What to know for NFL Week 17: Score picks, bold predictions, playoff implications, key stats and more
The Week 17 NFL schedule for the 2021 season is stacked with great matchups and we have you covered with what you need to know heading into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know, playoff picture and/or draft position implications and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN researcher Kyle Soppe hands out helpful fantasy football intel, as well. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 17 slate, including Patrick Mahomes vs. Joe Burrow in an AFC powerhouse showdown, Ryan Tannehill against his old Miami team, Arizona and Dallas dueling for playoff positioning, the Ravens trying to stay in the playoff picture against Matthew Stafford’s Rams and potentially Ben Roethlisberger’s last game at Heinz Field. It all culminates with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Browns and the Steelers on ESPN. (Game times are Sunday unless otherwise noted.)
Chiefs (11-4) at Bengals (9-6)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 77.4 | Spread: KC -5.5 (51)
What to watch for: The winner of this game will be the team that can control it with its offense. Kansas City leads the NFL in points per drive and has been able to sustain possessions better than anyone else in the league. And while the Bengals can be dynamic through the air, they might use Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon to exploit a Kansas City defense that ranks 31st in run stop win rate and allows 4.7 yards per rush attempt, which is third-worst in the NFL. — Ben Baby
Bold prediction: The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow will each throw for more than 300 yards. They are fifth and sixth, respectively, in passing yards, both with more than 4,000. Each has five 300-yard passing performances this season, with Burrow coming off a 525-yard game last week. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: Mixon has 16 touchdowns this season and is one shy of matching Carl Pickens (1995) for the most in a season in Bengals history.
Playoff and draft implications: The Chiefs have a berth and the AFC West locked up, but they can now clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC this week with a win and a Titans loss. The Bengals, meanwhile, can clinch the AFC North with either a win or a Ravens loss and a Steelers tie. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Chiefs | Bengals
What to know for fantasy: In each of the past five weeks, a Bengals receiver has finished inside the top 10 at the position. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Burrow is 8-2 against the spread (ATS) in his career as an underdog of at least three points, including 3-0 ATS at home. Read more.
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 31, Bengals 23
Baby’s pick: Chiefs 37, Bengals 21
FPI prediction: KC, 61.1% (by an average of 3.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Edwards-Helaire week-to-week with bruised shoulder … Burrow buys custom watches for offensive line
Rams (11-4) at Ravens (8-7)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 73.3 | Spread: LAR -4 (47)
What to watch for: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has carved up man-to-man defenses this season, throwing 22 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Ravens usually excel in this coverage but have struggled this season because they are without their top two cornerbacks — Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are out with season-ending injuries — and could be without their third-best one (Anthony Averett is questionable with a rib injury). Baltimore has allowed an NFL-high 23 touchdown passes in man coverage this year, with only three picks. — Jamison Hensley
Bold prediction: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald will produce his third multi-sack game of the season — regardless of whether it’s Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley at quarterback for Baltimore. He remembers the embarrassment the Rams suffered in front of a prime time audience in 2019, when the Ravens defeated them in L.A. 45-6, and admits he’s out for revenge. Donald earned NFC Defensive Player of the Month in December, when he produced six sacks and two forced fumbles. Watch for him to continue his late-season tear against the Ravens. — Lindsey Thiry
Stat to know: Los Angeles receiver Cooper Kupp has a chance to become the fourth player since 1970 to lead the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in a single season. He would join Steve Smith in 2005, Sterling Sharpe in 1992 and Jerry Rice in 1990. Kupp has 132 catches, 1,734 yards and 14 TDs.
Playoff and draft implications: The Rams have a playoff spot clinched and they can now secure the NFC West with a win and a Cardinals loss. Their odds to finish as the division champions would climb from 73% to 90% with a win, per ESPN’s FPI, or fall to 54% with a loss. The Ravens, meanwhile, have a 31% chance of making the playoffs, which would improve to 59% with a win on Sunday and fall to 8% with a loss. They can also be eliminated if they lose and the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins all win, or if they lose, the Raiders and Chargers lose, the Dolphins and Bills win and various strength-of-victory scenarios play out. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Rams | Ravens
What to know for fantasy: Rams running back Sony Michel leads the NFL in touches over the past month. Darrell Henderson Jr. is now on IR. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: The over is 6-1 in Baltimore games this season when the Ravens play a team with a winning record and it is 5-1 when the Ravens are coming off a loss. Read more.
Thiry’s pick: Rams 28, Ravens 18
Hensley’s pick: Rams 31, Ravens 21
FPI prediction: LAR, 58.3% (by an average of 2.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Rams’ Henderson off to IR; Akers may play Sun. … Ravens QB Jackson doesn’t practice day after limping badly in return … McVay’s Rams secure postseason berth yet again
Falcons (7-8) at Bills (9-6)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 52.7 | Spread: BUF -14.5 (44)
What to watch for: Can the Bills defense force Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to make mistakes? All six of the Bills’ losses have come when opponents turn the ball over one or zero times, and the Buffalo defense is third in the NFL with 19 interceptions this season. Ryan, on the other hand, has zero interceptions in his past four games, and doing so again Sunday would tie the longest streak within a season of his career. The Falcons’ best shot against the Bills at home is to not give Buffalo QB Josh Allen and the offense favorable field positions by turning the ball over. — Alaina Getzenberg
Bold prediction: The Falcons, as they have done for most of the season, will remain competitive in the first half against a playoff-bound team and will hold a lead at halftime. But Allen will be too difficult to contain for the entire game and he will throw for 335 yards and three touchdowns for the Bills to pull away in the second half. — Michael Rothstein
Stat to know: Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is averaging 1.7 yards per touch over his past two games. He led all running backs with 6.3 yards per touch through Week 14 (min. 100 touches).
Playoff and draft implications: The Bills can clinch a playoff berth with a win and either a Ravens loss or losses by the Raiders and Chargers. And even if Buffalo loses, its chance to make the playoffs would still be 96%, per ESPN’s FPI. The Falcons’ playoff hopes sit at 1% and they can be eliminated with a loss or wins by both the Eagles and 49ers. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Falcons | Bills
What to know for fantasy: Don’t look now, but Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts has finished as a top-10 tight end in three straight weeks. He was TE4 last week, his third top-five finish at the position this season. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Buffalo has topped the over total in three straight games. Atlanta has finished the under total in six of its past seven games. Read more.
Rothstein’s pick: Bills 31, Falcons 17
Getzenberg’s pick: Bills 33, Falcons 20
FPI prediction: BUF, 87.5% (by an average of 15.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Inside the record-chasing year of Falcons rookie Pitts … McKenzie steps up with career-best game … Falcons’ success in one-possession games could be an identity for the future … Bills WR Beasley cleared under new protocols
Raiders (8-7) at Colts (9-6)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 47.7 | Spread: IND -6.5 (44.5)
What to watch for: Can the Raiders’ run defense contain Colts running back Jonathan Taylor? The Raiders have not given up more than 89 yards on the ground in the past two games, including holding Denver to just 18 yards rushing in Week 16. Las Vegas also hasn’t allowed a team to rush for 200 yards in a game this season. But the Raiders will have their hands full against the NFL’s No. 2 rushing offense. The Colts have the NFL’s leading rusher in Taylor (1,626), and they’ve topped 226 yards rushing as a team in four of their past seven games. The Colts are 9-0 this season when Taylor has rushed for at least 100 yards in a game. — Mike Wells
Bold prediction: Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will have more yards from scrimmage than Taylor. Hey, you wanted bold, right? While Jacobs seemed to finally find a groove in rushing for a career high-tying 129 yards against Denver last week, with the reimagined O-line finally finding its identity, the Raiders’ defense swallowed up the Broncos’ rushing attack. And with a rookie in Sam Ehlinger potentially starting at QB for Indianapolis, that might make the Colts too one-dimensional. Again, you said bold. — Paul Gutierrez
Stat to know: Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr has one or zero passing touchdowns in six straight games, the longest streak of his career.
Playoff and draft implications: The Colts can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. The Raiders, meanwhile, are fighting to stay alive. They enter with an 18% chance of reaching playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI, and those chances will either rise to 48% with a win or fall to 8% with a loss. They would be eliminated with a loss and one of five different combinations of wins from the Ravens, Chargers, Bills, Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Raiders | Colts
What to know for fantasy: The floor can be low, but the reward is also impactful when evaluating Michael Pittman Jr. In his past five games, he has as many finishes inside the top 20 at the position as he does weeks outside the top 60 (two). See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: All four meetings between these two teams since 2016 have gone over the total. Read more.
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 17, Colts 16
Wells’ pick: Colts 24, Raiders 13
FPI prediction: IND, 70.1% (by an average of 7.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Raiders win and they’re in? That might be the most amazing concept of chaotic Las Vegas season … Wentz delivers in fourth quarter to move short-handed Colts closer to playoffs … Colts to start QB Ehlinger if Wentz ruled out; team called Rivers
Dolphins (8-7) at Titans (10-5)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 50.1 | Spread: TEN -3.5 (39.5)
What to watch for: The Titans offense finally showed some energy, thanks to the return of receiver A.J. Brown last week, especially in third-and-long situations. But quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times, pushing his total to 45 sacks on the season. Miami leads the NFL with 45 sacks. The Titans have to avoid third-and-long situations against the Dolphins, who have an attacking front that is backed up by a variety of blitzes. — Turron Davenport
Bold prediction: The Dolphins haven’t cracked 200 passing yards in either of their past two games, but they will on Sunday. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will break his slump for a 300-plus-yard, two-touchdown performance in a game Miami needs to win. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Stat to know: Tannehill has struggled under pressure this season, ranking 23rd in Total QBR (10.9), 31st in touchdown-to-interception ratio and last in yards per dropback (1.2) when facing it. The Dolphins’ defense leads the NFL in pressure rate (37%).
Playoff and draft implications: The Titans are set up to clinch the AFC South with a win or a Colts loss. Even if neither plays out, they can still clinch the playoffs on Sunday with losses from the Chargers and Ravens, Chargers and Patriots or Ravens and Patriots. The Dolphins — who have gone from 1-7 to 8-7 and currently in the No. 7 seed — have a 21% chance to make the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI. With a win, that chance would increase to 46%. With a loss, it would decrease to 7%. There are also four different elimination scenarios for Miami this weekend, all involving a loss and three wins from various contenders. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Dolphins | Titans
What to know for fantasy: Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle’s target count has increased in each of the past four weeks, and he has surpassed 18 fantasy points in each of those games. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Miami is 19-8-1 ATS in its past 28 games as an underdog. Read more.
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Dolphins 20, Titans 13
Davenport’s pick: Titans 23, Dolphins 21
FPI prediction: TEN, 62.4% (by an average of 4.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Dolphins counting on dominant defense to carry them to postseason … Titans’ Tannehill could win AFC South, knock Dolphins out of playoffs
Buccaneers (11-4) at Jets (4-11)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 48.2 | Spread: TB -13 (45.5)
What to watch for: It’s a battle of the young (the Jets’ Zach Wilson) and the ageless (the Bucs’ Tom Brady) at quarterback. The age difference — both born on Aug. 3, 22 years apart — is the largest for opposing starting quarterbacks since 1950. Wilson has improved his decision-making, having gone three straight games without an interception. But he faces a defense that is fourth in takeaways (16) and likes to bring pressure. — Rich Cimini
Bold prediction: The Bucs defense — even without a high number of its stars due to injuries and COVID-19 — will pick off Wilson three times, bringing his total to 14 for the season. And the Bucs will score four touchdowns against a defense that has surrendered 29.9 points per game on the season. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Brady can join Drew Brees (2011-12) as the only players with 40-plus touchdown passes in back-to-back seasons in NFL history.
Playoff and draft implications: The Buccaneers are in the playoffs and have clinched the NFC South. And the Jets are eliminated, battling for draft position. They are currently projected to pick at Nos. 4 and 8. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Buccaneers | Jets
What to know for fantasy: Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has been a top-12 receiver in each of his past three games played and with a massive role there to be had, he’s essentially a lineup lock in this spot. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Rookie quarterbacks are 19-33 ATS against non-rookie quarterbacks this season. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Jets 14
Cimini’s pick: Buccaneers 38, Jets 20
FPI prediction: TB, 88.4% (by an average of 15.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Buccaneers QB Brady says NFL warned him he’ll be fined if he tosses Surface again … Saleh rejoins Jets with ‘first day of school’ vibes … Buccaneers’ Arians in isolation after positive COVID test … After 33 transactions and a win, Jets can enjoy one of their most rewarding weeks
Jaguars (2-13) at Patriots (9-6)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 47.5 | Spread: NE -16.5 (42)
What to watch for: How fast will the Patriots start? Poor first quarters have been a focus of the two-game losing streak, and with a two-win Jaguars team ripe for the picking, the Patriots want to show they can pounce early. The Patriots have been outscored 21-0 in the first quarter of their past two games. — Mike Reiss
Bold prediction: The Patriots will sack Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence eight times. Even if pass-rusher Matthew Judon (12.5 sacks) doesn’t get off the reserve/COVID-19 list in time to play, it’ll be a rough day for Lawrence. The Jaguars’ offensive line is decimated by COVID-19, with right tackle Jawaan Taylor the only starter (as of Thursday) who is not on the reserve list. While there’s a chance that left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder and right guard Ben Bartch could be back, they will have missed the whole week of practice. — Mike DiRocco
Stat to know: New England quarterback Mac Jones has 18 passing touchdowns this season. He needs one more to tie Jim Plunkett for the most by a Patriots rookie.
Playoff and draft implications: The Jaguars are the favorite to land the No. 1 pick in the draft. Their 80% chance to do so — per ESPN’s FPI — would improve to 87% with another loss or fall to 33% with an upset win. The Patriots are fighting for playoff positioning, entering the week with a 95% chance of reaching the postseason. That could fall to 69% with a loss. But a win would put them in the playoffs, as long as either the Raiders or Dolphins also lose on Sunday. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Jaguars | Patriots
What to know for fantasy: Patriots running back Damien Harris has run for 214 yards and four scores on just 28 carries in his past two games (both against the Bills). See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Jacksonville is 7-3 ATS all time as at least a 14-point underdog. And while it is a league-worst 4-11 ATS this season, the only time it was at least a 15-point underdog, it won outright. Read more.
DiRocco’s pick: Patriots 35, Jaguars 7
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 30, Jaguars 10
FPI prediction: NE, 87.9% (by an average of 15.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Offense, defense aren’t Jaguars’ only issues — special teams needs upgrade too … Patriots defense looks for answers after sudden decline … Jones hits rough stretch with Patriots battling for playoff position
Eagles (8-7) at Washington (6-9)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 39.9 | Spread: PHI -3 (45)
What to watch for: The Eagles’ run game dominated Washington in their Dec. 21 matchup in Philadelphia. The Eagles rushed for 238 yards against a front that had many players returning from COVID-19 and a secondary missing important players. However, Philadelphia also caused the defense to repeatedly hesitate against the run. Will that be the case again? One big key for Washington will be having safety Kam Curl in this game. With its top coverman vs. tight ends missing, Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert caught seven passes for 135 yards in the last meeting. — John Keim
Bold prediction: Rookie Eagles running back Kenny Gainwell will have 100-plus all-purpose yards for the first time in his career. With Miles Sanders sidelined with a broken hand and Jordan Howard coming off a stinger suffered against the Giants (the Eagles are hopeful he’ll play), the window of opportunity is open for Gainwell and Boston Scott. Gainwell was not a factor on offense in the first game against Washington but will serve as a nice changeup for coach Nick Sirianni in the rematch, particularly as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. — Tim McManus
Stat to know: Philadelphia receiver DeVonta Smith needs 92 receiving yards to pass DeSean Jackson (2008) for the most by a rookie in Eagles history. And quarterback Jalen Hurts needs 70 passing yards to become the fifth player with 3,000 passing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season, joining Kyler Murray, Cam Newton (twice), Daunte Culpepper and Kordell Stewart.
Playoff and draft implications: The Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with a win and losses by the Saints and Vikings OR a win and losses from the Vikings and 49ers. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Eagles | Washington
What to know for fantasy: Washington’s Terry McLaurin has finished outside the top-40 receivers in not one, not two, but five straight weeks. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Washington is 8-19-1 ATS in division games since 2017. Read more.
McManus’ pick: Eagles 26, Washington 23
Keim’s pick: Washington 21, Eagles 20
FPI prediction: PHI, 58.1% (by an average of 2.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Is the Eagles’ defense for real? Three keys to its dramatic turnaround … Wheels come off for Washington as player absences finally take a toll … Eagles separate QBs to protect against COVID
Giants (4-11) at Bears (5-10)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 14.2 | Spread: CHI -6 (37)
What to watch for: Could this be Matt Nagy’s final home game as head coach of the Bears? All signs point to a change, but the Bears didn’t take advantage of the NFL’s new rule allowing teams to start interviewing head coaching candidates with two weeks left in the season provided they have an opening at the position. Nagy expects to finish the season out. The game provides a weird twist for the Giants, who own the Bears’ first-round pick in 2022. A Giants’ loss would enhance their own draft standing, while a Bears loss would improve the pick the Giants get from the Bears. — Jesse Rogers
Bold prediction: The Giants will win. Isn’t that bold enough? Mike Glennon is their quarterback. He has thrown eight interceptions in five games this season. The Giants, meanwhile, have only topped 20 points once in their past six games. This one is also on the road, where the Giants have dropped six straight and have lost by an average of 16.3 points per game. — Jordan Raanan
Stat to know: Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn has 17.0 sacks this season. Only T.J. Watt (17.5) has more. Quinn needs just one more sack to pass Richard Dent (1984) for the most by a Bears player in a single season. (Sacks have been counted for individual players since 1982).
Playoff and draft implications: The Giants are projected to pick at Nos. 5 and 7 in April’s draft, and the latter of those two picks comes via Chicago. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Giants | Bears
What to know for fantasy: Chicago running back David Montgomery handled 84.8% of the Bears’ RB touches last week, the fifth-highest usage rate of Week 16 and a higher rate than NFL touch leader Najee Harris (78.3%). See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: New York is 0-4 ATS since starting quarterback Daniel Jones was injured. Read more.
Raanan’s pick: Giants 19, Bears 18
Rogers’ pick: Bears 18, Giants 6
FPI prediction: CHI, 59.9% (by an average of 3.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Giants’ Barkley trying not to think about ACL tear in return to Soldier Field … Nagy assumes he’ll coach Bears’ final two games … Matchup vs. Bears a win-win for Giants, who hold Chicago’s first-round pick
Broncos (7-8) at Chargers (8-7)
4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 57.1 | Spread: LAC -6.5 (46)
What to watch for: How will the Chargers respond to their poor showing last week against Houston — and a loss to the Broncos earlier this year? Running back Austin Ekeler said he can’t wait to get back at Denver. Los Angeles is 2-5 against Denver since 2018, its worst record against any of its AFC West foes over that time. — Shelley Smith
Bold prediction: The Broncos will rush for at least 140 yards against a Chargers defense that has allowed at least that many eight times this season and allowed at least 170 rushing yards six times. The Broncos still need to get the play-action part of their passing game going, and their issues in pass protection are only getting worse, so look for them to do what they do best: Keep running backs Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams busy. — Jeff Legwold
Stat to know: Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has an 80 Total QBR and a 23-3 TD-INT ratio in eight wins this season. In seven losses, he has a 43 Total QBR and a 10-11 TD-INT ratio.
Playoff and draft implications: Neither team can clinch the playoffs, but both could be eliminated on Sunday. The Broncos go home with a loss or wins by Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Miami. The Chargers currently have a 35% chance to reach the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI, but a win would increase that to 53%. They go home if they lose and Baltimore and Miami both win, or they lose and Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh all win. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Broncos | Chargers
What to know for fantasy: Keenan Allen has lined up against the Broncos 12 times in his career and yet he has never reached 90 receiving yards against the division rival. He’s still a strong option in PPR leagues (5.4 catches in those games, with nine grabs three times), but managing expectations could be wise against a defense that is familiar with him. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Los Angeles is 1-5 ATS in its past six games as a favorite. Read more.
Legwold’s pick: Chargers 23, Broncos 17
Smith’s pick: Chargers 34, Broncos 17
FPI prediction: LAC, 58.3% (by an average of 2.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: How do the Broncos get playoff experience without playoff experiences? … ‘How do you respond?’: Chargers face gut check in push for playoff berth … Why can’t the Broncos get the ball to their talented receivers? … Fangio says he ‘absolutely’ deserves another year as Broncos’ coach
Texans (4-11) at 49ers (8-7)
4:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 42.3 | Spread: SF -12.5 (43.5)
What to watch for: Who will handle the quarterback duties for the Niners? Jimmy Garoppolo is battling a right thumb injury, which has given Trey Lance the lion’s share of the starter reps this week. This is a must-have game for San Francisco’s playoff chances and would be a huge spot for Lance’s second career NFL start. But the Texans are tied for 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 27th in yards allowed per rush, which could play into a Lance-specific game plan that would offer an even more multifacted rushing attack than the Niners normally deploy. — Nick Wagoner
Bold prediction: The Texans will earn their first three-game winning streak since a nine-game streak in 2018. They have gone 54 games without winning three games in a row. Houston will have to win a second straight game as a double-digit underdog, something it hasn’t done since 2002-03. — Sarah Barshop
Stat to know: 49ers tight end George Kittle has 4,450 career receiving yards. He needs 64 more to pass Kellen Winslow Sr. for the second-most by a tight end in his first five seasons (Jimmy Graham with 4,752 is first).
Playoff and draft implications: Per ESPN’s FPI, the 49ers enter Week 17 with a 78% chance of making the playoffs. Win and it becomes 82%. Lose and it is suddenly 52%. San Francisco can also clinch if it wins and New Orleans loses. The Texans are pretty much out of the running for the No. 1 pick, but they are still projected to pick at No. 3. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Texans | 49ers
What to know for fantasy: San Francisco receiver Brandon Aiyuk has a touchdown or a 35-yard catch in three straight games and in five of his past six. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Niners coach Kyle Shanahan is 5-16-2 ATS as a home favorite (10-13 outright). Read more.
Barshop’s pick: Texans 23, 49ers 20
Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 33, Texans 17
FPI prediction: SF, 84.8% (by an average of 13.6 points)
Matchup must-reads: Where does Texans third-round pick Mills rank among rookie QB class? … 49ers’ postseason formula is simple … Burkhead, Texans’ running game break through to aid rookie QB Mills … Garoppolo ‘confident’ he can play through thumb injury
Cardinals (10-5) at Cowboys (11-4)
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 84.5 | Spread: DAL -6 (51.5)
What to watch for: Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was only a few days off ankle surgery when these teams met last year. The Cowboys also didn’t have Tyron Smith or La’el Collins and they suffered a 38-10 loss at AT&T Stadium. Now all three are healthy and the Cowboys will have the offensive line they projected coming out of training camp playing together for the first time this season. The Cardinals have lost three straight and are down key personnel on defense, and the Cowboys have outscored opponents 269-152 at AT&T Stadium this season. — Todd Archer
Bold prediction: Sure, there’ll be some buzz about Arizona QB Kyler Murray returning to AT&T Stadium, where he’s 8-0 in his high school, college and pro careers, but the Cowboys have seen the blueprint to beat Arizona and will take advantage of it. They will have five sacks of Murray. Plus, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott will rush for 150 yards and two touchdowns. — Josh Weinfuss
Stat to know: Prescott has thrown 20 touchdown passes and just two interceptions at home. That is one shy of the most touchdown passes at home in Cowboys history. Danny White (1980) and Roger Staubach (1979) each threw 21.
Playoff and draft implications: Dallas has the NFC East clinched and it can now potentially land the No. 1 seed. It has a 15% chance, per ESPN’s FPI, but a win would make it 26%. The Cardinals have a playoff spot locked, but they are still going for the NFC West. They have a 26% chance, which would improve to 48% with a win or fall to 10% with a loss. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Cardinals | Cowboys
What to know for fantasy: Murray was QB6 last week, but don’t forget that he was QB16 in fantasy scoring over the prior two weeks. There’s as much upside as there is downside in playing Murray at Jerry’s World this weekend. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Dallas is 10-0 ATS in conference games. The only team in the Super Bowl era to go undefeated ATS in conference games was 1973 Denver (9-0-1 ATS). Read more.
Weinfuss’ pick: Cowboys 31, Cardinals 24
Archer’s pick: Cowboys 33, Cardinals 23
FPI prediction: DAL, 57.1% (by an average of 2.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Cardinals late-season slump a disturbing trend for Kingsbury … Lawrence not taking Cowboys’ playoff run for granted … ‘I felt fast’: What Prescott using his legs could mean for the Cowboys
Panthers (5-10) at Saints (7-8)
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 40.0 | Spread: NO -6.5 (37.5)
What to watch for: Both of these rosters are changing daily because of recent COVID-19 outbreaks, but the Saints should get most of its back after missing 20 eligible players in Monday night’s 20-3 loss to the Dolphins. The Saints still have realistic playoff hopes if they can win their final two games against division rivals Carolina and Atlanta. The Panthers, meanwhile, have been trending in the wrong direction since they walloped New Orleans 26-7 way back in Week 2. — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: The Panthers will win. Yes, Carolina has lost five straight and 10 of the past 12. Yes, Sam Darnold is returning at quarterback and engineered only one touchdown drive in his past three starts before going on IR. Yes, the defense will be missing several key starters due to COVID-19. But hey, nobody expected the Panthers to beat the Saints in Week 2, and they did. Easily. — David Newton
Stat to know: The Saints are allowing an NFL-best 9.7 opponent points per game since Week 14. They have allowed only one offensive touchdown in that span.
Playoff and draft implications: ESPN’s FPI says the Saints have a 34% chance to make the postseason, which jumps to 47% with a win or drops to 9% with a loss. But if they lose, and Philadelphia and San Francisco both win, that’s all she wrote for New Orleans. The Panthers are currently projected to pick at No. 6 and have a 34% chance to move into the top five. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Panthers | Saints
What to know for fantasy: Is it possible that the Panthers have the secret sauce in terms of limiting New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara? Over his career, Kamara’s yards per catch are down more than 20% against Carolina from his norm. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Saints quarterback Taysom Hill is 5-2 ATS and straight up in his career as a starter. The under is 6-1 in those starts. Read more.
Newton’s pick: Panthers 10, Saints 9
Triplett’s pick: Saints 20, Panthers 13
FPI prediction: NO, 65.9% (by an average of 5.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Newton reflects on his Panthers career, what team can still become … Saints, rookie QB Book fall flat with 20 players sidelined by COVID-19
Lions (2-12-1) at Seahawks (5-10)
4:25 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 39.3 | Spread: SEA -7 (42)
What to watch for: Could this be the final game at Lumen Field for quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner? The two Seattle franchise cornerstones face uncertain futures beyond 2021. Unlike Wagner, who just broke his own franchise record for tackles and leads the NFL with 170, Wilson has not been himself for much of this season. He ranks 22nd in Total QBR since returning in Week 10 from surgery on his finger, which he says is no longer an issue. Detroit’s defense could provide a break. It has allowed the 25th-most points and ranks 28th in opponent QBR. — Brady Henderson
Bold prediction: Lions rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown will have his fifth straight game of at least eight receptions. St. Brown’s confidence continues to increase each week, and he was named the NFC Rookie of the Month for the December. He is second in the NFL in receptions (35) since Week 13, trailing only Cooper Kupp (40). — Eric Woodyard
Stat to know: Wilson has failed to throw for 300 yards in 10 straight games, tied for the second-longest single-season streak of his career. He didn’t record any 300-yard passing games in 2012 (rookie season) when he played all 16 games.
Playoff and draft implications: Both teams are eliminated, and Seattle doesn’t have a first-round pick. The Lions have a 20% chance of securing the first pick in 2022 draft, per ESPN’s FPI. That would improve to 25% with a loss and fall to 2% with a win. (If Detroit wins, Jacksonville would secure it if it loses.) See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Lions | Seahawks
What to know for fantasy: We haven’t seen both DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett finish inside the top 30 at the wide receiver position in a game since Week 8. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Detroit is 10-5 ATS this season, including 9-2 ATS when getting at least four points and 6-1 ATS in its past seven games. Read more.
Woodyard’s pick: Seahawks 23, Lions 20
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 25, Lions 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 77.3% (by an average of 9.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: How ‘Netflix’ Reynolds went from practice squad to 100-yard rusher … Wagner admits future with Seahawks uncertain … What’s next for Wilson now that Seahawks are eliminated from the playoffs?
Vikings (7-8) at Packers (12-3)
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 69.4 | Spread: GB -7 (46.5)
What to watch for: If anyone is going to stop the Packers’ December winning streak — they’ve won 13 straight regular-season games in December or later — it might be the Vikings. Mike Zimmer’s team has won two straight against the Packers and it is the only team to beat Matt LaFleur twice since he took over as Packers coach in 2019. However, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown 34 touchdown passes since his last interception against an NFC North team, the longest streak in NFL history by a quarterback against division opponents. And it’s going to be cold on Sunday night. As Rodgers said this week, “the colder, the better” for him and the Packers. — Rob Demovsky
Bold prediction: Rodgers will continue to be turnover-free during his 16-touchdown, zero-interception hot streak over the Packers’ past five games. He’ll get that mark to 20 against the Vikings’ secondary with another four-touchdown, zero-interception performance, like he did when these two teams faced off in Week 11. — Courtney Cronin
Stat to know: The Vikings are 6-8 in one-score games this season. Those 14 games include 12 consecutive games decided by one score, which is tied for the most such games and the longest such streak in NFL history.
Playoff and draft implications: The Packers — who already have the NFC North clinched — can take the No. 1 seed and a playoff bye with a win and a Dallas loss. The Vikings, however, will be eliminated from the playoff hunt with a loss and wins from either the Falcons or the Eagles. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Vikings | Packers
What to know for fantasy: Packers running back Aaron Jones has at least 20 touches and a score in each of his past four games against the Vikings. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: All three meetings between these two teams since the start of last season have gone over the total. Read more.
Cronin’s pick: Packers 30, Vikings 27
Demovsky’s pick: Packers 27, Vikings 23
FPI prediction: GB, 66.6% (by an average of 5.7 points)
Matchup must-reads: Vikings lose Thielen for remainder of season due to ankle injury … Packers WRs Cobb, Valdes-Scantling return to practice … I knew I needed more help’: Vikings’ Dozier details his battle with COVID-19 … Packers QB Rodgers says he won’t take long after season to decide future
Browns (7-8) at Steelers (7-7-1)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
Matchup rating: 45.6 | Spread: CLE -3.5 (41)
What to watch for: Emotions will be high with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likely playing in his final home game on Monday Night Football. The Steelers’ offense has struggled to sustain drives recently, but against the Browns in Week 8, Roethlisberger and his group put together a 13-play, game-winning drive capped by a Pat Freiermuth touchdown. The Steelers’ ability to move the ball and finish drives, coupled with the defense’s ability to contain the run, will dictate the outcome of Roethlisberger’s home finale. — Brooke Pryor
Bold prediction: Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, the NFL’s No. 1 and 3 sack leaders, will combine for another four sacks while staking their own claims to be NFL Defensive Player of the Year. With a big performance, Watt could get within striking distance of at least tying Michael Strahan’s official NFL sack record of 22.5. Watt currently has 17.5 sacks, while Garrett has 15. — Jake Trotter
Stat to know: Steelers running back Najee Harris needs 94 scrimmage yards and one touchdown to become the sixth player in franchise history with 1,500 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs in a season — and he would be the only rookie. Le’Veon Bell (twice), Antonio Brown (twice), Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis and Barry Foster are the others. Harris is also 16 rushing yards away from joining Franco Harris as the only Steelers rookies with 1,000-plus rush yards.
Playoff and draft implications: Both teams could be eliminated this weekend. The Browns’ season ends with a loss, wins from the Bengals and Dolphins, or wins from the Bengals and Chargers. The Steelers could be done if they lose and one of the Chargers, Ravens, Raiders or Dolphins win. See current playoff picture.
Injuries: Browns | Steelers
What to know for fantasy: Browns running back Nick Chubb has just one score on his 98 career touches against the Steelers, failing to reach double figures in fantasy points in five of those six contests. See Week 17 rankings.
Betting nugget: Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is 41-24-2 ATS in his career as an underdog, including 12-4-1 ATS as a home underdog. Read more.
Trotter’s pick: Browns 23, Steelers 21
Pryor’s pick: Steelers 21, Browns 17
FPI prediction: CLE, 53.7% (by an average of 1.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: Fourth quarter fails has Browns’ season slipping away … Steelers’ Roethlisberger says Monday Night Football vs. Browns likely his last game at Heinz Field
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