NFL Week 17 – Last Week of the Regular Season

27 December 2019

NFL Betting Picks

As far as week 17’s go, this one doesn’t have a world of dramatics in terms of NFL playoff scenarios. There are still a few teams playing for their playoff lives, and a handful more playing for playoff seeding, but the majority of the teams are playing for nothing but pride. 10 of the 12 playoff spots are clinched and the final two spots come down to two scenarios, one in each conference.

Week 17 NFL Picks

We need to go over the playoff scenarios to understand the emphasis of what is on the line for each give team when making your against the spread plays. I will be operating under the assumption that there are no ties this week to muddy the waters of these scenarios.

The Eagles have the inside track to the NFC East title and the 4 seed in the NFC. They clinch with either a win or a Cowboys loss. The Cowboys need a win and an Eagles loss to steal that playoff spot. In the AFC, the final wild card and the 6 seed is what is up for grabs. The Titans clinch this spot with a win and have the inside track to the playoff spot. The Steelers need a win and a Titans loss and even the Raiders are still in play for the spot should both Pittsburgh and Tennessee lose and Oakland wins.

In the AFC, the seeding battle is fairly clear cut. The Ravens have locked the 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 2 seed belongs to New England with a win or a Kansas city loss. The Chiefs steal the 2 seed with a win and Patriots loss, but that is an unlikely scenario with the Dolphins travelling to Foxboro. The Texans are the 4 seed as the AFC South champs. The Bills are the 5 seed as the top wild card and the 6 seed was already explained.

The NFC has five teams locked into playoff spots with the sixth being the NFC East champ, and locked into the 4 seed. The 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 seeds are still in flux and will be decided by this weekend’s games. The five teams that own these slots are the 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Saints and Vikings. The inside track to homefield advantage throughout the playoffs belongs to the 49ers, as they simply need a win. They have the most drama filled game of the week as they are at Seattle and Seattle is still alive for the 1 seed as well. Seattle would need a win and both a Packers and Saints loss for that to occur. They clinch a first round bye and the 2 seed with a win and a Packers loss. San Francisco cannot land on the 2 seed without a tie in the Saints or Packers games. The loser of this game will be a wild card team. The 49ers would be the 5 seed and the Seahawks would be either the 5 or 6 seed with a loss. The Packers are the next team up. They would be the 1 seed with both a win and a Seattle win. They would be the 2 seed with a win or a Saints loss. They would be the 3 seed and miss out on a first round bye with a loss and a Saints win. The Saints are naturally next up. They would be the 1 seed with a win and both a 49ers loss and a Packers loss. They would be the 2 seed with a 49ers loss and a Packers win or with a win and either a Packers loss or 49ers loss. The Vikings are a wild card and it will be determined by the outcome of 49ers/Seahawks whether they are the 5 or 6 seed.

Got all that? Sheesh. Let’s get to the games and the NFL picks for this week.

🔥Play Of The Week🔥

Los Angeles Chargers 5-10 at Kansas City Chiefs 11-4

1PM EST

Opening Line: Chiefs -7.5 and 48
Current Line: Chiefs -8.5 and 45

This is the fourth of four large favorites against an awful team, and offers by far the most favorable point spread of the four. We don’t have to squint to see that the Chiefs offense is back to normal with a healthy Patrick Mahomes, as they’ve put up five straight wins. The offense hasn’t changed or regressed and whispers of their quick demise were quickly deemed as unfounded. What has changed is the level the Chiefs defense is playing at. On that five game winning streak, they are allowing a meager 9.6 points per game and this stretch (including a total of six points allowed the last two weeks) includes the road matchup with the Chargers. The Chiefs won that game by seven points but that game was one of the biggest lowlights of many for Philip Rivers this season. He threw four interceptions in that game and is one of five multi interception games this season. As poorly as Rivers has fared individually, the team is equally ugly. They have lost five of their last six games, with the lone win coming against an unmotivated and atrocious Jaguars squad. This one could get extremely ugly with any lead created by the Chiefs, putting Rivers in a position where the offensive play calling can’t hide nor protect him with the run game. The Chiefs by blow out is our play of the week.

Betting Pick: Chiefs -8.5
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Cleveland Browns 6-9 at Cincinnati Bengals 1-14

1PM EST

Opening Line: Browns -2.5 and 44.5
Current Line: Browns -2.5 and 44.5

This is a divisional game with nothing on the line for two teams that are ending the season with disappointment, but not all disappointment is created equal. The Bengals disappointment came without expectations and their abysmal season was mostly expected. The Browns on the other hand are a disaster that fell well short of (rightful) high expectations and now they have a coach in Freddie Kitchens that is and very well should be on the hot seat. The Bengals are locked into the first overall pick in the draft, making this a dangerous road spot for the Browns. Simply put: the Bengals have nothing to lose by winning. The Bengals also have a surging high end back in Joe Mixon and the Browns have been an absolute sieve to the run to close the season. The Browns are still most certainly longer on talent and they will try to win this game, but it is impossible to feel good about a bet on the Browns at this juncture, and the same holds true for the Bengals. This is a game to sit out of.

No Plays

Chicago Bears 7-8 at Minnesota Vikings 10-5

1PM EST

Opening Line: Vikings -7 and 37
Current Line: Vikings -1 and 37

We know the Vikings are locked into a wildcard berth and the Bears are locked out of the playoffs. We also expect the Bears to play their normal starters while, as of Wednesday evening, we don’t know how the Vikings will approach the game with their starters. Even if the Vikings decide to use their key players in this game, it is highly unlikely they play the full game, and we could see some ugliness from them much like we saw on Monday night with the starters playing. This game is fully a situation to monitor in the news cycle and to have a play on the Bears on standby. As soon as we get word the Vikings starters or most key players are sitting out completely or not playing the full game, we can fire in a wager on the Bears. There really isn’t more to it than that. The Vikings don’t have a reason to jeopardize their key pieces with nothing to gain and the Bears can feast on replacement level players.

Betting Pick: Bears +1 (conditional on above scenario)
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Atlanta Falcons 6-9 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-8

1PM EST

Opening Line: Buccaneers -2.5 and 50.5
Current Line: Pickem and 48

This game is a meaningless divisional clash with both teams eliminated from playoff contention. The Falcons are playing extremely strong football right now, and it is fair to wonder how the season would have turned out had they had a little better injury luck. They have won three in a row including a shocking win in San Francisco, and their point differential on this stretch is +39. We saw last week that turnover prone Jameis Winston has that trait magnified when he is missing his incredibly high end pair of wide receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Evans is done for the season and Godwin seems quite doubtful to play in this game, but he would have a massive impact on projection of the game if he did play. As is, the Buccaneers are trotting out replacement level talent at the wide receiver position, spear headed by Breshad Perriman. This wouldn’t be as massive of an issue for other teams, but the Bucs offense runs through the wide receivers and aren’t remotely as dangerous attacking via other positional groups. Assuming Godwin is out, we can very much assume the Bucs won’t be able to keep pace with the Falcons healthy passing attack, and more so, we can assume the Winston turnovers will contribute to a Falcon lead and win.

Betting Pick: Falcons Pickem (assuming Godwin is out)
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New Orleans Saints 12-3 at Carolina Panthers 5-10

1PM EST

Opening Line: Saints -11.5 and 48
Current Line: Saints -13 and 46

As discussed in the intro, the Saints have everything to play for here and the Panthers have been a dead team walking for a month or more. The Panthers have lost seven straight games and will give rookie quarterback Will Grier his second and potentially final career start against a motivated Saints team. Grier was ugly in his first career start last week, in a matchup with the Colts that is less daunting than this one with the Saints. For reference, the Grier lead Panthers scored just six points last week. What’s more, top receiver and quarterback security blanket DJ Moore is almost certainly set to miss this game after suffering a concussion last week. The Panthers will be a one man show on offense with Christian McCaffrey. Last week without Moore, no player on the team other than McCaffrey gained more than 33 yards from scrimmage. The Panthers have rough problems on the other side of the ball as well. The Saints have averaged 35.3 points per game over their last six games and that trend will continue on Sunday. There is little chance the Panthers can remotely keep pace with the Saints and I expect this line to widen even further. Take the Saints in a route.

Betting Pick: Saints -13
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New York Jets 6-9  at Buffalo Bills 10-5

1PM EST

Opening Line: Bills -4 and 37.5
Current Line: Bills -1 and 36.5

I won’t spend much time on this matchup because there is a massive variable at work here and not one we can project, at least not with the current available information. The Bills with nothing to play for this week but locked into their playoff slot, will play their starters for a portion of the game but not its entirety. We don’t know if that means a quarter, a half, three quarters or somewhere in between. We would be firing at this game partially blind  to make any play and it is one to stay away from.

No Plays

Miami Dolphins 4-11 at New England Patriots 12-3

1PM EST

Opening Line: Patriots -14 and 43.5
Current Line: Patriots -15.5 and 45

Despite the improvement of the Dolphins over the second half of the season, this is a blowout in the making, much like the Saints game. The Dolphins are just 1-6 on the road this year, and it needs to be noted the home meeting with the Patriots was a 43-0 drubbing. The Patriots have a first round playoff bye on the line and will leave nothing to chance to secure it. The matchup between the Dolphins offense and the Pats defense is the most favorable one. The Patriots pass defense remains the best in the league by far, and Miami’s offense is pass happy by necessity. They simple are wholly inept at running the ball due to both offensive line play and having a stable of sub replacement level running backs. The run game will struggle no matter who the matchup is, but now the pass game likely gets smothered as well. Devante Parker has had a true breakout season, but will be shadowed and swallowed up by Stephon Gilmore. It is no surprise the implied team total for the Dolphins is under 15 points. Even though the matchup defensively for the Phins isn’t quite as daunting as the one for the offense, they will allow points in abundance. The Dolphins remain outclassed on defense against everyone. The talent deficiency seems to rise to the top every week and they are allowing 33.7 points per game over their last six. This one won’t be close as the Pats will own every level of this game.

Betting Pick: Patriots -15.5
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Green Bay Packers 12-3 at Detroit Lions 3-11-1

1PM EST

Opening Line: Packers -10.5 and 41.5
Current Line: Packers -12.5 and 43

This is the third of four games in which we get a playoff team fighting for a first round bye matched up with one of the league’s worst teams in their current state. The Lions had dim playoff hopes mid season, but it really came off the rails when they lost quarterback Matthew Stafford, and later wide receiver Marvin Jones and backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. They have now lost eight straight games and the season will end with nine straight losses. David Blough remains at quarterback, and while he hasn’t been objectively awful, he’s highly unlikely to win a start in the NFL, or even get another start after the conclusion of this season. Now, this one is the iffiest of the four aforementioned games as the Lions haven’t rolled over and have continued to put effort in, even in the losses. However, this is very much another spot where we can expect the peddle to the metal for the Packers, and a consistent sense of scoring urgency. The Lions are exploitable by the run and by running backs and that is what the Packers love to do. Even when protecting a lead, the Packers are in turn attempting to add to it. Admittedly, this is the lowest strength of play of the four big favorites after the line spike, but it is still strong enough to fire some action on. Take the Packers to press for a bye as the Lions prepare for offseason vacation.

Betting Pick: Packers -12.5
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Tennessee Titans 8-7 at Houston Texans 10-5

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Pickem and 45.5
Current Line: Titans -3.5 and 45.5

The Texans are locked into the AFC South division winner, which is virtually assured to be the 4 seed, and have little to nothing to play for on Sunday. They would need the Chiefs to lose (highly unlikely outcome) to be able to climb to the 3 seed and they will know the result of that game prior to kickoff of their own game. Despite this fact, head coach Bill O’Brien said he plans to play his starters and play to win the game. Granted that can easily change as he learns that there is absolutely nothing to be gained from winning this game prior to kickoff, but for now we will take his statements at face value. Even if the starters do play the entirety, it should very much be noted this offense has been just above average and far from elite. They have not topped 28 points in any game sine early October and have been more reliant on the defense. The Titans on the other hand are in control of their playoff and wild card destiny and are in a true win or go home scenario. The Titans are on a two game losing streak, albeit against playoff teams in the Saints and Texans. They were without running back Derrick Henry for the Saints game and he was limited by injury in the first matchup with the Texans but is fully expected to play and have some level of health for this game. The Titan offense remains high end with Ryan Tannehill under center and they have scored at lest 21 points in every game he’s started and average 33.1 points in those games. I wrote the Titans as a play in the first matchup with the Texans and the result was not desired, but we get a redo here. With Henry limited, the play calling was too slow to hand the reigns fully to Tannehill and when they finally did, it was too little too late. I do not expect history to repeat itself and the Titans with full motivation will pull out all the stops to get a win and punch their ticket to the postseason.

Betting Pick: Titans -3.5
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Indianapolis Colts 7-8 at Jacksonville Jaguars 5-10

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Jaguars -1 and 43
Current Line: Colts -3.5 and 43

I won’t spend too much time here on these two eliminated and low level teams that have varying degrees of effort and cohesion, depending on the week. The Jags have lost seven of their last eight and the Colts have lost four of their last five with only the gift of Will Grier being the elixir to snap their losing streak.  Neither team can be at all counted on for competence in this meaningless game and it is wholly one to stay away from.

No plays

Washington Redskins 3-12 at Dallas Cowboys 7-8

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Cowboys -7 and 44
Current Line: Cowboys -11 and 44.5

The Redskins have long been out of playoff contention and the Cowboys now need a win and an Eagles loss to get into the postseason. They have lost four of their last five games and five of their last seven and the health of quarterback Dak Prescott is a huge question mark looming large over this game. If the passing game resembles anything like last week against the Eagles, they are in real danger of losing this game outright. To make matters worse, the Redskins lost project rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to injury last week and they are upgraded to Case Keenum at the position for the season finale. The Redskins have played tough through their talent deficiency late in the season, winning two of their last five and not losing any game by more than 10 points. This is a dog or pass spot in which the motivation factor and home game for the Cowboys pushes me to the pass side of that equation.

No Plays

Philadelphia Eagles 8-7 at New York Giants 4-11

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Eagles -5.5 and 45
Current Line: Eagles -4.5 and 45

There was a stretch in the later middle of the season when the Eagles lost all their wide receivers, and both Carson Wentz and the coaching staff appeared clueless as to how to deal with those losses. Fast forward to now and they are on a three game winning streak, and have settled on a new top wide receiver in journeyman Greg Ward. They also have adapted and utilized their backs and high end tight ends in the passing game. Speaking of the tight ends, Zach Ertz is said to be questionable for this game with a fractured rib, but it is difficult to envision him sitting out in this win or go home spot and after finishing the game last week when what he is dealing with is a pain tolerance issue. What I find incredibly interesting is this line moving towards the Giants given the Eagles scenario. The Giants have won two straight against the low level Redskins and Dolphins, but had lost nine in a row prior to those wins. Those nine straight losses included five to playoff record holding teams (including the Eagles) and are 0-7 against such teams on the season. The two wins for the Giants came from the resurgence of running back Saquon Barkley, who totaled over 420 yards in those games and scored four times. The matchup he faces with the Eagles is quite different and not one backs exploit. Over their last four games, the Eagles are allowing just 87.8 yards from scrimmage to opposing backs and have allowed just two touchdowns in that span. The Eagles will be able to contain Barkley and put the pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones to beat them. That generally works well for opponents as evidenced by the nine game losing streak. Look for the Eagles to beat the Giants defense at all levels and for Daniel Jones to make multiple mistakes as the Eagles make their way to the postseason.

Betting Pick: Eagles -4.5
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Pittsburgh Steelers 8-7 at Baltimore Ravens 13-2

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Ravens -3.5 and 41
Current Line: Steelers -2 and 38

What a disaster of a game this will be for those forced to watch it. With the Ravens having locked up home field advantage, they will be sitting their key players. The Steelers are forced to turn back to Duck Hodges at quarterback after benching him last week due to a Mason Rudolph injury after the benching. The Steelers need a win and help to secure a playoff berth, but it is truly a coin flip whether this Steeler offense can score enough to beat the entire Ravens second unit. This Steeler team averages just 14.3 points per game over their last six and haven’t topped 10 points in three weeks. Fully as ugly as games get and a spot to avoid.

No Plays

Arizona Cardinals 5-9-1 at Los Angeles Rams 8-7

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Rams -7.5 and 49
Current Line: Rams -7.5 and 45.5

There seems to be some underreported news on this game as the line hasn’t moved at all. The Rams are likely to hold out starters that have been nursing injuries as they have nothing to play for. This would create a real value spot with the Cardinals getting more than a full touchdown and having found life on offense in running back Kenyan Drake. The Cardinals have won two straight on the back of their rushing attack, including an impressive win last week in Seattle. The Cards have ran the ball 75 times for 479 yards over the past two weeks and will continue to go the well with that success against the Rams. The Rams has a mini resurgence after their week 12 drubbing at the hands of Baltimore with a tweaked scheme on offense. They flipped to playing more power football in 12 personnel and using tight end Tyler Higbee and wide receiver Robert Woods as their top pass catchers. They found success with wins in the ensuing two weeks but having multiple weeks of film on the new scheme caught up with them. They lost their most recent two games and will be at less than 100% on Sunday in a meaningless game. Take the dog here and there is value in Arizona on the money line.

Betting Pick: Cardinals +7.5
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Oakland Raiders 7-8 at Denver Broncos 6-9

4:25PM EST

Opening Line: Broncos -5 and 41.5
Current Line: Broncos -3.5 and 41

While the Raiders are technically not eliminated from playoff contention, the merits of them getting there are best summarized by being an underdog at a 6-9 team against a rookie quarterback making his fifth career start. The Raiders are the team with something to play for, but there is truly a question as t which is the better team, and the game is in Denver. This should be a tight game but also an ugly one and stay away.

No Plays

San Francisco 49ers 12-3 at Seattle Seahawks 11-4

8:20 PM EST

Opening Line: Seahawks -1 and 47
Current Line: 49ers -3 and 47

They saved the best for last and America and the world will be watching. The regular season concludes with a Sunday night clash to determine the NFC playoff seeding. The 49ers have been a bit banged up on defense, and haven’t been playing at their peak, but they have certainly been the more effective team of late between these two. While the 49ers did have a hiccup with a home loss to the Falcons on last second heroics two weeks ago, they have had impressive showings of late. In the last five weeks they have blown out Green Bay, played Baltimore to a near stalemate – losing by three on a late field goal, and beat the Saints in a shootout in the Superdome. The Seahawks on the other hand have bee anything but impressive of late. They have been handily beaten by the Rams and Cardinals in divisional matchups in the last three weeks and their only win in that span was a narrow one against a hapless Panthers team. Everything about the Seahawks is out of sync, and they have now lost their top three running backs for the season. They are down to rookie Travis Homer and some street free agents. This is quite problematic for a team that loves far too much to run the football and has no idea how to unleash their elite quarterback, Russell Wilson. It’s often discussed come playoff time that teams peak at the correct time. The Seahawks have been the opposite of that and it will take real heroics from Wilson if this game is to be at all competitive. The 49ers are the better team overall and are playing world’s better in recent weeks. This line movement is correct and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it move even further. Take the 49ers here and the sooner the better.

No plays

See you next week for the PLAYOFFS!

 

NBA Betting with TJ CalkinsTJ Calkins – NFL Expert

TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday.

 

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