Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams
Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams is stopped by Cleveland Browns' M.J. Stewart during the first half of an NFL football game Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

HOW TO WATCH NFL WEEK 17

Mike Shara

Ok, we finally have a few NFL teams that have clinched at least a playoff spot. It was starting to get a bit weird – being this late in December without almost any playoff spots solidified. I have no doubt that this highly competitive late season situation was exactly why the NFL wanted 14 teams in the playoffs each year and another game added to the regular season schedule. Competition! That was the reason – not money. Never doubt that. Ever.

Really what last week accomplished was to solidify the teams that are genuine Super Bowl threats at this point. The Chiefs continued to erase any memories of their midseason malaise, routing the ossified remains of Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers to win their eighth consecutive game and seventh straight AFC West title. Dallas crushed the Washington Daisy Dukes (hey, until they get a proper team name, I’m going to keep giving them suggestions) to clinch the NFC East, and the Bucs and Packers both locked up their division titles with wins. Those teams all look like serious contenders, and teams like the Bills, Titans, Rams and Bengals might be right behind them.

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On the other hand, a lot of mediocre teams teetering on the precipice of playoff relevance did little to improve their balance as the 49ers, Ravens, Steelers, Broncos and Chargers all steadfastly refused to allow bettors or fans to have any week-to-week confidence in them. At least now we can finally stop pretending that the Panthers had a chance and can confirm that “the Bears are what we thought they were”. Namely, they are terrible.

Last week 9 favorites covered, 5 underdogs won their game outright and two dogs covered the spread but failed to win the game. Last week also may have marked the first time since the AFL/NFL merger that the Jets (A) were favored to win a game in December and (B) actually covered the spread. Trivia dorks take note!!

No more Thursday night games, folks – I know, it’s just heartbreaking for everyone. Unless Covid forces more juggling/rationalization/Commissioner cognitive di$$onance, all the games are on Sunday this week except for Monday night’s ‘showdown’ between Cleveland and Pittsburgh – a game which both teams are somehow favored to lose (no, not really). Elsewhere, the Cardinals will try to revive their fading fortunes by going on the road to face Dallas at JerryWorld and Kansas City will put their win streak on the line in Cincinnati against a pretty good Bengals team. Also, Miami, who currently own the least impressive seven-game win streak in pro football history, will travel to Nashville to face the Titans.

All games are listed at EST. Consult your local listings to see which games are in your area.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 2

VISITORHOMETIMENETWORK
AtlantaBuffalo (-14.5 on BetMGM)1 pmFOX
NY GiantsChicago (-6.5 on DraftKings)1 pm CBS
Kansas CityCincinnati (+5.5 on FanDuel)1 pm CBS
MiamiTennessee (-3.5 on BetMGM)1 pm CBS
Las VegasIndianapolis (-6.5 on DraftKings)1 pmFOX
JacksonvilleNew England (-16 on FanDuel)1 pmCBS
Tampa BayNY Jets (+13.5 on FanDuel)1 pmFOX
PhiladelphiaWashington (+4 on BetMGM)1 pmFOX
LA RamsBaltimore (+3.5 on DraftKings)1 pmFOX
DenverLA Chargers (-5 on DraftKings)4:05 pmCBS
HoustonSan Francisco (-12.5 on BetMGM)4:05 pmCBS
ArizonaDallas (-5 on FanDuel)4:25 pmFOX
CarolinaNew Orleans (-7 on FanDuel)4:25 pmFOX
DetroitSeattle (-7 on DraftKings)4:25 pmFOX
MinnesotaGreen Bay (-6.5 on BetMGM)8:20 pmNBC

MONDAY, JANUARY 3

VISITORHOMETIMENETWORK
ClevelandPittsburgh (+3 on FanDuel)8:15 pmESPN

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