Week 17 is upon us in the NFL. The grand finale of what was easily the strangest, most difficult season to pull off in sports history, and we were all here for it. While we get ready for the playoffs and all the excitement that brings, we also realize that this is the end of the season for many teams. They go into this week with nothing to play for, nothing to look forward to except an offseason that is sure to bring many changes. With changes looming, many players will be fighting for their jobs and putting their best foot forward to stay on the team. That is what makes Week 17 so impossible to predict. We simply don’t know what we are going to get out of some of these teams. There is an unproven stigma that says you should bet on whatever team has their backs against the wall and need a win. There have been plenty of examples where this is simply not the best move. The pressure of having to win can be too much for some of these teams and coaching staffs, and it results in performances that are just too unpredictable to bet on. It’s why, at least for this final week, I personally don’t bet on anyone. It’s a complete stay away for me. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t give you some helpful information to get you set to bet on Week 17 if you so choose. Luckily for you, DraftKings is offering you an amazing deal that you should be taking advantage of.

NFL Week 17 Previews/Best Bets

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) at Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Spread: CLE -9.5, PIT +9.5

The Cleveland Browns return home this week for their last chance of clinching their first playoff berth since 2002 when they host their hated rivals and current division champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns will be getting back their entire wide receiving corps that was placed under NFL health protocols prior to last week’s extremely ugly 23-16 loss to the New York Jets. Unfortunately, they also had to add Andrew Sendejo, Karl Joseph, and Harrison Bryant to the reserve/COVID list. Meanwhile, the Steelers have already clinched the AFC North when they came back in impressive fashion in a 28-24 victory against the Indianapolis Colts. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Pittsburgh as QB Ben Roethlisberger regained his early-season form, throwing for 342 yards and three TDs without turning the ball over. Both teams had their worst rushing performances of the season last week, but the Browns have a great chance to get it back on track this weekend against a Steelers defense that has given up an average of 127.7 yards over the last three weeks. Pittsburgh will also be playing their backups, which is why this spread is out of control. I still would lean towards the Steelers keeping it within 10, but I’d have to have 10 to even think about betting it.

Prediction: PIT +9.5 – WAIT for +10

Arizona Cardinals (8-7) at Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

Spread: ARI -3, LAR +3

After both teams suffered crucial defeats in Week 16, both the Rams and Cardinals will be fighting for their playoff lives when they meet at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles. A devastating 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers created a win-or-go-home scenario for the Cards, while the Rams’ 20-9 loss to the division champion Seattle Seahawks means they need to beat the Cardinals or rely on a Chicago Bears loss to book their trip to the postseason. The Rams will have to do all this without QB Jared Goff, WR Cooper Kupp, and RB Darrell Henderson. RB Cam Akers is also in jeopardy of not playing in this one, as QB John Wolford will look to secure a win in his first NFL start. That will not give Rams fans very much hope. If the Rams can keep the time of possession in their favor as they have all year (third-best in NFL), Arizona will have a tough time producing any offense against an aggressive Rams defense that ranks first in yards allowed and third in points conceded. I don’t have a strong play in this game at all. If I had to, I would lay the points with Arizona against Mr. Wolford.

Prediction: ARI -3

Green Bay Packers (12-3) at Chicago Bears (8-7)

Spread: GB -4, CHI +4

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers travel south to Soldier Field to take on their fierce rivals in the Bears, knowing all-too-well that a win will secure the top seed in the NFC. For the Bears, the chips are all down: win and they’re in. Momentum is in the Bears’ favor here, as they’ve scored 33+ points in each game during their three game winning streak. However, it’s the once-vaunted Chicago defense that will be the story of this one. The Packers’ two lowest-scoring games of the season resulted in two of their three losses. Outside of those, Green Bay has lit up scoreboards and leads the NFL in scoring. Most of that can be credited to Rodgers, who has once again dazzled the league with 44 TD passes and only 5 INTs on the year. Last week’s dismantling of the Tennessee Titans has pushed him past Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes for the favorite to win MVP. The Bears can never seem to step up against Green Bay, always letting games slip away from them. Because of that recent history, I simply cannot do anything here but lay the points with the Packers who still have something to play for.

Prediction: GB -4

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Matt Horner
Host of a sports talk show at Millersville University radio station 91.7 WIXQ in Pennsylvania. Graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Sports Journalism. Writer for The Snapper newspaper.