We’ve reached the final week of the 2019-20 NFL season, and oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for the performance of players and teams in Weeks 1-16.
Injury updates on star players and indications about whether teams may rest starters in Week 17 could soon change the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for the final week of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 17 Best Bets
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
When these teams met in Week 10, we were extremely confident in Seattle covering a 6.5-point spread on a Monday night. Yet it took a herculean effort from Jadeveon Clowney to turn that contest into a close game and he’s not close to full strength as he looks to play through a core muscle injury this Sunday night. The Seahawks have looked extremely vulnerable over their past three games and will look to 33-year-old Marshawn Lynch to come out of retirement and lead their backfield. Seattle may be without CB Shaquil Griffin (hamstring), will likely be without safety Quandre Diggs (ankle), and will be without LT Duane Brown, while LG Mike Iupati (shoulder) is banged up.
San Francisco leads the NFL against power run blocking per Football Outsiders and has only allowed 4 rushing TDs over 7 road games this year. If Seattle struggles to find consistency on the ground, Richard Sherman and company should can lock up in man coverage and allow the Niners excellent pass rush to turn loose against Russell Wilson. They sacked him 5 times in the previous meeting and Wilson has been sacked 20 times over 6 starts since then. Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in Week 10 against Seattle, but has been great ever since with a 110.5 passer rating over his last 6 outings. Adding Emmanuel Sanders has a lot to do with that improvement, as has the downhill running of new lead back Raheem Mostert.
Seattle is just 2-5 ATS at home this year and San Francisco is 5-2 ATS on the road.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
As one of several games that opened with an incorrect line (Colts +1.5) this game offers some value in the other direction of the swing. But we’re sticking with an Indy team and franchise that does things the “right way” under HC Frank Reich and should deliver a disciplined effort despite the meaningless nature of this finale. Jacksonville is dealing with a messy player grievance scandal and has delivered inconsistent effort at best with its sole win over the past two months coming in Oakland when the Raiders choked away their final home game. The Jaguars 6 losses during that span have come by an average of 21.5 PPG, including a 33-13 loss at Indy.
The Colts are 3-2-2 ATS in road games thanks to a running game that travels. Indy ranks seventh in DVOA rush offense, sixth in power run blocking, and sixth in open field blocking per Football Outsiders. The Jaguars are dead last in open field tackling and 31st in DVOA rush defense. Jacksonville is 1-3 ATS as a home underdog and 1-4 straight up against AFC South foes this season. The Colts benefitted from great special teams play and several interceptions to steamroll the Panthers in Week 16, and while that indicates a bit of luck, it also shows that this is a complete football team that can execute in all phases. The Jaguars are anything but complete and their porous run defense will be a huge weakness against a Colts team with the third-highest run-play percentage (49.6%) in road games.
Denver Broncos (-3) vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a minuscule chance of making the playoffs if they can win, while the Titans, Jaguars, and Steelers all lose this Sunday. That will motivate them, but it can also act as a double-edged sword by motivating the Broncos to end their rivals’ season. Denver is 3-1 since Drew Lock took over at QB and the sole loss came in a blizzard against a Chiefs defense that is suddenly looking like one of the stingiest in football. While KC has a top-rated pass defense, Oakland ranks 30th in DVOA pass defense and is coughing up a stunning 110.3 passer rating while allowing a 15:1 TD:INT ratio on the road this year. The Raiders have just 7 sacks in 7 road games with a defensive line that ranks 26th in adjusted sack rate (6.1%) per Football Outsiders.
Oakland has dropped three straight in Denver and is 2-4 straight up when listed as a road underdog this year. Denver is a league-best 5-2 ATS at home and have covered in three of Lock’s four starts. The Broncos haven’t allowed a rushing TD in either of their last two games and are first in points allowed per red zone trip (.412) this season. The Raiders are 23rd in points per red zone trip (.465) and Derek Carr is 2-5 with an 11:5 TD:INT ratio on the road.
Bonus Best Bet
Chicago Bears (+1) at Minnesota Vikings
This is an interesting game to discuss simply because a large spread has dropped from Vikings (-7) to Vikings (-1), so there is value on Minnesota’s side if you want to capitalize on that huge swing. Most money is therefore coming in on the Vikings, but their motivation could be lacking in this spot.
The Vikings are locked into the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and they’re quite banged up. Minnesota needs to rest Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Alex Mattison (ankle), while Adam Thielen (hamstring) could also try and get back to full strength before Minnesota hits the road for a wild card weekend game. Kirk Cousins has taken a beating lately and was sacked six times in a Week 4 loss at Chicago. Mike Zimmer may be wise to rest his fragile QB rather than risk his confidence after he was sacked five times by the Packers on Monday night.
The Bears are coming off a dud against the Chiefs surging defense, but were averaging 387.8 total YPG while going 3-1 over their previous four games. And even though they have no shot at the postseason, there is a ton on the line here for Mitchell Trubisky and head coach Matt Nagy in terms of job security. The Vikings supposedly mighty defense has been gashed on the ground by the Packers, Seahawks, and Broncos in recent weeks and the Bears are hitting their stride while averaging 109 rushing YPG over their last four outings.
NFL Week 17 Picks Against The Spread
Buffalo Bills (-2) vs New York Jets
The Bills plan to play their starters but pull them early. Even with some backups mixed in, their defense should dominate the Jets offense at home.
Atlanta Falcons (+1) at Tampa Bay Bucs
The Falcons have played great football since their bye week and Jameis Winston is turnover prone as ever, plus most of his receivers are injured.
Cleveland Browns (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns are playing for nothing more than pride, while the Bengals could actually be motivated to lose for a guarantee of the number one draft pick this April.
Arizona Cardinals (+5.5) at Los Angeles Rams
Brett Hundley may start for Kyler Murray and he looked great in relief during a win at Seattle last Sunday. The Rams are due to deflate with their longshot playoff hopes officially gone.
New York Giants (+4) vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants may not pull off the upset to knock the Eagles out of the playoffs, but could cover the spread in a nail-biting finish.
Tennesse Titans (-3.5) at Houston Texans
The Titans have been a better team than the Texans during the second half and will prove it. They have much more to play for than Houston, which is locked into playoff position.
New Orleans Saints (-13) at Carolina Panthers
This is a massive number for the Saints to cover outdoors against a division foe, but New Orleans is such a complete team and the Panthers have fallen apart under interim HC Perry Fewell.
Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) vs Washington Redskins
The Cowboys have a chance to make the playoffs if they can get help from the Giants and it would be right on par for their brand if they dominate the Redskins to showcase their potential, yet still fall short.
New England Patriots (-16) vs Miami Dolphins
This is a huge number for the Patriots to cover, but they’re playing for a first-round bye and Bill Belichick should know everything Dolphins coach and former pupil Brian Flores plans to do with an inferior roster.
Los Angeles Chargers (+8.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs defense has been phenomenal of late and the Chargers are spiraling down the drain, but the Bolts tend to surprise when they’re written off.
Detroit Lions (+12) vs Green Bay Packers
Prior to their ultra important win in Minnesota, the Packers had only one double digit victory in two months and they barely beat the Lions, 23-22, in October. Expect Green Bay to win, but not cover while coasting into the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens (+2) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Lamar Jackson will rest but the Ravens could play most of their defensive starters in an effort to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs. Even Baltimore’s backups can shut down Devlin Hodges and a lackluster offense.