Austin Montgomery's Week 17 Preview: Vegas-Indy, Miami-Tennessee, Cleveland-Pittsburgh and more


Credit: Carson Wentz (Instagram)

We are officially into 2022. Crazy stuff. It's been a fun season so far. I certainly appreciate everyone who has ridden with us this season. I'm completely determined to get us in the green by the season's end. There were a lot of adjustments we had to follow over the course of the last week, as there are new Covid policies in place over the last few days.


But we will have all that information.


So without further ado, here are the picks - as always, the picks are presented by our partners at DraftKings Sportsbook - which has an incredible offer for first time users.


Philadelphia at Washington


Spread: Philadelphia (-4.5)


Total: 44.5


This line simply doesn't make sense. Washington will be short in the secondary without William Jackson. Defensive end Montez Sweat, defensive James Smith-Williams and wide receiver Curtis Samuel are all questionable Sunday. Also, running back Antonio Gibson was put on the Covid List on Friday.


Speaking of Washington, we saw what happened with a short-handed Washington look against Dallas on Sunday. I don't like overreacting to prime time games, but I just have to come to the point of realization, Washington is simply not a good football team. I don't see how they can move the ball with the possibility of Gibson being out. Washington ranked 20th in offensive DVOA, and QB Taylor Heincke has not played well.


The way to move the ball in Philly is to run the ball between the tackles. The Football team has been on a major slide allowing an average of 36 points per game across the past three contests while scoring only 15. Philly is fighting for a playoff spot and should coast to a victory here.


The pick: Philadelphia (-4.5)

 

Las Vegas at Indianapolis


Spread: Indianapolis (-8.5)


Total: 45.5


Vegas needs a win to stay in the playoff hunt, and they are going to get it on Sunday. Indianapolis is the newest darling in the NFL. But they should not be a touchdown favorite over a team with a winning record. Carson Wentz is coming off the Covid-List, but he missed a week worth of reps in practice. Indy has been the hottest team in football, winning four of their last five, with their one loss being against the defending Super Bowl champs in a game where they lead by double digits in the first half. It's why Indy is being priced as one of the top teams in the league. You know they just might be in the upper echelon of the league.


However, this is not the week to back them.


Indy is dealing with multiple injuries and Covid issues on the offensive line. They will be missing right tackle Braden Smith, and Eric Fisher is a game-time decision. In addition, Las Vegas sneakily ranks in the Top 10 in rush DVOA. With a weaker offensive line, they will have a chance to slow down Jonathon Taylor in this one. Fun fact, Derek Carr has more games as a touchdown underdog than any QB in the league. In their last five, Vegas is 4-1 ATS as a road underdog. Indy struggles against deep passes, and Carr leads the NFL in air yards. Vegas has struggled offensively lately, but things will get significantly better with Waller back. Back Vegas with the spread and add a money line sprinkle for good measure.


The pick: Las Vegas +8.5

 

Houston at San Francisco


Spread: San Francisco (-12)


Total: 44


We have another game most people don't want to see. Houston has put up 41 and 30 the last two weeks. Recency bias has bumped this lineup. In those games, they have played defenses that ranked 26th and 30th in defensive DVOA. Houston has been miserably on the road.


Then there's San Francisco needs to win this game - but will be forced to start Trey Lance under center due to Jimmy Garoppolo's injured thumb. On the other side of the ball, Houston's Davis Mills will face a defense that ranks third in adjusted sack rate. Expect Houston to lean on the ground game where San Francisco surrenders a league-average 4.2 yards per rush.


Offensively, San Francisco runs the ball at the 5th highest rate in the NFL. I expect them to get up big and conservatively chew the clock, especially now that Lance is under center. I don't think Mills will score in garbage time to hit the over. Expect a low scoring game in a contest not many will want to watch.


The pick: Under 44

 

Miami at Tennessee


Spread: Tennessee (-3)


Total: 40


Miami has now won seven straight - but they have only had one win against a team with a winning record in that span. But the Phins are rolling here, while the fatigue of not having Derrick Henry has seemed to affect Tennessee's offense. They ranked in the bottom four in offensive DVOA the past six weeks, including fourth-worst in passing DVOA. In addition to not moving the football, Ryan Tannehill has been turnover happy, with six fumbles and six interceptions over that stretch. This is his first game against his longtime team that drafted him, and although he would want to show up in a huge revenge game, I don't see that happening.


The bottom line is, Miami's defense has been excellent the past several weeks, ranking in the top 5 in EPA throughout their winning streak. Miami ranks eighth overall in DVOA, and they are sixth best against the pass. Xavien Howard or Bryon Jones are good candidates to limit AJ Brown. I just don't see how they move the ball.


Offensively, Miami fans are starting to feel pretty good about their new QB. Tua Tagovailoa has led the league in Success Rate over the past six games and ranks top-five in EPA and Completion Percentage. I think Miami has a legitimate shot to be a playoff team, which is a must-win game. I think they get it here.


The pick: Miami (+3)

 

Detroit at Seattle


Spread: Seattle (-7.5)


Total: 41.5


This is a line that is simply off. The Seattle offense has been misinterpreted after a few bad games from Russell Wilson. We are going to take advantage of the misconception. Seattle ranks 11th in offensive DVOA but 25th in defensive DVOA. As hard as Detroit plays, they have the worst defenses ranking 29th in defensive DVOA.


The edge here is we are going to see Russ cooking.


Detroit ranks second to last in pressure rate, and they are 5th worst in adjusted sack rate. Because of it, Wilson will have time in the pocket to make big plays. When you give Russ time, he will cook anyone. When Russ gets to pass without pressure, he completes nearly 75% of his passes and throws for nearly eight yards per attempt.


This total is low because Tim Boyle will be starting this game. Like Detroit, Seattle ranks 20th in pressure rate. Boyle looked pretty decent against Atlanta when he had a clean pocket. Seattle ranks 28th in pass DVOA. Seattle plays a lot of zone coverage, so the coaching staff can script easy throws for Boyle. This over one of my favorite under the radar plays of the slate.


The pick: Over 41.5

 

Cleveland at Pittsburgh - Monday Night Football


Spread: Cleveland (-3.5)


Total: 41


Big Ben will break Cleveland's hearts in his final home game at Heinz Field. It will be an emotional game for Big Ben and the Steelers. Aside from the farewell of Pittsburgh long time QB, this game has significant playoff ramifications. If Cincinnati loses to Kansas City this coming Sunday, Cleveland will control their destiny. The Steelers, meanwhile, will need to win out and have the Bengals lose again in Week 18 — to these Browns.


So many people are reacting after Pittsburgh got destroyed by Kansas City last week. After last week's play calls, I can't trust Cleveland anymore. Baker Mayfield has struggled under pressure all season long, and he will have to face TJ Watt in this one. Cleveland will be able to move the ball on the ground, but as long as Kevin Stefanski gives Baker opportunities to throw, Pittsburgh will get stops.


Mike Tomlin is an 18-7-1 ATS when he is an underdog of three or less. Give me the longtime Pittsburgh great to go out with a win.


Pittsburgh +3.5

Spread: Cleveland (-3.5)


Total: 41


Big Ben will break Cleveland's hearts in his final home game at Heinz Field. It will be an emotional game for Big Ben and the Steelers. Aside from the farewell of Pittsburgh long time QB, this game has significant playoff ramifications. If Cincinnati loses to Kansas City this coming Sunday, Cleveland will control their destiny. The Steelers, meanwhile, will need to win out and have the Bengals lose again in Week 18 — to these Browns.


So many people are reacting after Pittsburgh got destroyed by Kansas City last week. After last week's play calls, I can't trust Cleveland anymore. Baker Mayfield has struggled under pressure all season long, and he will have to face TJ Watt in this one. Cleveland will be able to move the ball on the ground, but as long as Kevin Stefanski gives Baker opportunities to throw, Pittsburgh will get stops.


Mike Tomlin is an 18-7-1 ATS when he is an underdog of three or less. Give me the longtime Pittsburgh great to go out with a win.


Pittsburgh +3.5

 

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