Week 17 is no fun to try to handicap at all, but this time a month from now we'd kill to still have this amount of football still to watch, so what the heck. Home teams in CAPS.
NEW ORLEANS (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
The Bucs have had a great year, but what kept them out of the playoffs was their inability to beat good teams (0-5 against teams that are above .500). The Saints are peaking at the right time and have Pierre Thomas back in and with early-season freshness to get them those tough yards that seemed to elude them at times this year. The Saints are playing to secure the 5th spot in the NFC and a date next week with whoever wins the NFC West. I think they'll keep their foot on the gas long enough in this game to cover this number.
HOUSTON (+2.5) over Jacksonville
The Jags have emptied their sack this year, and despite exceeding most people's expectations are entering Week 17 a long shot for the playoffs. Not helping matters is the fact that David Garrard is out and MJD is doubtful. Despite the Houston situation being so bad that they might even resort to Wade Phillips after the inevitable firing of Gary Kubiak, I'll take the 2.5 at home with the Texans in what figures to be their annual "oh wait, maybe these guys are actually pretty decent, I'm going to pick them as a playoff dark horse next year" game.
INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) over Tennessee
If the Jags-Texans game were at 1:00, I'd never touch this game. The Colts still need a win or a Jacksonville loss to take the AFC South, but there is a strong likelihood that the instant either one of those outcomes becomes imminent that you will see Peyton Manning put the baseball cap on for the rest of this game. In a normal situation, one would be pretty certain that the Colts, who have manufactured something of a running game in recent weeks, should beat the Titans handily. I think the other AFC South game will remain close for long enough that the Colts will be able to make it a double-digit affair.
Chicago (+10) over GREEN BAY
I don't believe the speculation that the Bears will lay down in this game, despite having the #2 seed and first-round bye locked up. Green Bay needs this game to secure a Wild Card spot and Chicago would love to spoil that party. Also, if you saw any of the Bears game with the Jets last week, you took two things away from it going into Week 17. One, the Chicago defense has kinks it needs to work out before the playoffs. Two, the Chicago offense would be ill-advised to let themselves get stale by taking two weeks off. All in all, these teams are pretty fairly matched so give me the 10 points.
St. Louis (-3) over SEATTLE
The feel-good story of the week has been flexed to Sunday Night, and the likelihood that the Seahawks will be turning to Charlie Whitehurst in this game is enough to make me declare this one a nationally-televised Rams party. Seattle has lost 5 of its last 6 games by an average of over 18 points, and the Rams have done a good job this year of beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. As nice as it would be for the Rams to make the playoffs one year removed from 1-15, it would more importantly ensure some semblance of order in the world because they'd be 8-8 and we won't have to see a 7-9 team host a playoff game.
Last Week: 1-4-0