Week 17 College and NFL Pick ‘Em: SportsChump vs The Wife Hates Sports vs The Barber

Meet Swoops, aka Balboa, aka Hall of Fame, aka Brandon.

Brandon is pictured here holding his well-earned Louisville tumbler (he’s an alum) because he is the only person in this year’s contest to go a perfect 5-0.  Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy.

If you recall back when we kicked this thing off, I offered a customized tumbler courtesy of XVIII Designs to anyone who could go perfect for their week.  Not only is Swoops the only contestant to do so this season but he’s winning the whole contest over the past three years, going 13-2 against the spread.  He’ll soon be developing his own site where he picks winners for a nominal fee while sipping lime flavored vodka out of his new tumbler.

For everyone else, it’s time to step your collective games up.

My nemesis Kevin behind The Wife Hates Sports has yet to offer me a laurel and hearty handshake for my season-long victory.  It must be in the mail.

This season’s contest has been, well, no contest, really.  Here are our standings with two weeks to play.

SportsChump 47-32-1 +$450

The Wife Hates Sports 43-36-1 $180

Celebrity Guests 34-35-1 -$270

I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read and send me their picks.  We will do it all again next year if everyone is interested.  But before we do that, let me have …

$50 on Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-3)

The Raiders shook up the world last weekend by waltzing into Arrowhead and doing what few teams have done to the Chiefs, that is until Taylor Swift made her first appearance in the building.  We’ve talked about this for a while now.  There is something seriously wrong with the Chiefs, meaning that Raiders victory wasn’t as impressive as Las Vegas is giving them credit for.  The Raiders, at 7-8, are somehow still alive in the playoffs.  They’ve won their last two games, against the Chiefs and Chargers, but let’s be honest, those are two of the most underachieving teams in the conference.  I don’t give much credence to either of those wins.  This is also a team that lost 3-0 to the Vikings the week before that.  This week, they’re in Indy, facing a team who is not only also alive for playoff positioning but one of the better NFL teams against the spread this season.  Behind Gardner Minschew, no one expects much but they continue to do the unthinkable.  Sure, they lost last week to Atlanta but this week they’re at home where they haven’t lost since Halloween.  Indy is 9-6 against the spread.  Jonathan Taylor is healthy, they might get Michael Pittman out of concussion protocol and Minschew continues to do Minschew-like things.  The Colts have been one of the more consistent teams this season and the Raiders are too streaky for my liking.  They’ve lost three then won two, lost their next two then won their next two, then lost three and won two.  Is your head spinning yet?  Mine is.  The Colts are better.  They’ll cover the three at home.

$40 on Alabama Crimson Tide at Michigan Wolverines (-1 ½)

What a mess “the committee” has gotten us into.  There is still a committee, yes?  While college football continues to celebrate itself as the only sport that determines its champions in the boardroom and not on the field, our final four is set to kick off this holiday weekend.  With rumors swirling over whether the shunned Florida State Seminoles will participate in their bowl game, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the team which (so rudely) took their place is going up against the undefeated Michigan Wolverines.  Yes, undefeated only matters when you’re the Wolverines.  When this line first came out at less than a field goal, I was admittedly surprised. I understand that Alabama is never a huge underdog against anyone but has there been a point this season where you haven’t thought to yourself “Michigan is probably going to win a national championship?”  Michigan leads the NCAA in scoring defense, the only school to not allow double digit points this season.  So why would they only be favored by a point-and-a-half?  Does Vegas really think Alabama is going to win this game?  In what clearly looked like a down year for the SEC, where Bama lost to Texas and barely scooted by Auburn, Bama hasn’t been blowing people out.  In fact, they’ve been doing just enough to get by and have come awfully close to losing ball games they should have easily won.  The same can’t be said for Michigan who looked significantly better than every other team in the nation.  I haven’t seen anything out of Michigan that would tell me they’re going to lose to Alabama, so I’ll lay the point-and-a-half and feel pretty good about it.  Michigan covers.

$30 on Texas Longhorns at Washington Huskies (+4)

Let’s stick with college football since we’ve been so focused on the NFL lately.  I’m not sure I’ve seen an undefeated team get less respect than the 2023 Washington Huskies.  I’m kidding.  That honor clearly belongs to the 2023 Florida State Seminoles.  But enough Nole-barbs.  All Washington has done this season is run through the best conference in college football and beat what many people felt was one of the best teams in the nation, Oregon, twice.  Yes, they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the 2023 season.  Vegas is high on Texas, as they should be.  This is the first time Texas has been in a game of this magnitude since Colt McCoy pulled himself out of the beatdown Alabama would soon give his teammates he left on the field.  I’m sticking with the team that nobody has given a chance to.  The undefeated Washington Huskies are getting four points and they’re the better team, so I’ll take em and run.  Washington covers and might even pull off the upset.

$20 on Iowa Hawkeyes (+7 ½) at Tennessee Volunteers

What we have in Orlando is a snoozefest waiting to happen, unless of course you like defense.  On one hand, we have the Iowa Hawkeyes, masters of the 29-point over/under versus the Tennessee Volunteers (Can’t spell Citrus without UT), a team that had a problem putting up points against quality teams.  Their last two games against ranked opponents, Missouri and Georgia, they scored a combined 17 points.  I don’t believe Tennessee’s offense is stout enough to cover the seven-and-a-half points against a defense that even gave Michigan fits.  Prior to allowing 26 to Michigan, Iowa allowed 10, 13, 0, 7, 10, 6, 14 and 16 in its previous eight games.  This will be a battle of field position; an ugly one you’d have to pay me to watch.  But that’s why there is now legalized gambling: to ensure that fans not from Tennessee or Iowa will watch the unwatchable.  I’ll take Iowa plus the seven-and-a-half.

$10 on Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears (-2 ½)

What we have here is a battle of two teams who aren’t aware that losing games this late in the season can result in higher draft picks.  Of course, thanks to their former coach Lovie Smith, the Bears have all the draft picks they need but this year’s draft should feature some quarterback talent that Atlanta might want to look at, in case they decide to scrap the whole Desmond Ridder experiment.  Since the Bears have their quarterback, we think, they can choose a player at another position that might help compliment their team on the road to getting better, assuming that’s a goal of the franchise.  In Chicago, one can never be too sure.  The Bears haven’t won a playoff game since 2010 and don’t appear anywhere close to ending that streak.  This week, they’re a small two-and-a-half-point favorite hosting the Falcons and are the hotter team, winners of three of their last four.  Maybe someone should convince the Bears locker room at the beginning of next season that it’s December and they’ve already been eliminated, because only then do they start to play well.  ‘Tis the season.  Bears cover the two-and-a-half.

The Barber’s Picks (Career 9-1, +$260)

It’s Bowl Game Season!  It’s week 17 in the National Football League!  Wahoo!  Oh wait, there are now 18 weeks to the NFL season?  Another week to lose money betting on teams.  So…here we go.


Wisconsin (+10) vs. LSU (-10); LSU

This one feels too easy…like taking candy from a baby.  Of course, I’m not that mean and have never taken candy from a baby, but I take it from my kids every year on Halloween and it’s pretty easy.  So I must be missing something with this line, right?  I mean, Wisconsin, a team that struggled this year against mediocre competition in the Big Ten (I won’t mention what they did against good competition in the Big Ten), a team that lost to Northwestern (go ‘Cats!), is not going to go in and keep it close against LSU.  I’ve watched many SEC-Big Ten bowl games in recent years where the SEC just clobbered the Big Ten, and that is some of the better teams.  As I break down the tape, it may be a battle – #1 offense (by points) vs. #19 defense.  A team that historically is known for battling in the trenches and running all over you against a team that likes to heave it down the field.  Unfortunately, most of these big bowl games (the ReliaQuest Bowl???  Who the hell is ReliaQuest?) become blow-outs.  So, I’ll take the favorite to cover on this one as I see LSU’s aerial assault making quick work of the Badgers.


San Francisco (-12.5) at Washington (+12.5); SF

Here’s one that I debated quite a bit…SF traveling across the country to play Washington at 1 pm.  That’s like 10 am for SF…who’s ready to play football at 10 am besides the 8 yr olds in the flag football league, which is conveniently timed so the dads can get home to get the grill going and start downing beers.  So…I’m breaking a rule here and picking the west coast team coming east to cover the points.  Why?  Have you watched any football this season (authors note: I have not)?  The Washington Football Team…I mean Commanders…are not a good team.  And that’s all there is to say.  Meanwhile, SF is a very good team coming off a very bad performance.  I don’t see Purdy throwing 4 INTs again.  He’s going to learn from that experience.  And SF leads the chase for the #1 seed.  Washington on the other hand…not so much to play for except that top 3 pick next year the way that NE has unexpectedly come to life.  Speaking of NE…


New England (+13) at Buffalo (-13); NE

I’m breaking all my own rules here.  Rule #1 – don’t bet on NE because as a lifelong NE fan, it has never worked out.  Rule #2 – don’t take the underdog on the road unless you think they can win.  Well, I’m taking the points for NE on the road at Buffalo.  Why?  Let’s just say the Patriots have a renewed sense of life with Baily Zappe back at quarterback.  But all the higher-ups don’t want too much life because in typical NE way, they are playing themselves out of a top 3 pick if they keep this up.  It’s not like they beat the Broncos of yesteryear with Elway or Davis or even with Manning.  But still…they are only supposed to beat the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! otherwise they risk their top pick.  But then again, what good is a top 3 pick if you only do two things – trade down or take a flop.  So…then again…maybe they should try to finish in the middle of the pack with less pressure on the pick.  But what do I know…I stopped watching them a couple of years ago when I moved out to Chicago.  Speaking of Chicago…


Cincinnati (+7) vs. Kansas City (-7); KC

Why, you ask, is this pick not about Chicago given the lead in?  Because, I was in Chicago on Christmas Eve, actually in Wrigley Field, well technically on the rubber mats they had put down over Wrigley Field for this year’s Winterfest, when I looked up at the video screen and saw this (Note to Editor – insert photo of proposal to Taylor here).  Let’s be honest…there were several thousand people in the crowd.  One of them could have been named Taylor.  And it may have been the only message on the video screen not from the event sponsor because no one else knew you could do messages.  But I like to think that at this point, everyone is trolling a certain celebrity couple.  Which takes us from Chicago to Kansas City.  And I’ll further tie this in with New England by recalling a certain quarterback there who happened to date a couple of very famous people and had a rough go of it in those years making the Super Bowl and losing to the New York Football Giants.  The point is…celebrity couplings that break during the season become distractions.  And not necessarily for the player in question, but for the team as a whole.  Instead of going in focused on obliterating the other team, KC players know the questions are going to be coming…is Taylor in the family box today? what do you think of Travis and Taylor? is Travis happy? etc.  And that starts to weigh on the team because you can’t always block it out.  And while it normalizes after a while into any other background noise, it takes some time to get there.  I was more surprised at how well the team played early on in the season when this was all swirling around them including the “will she or won’t she show up” (um…she has a concert tour schedule published and a private jet…figure out the math to determine if she will show up) and more surprised at the recent struggles.  It was so bad that the NE journalists were predicting an upset when KC marched into Foxborough in Week 15.  Cincinnati is not a pushover since they are fighting for their playoff lives but something has been off there this year.  I think that KC covers the spread here at home with Taylor in the crowd cheering on her beau.  And here’s hoping that this works out for Taylor and Travis so that my daughter can hear some music about a successful relationship instead of breakups.


Texas (-4) vs. Washington (+4); Washington

Texas or Washington?  Washington or Texas?  Is this the last gasp of the Pac-10?  Is Texas back?  And what happens next year when the stars and planets realign (okay…so it is just some conference realignments but you would think the stars and planets were about to change given all the talk and drama)?  Well…as a Texas disliker (hater is such a strong word), I will be rooting for Washington to win this game and I think they can do it?  Why?  Because they survived a year of distraction and went undefeated, including multiple close wins over rival Oregon.  So what happens now?  Hopefully the Pac-12 gets the last laugh with the CFP trophy in their final season.  Call me a football romantic.  But then again, who wants to root for Texas, Alabama, or Michigan?  Exactly.

Kevin’s Picks for the Week

$50: San Francisco 49ers (-13.5) at Washington Commanders

Washington is a franchise in transition. New ownership, front office and coaching is coming. Tons of cap space and NFL Draft collateral. QB Sam Howell showed promise, but has faltered over the last month. With Howell benched, Jacoby Brissett gave the offense a boost. Howell was benched and Brissett was set to start. But recent reports indicate Brissett has a hamstring injury, leaving Howell under center. Enter the 49ers, one of the league’s top teams, and an explosive group. The Niners have the 2nd ranked NFL offense (404.3 ypg) and are a team that can dominate in all areas. With Washington having the league’s worst defense (384.3 ypg allowed) and worst turnover differential (-10), it’s hard to imagine Washington sticking with the Niners through four quarters. Home field or not, give me San Francisco. Niners cover.

$40: Carolina Panthers (+9) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence is out this week, leaving backup QB C.J. Beathard to get the start this week for Jacksonville. Injuries have killed the Jaguars in recent weeks. The Jags have lost four straight games and have scored just 19 combined points over its last two contests. That’s why this line is intriguing facing the floundering Panthers. Carolina is not tanking and continues to fight hard. Five of Carolina’s last seven games have been decided by one score or less. The Panthers have struggled offensively all season. However, Carolina has the league’s 4th ranked defense, allowing just 296.8 ypg. The Panthers may be winless on the road (0-8), but they have fought hard over the last few months. Overall, I think the Jags win this game, but it won’t be pretty. Give me the Panthers and the points on the road.

$30: Fiesta Bowl: Liberty Flames vs Oregon Ducks (-15)

Oregon’s lowest score total this season is 31 points. That’s offensive efficiency. Now, we get a New Year’s Six game against an opponent such the Liberty Flames, a team that many will have less respect for. Liberty has talent and deserves to be here. However, are the Flames really battle tested? Bowling Green was the team’s likely most notable opponent this season. So, let’s check ranks and stats, shall we? The most interesting matchup will be Oregon’s 2nd ranked passing offense (342.8 ypg) versus Liberty’s top ranked passing defense (244.8 ypg allowed). The Flames have 21 INT and 26 TD allowed through the air. But, let’s consider the competition faced, which is why we are here. Oregon has been explosive all season against more talented teams and over the course of four quarters, I like the Ducks. Oregon covers.

$20: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears (-2.5)

Should the Bears hold onto Justin Fields or trade him? Should they draft another QB next season? Chicago has played at a higher level over the last month. That’s why it’s interesting considering the Falcons are in the thick of the playoff chase, yet underdogs against the Bears. The Falcons are ranked in the middle of the pack against the run, but that’s not considering a team that has a mobile QB and back. Fields has 585 rushing yards on the season, including 50 or more in six games. Atlanta is 2-5 on the road and has failed to establish a consistent running game with Bijan Robinson on offense. Robinson has just 15 carries or more in two games this season. Considering the inconsistency with the Falcons on offense in recent weeks and the recent charge in Chicago, I’m trusting the Bears at home.  Bears cover at home.

$10: Arizona Cardinals (+12.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia’s defense has struggled recently, we all know that. Facing “Tommy Cutlets” and Tyron Taylor last week, the Eagles held on for a one score win. Let’s look at the previous six games: Three point loss to the Seahawks, blowout loss to the Cowboys, blowout loss to the 49ers, three point win versus the Bills, four point loss to the Chiefs, and a five point win versus the Cowboys. This is a franchise with a solid record, but not a lot of locker room chemistry. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have enough talent offensively, featuring QB Kyler Murray, RB James Conner, and TE Trey McBride. Arizona’s biggest question mark is WR depth, but the Eagles have struggled keeping receivers in check (and have injuries of their own). Overall, I like the Cardinals to keep the game close. Give me the Cardinals and the points on the road.

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

One Reply to “Week 17 College and NFL Pick ‘Em: SportsChump vs The Wife Hates Sports vs The Barber”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *