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The NFL regular season schedule heads into its final week but there are a few questions that need to be answered before the playoff picture is clear. In the AFC, we know that the Patriots, Texans, Chiefs, and Chargers are in while the fates of the Titans, Ravens, Colts, and Steelers now depend on a number of scenarios. The New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and the Seahawks have all punched their tickets into the post-season while either the Vikings or Eagles will end up as a Wildcard team. Will Washington finish the year at 8-8? Can Cleveland go out with a bang? Can we improve on a 29-25-1 betting record? Let’s take a look at the NFL's best bets for Week 17.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-7)
The Jaguars’ season has certainly been a disappointment for both their fans and those who have backed them against the spread. Their defense might be one of the best in the league but their lack of offense has been the bigger story. They have often failed to hit the 20-point mark and they have been badly beaten in the turnover department. It doesn’t help that they are the second-most penalized team in the league either. Two questions: Can this team score more points than the Texans who have posted 29 points or more in four of their last five games? Does Jacksonville even really care at this point?
The Texans will be playing past Week 17 even if they lose. However, a win gives them the AFC South title which will be a feather in their cap after a disastrous 2017 season. Houston’s offense is clicking and their defense has been very solid despite giving up 32 points to Philly in Week 17. They have been winning the turnover battle in a big way and they have given up the fifth-fewest penalty yards in the league. Houston is one of the best at stopping the run which is really Jacksonville’s only offensive weapon.
My Pick: Houston -7
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (+6.5)
It’s not quite a “win and you’re in” scenario for the Eagles but they are done for the year if they lose. Philly has worked very hard to give themselves a chance at a post-season berth. They have won four of their last five games including recent victories over the Rams and Texans. Their offense has been much more productive with Foles under center and the entire team is riding a familiar wave of momentum. Philadelphia has won and covered in their last three games against the Skins.
Washington got off to a great start to the season but they weren’t able to overcome a rash of key injuries and have now dropped five of their last six games. They have scored no more than 16 points in their last four games and it has been 13 games since they scored more than 23 points. Meanwhile, the defense that was such a key component of Washington’s early success has softened dramatically. They entered the season like a lion but are destined to go out like a lamb.
My Pick: Philadelphia -6.5
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-10)
The 49ers’ season ended a long time ago but they have been fighting the good fight over the past few weeks. Wins over Denver and Seattle built some momentum but that little streak ended with a 14-9 loss to Chicago last week. They will now finish out the season on the road where they are winless so far this season. They will also be facing a Rams team that will surely be motivated to win so that they can secure a first-round bye.
Speaking of the Rams, they were the toast of the NFL for most of the season but losses to Chicago and Philadelphia have brought them crashing down to Earth. A decisive win over the Cardinals in Week 16 turned the tide but we mustn’t forget that it was only Arizona. A Los Angeles win doesn’t just get them a first-round bye but it also gives them the momentum that they sorely need moving forward. However, as likely as they are to come away with the win, they seem a lot less likely to give their backers a cover. Los Angeles is 3-6-1 ATS over their last 10 games and they have failed to cover in their last four home games in which they have been favored by a touchdown or more.
My Pick: San Francisco 49ers +10
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos (+6.5)
Most of the football world was crowning the Kansas City Chiefs as AFC West champs several weeks ago yet here we are in Week 17 and the Chargers have quietly remained in the picture. Prior to dropping their Week 16 game against a desperate Ravens team, the Chargers had reeled of four straight wins and were victorious in 10 of their last 11. A victory over a down and out Broncos team gives them a shot at the division title and a first-round bye. This is also a revenge game of sorts for Los Angeles who lost at home to the Broncos earlier in the year.
The Broncos’ offensive woes continued last week as they were only able to put up 14 points on Oakland and it has been nine weeks since they eclipsed the 24-point plateau. They are kind of a Jaguars lite in that their defense has kept them in games. They are going to need an outburst on offense if they are going to make a game of this but they are simply outmatched against a far superior and motivated Chargers squad.
My Pick: Los Angeles Chargers -6.