There’s a reason why fantasy football leagues typically end after 16 weeks. Depending on what position a team is in, some need to play to get into the playoffs, some have already been eliminated and some know their slotting and rest their players. It’s the conundrum that hits annually in Week 17, but we’ll take a stab at it and pick which line is most likely to take you to the New Year’s pay window.
NFL Betting Odds and Lines: Week 17
Jacksonville (+750) at Indianapolis (-1200)
The last game before the Jaguars land Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft. I don’t like laying 14 points, so the best I can do is look at the Over/Under of 49.5 points (-110 for both). I’m not convinced the Jags will score more than 13 points, which means the Colts could score 35 and still not hit the point. TAKE THE UNDER at -110.
Dallas (-125) at New York Giants (+105)
Somebody has to win this game (it would be fitting if they ended tied), but the Cowboys are a 2-point favorite (-110 for both teams). My theory holds true that, if you think a team is going to win and they’re favored by three or less, there’s no reason to take the Money Line. TAKE THE COWBOYS (-2) at -110.
Pittsburgh (+375) at Cleveland (-500)
The Steelers have announced they’re laying down Big Ben and some of their veteran players, which should help Cleveland, which is a shame because Ben Roethlisberger has more wins at First Energy Stadium than any other QB. About the only thing I like about this game is the Over/Under of just 41.5 points (-115 for the Over, -105). The Browns need to win to lock down a playoff spot and the Steelers won’t lay down for a division opponent. TAKE THE OVER at -115.
New Orleans (-300) at Carolina (+250)
There is a scenario in which the Saints win the No. 1 seed, so they’re not taking their foot off the gas. Carolina is packing it in, which makes the 7-point spread (-110 for both teams) a shade to low for my liking. TAKE THE SAINTS (-7) at -110.
New York Jets (+150) at New England (-185)
It’s hard to imagine that the Jets are the hotter team in this matchup, but the Patriots are looking to avoid a 10-loss season in the first year post-Brady. New England is a 3-point favorite (-115 for the Patriots, -105 for the Jets). It has been a disappointing year in New England, but the motivation of avoiding a 10-loss season on Bill Belichick’s resume is enough for me to stick with a pretty bad team. TAKE THE PATRIOTS (-3) at -115.
Minnesota (-275) at Detroit (+225)
Some lines just make you shake your head. In a game where Matthew Stafford is 50-50 at best and Minnesota will be without Dalvin Cook and left tackle Riley Reiff, an Over/Under of 54.5 points (-110 for both sides) seems about seven points high for my blood. TAKE THE UNDER at -110 and hope the defenses show up.
Atlanta (+240) at Tampa Bay (-300)
The Bucs are locked in as a wild card, but, by virtue to a loss to the Rams earlier this year, they need to keep winning to lock down the first wild card spot and draw the “winner” of the NFC East in the first round of the playoffs. The point spread is 6.5 points (-110 for both teams) and the importance of getting a first-round bye against the NFC Least is reason enough for the Bucs to play hard. Otherwise, they could end up playing a real team on the road. TAKE TAMPA BAY (-6.5) AND LAY THE POINTS at -110.
Baltimore (-800) at Cincinnati (+575)
The Ravens need to win to get in and they’re going to pull out all the stops to hold their spot. The Ravens are 12.5 point favorites (-110 for both teams). They are in a position to move up or miss the playoffs completely. That’s bad news for the Bengals. TAKE THE RAVENS (-12.5) AND LAY THE POINTS at -110.
Miami (+105) at Buffalo (-125)
This one is strange because, with the Steelers announcing they won’t put their best forward against the Browns, Buffalo can lock down the No. 2 seed by winning or Pittsburgh losing. Buffalo is just a 1.5 point favorite (-110 for both teams). Miami is coming to upstate New York in January, which is rarely a good thing. TAKE BUFFALO AND LAY THE POINTS at -110.
Los Angeles Chargers (-185) at Kansas City (+150)
The Chiefs have nothing to play for, so most if not all of the players viewed as necessary for a run at back-to-back titles will likely see minimal action at best. However, they’re not going to simply lay down, which is why the 43.5 Over/Under (-115 Over, -105 Under) is a little shocking. Andy Reid has a system and the second team can execute it. TAKE THE OVER at -110.
Green Bay (-250) at Chicago (+200)
The Packers need to win to lock down the No. 1 seed, which is much more important this year than in most. As a 5.5 point favorite (-110 for both teams), the Packers have as much to lose as they do to gain. The Bears need a win to assure the playoffs, so this will be a game with as much at stake as possible for both teams. Look for Aaron Rodgers to light up a good Bears defense to get the job done and make the road to the Super Bowl forced to come through Wisconsin. TAKE THE PACKERS (-5.5) AND LAY THE POINTS at -110.
Tennessee (-375) at Houston (+300)
I’ve been relatively brutal trying to figure out the Texans this season, so I’m looking at it from a different angle. The Titans ideally run Derrick Henry into the ground. With a chance to clinch their division, he could have 30 carries and David Johnson could have 20+. That combination keeps the clock rolling and makes the Over/Under of 55.5 points (-115 Over, -105 Under) one that will be more difficult to hit than the bookmakers think. TAKE THE UNDER at -105.
Las Vegas (-145) at Denver (+120)
The Raiders are out of the playoff picture, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a playoff caliber team. They won’t lay down in their final game. They are just 2.5 point favorites (-110 for both teams) but have the talent to close out their season at .500 and the only team that has beaten Kansas City… and they just about did it twice. TAKE THE RAIDERS (-2.5) AND LAY THE POINTS at -110.
Arizona (-150) at Los Angeles Rams (+125)
Welcome to the NFL, John Wolford. He may be the answer to the question why more teams don’t have a compensated veteran backup QB. With a chance to head to the playoffs at 10-6, Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald are all banged up. The Over/Under is absurdly low at 40.5 points (-105 Over, -115 Under), but it will be difficult for these two depleted offenses to muster more touchdowns than field goals. TAKE THE UNDER at -115.
Seattle (-275) at San Francisco (+220)
There is a scenario in which the Seahawks could end up with the No. 1 seed, so they won’t be holding anything back. Seattle is a 5.5 point favorite (-115 for Seattle, -105 for San Francisco). The defending NFC champs were crippled by injuries and it seems only fitting that they end the season with the team that has been their primary rival for the last several years. TAKE SEATTLE (-5.5) AND LAY THE POINTS at -115.
Washington (-130) at Philadelphia (+110)
Washington can win the NFC East with a win here. They’re a modest 1.5 point road favorite, but this is the worst division in football. It seems only fitting that 2020 ends with the Eagles denying the WFT a division title with seven wins. TAKE PHILLY ON THE MONEY LINE.
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