Big Five Picks for NFL Week 17 (2021)

Another 4-1 week! Alright! The Big Five Picks record is now 49-30-1 and last week was our 3rd 4-1 week in the last four weeks. The winning percentage of the Big Five Picks is 61.25% and can do no worse 54.4% so we are already guaranteed profitability against the spread (assuming 10% juice to the sportsbooks). The return on investment is 16.9% which I feel is very good. If I had entered in the Super Contest hosted by Westgate Casino in Las Vegas, the Big Five Picks would rank 43rd out of 1913 entries. I don't think I can hypothetically finish in 1st place but I feel the Big Five Picks can finish in the money.

That elusive 5-0 week is a tough one to get. We were 4-0 last Sunday and it came down to the Saints on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately it was not meant to be thanks to COVID knocking out two of the QBs for New Orleans. Ian Book looked awful and good thing Taysom Hill and Trevor Simien are back as the Saints try to earn one of the last playoff spots in the NFC.

For this week, there will be a lot of chalk. The model likes the favored teams and the playoff implications will be the central focus of our selections. Here is what the model likes.


I did not lie, it's chalk city today. Without further ado, here are the Big Five Picks.

  1. Buffalo -14.5

The Bills' dominant ways that we saw earlier in the season has returned. They finally got the monkey off their back by beating New England in convincing fashion and are now sporting a 2 game winning streak. They are clearly in the driver's seat for the AFC East title and look poised to make a Super Bowl run. All cylinders are firing for this super talented team and I fully expect the Buffalo defense to earn a shutout or near shutout of the inept Falcons offense. The spread is high but consider the historical data for the 2021 season: Bills are 5-1 against the spread when playing a sub 0.500 team while the Falcons are 1-6 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record. In fact, the Bills only blemish against inferior opponents this season was 9-6 loss to Jacksonville. Otherwise, their average margin of victory against weak teams is 26.4 points. As for Atlanta, they beat Miami earlier in the year by 2 points (back when Miami was struggling and Falcons looked decent) but the other six games were awful. Average margin of defeat in those six games is 24.2 points. The model likes the Bills to win 23.6 points so don't worry about the 14.5 points you are giving up if you take the Bills. Buffalo wins this game easily 35-10.

  1. Kansas City -4

It's easy to bet against a team that looked impressive the following week. The Bengals are arguably one of the most promising teams the NFL has seen in quite some time. They have had so many bad seasons and several over hyped expectations. This team has not won a playoff game since beating the Houston Oilers in the 1990 Wild Card round. For those who were not born then, the Oilers eventually became the Tennessee Titans in the mid-90s. Clearly Bengals fans have to super pumped up to finally have a dynamic offense and a true leader in Joe Burrow. However, the Bengals are young and the Chiefs are out to prove that they are still the king of the hill when it comes to AFC superiority. The Chiefs have quietly won 8 in a row and have done it mainly with defense. Kansas City has allowed an average of 12.9 points per game during that winning streak and four times their opponents scored in the single digits. I don't think the Chiefs will hold the Bengals offense to under 10 points but I also don't see them going gangbusters today. Twice this season Cincinnati had a big game only to follow it up with a dud. In Week 7, Cincinnati beat Baltimore 41-17 only to get upset to the Jets 34-31. Then in Week 12, the Bengals beat Pittsburgh by a similar score (41-10) and then got their asses handed to them at home against the Chargers (41-22). Interestingly, the Bengals scored 41 points last week and seem to beat up on their divisional rivals with remarkable frequency However, the Chiefs are not the Ravens, Steelers, or Browns. They are the two-time defending AFC Champions for a reason: they have the better QB, WR, TE, defense, and head coach. Those things matter when the playoffs are on the line. This will be an entertaining game but in the end, Mahomes will be the one earning the W and securing home field advantage for the 3rd time in the last four years. Chiefs win 28-21 in a very tight game that can serve as a potential divisional round or conference championship preview.

  1. Tampa Bay -13

This one is just like the Bills game. The Bucs have had their struggles from time to time this season but they usually respond in a big way after experiencing some adversity. Also like the Bills, the Bucs beat up on the bottom feeders. Except for the Saints (who seem to have Tampa Bay's number), the Bucs are 5-0 against teams with a losing record. The average margin of victory is 23.4 points. As for the Jets, they get pummeled when playing teams with a winning record. True, they beat Tennessee and Cincinnati earlier this year but they also caught those teams off guard. Except for those two games and losing to Miami twice by 7 points (regardless of talent level for both NY and Miami, they tend to play each other tight), the Jets are 0-5 against playoff quality teams. Their average margin of defeat is 23.6 points. The spread is high but the model believes the Bucs can win by close to 20 points. Don't ignore the historical evidence or the model. Also, don't worry about the injuries to the Bucs players. Tampa still won 32-6 last week missing several key players. Bucs win in dominant fashion in the Big Apple: 35-17.

  1. Philadelphia -4.5

I usually don't like to take the road favorite in a divisional matchup so close to the end of the season but did you see Sunday Night Football last week?! The Washington Football Team (WFT) got wiped out in the first half. 42-7 as a halftime score! WOW! Yes, the Cowboys are very good but no one should be giving up 42 points in the first 30 minutes of the game. Washington will be missing Antonio Gibson, easily their best offensive player, and there is not much else WFT can do to move the ball. WFT is currently on a 3 game losing streak and has a -110 point differential this season. Meanwhile the Eagles have won 3 games in a row and have a +80 point differential. These are clearly two teams going in opposite directions. WFT will need to figure out what to do at QB next season and might need to overhaul the entire roster. The Eagles are a team on the rise with QB Jalen Hurts leading the way. The Eagles defense is also playing great and should feast on the inept WFT offense. Eagles should take care of business in our nation's capital as they make a push to the playoffs. The Eagles will beat WFT 30-20.

  1. LA Rams -6

Rarely do the Big Five Picks feature all teams in the morning. The more I think about it, I don't believe any of the Big Five Picks this season have exclusively been in the morning but that's how we will do things for Week 17. Like all of the Super Bowl contenders this season (Buffalo, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, New England, Green Bay, Arizona, and so on), teams will have some adversity, especially with an extra week added to this season. The Rams looked out of sorts when they had a 3 game losing streak in November but all of a sudden they are now 11-4 and could earn the top seed in the NFC playoffs. The talent is there but sometimes you need to lose to win. The Rams could very well be the 2nd team in NFL history to play the Super Bowl at its home stadium and they could win it. Like neighboring Hollywood, the Rams are loaded with star talent and the main attraction is Cooper Kupp. He is on pace to break the NFL record for most receptions and receiving yards in a season. In fact, he could break those records today if he earns 18 receptions for 231 receiving yards. While those would be insane numbers to achieve in one game, did you see how Baltimore's pass defense was shredded last week?! The Ravens are one of the worst teams in man coverage and Kupp has thrived against man coverage all season. I expect a stat line of epic proportions for Kupp today and when Kupp has a big game, the Rams win big. Don't worry about eating some chalk on the road to a perennial playoff team like Baltimore. Keep in mind that the Rams have won 4 in a row while the Ravens have lost 4 in a row. Just like the Eagles-WFT game, we have two teams going in opposite directions. Rams continue their winning ways by beating Baltimore 31-20.

Just like the stock market, these teams are like blue chip stocks. They won't let you down today as they jockey for playoff positioning and ending the misery of their opponents who have looked awful this season. Let's start 2022 on the right foot with a 5-0 day! Good luck!