NFL Week 17 Predictions & Best Bets: Motivation Factors Abound

  • My backslide continued in Week 16 and I’m now one for my last nine. 
  • But I’m still over $200 in the black and have one last week to make turn the tide.
  • Week 17 only has a handful of games where both teams care about the outcome.

The regular season wraps up in Week 17 with only a handful of meaningful games. The slate is highlighted by Colts vs Titans in the Sunday Night Football slot. But, as always, I’m going through every single game on the schedule, looking for the best bets and value plays.

Week 16 wasn’t great for me. Only the Bengals gave me a back-door cover.

  • “Locks of the Week” 2018 ROI: +$221.72 (based on $100 wagers)
  • Week 16 ROI: -$113.04

Per usual, scroll to the tail end for the Locks of the Week, which are getting increasingly harder to find as motivational concerns abound throughout Week 17.

Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Cowboys +6.0 (-110) +210 O 41.5 (-110)
Giants -6.0 (-110) -250 U 41.5 (-110)

The Cowboys (9-6, 2-5 away) can barely win on the road when they aren’t resting their starters. Now a group of backups will be facing a salty Giants (5-10, 2-5 away) that looked awfully motivated in their one-point loss in Indianapolis last week (28-27). Eli Manning is going to finish strong and, unfortunately, convince the Giants’ front office that they should bring him back next year.

Score Prediction: 23-14 Giants

Best Bet: Giants -6.0 (-110)

Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Packers +8.0 (-115) +275 O 44.0 (-110)
Lions -8.0 (-105) -350 U 44.0 (-110)

The Lions (5-10, 2-5 away) have suffered too many key injuries to be competitive anymore, while the Packers (6-8-1, 5-1-1 home) are finishing strong under interim coach Joe Philbin, who’s auditioning for the permanent job. Rodgers and the Pack roll.

Score Prediction: 30-17 Packers

Best Bet: Packers -8.0 (-105)

New York Jets vs New England Patriots

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Jets +13.5 (-105) +500 O 44.5 (-110)
Patriots -13.5 (-115) -800 U 44.5 (-110)

The Jets (4-11, 2-5 away) always play the Patriots tough, including five weeks ago in East Rutherford in a game that was closer than the final score (27-13) suggests. Sam Darnold is trending up. New York’s last three setbacks have all been by one score. This is too many points to lay with a New England squad that’s lacking sorely at the skill positions.

Score Prediction: 27-21 Patriots

Best Bet: Jets +13.5 (-105)

Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Panthers +7.5 (-115) +275 O 44.0 (-110)
Saints -7.5 (-105) -350 U 44.0 (-110)

Former Texas A&M Aggie Kyle Allen will start at QB for the Panthers (6-9, 1-6) who have now lost seven straight games. On the Saints (13-2, 7-1 home) side, Teddy Bridgewater is likely to see time in place of Drew Brees, as New Orleans has already locked-up the #1 seed in the NFC.

Lost in the noise of the Carolina losing streak is that the defense has been kind of decent recently. They have only given up 30 points once in their last five. This game will stay under with the backups seeing significant time.

Score Prediction: 21-18 Saints

Best Bet: Under 44.0 (-110)

Atlanta Falcons vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Falcons PK (-110) OFF O 51.0 (-110)
Buccaneers PK (-110) OFF U 51.0 (-110)

The Falcons (6-9, 2-5 away) have turned things up since getting a bit healthier (see Deion Jones). The coaching staff knows it’s on life support. The Bucs (5-10, 4-3 home) are better at home than on the road, but aren’t great anywhere. Their home wins have come against Philly, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Carolina. Give me the hotter team that’s less mistake-prone.

Score Prediction: 27-24 Falcons

Best Bet: Falcons PK (-110)

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Jaguars +7.0 (-120) +250 O 40.0 (-110)
Texans -7.0 (EVEN) -300 U 40.0 (-110)

The Texans (10-5, 5-2 home) need a win to lock up the AFC South. The Jaguars (5-10, 2-5 away) are back to starting Blake Bortles. Everything about this screams Houston rout. But the Jacksonville defense is still capable of pitching shutouts and putting points on the board itself, and Bortles knows his career is on life support. This will be closer than most expect, given the ostensible difference in motivation.

Score Prediction: 20-17 Texans

Best Bet: Jaguars +7.0 (-120)

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Dolphins +4.5 (-110) +190 O 39.5 (-110)
Bills -4.5 (-110) -230 U 39.5 (-110)

The Bills (5-10, 3-4 home) have only won two games by more than a field goal all year. They are a lot more competitive than I was expecting them to be at the start of the year. But they still have the second-worst offense in the league and should basically never be laying more than three, as bad as Miami (7-8, 1-6 away) is on the road.

Even though he won’t be back in South Beach next year, Ryan Tannehill is still a competent NFL quarterback.

Score Prediction: 17-14 Bills

Best Bet: Dolphins +4.5 (-110)

Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Cardinals +13.5 (-110) +500 O 38.5 (-110)
Seahawks -13.5 (-110) -800 U 38.5 (-110)

The Seahawks (9-6, 5-2 home) don’t need a win, but they would like one to stay in the first Wild Card spot, which they could still cede to the Vikings. They proved with last week’s 38-31 win over KC that they’re still as good a home team as ever.

The Cardinals (3-12, 2-5 away) meanwhile will seal the #1 pick in the 2019 draft with one more L. They have the NFL’s worst point differential (-197) and have lost their last three games by at least 14 points (20.7 avg. margin of defeat). But count on them scoring enough to help this one hit the over.

Score Prediction: 28-13 Seahawks

Best Bet: Over 38.5 (-110)

Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver Broncos

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Chargers -6.5 (-110) -300 O 41.5 (-110)
Broncos +6.5 (-110) +250 U 41.5 (-110)

The Chargers (11-4, 5-3 6-1 away) still have an outside shot at the #1 seed in the AFC, needing a win and a KC loss. They have been arguably the best road team all season, while the Broncos (6-9, 3-4 home) have not been as good at Mile High as usual. Denver is now down rookie Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsay as well and just lost to Oakland. Vance Joseph’s last game on the Bronco sideline will be a microcosm of his short tenure.

I like the total more, though. Only four Charger games have stayed under 41.5 this year, and I expect LA to dictate the style of this game.

Score Prediction: 28-20 Chargers

Best Bet: Over 41.5 (-110)

Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Bears +4.0 (-105) +170 O 40.5 (-110)
Vikings -4.0 (-115) -200 U 40.5 (-110)

The Bears (11-4, 4-3 away) will likely straddle the line between going all-out and resting their stars, since they can still earn a first-round bye with a win and a Rams loss to San Francisco.

Minnesota (8-6-1-, 5-2 home) will make the playoffs with a win or a Philly loss to Washington. They are averaging 34 points per game since letting John Defilippo go as OC. But Chicago has only lost one game by more than three points all season. As long as they are semi-interested in winning this one, there’s value on the Bears getting more than a field goal.

Score Prediction: 21-20 Vikings

Best Bet: Bears +4.0 (-105)

San Francisco 49ers vs Los Angeles Rams

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
49ers +10.0 (-115) +340 O 48.5 (-110)
Rams -10.0 (-105) -480 U 48.5 (-110)

The Rams (12-3, 6-1 home) have not looked like themselves since losing third-down savant Cooper Kupp. They have been a terrible bet laying double digits.

San Francisco (4-11, 0-7 away), on the other hand, has been more than competitive down the stretch, winning two of their last three and playing the Bears within five points (14-9 loss).

Score Prediction: 27-21 Rams

Best Bet: 49ers +10.0 (-115)

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington

Time & Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Eagles -7.0 (EVEN) -310 O 42.0 (-110)
Washington +7.0 (-120) +255 U 42.0 (-110)

The Eagles (8-7, 3-4 away) need a win and a Minnesota loss to make the playoffs. Nick Foles has been Good Nick Foles (for the most part) the last two weeks. But there’s really no predicting when Bad Nick Foles will come out to play. It could easily be this week against a tough Washington (7-8, 3-4 home) defense.

Score Prediction: 22-17 Eagles

Best Bet: Washington +7.0 (-120)

Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Bengals +14.5 (-110) +650 O 47.0 (-110)
Steelers -14.5 (-110) -1100 U 47.0 (-110)

This is going to go very badly for the Bengals (6-9, 2-5 away), facing a Steelers (8-6-1, 4-3 home) team looking to take out some frustrations after last week’s heartbreaking loss to New Orleans (31-28). That said, it’s rarely wise to lay more than two touchdowns in the NFL, especially with a team as inconsistent as Pittsburgh. The Steelers will certainly get their points and this one should hit 50, combined.

Score Prediction: 33-21 Steelers

Best Bet: Over 47.0 (-110)

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Browns +6.0 (-110) +215 O 41.0 (-105)
Ravens -6.0 (-110) -260 U 41.0 (-115)

The Ravens (9-6, 5-2 home) announced themselves as a serious AFC contender with last week’s 26-10 road win over the Chargers. Now they just need one more W to clinch the AFC North.

While it’s hard to overstate how much better the Browns (7-7-1, 2-5 away) have been since replacing Hue Jackson, they have mostly racked up wins against bad teams (Cincinnati twice, Denver, Carolina, and Atlanta). Their only road game against a playoff team in that time resulted in a 29-13 loss in Houston. The Baltimore D will remind Baker Mayfield that he’s still a rookie.

Score Prediction: 26-14 Ravens

Best Bet: Ravens -6.0 (-110)

Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs

Time & Date: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 23rd

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Raiders +13.5 (-105) +550 O 52.5 (-110)
Chiefs -13.5 (-115) -900 U 52.5 (-110)

The Chiefs (11-4, 6-1 home) will clinch the AFC South and top seed in the conference with a win or a Chargers’ loss. The Raiders (4-11, 1-6 away) are still playing hard for Jon Gruden, but their efforts are producing much better results at home than on the road. They lost their last road game by 14 points … to the Bengals.

Patrick Mahomes is going to cap off his historic 2018 season with a big MVP statement.

Score Prediction: 38-20 Chiefs

Best Bet: Chiefs -13.5 (-115)

Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee Titans

Time & Date: 5:20 PM ET, Sunday, Dec. 30th

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Colts -3.5 (-115) -190 O 44.5 (-110)
Titans +3.5 (-105) +165 U 44.5 (-110)

This is win-or-go-home for both teams, hence why it was flexed into the Sunday night spot. The Colts (9-6, 3-4 away) have only lost one of their last nine games. The Titans (9-6, 6-1 home) have won four straight to temporarily save their season and have only lost once at home this year.

Marcus Mariota is in doubt after getting injured in Week 16. But there’s not much difference between him and Blaine Gabbert right now. Tennessee is getting it done with defense and their running game. Derrick Henry will continue his late-season surge and muster enough offense to keep this within a field goal. That said, I’m not taking the Titans to win. Andrew Luck has literally never lost to Tennessee.

Score Prediction: 21-20 Colts

Best Bet: Titans +3.5 (-105)

Locks of the Week

  1. Bengals vs Steelers Over 47.0 (-110)
  2. Five-team parlay at +141: Chiefs (-900), Patriots (-800), Seahawks (-800), Packers (-350), Texans (-300)
  3. Two-team, six-point teaser at -120: Giants (PK), Ravens (PK)

Alexander is the MTS editor-in-chief. Frank, Alex, and Geoff brought him in when they realized that their betting expertise far surpassed their grammatical abilities. He loves overanalyzing college basketball trends. Talking to him during the first weekend of March Madness is like talking to a wall. A very focused wall, but a wall nonetheless.

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