We’ve reached the final week of the regular season. As usual, byes, postseason berths, and draft position are on the line.
All 32 teams play on Sunday. The biggest early game is the Jets at Bills, with New York needing a win to secure a playoff spot.
Seattle and Arizona take center stage in the second window, while Sunday Night Football flexed the de facto NFC North title game – Minnesota at Green Bay – to Primetime.
New England (12-3) at Miami (5-10) – Spread: Patriots -10
The Patriots lost to the Jets in Week 16 and that means New England needs this game to secure the top seed in the AFC. The Dolphins are playing out the string. In Week 8, New England destroyed Miami, 36-7.
The Pats are 5-2 away from home and 3-4 against the spread. They won on the road against the Texans, Giants, Bills, Cowboys, and Colts.
The Fins lost to Indianapolis on Sunday (18-12) and are now 2-5 at home and 1-6 against the number. They’ve only topped Houston and Baltimore at SunLife.
New York Jets (10-5) at Buffalo (7-8) – Spread: Jets -3
Rex Ryan faces his former team for the second time this season. While his current squad is not going to make the playoffs, his old team needs a win to clinch a spot in the NFL’s second season. Ryan’s Bills won in New York, 22-17, in Week 10.
The Jets are coming off a huge 26-20 win over the Pats. They are 4-3 away from home and 3-3-1 against the number, but two of their “road” wins weren’t true road games; they beat the Giants at MetLife and the Dolphins in London. Their only real road wins came at Indy and Dallas.
The Bills’ season went off the rails after they lost four road games in a five-week span. But Buffalo is 4-3 straight up and against the number at home after beating the Cowboys on Sunday. They also beat Houston, Indianapolis, and Miami at home earlier in the year.
Tampa Bay (6-9) at Carolina (14-1) – Spread: Panthers -10.5
Last season, the Panthers beat Tampa Bay twice with backup quarterback Derek Anderson at the helm. The team had hoped to start Anderson in this game, giving Cam Newton a rest; but a Week 16 loss to Atlanta means Carolina (7-0 home, 5-2 ATS) needs the win to secure top spot in the NFC.
Tampa Bay (3-4 road, 3-4 ATS) lost to the Panthers, 37-23, in Week 4. The Bucs won at New Orleans, Atlanta, and Philadelphia while falling in Houston, Washington, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. Last Sunday, they fell to Chicago at home, their third straight loss and fourth in five games.
New Orleans (6-9) at Atlanta (8-7) – Spread: Falcons -4
Both teams had higher hopes for the season than playing second fiddle in the NFC South. The Saints beat the Falcons at home, 31-21, in Week 6 and have won in Atlanta four of the last six years. But they’re only 2-5 on the road (3-4 ATS) this year. They lost road games against Washington and Houston in ugly fashion before winning at Tampa Bay in Week 14.
The Falcons are 4-3 at home and 3-4 against the spread after beating the previously unbeaten Panthers on Sunday (20-13). Atlanta won three in a row at home early in the year (over Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington). Then they lost three straight (to Indianapolis, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay) before the surprising upset over Carolina.
Baltimore (5-10) at Cincinnati (11-4) – Spread: Bengals -7.5
The Ravens started the season 0-2 after two west coast road games and really needed to beat Cincinnati at home in Week 3 to turn the year around. The Bengals won 28-24, sending Baltimore tumbling to a 1-6 start that saw basically all of the team’s key players go down with injuries.
Despite the injury woes, the Ravens have continued to battle. They’re only 2-5 on the road (with wins at Pittsburgh and Cleveland) but a decent 3-3-1 against the spread. They shockingly beat the Steelers for a second time this season on Sunday.
Cincinnati is 5-2 on the road but unbeaten against the number. The Bengals have double-digit road victories over Oakland, Buffalo, Cleveland, and San Francisco. Their first setback came in Arizona, 34-31. They also fell in Denver in overtime on Monday, 23-20. The loss to the Broncos means, barring unexpected Week 17 fireworks, the Bengals will be the number three seed in the AFC playoffs. The team will be without starting QB Andy Dalton (thumb) for the third straight week.
Pittsburgh (9-6) at Cleveland (3-12) – Spread: Pittsburgh -9.5
The first time these teams met, Ben Roethlisberger was just getting over an ankle injury and Landry Jones started got the start. Jones got hurt early, though, and Roethlisberger came out of the bullpen to throw for 379 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-9 Steelers win, their fourth in the last five in the series.
After to falling at Baltimore in Week 16, the Steelers are 3-4 on the road (with wins in St. Louis, San Diego, and Cincinnati) and 3-3-1 against the number. The loss to the Ravens put the team on the outside of the playoff picture, and Pittsburgh now needs to win this game and hope the Jets lose to Buffalo.
The Browns are 2-5 SU and ATS at home. Cleveland beat Tennessee and San Francisco in front of friendly fans. The Browns lost but covered at Kansas City on Sunday (17-13), getting a franchise record 108 rushing yards from QB Johnny Manziel.
Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (8-7) – Spread: TBA – Texans QB situation unclear
Besides getting demolished in New England during Week 2, the Jags have played competitively on the road this year. They’re just 1-6 SU but 3-3-1 for betting purposes. That trend continued in Week 16, as Jacksonville lost but covered in New Orleans after falling behind early. The team’s lone road win came at Baltimore in the middle of the campaign.
After crushing the Titans on Sunday, a win in this game clinches the division title for Houston. (They’re probably safe either way, though; Indy needs a ten-game parlay to win a tiebreaker.) The Texans are 4-3 straight up and against the spread at home. They lost at home to Kansas City, Indianapolis, and New England, while beating the Bucs, Titans, Jets, and Saints.
Tennessee (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8) – Spread: TBA – Both teams uncertain at QB
Even without Andrew Luck, the Colts (3-4 home, 3-4 ATS) had plenty of chances to win the AFC South. Ugly road losses at Pittsburgh and Jacksonville in Weeks 13 and 14, plus a home setback against Houston in Week 15, have all but doomed Indy. The team needs a victory in this game plus serious help to make the postseason. The Colts have home wins over Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Denver on the year.
The Titans were the worst team in the NFL against the spread last year, and it hasn’t been much better this season: Tennessee is 2-5 SU and ATS on the road. They won at Tampa Bay in Week 1 and in New Orleans midway through the year, but lost at Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, New York (Jets), and New England. They also got rocked at home by the Texans on Sunday, 34-6.
Oakland (7-8) at Kansas City (10-5) – Spread: Chiefs -6.5
The Raiders were a playoff contender for a short time during the middle of the season but then lost three straight to Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Detroit. Oakland has been good on the road this year, going 4-3 straight up (5-2 against the number) thanks to wins in Cleveland, San Diego, Tennessee, and Denver. Oakland has a bit of extra time to prep for this game after beating San Diego (23-20) in overtime on Thursday night in Week 16.
Kansas City started the year 1-5, falling to a bevvy of playoff teams (Denver, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Minnesota) and also the Bears. But after beating the Browns at home in Week 16, KC has now won nine straight and clinched a playoff spot. The second-half surge has the Chiefs sitting at 5-2 at home (but just 3-5 ATS).
Washington (8-7) at Dallas (4-11) – Spread: TBA – Unclear whether Washington will play its starters
The Cowboys beat Washington, 19-16, in DC in Week 13. The Skins rallied to get by Chicago and Buffalo in their next two, and then sewed up the NFC East with a convincing win in Philly last Sunday, rendering this game meaningless. Washington is 2-5 on the road and 3-4 ATS.
Dallas has won just one home game this year (against the Giants in Week 1) and none since Tony Romo was injured. They aren’t much better against the spread, sitting at 2-5 ATS thanks to a one-point home loss to Seattle and a three-point setback against the Jets. The QB carousel continued last weekend as Kellen Moore got his first start for the team. It didn’t go so well; Dallas lost 16-6 at Buffalo.
Philadelphia (6-9) at New York Giants (6-9) – Spread: Giants -3
The now Chip Kelly-less Eagles are 3-4 straight up and against the spread on the road. Philly beat the Giants at home, 27-7, in Week 6. Recently, they lost at Detroit, 45-14, and won a shocker in New England, 35-28. They were eliminated from playoff contention with an ugly home loss in Week 16 to Washington.
New York is 3-4 at home and 4-3 for betting purposes. The Giants have lost a bunch of tight games against good teams at MetLife. In Week 11, they fell to New England, 27-26, two weeks later they lost to the Jets, 23-20, and in Week 15 the Panthers beat them 38-35. With nothing left to play for and Odell Beckham Jr. suspended, the Giants got clobbered by the Vikings, 49-17, in Week 16.
Detroit (6-9) at Chicago (6-9) – Spread: Bears -1
The Lions and Bears are both eagerly anticipating the end of the year, once again. These teams met in Week 6 with Detroit picking up its first win of the season, 37-34. The Lions have won five straight in the series but Chicago leads the all-time head-to-head, 96-70-5.
Detroit is 2-5 on the road (3-4 ATS) with wins in Green Bay and New Orleans. The Lions beat the 49ers at home on Sunday in another mean-nothing game.
Chicago sealed its fate this year with abysmal play at home. The Bears are a pitiful 1-6 at Soldier Field (1-5-1 against the number) with their lone victory coming against the Raiders (22-20). They lost tight home games to Washington, Denver, and Minnesota. They continued their strong road play with a Week 16 win in Tampa Bay.
San Diego (4-11) at Denver (11-4) – Spread: Broncos -9
With a potential move to LA looming, this could be the final game for the San Diego version of the Chargers. The Broncos have a lot to play for: a win clinches a first-round bye and gives them a shot at the top seed in the AFC, while a loss could see them drop the division title to Kansas City. They should come in a confident bunch, though, having just beat down the Chargers, 17-3, in early December.
San Diego did it again on Thursday. They lost (this time at Oakland) but covered on the road. The Chargers are now 1-6 away from home but 5-2 against the number. They won SU in Jacksonville, and covered at Jacksonville, Baltimore, Green Bay, and Kansas City.
Denver is 5-2 at home and 3-4 ATS after beating the Bengals (23-20) in overtime on Monday Night Football. The Broncos have home wins over Baltimore, Minnesota, Green Bay, and New England.
Seattle (9-6) at Arizona (13-2) – Spread: Cardinals -6.5
Both of these teams are headed to the playoffs and they could see each other again in a couple of weeks with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Seattle will be looking to even the season series at ones after the Cards won at the Clink earlier in the year, 39-32.
The Seahawks are 4-3 on the road and 3-3-1 against the number. They lost road games early in the year to St. Louis, Green Bay, and Cincinnati. They bounced back with wins in San Francisco, Dallas, Minnesota, and Baltimore. They took a five-game winning streak into Week 16, but were upset by the Rams at home (23-17).
The Cardinals are 6-1 at home after demolishing the Packers in Week 16, but only 3-4 against the spread. Their only SU loss came against St. Louis in early October.
St. Louis (7-8) at San Francisco (4-11) – Spread: Rams -3.5
On the whole, the Rams have struggled on the road this year, going 2-5 (2-4-1 ATS). But their two road wins are as impressive as they come: they shocked Seattle in the northwest on Sunday (23-17) and handed Arizona its only home loss of the year back in Week 4.
San Francisco is 3-4 at home and 4-3 for betting purposes. Their last two home games are a 19-13 setback against Arizona and a 24-14 loss to Cincinnati. Their wins came against Atlanta, Baltimore, and Minnesota. They’re tied with Dallas for last in the NFC thanks to a 32-17 loss in Detroit on Sunday.
Minnesota (10-5) at Green Bay (10-5) – Spread: Packers -3
Minnesota had an opportunity to seize control of the NFC North in Week 11, but the Packers came to town and dominated the Vikes, 30-13. The team has been decent on the road, though, going 4-3 SU and an impressive 6-1 ATS. The only road game they failed to cover came at San Francisco in the season opener. Minnesota destroyed the Giants on Sunday Night Football in Week 16, setting up this winner-take-all NFC North title game. (The victor will host a playoff game next week while the loser goes on the road.)
Green Bay is 5-2 at home and 4-3 for betting purposes. The Packers dominated Seattle and Kansas City at Lambeau early in the year, but have spotty at home recently, falling to the Lions and Bears before beating Dallas. They continued their late-season downturn last weekend, getting destroyed in Arizona (38-8).
(Photo credit: Matt McGee (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/])