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NFL Week 17 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: A New Year and the end of the Madden Era

Written By | Dec 31, 2021
John Madden, Madden

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LOS ANGELES, December 31, 2022 — While the focus of letterheads this time of year is on the stretch run to the playoffs. However, this year that focus on football comes with heavy hearts. John Madden has joined Pat Summerall in NFL heaven.

Madden died on December 28th at age 85, only three days after receiving a glowing life tribute to his football life.

At Summerall’s funeral, a crying John Madden intoned that

“Pat Summerall was football.”

To say that John Madden was football would be an understatement. John Madden IS football.

Over the course of his football life, Madden went from being a hated coach of a hated team to a warm, fuzzy, and beloved elder statesman of football. On the sidelines with the Oakland Raiders, he was known for his volcanic temper.

As broadcasters, Madden and Summerall were a warm, comfortable pair of slippers.

Madden really was that guy at the bar talking football.

With one exception.

The guy at the bar often spouts nonsense. Madden knew exactly what he was talking about. He was a football genius. Beneath the “boom” and “whap” and “bam” exclamations were a guy who understood football inside and out and could explain it in simple terms.

  • John Madden did not use jargon. He spoke honestly in plain English.
  • Only he had the Madden Cruiser bus bringing the NFL  to every corner of America.
  • He introduced the Turducken to the world, revolutionizing Thanksgiving dinner.

Only he could begin a Pro Football Hall of Fame speech by saying,

“I don’t plan on making a heck of a lot of sense and I don’t care.”

John Madden said that late at night in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “the busts talk to each other.”

Madden would tell his players,

“Don’t worry if the horse is blind, just load the wagon.”

Only he used the telestrator to demonstrate exactly how Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor would dump the Gatorade bucket on coach Bill Parcells. And then expertly diagram exactly how to send a blitz on third down and seven that would rock an opposing offense.

Madden took part in some of the most important and well-known NFL games in the history of football. As a coach, he was there for the Immaculate Reception, the Sea of Hands, Ghost to the Post, and the Holy Roller.

As an announcer, he and Summerall covered the 1990 NFC Title Game. The New York Giants shocked the San Francisco 49ers 15-13 in a brutal game that changed football. Leonard Marshall blew up Joe Montana, leaving the quarterback to stagger around on the ground for over five minutes.

Madden filled the time admirably and with sensitivity and heart.

Madden and Summerall also covered the NFL Super Bowl that began one dynasty and prevented another one.

The 2001 New England Patriots stunned the heavily favored St. Louis Rams 20-17. Madden was there for Tom Brady’s first consequential Super Bowl drive. Every player and coach today learned in some way from either Madden the coach, Madden the broadcaster, or Madden the video game guy. Or just John Madden, the guy on the stool next to you.

John Madden will forever be football. He will be watching the 2021 season concluded with the Super Bowl in 2022. The only difference is he will be watching it with God and Summerall rather than the rest of us leatherheads.

Rest in Peace John Maden.

With that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 17 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by and all times Eastern.

Sunday, January 2, 2022, 1:00 p.m.

Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Washington Backward Sniksder —

The 8-7 Eagles are very much alive in the playoff hunt while the 6-9 N-Names have lost three straight and are eliminated. The Eagles barely beat the No-Names a couple of weeks ago at home. After getting blasted by 42 points at Dallas, expect the No-Names to show some pride and try and eliminate the Eagles from playoff contention as well. Go with the home field in the battle of two average teams. Upset special, Backward Skiksder win outright.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens —

The 11-4 Rams lead the NFC West by one game and are one game back in the race for home-field throughout the playoffs. The 8-7 Ravens have lost four straight. Losing Lamar Jackson to injury and Tyler Huntley to Covid has killed them. If third-stringer Josh Johnson is the starter, that exacerbates the imbalance. The Ravens can still make the playoffs, but the Rams are just too loaded to be slowed down by a hobbled Baltimore team. Rams cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.5) at New York Jets —

The 11-4 Buccaneers have clinched the NFC South and are one game back in the race for home-field throughout the playoffs. The Jets are done. Bruce Arians is out with Covid, leaving his assistant head coach to lead the Buccaneers. Even with key injuries, the Buccaneers have the advantage at every offensive position. The Buccaneers also have Tom Brady. Yet the spread is too high for a road team, especially against a Jets team that has not quit. Buccaneers win but fail to cover.

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans (-3.5) —

The greatest in-season comeback in NFL history is taking place. The Dolphins won their opener, lost seven straight, and then won seven straight to get to 8-7. Most of those wins came against very bad teams, so this week will tell us if the Dolphins are for real. The Dolphins right now have the tie-breaker edge of all four 8-7 teams vying for a playoff spot. The Dolphins are also one game out of the AFC East lead. The 10-5 Titans with a win will clinch the AFC South but could miss the playoffs if they lose their final two games. This is the Bill Belichick Bowl, with defensive-minded proteges Brian Flores and Mike Vrabel at the helm. The Titans have the better offense, but Miami’s hot streak makes the spread seem dicey. Titans win but fail to cover.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-15.5) —

The Patriots have lost two straight and at 9-6 are now tied for the AFC East lead. They do not hold the tie-breaker. The Jaguars are a mess. The spread is high, but this game could be over by halftime. Winning by running the ball and playing defense usually does not lead to a blowout, but the Jaguars are anemic. Two more losses guarantee the Jaguars the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. They will play like it. Patriots cover.

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) —

The 8-7 Raiders make the playoffs if they win their final two games. The 9-6 Colts are in a stronger playoff position and even have an outside shot at winning the AFC South division. They are currently one game back but do not hold the tie-breaker. The Colts are in the playoffs with one more win. The Colts may be without Carson Wentz, who tested positive for Covid on Tuesday. The earliest Wentz could return is game day Sunday. The Raiders will again be without Darrell Waller. The Raiders lack the firepower to go on the road against a good defense and win. The Colts started 1-4 but have gone 8-2 since. Whether Wentz or Sam Ehlinger starts, handing the ball to Jonathan Taylor is all they need to do. The colts win but fail to cover.

Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) at Cincinnati Bengals —

The 11-4 Chiefs have locked up the AFC West. They are also one game up in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 9-6 Bengals are one game up in the race for the AFC North lead and they hold the tie-breaker. A win would clinch the division. However, two losses to end the season could have them out of the playoffs altogether. The Chiefs have the superior talent but this Bengals team feels different. The Chiefs have won eight straight games, but the Bengals swept Pittsburgh and Baltimore this year. Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon are for real. This could be a classic, but it is hard to doubt the red hot Chiefs. Chiefs win but fail to cover.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-6) —

Both teams are terrible, but third-string quarterback Nick Foles did provide a spark last week. The Giants are also playing with backup quarterbacks, with worse results. Neither team has enough firepower to justify the high spread. The bears win but fail to cover.

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills (-14) —

The 7-8 Falcons are actually not completely eliminated from the playoffs yet. That will change. The 9-6 Bills are tied for the AFC East lead and they hold the tie-breaker. After the big emotional win at New England, do not expect the Bills to have a letdown. Forget the high spread. The Bills have superior talent on both sides of the ball. This could be over early. Bills cover.

4:00 p.m.

Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers (-12.5) —

In 2006, these teams were both 2-13 and played in a monsoon that unmercifully went to overtime. The 49ers won, giving the Texans the top draft pick. They went with Mario Williams over Reggie Bush. 15 years later, the Texans are still terrible but got a big win at home over the Chargers last week. On the road, they face an 8-7 49ers team that is still in the playoff hunt. Expect the Texans to have a letdown. Jimmy Garoppolo has a bad thumb, but the 49ers are on a mission. Expect Kyle Shanahan to pull out all the stops, including bringing in Trey Lance for some plays. 49ers cover.

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-5.5) —

The 7-8 Broncos are on the verge of elimination. The 8-7 Chargers are very much alive. Last month the Broncos won big over the Chargers in Denver. The rematch could be a different story. The Chargers have the better offense and the Broncos have the better defense. Drew Lock is again replacing an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Justin Herbert will be angry after the Charges were embarrassed last week at lowly Houston. Despite very little offense, the Broncos have a tough enough defense to make this competitive. Chargers win but fail to cover.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-6.5) —

Forget the Ian Book experiment. This week the 7-8 Saints get Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill back. The Saints are alive for a playoff spot while the Panthers are done. The spread is high given that the Saints win with defense. Saints win but fail to cover.

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (-7) —

Neither team is going to the playoffs. The Lions are only one-half of a game behind Jacksonville for the top draft pick, but the Lions want to win. The Seahawks are angry over literally giving away a home game to Chicago. Russell Wilson is still better than Jared Goff, and Wilson has better receivers. Seahawks cover.

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys (-5) —

This is a big one. The 10-5 Cardinals have lost three straight to fall one game back in the NFC West. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is out of reach, but the Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot. The Cowboys blasted archival Washington to pieces by 42 points last week. The 11-4 Cowboys have clinched the NFC East and are one game back in the race for home-field throughout the playoffs. The Cowboys are rolling and the Cardinals are reeling. Go with the trend, especially with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott playing well down the stretch. Cowboys cover.


Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-6.5) —

The 7-8 Vikings are still alive for a playoff spot, but the 12-3 Packers are on a mission. The Packers have already clinched the NFC North and are one game up in the race for home-field throughout the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out. With this division rivalry, the normal cliche is to throw out the records. This game is an exception. Aaron Rodgers is possessed. He will rip the Vikings to pieces. Packers cover.

Monday, January 3, 8:00 p.m.

Cleveland Browns (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers —

The Browns are 7-8 and the Steelers are 7-7. Both teams have pretty much seen the AFC North division slip away. Both teams are alive for a playoff spot but need a ton of help. The loser is done. The Browns shocked the Steelers in the playoffs last year in Pittsburgh, but these teams are mirror images of each other. Baker Mayfield is playing injured and Ben Roethlisberger is old and tired. Both of them play with heart and guts. Home field matters little, but in what could be Big Ben’s final home game, expect the Terrible Towels to go all out. The Browns have been ravaged by Covid. If the Steelers can stop Nick Chubb, they win. Upset special, Steelers win outright.


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Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”