a year ago, but the Steelers are way worse. It's not just their offense, where every 4-yard catch is contested, but also Mike Tomlin's defense, 30th in rush defense efficiency. Baker Mayfield can still hand off with the best of them.

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