Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Week 17: Colts at Titans
- Which side would you take in Colts at Titans? (Poll consensus year to date: 10-4)
- Colts minus-3.5 — 75.6%
- Titans plus-3.5 — 24.4%
This poll is closed, see Full Results »
Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Everyone’s heard the warnings. Don’t bet Week 17, they say.
The games are too unpredictable, the personnel too fluid and the desire too undetermined. That’s at least the case made for waiting until the playoffs to continue betting on the NFL.
It’s all rubbish.
Week 17 presents its fair amount of challenges, but that’s no reason to ignore the card entirely. It may sound like a slogan from a high school football T-shirt, but it’s applicable in sports books this week: Adversity presents opportunity.
Consider Talking Points like Dwayne Johnson in an apocalyptic thriller — the blog is running towards the danger this week.
Check below for picks on every Week 17 game. They’re listed in rough order of confidence in three categories with attached records. The overall record picking every game for the season stands at 122-106-11 against the spread. Lines are the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.
Los Angeles Rams minus-9.5 vs. San Francisco 49ers The Rams are getting healthier, and when the Rams are healthy, they’re the most talented team in the NFL. The most talented team in the NFL should be laying double digits against one of the worst teams. Don’t miss what might be the last chance to buy low on Los Angeles.
New York Giants minus-6 vs. Dallas Cowboys Not only do the Giants have more motivation — with the Cowboys' top objective being to come out intact for next week’s playoff game — but they’ve arguably been the more efficient team over the second half of the season. Dallas has won two more games, but their point differential in the span is plus-11 to New York’s plus-13.
Miami Dolphins plus-5.5 at Buffalo Bills Here’s a case where the narrative is overpowering the facts of the situation. The Dolphins fell out of the playoff race with a loss to the Jaguars last week and were subject to much speculation of an organizational overhaul this week, but they’ve been a better team than the Bills all season. There’s no guarantee Miami is not going to show up, which would be necessary to lay this large of a number.
Cleveland Browns plus-6 at Baltimore Ravens Isolating to the last six weeks of the season, the Ravens have been the second-best team in the NFL by Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. The Browns rate fourth. These teams are more evenly matched than the spread indicates, and there’s no reason to pay an extra point or two just because the Ravens need a win to reach the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings minus-4 vs. Chicago Bears This is correlated with the aforementioned Rams’ pick. Expecting the Rams to roll the 49ers, and therefore forcing the Bears to pull their starters at halftime with no chance at a first-round playoff bye. With a playoff berth on the line for the Vikings, they will have no such second-half decline.
Denver Broncos plus-6.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers Hard to find one-game overreactions in week 17, but here’s one last instance to end the season on. The Chargers were 5-point favorites in this spot last week, and don’t deserve an extra 1.5 points just because the Broncos looked terrible in a 27-14 loss to the Raiders as 3-point favorites. Los Angeles wasn’t much better in a 22-10 defeat to Baltimore as 4-point favorites.
Jacksonville Jaguars plus-7 at Houston Texans This was a totally fair line when it posted as the lookahead price last week, when Cody Kessler was still the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. Poke fun at Blake Bortles as much as necessary, but he’s a big upgrade over Kessler — bigger than the line is indicating.
Atlanta Falcons minus-1 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Falcons seem to be playing their best at the end of the year, with two straight easy wins and covers. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are in disarray with three straight losses and likely wholesale changes coming to the organization.
Pittsburgh Steelers minus-14.5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati’s three-game covering streak couldn’t possibly be more misleading. The Bengals have likely been the second-worst team in the NFL since Jeff Driskel took over at quarterback, getting outgained by nearly 1.5 yards per play.
Kansas City Chiefs minus-13.5 vs. Oakland Raiders Chiefs haven’t covered in a game since week 9, but at some point, the market is going to adjust too far against them. That might be happening now, as Kansas City laid a half-point more than this at Oakland earlier in the year.
Washington Redskins plus-7 vs. Philadelphia Eagles Washington hasn’t quit despite being the most injury-ravaged team in the NFL and quarterback Josh Johnson has been more competent than expected, a pair of factors that make this line look a point or two high. Philadelphia has always been a high-variance proposition with Nick Foles, meaning selling high after two straight wins might not be a bad idea.
Tennessee Titans plus-3.5 vs. Indianapolis Colts Colts are the far superior team, but this is a prohibitive price to pay for a road team in what’s practically a playoff game. The line will go down at least a half-point if and when it’s announced that Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will play.
New England Patriots minus-13.5 vs. New York Jets Hard to deny that this spread is inflated, but this is one instance where paying a premium might not be a major problem. Not wanting to step in front of the Patriots in a game where they need a win to lock up home-field advantage.
Seattle Seahawks minus-13 vs. Arizona Cardinals Guess week 17 is officially, “lay double-digits at every opportunity,” for Talking Points. Not happy about it, but there are so many teams in dire straits at the end of the season and the Cardinals lead the way in that category.
Green Bay Packers minus-7.5 vs. Detroit Lions Number looks exactly right but some Packers’ players are (inexplicably) campaigning for interim coach Joe Philbin to keep the job into next season. Philbin’s case would be strengthened with a big win, so that should ensure a big effort from the home team in an otherwise meaningless game.
Carolina Panthers plus-7.5 at New Orleans Saints Pure numbers play, as getting the extra half-point makes the Panthers the preferred side with the Saints having nothing to play for. Saints coach Sean Payton says he will not rest starters, but he may not give them a full workload either.