Now that the Packers and Vikings have wrapped up Week 16 on Monday Night Football, we can officially start the march toward the finish line for the 2019 regular season. As is usually the case, there will still be postseason positioning and berths at stake on the last Sunday of the campaign.
The top seed in the NFC is still up for grabs, as is the NFC West and NFC East. So are the No. 2 seeds in each conference, along with multiple wild card spots. Each of the following Week 17 matchups carries postseason ramifications to varying degree:
It all should make for one of the more interesting betting weekends of the NFL season, so without further ado, here’s a live look at the lines at sportsbooks in the US as we begin looking toward Week 17.
NFL Week 17 odds
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)
The Falcons continued to present as a much more effective team on both sides of the ball Sunday than they did earlier in the season. In Week 16, that came at the expense of the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 24-12 victory. Atlanta’s offense looked to be in fine shape for the most part, and Matt Ryan helped facilitate Julio Jones getting to 12,000 career yards faster than any player in history. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers officially saw their thin playoff hopes extinguished by the Houston Texans on Saturday in a game during which Jameis Winston threw another four interceptions.
The Falcons will have a chance to end their rollercoaster season on a positive note in this matchup. The Bucs check in allowing 269.1 passing yards per game, although they’re much better at home (239.2) than on the road (289.0). Tampa’s pass rush could be an issue for the Falcons, however, after it got to Ryan on six occasions when these two teams first met Nov. 24th.
The Buccaneers’ offense will also be looking to put a strong finish to its first season under coach Bruce Arians’ system. Of course, they’ll be trying to do so with an injury-shortened cast. Mike Evans is already on injured reserve and Chris Godwin is very likely to miss the finale as well, with hamstring injuries the culprit in each case. The Falcons’ secondary has struggled on the road (269.1 YPG allowed), but they did pick Winston off twice in their first encounter with him this season. With both teams eliminated from the playoffs, look for a potential opening of the playbook on both sides in this spot, injuries and all.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Buccaneers’ projected advantage has come down a full point over the course of the week. Godwin is now officially confirmed out for Tampa, while Atlanta comes in with no new absences to report. Neither team has anything to play for except intangibles in this spot, which could result in one of the closely contested and wilder games of the week. With the Bucs’ reduced offensive firepower and Atlanta’s improved play on defense in the second half of the season, the Under on the total of 48 could be a popular wager.
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Bears dropped a second straight game Sunday night. They were dismantled, 26-3, by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Vikings lace them up against the Packers on Monday night and still have a shot at the NFC North crown going into that game. However, Minnesota already clinched a playoff spot by virtue of the Rams’ loss to the 49ers on Saturday night.
The likes of Mitchell Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and David Montgomery will all be trying to put together strong finishes to their respective seasons. Each player met with varying levels of success this season. However, Montgomery particularly has to be disappointed in his rookie campaign after having entered the season with high expectations. He’ll be hard-pressed to finish strong against a Minnesota defense that heads into its Week 16 battle versus the Packers allowing just 91.3 rushing yards per contest. He was also stymied to the tune of 53 yards on 21 carries when these two teams first met.
It remains to be seen what the Vikings’ personnel will look like for this game. Dalvin Cook could well sit out a second straight contest in order to heal his upper body injury for the playoffs. Alex Mattison may or may not play with his gimpy ankle. And if the NFC North title is already a lost cause at this point, Minnesota may not have anything to play for in this spot. This will therefore be one of the more interesting spreads to check back into this coming weekend.
WEEKEND UPDATE: This is one of several games that has seen significant line movement throughout the week. Minnesota was a one-point favorite at the beginning of the week, but with the prospects of an NFC North title having evaporated Monday night against the Packers, the Vikes are now locked into the No. 6 seed. Cook is already officially ruled out for this contest, while Mattison remains questionable. That could leave Minnesota unable to fully exploit a couple of key defensive line injuries for the Bears in the form of Akiem Hicks (elbow) and Eddie Goldman (concussion). Chicago is otherwise at full health and there’s naturally a high likelihood Vikes coach Mike Zimmer pulls his starters early here, hence the flip in the line.
Cleveland Browns (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns continued to unravel in Week 16 against the Ravens. Cleveland’s latest debacle included an Odell Beckham, Jr. sideline blowup with head coach Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield having a bit of tense postgame interaction with the Dawg Pound fans. The Bengals showed far more fight in a miracle comeback against the Dolphins, one that saw them come back from a 28-6 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game on a Hail Mary pass to Tyler Eifert and subsequent Andy Dalton two-point conversion run with no time remaining. While Cincy ultimately fell in overtime, the game showed the Bengals haven’t quit on their lost season by any stretch.
Therefore, this game could well unfold into one of the most unpredictable of the week. The matchup will certainly be there for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the ground – the Bengals come in allowing an NFL-high 181.9 rushing yards per home game. Chubb gained 106 yards on just 15 carries when these teams met three games ago. The challenge for the passing game is stouter. Despite all their troubles this season, the Bengals have done a reasonable job preventing production through the air. They’re yielding a respectable 221.6 passing yards per game at home and made Mayfield’s life miserable in their first meeting, holding him to 11-for-24 passing and picking him off twice.
On the other side, Dalton will have to be wary of a talented Cleveland secondary that’s allowed the third-fewest passing yards per road game (199.1). The Red Rifle was picked off once and didn’t throw a touchdown pass in his first encounter with the Browns. Here, too, the matchup tilts in favor of the running game. Cleveland has allowed 156.7 rushing yards per road game and was trampled by Joe Mixon the first time around for 146 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Mixon was reportedly under the weather in Week 16 and therefore couldn’t really capitalize on his favorable matchup against the Miami run defense. He should be good to go by the time this game rolls around, however, and could well be leaned on heavily in this spot.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The line has remained unchanged in this battle of two non-playoff teams. It’s legitimately anyone’s guess what the mental state of the Browns is heading into this game — it could conceivably range anywhere from status quo all the way to looking to putting the final nail in head coach Freddie Kitchens’ 2020 job prospects for all anyone knows. Meanwhile, the feisty Bengals will look to get Mixon the 25 yards he needs to reach 1,000 on the ground for the season. For Cleveland, Beckham is battling an illness in addition to his usual groin problem, but he needs just 46 yards himself to reach the 1,000-yard milestone through the air.
Green Bay Packers (-12.5) at Detroit Lions
The Packers have a chance to wrap up the NFC North on Monday night versus the Vikings. If they do, it also leaves them in the running for the top seed in the NFC heading into this game. Meanwhile, the Lions’ top priority here will likely be getting the whole thing over with and getting a jump on their offseason plans after dropping their eighth straight game in Week 16 to the Broncos.
Green Bay will undoubtedly be gunning for a victory here irrespective of what happens Monday night, as a loss to the Vikings would then endanger their chances at the division crown. The oddsmakers clearly feel a steamrolling is in order here, and with good reason. The David Blough-led Lions offense would likely have a difficult time finding sustained success against a motivated Packers defense. That holds true even with Green Bay’s occasional leaks against the run and Kerryon Johnson being back in the fold for Detroit.
The other side of the matchup looks quite attractive for a Packers offense that’s been inconsistent at times. There’s an appealing set of circumstances for Aaron Rodgers in particular. The Lions have surrendered an NFL-high 348.7 passing yards per game at home. The mid-October meeting between these two teams – which culminated in a 23-22 Packers victory – saw Rodgers throw for 283 yards and two touchdowns with one interception despite not having Davante Adams available due to injury. Green Bay had little trouble moving the ball on the ground then as well. The Pack generated 170 rushing yards, led by Jamaal Williams’ 104.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Pack’s projected advantage has bumped up another half-point throughout the week, even as Williams has been declared doubtful with a shoulder injury. Green Bay has the NFC North in hand and now sets its sights on the No. 2 seed that they can clinch with a win. This is one of the projected “steamrollings” of Week 17, given the disparity of motivation and talent between the two clubs at the moment.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-9)
It could well be the end of a couple of eras of vastly different lengths for the Chargers in this contest. Philip Rivers, unsigned for next season, could certainly be playing his last game for the franchise he’s helmed his entire career. Meanwhile, head coach Anthony Lynn could also be issued a pink slip less than 24 hours after this game concludes following a three-season tenure. On the other side, following a convincing 26-3 victory over the Bears on Sunday night, the Chiefs remain position to clinch a first-round bye in the AFC via the No. 2 seed.
The Chiefs made life miserable on Rivers the first time these two teams met. They picked the veteran signal-caller off four times in a 24-17 win. Kansas City’s secondary is allowing just 219.0 passing yards per contest and has surrendered the sixth-fewest passing touchdowns (19). KC also has 14 picks, while Rivers has averaged 1.2 interceptions per contest. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler seemingly have a better chance of consistent success while tangling with a KC defense that’s surrendered 137.6 rushing yards at 4.6 yards per carry per carry per home game.
Patrick Mahomes and company will face one of their thornier challenges in the form of the Chargers secondary. Los Angeles has allowed a miserly 202.0 passing yards per road game and held Mahomes to 182 yards while picking him off once in their November meeting with him in Mexico City. The outlook isn’t much brighter for the ground attack. The Bolts shave 19.1 rushing yards off the 119.7 they allow per home contest when they travel. KC typically doesn’t bother much with the run anyhow, so this could be a stringent talent vs. matchup test for the Chiefs’ typically high-octane passing game.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Chiefs have gained another point in their advantage throughout the week. This is another case of two teams with vastly different levels of motivation. KC’s shot at the No. 2 seed is admittedly a long shot, considering they need the Dolphins to beat the Patriots in addition to the Chiefs taking care of their own business against Los Angeles. Yet with both games kicking off at the same time, Kansas City will presumably be putting in maximum effort here no matter the circumstances, especially after already dropping an uncharacteristic three games at Arrowhead Stadium this season. For the Bolts, look for Mike Williams to be given plenty of chances for the 37 yards he needs to record his first 1,000-yard season.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-17)
The Dolphins continued to live up to their second-half reputation as scrappy, leave-it-all-on-the-field tormentors in Week 16, although though for a good bit there in the fourth quarter, they looked like they’d met their match in the Bengals. Zac Taylor’s team played as hard for him as Miami typically has for Brian Flores and made a miracle comeback before succumbing to the Dolphins in overtime. Meanwhile, the Patriots had to overcome a late deficit themselves and did just enough to nip the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon. New England’s shot at the top seed in the conference is gone courtesy of the Ravens’ win over the Browns. However, New England needs a win here to secure the No. 2 slotting and a first-round bye.
Under normal circumstances, one would assume Miami’s underdog mentality wouldn’t play very well in as unfriendly an environment as Gillette Stadium. Yet there’s a different vibe around both these squads during recent weeks. The ‘Fins’ 4-4 record over the last eight is evidence of their improving play. On their end, the Patriots have often looked flummoxed on offense in the second half. Therefore, it’s likely best to put New England’s 43-0 trampling of the Dolphins back in Week 2 firmly out of mind; these are two largely different teams. Miami’s challenge will still be formidable here, however. The Pats’ defense is still one of the league’s best and allows an NFL-low 268.3 yards per game.
The Patriots will encounter a different Miami defense this time around, even as that unit won’t have Xavien Howard (knee), Bobby McCain (shoulder) or Minkah Fitzpatrick (trade) like it did back in Week 2. Miami now has 12 picks on the season, shockingly giving them the same amount as the 49ers and one more than the much higher-ranked secondaries of the playoff-bound Saints and the aggressive, Jalen Ramsey-helmed Rams group. The Dolphins still have the league’s fewest sacks (22) but have a respectable six over the last three contests. The Pats haven’t exactly protected Tom Brady effectively lately, either, a big reason for their lack of continuity on offense.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Patriots, gunning for the No. 2 seed and its accompanying off week, have gained another point in their projected advantage this week. However, as mentioned previously, the Dolphins haven’t quit all season, and they’ll have a chance to play spoiler for their hated division rivals. The Pats have won the last two home games in this series by 31 and 24 points, respectively, but they seem somewhat less likely than usual these days to cover such a large spread. Of note is the fact their last four games at Gillette have resulted in one loss (the Chiefs) and three wins that have been by 14 points or fewer.
New Orleans Saints (-13.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Saints are vying, at minimum, for that coveted off week to start the postseason. They’re also still in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC, even as they don’t fully control their own destiny to get there. New Orleans kept itself in the conversation with a hard-fought 38-28 win over the Titans in Week 16 that saw Alvin Kamara find the end zone for the first time since Week 3. Meanwhile, the Panthers continued to demonstrate little interest in boosting interim coach Perry Fewell’s candidacy for the position after the season. They were steamrolled by the Colts on the road, 38-6, in rookie Will Grier’s first start.
New Orleans would likely stand a fighting chance of winning this game if all they did was hand off to Kamara and Latavius Murray. Carolina’s run defense is a complete doormat, allowing 141.7 rushing yards per home contest. Yet Drew Brees and Michael Thomas won’t have any trouble getting their lethal pitch-and-catch sessions in when coach Sean Payton turns to the air. Carolina is surrendering 246.1 passing yards per home game and seems completely disinterested at this point, if Week 16 was any indication.
The Panthers will naturally lean on the record-setting Christian McCaffrey as much as possible, especially if Grier draws another start. McCaffrey snapped his own mark for most catches in a season by a running back by accruing 15 against the Colts. In this contest, he’ll be looking to gain at least 67 receiving yards and in the process become the third player in NFL history to record both 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. New Orleans’ fifth-ranked rushing defense (94.7 YPG allowed) held McCaffrey to 64 yards at 2.9 yards per rush when these teams met last month, but he did post nine receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown in the contest.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The gunning-for-No. 2-seed Saints have gained another half-point in their projected advantage this week. New Orleans’ shot at that coveted first-round bye is legitimate, as they simply need to take care of business in this spot and then pull for a Seahawks victory over the 49ers on Sunday night. New Orleans will have the benefit of facing Grier in his second pro start, but McCaffrey projects to naturally be the centerpiece here as he goes for the aforementioned 1K/1K milestone. Whether he remains in the game beyond that point remains to be seen, but Fewell, knowing his chances of getting serious consideration for the long-term job are very likely slim, might opt to throw caution to the wind here.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-1.5)
The Bills are slim favorites here due to the expectation they’ll be resting some starters in this game. That likelihood was made possible by Buffalo’s 24-17 loss to the Patriots in Week 16. The Bills are now locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. For their part, the Jets threw an obstacle in the postseason hopes of the Steelers in Week 16. New York helped get rookie Devlin Hodges out of the game by forcing him into poor play and subsequently knocked Mason Rudolph out of action with a shoulder injury on their way to a 16-10 win.
As a result of facing what will likely be a patchwork Bills defense, the Jets’ offense could be in good position to finish off the season on a strong note. It’s been a tumultuous first season overall for coach Adam Gase and his system in the Big Apple. Only the Browns’ even greater drama with Freddie Kitchens’ playcalling has prevented more attention being heaped on New York’s issues. Le’Veon Bell still looks like a poor fit in Gase’s system and is incredibly heads into the finale looking for his first rush of greater than 20 yards this season. Sam Darnold has looked much more comfortable under center in recent games, however. He’ll enter this contest with 5:2 TD:INT over his last three games.
It remains to be seen which players will take the field for the Bills. Coach Sean McDermott may well opt to give his front-line players a handful of series before affording them the rest of the afternoon off. If McDermott opts to “empty his bench” NBA blowout-style, it could well be Matt Barkley leading the charge and throwing to the likes of Robert Foster and Duke Williams by the second half. Whichever backs take handoffs for Buffalo will face a particularly daunting task – New York will come into Week 17 allowing an AFC-low 87.9 rushing yards per contest.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Bills saw their projected advantage rise another half-point throughout the week despite their locked-in playoff seeding. McDermott hasn’t declared any players out in advance of the weekend, but there’s little question we’ll see the preseason version of Buffalo for the second half of this game. That makes it one of the more unpredictable betting scenarios of the weekend, as the Jets will presumably have a healthy dose of motivation to put a winning stamp on their up-and-down campaign. On the injury front, it’s worth noting Robby Anderson appears to be legitimately questionable for New York due to a calf injury.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at New York Giants
The Eagles continued to defy the odds and persisted in their march to the NFC East crown in Week 16. They not only prevented the Cowboys from clinching the division with their 17-9 win; they also took control of their destiny, leaving them in a win-and-in scenario in this Week 17 contest. The Giants have no such playoff-related stakes, but they also have reason for optimism. Daniel Jones returned from a two-game absence due to an ankle injury Sunday against the Redskins and led New York to a thrilling 41-35 overtime win with five touchdown passes.
The Eagles have seemingly come too far – they were 5-7 at one point, after all – to falter now. While the Giants are naturally not going to lay down for them, their secondary could very well be a salve for the multiple wounds of the Philadelphia pass-catching corps. DeSean Jackson? A distant memory after suffering a season-ending abdomen injury. Alshon Jeffery? Jackson’s “roommate” on injured reserve due to a foot injury. Nelson Agholor? Still not a sure thing to suit up for this game due to the knee problems that have already cost him the last three contests. Zach Ertz? Now dealing with a rib fracture suffered versus Dallas and with no firm timetable to return. Greg Ward and Dallas Goedert are valiantly trying to give Philly a semblance of a passing attack. Big Blue’s secondary has been much better at home (212.6 YPG allowed) but could still be a bit more vulnerable in the final week of the season.
The Giants will likely have to resort to an aerial show the likes of the one they put on against the Redskins to have a chance to pull an upset. Granted, after racking up 279 scrimmage yards and two total touchdowns against Washington, Saquon Barkley looks like himself again. Yet the matchup against the Philly front seven is nightmare, as Ezekiel Elliott can attest to after gaining just 3.6 yards per rush Sunday. The Eagles surrender just 88.0 rushing yards per contest, making the 288.4 passing yards per road game they allow an exponentially more attractive target for the red-hot Jones and the likes of Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The line unsurprisingly holds steady at four points in favor of the Eagles as of Saturday afternoon. This, despite Philly declaring both Agholor and Ertz out for the contest Friday. The public apparently carries plenty of faith in the massive motivation advantage the Eagles have in this spot where they control their own destiny. On the Giants’ side, thanks to his surge the last couple of weeks, Barkley needs a manageable 90 more rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season. However, as alluded to earlier, he’s very likely going to have to earn every blade of grass against a very talented Eagles front seven that should be playing even harder than usual.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Much like the Jets-Bills matchup, this game features a surprising road favorite. Just as in that situation, the expectation the home squad will be resting their starters after cementing their playoff positioning is the root cause. However, what makes this scenario different is the visiting team needs a win to get into the postseason. That’s the result of the Steelers dropping a 16-10 decision to the New York Jets in Week 16 in a game that saw both Mason Rudolph (shoulder) and James Conner (quadriceps) exit early. The Ravens took care of their business, averaging an earlier loss to Cleveland by blasting the Browns, 31-15, to secure the AFC’s top seed.
Rudolph will miss this game, which puts the erratic Hodges back at the controls. The rookie has thrown six interceptions on his last 55 pass attempts over the prior pair of games heading into this divisional contest. Of course, if the likes of Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey and Earl Thomas (Thomas already confirmed as out by coach John Harbaugh) are all on the bench instead of the field, Hodges’ chances of success are drastically better. Then, even if Conner sits out, the Benny Snell-Jaylen Samuels-Kerrith Whyte trio could find success against front seven that may be replete with second-unit players.
The Ravens’ offense that will actually take the field for this game is a mystery to an extent early in the week, with a couple of prominent exceptions. Lamar Jackson has already naturally been declared out by Harbaugh, while a calf injury suffered by Mark Ingram against the Browns will keep him on the shelf versus Pittsburgh as well. Robert Griffin III will therefore be leading the offense, while Gus Edwards and Justice Hill make for a talented backup running back tandem. However, the Pittsburgh defense will be in a position to feast here. The Steelers’ relentless pass rush should be able to consistently torment Griffin, who will naturally have game rust on him that could well lead him to holding the ball for a second or two too long.
WEEKEND UPDATE: This game has seen of the more interesting, albeit modest, line movement trends of the week. Despite the Steelers’ undeniably higher level of urgency, their projected advantage has been bet down a half-point. Conner’s now-confirmed absence could well be at play, although Pittsburgh has proven capable of beating teams playing their starters without Conner on multiple occasions. Maurkice Pouncey will also miss this game for the Steelers with a knee injury, which endangers the center of the pocket for Hodges. The Ravens’ second-string offense does have some talented pieces as alluded to earlier, but Pittsburgh’s defense will naturally have exponentially less to worry about with Griffin under center.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-6)
This is one of two late-window matchups between two teams without any postseason aspirations. The lack of playoff hope for the Cardinals wasn’t evident in their Week 16 play, however. Arizona toppled an unsuspecting Seahawks team on the road by a 27-13 margin, although they also saw Kyler Murray exit early with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, the Rams officially saw their defense of their 2018 NFC conference title come to an end in a wild 34-31 loss to the 49ers on Saturday night.
Arizona will face a tough matchup on paper versus a Los Angeles team that’s been above average against both the run and pass all season. When these two teams faced off in the desert back in Week 13, the Rams held the Cardinals to 198 net yards while sacking Murray six times, picking him off once and holding him to 4.8 yards per attempt. They also limited Kenyan Drake to 38 yards on 13 carries, although the way midseason acquisition has been going lately, he could certainly be much tougher to contain this time around.
The Rams should still be playing for pride in this matchup in an effort to end their disappointing season on a strong note. Los Angeles’ offense steamrolled the Cardinals in the first matchup. Jared Goff racked up 424 yards and two touchdowns, while both Robert Woods (13-172) and Tyler Higbee (7-107-1) proving virtually unstoppable. The matchup sets up very well for the air attack again. The Cards allow 275.6 passing yards per game. On the ground, Todd Gurley, who rushed for 95 yards in the first meeting with Arizona, faces a unit that’s yielding 111.0 rushing yards per road game.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The Rams gained another point in their projected advantage this week in this battle of squads devoid of postseason aspirations. The big story here is naturally Murray’s health, which appears to be legitimately in question for this contest. Coach Kliff Kingsbury afforded Brett Hundley the majority of first-team reps this week, lending credence to the notion of a Murray absence. Given the Rams had no trouble handling a Murray-led squad the first time these two teams met, the increase in the spread appears reasonable, especially with no announced plans from head coach Sean McVay to rest or pull starters early.
Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Two more teams heading home as soon as the final Week 17 gun goes off do battle in this AFC South matchup. The Colts continued to play hard in Week 16, getting to a 7-8 mark for the season with an impressive 38-6 throttling of the Carolina Panthers. In turn, the Jaguars looked fairly lifeless while dropping a 24-12 decision on the road to the Atlanta Falcons.
Just as was the case in their Week 16 matchup, the Colts’ running game could be set up for success. Yet the matchup against the Jaguars on the ground isn’t nearly anywhere as attractive at their home field as it is on the road. The Jags have yielded 163.8 rushing yards per contest when traveling, but they’re a full 60 yards per game better defending the run at home. In turn, Jacoby Brissett catches a Jags secondary that surprisingly has played its best ball when traveling – while Jacksonville has surrendered a respectable 227.6 passing yards per road game, it’s allowing a bottom-10 figure of 264.5 passing yards per home contest.
There are some fairly drastic splits at play for the Jaguars’ offense as well. Indy has allowed a stingy 95.1 rushing yards per away contest, but they’ve been highly attackable through the air. The Colts yield the fifth-most passing yards per road game (281.6) and have surrendered 26 passing touchdowns overall. The mid-November meeting between these two clubs saw D.J. Chark go for 104 yards on eight receptions while catching passes from Nick Foles. Gardner Minshew, who’s thrown for under 200 yards two of his three starts since returning to the top job, will look to take advantage and finish his up-and-down rookie campaign on a strong note.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Saturday brought the news that Leonard Fournette will miss this game with the flu, as well as the fact head coach Doug Marrone is expected to be relieved of his duties as early as Monday. Both developments certainly make for interesting scenarios from a betting perspective in this otherwise low-stakes game. The Colts have gained two points on their original early-week projected advantage, but it’s difficult to say whether they’ll now be facing a Jacksonville team highly motivated to secure one final win for its coach. In addition to Fournette, Jacksonville could also be down Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder), who’s listed as questionable. Meanwhile, Minshew also carries a questionable tag due to a shoulder injury but is expected to play.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3.5)
Speaking of teams that are still fighting to at least get to .500, there’s the Raiders. Oakland upended the Chargers by a 24-17 score in Los Angeles to actually keep a sliver of hope alive for the postseason. The Broncos are in full evaluation mode with rookie quarterback Drew Lock, and he took a solid step forward in a 192-yard, one-touchdown performance as part of a 27-17 win over the Lions.
The Raiders need a multitude of things to go their way in addition to winning this game to garner one of the AFC Wild Card spots. They could have some trouble accomplishing the part they’re in direct control of. The Denver defense has been formidable at home, particularly in the secondary. They’ve allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (180.3) of any team on its home field. The inconsistent Derek Carr may have his work cut out for him, while Josh Jacobs (shoulder), who’s questionable for this game early in the week, gets a bit of a softer matchup with the Broncos allowing 120.3 rushing yards per home contest.
The Broncos will look to send Lock into the offseason on a high note. The Oakland defense might be facilitators. The Raiders have allowed 256.6 passing yards per road contest and 32 passing touchdowns on the campaign overall. Oakland’s run defense could prove to be a much stiffer challenge for Denver’s running back duo of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (90.9). Although coach Vic Fangio has looked to protect Lock for the most part, he could open up the playbook a bit more this week, given the matchup.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Nothing has changed on this front, with the Broncos still holding the same projected advantage as early in the week. For the Raiders, Jacobs is considered doubtful for the contest despite having sat last week. Starting left guard Richie Incognito (ankle) is also listed as doubtful, further dampening the prospects of a consistent ground attack. On the Denver side of the equation, Lindsay needs just 40 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and the Broncos will be looking to help Lock head into a pivotal offseason with a victory. Although it’s been a disappointing season for Fangio’s crew overall, it’s worth noting Denver is 2-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Tennessee Titans (-6) at Houston Texans
The Titans fought valiantly against one of the NFC’s finest in the Saints in Week 16, but they ultimately fell short by a 38-28 margin. However, it’s as if Tennessee had semi-conceded that contest after the Texans locked up the AFC South title Saturday afternoon against the Buccaneers. They opted to sit Derrick Henry (hamstring) to rest him up for this matchup.
The Titans will need a victory in this game to ensure their spot in the postseason. They’ll be matched up with a Texans defense they compiled 432 yards against just two games ago in a Week 15 road loss. However, the task is tougher in Houston, where the Texans have done a better job limiting production through both the ground and air. A return to health by Adam Humphries (ankle) would help give Tennessee’s air attack even more firepower, but Henry’s status will naturally be of utmost concern throughout the week.
The Texans will look to replicate the success they enjoyed in that aforementioned Week 15 win. Deshaun Watson threw for 243 yards and a pair of scores. Carlos Hyde gained 104 yards on the ground. DeAndre Hopkins played a big role with 119 yards on six receptions, and with fellow wideout Will Fuller (groin) potentially out once again with his latest lower-body injury, Hopkins could be leaned on heavily in a favorable matchup.
WEEKEND UPDATE: It was a busy week for this game’s line, moving from a 3.5-point projected advantage for the Titans to a full six points. Houston could slot into the No. 3 seed in the AFC. However, that depends first and foremost on the Chiefs losing to the Chargers in their early-window game (which appears highly unlikely). Meanwhile, Tennessee’s win-and-in scenario naturally has led to plenty of money coming in on the Titans. So, too, has Houston’s dire injury situation on offense. Watson is questionable with a back injury , while Hopkins carries the same designation after missing Friday’s practice with an illness. Fuller is already declared out as well, and even Kenny Stills (knee) is questionable. In other words, Tennessee could have a much easier path here than originally anticipated.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-12.5)
The Redskins engaged in one of those wild late-season games against a fellow losing squad in the Giants last Sunday, and they ultimately fell by a 38-35 margin in overtime. Unfortunately, they also lost rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins for the Week 17 finale with an ankle injury. The Cowboys suffered a much more costly defeat in their own right, one that’s almost certain to have eventual collateral damage in the form of head coach Jason Garrett’s job.
Washington will have Case Keenum at quarterback for this contest as a result of Haskins’ injury. That is fitting in a sense, considering a Week 17 game that gives the Redskins a chance to put the nail in the coffin of a division rival is exactly the kind of environment a risk-taker like Keenum is bound to thrive in. The veteran led Washington on a 14-play, 99-yard drive to tie the game against the Giants on Sunday. He’ll look to crack the code on a Cowboys secondary surrendering just 231.9 passing yards per game at home. Keenum threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns back in a Week 2 loss to Dallas.
The Cowboys are down to their last out, so to speak, and they’ll know whether or not they have anything left to play for by the time this game kicks off. If the Eagles have defeated the Giants earlier in the day, Dallas is just playing for 8-8. In such a scenario, there’s a chance the first unit doesn’t go the entire game. The matchup for Ezekiel Elliott and/or Tony Pollard will be especially attractive. The ‘Skins allow 141.1 rushing yards per game, including 127.6 per contest on the road. Of course, a Philly win could also move this spread shortly before kickoff if there’s an expectation of less than a full game from Dak Prescott, Elliott, and many of their teammates.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The public heaped plenty of confidence and cash on the Cowboys this week, betting up their projected advantage another two points. The stakes here for Dallas remain the same, but with the Eagles’ game moved to a concurrent 4:25pm ET kickoff, there’s naturally no longer a chance Dallas rests any starters. Talent alone would indicate the Cowboys would thrive in this spot, but as alluded to earlier, Keenum could prove to be an unpredictable foe. However, he’ll be missing a key component in Terry McLaurin (concussion), who’s already been declared out for the game. It’s also worth noting that on the four occasions Dallas has won at home this season, it’s won big — they’ve dropped the Giants, Dolphins, Eagles and Rams by margins of 18, 25, 27 and 23 points, respectively.
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks – Sunday Night
This heavyweight fight, already carrying a ton of intrigue, just got a lot more interesting late Monday with the Seahawks’ signing of Marshawn Lynch. That, along with the return of another former back in Robert Turbin, was necessitated by the season-ending hip injury suffered by Chris Carson in the surprising Week 16 loss to the Cardinals. For their part, the 49ers clinched a playoff berth with their last-second 34-31 victory over the Rams on Saturday night. However, the NFC West remains up for grabs despite Seattle’s loss Sunday, as does the No. 1 seed in the NFC. San Fran is battling the Packers for the latter. With Green Bay likely to defeat Detroit earlier in the day, the Niners will need a victory in this spot to earn coveted home-field advantage throughout.
San Francisco will be looking to avenge a 27-24 overtime loss to Seattle back on Nov. 11. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t able to fully exploit the Seahawks’ vulnerable secondary in the matchup. He threw for 248 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Seattle has actually been weaker against the pass at home (266.0 YPG allowed) than on the road (261.4), so the opportunity will be there again. Also of note is the fact George Kittle missed the first meeting with Seattle, and the Seahawks come in having allowed the fourth-most receptions (90) and second-most receiving yards (1,013) to tight ends.
It remains to be seen how much both Lynch and Turbin will be able to handle in terms of workload after not having played all season. Seattle also lost C.J. Prosise (arm) until 2020 in Sunday’s loss, so the backfield will be in transition against the Niners, to say the least. San Francisco has actually been somewhat attackable on the ground when traveling (115.1 YPG allowed). However, given the uncertain state of the team’s newest running backs, Russell Wilson will almost certainly be leaned on heavily. He’ll try to make inroads against a defense that’s yielded just 174.4 passing yards per contest on the road, and that sacked him five times the first time these two teams got together.
WEEKEND UPDATE: The crown jewel of the Week 17 slate has held its line throughout the week. To recap the stakes, a Niners win gets them the top seed in the conference and home-field advantage for any postseason games. Conversely, a loss drops them all the way to the No. 5 seed. A Seahawks win gets them the NFC West crown at minimum. However, they’d need losses by the Packers and Saints — two of the most heavily favored squads of the week — to gain the top seed. They’d be the No. 3 seed otherwise (assuming a Packers win) and would also tumble to No. 5 with a loss. It bears noting the Niners’ favorite status at CenturyLink Field isn’t surprising. The ‘Hawks have dropped three games there already this season and won two other contests there by a single point, helping lead to a 2-5 ATS mark on their home field.