Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 17 NFL picks

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times this past Sunday against the Colts and faces a Patriots defense that is second in the league with 48 sacks.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times this past Sunday against the Colts and faces a Patriots defense that is second in the league with 48 sacks. adiaz@miamiherald.com

What a Week 17 finish ahead, with all 16 games in-division and all on Sunday. Ten of 12 playoff spots have been claimed, but four teams still are alive for those mere two remaining postseason tickets. But enough about the NFL, let’s talk about me! Nailed our Upset of the Week last week with Jets over Patriots (“Aawwk!”), and also had a trio of ’dogs-with-points in Falcons, Ravens and Rams. Still, bottom line, I’m scrambling entering the regular-season finale, needing a big week against the spread to finish over .500 vs. the evil betting line. This, for me, is the playoffs. I’m in, or I’m not. Close loses. I am girding my loins. I’ll do anything to attain my goal. And, yes, that includes human growth hormone, just in case Al Jazeera is watching.

Cote’s record

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

10-6

.625

7-8-1

.469

Season

149-91

.621

113-116-11

.494

Final 2014

167-88-1

.655

129-125-2

.508

Dolphins this week

PATRIOTS (12-3) at DOLPHINS (5-10)

Line: NE by 10.

Cote’s pick: NE 27-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Ryan Tannehill enters Miami’s season finale banged up after being sacked six times last week and then again during the week on that vicious blindside hit by Miko Grimes. The Patriots figure to offer little respite Sunday, their 48 sacks ranking second in the NFL. Too bad for the Fins this game means something for New England and, therefore, guys like Tom Brady won’t have the day off. Pats have sewn up a first-round bye but need to beat Miami (or see an unlikely Denver loss) to clinch the home field throughout. Pats are 2-3 since a 10-0 start, have lost their past two visits to Miami and might be vulnerable for an upset here. I won’t go that far. Brady is still Brady, and he stills has Rob Gronkowski. Even if it’s just those two and nine bandaged mummies, that’s still a better offense than Miami usually shows. But I do see a much better game than Miami’s 36-7 collapse up there on Oct. 29. See this one close, in fact. That reminds me. Aside to Bill Belichick: If this one happens to go into overtime and you win the coin toss, take the ball, dummy.

Game of the week

VIKINGS (10-5) at PACKERS (10-5)

Line: GB by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: GB 24-20.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Game of the Week committee faced a tough call, with Seahawks-Cardinals and Jets-Bills also pulsing on the Week 17 marquee. But here we have two playoff-qualified teams in a winner-take-all match for the NFC North title and No. 3 conference seed. That’s a perfect prime-time crescendo for the 256th and last game putting a wrap on the regular season. Vikes might be the slightly better squad coming into this. Gee Bees have been slogging at 4-5 since a 6-0 start, and Aaron Rodgers has (by his standards) had an off season, but I make this a venue call. The Pack is on a 10-1 run in this rivalry, during which Rodgers has 28 TDs vs. three interceptions. And with the ghost of Vince Lombardi my witness, there’s still something about Lambeau Field in winter.

Upset of the week

JETS (10-5) at BILLS (7-8)

Line: NYJ by 3.

Cote’s pick: BUF 23-21.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

“AAAWWWK!” warbles a tottering, hung-over Upset Bird. “Happy New Yaaawwwk!” It is simple and simply delicious: NYJ needs a win here (or rely on an unlikely loss by the Steelers) to make the playoffs, and standing between the Jets and that happening is the coach they fired, Rex Ryan. Sweet! Buffalo, of course, is out of playoffs for a 16th consecutive season despite Rex’s blustery preseason guarantee but now at least has the solace of being in the perfect spoiler role. The surging Planes have won five in a row overall, but the motivated Buffs have won four in a row in this rivalry. Make it five. “Sad as it may be, this is Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl,” notes a hiccupping U-Bird. “Super Baaawwwk!”

Dog of the week

RAMS (7-8) at 49ERS (4-11)

Line: STL by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: STL 17-13.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS.

It isn’t both teams being out of the hunt and this game having zero playoff impact that earns the dubious swansong Dog collar. It is the two bad offenses making one wonder if the agreed-upon rule for this game should be first score wins. The betting over/under is 37 points, a league-wide season low. Louis has won three in a row. Frans have lost three in a row. Trend continues.

SAINTS (6-9) at FALCONS (8-7)

Line: ATL by 4.

Cote’s pick: ATL 34-31.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Opposite of punchless Rams-Niners, here is a shootout waiting to happen, a pointfest. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and two truly awful pass defenses portend delightful ugliness and a smoking, backfiring scoreboard. The Upset Bird was circling this game, sensing a letdown by ATL after last week’s win over unbeaten Carolina. I can see that logic. But I wouldn’t bet on it. There isn’t much worse in the NFL than N’Awlins’ defense on the road.

RAVENS (5-10) at BENGALS (11-4)

Line: CIN by 9.

Cote’s pick: CIN 24-13.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Cincy clinches first-round bye with a win if Denver loses, and no team wants a playoff bye more than the Bengals, with Andy Dalton on the mend but likely not ready for the first round next week. Ravens still have some fight left, as Pittsburgh learned last week, but Ravens also are starting Ryan Mallett at QB, and ’Gals defense should wreak havoc. Imagine: Mallett vs. AJ McCarron. What were the odds!?

STEELERS (9-6) at BROWNS (3-12)

Line: PIT by 10 1/2.

Cote’s pick: PIT 30-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Pittsburgh is teetering. It makes the playoffs only if it wins here and if the Jets lose. Very possible, especially the Steelers’ end of it. Pitt has won 27 of past 31 meetings in this lopsided rivalry, including a 19-2 run under Ben Roethlisberger. Austin Davis starts at QB for Earthtones, with Johnny Manziel concussed.

JAGUARS (5-10) at TEXANS (8-7)

Line: HOU by 6.

Cote’s pick: HOU 27-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Huge stakes for Houston: Texans make playoffs via division crown with win here or with unlikely loss by Indy. HOU has won eight of past 10 in this series, has QB Brian Hoyer back healthy and brings enough pass defense to limit Blake Bortles’ dangerous attack. And Jax doesn’t travel well. Jags have lost six division away games in a row and 15 of past 16 roadies overall.

TITANS (3-12) at COLTS (7-8)

Line: Off.

Cote’s pick: IND 19-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

OK, yes, technically, the Colts still are in playoff contention, but they need a win here, an unlikely Houston loss and seven other results to fall just right to get them in on a Byzantine tiebreaker. Won’t happen. Game was off-board because of Indy’s nightmare QB situation. With Andrew Luck still out and Charlie Whitehurst done, it will be hobbled, ancient Matt Hasselbeck or one of two recently signed retreads, Josh Freeman or Ryan Lindley.

REDSKINS (8-7) at COWBOYS (4-11)

Line: DAL by 4.

Cote’s pick: DAL 20-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Tough call because Redskins have clinched division and cannot improve their playoff seeding, meaning they must weigh the wish to win with the prudent temptation to limit their starters’ playing time. That factor, the venue and Dallas’ solid pass defense makes me think the ’Boys will eke by. Thinking Kellen Moore can’t possibly be as bad as he was last week. (Right?)

EAGLES (6-9) at GIANTS (6-9)

Line: NYG by 3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NYG 31-27.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

The Eagles fired coach Chip Kelly this week and have OC Pat Shurmur filling in. This could also finally be the last game for Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Phils have won four of past five in rivalry, but I like Biggies at home. Eli Manning has 763 passing yards in past two homies vs. PHI and gets favorite catcher Odell Beckham Jr. back from suspension.

LIONS (6-9) at BEARS (6-9)

Line: CHI by 1.

Cote’s pick: CHI 23-21.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

A near pick-’em game for a reason. Detroit has won five in a row in the series, during which Matthew Stafford has 14 TDs vs. one pick. But Chicago’s Jay Cutler is on a 4-1 run in home starts vs. Lions. When in doubt, home field is a reasonable tiebreaker.

BUCCANEERS (6-9) at PANTHERS (14-1)

Line: CAR by 10 1/2.

Cote’s pick: CAR 27-19.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Carolina’s loss last week did more than set champagne glasses to clinking among the ’72 Dolphins. It also put Panthers starters to work Sunday. It means Carolina must win here (or rely on an unlikely Arizona loss) to clinch home-field advantage throughout. Cats have won five in a row in series. Bucs will be first NFC team since 1970 merger to finish last in division five consecutive years.

RAIDERS (7-8) at CHIEFS (10-5)

Line: KC by 7.

Cote’s pick: KC 23-20.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

Chiefs are in — as first team in 45 years to make playoffs after a 1-5 start — but clinch division title with a win here if Denver loses. Alex Smith is 6-1 vs. Raiders with 16 TDs vs. one INT. But .500 would be a big deal for Oakland, which gets an emotional boost from the final game of Hall of Famer Charles Woodson. KC sneaks by, but major upset potential here.

CHARGERS (4-11) at BRONCOS (11-4)

Line: DEN by 9.

Cote’s pick: DEN 24-13.

TV: 4:25 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Denver is in but locks up first-round bye with a win and home-field advantage throughout with a win and a loss by Patriots. Overshadowing that, a career first: Peyton Manning, a healthy backup. He’s back from the foot injury that shelved him for six games, but Brock Osweiler gets the call again. San Diego is 1-6 on road, winless in division and has lost eight of past nine to Broncos.

SEAHAWKS (9-6) at CARDINALS (13-2)

Line: ARI by 6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: ARI 24-23.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

Seattle has clinched playoffs but could get fifth seed with a win and a Vikings loss. Arizona has more to play for. Cardbirds clinch home field throughout if they win and if Carolina loses. Two red-hot QBs in Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer. And a great contrast of Seattle’s big defense vs. a ’Zona offense that is the only one in NFL with more touchdowns than punts. Upset potential, with Cacti due a loss.

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