Written by Matthew Nereim
Well, the final week of the grueling NFL season is upon us, which always makes for a unique and interesting week of betting as more than half the teams know their season will come to a close Sunday. So unlike the first 16 weeks of the season, I actually like a handful of games to bet this week.
Last week my play of the week was a total dud. The Chargers had won 19-consecutive games when they did not turn the ball over...the Raiders ended that in addition to holding Phillip Rivers to 3-straight 3-and-outs to start a game for the first time in his career! Sometimes it is just not your day! Moving along…
Week #17 can be tricky...and there is a lot to cover. So let’s jump right in and see who the public is all over, and see if we can get back to stacking W’s with my (general) philosophy of going against the grain, as in, playing the opposite side that “Joe Public” is all over!
Dolphins @ Patriots -16.5
67% of the public is on Miami yet the line has not moved all week. 16.5 is a ton of points, obviously. Simple logic would say take the points, as the Patriots offense has been carried by their D all year. But the Patriots are poised to make a run at another Championship despite the doubters out there. Miami is the last hurdle to secure the golden 1st-round bye. I can’t condone laying 16+ points...but this line makes me feel like it is going to be a VERY long day for the Fins in Foxboro. No thanks to laying 16.5 though...although I was tempted. Pass!
Bears @ Vikings +3
Only 34% of the bets are on the Bears, yet the line has swung 4-points after the Vikings opened at -1. The Vikings will be resting key players since they are locked into the #6-seed, win or lose. The Bears have failed to build off their stellar 2018 campaign. But 8-8 looks a whole lot better than 7-9. I think the Bears cover and get the job done! 3-Unit
Bet: Bears -3
Browns @ Bengals +2.5
67% of the bets are on the Browns, but the line dropped a half-point down to +2.5. The Bengals have the #1 seed locked up. This kind of line usually gets my radar perked up. A few weeks ago the Bengals outplayed the Browns and controlled the clock despite a 27-19 loss. A good pass that unluckily turned into a pick-6 was the difference. I just don’t see enough upside in taking the Bengals however, as it appears to be a coin flip either way. Pass.
Jets @ Bills -1.5
A whopping 73% of the bets are on the Bills and line has hardly moved. Yes, the Bills have punched their ticket to the playoffs having already locked into the top Wild Card Spot. But Coach McDermott has claimed they will play their starters. Also, they are vying for respect and simply don’t strike me as the kind of team that knows how to put it on cruise control. Their D is stout, Buffalo is a tough place to play...and my gut tells me to pass on this game so I will do just that. Pass!
Titans @ Texans +5.5
57% of the bets are on the Texans, but the line shifted 3-points. In a major scheduling gaffe in New York, the Chiefs play at home against the Chargers in the early games. Barring the Chargers winning, which will take a minor miracle, the Texans will be locked into the #4 seed before kickoff. I am slightly concerned with how beat up the Titans are. But when I saw this line come out I went ALL IN on the “Tenny” and got them at -2.5. At 5.5, I am not quite all in...but I am whatever the next closest thing is called? The Titans will come to play and I expect them to win semi-comfortably. 4-unit bet: Titans -5.5
(Note: If the Chargers are up late in KC somehow I will bet some $ on Houston and hope that the Titans win by 3).
Colts @ Jaguars +6
75% of the bets are on Indy and the line as swung from -1 to -6. I am kicking myself for not betting against the Jags on principle ever since I took them in Week 11 and watched Indy run right through them. They are 1-4 ATS since that loss with numerous shellackings in the process. They have shown a hint of fight the last 2 weeks however with a surprising win on the road in Oakland and then sort of hanging around with a resurgent Atlanta squad, holding them to 24 points last week. Indy lost 4 in a row after they last met, but won convincingly last week. Their offense, especially their run game has waned of late. But Indy is a physical team...and I am going to break every rule in the book and make a small play on them on principle to make up for lost time: 1-unit bet: Indy -6.
Raiders @ Broncos -3.5
55% of the public is on the Raiders but the line ticked up a half to 3.5. Oakland played a near-perfect game last week against the Chargers...a week removed from blowing a 16-3 halftime lead at home against the Jags, which still has to hurt!!!. Denver has quietly won 3 of 4 with an expected loss in KC over that span. I lean Denver and am so close to pulling the trigger, especially with Derek Carr’s less than stellar play in the cold. But the Raiders last week executed a very safe ball control type game plan and played with spirit. Although they need 3 games to break their way, they still have a slim shot at the playoffs which is sure to have them hyped. I am actually curious to see how this plays out...but will just watch, with interest. Pass.
The over/under is sitting at 41 however. 57% of the bets are on the over but the line dropped 1.5 points. I don’t see a wide-open affair unfurling, and I am going to make a play on the under. 2-unit bet: Under 41
As always, if you’re going to bet make it be with money that you can afford to lose!