NFL Week 17 Betting Previews and Picks

NFL Week 14 Betting PicksThe playoff picture is at a point where few seeds have been officially clinched but most positions seem likely to be nailed down in the final remaining week of the regular season. It will be up to various underdogs to create a final batch of surprises if the NFL is going to be shaken up heading into the playoffs.

After Week 16, the AFC is still likely to put the Denver Broncos (probably first) and the New England Patriots (probably second) as the top two seeds. The Broncos are the one team in the NFL that managed to clinch a first-round playoff bye this past weekend. However, they need to win in Oakland on Sunday to make sure they clinch the No. 1 seed. New England’s win over Baltimore in Week 16 put the Patriots in a position to clinch the No. 2 seed with a win at home versus Buffalo this Sunday. However, losses by either team open the door for them to slip down the standings. New England can capture the top seed with a win and a Broncos loss, or the Cincinnati Bengals can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win and a Patriots loss. If the Patriots and Bengals lose, the Colts can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win.


 
While the dynamics can change at the top of the AFC, the sixth seed is where the real race is at. The Miami Dolphins just need to win and they are in. Baltimore now needs to win and have Miami lose to get in, and San Diego needs to win and have both teams lose to get in. If all three of them lose, then Pittsburgh can sneak in with a win.

In the NFC, Seattle still holds the top spot but failed to clinch it last Sunday, losing at home to the Arizona Cardinals. They now need to beat St. Louis to wrap up the top seed in the NFC. If the Seahawks lose and San Francisco beats Arizona, Seattle would tumble to the fifth seed and the wild card round. Carolina, following its huge win over New Orleans last Sunday, needs to beat Atlanta to wrap up the second seed and gain a chance for the top seed if Seattle somehow loses.

Philadelphia and Chicago will both be playing for division championships and entry into the playoffs in Week 17 but they’ll also be playing for the third seed. If Philadelphia beats Dallas, it will be the third seed. If Dallas beats Philadelphia and Chicago beats Green Bay, Chicago will be the third seed. Dallas could get the third seed as the NFC East champion if it beats Philadelphia while Green Bay beats Chicago. Green Bay can only be the fourth seed if it beats Chicago to earn its way into the playoffs.

In other words, there’s plenty of scenarios and musical chairs still to be played. Here’s the inside skinny on Week 17 of the NFL season.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

Game Line: Bengals -5.5, 44.5 O/U

The Ravens need to win this game more than the Bengals but they are a sizable NFL online betting underdog. Baltimore has to win to make the playoffs (coupled with a Miami loss). The trouble is that Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who was injured in Week 15 against the Detroit Lions, looked very ineffective against New England last Sunday. He wore a knee brace and was not able to move around much in the pocket. Those who bet on the NFL simply need to note that the Bengals are still undefeated at home (7-0) while the Ravens are vulnerable on the road (2-5). The Bengals should win but take the Ravens with the points for your NFL betting picks.

Free Pick: Take the Ravens plus the points and the under. Bengals, 20-17.Free Pick: Take the Ravens plus the points and the under. Bengals, 20-17.
 

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

Game Line: Dolphins -6.5, 41 O/U

This game is one the Dolphins have to win in order to make the playoffs. If they plan to win, they better find a way to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have given up a league-high 58 sacks this season including seven last week. You don’t need the sharpest of NFL betting tips to understand that failing to protect the quarterback can torpedo an offensive game plan.

Playing at home, the Dolphins should be able to take care of business, though the Jets will probably push them for three quarters or so. At the end of the day, the Jets are just 1-6 on the road. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has just five touchdowns and 13 interceptions away from home this season with a quarterback rating of 55.3. One has to think that the Dolphins will find a way to get the job done.

Free Pick: Take the Dolphins and the under. Dolphins, 23-13.Free Pick: Take the Dolphins and the under. Dolphins, 23-13.
 

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Game Line: Eagles -6.5, 52.5 O/U

The winner of this game will take the NFC East and make the playoffs. The Cowboys figured to be the NFL football betting favorite but quarterback Tony Romo suffered a back injury against the Washington Redskins last week and is now out. That’s crippling considering this is a Cowboys team that was already spiraling downward. Their defense can’t stop anyone these days (allowing 33.2 points per game over the last six) and their only hope is to outscore the opponent. That might be tough with Kyle Orton under center.

Meanwhile, the Eagles fixed a lot of problems in a 54-11 curb-stomping of the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football. It’s hard to see how the Cowboys win this one without Romo.

Free Pick: Take the Eagles and the over. Eagles, 37-21.Free Pick: Take the Eagles and the over. Eagles, 37-21.
 

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

Game Line: No line

When it comes down to it, Green Bay needs Aaron Rodgers to win this game. Given the way Rodgers has failed to progress in terms of his physical health over the past two months, it’s hard to believe he’ll play another down this season. The Packers probably won’t get him back for this game and even if they do, he probably won’t be effective. The Packers are now 2-5-1 without Rodgers and their two wins were both nail-biting, one-point wins. Chicago should take this game at home.

Free Pick: Take the Bears to win. Bears, 31-20.Free Pick: Take the Bears to win. Bears, 31-20.
 

Home Dog With the Best Chance to Win Is… The Dallas Cowboys

We are quite thin on choices this week. It’s either the Cowboys or the Oakland Raiders. It’s hard to fathom the Raiders beating the Denver Broncos, so consider the Cowboys as the home dog with the best chance to win. Even though we picked Philadelphia above, keep in mind that the Eagles lost on the road to a backup quarterback just two weeks ago when they were blown out in Minnesota.

Home Dog of the Week: The Dallas Cowboys

Most Important Injury of the Week Is…

Tony Romo. He’s been ruled out for Week 17 and that’s crippling for the Cowboys. If you’re betting on the NFL, you know how important this injury is. The line has already jumped five points (from Philadelphia -2.5 to -7.5), crossing two key numbers. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles are favored by nine or 10 come kickoff.

7-Point Teaser of the Week: Patriots -2 & Steelers Pick ‘em

The first spread we’re going to shift is the Patriots to drop them down by a touchdown. They’re currently laying nine points but we’ll shift the NFL betting odds down to -2. They are hosting the 6-9 Buffalo Bills. The Patriots have won 16 straight against teams with a losing record.

For our second choice, we’ll tease the Steelers down to a pick. Look for them to end their season on a high note by doing something they’ve been very good at over the last decade: beating the Cleveland Browns. They’ve won 18 of the last 20 meetings they’ve hosted and 32 of the last 39 matchups overall.

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