With little to play for, beware of playoff-bound teams who could conceivably sit all of their starters during second-half play in the final weekend of the season.
In the last week of the 2004 season, four teams headed to the post-season lost, and the 12 of them were 6-6 against the spread.
So remember what the spreads are all about this weekend.
On to the Week 17 picks -- hopefully at least a 10-6 week, so I can finish a game over .500 for the season:
Denver (+11) at San Diego: The spread for this game is a half-point for every starter the Broncos will likely sit out. What once looked like a season-ending showdown for top spot in the AFC West is now nothing more than a glorified exhibition game. CHARGERS
NY Giants (-9) at Oakland: The Raiders have scored a grand total of 30 points in their last four games. The Giants clinch top spot in the NFC East with a win. GIANTS
Arizona (+6.5) at Indianapolis: I just can't see the Colts ending the season with three straight losses. This one is for coach Tony Dungy. COLTS
Baltimore (-3) at Cleveland: No matter how well the Ravens have played of late, they're 0-7 on the road. The Browns, who were humiliated last week by Pittsburgh, need to show some life to save some jobs. BROWNS
Buffalo (-1.5) at NY Jets: The Jets owe coach Herman Edwards a victory. JETS
Carolina (-4) at Atlanta: Last week's overtime loss to the Buccaneers knocked the Falcons out of playoff contention. Then their coach, Jim Mora Jr., went ballastic on a radio reporter. The Panthers are in the NFC playoffs with a win. PANTHERS
Chicago (+4.5) at Minnesota: Bears QB Rex Grossman is expected to get the bulk of the playing time despite the fact the Bears are already locked into an NFC playoff bye next week. Chicago wants to make sure Grossman is their guy in the post-season. That might not win it for them this week, but it should keep it close enough. BEARS
Cincinnati (+7.5) at Kansas City: The Chiefs still have a slim chance of earning the AFC's final wild-card spot. They've also have an 18-game winning streak at home in December/January. The Bengals, who currently hold the No. 3 spot heading into the AFC playoffs, proved in last week's loss to Buffalo that they're already looking ahead to the playoffs. CHIEFS
Detroit (+13.5) at Pittsburgh: This, my friends, will be a good old-fashion butt-kicking. Pittsburgh easily clinches the last playoff spot in the AFC. STEELERS
Miami (+5.5) at New England: Patriots coach Bill Belichick always plays to win, regardless of his team's situation. And beating his old underling -- and now Dolphins coach -- Nick Saban would be a sweet New Year's Day gift. Oh, yeah, it's supposed to be cold and snowy in Foxborough. PATRIOTS
New Orleans (+13.5) at Tampa Bay: With a victory the Buccaneers clinch the NFC South title. It's not likely to come easily, however. The Saints have won three straight in Tampa and only lost 10-3 when the teams met Dec. 4 in Baton Rouge, La. The Bucs will win, but they'll have their hands full. SAINTS
Houston (-1.5) at San Francisco: The Stuper Bowl! How else can you explain this meeting between the worst of the worst. The Texans have everything to lose by winning, which, of course, is the top pick in next spring's draft (USC RB Reggie Bush?). The Texans are 0-7 on the road this season. 49ERS
Tennessee (+3.5) at Jacksonville: With starting QB Byron Leftwich expected to get some playing time to see if he'll be good to go in the playoffs, expect the Jaguars to take this game more seriously than they need to. JAGUARS
Seattle (+4.5) at Green Bay: All the Seahawks want to do vs. the Packers is get RB Shaun Alexander his 28th touchdown of the season so that the NFL's single-season record is his alone. This might be Green Bay QB Brett Favre's last game. One last showing of mystique? PACKERS
Washington (-7) at Philadelphia: Remember that game a couple of weeks ago when the Giants came to Philly? Eight-point favourite New York escaped with a 26-23 win in overtime. The Eagles play their divisional foes tough, and will likely face backup Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey. Washington needs a win to make the playoffs. They'll get it ... but it will be close. EAGLES
St. Louis (+12.5) at Dallas: The Cowboys' season could be over before they even hit the field Sunday night. Either way, they pound out the Rams -- to make it to the playoffs or take out their frustrations. COWBOYS
Last Week: 6-9-1.
Best Bet: San Diego.
Best Bets: 7-8-1 after 3-point favourite Tampa Bay beat Atlanta 27-24 in overtime
Suicide Pick: Pittsburgh.
Suicide Picks: 15-1 after Cincinnati lost 37-27 to Buffalo.