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Let’s take a look at all 16 NFL contests slated for Sunday’s DraftKings Sportsbook Pro Football Week 17 Spreads Pool, including my five personal favorites.
The Pick: Texans +7.5
This game should feature a ton of offense on both sides.
The Texans rank 30th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, and they have been absolutely mauled in the run game recently. They gave up 169 yards on the ground last week to the Bengals, who have had virtually no run game to speak of with Joe Mixon out of the lineup.
That could spell disaster against Derrick Henry, who has reached the point where his 98-yard performance last week vs. the Packers felt like a disappointment. That’s how good he’s been this season. He averaged a ridiculous 139.3 rushing yards per game over his previous six contests, and he scored seven touchdowns over that time frame. He destroyed the Texans for 264 total yards and two touchdowns back in Week 6, and the Texans simply don’t have the ability to stop the big man.
On the other side, Deshaun Watson should be able to move the rock vs. the Titans’ defense. They have had some major problems on that side of the ball, especially after losing Jadaveon Clowney for the season. They gave up 40 points to the Packers last week and that was the second time in four weeks that they’ve surrendered at least 40 points.
As bad as the Texans have been this season, Watson is still one of the absolute best in the business. He ranks second in terms of Pro Football Focus grade at the quarterback position, so giving him a bunch of points is dangerous. He owns a 15-11 record against the spread as an underdog, including a mark of 6-3 when getting more than four points. I think he does enough to secure a cover in this contest, and he should keep the backdoor open at a minimum.
The Pick: Falcons +6.5
Both of these teams are dealing with some key absences in this contest.
The Falcons are going to be without Julio Jones for the third straight game, which is obviously a huge blow for their offense. Julio is still one of the best receivers in the game, and he averaged 85.7 receiving yards per game this season. That number is impressive, but it still sells Jones’ impact short: He’s played in a few games where he’s been more of a decoy than a real threat. Alex Mack has also been ruled out after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
As big as those absences are, the Bucs’ roster is in even worse shape. They’ll be missing six players with a Pro Football Focus grade of at least 65.5 this season, including four defensive linemen. The Bucs’ defense is based around their pass rush – they rank fourth in adjusted sack rate – and they should be less effective than usual in that department vs. the Falcons.
Additionally, this game doesn’t mean all that much to the Bucs. They have locked in their playoff spot, and the only thing they’re playing for this week is seeding. There is a difference between the No. 5 seed and the No. 6 seed – No. 5 gets a shot at the weak NFC East champ in the first round – but is that enough motivation to stay focused for 60 minutes? There’s a scenario where the Buccaneers look to get Tom Brady some rest at the end of this game, so I think Matt Ryan can pull off a cover.
The Pick: Washington +1.5
The Eagles officially blew their chances of winning the division last week vs. the Cowboys, so don’t expect to see their best effort vs. Washington on Sunday Night Football. Not only will their motivation be questionable, but they’re also going to be missing about half their starters. They’ve already ruled out Miles Sanders, Fletcher Cox, Dallas Goedert, Derek Barnett and a host of other players, which just doesn’t leave this team with a ton of talent.
Unsurprisingly, the line has moved heavily in Washington’s favor following the injury report being released. They are all the way up to -3.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook, but we can still grab them at +1.5 in this Sportsbook Pool. That’s a ton of value.
Alex Smith is also expected to be back under center for this contest, and it’s impossible to understate how important that is for this team. Smith is not the type of quarterback who is going to put up huge numbers, but he’s going to limit the number of mistakes and keep his team in the ballgame. Overall, Washington is 4-1 with Smith starting at quarterback and just 2-8 with anyone else.
The Pick: Chargers -2.5
This line would obviously make no sense under normal circumstances, but the Chiefs are essentially approaching this game as a preseason contest. Patrick Mahomes is going to get the week off, and Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have also been ruled out. Even the players that do suit up might not play the full game with the top seed in the AFC already secured.
With Mahomes out, Chad Henne will draw the start at QB vs. the Chargers. He hasn’t started a game since all the way back in 2014, and he hasn’t been particularly effective as a starter throughout his career. He’s gone just 23-30-1 against the spread as a starter, and he’s only won 18 career games straight up. It seems very unlikely that he’ll play well given that he won’t benefit from the Chiefs’ elite receiving options or Andy Reid’s genius play-calling.
It feels weird to back the Chargers as road favorites, but I think that’s clearly the correct move. Justin Herbert has such a massive advantage over Henne, and the supporting casts shouldn’t be enough to make up the difference. Herbert took the Chiefs to overtime in his first career start, and that was with the Chiefs playing at full strength. They should be able to cruise to a comfortable win in this contest.
The Pick: Cardinals +4.5
I’m going to keep this one short because this is simply a no-brainer. The Rams will be without both Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp in this contest, while Kyler Murray will be in the lineup for the Cardinals. That’s going to give them a massive edge at the quarterback position.
It has also created a ton of value with the Cardinals in this Sportsbook Pool. You can grab them at +4.5, but they’re all the way up to -3.0 on DraftKings Sportsbook. That’s more than seven points of value, and it’s impossible to pass that up.
Here are the teams I’m targeting for the rest of the Sunday games. Remember, we’re looking to beat the competition and climb up the leaderboard, so I’ll be looking to gain leverage on the field and fade the public in situations where I don’t see a huge edge on the spread.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (-14.5)
Pick: Colts -14.5
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) @ Detroit Lions
Pick: Lions +6.5
New York Jets @ New England Patriots (-4.5)
Pick: Jets +4.5
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-1.5)
Pick: Bills -1.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns (-6.5)
Pick: Browns -6.5
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) @ Carolina Panthers
Pick: Panthers +6.5
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) @ Chicago Bears
Pick: Bears +4.5
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) @ New York Giants
Pick: Giants +2.5
Baltimore Ravens (-11.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Ravens -11.5
Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
Pick: 49ers +4.5
Las Vegas Raiders (-1.5) @ Denver Broncos
Pick: Broncos +1.5
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