Free NFL Picks Week 17
We’ve finally reached the conclusion of the 2020 NFL regular season, and the only thing standing between us and the playoffs is the toughest betting week of the year: Week 17. Some teams are going to rest their starters because they have nothing left to play for. Others will be more motivated than they’ve been at any point in the season to win and get into the playoffs. Let’s take a look at the final set of trends for 2020 before we dive into this week’s free bets.
- In games that have gone under the total, underdogs are 60-57 (51.3%). In games that have gone over the total, underdogs are 68-49-1 (57.6%).
- In games where the total has dropped from open to close (example: 54 to 52.5) overs are 60-58-1 (50.4%). In games where the total has risen from open to close, overs are 48-46-3 (48.5%).
- In divisional matchups where the spread was -7 or greater, underdogs are 13-11 (54.2%). In divisional matchups where the spread was -6.5 or less, underdogs are 32-23 (58.2%).
Before we take a look at the final regular-season edition of free bets, please keep in mind how volatile Week 17 wagering is. Tread lightly, because this is typically the most difficult week to profit of the entire year.
Cardinals (-3) @ Rams
If you’re going to play this one, I suggest playing it ASAP, because this -3 number won’t last long once Kyler Murray is announced as the starter. If and when that happens, this line will probably jump up closer to -6 or -7. So, if you still want some action on Arizona if the line moves, I’d throw them in a teaser with someone like Seattle or Green Bay.
Both teams are in a “win and in” scenario this week, but the Cardinals will be in much better shape on offense. Kyler Murray is trending towards playing, but the Rams won’t have the same luxury under center. Jared Goff won’t play, leaving AAF hero John Wolford as the next man up. Wolford has yet to take an NFL regular-season snap, so I’m happy to fade him here.
What’s more: if Wolford faulters, the Rams only have Bryce Perkins – an undrafted rookie who has yet to suit up for an NFL game yet – and Blake Bortles, who stinks, behind him. It’ll also be tough for Los Angeles to lean on the running game, as they’ll be without both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. As if all those injuries weren’t enough for the Rams, they’ll also be without Cooper Kupp, who would have served as a very reliable outlet for the inexperienced Wolford.
I expect Los Angeles to have a tough time getting anything going on offense, seeing as they were in a serious funk even before all these injuries hit. In the last two games, they’ve mustered just 29 total points against the Jets and Seahawks defenses, nearly 10 points per game fewer than their season average.
This will be the second meeting of the year between the Cardinals and Rams, and we already know how difficult it is to beat the same team twice in a season, but it’s even tougher in the NFC West. There have been four NFC West matchups that have battled a second time this year, and the team who lost the first matchup is 3-1 in the second meeting. Los Angeles won the first meeting 38-28, so I expect Arizona to have some revenge on their minds, especially with a playoff birth dangling right in front of them.
Ravens -6.5 / Titans -1.5 Six-Point Teaser
Many of the books I have access to allow 6.5-point teasers, but I know some do not. If your book allows for it and the Ravens spread increases to -13, I highly recommend laying the extra juice to get Baltimore’s side of this teaser under a touchdown.
I said it last week when I was working on my write-up for the Bears/Bills teaser which covered by a mile, and I’ll say it again this week. We’re betting on two teams who control their own playoff destiny and fading two teams who can’t wait to fly someplace warm after the game is over.
Baltimore, in the Lamar Jackson era, has made a living off kicking the daylights out of bad teams. Of their 10 wins this season, just three have come against teams who currently sport a winning record: Cleveland (twice) and Indianapolis. They’ve also won eight of their 10 games by at least 14 points. So, when the Ravens play a bad team, they win. And when they win, they win by a lot.
Enter: Cincinnati. The Bengals have nothing left to play for, and quite frankly have little chance of slowing down the Ravens rushing attack. They’re 25th in the NFL against the run, allowing 131.1 yards per game on the ground. Meanwhile, Baltimore has the best rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 177.8 yards per game. The Bengals are also dead-last in explosive run defense, per DVOA, while Baltimore is sixth in explosive rush offense, so look for Lamar Jackson to break one of his patented 60-yard beelines to the endzone.
A win and Baltimore is in. I don’t expect them to take their foot off the gas on either side of the ball at any point in this game, so I’m not afraid of any sort of a backdoor cover from Cincinnati.
The Titans got shellacked on national TV last week in Green Bay. But, like Baltimore, if they win on Sunday, they’re in. They’ve got the luxury of trying to clinch a playoff berth against the Texans, who somehow just allowed 37 points to the aforementioned Bengals. After the game, JJ Watt called out his teammates in a two-minute-long postgame rant, questioning their effort and their desire to play hard. Yikes. Normally, I’d look to an event like that as motivation. But, with one game to go in an absolute disaster of a season, I don’t think it’s providing anyone with a kick in the pants.
Tennessee should be able to run the ball at will. Derrick Henry has an outside-shot at the 2,000-yard mark, and he’s about to go up against Houston’s 28th ranked rush defense, per DVOA. I don’t anticipate Mike Vrabel messing around here. He’s going to go to his bread-and-butter: pound the rock and wait for the big plays to open up off play action.
This one is going to be frustrating for the first two quarters. I expect the Texans to hang around, mostly because Deshaun Watson is a gamer and one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But, once the already depleted Houston defense gets worn down by Henry, look for Tennessee to pull away.
Mike is an avid sports bettor and fantasy football player, and has been writing since 2013. He previously worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia and Alliance Football Focus, and currently contributes to BettingPros as a featured writer. Mike is a resident of New Jersey, a graduate of Rider University, and currently works as a research analyst. When he isn’t searching for his next wager or watching the New Jersey Devils, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, his dog and his two cats.