We have finally made it. Week 17 is here, and it is one of the toughest gambling weeks of the year for fans of NFL betting. Many teams have nothing to play for, but some teams need wins to clinch playoff spots.
But it's always difficult to tell which teams will play hard and which teams are looking forward to the offseason. With that in mind, here are my best bets for Week 17.
5 Best NFL Week 17 Spread Bets
1. Browns (+6) over Ravens
One of the most entertaining games of the week will be an AFC North showdown between the Browns and Ravens. Suddenly, these are two of the hottest teams in the league as they have combined to win 10 of their last 12 games. It’s not hard to make an argument that these are two of the best six teams in the AFC.
The Ravens need a win to clinch the AFC North, but the Browns would love nothing more than to knock them out of the playoffs. This game is going to be incredibly difficult for the Ravens, and it's hard to envision a scenario in which Lamar Jackson is able to score enough points against this Browns' defense to cover the six-point spread.
I envision this being a 14-13 type of game, late in the fourth quarter as it will likely be decided on the final drive. I like the Browns to cover in Baltimore reasonably easily, and I won't be surprised a bit if they win outright – so you could consider taking them in a moneyline bet. Use the Browns +6 in parlay betting with a few other matchups this week.
2. Jets (+13.5) over Patriots
In case you haven't noticed, the Patriots haven't played great football as of late. Over the last six games, the Patriots are just 2-4 in point-spread betting and 3-3 straight up. Typically, New England has been a team that has gotten stronger in November and December. But this season, they have been very beatable.
However, their opponent in Week 17 in the Jets hasn’t been much better, going 2-6-1 against the spread over their last nine games. But with Sam Darnold back under center, the Jets have at least some potential firepower on offense.
The Jets are getting 13.5 points in this one, and that seems like too many points for a Patriots' team that hasn't played good football in the last month. Give me the Jets to cover on the road in what is likely a relatively high-scoring game.
3. Steelers (-14.5) over Bengals
For the Steelers to make the playoffs, they need a win on Sunday and a Ravens' loss or tie. Pittsburgh can only control one of these things, and I expect them to take care of business on Sunday as they will take on the Bengals at home.
Pittsburgh is currently a 14.5 point favorite at 888sport, and while that line seems high, it's hard to imagine that a Bengals' team without Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Vontzae Burfict will be able to keep up.
The Bengals have historically struggled when they are big underdogs, losing seven straight games when their opponents are at least 14-point favorites. I fully expect the Steelers to blow out the Bengals in Pittsburgh and potentially sneak in the playoffs with a Ravens’ loss. Don’t expect this to be a very competitive game.
4. Vikings (-5) over Bears
The Vikings' playoff picture is simple; win, and they are in. However, to do so, they are going to have to beat one of the best teams in the league in the Chicago Bears. Chicago is 8-1 against the spread in its last nine games and has all the makings of a Super Bowl contender. (Currently the fifth-choice at +1100 in Super Bowl betting.)
However, Chicago is locked into the No.3 seed and will have nothing to play for in Week 17. Considering the Bears could face the Vikings again next week in the wild-card round, I don't expect them to show much. In fact, they could rest some starters if the game gets out of hand.
The Vikings have so much more to play for on Sunday, and with this game being in Minnesota, I like their chances of covering. Give me the Vikings by a touchdown, at least.
5. Colts (-3.5) over Titans
The premier game of Week 17 features two AFC South teams in a win-and-in matchup. The Colts and Titans will be playing for the sixth seed in the AFC, which isn't the worst spot to be seeded. The winner will likely face a familiar opponent in the Houston Texans on wild-card weekend.
I like the Colts to cover on Sunday night for one simple reason: Andrew Luck. Luck has never lost to the Titans (10-0), and he is playing the best football of his career. With the status of Marcus Mariota unknown, it's hard to imagine the Titans being able to put up enough points with their banged-up offensive line to stay competitive in this game.
Give me the Colts -3.5 on Sunday Night Football.