One week to go in the regular season and teams are still battling for playoff positioning and jobs. Here are your NFL betting lines and preview for week 17…
Last week of the season and I’m just shy of .500. Unfortunately, nearly every game on the schedule is meaningless as far as playoff position or anything else is concerned, so picking this week consists mostly of figuring out who may be playing to save a coach’s job (Giants) or who may be playing for a better draft pick (Cowboys).
Still, there are a handful of games on the schedule that mean a great deal to at least one of the teams playing in them. So that will be easier, right?
Well, do those teams blow out the competition (the backs against the wall factor) or do they lay an egg (the choke factor). That’s another thing you have to figure out. Luckily, I’m here to help you out. Read on.
Last Week’s Picks: 9-8-1 Best: 3-2
Season Totals: 127-129-8 Best: 31-34-2
NY Jets (-3) @Buffalo (Westgate Superbook)
The Bills have won the last four in a row in this matchup, and the Jets have not been a good road team this year, but trends have been betraying me all year this season. The fact is, the Bills have been pathetic underachievers all year while the Jets have played like champions almost every week. I know there’s a risk of a Patriots hangover, but the Jets need this game to make the playoffs. The Bills will be motivated by the fact that Rex Ryan will want to win a revenge game against his former team, but Rex hasn’t exactly had the Bills playing like gangbusters this year, has he? I’m taking the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.
New York Jets 28 Buffalo Bills 21
Tampa Bay (+10.5) @Carolina (Westgate Superbook)
I’ve gotten a little tired of waiting for the Bucs to show up. They haven’t done so for the entire month of December. Accordingly, I’m banking on the Panthers playing their best game to lock in home field in the playoffs and to show that there’s no ill effects from last week’s loss. The Bucs are good enough to stay on the field with Carolina in theory, but not right now.
Carolina Panthers 28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
Baltimore (+9.5) @Cincinnati (MGM Mirage)
The Bengals played such a conservative game against Denver I’m thinking they’ll do the same thing this week with a banged up A.J. McCarron under center. Of course, the Ravens’ defense isn’t as good as Denver’s, so it’s a little dicey to think Baltimore can stay in this game, but I feel like Ryan Mallett will be playing for next year’s job – he was SO awful in Houston that he’s gonna need more than just last week’s win over Pittsburgh to convince some team (like Baltimore, for example) to keep him around.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 Baltimore Ravens 14
Baltimore @Cincinnati o/u 41.5 (MGM Mirage)
For all the reasons I just listed. . .the conservative offense, the reliance on defense, Ryan Mallett. . .this game has under written all over it.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 Baltimore Ravens 14
New Orleans (+4.5) @Atlanta (Wynn Las Vegas)
I’ve been back and forth on this game, ultimately deciding that I’m not ready to trust the Falcons, especially given that they will likely come out flat after a big emotional win over the Panthers. Drew Brees, meanwhile, seems to be on a mission to show that the Saints aren’t as bad as people think.
Atlanta Falcons 28 New Orleans Saints 27
Jacksonville (+5.5) @Houston (Wynn Las Vegas)
Despite the very positive season the Jaguars have had this year, I’m banking on the Texans staying hot this week. Jacksonville’s defense has gotten more porous down the stretch, and while the offense is high-powered, it remains mistake prone, something they’ll have to fix. . .NEXT year.
Houston Texans 28 Jacksonville Jaguars 20
Pittsburgh (-10.5) @Cleveland (Westgate Superbook)
I was all set to take the Browns in this game until I learned Johnny Manziel is out with a concussion. Despite all the criticism leveled at Johnny Football this season, the reality is that he is leaps and bounds better than his replacement Austin Davis. Now I like the Steelers almost enough to put them in Best picks but I’ll settle for just taking them and giving the points.
Pittsburgh Steelers 34 Cleveland Browns 17
Tennessee (+6) @Indianapolis (CarbonSports.ag)
Marcus Mariota is out for this game, and you know what that means. . .take whoever is on the other side, in this case the Colts, possibly with some guy they found in the parking lot at quarterback but it doesn’t matter. The Titans are awful even with Mariota and without him they are road kill. Give however many.
Indianapolis Colts 24 Tennessee Titans 14
Washington (+3.5) @Dallas (Westgate Superbook)
Stay off this game. Washington may not play their starters the whole game, or at all. And there’s a public debate going on in Dallas about whether they should tank the last game to shift themselves into more prime real estate come draft time. Two teams playing to lose? Don’t be another one with your money.
Dallas Cowboys 20 Washington RacialSlurs 14
Minnesota (+3) @Green Bay (Westgate Superbook)
The Packers could not have looked any worse last week, but I credit the Cardinals for beating the crap out of them. The fact is, I don’t trust the Vikings to win a game against a playoff opponent right now, and until they prove me wrong, and I’m picking against them. That will include whoever they get in the first round of the playoffs, unless of course it’s Washington, who can’t beat anyone who doesn’t stink bad enough to play in the NFC East.
Green Bay Packers 24 Minnesota Vikings 20
San Diego (+10) @Denver (5Dimes)
WTF is wrong with the Chargers? Eric Weddle, a long time and good player got fined and “banished” from the team for. . .watching his daughter perform in a halftime show? Nice move. Are any of the Chargers players really feeling the love from management after that? The bad mojo is enough to keep this game out of Best Picks. Otherwise, I’d quite like the 10 points against a Denver team that has trouble playing 60 minutes.
Denver Broncos 28 San Diego Chargers 21
St. Louis (-3) @San Francisco (Treasure Island)
I have no real sense of which way to go on this one. Other than the fact that I like the under (See Best Picks), I eventually decided the Rams might be able to cover 3, but really I’d go with the push if I could. That’s how fine a hair this line is splitting.
St. Louis Rams 17 San Francisco 49ers 13
Seattle (+6.5) @Arizona (Westgate Superbook)
The Seahawks may not play their starters in this game. For that reason, the line has jumped three points since it opened. I’m tempted to go Best Picks with this one, but I don’t like to mess too much with rivalry games. Arizona is more than capable of running it up, however, even against Seattle.
Arizona Cardinals 30 Seattle Seahawks 21
New England (-10) @Miami (MGM Mirage)
I love the Patriots here. They need this game to secure the #1 seed, they’re coming off a loss, which is a great spot for Tom Brady trend-wise, and despite the Pats’ shaky play over the last couple of weeks, the Dolphins have absolutely NOTHING to offer by way of a challenge to New England. They stink, they’ve quit, and they have no motivation to stay in this game. New England will take an early lead, the Dolphins will stop trying, and it will get ugly (or pretty, depending on where your money is.
New England Patriots 28 Miami Dolphins 7
Detroit (pick ‘em) @Chicago (MGM Mirage)
Lions have won 5 in a row in this matchup. They’ve also quietly been playing great football for over a month. Think about it. They beat the Packers twice. Only a fluke play cost them that second win. The Bears, meanwhile, are in Jay Cutler wants to go golfing mode. They are trying slightly harder than a team like the Dolphins, but not a hell of a lot more than that.
Detroit Lions 27 Chicago Bears 19
Philadelphia (+3) @NY Giants (William Hill)
I love the Giants here. Eli Manning and the rest of the offense are playing to keep Tom Coughlin and the offensive coaching staff around. Eli has played the best football of his career the last two years. Odell Beckham Jr. is also back and going to play in this game. Against the woeful Eagles’ secondary, expect the Giants to put up 30+ points and 500 yards. Philadelphia, meanwhile, just canned its coach. Half the players aren’t sure if they’ll back. Half might not want to be. Giants are gonna win this one by a lot more than 3.
New York Giants 38 Philadelphia Eagles 20
Oakland (+7) @Kansas City (CG Technology)
The Chiefs don’t need this game, not really, while the Raiders sort of do – they’ve publicly said they want to get to .500 to finish the year. While I don’t think the Raiders are going to get themselves a win outright, I do think this will be a close one, as Kansas City really isn’t in the blowout business and wins most of their games by small margins.
Kansas City Chiefs 22 Oakland Raiders 20
St. Louis @San Francisco o/u 37.5 (Westgate Superbook)
This is a situation where the line is “telling me something.” Specifically, 37.5 is about the lowest over/under I’ve seen all season, which should tell you a lot. Think about it. The Rams offense is all run. Case Keenum is barely even a game manager. More like a game night watchman. Tood Gurley will be the Rams whole offense. The Rams defense is solid, and the 49ers offense is nearly non existent anyway. That’s the deal with the low total. Neither of these teams is going to break 20. I would go under 35 or even 34 here.
St. Louis Rams 17 San Francisco 49ers 13
Featured image via CBS Sports