Contrary to our own advice, NFLbets has bets for *week 17* of the NFL season

Sunday, 30 December 2018 11:31 EST

Normally, NFLbets’ advice for betting NFL games in week 17 is simple: Don’t. Traditionally, teams on the bubble for the playoffs and depending on others’ results can scoreboard-watch, determine the risk involved in keeping the starters on the field when they’ll have to go next week in a do-or-die game, and kill any number of wagers by sitting the studs and taking the loss SU.

And that scenario only occurs when teams are actually still competing for a playoff spot or playoff positioning. How often in this century have two to three AFC teams – typically the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and whatever team Peyton Manning was on – been locked in with maybe two weeks left in the season? The Patriots may have a ridiculous division-winning streak going on, but a few other teams have dominated their divisions through most of the 10s: Think Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos.

Seriously, there’s a reason why any civilized fantasy football league is off for this final week of he NFL season – not even gamblers want to play in this potential randomness!

Week 17 in 2018, though, has some money-making potential for NFL bettors. The only teams fixed in their playoff spots are New Orleans and Seattle as the NFC’s no. 1 and 5 seeds, respectively. Three divisions in the AFC (naturally not the AFC East) could still flip, both no. 6 spots are wide open. Folks, the 9-6 SU Tennessee Titans could go so high as the no. 2 seed in the AFC or be eliminated altogether.

Plus, with a 47-35-3 mark, or 57.3% success rate, thus far into 2018, NFLbets is feeling the need to beef up the bankroll a wee bit more heading into the playoffs, as certain awesome bets are already materializing. (Imagine being able to bet against Kirk Cousins, against the Patriots, for the Ravens, for whoever is playing Dallas…)

Chicago Bears +6 at Minnesota Vikings, over/under 40½ points

The way NFLbets figures it, this game can go one of two ways: Either the Bears pass rush goes medieval against the seriously low-watt Vikings offense (they’re currently 17th in overall yardage, 30th in rushing yardage and have produced fewer than 300 yards of total offense in four of the past seven games) or Matt Nagy will take his foot off the pedal and go to second-stringers should the Rams start running up the score in San Francisco.

And the truth is that the Bears’ second team can still stifle the Vikings offense; Cousins & Co. have topped 24 points just once in the second half of the season – against the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago. Further, Minnesota is just 1-5 SU (1-4-1 ATS) against teams still in the running, and the sole SU win came against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 5.

(Perhaps we should all be hoping for the Vikings to eke out this win and take their nasty defeat in Chicago next weekend; beats having Nick Foles f*##@!ing things up at the sportsbook again.)

In any case, the course of action for NFL bettors is clear in this one: Take the under on an O/U of 40½ points.

New York Jets +13½ at New England Patriots, over/under 46½ points

Steve Young and his ESPN compadres can talk up the Patriots all they want, but even in a good year for the team, this is a ridiculously high point spread. Since Bill Belichick took the Patriots job, New England has played the New York Jets nine times in the last two weeks of a season, and at least seven were mostly meaningless vis-à-vis the postseason fate for either side. In just three of these game would the Belichick/Brady Patriots have covered a spread of 13½ points, despite obvious talent and coaching gaps most years.

Why cite precedent in this “rivalry” at all, with the Jets so often in the past two decades an M-E-S-S, mess, mess, mess!? Because the numbers demonstrate two tendencies: For the usually irrelevant Jets to play balls to the wall and for Belichick to sit the starters late in the game. With the Patriots currently short a viable deep threat, a TE who can move properly and essentially an entire defense, why can’t the Jets keep this one to within two touchdowns?

In the past eight games, the Jets may be 1-7 SU (2-5-1 ATS), but they’ve kept the margin of defeat at 14 points or less in six of those games, including toughies like at Chicago, vs New England, at Tennessee and vs Houston. In short, we loved the Bills getting double-digit points against the Patriots last week, and we’re loving the underdog’s chances to cover to close out 2018. Take the New York Jets +13½ at New England.

Indianapolis Colts -4½ at Tennessee Titans, over/under 44 points

This line was off at some online sportsbooks until just about 12 hours before kickoff; NFLbets has little idea why. Despite the possibility of the Titans somehow simultaneously squeak into the playoffs and get the no. 2 seed, the now-primetime meeting of Indianapolis at Tennessee is essentially a lose-and-go-home match.

Can the bookmakers and general public really believe in a substantive difference between Blaine Gabbert and Marcus Mariota right now? The former is 2-0 SU/ATS as a starter, the latter is 7-6 SU/ATS. A line of Titans +4½ was universally released minutes after news that Mariota was “not expected” to play in the SNF game; what might this line have gone off as had Mariota been announced, wonders NFLbets…

Sure, the Titans are on a 4-0 SU (3-1 ATS) run, but those wins came vs the New York Jets, vs Jacksonville, at the New York Giants and vs Washington. In fact, since beating the Cowboys and Patriots back-to-back in weeks 9 and 10, the Titans haven’t beaten a winning team. Tennessee is also a healthy 6-1 SU (5-2 ATS) at home; fair enough.

But come on! This hair-splitting is silly; this line could be set at Titans +10½, and NFLbets would still be likely to cover the Colts. Along with the implied news on Mariota came word from the Indianapolis side that WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Eric Ebron are both likely to play. By the simplest numbers, the Colts are the hottest team in the NFL right now, enjoying an 8-1 SU (though just 5-3-1 ATS) run, though just two wins came against quality teams, i.e. the week 14 wins at Houston and vs Dallas.

As with the Vikings, NFLbets admits to some self-interest here (hopefully not toxic amounts), because we cannot wait to see a line of Indianapolis +9 at New England/Houston in round one of the playoffs. But one look at these teams should convince most observers that one of these teams is a playoff team and the other just isn’t. Take the Indianapolis Colts -4½ at Tennessee.

NFLbets Best Bets record in 2018: 39-30-2.