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Week 17 NFL Picks



NFL Picks (Week 1, 2008): 11-5 (+$1,470)
NFL Picks (Week 2, 2008): 7-7-1 (-$100)
NFL Picks (Week 3, 2008): 10-6 (+$860)
NFL Picks (Week 4, 2008): 6-7 (-$350)
NFL Picks (Week 5, 2008): 8-6 (+$230)
NFL Picks (Week 6, 2008): 9-5 (+$2,260)
NFL Picks (Week 7, 2008): 4-10 (-$770)
NFL Picks (Week 8, 2008): 9-4-1 (+$1,620)
NFL Picks (Week 9, 2008): 6-8 (-$980)
NFL Picks (Week 10, 2008): 4-10 (-$2,690)
NFL Picks (Week 11, 2008): 9-7 (-$170)
NFL Picks (Week 12, 2008): 6-9-1 (-$1,090)
NFL Picks (Week 13, 2008): 10-6 (+$1,170)
NFL Picks (Week 14, 2008): 7-9 (-$80)
NFL Picks (Week 15, 2008): 9-5-2 (+$1,200)
NFL Picks (Week 16, 2008): 6-10 (-$700)

NFL Picks (Reg Season 2008): 121-114-5 (+$1,880)
If you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my Sports Betting FAQ.




Vegas betting action updated Dec. 28, 11:05 a.m. ET.


Go to Week 17 NFL Picks - Late Games



Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4)
Line: Steelers by 11. Total: 33.5.

Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Steelers -13.5.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Steelers -13.5.
Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

The Game. Edge: Unknown.
Injuries: Browns: OUT: QB Brady Quinn (IR), QB Derek Anderson (IR), WR Joe Jurevicius (IR), OT Ryan Tucker (IR), G Lennie Friedman, DE Robaire Smith (IR), OLB Antwan Peek (IR). DOUBTFUL: TE Kellen Winslow Jr.* Steelers: OUT: QB Charlie Batch, RB Rashard Mendenhall (IR), OT Marvel Smith (IR), G Kendall Simmons (IR), P Daniel Sepulveda (IR), LS Greg Warren (IR).

Time to complain once again. I may have the most bad beats this season than I've ever had since this Web site's inception in 1999. The tough one last week was watching the 6-point underdog Jaguars blow a 14-0 lead, giving the Colts a cover, thanks to a David Garrard pick-six. Making matters even worse, Garrard came 10 yards short of a tying score, but missed a wide-open Troy Williamson in the back of the end zone. Five units flushed down the drain. Oh, and the 4-point underdog Chiefs ruining a 31-24 second-half advantage sucked as well.

I went 6-10 for -7 Units last week. If you give me the Jaguars cover, I would have won 3.5 Units. In the next few weeks, I'm going to list all of this year's bad beats. Hey, statistically, this is my worst picking year in the NFL since 2002, so this is something I need to do.

PITTSBURGH OFFENSE: Week 17 is always the toughest to predict because a handful of teams have nothing to play for. Take the Steelers for example. We have no idea whether they're going to play their starters or not because they're locked into the No. 2 seed.

On one hand, they rested everyone in a Week 17 contest last year, and lost to a hapless, five-win Baltimore squad. Ben Roethlisberger also said that he could use some time off after taking a good amount of hits against the Titans.

On the other hand, an angry Mike Tomlin, who kicked Santa Claus out of his press conference, declared that he won't be treating this contest like a preseason game. It also should be noted that Tomlin didn't have a first-round bye waiting for him when he benched his players in last season's Ravens battle.

If Big Ben, Hines Ward and the rest of Pittsburgh's first-string offense plays, there's no doubt they'll trample a horrific Browns defense. But if Byron Leftwich, Gary Russell and Limas Sweed are in the lineup, do you really want to hope that they cover 11 points?

CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Again, we have no idea what's going to happen. There is absolutely no way Cleveland can score on Pittsburgh's first-string stop unit. But if Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Casey Hampton, and the rest of Dick LeBeau's dynamic defenders are on the bench, the Browns, who haven't managed an offensive touchdown in five weeks, actually have hope.

RECAP: Unless you have inside information, or something is announced later in the week, there is no way I can advocate betting on this game.

As I said earlier, I don't want to lay 11 points if Leftwich, Russell and Sweed are on the field. That's why I'm taking the Browns for a grand total of zero units. I'm also a fan of backing the lucrative home-shutout trend, which is listed below.


The Psychology. Edge: Browns.
The Steelers don't need this game at all. The Browns would love to beat their divisional rival, but how much motivation will they have against Byron Leftwich, Gary Russell and Limas Sweed?


The Vegas. Edge: Browns.
It doesn't matter how long Pittsburgh's starters will play. Cleveland just sucks way too much. At least that's what the public thinks.
  • Percentage of money on Pittsburgh: 89% (99,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Browns.
  • History: Steelers have won 16 of the last 17 meetings.
  • Home Shutout: Teams coming off a home shutout are 16-7 ATS the following week since 2002 (Romeo Crennel 2-0).
  • Steelers are 17-6 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is 56-21 as a starter (45-31 ATS). ???
  • Opening Line: Steelers -11.
  • Opening Total: 32.
  • Weather: Possible showers, 61 degrees. Mild wind, 13 mph.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Steelers 23, Browns 16
    Browns +11 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Over 32.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Steelers 31, Browns 0



    New England Patriots (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8)
    Line: Patriots by 5.5. Total: 40.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Patriots -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Patriots -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Patriots.
    Injuries: Patriots: OUT: QB Tom Brady (IR), RB Laurence Maroney (IR), OT Ryan O'Callaghan (IR), OT Oliver Ross, OT Anthony Clement (IR), G Stephen Neal, DE Ty Warren, DE/OLB Adalius Thomas (IR), ILB Tedy Bruschi (IR), CB Terrence Wheatley (IR), S Rodney Harrison (IR), S Tank Williams (IR). Bills: OUT: DE Aaron Schobel (IR), OLB Angelo Crowell (IR), ILB John DiGiorgio (IR), CB Ashton Youboty (IR).

    Vegas was on the winning side of three of the four most lop-sided games of the week (with my 5-unit Jaguar pick being the lone exception - groan). Overall, the public went 7-6, which is a pretty even week for everyone once you factor in all the juice. Here's the NFL Week 16 Vegas Money Breakdown.

    NEW ENGLAND OFFENSE: Unlike the previous Steelers-Browns matchup, we know everyone is going to be on the field in this contest. The Patriots are playing for their postseason lives, while the Bills would love to finally beat a team that has dominated them this decade. New England has won 15 of the past 16 meetings. As Emmitt would say, "These are complete debaclation."

    The last time these teams clashed, New England dominated on offense, controlling the clock for 37:40. The Bills could neither put pressure on Matt Cassel (one sack) nor stop the run (BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained 105 yards on 26 carries).

    I don't see why the Patriots offense would have less success on Sunday. Buffalo's pass rush is non-existent because Aaron Schobel is on IR. Meanwhile, the team's ground defense ranks 18th in the league. Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Cassel's rushing ability are just too much for the Bills.

    BUFFALO OFFENSE: The main difference this time around will be New England's defense. Since that 20-10 victory, the Patriots have lost Ty Warren, Tedy Bruschi and Adalius Thomas.

    All three of those guys helped shut down Buffalo's ground attack (Marshawn Lynch: 14 carries, 46 yards; Fred Jackson, 4 carries, 14 yards). They also made life miserable for Trent Edwards, who was 13-of-23 for 120 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

    With less resistance from New England's side, look for a better performance from Edwards, who went 17-of-25 for 193 yards and a score last week. Lynch and Jackson will also have more success running the ball.

    RECAP: Even though the Patriots need this game, I like the Bills to cover. Although they were dominated at New England seven weeks ago, they lost by just 10 points. The absence of Warren, Bruschi and Thomas will loom larger than ever.

    It's also worth noting that Buffalo has either won or lost by seven or less in five of their last six games.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Patriots need to win this game, but the Bills hate them with a passion. They won't let them skate into the postseason.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bills.
    No surprise that casual bettors are pounding the Patriots.
  • Percentage of money on New England: 87% (128,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
  • History: Patriots have won 15 of the last 16 meetings.
  • Patriots are 27-13 ATS vs. AFC East opponents since 2001.
  • Bills are 6-16 ATS in their last 22 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Bills are 17-11 ATS as a dog under Dick Jauron.
  • Opening Line: Patriots -6.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Showers, 37 degrees. GALE, 45 mph.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Patriots 15, Bills 14
    Bills +5.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Under 40 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
    Patriots 13, Bills 0



    Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-11-1)
    Line: Bengals by 3. Total: 38.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Pick.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Pick.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Chiefs.
    Injuries: Chiefs: OUT: QB Brodie Croyle (IR), QB Damon Huard (IR), RB Kolby Smith (IR), DE Turk McBride (IR). Bengals: OUT: QB Carson Palmer, RB Kenny Irons (IR), G Andrew Whitworth (IR), OLB Keith Rivers (IR), CB Jonathan Joseph (IR), S Dexter Jackson (IR), S Marvin White (IR).

    Most people hate holiday shopping, but I love it. Well, I hate the traffic, I despise the lines, and I never know what to buy for anyone, but going to the mall during the holiday season is a blast. Not because of all the Christmas trees or Santa; it's great because the idiots at the mall provide great writing material. So, I present to you, the second annual:

    IDIOTS AT THE MALL (Part 1)

    1. Before I even got the mall, I ran into our first culprit. I was talking to the teller at my bank and told her that I hadn't started holiday shopping yet. Some fat lady at the booth next to me scoffed, "Ha!" Stupid fat lady. I hate how people think you have to get all your stuff done on Black Friday. I always wait until the day before Christmas to do everything. I decided to do everything a few days earlier this year because Christmas Eve falls on a Wednesday, which is when I update my 2009 NFL Mock Draft.

    At any rate, I should hunt down this fat lady and scoff back at her. I got everything done. I bought all the gifts I needed in three hours. And I almost got into an accident only once driving back from the mall! Take that, fat lady!

    2. I went into the sports memorabilia store because my dad is into Flyers and Sixers stuff. I decided on autographed photos of Flyers players, but because they didn't have names on them, I didn't know who they were supposed to be. So, I approached the guy working there and asked him to help me. This man was even more obese than the aforementioned fat lady, and he happened to be eating a stromboli.

    Thankfully, he put it down and wiped his hands upon taking the photos. However, he didn't know any of the guys. He kept saying, "I don't know him;" "He might not be on the team anymore;" "Uhh... he looks familiar..."

    Thanks a lot, fat slob. Fortunately, there was another customer in the store who happened to be a Flyers fan. He knew the jersey numbers of some of the players, so he was able to tell me that I was holding autographed photos of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

    Stay tuned for Part 2 at the beginning of the Titans-Colts write-up.

    KANSAS CITY OFFENSE: The Chiefs had the Dolphins beat. Tyler Thigpen unfortunately threw an interception on Miami's 6-yard line. Later, the Chiefs whiffed on numerous tackles on a drive that culminated in a spread-beating touchdown.

    While the Chiefs have had problems turning the ball, they've also been more explosive on offense, thanks to Tyler Thigpen. Cincinnati's defense isn't terrible, but Thigpen, Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe were moving up and down the field on a Miami defense that hadn't surrendered a touchdown in three weeks.

    Don't expect much from Larry Johnson - Cincinnati is somehow ninth versus the run - but Thigpen should be able to put at least 20 on the scoreboard.

    CINCINNATI OFFENSE: Cedric Benson said he was a bit sore this week. You think? Benson managed 38 carries against the craptastic Browns last week, totaling 171 yards in the process. Benson was so tired that he didn't have enough energy to drink and drive after the game.

    Given the opportunity, Benson will rip through Kansas City's last-ranked rush defense. This will set up play-action opportunities for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was on fire last week (5-of-9, 55 yards, 1 TD). The Chiefs, who happen to be 25th versus the pass, have just nine sacks on the year. Fitzpatrick will have all day to throw his patented 5-yard dump-off passes.

    RECAP: I was worried this shady spread would induce tons of betting action on the Chiefs, but it hasn't. So, I feel confident taking Kansas City, a team that has played extremely well since making the switch to Thigpen. In the nine games Thigpen has started since Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard went on IR, the Chiefs are 6-3 against the spread.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Give these teams credit for playing hard, unlike Arizona.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bengals.
    A slight edge toward the Chiefs.
  • Percentage of money on Kansas City: 61% (71,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Chiefs.
  • Chiefs are 11-4 ATS as a road underdog since 2007.
  • Opening Line: Bengals -3.
  • Opening Total: 37.5.
  • Weather: Showers, 65 degrees. STRONG WINDS, 21 mph.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Chiefs 17, Bengals 10
    Chiefs +3 (0 Units) -- Incorrect; $0
    Under 39 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
    Bengals 16, Chiefs 6





    Tennessee Titans (13-2) at Indianapolis Colts (11-4)
    Line: Titans by 3. Total: 39.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Colts -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Colts -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Titans.
    Injuries: Titans: OUT: DT Albert Haynesworth, CB Reynaldo Hill, CB Eric King. Colts: OUT: RB Mike Hart (IR), OT Tony Ugoh, G Ryan Lilja, DT Anthony McFarland (IR), OLB Tyjuan Hagler, CB Marlin Jackson (IR), KR T.J. Rushing (IR).

    IDIOTS AT THE MALL (Part 2)

    3. As you would expect, there were tons of charities at the mall. I actually considered giving some money to one, except I was distracted by the store across from their stand. As you would guess, it was Victoria's Secret. Looking at photos of the models is always fun. But checking out the patrons of that store? Not so much.

    I looked into Victoria's Secret, and noticed that everyone inside the store was a fat chick. I'm super duper serial. This frustrated me. Now, there was another clothing store named Underground Market right next to it. Interestingly enough, I looked inside, and all I saw were some of the hottest girls I've ever seen. How's that for irony? I've never heard of this Underground Market, but it sounds like a great place!

    4. I was at a video game store because they typically have great deals on DVDs. Some lady and her 12-year-old kid were looking at XBOX 360 games, when the former looked at me and asked, "Do you think buying used games is safe?" I replied, "Yeah, it's better than buying new games." Not that I would know. At any rate, I walked away and began scanning the DVDs they had on sale. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the lady slap the kid upside the head and yell, "You're getting out of control!"

    Bravo! Kids are definitely getting out of control. If they misbehave, they should be slapped. Repeatedly. Or punched in the mouth. Repeatedly. I know I sound like Maddox right now, but it's the damn truth. I'll have more on some of the other people in this store in the Giants-Vikings write-up.

    INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: In the Pittsburgh-Cleveland write-up, I wasn't sure of what the Steelers were planning to do with their starters. Well, we know what Tony Dungy's plan is. He'll sit his main guys. Always has. Always will.

    That means a lot of Jim Sorgi, Chad Simpson and Pierre Garcon. One can only hope that Chris Berman will entertain us with his glorious French accent on the NFL Blitz.

    TENNESSEE OFFENSE: Meanwhile, Jeff Fisher indicated that Vince Young will get some playing time in this contest, but didn't mention exactly how much action he would receive. "How much (Young plays), I don't know," Fisher told the media on Monday.

    Even if Young plays the entire contest without Chris Johnson, LenDale White and Justin Gage, the Titans will have an advantage because Young is both mobile and desperate to prove himself. The Colts second-string defense won't be prepared to handle Young's scrambling ability.

    RECAP: Betting against Tony Dungy in Weeks 16 and 17 has been a very lucrative proposition. Overall, the Colts are 2-9 against the spread in the final two weeks of the regular season since 2003. Dungy is a great coach, but he just doesn't care enough to game plan for these meaningless contests. I can't really blame him either, though I'm against the idea of sitting players. Note that Dungy won the Super Bowl the year he didn't have the luxury of doing so.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    Both teams could sit their starters in a meaningless game.


    The Vegas. Edge: None.
    The public likes... Jim Sorgi?
  • Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 53% (73,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Titans.
  • History: Colts have won 8 of the last 11 meetings (Titans 5-0 ATS since 2006).
  • Colts are 2-9 ATS in Weeks 16 and 17 since 2003.
  • Opening Line: Titans -3.
  • Opening Total: 38.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Titans 28, Colts 16
    Titans -3 (3 Units) -- Incorrect; -$330
    Over 39 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
    Colts 23, Titans 0





    New York Giants (12-3) at Minnesota Vikings (9-6)
    Line: Vikings by 7. Total: 41.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Vikings -9.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Vikings -7.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Giants.
    Injuries: Giants: OUT: QB Anthony Wright (IR), WR Plaxico Burress, WR David Tyree (IR), DE Osi Umenyiora (IR), ILB Jonathan Goff (IR), S Sammy Knight (IR). Vikings: OUT: DE Kenechi Udeze (IR), DT Pat Williams, DT Kendrick Allen (IR), ILB E.J. Henderson, CB Charles Gordon (IR), S Madieu Williams, S Michael Boulware (IR).

    IDIOTS AT THE MALL (Part 3)

    5. I found three DVDs I wanted to buy (as well as NCAA Football 2008 for $12), so I stood in line. I stood... and stood... and stood... The line wasn't going anywhere, and I already had waited 10 minutes. What was going on?

    I looked in front of me, and there was some old lady signing the electronic thing they give you when you pay by credit card. OK, she was paying. The line was about to move. I was relieved.

    I was so wrong. A minute passed. And then another. And another. And then five more... I looked again, and the old lady was still signing that thing. What the hell was she doing, writing an essay? I seriously wanted to shoot myself.

    6. The old lady finally lurched out of the store. I was thrilled because there was only one more guy ahead of me. Looking up at the man, I noticed something wrong with his head. There was white stuff everywhere. Seriously, there was more dandruff on his head than hair. It was pretty disgusting. I almost pulled a Donovan McNabb and threw up all over him.

    I took this as a bad sign, and I was right. Dandruff Dude began talking with the cashier, and asked about a discount card. The cashier told him he could get 10 percent off used games. This did not please Dandruff Dude, who said he was told he could get a demo and 20 percent off all games.

    These two argued for like 10 minutes. Again, I wanted to shoot myself. I looked at the mustache-clad Spanish kid behind me and said, "I promise, I won't take long." Anyway, Dandruff Dude finally realized that he was wrong about the discount card and stepped aside. He then put his bags down and inspected his card as if there was something wrong with it. It was almost as if he was looking for a switch on the card that would grant him 20 percent off and a demo. Some shampoo would have been nice instead.

    Because of Essay Lady and Dandruff Dude, I had to wait 30 minutes in line. Thirty freaking minutes! I guess the fat lady at the bank was right to scoff at me.

    NEW YORK OFFENSE: While Tony Dungy firmly believes in resting his starters, Tom Coughlin takes the opposite approach. "You have to be playing your best football at this time of year," Coughlin said in a Monday press conference. "Particularly when you’re not going to play for a couple of weeks."

    Sorry, Vikings. Coughlin is going all out. Well, maybe almost all out. Brandon Jacobs will definitely receive some touches, but I have to believe Derrick Ward will get the bulk of the workload. After all, Ward needs 52 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season. If that happens, the Giants will have the fourth running back tandem in NFL history to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau.

    Two weeks ago, a 52-yard performance would have been questionable against the Vikings, who rank second versus the rush. But Pat Williams is out, which makes Minnesota less effective versus opposing ground attacks. Michael Turner gained 70 yards on just 19 carries against them last week.

    With an effective rushing attack by his side, Eli Manning will torch a secondary ranked 21st versus the pass.

    MINNESOTA OFFENSE: What happened to Adrian Peterson last week? Battling the Falcons, who can't stop the run, Peterson managed just 76 yards on 22 carries, and also fumbled twice.

    Is Peterson wearing down like he did last year? If so, that doesn't bode well for the Vikings, as the Giants are eighth versus the rush.

    Without Peterson running at full speed, Tarvaris Jackson will once again be prone to turning the ball over. Sure, he'll move the chains occasionally with his scrambling ability, but in the end, the errors will cost Minnesota a playoff spot.

    RECAP: It looks like the Vikings are just one loss short of completing their annual late-season collapse. They always melt down at the end of the year. Why would it be any different this time around?


    The Psychology. Edge: Giants.
    The Vikings appear to be in their annual late-season swoon. Luckily, they get the Giants who have nothing to play for. But unfortunately, it looks like Tom Coughlin will be playing everyone. Looks like Minnesota is set up for yet another choke job.


    The Vegas. Edge: Vikings.
    Slight money edge on the Giants.
  • Percentage of money on New York: 62% (96,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Giants.
  • Losing Coach: Brad Clueless is 1-3 ATS after losing as a favorite.
  • Giants are 20-6 ATS on the road since 2006.
  • Opening Line: Vikings -6.5.
  • Opening Total: 42.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Giants 27, Vikings 24
    Giants +7 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
    Over 41 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Vikings 20, Giants 19



    Oakland Raiders (4-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)
    Line: Buccaneers by 13. Total: 39.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Buccaneers -13.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Buccaneers -13.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Buccaneers.
    Injuries: Raiders: OUT: FB Justin Griffith (IR), WR Drew Carter (IR), G Paul McQuistan (IR), C Jake Grove, S Tyvon Branch (IR). Buccaneers: OUT: RB Earnest Graham (IR), FB Byron Storer (IR), CB Torrie Cox (IR), CB Sammy Davis (IR).

    All of the talk this offseason regarding the Buccaneers is that they need to re-sign Antonio Bryant. Bryant has been a beast this year, registering 80 catches, 1,171 yards and seven touchdowns. However, I would be against Tampa Bay bringing him back with a long-term deal. Why? Let me copy-paste something I wrote way back in August when I had Bryant as a sleeper receiver in fantasy football:

    Antonio Bryant eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier in 2005. Since then, he got into frequent shouting matches with his coach and quarterback in San Francisco, and was suspended in 2007 for violating the substance abuse policy. Bryant signed a 1-year, $605,000 contract with Tampa Bay, where he will undoubtedly work hard, sign a moderately sized signing bonus next spring and then get into trouble again.

    Well, I've been right so far. Oh, and if you're not convinced yet, here's further proof that Bryant will revert to Sloth Mode once he signs a new, multi-year deal:

    "I'm a real person and that bulls*** Emmitt said on the TV about 'get my life right' ... Trent Dilfer mentioned something about getting my life right outside of football. Last time I checked, man, don't be a hypocrite," Bryant told the media a few weeks ago. "A lot of y'all can't really walk on the same side of the street I can walk on and still go put on a suit. So remember that, before you disrespect me like that on TV."

    Ladies and gentlemen, Tampa Bay's new franchise receiver!

    TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: Speaking of Bryant, don't expect much from him for a change. Nnamdi Asomugha just shut down Andre Johnson, the league's hottest wideout, so Bryant shouldn't be a problem.

    With Bryant neutralized, the Buccaneers will have to lean on their rushing attack. Good thing Oakland's pitiful, billion-dollar defensive line is 24th versus the run.

    Assuming Warrick Dunn and Cadillac Williams find lanes to burst through, Jeff Garcia will be able to move the chains with short throws to his five million tight ends.

    OAKLAND OFFENSE: JaMarcus Russell was terrific last week, abusing Houston's horrid secondary by going 18-of-25, 236 yards and two touchdowns.

    The Buccaneers are 11th against opposing aerial attacks, so they'll force the Raiders into tons of punts, right? Well, not really. Ever since Monte Kiffin announced that he'll be joining his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee, Tampa Bay's stop unit has suffered.

    Three weeks ago, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart totaled 301 rushing yards against the Buccaneers. A week later, Michael Turner trampled them for 152 yards on 32 attempts. And last Sunday, Philip Rivers was unstoppable, registering about 290 yards and four touchdowns.

    While the Raiders don't have the most dynamic scoring attack in the world, I think they'll be able to move the chains efficiently enough to stay close to the spread.

    RECAP: It's ridiculous that the Buccaneers are favored by this much. They've been terrible the past three weeks. And their offense is way too mediocre to lay 13 to begin with.


    The Psychology. Edge: None.
    The Buccaneers need to win. They needed to win last week as well, and we all saw what happened there.


    The Vegas. Edge: Buccaneers.
    What the...? Why is everyone suddenly backing the Raiders?
  • Percentage of money on Oakland: 67% (94,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
  • Early Game Alert: Pacific Teams playing on the Atlantic Coast at 1:00 PM are 29-45 ATS since 2002 (Tom Cable 1-1).
  • Winning Coach: Jon Gruden is 11-4 ATS as a favorite immediately after losing as a favorite.
  • Buccaneers are 10-6 ATS at home since 2007.
  • Opening Line: Buccaneers -13.5.
  • Opening Total: 38.5.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees. Light wind.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 20
    Raiders +13 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Over 39 (.5 Units) -- Correct; +$50
    Raiders 31, Buccaneers 24





    Detroit Lions (0-15) at Green Bay Packers (5-10)
    Line: Packers by 11.5. Total: 42.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Packers -9.5.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Packers -10.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Packers.
    Injuries: Lions: OUT: QB Jon Kitna (IR), WR Shaun McDonald (IR), WR Mike Furrey (IR), DE Jared DeVries (IR), DT Cory Redding (IR), CB Stanley Wilson (IR), CB Keith Smith (IR), S Gerald Alexander (IR), S Dwight Smith (IR). Packers: OUT: OT Mark Tauscher (IR), DT Justin Harrell, ILB Nick Barnett (IR), SS Atari Bigby (IR).

    In my NFL Power Rankings, I discussed that the only way to get the Lions to improve is for their fans to stop showing up to the games. An empty Ford Field would embarrass owner William Darth Clay Sidious Ford enough to sell the team.

    Well, there is another way. And it's fool-proof:

    There was recently a new law passed in Michigan. It is now illegal to act annoying. I'm dead serious. You can't act annoying. People who are annoying by "word, act or sign will be ticketed or fined if a police officer catches them in the act."

    Citizens of Detroit, I urge you to band together and all simultaneously complain that the Lions are annoying. Hey, you're not lying to the cops - you're just telling the truth. This could easily drive the Ford family out of ownership.

    DETROIT OFFENSE: I love listening to Bill Simmons' BS Report, but I didn't understand why he and Cousin Sal were convinced that the Packers would completely debacle the Lions in this game. I think it was Simmons who said, "The Packers should win by 30." Why? Based on what? Green Bay stinks because its defense is terrible. The Packers lost to a choking Bears team with no offense; fell to a hapless Jaguars squad; suffered a home loss to the mediocre Texans; and was blown out at New Orleans - the same team that just debacled Detroit. And yes, I just used two forms of "debacle" as a verb in the same paragraph. I've clearly mastered the Emmitt language.

    The Packers can't stop the run or the pass, and they have major problems getting to the quarterback. Kevin Smith is going to have a big game. So is Calvin Johnson. Dan Orlovsky generally stinks, but he kept things close at Indianapolis two weeks ago by going 23-of-34, 233 yards and a touchdown. Green Bay is even less formidable versus aerial attacks (12th) than the Colts are (8th).

    GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Aaron Rodgers has been on fire lately, and unless he's unfocused or feels sorry for the 0-15 Lions, he'll light up the scoreboard. Drew Brees torched Detroit's horrendous secondary last week, finishing 30-of-40 for 351 yards and two scores. Brees helped the Saints convert 11-of-12 third downs. The only misstep in that department came when Brees was kneeling down at the end of the game.

    While Rodgers dissects the Lions secondary, Ryan Grant will eat up tons of yardage on the ground. Detroit is 31st versus the rush, and had major problems containing Pierre Thomas and Deuce McAllister last week. It could be a miracle if Detroit forces Green Bay to punt.

    RECAP: As the Lions were getting blown out by the Saints, I received an e-mail from a guy who asked me if I was on crack when I picked the Lions to win straight up. I'm not sure about the crack part, but I'll definitely defend the Detroit pick. The Lions came within 10 points of Indianapolis and four points of Minnesota. I thought they could definitely cover against the Saints.

    Well, this is their last chance. Crack or not, I think the Lions are going to win. They're desperate. This is their Super Bowl. The Packers, who aren't that good in the first place, just played a tough overtime game against the Bears and lost. Now, they have one less day to prepare for a team they're not going to be motivated to play. That can't be good.


    The Psychology. Edge: Lions.
    This is do or die for the Lions. If they don't win this game, they'll forever be remembered as the worst team of all time. It's hard to imagine any team playing harder than them this Sunday. The Packers just lost in a tough game against their arch rivals.


    The Vegas. Edge: Lions.
    What!? No one's betting on the Lions!?
  • Percentage of money on Green Bay: 63% (94,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Lions.
  • History: Packers have won 14 of the last 16 meetings.
  • Live Dog: Rod Marinelli is 3-1 ATS as a divisional dog of 7+.
  • Lions are 5-2 ATS on the road this year.
  • Lions are 9-1 ATS as a double-digit underdog under Rod Marinelli.
  • Lions are 2-9 ATS against losing teams the previous 11 instances.
  • Packers are 12-9 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Packers -9.5.
  • Opening Total: 43.
  • Weather: Light wintry mix, 31 degrees. Mild wind, 15 mph.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Lions 20, Packers 17
    Lions +11.5 (5 Units) -- Correct; +$500
    Under 42.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Packers 31, Lions 21



    Carolina Panthers (11-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-7)
    Line: Panthers by 1.5. Total: 51.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Saints -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Saints -2.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Saints.
    Injuries: Panthers: OUT: LB Dan Connor (IR). Saints: OUT: RB Reggie Bush (IR), RB Aaron Stecker (IR), TE Jeremy Shockey, TE Mark Campbell (IR), DE Charles Grant (IR), DT DeMario Pressley (IR), ILB Mark Simoneau (IR), CB Mike McKenzie (IR), CB Tracy Porter (IR), CB Aaron Glenn (IR), S Kevin Kaesviharn (IR), K Martin Gramatica (IR), KR Courtney Roby (IR).

    College Football Notes:

    1. I know I promised not to watch any of these crappy, meaningless winter practice games, but I accidentally caught 10 seconds of one because the TV at my gym had one of the games on. I managed to see Wake Forest give its coach a Gatorade bath after beating Navy. Wow. Great job, Wake Forest. You managed to beat Navy. Freaking Navy - in a meaningless winter practice game! You should be proud of yourselves!

    2. Bravo to the people of Idaho for boycotting the local winter practice game up there. Much more honorable than anything the Demon Deacon players accomplished this season. Note that I didn't mention the sponsor of that crappy winter practice game in Idaho, which ties into Note No. 3:

    3. Here's a great article by someone who tells us how we can produce a playoff system in college football.

    NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: I really lost some respect for Sean Payton last weekend. I still think he's a very good coach, but continuing to throw the ball in a blowout against an 0-14 team? Challenging calls against a winless squad when you're up by 21? I don't care about Drew Brees' record. What Payton did in the Lions game was a disgrace. And besides, it should be noted that when Dan Marino set the seasonal passing record that Brees is currently chasing, Miami went 14-2. The best the Saints can go is 9-7.

    Carolina is seventh versus the pass, but I don't see Brees having much of a problem. He's just so dynamic at home. As I pointed out last week, "He has 12 interceptions to just [11] scores. That's a stark contrast compared to his home figures (19 TDs, 4 INTs)."

    Meanwhile, the Panthers have shown recently that they can be beaten on the ground. Once in the top 10, Carolina now ranks 26th versus the rush. Pierre Thomas and Deuce McAllister will run the ball well on the rare occasions that Payton gives them carries. I suspect that Payton will throw early and often in an attempt to get Brees the 402 yards he needs to beat Marino.

    CAROLINA OFFENSE: I think you'd be surprised if I told you this, but the Saints are actually 13th versus the rush and 17th against the pass. That's actually not that bad.

    That said, it's going to be tough to contain Smash and Dash. DeAngelo Williams has somehow emerged as the league's second-best running back, and even the Giants' eighth-ranked rush defense couldn't put the clamps on him.

    Jake Delhomme could be the one to struggle. Delhomme is 0-4 against winning teams on the road this year. In two of those contests, he failed to top 200 yards, and in total, he has just one touchdown and three picks in the four games.

    RECAP: This is a very tough spot for the Panthers, and not just because NFC South hosts are 11-0 straight up in divisional matchups this year. They're coming off an extremely physical and very emotional overtime game against the Giants last week. It looks like they put so much stock into that contest, I really don't know if they have anything left over for a team they already beat by double digits.


    The Psychology. Edge: Saints.
    The Panthers just basically played an all-or-nothing emotional game at the Meadowlands. They lost in overtime, and now have to come back and beat a team that they already beat by double digits? This is the perfect example of a Let-Down Alert.


    The Vegas. Edge: Saints.
    Slight lean toward Carolina, but nothing significant.
  • Percentage of money on Carolina: 62% (115,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
  • History: Road team has won 8 of the last 10 meetings.
  • Road Warrior: Coaches are 131-85 ATS on the road immediately following a road loss since 1996 (John Fox only 4-5).
  • Panthers are 0-4 ATS on the road vs. teams with winning records.
  • Jake Delhomme is 28-15 ATS on the road.
  • Saints are 23-37 ATS at home since 2001 (5-1 in 2008).
  • Saints are 8-18 ATS in December home games since 2000.
  • Opening Line: Panthers -3.
  • Opening Total: 53.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Saints 48, Panthers 27
    Saints +1.5 (5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$550
    Over 51.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Panthers 33, Saints 31





    St. Louis Rams (2-13) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
    Line: Falcons by 14. Total: 44.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Falcons -17.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Falcons -16.5.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: Falcons.
    Injuries: Rams: OUT: FB Brian Leonard (IR), WR Drew Bennett (IR), TE Randy McMichael (IR), OT Orlando Pace*, OT Brandon Gorin (IR), G Mark Setterstrom (IR), CB Tye Hill (IR), CB Justin King (IR), CB Ricky Manning Jr., KR Dante Hall (IR). Falcons: OUT: WR Laurent Robinson (IR), CB Von Hutchins (IR), CB David Irons (IR).

    Congratulations to Rice Riders, who won the WalterFootball.com $350 Survivor Pool! Look for another contest coming as the 2009 NFL Draft approaches!

    If you need another excuse to hit up the forums, check out the Heroes Discussion Thread. No new episodes of Heroes to talk about, but you can still check out very hot pictures of Claire. Very nice.

    ATLANTA OFFENSE: I brought up the survivor pool because anyone who is still in it and has the Falcons left must pick them this week. I have a really tough time seeing Atlanta lose this game straight-up.

    The Rams are 29th against the run. This just in - that's not good, especially when the opposing team has Michael Turner. Turner will easily trample St. Louis' pathetic front, setting up play-action opportunities for Matt Ryan, who has suddenly emerged as an MVP candidate behind Peyton Manning. Merril Hoge actually made a compelling case for Ryan as the league's MVP this week.

    But wait - it gets worse. The Rams are 31st versus the pass. A blind-folded Ryan could probably throw for 300 yards in this contest. Roddy White will be open all day.

    ST. LOUIS OFFENSE: All that said, there's a chance the Rams could keep this close because of Steven Jackson. The Falcons aren't good versus the rush themselves, ranking 28th against it.

    Unfortunately for Jackson, he doesn't have a dynamic quarterback who can keep defenses honest. Marc Bulger has dramatically regressed and is now playing like a coke addict. Torry Holt, meanwhile, looks like he's tired from moving boxes out of his house in anticipation of moving to another city. And then there's the offensive line... I'll be nice and refrain from embarrassing them this week.

    RECAP: You may laugh as I say this, but the Rams have played well lately. They haven't won in a while, but three of their previous four games have been decided by four points or less. Coincidentally, the beginning of this four-game stretch marked the return of Jackson.

    The Rams are just so much more competitive with the former Pro Bowler in the lineup. While I don't think the Falcons will lose, I also don't think St. Louis will get "blowed out."


    The Psychology. Edge: Falcons.
    The Falcons are playing for the No. 2 seed. If they win and the Panthers lose at New Orleans, they'll have a first-round bye.


    The Vegas. Edge: Rams.
    It doesn't matter how high this spread is. The public loves the Falcons. So, why has the line dropped from -15 to -14?
  • Percentage of money on Atlanta: 73% (87,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
  • Rams are 18-36 ATS in road games since 2001.
  • Matt Ryan is 5-1 ATS at home.
  • Opening Line: Falcons -15.
  • Opening Total: 44.
  • Weather: Dome.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Falcons 23, Rams 17
    Rams +14 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Under 44.5 (.5 Units) -- Incorrect; -$55
    Survivor Pick (13-3)
    Falcons 31, Rams 27



    Chicago Bears (9-6) at Houston Texans (7-8)
    Line: Texans by 3. Total: 46.5.

    Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 16): Texans -3.
    Walt's Projected Line (After Week 16): Bears -3.
    Sunday, 1:00 ET - Buy Tickets

    The Game. Edge: None.
    Injuries: Bears: OUT: OT Fred Miller (IR), DT Dusty Dvoracek (IR), CB Nathan Vasher (IR), CB Zackary Bowman (IR), S Brandon McGowan (IR). Texans: OUT: RB Ahman Green (IR), RB Chris Brown (IR), RB Chris Taylor (IR), G Fred Weary (IR), OLB Zach Diles (IR), CB Jimmy Williams (IR), S C.C. Brown, KR Andre Davis.

    Bill Simmons inspired this feature. A few years ago, Simmons speculated on what Jim Haslett, a lame-duck coach with the Saints, could do to get fired. Rod Marinelli seems to be in the same position. I'm convinced Marinelli could do whatever he wants and he still wouldn't get axed.

    In fact, let's put it to the test. Here are some things Marinelli could do and the odds that he would keep his job.

    100,000% Job Security - Go 0-16.

    100% Job Security - Ask William Clay Ford's daughter to marry his current defensive coordinator.

    100% Job Security - Ask the reporter who badgered him about his daughter, "Why did your ugly parents mate and produce such an ugly child?"

    100% Job Security - Take a crap on Wiliam Clay Ford's desk right next to the Lions team picture and roster, ensuring that Ford has the most crap-filled desk in the history of the universe.

    CHICAGO OFFENSE: ...

    CHICAGO DEFENSE: Yeah, that's all I have to say about Chicago's offense.

    CHICAGO OFFENSE: Just kidding. Actually, it's not fair to joke about that because Matt Forte is the man. When he left the game the past two weeks, Chicago hasn't been able to do anything. Forte is the entire offense.

    Forte should be able to get going both on the ground and through the air, as Houston is ranked 23rd versus the rush. Just last week, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden totaled 139 yards on 34 carries against them.

    Once Forte gets going, that should be enough to keep Kyle Orton from screwing up too much. It's not like the Texans have a great pass rush or a solid secondary; Houston is 29th against the pass because it cannot get to the quarterback.

    HOUSTON OFFENSE: What happened to Houston's offense last week? Sixteen points against the Raiders? What the heck?

    I'll get to what I think happened in the recap. For now, I think we can assume that Steve Slaton will surpass Forte's yardage total. Sure, the Bears are tied for sixth versus the rush, but Slaton tallied at least 100 rushing yards twice against the Titans, the team Chicago is tied with in the run-stopping territory.

    The Bears have a solid defense, but their problem is being able to get to the quarterback. In fact, they couldn't manage a single sack on Aaron Rodgers last week, which is why Rodgers was able to go 24-of-39 for 260 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

    Expect similar numbers from Matt Schaub. With a clean pocket, Schaub will have all day to locate his myriad of weapons.

    RECAP: At the time, I was shocked Oakland debacled Houston. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The Texans were coming off a big win against the Titans. In fact, one could argue that it was one of the greatest victories in franchise history. A week later, they had to go on the road as a huge favorite. That wasn't happening.

    As we've seen this year, these things tend to linger. The Jets collapsed after beating the Titans. The Broncos ship capsized after beating the Jets. And the Redskins epically failed against the Rams at home after knocking off the Cowboys and Eagles.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the Texans don't have much energy left for a desperate Chicago squad that got the job done last week.


    The Psychology. Edge: Bears.
    The Bears are playing for their postseason lives. However, that doesn't mean much because they were doing so on Monday night as well. They didn't cover against the Packers. Meanwhile, the Texans could still be hung over from their win against the Titans.


    The Vegas. Edge: Bears.
    With the line movement (Texans -1 to Texans -3) action has equalized... until Sunday morning.
  • Percentage of money on Houston: 67% (91,000 bets)


    The Trends. Edge: Bears.
  • Losing Coach: Gary Kubiak is 0-4 ATS after losing as a favorite.
  • Bears are 7-24 ATS in December road games the previous 31 instances.
  • Opening Line: Texans -1.
  • Opening Total: 47.
  • Weather: Partly cloudy, 60 degrees. Light wind.


    Week 17 NFL Pick: Bears 27, Texans 23
    Bears +3 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
    Over 46.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
    Texans 31, Bears 24



    Week 17 NFL Picks - Late Games
    Jaguars at Ravens, Cowboys at Eagles, Redskins at 49ers, Seahawks at Cardinals, Dolphins at Jets, Broncos at Chargers





    Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks
    A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week
    (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.


  • Prop/teaser/parlay picks posted in Week 17 NFL Picks - Late Games



    2009 NFL Mock Draft


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    My Team-by-Team ATS Record
    This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.

    Cowboys: 9-7
    Bears: 7-7
    Bucs: 8-8
    49ers: 8-9
    Eagles: 7-10
    Lions: 11-5
    Falcons: 5-10
    Cardinals: 10-5
    Giants: 7-9
    Packers: 8-8
    Panthers: 8-9
    Rams: 7-9
    Redskins: 9-7
    Vikings: 7-9
    Saints: 13-4
    Seahawks: 9-10
    Bills: 12-4
    Bengals: 8-8
    Colts: 11-6
    Broncos: 8-11
    Dolphins: 11-5
    Browns: 3-13
    Jaguars: 7-8
    Chargers: 11-6
    Jets: 8-8
    Ravens: 9-6
    Texans: 10-5
    Chiefs: 6-11
    Patriots: 10-8
    Steelers: 6-10
    Titans: 5-7
    Raiders: 9-7
    Divisional: 51-44 (2011-12: 90-93)
    2x Game Edge: 14-22 (2011-12: 41-40)
    2x Psych Edge: 35-26 (2011-12: 57-54)
    2x Vegas Edge: 40-38 (2011-12: 89-104)
    2x Trend Edge: 24-23 (2011-12: 48-55)
    Double Edge: 9-10 (2011-12: 17-23)
    Triple Edge: 1-0 (2011-12: 1-1)
    Quad Edge: 0-0 (2011: 0-0)

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