Last Updated: 2017-12-29
This could be the toughest week to pick winners in the National Football League. The handicapper has to consider all sorts of different things that are going on in the locker rooms of every NFL team. Tread carefully and good luck in the final week of the season.
New York Jets
The Jets have nothing to play for and they will start Bryce Petty at quarterback. They do however get up for games against Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Jets are 7-1-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last nine games that they have played against the Patriots and 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings in New England.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are double digit home favorites in a game they “must-win” if they want to get the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Teams playing at home in must-win Week 17 games have gone 31-42-2 ATS since 2003. This makes the Patriots a team to avoid this week.
The Dolphins have given up on the field especially on defense. The Dolphins are 5-23 ATS in their last 28 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game and that defense will falter again this week. The Bills still have something to play for and the Dolphins realize that the Jay Cutler experiment is a bust.
The Bills got blown out against the Patriots last week, but still have a shot to make the playoffs. Teams coming off a blowout loss (20 or more points) are undervalued in their next game, having gone 399-336-17 ATS since 2003. The Bills were outscored 24-3 in the second half last week, but could have some value this week against the Dolphins.
Rumors around the Colts suggest that they will have a new head coach next season. The players have shown that they are not going to win one for the coach as they have all but given up on the season. This makes them a hard team to bet on especially because they are just 1-4 ATS in the last five games overall.
The Texans are playing to save Bill O’Brien’s job and will be best to run the ball this week against the Colts. The Colts defense has allowed an average of 180 rushing yards over its last three games.
The Jaguars don’t have to win this week since they are in the playoffs but it was already announced that they are not going to rest their starters for this game. The Jags get up for a divisional game as they have cashed the last seven out of eight games ATS when playing the AFC South.
The Titans need to win this week if they want to go to the NFL playoffs. The problem is they are playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars who have one of the best defenses in the league. But if you’re looking for a motivated team you will have one in the Titans who have not made the playoffs since 2008.
The Steelers can still get the No. 1 seed if they win against the Browns and the Patriots lose against the Jets. It is highly unlikely that the Pats lose, so if they have a big lead, the Steelers could rest their starters in the second half. Scoreboard watching and second half hedge bets could be in order this week.
The Baltimore Ravens still have something to play for because if they win they are in the playoffs. Joe Flacco is 23-1 straight up as a home favorite giving seven or more points. That makes things look really good for the Ravens this week against the Bengals.
The Bengals have nothing to play for and they are ten point underdogs in Baltimore against the Ravens. The Ravens are in a must-win spot, but that doesn’t mean they will cover the spread. Since 2003, teams in must-win games during Week 17 have gone 56-68-4 ATS.
The Browns have plenty wrong with this team as evident by their winless record. One major problem however is the fact that they cannot stop teams on third down. They rank 24th in the league in third down conversion rate on defense. Foes are scoring or extending their drives on third down 41 percent of the time which is up to 46 percent over the last three games.
The Raiders gave it their all on Monday night against the Eagles and may not have anything left in the tank for this game. They are on the road and are playing the Chargers who still have a shot at the playoffs. The Raiders are just 1-4-1 ATS in the last 6 road games and an ugly 3-8-2 ATS in the last 13 games overall.
Kansas City Chiefs
Before betting on any team in the last week of the season you have to know if they are playing all of the starters. That is not the case for the Chiefs this week. With nothing to play for the Chiefs will rest quarterback Alex Smith and instead play Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs moved from (-3) to (+3) within minutes of this announcement.
The Chargers have had a good season, but they are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. The Chargers need to win this week and have the Titans lose and the Ravens win to make the playoffs. They could also make the playoffs if the Titans lose and the Bills lose. Like many teams, the Chargers will be scoreboard watching this week.
The Broncos are out of the playoffs, but they still have the fourth best passing defense in the league. That could make things easy for the Broncos in the last home game of the season as they go up against a rookie quarterback in Mahomes. The Broncos are 4-1 ATS in the last five games that they have played in week 17 which shows you that this team does not give up.
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