NFL Week 17 Picks: Wise Guy Plays & Public Leans

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, December 27, 2014 5:48 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014 5:48 PM UTC

If you read this column last week and followed the biggest moves of both the public and sharps alike then you made money in your NFL picks!  The public did the splits while the sharps cashed on the underdog Vikings.  Let's see what the squares and the wise guys say this week.

Browns vs. Ravens (-8 ½ to -14)
Is Johnny Manziel really that good?  I mean the kid got booed off the field after getting drilled by a pair of Panthers last week which led to his, ah, hamstring injury.  Yeah right.  My hammy always tightens up right about the time my sphincter loosens up after getting throttled with the same force as a three car accident.  Me thinks Johnny's hamstring is tied to the cobwebs still clouding his mind. 

But of course the absence of Johnny Manziel is not what is moving this line but the shoulder injury sustained by Brian Hoyer.  Hoyer has been the most underappreciated player in football.  Sure he's not an elite gunslinger but he has had to deal with injuries and suspensions to his offensive weapons throughout the season yet has still managed to snatch mediocrity form the jaws of abject failure.  Nevertheless, the NFL oddsmakers have ratcheted up the favored Baltimore Ravens from 8 ½ to now 14 point chalk. 

While I believe Hoyer has not gotten his due this season he is not worth almost a touchdown.  Right now anyone is better than Johnny Football (which doesn't mean Manziel won't ultimately become an NFL worthy starter but certainly not now) and practice squad patriot Connor Shaw is the next man up.  This is clearly an overreaction to what is profoundly public money pouring in on the Baltimore Ravens.  Just wait right before game time and see if the sharps don't pounce on this inflated number and add the Browns to their NFL picks. But as of right now...

NFL Picks:  Public on the Ravens

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Bills (+10 ½ to + 4 ½) vs. Patriots
The Patriots have nothing to play for after wrapping up a division title and home field position throughout the AFC playoffs.  So why would the NFL odds makers initially hang a number that is reflective of a team with something to prove? Well, because when the NFL odds were offered on Monday morning the Broncos had not yet played their pivotal game against the Bengals that evening. Had the Broncos won then the Patriots would still have to win on Sunday to clinch the coveted home field advantage. But once the Broncos bowed to the Bengals the script was written and the Bills/Patriots line was adjusted.

The theory is that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will treat this like the last game oft he preseason schedule. Get the starters uniforms a little dirty but pull them out after they have broken a sweat. Tom Terrific won't be slinging to Gronk late in the game. As a matter of fact it is more than likely neither superstar will be on the gridiron after the first quarter of play. Therefore, the line has spiraled downward and the Bills will conceivably be pitting their first unit against New England's second and third stringers throughout much of the afternoon in Foxboro.

NFL Pick:  Public on the Bills. 

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Chargers (+3 to pick'em) vs. Chiefs
Pretty much the same deal here as the previous two games discussed. Alex Smith was a sudden and unexpected scratch from Sunday's game after it was discovered he had sustained a lacerated spleen against the Steelers. Obviously his absence has caused the line to plummet and though the venue, the always raucous Arrowhead Stadium, remains unchanged the quarterback marshalling the Chiefs offense is little known and seldom used Chase Daniel.   

Once again, the NFL odds makers have anticipated a wave of money on the San Diego Chargers who can control their own destiny with a win and claim the lone remaining AFC playoff spot. But let's not forget that the Chiefs are technically in the hunt as well and Alex Smith is not nearly as irreplaceable as some of his uber talented contemporaries like Brees, Brady, Rodgers and Manning.

NFL Pick:  Public on the Chargers.

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