Welcome to 2022 everyone!
Actually, I'm kind of jumping the gun here because it's not 2022 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 if you guys are like me, I'm sure you've been dying to know what Bill Belichick's resolution is going to be, so let's find out.
In the least surprising news ever, Belichick doesn't have a resolution, but I do and that resolution is to never watch a video that awkward ever again. My other resolution is to get all my picks right in 2022, which is actually a horrible resolution because there's a zero percent chance that's going to happen. My life coach always say you're supposed to make realistic resolutions, so either I need a new resolution or a new life coach.
Anyway, if your New Year's 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. Last night, Brinson and I decided to ditch Wilson to do a podcast where he covered our early picks for Week 17. If you listen below, you'll notice that Brinson and I don't agree on much, which makes sense, because my resolution for last year was to agree with him less. I might let that one carry over to 2022.
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
Las Vegas (8-7) at Indianapolis (9-6)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Before I made a pick in this game, I made a list of all the Colts players that might miss it due to COVID and what I found out is that it was actually easier to make a list of players who don't have COVID. The Colts roster has been ravaged over the past week and that continued on Monday when they placed five more players on the COVID list.
Although I've lost total track of everyone on their COVID list, I found someone on Twitter who made a very convenient list of all the Colts players who are currently out.
Colts/COVID:— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 27, 2021
* LG Quenton Nelson
* RG Mark Glowinski
* RT Braden Smith
* LB Darius Leonard
* S Khari Willis
S Jaheel Addae
* CB Rock Ya-Sin
CB T.J. Carrie
WR Zach Pascal
DE Kemoko Turay
LB Malik Jefferson
RB Marlon Mack
TE Farrod Green (PS)
The problem with COVID is that I have no idea who on that list might be available to play this week and who might not be available. Trying to pick a winner in this game is like going to Chick-fil-A and having them tell you five seconds before you order that they're out of chicken: It leaves you in an impossible spot and no matter what decision you make, you know it's going to be wrong. Could I order waffle fries? Sure, but those aren't good unless I also have the chicken. The place isn't called Fries-fil-A or Waffle-fil-A although I would definitely go to a place called Waffle-fil-A.
The only thing I do know is that the Colts likely won't have Darius Leonard and they likely will be missing several starters on the offensive line. However, that's negated by the fact that pretty much every Raiders linebacker has come down with COVID this week.
The Raiders are basically at the point where they might have to ask their kicker to play linebacker.
The Raiders are a huge underdog in this game, which actually makes me feel slightly better about them and that's because they've thrived on the road as an underdog this year. In six road games as the underdog, they've gone 4-2 straight-up and that includes a wild Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Of course, the two times they lost were both blowouts, which means this game is destined to either be a Raiders win or a blowout loss with nothing in-between. Actually, I do think there will be something in-between and that's going to be my prediction.
DEC. 28 UPDATE (1:30 p.m. ET): Carson Wentz has been placed on the COVID list and if he doesn't play on Sunday, that's enough to FLIP ME to the Raiders. That being said, based on the fact that these two teams have combined to put roughly 90 players on the COVID list this week, there's a chance I could flip my pick again, especially if the Colts do something crazy like call Philip RIvers.
The pick (If Carson Wentz doesn't play): Raiders 23-20 over Colts.
The pick (If Carson Wentz DOES play): Colts 23-20 over Raiders.
Kansas City (11-4) at Cincinnati (9-6)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
I'm not going to sit here and say that this game is going to be a preview of the AFC Championship, but I'm not going to not to say that. Sure, the Bengals haven't even clinched a playoff spot yet, but that can actually happen on Sunday if they beat the Chiefs. With a win over Kansas City, the Bengals would clinch the AFC North title and lock up their first playoff spot since 2015.
The biggest problem for the Bengals is that the one thing standing between them and a division title is the one thing you don't want standing in your way if you're an NFL team and that's Patrick Mahomes. If there is one quarterback you don't want to face late in the season, it's definitely Mahomes. Since the start of the 2019 season, Mahomes has a record of 26-1 in the months of November, December and January combined.
You have a better chance of meeting a talking cat than an NFL team does of beating Mahomes late in the season. The problem for the Bengals is that it's going to be especially hard for them to slow him down and that's because they've given up the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL this year. That being said, the Chiefs haven't exactly been great at stopping the pass either, which means we might see BOTH quarterbacks go for 525 yards on Sunday. The Chiefs defense has actually struggled against good offenses with losses to the Bills, Chargers, Ravens (back when they were good) and Titans (back when they had Derrick Henry).
This is the biggest home game the Bengals have played in six years and for some reason, I feel like their magical season is going to continue with an upset win over the Chiefs. However, I will 100% be changing my pick if Joe Burrow ends up on the COVID list, which is a small possibility after backup QB Brandon Allen was placed on the list Monday.
If Burrow plays, I'll take the Bengals in an upset. If Burrow misses the game, that means the Bengals would be down to their third-string QB and in that case, I'll take the Chiefs by a lot.
The pick: Bengals 34-31 over Chiefs
Miami (8-7) at Tennessee (10-5)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
For some reason, no one is really talking about the Dolphins this year, even though they're on the verge of pulling off one of the most improbable runs to the playoffs in NFL history. Back on Nov. 1, this team looked like it was going to be in a battle with the Lions and Jaguars for the No. 1 overall pick. At 1-7, I'm pretty sure 99% of America had written the Dolphins off. However, we need to unwrite them off because not only are they back in the playoff race, but they actually CONTROL their own fate.
If the Dolphins win out, they'll be in the playoffs. I'm not sure what happened between Nov. 1 and now, but I do have a theory: WE MOVED PAST THE TRADE DEADLINE. For the first two months of the season, all anyone talked about, including the Dolphins, was the fact that they might make a move to replace Tua Tagovailoa with Deshaun Watson.
Imagine trying to do your job knowing that your company is actively trying to replace you and they're doing it very publicly. Things were so ugly early in the season that the Dolphins were more dysfunctional than the Jaguars, which doesn't seem possible. After the trade deadline, Tua knew he wasn't going to get replaced and since then, the Dolphins are 6-0.
Normally, this is the part where I tell you that I just talked myself into picking the team I just spent three paragraphs rambling about, but that's not going to be the case here and that's because this game is being played in freezing cold weather.
The Dolphins are one of the worst cold-weather teams in recent NFL history and it's going to be cold in Nashville on Sunday. If I've learned one thing about people in Florida, it's that the last thing they want to do in the dead of winter is leave Florida.
Since 2017, the Dolphins are 1-11 in games where the kickoff temperature is below 50 degrees and it's going to be well below 50 degrees in Tennessee (It's expected to be about 38 at kickoff). Also, those 11 losses have come by an average of 16.5 points per game. On the Titans end, if they win, they'll clinch the AFC South and I have to think they'd love to get that done this week.
The pick: Titans 22-19 over Dolphins
Arizona (10-5) at Dallas (11-4)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
After watching the Cardinals play for the past three weeks, I've noticed a few troubling things about them: They can't win on the road, they can't win at home, they can't beat good teams, they can't beat bad teams, everyone can score on them and they can't even beat the Lions. They also have questionable coaching and a quarterback who's struggling right now, and I have to say, January is not the time when you want to see your quarterback struggling.
I'm not sure who to blame for their current losing streak, so I've decided I'm just going to blame Kliff Kingsbury. Since Kingsbury was hired in 2019, there has been no team better at late season collapses than the Cardinals. From Weeks 1 thru 7, the Cardinals have gone 15-5-1 under Kingsbury, but in games played after Week 7, they've gone 8-18. They are basically the football equivalent of the movie "Downsizing." The first half of that movie was good, but then the second half was a total disaster and I still hate myself for watching it. As a great philosopher once said, "it's not how you start it's how you finish." To be honest, I have no idea if a great philosopher actually said that, but that's not important. The important thing here is that someone said it and the Cardinals aren't listening to it.
The Cowboys have the better offense, the better defense, they're 9-1 against NFC teams this year and they're averaging 38.4 points per game at home this season. I'll take the Cowboys in a blowout.
The pick: Cowboys 38-24 over Cardinals
Cleveland (7-8) at Pittsburgh (7-7-1)
8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
After both of these teams lost over the weekend, I read somewhere that they both now have less than a 15% chance of making the playoffs. Now, I'm not good with numbers, but I have to say, those odds make it feel like neither team has a chance of getting into the postseason. However, that DOESN'T MEAN IT CAN'T HAPPEN.
The odds also said that a movie about a dog playing football would never work, but that didn't stop "Air Bud" from being made. Also, the odds said Brad Johnson 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 Steelers or Browns getting to the postseason is impossible.
As a matter of fact, not only is it possible, it actually seems somewhat plausible. If the Bengals lose to the Chiefs on Sunday, then the winner of this game will go into Week 18 with a good chance to win the division. As a matter of fact, if the Bengals lose, the Browns would go into Monday's game knowing that they control their own playoff fate.
Unfortunately for the Browns, to control their own playoff fate, they have to win this game first and I just don't see that happening. I think we can agree on what the Steelers defensive game plan is going to be: They're going to go all-in on stopping Nick Chubb and make Baker Mayfield beat them. If you've watched Mayfield play at all over the past month, then you know why that's a brilliant plan and also why I can't pick the Browns to win.
The Steelers are 19-1 in their past 20 home Monday games and this could be Ben Roethlisberger's FINAL home game ever at Heinz Field, which is why I can't pick against Pittsburgh.
The pick: Steelers 20-17 over Browns
NFL Week 17 picks: All the rest
Bills 34-20 over Falcons
Bears 24-17 over Giants
Patriots 30-13 over Jaguars
Buccaneers 27-13 over Jets
Eagles 27-24 over Washington
Rams 30-20 over Ravens
Chargers 24-16 over Broncos
49ers 31-24 over Texans
Saints 19-16 over Panthers
Seahawks 20-16 over Lions
Packers 27-20 over Vikings
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Bills would go into Gillette Stadium and upset the Patriots and guess what happened? The Bills went into Gillette Stadium and upset the Patriots. The upset was actually somewhat surprising and that's because Bill Belichick is usually prepared for almost any situation, but he clearly wasn't prepared for what the Bills offense threw at him. The Bills were so good on offense that they didn't punt A SINGLE TIME IN THE GAME, marking the first time ever that a team had zero punts against a Belichick-coached team.
I'm not usually one to give resolution advice, but maybe Belichick's resolution for 2022 should be to not lose to the Bills and also to maybe force more punts.
Worst pick: My most embarrassing pick of Week 16 was definitely taking the Vikings over the Rams, but to be honest, I barely even remembered taking the Vikings and that's because I was way too distracted by the halftime corgi race in Minnesota.
Every team's resolution this year should be to hold more halftime corgi races.
Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I'm actually good at picking, here's a quick look:
Teams I've been the best at picking this year: Texans (12-3), Colts (12-3), Jaguars (12-3), Dolphins (12-3), Packers (12-3), Steelers (11-3-1).
Longest current streak of picking a team's games correctly: Jets, Ravens and Packers (Five straight games picked correctly)
Teams I've been the worst at picking this year: Washington (6-9), Cardinals (6-9), Titans (6-9), Saints (6-9),
Longest active streak of picking a team's games wrong: Titans (Two straight games picked incorrectly)
See everyone in 2022!
Straight up in Week 16: 12-4
SU overall: 152-87-1
Against the spread in Week 16: 9-7
ATS overall: 120-117-1
Exact score predictions: 3
Exact score, wrong winner: 2
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