The first part of the NFL season was all about the underdogs. You couldn't find three favorites in a week that would cover.
Then, as they always do, things evened out, and now favorites are dominating against the spread. And that includes big spreads, too.
That has helped me generate a respectful 12-5-1 ATS mark over the last six weeks with my favorites. I feel good this about week my favorites, too, so here's my week 17 NFL picks featuring the best three favorites to cover the spread.
Favorites: 21-25-2 ATS
Overall: 41-52-3 ATS
Washington (-3) at New York Giants
New York can't defend the pass. And they can't move the ball on offense.
That's a nice recipe for picking against them, especially when I only have to give up a field goal.
Neither team has anything to play for...except for Kirk Cousins. Cousins is under constant scrutiny, so he has to play well in order to get money in the offseason. And against the Giants, he should easily be able to move the ball up and down the field.
The Giants allow 7.4 yards per pass attempt, almost a yard more than Washington allows on defense. And while Washington can't run, that shouldn't be an issue. Cousins can spread the ball around and will continue to march up and down the field.
Forget about motivation in this game. Washington is the better team on both sides of the football and that will show in week 17. — Go Chalk with Washington
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (-8)
I'm surprised this line didn't reach double-digits. The Chargers are by far the better team in this scenario.
Offensively, the Chargers have been consistent throughout the season, and the defense continues to show its dominance, especially against the pass. Meanwhile, the Raiders' offense is a shell of its former self, and the inability to pass (they're averaging 4.7 yards per pass attempt in the last three games) will cause this game to get out of hand early.
The only weakness the Chargers have is their rush defense, which shows up when they play teams like Kansas City. Oakland isn't committed enough to the running game to exploit that weakness, so this game won't be close. You're getting great value with this being less than 10 points, so pounce on the Chargers. — Go Chalk with Los Angeles Chargers
New Orleans (-7) at Tampa Bay
I waited around a long time for Tampa Bay this season before putting them in their rightful place.
The team doesn't have enough on the defensive side of the football this year to be consistently competitive. They were competitive in week 16 against Carolina, but turnovers doomed their offense again. And the defense once again failed them in the final moments of the game.
Now, I get a New Orleans team that averages 6.3 yards per play, the best mark in the NFL, against a Tampa Bay defense that allows 6 yards per play, the worst mark in the NFL.
This is a statistical mismatch. The Saints also can play a little defense, too, especially in the turnover department. That will be a major issue for Jameis Winston, who can't seem to hold on to the football (three fumbles last week). The Saints are by far the better team and shouldn't have any lack of motivation.
New Orleans needs a win, so they'll go out and take care of business. — Go Chalk with New Orleans
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH