Week 17 is upon us and Neil Monnery is here to preview the first two games of Sky's final triple header of the season...
"Week 17 is one of the hardest to pick in the NFL because you don't know which teams will be going 100% but if Washington don't win this handsomely thanks to the Giants' NFC seeding being locked in, then they'll be a lot of questions to answer in the nation's capital."
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
New Year's Day, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports
Week 17 is not going to be half as exciting as we expected as 10 of the 12 playoff spots have already been sown up. Miami will play on wildcard weekend as either the #5 or #6 seed with New England set to be the #1 if they win or tie this game or Oakland lose or tie in Denver. Miami will move up to the #5 seed should they win and Kansas City lose.
As I'm here to write a betting preview, I am in somewhat of a bind as I have no idea how much either team will rest their starters. I fully expect Tom Brady and co to start the game but if they are still in come the third quarter it would be a bit of a surprise.
Miami are already without their starting QB so Matt Moore will probably go the duration but they'll have a very run heavy playbook to protect him. If they lost him then they would be in a whole heap of trouble.
Even though the Patriots miss the biggest difference maker in the NFL in terms of non-QB offensive players in Rob Gronkowski, they still have a plethora of talent in Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell to go on Sunday. Danny Amendola is still recovering from an ankle knock and is expected to be kept back for their opening playoff game.
With both teams more interested in ensuring they don't get any serious injuries, I find this tough to call. I'll roll with the Pats -9 based solely on I think their backup Jimmy Garoppolo will want to air it out when he comes into the game. He knows they'll be lots of interest in him on the trade market and one good performance here when he gets into the game and he could open up the 2017 season as the starting QB somewhere in the league.
3pt Back New England with a 9pt handicap to win at Evens on the Sportsbook
3pt Back over 58.5 rushing yards for Jay Ajayi at 5/6 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Jay Ajayi to score the first touchdown at 8/1 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Dion Lewis to score the first touchdown at 12/1 on the Sportsbook
New York Giants @ Washington
New Year's Day, 21:25
Live on Sky Sports
Unlike the first game of Sky's triple header, this one has a team with something really to play for. The Giants are locked into the fifth seed but if Washington win and Green Bay and Detroit don't play out a tie in the night cap, then they will sneak in as the sixth seed.
Like above, I fully expect the Giants to play a very conservative game and rest up several key players come the second half. QB Eli Manning has said he wants to play to get an offensive rhythm but with memories fresh in the mind of two starting QBs breaking bones last weekend in Oakland and Tennessee, don't expect him to be risked deep into the game.
This opens up a great chance for Washington, who looked liked they had blown their chance a fortnight ago when they put up a dud on Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers. They've got a second chance thanks to other results and I believe they'll grab it with both hands.
Week 17 is one of the hardest to pick in the NFL because you don't know which teams will be going 100% but if Washington don't win this handsomely thanks to the Giants' NFC seeding being locked in, then they'll be a lot of questions to answer in the nation's capital.
I'll take Evens for Washington to win with a 8.5pt handicap on the Sportsbook.
3pt Back Washington to win with a 8.5pt handicap at Evens on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Odell Beckham Jr. to score the first TD at 15/2 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back DeSean Jackson to score the first TD at 9/1 on the Sportsbook
You can read Neil Harvey's Packers @ Lions preview behind the link.