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Beating the Book: Backing the Rams and Steelers

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Week 17 is always an interesting one to handicap - especially on a Wednesday night - because so much will change over the course of the week when coaches announce who's playing and for how long.

Moreover, it's tough to guess which out-of-contention teams really care and even harder to fathom the motivations of teams that are going to the playoffs and can't make up significant seeding ground. The best rule of thumb is to fade the market assumptions about motivation as all of them are priced into the line, with the exception being when they're not priced in correctly. Put differently, there is no fact about these games of which you are aware that the public isn't, but it's possible some of those facts aren't being interpreted correctly.

For what it's worth - and considering my recent run, probably not much - I particularly like the Rams and Steelers.


Jets + 3.5 at Bills

The Jets gave up 11 sacks last week, but the Bills have a below-average passing game and a bad defense. This is a coin flip, so take the points.

Bills 13 - 10

Ravens +1.5 at Bengals

Neither team has much for which to play, but reading what their respective coaches have to say, it seems like the Bengals are more likely to go all out, which is odd because should the Ravens win and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins, Baltimore would have the No. 3 seed. Back Cincy.

Bengals 23 - 20

Browns +7* at Steelers

It's possible the Browns will be down to their third string QB, Thaddeus Lewis as both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy are banged up. There's no line in most places, so I found a lone source and went with it. If it's really seven, I'll take the Steelers at home under these circumstances.

Steelers 20 - 3

* Lines not available in most places. Used only source I could find.

Texans -7 at Colts

The Colts have nothing to play for, while the Texans need to lock up a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But Indy seems likely to play in part because the team is young and relatively healthy, and it'll be coach Chuck Pagano's first game back after battling leukemia. Take the points here.

Texans 24 - 20

Jaguars +4 at Titans

The Titans were just embarrassed last week, while Jacksonville played a good game against the Pats. I think the Titans might buckle down at home while the Jaguars have a letdown. Back Tennessee.

Titans 27 - 20

Eagles +7 at Giants

It's hard to know which Giants team will show up, and the Eagles will have Michael Vick making his 2013 audition. Still, I think New York will cover this number at home after embarrassing itself for two straight weeks on the road. Back the Giants.

Giants 31 - 20

Bears -3 at Lions

I keep taking the Lions as home dogs, and they never seem to deliver. Still, I'm going back to the well in a division rivalry and facing a Bears squad with a terrible offense. Back Detroit.

Lions 19 - 17

Buccaneers +3* at Falcons

There's no line for this game, so I used the source I could find. Coach Mike Smith says he's playing to win, but he could also mean his backups will try really hard in the fourth quarter. In any event, I think the reeling Bucs are the play this week with the points. Back Tampa.

Buccaneers 31 - 10

Panthers +5 at Saints

I think these are roughly even teams both of which have pride on the line before heading into the offseason. Five points should be enough. Back Carolina.

Panthers 30 - 27


Dolphins +10 at Patriots

The Pats are still one of the league's elite teams, despite struggling in Jacksonville and losing to the 49ers the last two weeks, but Miami is probably above average, and this is a lot of points. Back the Dolphins.

Patriots 27 - 20

Packers -3 at Vikings

The Packers haven't looked like themselves for most of the year, but last week they put it all together, albeit against a league doormat. The Vikings need this game to get into the playoffs, but the Packers also need it for a first round bye. Back the Packers who pull away late.

Packers 28 - 20

Chiefs +16 at Broncos

The Broncos need this game for a first-round bye, while the Chiefs are probably looking forward to ending the misery. Still, Denver doesn't need to prove anything, and if the win is in hand, they might slow it down in the second half. Back Kansas City.

Broncos 24 - 10

Raiders +4.5* at Chargers

Another provisional line given the Raiders' quarterback situation. I'm always wrong about the Chargers, but I see them rolling easily here. Back San Diego.

Chargers 23 - 9

Cardinals +16.5 at 49ers

It's almost never a good idea to lay the points when the line is this big, especially when the dog has a decent defense. But the Niners need to flex their muscles after an embarrassing loss in Seattle, and I expect them to roll. Back San Francisco.

49ers 20 - 0

Rams +10.5 at Seahawks

I know it's crazy to fade the Seahawks at home, but if ever there were a time to do so, this is it, coming off a stock-inflating blowout win over the Niners and facing the out-of-contention Rams before heading to the playoffs. The Rams had no problem slugging it out against the 49ers this year and beat the Seahawks 19-13 in St. Louis in Week 4. Moreover, as of this writing, there's a chance star corner Richard Sherman will be suspended for the game (his appeal will be heard Thursday). I still expect the Seahawks to win, but the Rams who have a chance to finish above .500 should put up a fight. Back St. Louis.

Seahawks 21- 17


Cowboys +3 at Redskins

The Redskins handled Dallas on Thanksgiving, and now the teams are playing for the NFC East crown. I'll give Washington the edge due to coaching, and with the home-field advantage, I'll lay the points. Back the Redskins.

Redskins 31 - 27

We went 5-10-1 last week to go 111-123-6 on the year. From 1999-2011 we've gone 1,689-1,512 (52.8%), not including ties.