NFL Week 17 Accumulator: Eagles fly into the capital on a playoff mission
Week 17 is here and the final Sunday of the regular season looks set to be a dramatic one that is full of tension, nerves and touchdowns.
The final week can be tough as injuries rack up and some teams may rest their stars ahead of the playoffs. There are often shocks on the final day when two teams meet who have little to play for. With those risks it’s important to pick games with something riding on them.
Eagles @ Redskins
Sunday, 30 December, 21:25
It had been a poor season for the Eagles right up until an injury to QB Carson Wentz brought in Nick Foles and he has been playing lights out football ever since. Foles isn’t the quarterback that Wentz is, but there’s an argument that he fits better in head coach Doug Pederson’s side. I’m not totally sure that there’s truth in that, however, there is an echo of last year’s Super Bowl win in the way that they’re playing.
The Eagles are very much on the outside looking in, needing to beat Washington and hope that the Bears do them a favour in Minnesota. There won’t be much pressure on the Eagles and the Redskins have been wretched of late. That poor Redskins form and the coaching behind it was highlighted by D. J. Swearinger. That criticism ultimately led to the release of the safety.
The Eagles are fortunate to have Foles as a backup. He’s amongst the best replacement quarterbacks in the league and streets ahead of the dross that the Redskins have had under centre since the gruesome injury to Alex Smith. That difference in quality is huge and I’m expecting the Foles-led Eagles to easily cover against this disappointing Redskins side.
Bears @ Vikings
Sunday, 30 December, 21:25
The Bears are still in contention for a first-round bye. It’s a tough ask as they need to beat the Vikings in their Minnesota and hope that the Los Angeles Rams suffer a shock defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.
I’m not totally sure who’ll win this game, however, the Bears with a six point head start is something that looks like a great price.
These two teams are among the best defensive units in the NFL. The Bears and Vikings give up an average of 18.2 and 21.1 points per game respectively. Those numbers give you an idea that it should be a very close game and I can’t see more than one score between them.
Khalil Mack is an MVP candidate, but his supporting cast on defence deserve a mention too. Akiem Nicks and Roquan Smith have been superb and are due almost as much credit as Mack. The Vikings side has less big names, but Sheldon Richardson and Xavier Rhodes have been very effective.
With two tight defences I think it’s worth highlighting what the Bears can do with the ball. They can be hit or miss and I’m not sure that Mitchell Trubisky will ever become an elite NFL QB. That said, Matt Nagy is as creative as any head coach in the league and will find a way to get the ball into the hands of his best players. I fancy the Bears to hang with the Vikings in this game.
Raiders @ Chiefs
Sunday, 30 December, 21:25
A win here will land the Chiefs the AFC West division title and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Put simply, the Chiefs will not let this slip, especially against such a poor Raiders side.
Each week we’ve seen Patrick Mahomes making incredible passes and furthering his argument to be the league’s MVP. As discussed earlier in this argument he’s competing against a number of great players including Khalil Mack. The trade of Mack from the Raiders to Bears has been one of the reasons that the Raiders defence gives up the second most points on average, a huge 28.8 points. You could argue that a player of Mack’s ability is irreplaceable, but the Raiders haven’t even got close. They’re not great against the pass and especially poor against the run, giving up the third highest number of rushing yards per game.
The Raiders have nothing to play for and a number of their players will already be mentally checked out and getting ready for their holidays. Combine that with the Chiefs needing a win and you can easily see Andy Reid’s men covering the 12-point spread.
Colts @ Titans
Monday, 31 December, 01:25
You wouldn’t expect the Colts playing the Titans to be the biggest game of the week but it is. It’s a winner-takes-all clash with the victor guaranteeing themselves a playoff berth. The game was flexed to the Sunday Night Football slot and all eyes will be on Tennessee.
The Colts have been a regular in this column throughout the season. If you’re a regular reader than you’ll be aware of how highly I rate Andrew Luck. The quarterback’s comeback from injury has been one of the best stories of the year and he’s playing at a truly elite level.
Frank Reich’s young team are a great example of the importance of good drafting. In this year’s draft they uncovered gems in Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Nyheim Hines amongst others. Good team building is key in the NFL and the way that the Colts have been assembled points towards them being incredibly competitive next year and beyond.
The Titans are a true Jekyll and Hyde team, flitting between dynamic playmaking and being an abject mess. I’ve struggled to work them out all year, but I just don’t think they have the tools that the Colts do.
Derrick Henry is a prime example of this confusing team. The running back looked dreadful for much of the season and has turned it around to deliver some insane performances. Another key name for this game is Marcus Mariota. At the time of writing the former Oregon QB is still uncertain to play. Even if he does play, Mariota won’t be at 100% and he historically doesn’t play at his best when he’s carrying knocks.
This game will be close, but there aren’t many quarterbacks in the league who are better in the fourth quarter than Luck and I can see him pushing his Colts side over the line here.
Recommended NFL ACCA
Back the Eagles (-6.5) to Win @ 4/5
Back the Bears (+6.0) to Win @ 4/5
Back the Chiefs (-12.0) to Win @ 8/11
Back the Colts @ 8/13
Total ACCA Odds: 7.97/1
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