NFL Week 17 Betting: Darius Butler's favorite bets of the week

Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates throwing a touchdown against the Washington Football Team during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The holiday slate of NFL games delivered in a big way for the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, as they all secured a spot in the 2021 NFL playoffs.

The NFL Week 16 slate also gifted me with a perfect 3-0 record on my betting picks, taking my record to 29-21 on the year. Happy holidays indeed.

Let’s finish strong. Here are my betting picks for NFL Week 17.

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Los Angeles Rams (-6) over Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens will be forced to trot out either a banged-up Lamar Jackson or backup Tyler Huntley, so the clear edge in the quarterback battle goes to L.A.'s Matthew Stafford.

The Rams quarterback didn't play particularly well against the Minnesota Vikings last week, recording four turnover-worthy plays (and three interceptions) across 37 pass attempts. Still, he ranks seventh among 38 qualifying quarterbacks in PFF grade over the last month, a mark buoyed by a fifth-ranked big-time throw percentage of 5.3%.

Quarterback M. Stafford T. Huntley
PFF Grade 79.1 69.1
Passer Rating Clean 112.9 92.6
Passer Rating Under Pressure 72.3 76.9
Big-Time Throw % 4.89% 0.63%
Turnover-Worthy Play % 3.37% 1.87%
Power Rating 5.5 0.5
Power Rating Rank 9th 26th

Expect Stafford to bounce back against a Ravens secondary that is still only a shell of its former self. Through 16 weeks, Baltimore's secondary has combined for a PFF coverage grade of just 48.4, 31st among the league's 32 secondaries, with quarterbacks beating the unit for a passer rating of 106.1.

Give me the Rams winning this game by at least a touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) over Arizona Cardinals

Had these two teams met before Kyler Murray's month-long injury absence, I would have probably given the edge to Kyler. But, here we are in Week 17. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has the edge over Murray in PFF grade (75.2 to 74.3) since Week 10, and he has performed markedly better under pressure over that span. Advantage Dallas.

The Arizona Cardinals offense hasn't looked truly threatening for a while and has managed just -0.024 expected points added (EPA) per play since Week 13, the 15-best mark in football. We can say the exact opposite for the Dallas Cowboys defense, whose -0.320 EPA allowed per play leads all teams over that same stretch.

Last week, absolutely everything went right for the Cowboys against the Washington Football Team. The Dallas pass rush at full speed should apply consistent pressure against Kyler Murray this Sunday. Give me the Cowboys at home by a touchdown.

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Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) over Las Vegas Raiders

If this game turns out to be a shootout through the air, I would actually lean toward Derek Carr on this QB face-off. However, I highly doubt the game script goes that way on Sunday.

Quarterback D. Carr C. Wentz
PFF Grade 79.8 72.2
Passer Rating Clean 105.4 105.4
Passer Rating Under Pressure 69.0 76.0
Big-Time Throw % 5.56% 3.67%
Turnover-Worthy Play % 2.94% 2.75%
Power Rating 5.5 2.5
Power Rating Rank 9th 17th

The Colts are coming off what I believe to be the best win of their season and just got word that starting quarterback Carson Wentz will be activated off the COVID-19 reserve. This Colts team should now be at full strength, which is terrible news for the Raiders.

The strength of this Colts team is the strong running game led by Jonathan Taylor and a stingy defense that thrives on takeaways. Taylor's 85.7 PFF grade on the year ranks fifth among 61 qualifying running backs, while his 3.82 yards after contact per attempt ranks third. The Colts defense ranks sixth among the NFL's 32 teams in team defense grade.

I expect to see J.T. running for over 125 yards and this defense grabbing a couple of turnovers. Give me the Colts at home by two scores.

Darius Butler is a former NFL free safety. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.

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