NFL Week 17 first-look betting preview

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The final week of the NFL regular season is upon us and while it’s been a long and crazy road to get here, it also feels almost surreal that we only have one more full slate to talk about this NFL year. With the late Covid scratches, multiple games being moved to mid-week and just the general uncertainty surrounding many of the teams rosters, betting hasn’t been easy this year but it feels good to bring this article to a close with a solid ATS record (9-3 on our weekly conviction plays). 

As with most Week 17’s, there’s an interesting mix of games here that have little or no meaning and games that also have teams playing for everything this week. Heading the “nothing to play for games” is the Chargers at the Chiefs. The Chargers were eliminated from contention long ago but have stayed somewhat positive (or at least their fans have) given the play of their franchise QB Justin Herbert. L.A. will be playing all their regulars, including Herbert, who is the heavy favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year. On the other side though is the Chiefs, who locked up the number one seed (and a bye) with a win last week. They’ll be sitting at least some of their starters and likely all of their big names (ie. Mahomes, Hill, Kelce). Minnesota at Detroit (Stafford out) and Las Vegas at Denver also have zero playoff implications for either teams this week.

The nice thing about this year’s Week 17 NFL schedule is that a majority of the games do have some kind of playoff implication attached. The biggest matchups involve the NFC East and NFC West where the Cardinals and Rams both can advance with a win. The Rams could still qualify with a loss but would need a Bears loss to Green Bay to move on. The Bears could also still qualify with a loss but would need a Cardinals loss next week to advance. All the playoff scenarios can be found here. Making that Rams/Cardinals game even more exciting is the fact that Jared Goff (out-thumb) has already been ruled out and Kyler Murray (leg) is extremely questionable after sustaining a leg injury late in last week’s game. 

We could be getting a John Wolford-Chris Streveler matchup for all the marbles this week. It’s also now being reported that the Rams could be without Cooper Kupp this week too (Covid). Expect the Rams to open as big underdogs there if we get confirmation that Kyler will play. 

There’s also big division games this week in the NFC East and AFC North. The Browns can qualify for the playoffs with a win over the Steelers and will be facing off against Steelers backup QB Mason Rudolph. The Steelers clinched the division title last week and would need a Bills loss to Miami to get the number two seed (not likely). The Browns currently sit at -7.5 favorites. 

In the NFC East, the Washington Football Team still controls their own destiny and can win the division with a win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football this week. The bad news, they cut former first round pick Dwayne Haskins this week and will be forced to start former UDFA Taylor Heinicke in the deciding game, IF Alex Smith (calf) can’t go. The Football Team sit as -2 favorites right now but that line could move when/if Smith gets ruled out. 

From a betting perspective, this week is really more about reading the news and tea leaves as there’s plenty of huge personnel moves which will have big impacts on the lines. We likely won’t even have proper lines for the Chiefs and Cardinals games till we get more news about their QB situations so make sure you’re watching the news there. 

Week 17 preview (lines and totals)

Biggest totals

Titans at Texans +7.5 (56.5)

The Texans have one of the worst rush defenses in the league and have allowed 8 TDs over their last five games to the RB position, while also allowing 5.0 YPC on the season–the worst mark in the league. Derrick Henry is coming off a slow game vs. Green Bay where he “only” rushed for 98 yards. The Titans offense should dominate here but it is worth noting that their defense has been just as bad as Houston’s. The Titans are allowing the fourth-most yards per game (just behind Houston) and their opponent has scored 25 or more points against them in four of their last five games. Houston could make this close if they get off to an early lead. Expect lots of points either way.

Lowest total

Steelers at Browns -7.5 (42.5)

This game opened around +/- 6.5 but has already moved on the confirmed news that the Steelers will be starting Mason Rudolph at QB. The move makes sense as the Steelers have only a small chance of moving up to the number two seed (they’d need a win and a Buffalo loss this week) so resting their stars–and giving them a de facto bye week–is likely the better option. Cleveland’s in a must-win game here and their WRs are expected to all be back for practice this Thursday. The Steelers backups will undoubtedly be hunting for some big plays here and we’re not sure how many players outside of Roethlisberger will be rested. The 7-points does seem a little big here considering Cleveland is just 6-9 Against the Spread this season. 

Biggest spread

Jaguars at Colts -14.5 (49.5)

There’s not much to say here. The Jaguars have secured the number one overall pick for next year–and Trevor Lawrence–so they can theoretically just go for the win here without any worry. The issue for the Jags is that they rank near last in most major categories on defense and offense so overtaking a solid team like the Colts will be tough. Indy needs a win here and one of Tennessee, Cleveland, Baltimore or Miami to lose. Indy’s offense has looked good towards the end of the year and they should romp here, putting the pressure on their opponents. 

Smallest spreads

Raiders at Broncos +2.5 (50.5)

The Raiders and Broncos are playing in one of the only meaningless games of the week. We’ll likely see most of the starters play for both teams, regardless, as neither team has any huge developmental prospects on the horizon.

Washington at Philadelphia +2.5 (42.5)

The real intrigue here is in the NFC East games which have +/- 2.5 point spreads in both games on the slate. The only team that’s officially eliminated right now is the Eagles but we should still expect a solid effort from them given that Jalen Hurts is auditioning for the lead QB role with this team for 2021. Washington could also be starting UDFA Taylor Heinicke at QB. 

Cowboys at Giants +2.5 (44.5)

The winner of the Giants/Cowboys game will have a huge Sunday sweat going and be very live for the division given the QB issues in Washington. With injury issues also affecting the Giants QB position with Daniel Jones, who has lost his ability to move in the pocket thanks to hamstring/ankle issues, the edge there has to be with the Cowboys who come in on a three game win streak. It seems crazy to think, but Dallas might be in the driver’s seat for the division if the Football Team rules Alex Smith out. 

Line Movement’s Bets Against The Spread Show

Week 17 early conviction play

  • Week 16 results 
  • Seahawks -2 O 
  • Season record: 9-3 ATS (Totals 1-2)

Bet: Chicago Bears +6

This line has been hovering around 5.5 to 6.0 since kickoff but, regardless, paying up for the +6.0 on the Bears is the play I like here. The Bears met the Packers six weeks ago but they had yet to hit their stride at that point and ended up getting humiliated by Aaron Rodgers. Since then though they’ve 3-1 and have been able to put a damper on a couple of really decent offenses in Minnesota and Houston. The main difference in Chicago though has been the play of QB Mitchell Trubisky, who has now completed 72% of his passes over the last four games and thrown for 7 TDs vs. two INTs. 

There’s little doubt that the difference in QB is still vast here for the Bears as they’ll be going off against Aaron Rodgers, who has moved into the betting favorite position in the NFL MVP race. Still, Rodgers has had his issues against the Bears and has thrown for one TD or less against Chicago in three of his last five meetings with them–and posted a 92 or less QB rating in all those games as well. The Bears have adjusted their offense to include more play action, which has helped Trubisky’s accuracy, and has also been made effective by the bump in efficiency and effectiveness of RB David Montgomery, who has averaged 5.62 YPC over his last five games. 

The Packers rush defense can be had–they’re 25th in YPC  average against this year–and the Bears have been quite good in this spot Against the Spread, going 5-3 ATS the last two years as Home underdogs–while the Packers are just 4-4 ATS as away favorites under Matt LaFleur. This feels like a close game to me and at +/- 6, I’d definitely rather take the points and ride with the Bears here, who are in a near must win spot. 

Week 16 NFL game props

  • Week 15 results: 2-1
  • Browns under 27.5 pts O
  • Raiders/Dolphins over 3.5 FGs (+131) O (8 FGs!)
  • Cowboys under 23.5 Team Total X

Patriots under 23.5 Team Total (-119)

This under play has to be one of my favorite bets of the week. The Jets defense has actually looked competent in spots this year, especially on the ground where they’ve only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season. The Patriots can’t take advantage of the Jets weak secondary here as they rank third-last in pass yards per game and generally have received some of the worst QB play in the league. The Jets have held their last two opponents well under this mark (both teams with winning records in the Browns and Rams) while the Pats have only hit over this mark once in their last five games. Hammer the under here. 

Raiders/Broncos over 3.5 FGs (+135) 

Two of my favorite teams to target for FG props. The Raiders kicked four FGs last week and combined with another kick-happy team in the Dolphins for 8 in a game. We don’t need eight here, just four to win this bet, and just like the Dolphins last week, the Broncos are a great opponent for the Raiders to match up with. Denver has a decent kicker in Brandon McManus and as a team they have also allowed the most FG attempts AGAINST per game in the league–teams playing against Denver are averaging 2.7 FG attempts per game. The Raiders could have a shot at hitting the over in this one on their own again. 

Texans over 23.5 Team Total (-109)

Despite losing their best WR, the Texans offense has been carried on the back of DeShaun Watson, who has at least kept the team competitive, even as their defense seemingly gets worse every week. Houston will probably allow 40+ points to Tennessee’s high-powered offense here but the Titans have also allowed 26.7 points against this year (10th worst in the league) and have allowed the fifth-most yards per game overall. Watson and company are coming off one of their better offensive performances of the season and should be able to hit 24+ here, a feat they’ve accomplished in four of their last seven games. 

Week 17 NFL players props

  • Week player props 16 = 2-0

AJ Brown over 61.5 yards (-116)

We tried to hit this prop in last week’s game versus Green Bay and Brown just missed as the Packers defense gave the Titans offense it’s stiffest test of the year. The good news here is that Brown’s prop remains low and now he faces one of the worst secondaries (and defenses) in the league in Houston. The Texans have allowed the seventh-most pass yards against and have now given up over 150-yards to opposing WRs in three consecutive games. Six WRs have hit this over mark against the Texans now in their last three games. Brown’s got too much big play potential to go under this total for a third week in a row in such a good spot, this one feels like a great over. 

Ezekiel Elliott over 16.5 rush attempts (-132)

Elliott looked spry last week coming off a week of rest, putting up 105 yards on 19-rushes against a decent run defense in the Eagles. While the Giants rush defense has been solid for most of 2020 they have also shown some fatigue of late–giving up 155 yards to Baltimore’s RBs last week–and given their weak offense, teams have still run the ball against the Giants consistently this year, as opposing teams are averaging 17-rush attempts against them–the 16th highest mark in the league. When Elliott’s been healthy, he’s generally hit this mark more times than not, and has gone for 18 and 19 carries in two of his last three games. The over side feels right here. 

Tom Brady over 2.5 passing TDs (+120)

I’ll end with one more over this week, although this one has a touch more risk but also some juicy + money odds attached. Brady comes in playing his best football of 2020 as the Bucs QB has now thrown for 8 TDs over his last three games. The Bucs seem unlikely to play things safe this week no matter how much they get up as their offense certainly hasn’t looked in sync all year and some momentum into the playoffs would benefit them. Look for Brady to try and light up another weak pass defense in the Falcons here who have allowed the fifth-most passing TDs in the league this year.

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