Blurred Lines | Week 17 NFL Betting

 “Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast!” – Ron Burgundy.

Week 16 had to be the most chaotic NFL week I can remember. COVID case after COVID case after COVID case. With the obvious caveat that these are infinitesimal potatoes in the grand societal scheme of things amidst the pandemic, and I wish nothing but the best for the players afflicted, it makes it almost impossible to prognosticate these games. Almost, not totally (see below). Hopefully, the new, modified protocols stabilize things without compromising player safety. I’m aware that this may be wishful thinking. The question becomes, is the NFL a reflection of society at large or a precursor? If the answer is the former, buckle up, things may only worsen here.

(Standard disclaimer – Week 17 NFL Betting Lines – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines for the Week 17 NFL Betting Lines.)

Non-Standard Disclaimer – Since, as of this writing, there’s only one game where ELO and Vegas agree on the line within a point, we’re going to go ahead and call all the games this week. Fun!

Accountability

Game of the Week – Tampa Bay at Carolina – We start the review of a good week with a bad call. A couple of weeks ago, I said I was off the Panthers, but this week, I outsmarted myself, thinking the Bucs would struggle to adapt to all the injuries they suffered the week prior. Obviously, I should have stayed with my primary instinct.

San Francisco at Tennessee – In a Thursday Night game between two fairly even teams, the home team shouldn’t be catching three points.

New York Giants at Philadelphia – Much like Carolina, I’m off the Giants for this season. And if Joe Judge is back, I’ll probably start next season off of them, as well.

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota – Atrocious performance by Matthew Stafford and the Vikings still couldn’t cover, at home. Welcome to the Viking Experience. As a Packer fan, I’m going to miss Mike Zimmer.

Jacksonville at New York Jets – Someone explain to me how the Jags were road favorites over anyone. Please…

Los Angeles Chargers at Houston – I guess it’s reasonable to say a Charger team coming off a crushing overtime loss to KC that cost them the division shouldn’t have been a double-digit road favorite, but there is no excuse for them losing this game. If (big if) they end up making the playoffs, they’ll be an early bet against.

Baltimore at Cincinnati – I’ve had a blind spot for the Ravens all year. Being down to your third-string QB is suboptimal, but said QB doesn’t play defense, and when you give up a historic amount of passing yardage to the opposing QB, that may be your root cause issue.

Washington at Dallas – There may be some actionable insight here. Taylor Heinicke is a mediocre at best QB; losing practice time to COVID is not ideal.

Upset of the Week – Miami at New Orleans – While I did call the Miami straight-up win in this space last week, that was assuming Ian Book would be on the bench, inactive, where he belongs. The fact that he had to start mutes my bold prediction somewhat. My “Miami makes the playoffs” prediction will remain glorious when it comes to fruition.

Overall, a good week for me and another sub-.500 week for ELO pushes my picks slightly ahead of the analytics for the first time this season. I take no joy in this. I’ll only be happy with my picks when I’m >55% for the year and turning a (theoretical) profit.

Last week: My picks, 6 – 3; Analytics, 4 – 5

Season: My picks, 59 – 62 – 1; Analytics, 58 – 63 – 1

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Week 17 NFL Betting

Game of the Week 

New York Giants at Chicago – Analytic Line: CHI (-1), Vegas Line: CHI (-6), PL: CHI (-6.5)

This week’s largest gap between ELO and book point spread is five. The Giants QB situation, sans Daniel Jones, is flat embarrassing. Nevertheless, they’re a threat to get shut out in any given week, and since I’m confident the Bears can score a TD, I’ll gladly lay the six.

Make It A Parlay

Atlanta at Buffalo – Analytic Line: BUF (-11.5), Vegas Line: BUF (-14.5), PL: BUF (-10.5)

The line of 14 and a hook definitely gives me pause here, but I have no faith in Atlanta on the road. Especially since they’re a dome team, and it’s supposed to be cold and snowy in western New York Sunday. The Bills seem to be rounding into form and need this game to stave off New England for the division title, so I’ll begrudgingly lay the plethora of points.

Kansas City at Cincinnati – Analytic Line: CIN (+3.5), Vegas Line: CIN (+5), PL: CIN (+2.5)

Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a team that currently holds a playoff position. They’re beating up on the last place schedule and their AFC North brethren. They may be another sneaky bet against when the playoffs roll around.

Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis – Analytic Line: INDY (-9.5), Vegas Line: INDY (-7.5), PL: INDY (-8.5)

Here’s our first and probably most significant COVID test case of the week. If Carson Wentz can play, this would be an easy lean to Indy. Of course, the line would likely go up correspondingly, but I’d still take them. My guess (nothing more) is since Wentz is unvaxxed, he doesn’t get off the list in time, and I’m not laying points on Sam Ehlinger.

Jacksonville at New England – Analytic Line: NE (-17), Vegas Line: NE (-15.5), PL: NE (-13)

I hate laying big numbers on the Pats since they want to run the ball and shorten the game as much as possible, but like the Giants, the Jags could easily be shut out, and I expect New England would be able to score enough to cover the line.

Tampa Bay at New York Jets – Analytic Line: NYJ (+11), Vegas Line: NYJ (+13), PL: NYJ (+14.5)

I got burned betting against Tampa last week, but I’m going back to the well. They’re still beat up, now they’ve got COVID issues, and it’s back-to-back road games. That’s tough, and the line is high enough that I’m comfortable calling for a back door cover. 

Miami at Tennessee – Analytic Line: TENN (-1.5), Vegas Line: TENN (-3.5), PL: TENN (-2.5)

The Fish will need this game to get in the playoffs, and they’re making the playoffs, so yeah, I’m taking them getting any amount of points even if Tennessee will have a four-day rest advantage. So the triumph will be all the more glorious.

Philadelphia at Washington  – Analytic Line: WASH (+1.5), Vegas Line: WASH (+3), PL: WASH (+5.5)

Regardless of how much practice time their QB’s get this week, Washington has entered the Death Spiral stage of their season. Next week, they should get a dead cat bounce against the Giants, but Sunday will be the end of their faint playoff hopes.

Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore – Analytic Line: BAL (+1), Vegas Line: BAL (+3.5), PL: BAL (+3.5)

I know, I know, I’ve been too optimistic about the Ravens, but this is a tough spot for the Rams. This will be their second straight road game after having to play on a Tuesday the previous week, and now the game gets flexed from the late window to 1:00 PM EST. However, backs against the wall and getting Lamar and/or Huntley back should be enough of a boost to keep Baltimore within a FG.

Houston at San Francisco – Analytic Line: SF (-10.5), Vegas Line: SF (-12.5), PL: SF (-12)

Another QB issue for the favorites, this time, regular, old injury-related, not COVID. Jimmy G’s got a bad thumb. Trey Lance getting as little PT to this point as he has can only be a signal he’s not ready, so I’ll gobble up the points here, assuming he’s the starter.

Denver at Los Angeles Chargers – Analytic Line: LAC (-4.5), Vegas Line: LAC (-6.5), PL: LAC (-7.5)

I’d feel better taking Denver and the points if the line got over a touchdown, but if Rex Burkhead can run all over this Charger D, imagine what a good running team can do. Sure, the “we’re PO’ed after no showing against Houston last week” narrative is in play, but I’m more comfortable leaning into the matchup.

Arizona at Dallas – Analytic Line: DAL (-5.5), Vegas Line: DAL (-5.5), PL: DAL (-7.5)

Sharp eyes will notice this is the one aforementioned line ELO and Vegas agree on. I’m thinking Dallas should be a heavier favorite. Last week, I said the Cards peaked early, continuing their slide on Christmas night. Big D doesn’t seem like the place for them to right the ship.

Carolina at New Orleans –  Analytic Line: NO (-8), Vegas Line: NO (-6.5), PL: NO (-7.5)

Thankfully, Taysom Hill is off the COVID list, Ian Book can go back to being a game-day inactive, and I can go back to betting against Carolina.

Detroit at Seattle –  Analytic Line: SEA (-8.5), Vegas Line: SEA (-7), PL: SEA (-4.5)

Detroit keeps on covering, and Seattle looks like they’re ready for the season of their discontent to be over. So I’ll take the plucky team and the points.

Minnesota at Green Bay –  Analytic Line: GB (-9), Vegas Line: GB (-6.5), PL: GB (-6.5)

COVID has hit the Packers hard this week. While it hasn’t hit their key players (yet), the practice disruption is significant. Weather shouldn’t be a factor, cold but clear and not too windy. These two almost always play close games, so I don’t want to need the TD to get a GB cover.

Upset of the Week

Cleveland at Pittsburgh – Analytic Line: PITT (-1), Vegas Line: PITT (+3), PL: PITT (+1.5)

 A.) Beware the home dog on Monday Night.

 B.) Big Ben’s (probable) last game at Heinz Field? Yeah, I’m grabbing the points with the Steelers.

Happy New Year, everybody! Since the last couple of years have left something (read: a lot) to be desired, we have to be due for a good one. Please tell me the gambler’s fallacy doesn’t apply to successive years. Please?

If you are looking for more Week 17 NFL Betting, check out Chris Molina’s Top 5 Player Props every Friday!