It’s the ultimate round of the 2020 NFL season, the so-called decision day for a raft of teams looking to get into the playoffs following Sunday’s packed schedule of week 17 action. Where will the winners and losers be this week you may be wondering? Find out in this betting preview that’s here to maximise your betting thrills. Although it must be said that it comes with a caveat as well. Week 17 is one of the toughest weeks to predict in the NFL because a lot is unclear in the lead up to the final game of the season. For instance, it’s unclear what each team’s strategy will be; who the starters will be; how invested eliminated teams are going to be; and which teams will be chomping at the bit to play spoilers.
So, with that in mind, we nonetheless boldly delve into the week’s betting card and serve up choice money-line bets to spot. Four top bets highlight this column, followed by rapid-fire picks complete with the best NFL odds from top sportsbooks.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium
Can the Cincinnati Bengals shock the world by delivering the season’s biggest upset over the Baltimore Ravens, all the while a playoff spot hangs in the balance for Lamar Jackson and Co.? If they accomplish the feat, it will be something extraordinary, capping a two-game winning streak that includes upsets over the Steelers and Texans to finish the season on a positive note.
Two weeks ago, the Bengals turned heads with a 27-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night football, despite being 14-point underdogs at home. They backed up that result with a 37-31 win over Houston Texans on the road, sending seismic shockwaves through NFL betting markets with their second straight upset. Indeed, the loss rubbed J.J. Watt the wrong way, causing him to vent his frustration after the game in a video that has now gone viral.
If the Bengals can get under the skin of an elite NFL star of J.J. Watt’s ilk, it’s possible they might throw a spanner in the works here. Certainly, they’ve got nothing to lose as they pursue the trifecta of upsets. However, a victory over the Ravens is a big ask, especially given the significance to Baltimore Ravens, who absolutely need the win over Cincinnati to be sure of a playoff spot.
In the first meeting between these AFC North rivals, Baltimore delivered a clinic, beating the Bengals 27-3 at M&T Bank Stadium in week 6. “”We know we’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s a very strong team,” coach Zac Taylor said in reference to the upcoming week 17 date with Baltimore. But he also added that his “guys will be ready to play” in what is “a great opportunity…next week.”
Following Baltimore’s win over Cleveland a few weeks back, the Ravens have elevated their level of play considerably, playing more like the side that went 14-2 SU last season than the side that lost its way somewhat this season. Although they’ve had one of the easiest schedules down the stretch, with dates against the Cowboys, Browns, Jaguars and Giants, they’ve looked good, while Jackson has finally begun to remind NFL betting fans why he was the 2019 MVP.
And yet, it hasn’t escaped John Harbaugh’s notice that Cincy’s is playing its best football right now. He’s taking stock of the Bengals’ massive upsurge, knowing full well how dangerous they can be. Three years ago, the Bengals crushed Baltimore’s playoff hopes in week 17 when Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for a game-winning touchdown that changed NFL history, This isn’t the same Bengals team, but a similar occasion.
Whether the Bengals pull of the upset remains to be seen, but they’re clearly up for it, chomping at the bit to play the role of spoilers. It’s a total longshot bet for NFL picks, but given the tasty NFL odds on offer, it’s worth at least a small tickle given the divisional dimension and the magnitude of the occasion.
NFL Pick: Bengals ML (+620) with GTbets (visit our GTbets Review)
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Bills Stadium
The stakes in this matchup are high, encompassed in two juxtaposing end-objectives: a Buffalo victory secures the No.2 seed with the AFC East champions, while a Miami victory secures a wildcard spot for the Dolphins. Thus, the stakes equate to motivation for both Buffalo and Miami to win out, and that In turn means there’s value on both sides of the coin for bettors to sink their teeth into with their NFL picks.
It also bears mentioning that Buffalo and Miami would still accomplish their respective goals with a loss on Sunday, so long as several other factors align accordingly. Buffalo can clinch the second seed with a Cleveland win over Pittsburgh, while Miami can clinch a playoff spot with a loss by either the Ravens, Browns or Colts. Thus, this game is a bit of a minefield for betting picks, laden with uncertainty that makes the betting most difficult to predict.
Where the uncertainty is most prevalent is roster decisions. With respect to the Bills, it’s unknown whether Sean McDermott will roll the dice and field his starting line up with a view towards wrapping up the second seed. The alternative, which involves banking on Cleveland to take care of its business against Pittsburgh, is a risky play that essentially requires leaving fate in the hands of another.
On the flipside, Brian Flores has a couple of quarterback options that give the Dolphins contrasting paths to success. In week 16, veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick’s flamboyant and attacking style of play proved to be deciding, delivering the pivotal victory that kept Miami’s playoff bid alive. And yet, Flores is adamant Tua Tagovailoa is the starter for this week 17 AFC East showdown. Or, so he says. Could it be gamesmanship?
Short of a crystal ball – or an official list of starters – it’s impossible to say how this matchup will take shape on the field. For the sake of argument though, assuming all things being equal, let’s consider what the greater motivation or motivator might be. The resounding answer, surely is: Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 38-year-old journeyman quarterback, who has built a stellar career hopping from one team to another over a 16-year-span, has never played a playoff game.
“I am well aware that I’ve never been to the playoffs, I promise you,” said Fitzpatrick in a recent interview. “And we would love nothing more than to get there.”
Fitz hasn’t been named the starter for Sunday’s game, but in Flores’ two-quarterback-system, he has a chance to play if things don’t go well for Tagovailoa. One has to consider too that even if Fitz doesn’t directly get a chance to contribute, its quite likely that his teammates will be motivated to win on his behalf as much as in the team’s interest. What better way to reward their stoic veteran quarterback, who graciously and selflessly stepped aside for the rookie quarterback when he was asked to midseason for the greater good of the team.
Banking on the Dolphins winning this game outright is a sentimental pick, a bet on a feel good story that is appealing in principle but challenging in reality against a higher-calibre team. However, it’s not a total improbability, and that’s good enough for a small wager.
NFL Pick: Dolphins ML (+185) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Raymond James Stadium
For a second time in three weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to face off against the Atlanta Falcons. This time though, they’re set to go into the NFC South tilt safe in the knowledge that they’ve booked their place in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. That relief and excitement from the Buccaneers camp was palpable on Saturday, as they came through on all the hype and buzz that followed them ever since they scooped up Tom Brady.
Knowing that the playoffs are sorted, the Bucs could play a lot more freely this time around against the Falcons. It’s a season-ending win that Tampa Bay will be keen to pursue as it would lift Tampa Bay into the No.5 seed in the playoff frame, meaning a date with the NFC East champion (whoever that may be) rather than a date with either the Packers, Saints or Seahawks in the wildcard round.
The Bucs are coming off a commanding 47-7 win over the Detroit Lions. Everything was going their way, across all facets – from Tom Brady and the offense firing at all cylinders to special teams and defense playing lights out. So solid was Brady that he even got to kick back in the second half, giving backup Blaine Gabbert the rest of the game’s snaps.
All in all, it was a stark contrast to the struggles the Bucs faced when they last played the Falcons, falling behind 24-7 before launching a come-from-behind 31-27 win. On the flipside, the Falcons bottled it yet again last week in a 17-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Briefly, the Falcons had the lead, before the Chiefs assumed control and rallied to the victory. Suffice it to say, the Falcons are a team that simply cannot close games with any regularity or conviction, making them a risky bet on any given Sunday.
The season can’t end soon enough for the Atlanta Falcons, and with really nothing left to play for – even the role of spoiler is negligible in this game – the Falcons could be faced with a brutal season finale at Raymond James Stadium. As such, the Bucs are the choice week 17 NFL pick here.
NFL Pick: Buccaneers ML (-285) with BetOnline
Washington Football Team vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field
Cutting Dwayne Haskins Jr. a week before the season’s final week, and less than two years since he was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, has been the subject of much debate. Dominating headlines unreasonably, as if it were the only major storyline involving the Washington Football Team this week. It’s a sad state of affairs when a flunking, young quarterback that has a lot of growing up to do overshadows what is the most important week for first-year head coach Ron Rivera, who despite personal challenges has navigated the team that most wrote off during the preseason to the very cusp of the NFC East title.
What Washington has achieved is something special, even though the NFC East is a right mess this season. If there was a team that had all the odds stacked against it, it was Washington. Heck, they don’t even have a proper name. And yet, Washington is one win away from clinching the NFC East title and a spot in the playoffs.
Alex Smith has played a large part in Washington’s mid-season turnaround. Ever since he took over the reins, he’s been the team’s best quarterback and the perfect compliment to a defense that can do some damage. Washington enters this final Sunday night primetime showdown as the slight favorite over the eliminated Philadelphia Eagles, but the value in those odds rests heavily on whether Smith starts on Sunday. Reports are optimistic, pointing to Smith likely starting.
The Philadelphia Eagles won’t be pushovers. Rookie Jalen Hurts has played his heart out ever since taking over from Carson Wentz. He did have his worst game last week against the Cowboys, but Doug Pederson is sticking with the young starter for Philly’s final game, in which the Eagles could play spoilers – something that either the Cowboys or Giants would greatly appreciate as a loss for Washington will mean that the winner of their earlier contest will be crowned NFC East champions.
All in all, this is an intriguing matchup, one that could go either way for week 17 NFL picks. A right coin-tosser, it is. However, assuming Alex Smith does start, the defense plays up to the level it can, and the team as a whole plays strong for Rivera, then there’s every chance that Washington will punch its ticket into the playoffs.
NFL Pick: Washington ML (-125) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)
Week 17 Rapid-Fire SU NFL Picks
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at FirstEnergy Stadium
NFL Pick: Steelers ML (+385) with BetOnline
Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Ford Field
NFL Pick: Vikings ML (-305) with GT Bets
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium
NFL Pick: Patriots ML (-164) with BetOnline
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at MetLife Stadium
NFL Pick: Cowboys ML (-155) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at Solider Field
NFL Pick: Packers ML (-235) with Heritage Sports
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at Empower Field at Mile High
NFL Pick: Broncos ML (+120) with YouWager (visit our YouWager Review)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium
NFL Pick: Colts ML (-920) with Heritage Sports
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium
NFL Pick: Chiefs (Odds TBA)
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
NFL Pick: Cardinals (Odds TBA)
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at State Farm Stadium
NFL Pick: 49ers ML (+225) with GTbets
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at Bank of America Stadium
NFL Pick: Saints ML (-290) with BookMaker (visit our BookMaker Review)
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
Sunday, January 03, 2021 – 04:25 PM EST at NRG Stadium
NFL Pick: Titans ML (-350) with Intertops (visit our Intertops Review)