There’s a lot to be decided in the final week of the 2016-2017 NFL Regular Season. The AFC West Division title, and a first-round playoff bye, is up for grabs. If Oakland beats rival Denver, they win the AFC West. But if they lose and Kansas City beats San Diego, the Chiefs win the division. New England must play tough against Miami because if they were to lose and Oakland were to win, the Raiders would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In the NFC, Green Bay versus Detroit determines the winner of the NFC North while Atlanta could clinch a first round bye with a victory over the rival Saints.
Editors Note: Check also Week 17 Betting Picks by Matt Ross
NFL Betting – Regular Season Week 17 Preview
Sunday, Jan. 1
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts -4.5 (1:00 pm ET)
The Jaguars played their best game of the season in Week 16. The key in this will be the play of Blake Bortles who should throw for over 300 yards again. If the Jags’ D can stop Colts’ RB Frank Gore from running all over them, QB Andrew Luck may have a short day. There’s no reason to jeopardize Luck’s health when the Colts are out of the playoffs. Jags win straight up.
New England Patriots -9.5 at Miami Dolphins (1:00 pm ET)
The Patriots must beat Miami to ensure that they get home field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. My gut tells me that New England rushes the football with big LeGarrette Blount in this battle. Blount has scored 17 TDs this season while Miami allows 141.8 rushing yards per game. The Dolphins are the sixth seed no matter what happens on Sunday. What it means is that they should rest their starters on offense.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings -5.5 (1:00 pm ET)
I haven’t seen an implosion like the one the Vikings pulled off this season in a long time. At 5 and 0, Minnesota had every chance to win the NFC North straight up. Instead, they ended up getting blasted after their bye. Chicago could have a field day in Week 17. Bears’ QB Matt Barkley has a problem protecting the football. But, he has a great rapport with young WR Cameron Meredith while the Vikings’ D has given up.
Buffalo Bills -6 at New York Jets (1:00 pm ET)
The Bills fired coach Rex Ryan on Tuesday. They also let go of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Still, Buffalo should score with ease versus a Jets’ team that threw in the towel about a month ago. QB Tyrod Taylor and RB LeSean McCoy figure to be awfully difficult to handle in Week 17. Taylor and McCoy should be huge versus what’s become one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles -4 (1:00 pm ET)
The Cowboys should only play their starters for a half against a Philadelphia team that will be motivated to end a rebuilding season on a high-note. Losing a key player isn’t a good thing. Plus, by playing QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott throughout the entire game, there’s a possibility that the Cowboys could peak too soon. That’s never good. I think Philly covers in this game.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers -7 (1:00 pm ET)
The Steelers have nothing to gain by playing injury prone stars Big Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell. Doing so, to beat a team with 1 win, makes no sense. It makes more sense to rest Big Ben and Le’Veon since Pitt is the fifth seed in the AFC Playoffs no matter what happens on Sunday. Because of that, I’m backing the Browns at +7.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5 (1:00 pm ET)
Carolina has been a huge disappointment while Tampa Bay still has an outside shot to make it to the NFC Playoffs. What needs to happen for TB to make it? Too many things to list. But, the window is open. More importantly, it’s hard to see how Tampa Bay doesn’t play hard in this. The Bucs have a much better attitude this season. They should have no trouble dominating the rival Panthers on Jan. 1.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans -3 (1:00 pm ET)
I don’t understand the against the spread odds in this game. Houston has a QB that doesn’t make mistakes in Tom Savage and a defense that gets to face a Titans’ squad without starting QB Marcus Mariota. Houston has won the AFC South. But the Texans can’t afford to keep Savage out of the game. He needs as much field time as possible to prepare for the playoffs. I think Houston wins this game straight up.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 (1:00 pm ET)
Baltimore isn’t playing for a playoff spot but the team has a lot of pride. Cincinnati has very little pride, meaning that making the Bengals the favorites in this game is strange to me. I just don’t see how or why Cincinnati is even favored in this game. I think Baltimore offers value on the moneyline.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons -6.5 (4:25 pm ET)
Atlanta is playing as well as any team in the NFL right now. The Falcons’ defense has come together. But, giving 6.5 points to Drew Brees and the Saints is a lot of points to give. Brees is good for at least 2 TD passes while the Saints’ defense should be tough against Atlanta’s rush. The rivalry between New Orleans and Atlanta is one of the most fervent in the NFL. I have to take the points just because of that.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins -7.5 (4:25 pm ET)
Washington must win in order to make it to the playoffs for the second straight season. That’s why Washington is a big -7.5 favorite over the Giants in this. NYG doesn’t gain much by winning or losing. But, Washington does. One thing to note, though, is that Giants’ RB Paul Pierce figures to get the bulk of the carries. Pierce averages 4.6 yards per and Washington has trouble stopping the rush. I’m taking the points.
Seattle Seahawks -9.5 at San Francisco 49’ers (4:25 pm ET)
Seattle could gain a first-round bye with a win over the 49’ers and a loss by Atlanta. Seattle suffered a huge blow when WR Tyler Lockett, whom had been on fire in recent games, went down with an injury. It’s hard to see the Seahawks covering the spread considering that the chance of the veteran team not playing in the Wildcard Round is a longshot. I think Seattle wins, but I’ll take the 9.5 points. San Francisco has some decent building blocks. Plus, they’ll have a player or two in this game that haven’t seen the field in a long time and will be fired up to show SF’s coaching staff something.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos -2.5 (4:25 pm ET)
The Raiders have virtually no shot of winning the AFC without QB Derek Carr. Oakland hasn’t said whether back-up QB Sean McGloin or rookie Conor Cook will get the start at Mile High on Jan. 1. It shouldn’t matter. Denver had a bad season considering that they won the Super Bowl in 2016. My guess is that to salvage something this season, the Broncos are going to come out and try to deny the Raiders the AFC West Division. I like Denver big.
Arizona Cardinals -6 at Los Angeles Rams (4:25 pm ET)
Arizona could start their second team offense and they’d still be the play over the Rams at -6. The Cardinals upset Seattle on the road in Week 16. What it shows is that coach Bruce Arians isn’t going to let his players slip even though the Cards won’t make the playoffs this season. Like so many other teams, Arizona must start thinking about life after Carson Palmer. He, like Rivers in San Diego, just doesn’t read defenses the way he used to. Not that it matters against the Rams, whom I feel has been the absolute worst team in the NFL in the second half of the season.
Kansas City Chiefs -4.5 at San Diego Chargers (4:25 pm ET)
There is no way that the Kansas City Chiefs don’t beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Chiefs have a chance to win the AFC West and secure a bye. They won’t disappoint. Now, when it comes to the spread, it could be a different story. Wait…strike that. Bolts’ QB Phillip Rivers’ TD to INT ratio in the past 6 San Diego games implies that the Chiefs dominate the Chargers on Sunday.
Green Bay -3.5 at Detroit (8:30 pm ET)
I don’t think Green Bay matches up well with Detroit. Sure, the Lions looked terrible against Dallas this past Monday night in Week 16. But, Detroit was in the game until the second half when the defense imploded. The defense won’t implode at home versus Green Bay. This is a great game to end the 2016 NFL Regular Season. Both teams have a lot to gain, or lose, in this NFC North battle. When it comes down to it, Detroit playing at home is a huge advantage. I like the Lions to win this one straight up.