It has surely been a wild year for bettors brave enough to take on NFL odds each week, and Week 17 perhaps presents the greatest challenge of all.
Not only do bettors have to worry about typical things like matchups, injuries, trends and weather (to name a few with a broad brush), they now have to worry about whether or not teams will even try—will the teams out of playoff contention even show up? Will the teams with playoffs secured rest starters?
There are certainly more hurdles to jump than usual. Here is a look at a full list of predictions against the spread, followed by three lines to keep a close eye on as we near the final week of play.
|Away Team||Home Team||Point Spread||Prediction (ATS)|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||CAR -6.5||CAR|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||N/A||GB|
|Houston Texans||Tennessee Titans||TEN -7||HOU|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT -7||CLE|
|Washington Redskins||New York Giants||NYG -3.5||NYG|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -6||BAL|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Indianapolis Colts||IND -11.5||JAC|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Dallas Cowboys||PHI -6.5||PHI|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||MIA -6.5||NYJ|
|Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings||MIN -3||DET|
|Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots||NE -9.5||BUF|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New Orleans Saints||NO -12.5||TB|
|Denver Broncos||Oakland Raiders||DEN -12.5||DEN|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||SF -1.5||ARI|
|Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||SD -9.5||SD|
|St. Louis Rams||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -10.5||SEA|
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-6)
While not a game that will decide the AFC North title with the Cincinnati Bengals having already wrapped that up a week ago, this contest is still sure to give bettors fits.
Baltimore desperately needs the win here in order to seize the No. 6 seed in the playoffs (it will also take some help). But Cincinnati surely wants the win here too, because as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun points out, the Bengals are still in play for a first-round bye and home-field advantage:
Bengals, who haven't lost at home all year, have plenty to play for next Sunday. They can still get the No.2 seed and a first-round bye.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 23, 2013
Speaking of home-field advantage, it may be a bit surprising the line here is not slightly more lopsided. The Bengals are undefeated at home this season and have scored 40 or more points in four straight in front of their fans.
Pair that with the fact the Ravens went out and got destroyed in Week 16 via a 41-7 home loss to the New England Patriots, and this one should be an easy pick, right?
Wrong. These two know each other well and a Week 10 battle was a 20-17 overtime result in favor of the defending champions.
The win here will go to the home team, but the line is smarter than it appears at first glance. Bettors should not get overzealous with the oft-erratic, young Bengals—especially against a Baltimore team that surely burnt a few bettors last year.
Prediction: Bengals 23, Ravens 20
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
One major piece of news has drastically altered this spread as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports:
Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been ruled out the rest of the season due to his back injury, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2013
With news that Tony Romo is out for season, the point spread at Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook has changed from Eagles -3 to Eagles -7.5.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 24, 2013
The line has now settled a bit, but the outcome has never truly been in doubt.
Chip Kelly's offense has scored 24 or more points in seven straight games, which has resulted in six wins. Better yet, the defense is prepping the same as it would if Tony Romo were under center, as linebacker Connor Barwin explained, via Dan Klausner of the team's official website:
It doesn’t really affect anything. There are still 10 other guys out there that are going to be the same and we have to prepare for. Obviously, we’ll watch the tape we have on Kyle Orton. He does some things differently that we’ll try to prepare for, but it’s still the same offense that Dallas will run. They’re not going change everything because of the quarterback the last week of the season.
Philadelphia's offense ranks in the top 10 through the air and No. 1 overall on the ground. The Dallas defense gives up a league-worst 418.6 yards per game.
It was a foregone conclusion before the Romo revelation that the Eagles were going to have their way with the Cowboys defense. Now, add in the fact the Dallas offense will not be able to keep up, and this is an easy bet despite the cloud surrounding the matchup.
Prediction: Eagles 34, Cowboys 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-12.5)
Look, the spread here makes a bit of sense. The New Orleans Saints are undefeated at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year, and five of the seven wins have come by 10 or more points.
But as hinted in the intro, this one will be hard to read. Either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to come out flat thanks to their 4-11 record, or they are going to come out swinging in the hopes of ruining the playoff aspirations of a heated rival—knowing full and well the Saints have but a loose grip on the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Tampa Bay lost by 10 on the road last week, but the Saints were about as bad with a loss to the Carolina Panthers. Momentum is not a factor.
It is also important to remember that this was just a 16-14 result in favor of the Saints when these two met in the second week of the season.
Take precaution with this one. New Orleans appears in a favorable situation, but Tampa Bay is more than capable of hanging tough and has plenty of reason to do so.
Prediction: Saints 24, Buccaneers 20