The 2013 NFL regular season is drawing to a close with gamblers having one more opportunity to wager on a complete slate of contests.
Whether you cleaned up this year or are looking to bounce back with one incredible week, I have you covered.
Keep reading to find out which games are worth betting big on, plus a look at the updated lines and my picks for each contest on tap in Week 17.
|Home Team||Away Team||Pick (Spread)|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||Panthers (-6.5)|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||N/A|
|Houston Texans||Tennessee Titans||Titans (-7)|
|Washington Redskins||New York Giants||Redskins (+4)|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||Browns (+7)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals (-6.5)|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Indianapolis Colts||Colts (-11.5)|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Dallas Cowboys||Eagles (-7)|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||Dolphins (-6.5)|
|Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings||Vikings (-3)|
|Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots||Bills (+9.5)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New Orleans Saints||Saints (-13)|
|Denver Broncos||Oakland Raiders||Raiders (+13)|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||49ers (-1.5)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||Chargers (-9.5)|
|St. Louis Rams||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks (-10)|
San Diego Chargers (-9.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
The Bolts have a distinct edge in this one considering they might still be fighting for their postseason lives while the Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC.
According to Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, there seems to be a decent chance that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid winds up resting his starters ahead of their upcoming playoff opener:
Reid says he hasn't decided what he gonna do as far as rest guys against San Diego. Said he's had some success doing it in the past, though.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) December 23, 2013
San Diego will be in position to punch a ticket to the playoffs if both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins lose. Those teams kick off at 1 p.m. ET, opening the door for the Chargers to know if they have a chance or not to continue their season when they take to the field at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Regardless, expect the Bolts to try to end their season on a high note and play their starters for much of the way, even if they are mathematically eliminated by the time things get underway.
According to Marcus DiNitto of Sporting News, LVH SuperBook assistant manager Ed Salmons revealed that this spread was difficult to pin down:
It’s kind of weird, because they usually have these teams (whose results can affect one another's playoff chances) playing at the same time, but for whatever reason they’re having San Diego play after the fact. Kansas City figures to rest everyone or maybe play them a quarter at most. We knew San Diego was going to be the favorite, we just didn’t know how high. I still think it’s going to be somewhere between 7.5 and 10 – I think 10 will be the high point.
If you are convinced that both the Dolphins and Ravens are going to lose, it may not be a bad idea to bet this line now. If you aren’t so certain, wait until the final result of one of those contests and get in a last-second bet if the spread shifts in Kansas City’s favor.
Either way, the Chargers are a smart bet to get behind this week due to one of those unique situations that only arise in the NFL’s final week of the regular season.
Buffalo Bills (+9.5) over New England Patriots
Both of these AFC East rivals put on clinics in Week 16. The Patriots dismantled new-found rival Baltimore in a 41-7 blowout that may have ended the Ravens season, while Buffalo blanked the Dolphins in a 19-0 rout.
This Foxborough-based matchup is a must-win game for the Pats, but the Bills aren’t about to roll over and let the division winners walk all over them. While the Pats will be playing hard and eyeing both home-field advantage and a bye—which they will more than likely have to beat Buffalo in order to earn, it isn’t going to be easy.
The Patriots understand that mistakes and poor play are going to haunt them more so than these things were at the start of the season. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports noted that superstar quarterback Tom Brady recently admitted as much:
"Our margin of error is very slim. We can't make any mistakes or give them any opportunities. If we have plays that are there to be made, then I've got to throw it and hit it. We've got to come up with them."
That will be difficult against an elite Bills defense that is second in the league in turnovers and first in the league in sacks. Brady is going to be under pressure throughout the contest and will likely make at least one critical mistake.
Which team will cover?
Factor in the high-powered Buffalo rushing attack, which has gained an average of over 142 yards per game, against a New England front that averages allowing over 131 yards per game, and you are looking at the recipe for a close contest.
The Pats won their first meeting, 23-21, in Week 1. The final score this Sunday could look very similar. Expect the final drive of the game to decide which team emerges victorious.
Take the points in this situation, as Buffalo is too good to allow its opposition to win by more than a touchdown.