Week 17 picks: Falcons will cover and win the NFC South

Which of these quarterbacks will win the AFC North? (USATSI)
Which of these quarterbacks will win the AFC North? (USATSI)

Each week, we'll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you'll read all week. Because if you can't lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no impact, what's the point of watching sports at all?

Note: Home team is listed first in Against the Spread, and all statistics only include the regular season.

Game One: Steelers -3.5 vs. Bengals
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

2014 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-7 Overall: 8-6-1
Home: 4-3 Home: 4-3-1
Away: 4-4 Away: 4-3
2014 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 2nd Pass defense: 16th
Rush offense: 13th Rush defense: 23rd
Pass defense: 27th Pass offense: 22nd
Rush defense: 6th Rush offense: 5th

Verdict: The winner of this game will win the NFC North and head into the postseason with at least one home playoff appearance. I would have gone with the Steelers here, but the Bengals were impressive last week in beating the Broncos on Monday night. Even though Cincinnati has one less day of preparation than Pittsburgh, I like the Bengals to keep it within a field goal.

Game Two: Falcons -3.5 vs. Panthers
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

2014 Against The Spread
Overall: 7-8 Overall: 7-8
Home: 4-3 Home: 4-4
Away: 3-5 Away: 3-4
2014 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 32nd Pass defense: 19th
Rush offense: 18th Rush defense: 8th
Pass defense: 5th Pass offense: 9th
Rush defense: 24th Rush offense: 19th

Verdict: Somehow, this game is for the NFC South title, and one of these teams will get to go to the playoffs and host at least one postseason game. Sounds crazy, right? With this contest, I'm going with the home team to win and to win by a touchdown or more. So, go Falcons. But don't ask me why, because, as per usual with this division, not much of anything makes sense.

Game Three (largest spread of week): Broncos -14.5 vs. Raiders
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

2014 Against The Spread
Overall: 7-8 Overall: 8-7
Home: 3-4 Home: 4-4
Away: 4-4 Away: 4-3
2014 Team Rankings
Pass offense: 4th Pass defense: 14th
Rush offense: 16th Rush defense: 21st
Pass defense: 12th Pass offense: 24th
Rush defense: 2nd Rush offense: 32nd

Verdict: With the way that both of these teams have played lately -- the Broncos not so good, and the Raiders surprisingly well -- I wouldn't be surprised to see Oakland keep this game close. The Raiders have won three of their last five, while Denver -- which smoked Oakland 41-17 earlier this season -- hasn't looked like the potential Super Bowl winner some of us thought it could have been before the season. Denver still will win this game, but Oakland will cover the spread.

Last week: 1-2 against the spread; 1-1 on prop bets. This season: 26-22 against the spread; 14-15 on prop bets. Last three seasons: 82-84 against the spread; 64-50-1 on prop bets.

See my picks and all the CBSSports.com experts here.

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