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NFL Week 17 picks: Washington makes playoffs; Rams top Cardinals

Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambles against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 27.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambles against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 27. Despite having a losing record Washington will make the playoffs with a win over Philadelphia on Sunday night.
(Mark Tenally/ Associated Press)
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The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to Pregame.com (O/U = over/under). Last week’s record 9-7 (.563); season 160-79-1 (.670).

Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread would have been 7-8-1 (.467); season 122-112-6 (.521). Times are Pacific.

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Miami Dolphins (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (12-3)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen passes against the New England Patriots on Dec. 28.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Bills by 3. O/U: 43.

These Bills are entertaining, and Josh Allen consistently plays at an MVP level. The Dolphins are no pushovers, particularly on defense. Tua Tagovailoa is early on the growth curve.

Prediction: Bills 27, Dolphins 20

3

Baltimore Ravens (10-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes against the New York Giants on Dec. 27.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Ravens by 13. O/U: 441/2.

Baltimore is heavily favored, and the Ravens have a chance to make the playoffs so they have incentivize. Still, Cincinnati has won two in a row and can put up some semblance of a fight.

Prediction: Ravens 31, Bengals 21

4

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) at Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph hands off the ball to running back Benny Snell Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph hands off the ball to running back Benny Snell Jr. against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 22.
(Gary McCullough / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Browns by 10. O/U: 421/2.

The Browns are dealing with a COVID outbreak, so tough to know who might play. But Mason Rudolph is starting for Pittsburgh, and it was Ben Roethlisberger who turned the Steelers around last week.

Prediction: Browns 28, Steelers 21

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5

New York Jets (2-13) at New England Patriots (6-9)

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton warms up before playing the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 28.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Patriots by 3. O/U: 391/2.

The Jets have won two in a row, and their offense has gotten healthier and is clicking a bit. The Patriots are a shell of teams we’ve known, and it’s amazing they have more than a couple of wins.

Prediction: Jets 23, Patriots 20

6

Minnesota Vikings (6-9) at Detroit Lions (5-10)

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passes against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 25.
(Brett Duke / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Vikings by 7. O/U: 54.

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Even without Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings are significantly better than the Lions. Detroit plays too much man defense, and Kirk Cousins is accurate enough to take advantage.

Prediction: Vikings 30, Lions 21

7

Dallas Cowboys (6-9) at New York Giants (5-10)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton scrambles with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 27.
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Cowboys by 1. O/U: 441/2.

Andy Dalton is playing as well as Dak Prescott played earlier this season. The Cowboys’ defense is suspect, but the Giants are too banged up to take advantage. Dallas has too many weapons.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 24

8

Atlanta Falcons (4-11) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady warms up before playing the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 20.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 711.

Line: Buccaneers by 7. O/U: 501/2.

The Buccaneers will have left tackle Donovan Smith against Atlanta this time, and that will give Tom Brady time to find his receivers. Brady has a big first half, and the Buccaneers cruise to playoffs.

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Falcons 24

9

New Orleans Saints (11-4) at Carolina Panthers (5-10)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throws before playing Washington on Dec. 27.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Saints by 61/2. O/U: 471/2.

The Saints’ defense made big strides this season but took a step backward in surrendering 33 points to Minnesota last week. Matt Rhule will have the Panthers playing hard, but the Saints have too much.

Prediction: Saints 28, Panthers 24

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10

Green Bay Packers (12-3) at Chicago Bears (8-7)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hands off to running back AJ Dillon against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 27.
(Jeffrey Phelps / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Packers by 51/2. O/U: 51.

The Bears have won three in a row, scoring a lot of points and running effectively. But Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are playing at a different level for Green Bay, which is vying for the NFC’s bye.

Prediction: Packers 34, Bears 24

11

Los Angeles Chargers (6-9) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert warms up before playing the Denver Broncos on Dec. 27.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Chargers by 31/2. O/U: 44.

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The Chiefs are resting Patrick Mahomes, so Chad Henne will be leading a cast of understudies. The Chargers tend to play pretty well there, and win with the combo of Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler.

Prediction: Chargers 27, Chiefs 23

12

Seattle Seahawks (11-4) at San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks to pass against the Rams on Dec. 27.
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Seahawks by 61/2. O/U: 46.

Seattle’s defensive transformation has been remarkable. The way they blitz Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams creates problems for others. 49ers are talented but are the walking wounded.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, 49ers 21

13

Las Vegas Raiders (7-8) at Denver Broncos (5-10)

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr speaks with coach Jon Gruden during a game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 26.
(Steve Marcus / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

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TV: None. DirecTV: 716.

Line: Raiders by 21/2. O/U: 51.

Derek Carr has quietly put together a great season with a hodgepodge supporting cast, and a young defense that really has struggled. Denver’s offense is inexperienced but filled with potential.

Prediction: Raiders 24, Broncos 18

14

Tennessee Titans (10-5) at Houston Texans (4-11)

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry carries the ball against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 27.
(Matt Ludtke / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 717.

Line: Titans by 71/2. O/U: 561/2.

After a slow start, Deshaun Watson has been terrific. Not so for the rest of the Texans. That said, Houston should be able to make this interesting. Still, no stopping Derrick Henry.

Prediction: Titans 34, Texans 31

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15

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers throws against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 27.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 718.

Line: Colts by 14. O/U: 491/2.

The Colts are desperate, and if they don’t get into the playoffs it’s a travesty. If that’s the case, they can point to their Week 1 loss at Jacksonville. Philip Rivers comes through, as does the defense.

Prediction: Colts 34, Jaguars 13

16

Arizona Cardinals (8-7) at Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

Rams quarterback John Wolford warms up before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 6.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 719.

Line: Cardinals by 3. O/U: 401/2.

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Big test for Sean McVay, with Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp out, the running game ravaged, and a QB who has never thrown an NFL pass. McVay has never lost to the Cardinals. The defense comes through.

Prediction: Rams 20, Cardinals 17

17

Washington (6-9) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs with the ball against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 27.
(Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Washington by 2. O/U: 431/2.

Taylor Heinicke might not get Washington fans too excited, but that defense can be smothering. Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts is fun to watch, but the Eagles break down on defense. Should be close.

Prediction: Washington 17, Eagles 14

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