Fairway’s Football Forecast – Week 17 NFL Picks and Predictions

Identifying Underdogs and Continuing to Profit – NFL Week 17 Picks

We continue with our NFL picks and predictions with our point spread prognosis selecting underdogs. A 3-0 sweep in Week 16 with another outright underdog winner on the Raiders Monday night made parlay players more profit and runs the record to 34-19 ATS on these weekly pages with 26 outright underdog winners. That includes 5-0 ATS the past two weeks and 20-7 ATS the past eight weeks with 15 outright underdog winners providing more profit. The power of playing a portion of your wager on the money line should be evident through this weekly exercise and point spread prognosis – underdog style.

The final week of the regular season is a tricky one with some teams already having clinched their playoff spot and position, and less motivation for many teams both in and out of the playoff picture. In evaluating this year’s Week 17 card and underdogs along with the betting lines at the leading online sportsbooks, there is not much interest from this prognosticators point of view. There are 10 teams this week playing with either a backup or rookie quarterback, or a quarterback returning from a long layoff. Nine of those teams are underdogs.

After a strong 3-4 week run by home underdogs, Week 16 was flipped towards road favorites, which went 5-2 SU/ATS. In a week where favorites went 12-4 SU, we avoided the hazards and hit the right shots to the green, especially Monday night in the Raiders emotional farewell in Oakland. The Raiders 27-14 win over the Broncos ensured Denver of consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1972. The Broncos will finish under their season win total again, and a new head coach will be hired in Denver with the search starting next week.

Lets’ go inside the numbers and recognize also that the point spread comes into play less than 15% of the time in competitively lined games (6 or less), so pick the SU winner and you likely have the ATS winner as well.

Fairway’s Football Forecast provides the weekly NFL picks and projections looking for value with insight and analysis you can bet on. If only we knew when the bad calls, missed calls, fumbles and game changing plays or untimely and unwarranted penalties were going to occur.

Continue to improve your skills in evaluating and anticipating betting lines and market moves. A fundamental approach evaluating the match-ups, statistical and ATS profiles, situational and scheduling analysis along with injuries, motivation, coaching and common sense is the Fairway Fundamentals and Facts approach as we conclude another winning and profitable NFL season. I look forward to more stories and continued success with good fortune into the New Year as we shoot for more birdies and green in our pursuit of profit.

You can bet on it.

315 Cleveland (+6) at Baltimore – Browns Money Line +210

Cleveland at Baltimore – I’ve been bashing the Browns the past two years until hopeless Hue Jackson was fired as head coach in Cleveland the end of October. That ended the clueless coaches run in Cleveland with a record of 3-36 plus that pathetic push opening week against Pittsburgh in a 21-21 tie. That was a Week 1 winner for us and the start of our support of Cleveland this season, which included a season win total bet OVER 5.5 wins. The Browns (7-7-1) can secure a winning season with a win at Baltimore, and while the odds are against a victory, a competitive contest and good effort is expected from Cleveland. There are 12 underdogs of at least 6 points on the Week 17 NFL card, and the Browns are the best of the bunch outside of the Cowboys, who have nothing to play for having locked up the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs and will likely rest some starters part of the game at New York. Those situations are part of the puzzles to be solved in Week 17 point spread prognosis, as are teams playing with playoff need like the Ravens this week, who must win to make the playoffs as the AFC North champs (assuming a Steelers win as 14-point favorites).

Since Gregg Williams took over as head coach in Cleveland, he’s continued as defensive coordinator. The Browns have won five of their last six games and held five opponents to 20 points or less. Yes, all five wins were against losing teams, and the 29-13 loss at Houston was concerning in that the Browns were dominated at the point of attack and out-rushed 187-31. That’s a major concern against the Ravens, who are No. 2 in the league in rushing and No. 1 since QB Lamar Jackson took over as starting quarterback and led the Ravens on a 5-1 SU run to the top of the AFC North. That includes last week’s most impressive win to date at Los Angeles while out-rushing the Chargers 159-51 and out-gaining LA 361-198 in a 22-10 victory as 4-point underdog. That was the Ravens lowest rushing output since Jackson became the starting quarterback, as the Ravens have rushed for at least 200 yards in four of his six games at quarterback. If you follow my weekly inside then numbers article and stats insight, you know the importance of rushing the football and the correlation to SU and ATS success. The Ravens seemingly have the advantage at the point of attack in this match-up with the stronger running game and defense with Baltimore allowing an AFC-low 85 rushing yards per game at 3.8 yards per rush.

The Ravens (9-6) are not only playing with division title and playoff need on the line, but also with redemption for a 12-9 overtime loss at Cleveland in October. In that contest, the rushing yards and total yards were nearly identical with each team going just over 400 total yards. While the Ravens recent improved play and ground assault with Jackson at quarterback has taken them to the top of the AFC North, the Browns offense has ignited. The rookie backfield with QB Baker Mayfield and RB Nick Chubb have set the tone for the Browns future. Mayfield is throwing for 8.1 yards per pass under Kitchens direction and play-calling the past seven games, which would lead the league if continued over a full season. Nick Chubb has chugged along with three 100+ rushing games since Kitchens took over the offense and he has 972 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns this season and is one of the toughest running backs to tackle after contact.

In last year’s season finale, the Ravens needed a home win to make the playoffs but lost on a miraculous play by the Bengals in the final minute 31-27 as an 8-point favorite. I believe in head coach John Harbaugh as one of the best in the NFL, but I don’t yet trust their rookie QB Jackson to make the pivotal plays and proper reads as the pressure mounts at playoff time. As Jackson gets accolades, I note that he’s still a raw rookie that has thrown 3 interceptions and lost 3 fumbles. He’s far behind Mayfield as a passer, and while he’s a big threat running the ball, there will still be uneven games and performances by Jackson. With need teams tend to bleed, as the Ravens did in Week 17 last season. Despite the point of attack play advantage with the Ravens running game and top-tier defense, we’ll back the Browns to make the Ravens push to the playoffs a tough one in Week 17.

Enjoy the Week 17 NFL games and thanks for reading each week. Hope you profited from the experience in following Fairway’s Football Forecast and NFL picks and predictions.

Article posted at osga.com.

Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay