Broadway Best Bets: NFL Week 17

Broadway Best Bets is a weekly NFL betting article selecting the five preferred NFL lines of each week. Note: Sports gambling advice is intended for recreational purposes only. All odds and lines are from William Hill US Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.

Well, there’s no way around it. This has been the coldest streak imaginable for the Best Bets. After starting the year a respectable 18-14-3 through 7 weeks, we’re now on an icy 11-30-4 streak. So with one week left, we’re going to change things up and pick every game, and every total, on the slate.

It’s the only week of the year in which all 16 games are played on Sunday, and it’s our last chance to boost our season win percentage. So let’s run through every game with all the nuggets on who’s playing for what and who’s sitting out. I can’t in good conscious recommend you follow my picks, but at least you’ll know the details of the matchups. Alright, here we go!

Broadway 2020 Season Record: 29-44-7 

Dallas Cowboys (-1) at New York Giants

Total Points: o/u 44.5
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Cowboys are playing for: A chance at winning the NFC East. It’s no guarantee – Washington has to lose to Philadelphia – but it’s their only hope.

Giants are playing for: The same thing. If they win and the Football Team loses, the Giants win the division. Otherwise, they have no chance.

The Cowboys have picked up a bit of steam lately, winning three straight and scoring over 30 points in all three. The Giants have had turmoil with Daniel Jones’ injuries, but he said Wednesday he “intends to play from the pocket more” until healthy. Jones looked terrible trying to play through the injury against Baltimore, but were his comments part of a master bluff scheme to catch Dallas’s defense off guard?

I’m not sure it will matter. Dallas is the better team at the moment, and their defense has generated turnovers in all three of their last three wins. Jones fumbles more than any quarterback.

The Picks: Cowboys -1, Over 44.5

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-1.5)

Total Points: o/u 42
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Dolphins are playing for: A playoff berth. All they have to do is win and they’re in. They can still make the playoffs with a loss and some help, but they control their own destiny.

Bills are playing for: Securing the 2 seed. If Buffalo wins, they lock the 2 seed up.

This line opened at Bills -4.5 and has dropped to Bills -1.5 as of early Sunday morning. The total also came down a lot, opening at 47.5. Freezing rain forecasts caused the drop, but this is a total the Bills could cover by themselves. Buffalo isn’t going to announce if they will rest their starters, so this is something to monitor shortly before game time, but there are indications that they will play to win despite clinching the AFC East.

Miami pulled off a miracle win against Las Vegas last week (which they seem to do once a season), but Buffalo is going to be tuning up for the postseason. If Josh Allen and co. play, I like Buffalo to win big.

The Picks: Bills -1.5, Over 42

However, if we find out before kickoff that the Bills will rest their key starters, we’re going Dolphins +1.5 and the Under.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-10)

Total Points: o/u 43.5
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Steelers are playing for: They could win the 2 seed if Buffalo loses, but the Steelers will be sitting four starters: Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt, so they don’t seem too bothered about clinching anything with the division secured.

Browns are playing for: The Browns are facing a win-and-in scenario for their first postseason appearance in 18 years. They are getting some key starters back on the offensive line, but they’ll also be missing a handful of players due to a COVID outbreak: Denzel Ward, B.J. Woodson, Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Bryant and Malcolm Smith.

The Browns will likely win the game, but this is another line inflated by the “win and in” perception. Pittsburgh survived without Roethlisberger last season for 8 wins, and they survived with a terrible Roethlisberger this season for 12 wins. I think they can cover this spread even if they lose.

The Picks: Steelers +10, Under 43.5

Baltimore Ravens (-14) at Cincinnati Bengals

Total Points: o/u 44
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Ravens are playing for: Baltimore is another team facing a “win and in” scenario this week. They could possibly still get in with a loss, but they lock it up with a victory.

Bengals are playing for: Pride. The Bengals have nothing to gain from winning in Week 17, but the team is on a two-game win streak. Brandon Allen has the offense humming despite all the injuries.

This line is another one inflated by the perception of the Ravens’ “win and in” stakes. It opened at Ravens -10 and is now Ravens -14. It’s too high for me. The Ravens are rolling, but the Bengals have a history of playing spoiler in this matchup. It’s just too many points.

The Picks: Bengals +14, Over 44

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-3)

Total Points: o/u 40
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Jets are playing for: Nothing. The Jets have nothing to gain from winning, but now that they’re on a two-game win streak with rumors that Adam Gase will be fired, Gase is playing for an “f– you” to ownership while the players are auditioning for the next regime and going for three straight victories.

Patriots are playing for: Also nothing. The Patriots are out of contention for the playoffs. It appears Cam Newton will start for New England. Who knows how long he’ll last. They’re only playing for pride.

The Picks: Jets +3, Under 40

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)

Total Points: o/u 50
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Falcons are playing for: Raheem Morris’s job? That’s perhaps the only thing on the line. Atlanta came up a missed field goal short of taking the Chiefs to overtime last week. The question is whether they will have a letdown coming off that performance, or look to end the season on a high note after Morris completed his full-time job interview.

Bucs are playing for: Clinching the 5 seed. They are in the playoffs no matter what, but this will determine their seeding. Tampa Bay intends to play for the win after stomping Detroit 47-7 last week.

This line opened at Bucs -4.5 and has moved to -6.5. I’m actually going to follow the line movement with this one. Tampa Bay is rolling into the playoffs.

The Picks: Bucs -6.5, Over 50

Minnesota Vikings (-4) at Detroit Lions

Total Points: o/u 54
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. CT

Vikings are playing for: Nothing but pride after Mike Zimmer called his defense the worst he’s ever coached. The Vikings are a disaster right now. Dalvin Cook will not be playing after the tragic passing of his father.

Lions are playing for: Also nothing, but Matthew Stafford is ready to return again and is planning to start. There’s no telling how long he’ll last, so this is definitely risky, but if he stays in the game, I think he’s going to go out on a high note. This could be his last game in a Lions uniform, and the Vikings are a division rival.

The Picks: Lions +4, Under 54

Tennessee Titans (-7) at Houston Texans

Total Points: o/u 56
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Titans are playing for: The AFC South division title and the 4 seed in the playoffs. If Tennessee wins, they secure a home playoff game. Coming off last week’s disappointing loss, the Titans are likely to rebound as they often do under Mike Vrabel with everything to play for.

Texans are playing for: Spoiling the hopes of a division rival, and J.J. Watt’s pride. After Watt’s passionate postgame press conference, the Texans are in fact no more likely to stop the Titans offense. Derrick Henry has run for 200+ yards in each of his last two games against Houston, including last year’s season finale, also with a playoff berth on the line. Henry is 223 yards away from 2,000 on the season, and the Texans are the worst run defense in football. Can he make it?

Tennessee’s defense is undoubtedly a huge liability, but the offense should be enough to overpower Houston’s with so much on the line.

The Picks: Titans -7, Over 56

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-14)

Total Points: o/u 48.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Jaguars are playing for: Pride for Doug Marrone, who it appears will be replaced shortly by Urban Meyer after Jacksonville locked up the number one overall pick.

Colts are playing for: A playoff spot, if Tennessee loses. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they won’t know ahead of time as the games kick off in the same slot. If all the “win-and-in” teams win, the Colts are out. They are the only AFC playoff hopeful without a win-and-in scenario. Last week was a devastating meltdown after blowing a 21-point lead to Pittsburgh.

The Jaguars have nothing left to play for and are missing playmakers like James Robinson and D.J. Chark. The Colts are without left tackle Anthony Castonzo, safety Khari Willis, and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. I feel Jacksonville will give Indianapolis a good game. This just feels like another case of too many points backing a desperate team. I’m not saying the Colts will lose, but honestly, they could lose.

The Picks: Jaguars +14, Over 48.5

Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Los Angeles Rams

Total Points: o/u 48.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Cardinals are playing for: A playoff spot. This is another win-and-in game on the slate. Arizona failed to beat San Francisco last week, but Kyler Murray appears to be healthy enough heading into this game. Christian Kirk is out after being placed on the COVID list.

Rams are playing for: Also to clinch a playoff spot. The Rams can still make it with a loss and a Bears’ loss, but they clinch with a win. Quarterback Jared Goff and receiver Cooper Kupp are both out for different reasons, so John Wolford will be making his first NFL start.

Fun tidbit: over the last two seasons, quarterbacks are 31-12 ATS in their first two career starts. Do you trust the Cardinals defense against a quarterback with limited game tape (Wolford played at Wake Forest and in the AAF)? I do not, and I think Sean McVay is the better coach. When in doubt, I’ll take the coaching matchup and the Rams to sweep the season series.

The Picks: Rams +2.5, Under 48.5

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Chicago Bears

Total Points: o/u 49.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Packers are playing for: To clinch the one seed and the only NFC first-round bye. The Saints and Seahawks are in contention if the Packers lose. They’re expected to play all their starters.

Bears are playing for: Again, to clinch a playoff spot. The Bears can still make it with a loss and a Cardinals’ loss, but they clinch with a win. Chicago is not resting any starters.

The Bears have been on a roll lately, but so have the Packers. This is a tough pick, but these hotly contested divisional matchups are usually decided by a field goal. I’ll take the points.

The Picks: Bears +4, Over 49.5

New Orleans Saints (-6) at Carolina Panthers

Total Points: o/u 46.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Saints are playing for: To possibly clinch the 1 seed if the Seahawks win and the Packers lose. They are also playing for the 2 seed, which they could lose to Seattle but would clinch with a win.

Panthers are playing for: Ending Matt Rhule’s first season on a high note. Is Teddy Bridgewater playing for his job? The Panthers don’t have much to gain from a win, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. However, they will be without a few key starters, including pass rusher Brian Burns.

The Saints are missing every single one of their running backs due to a COVID outbreak, but do running backs matter? The Saints will play Ty Montgomery, who has plenty of running back experience and a receiver’s skillset. The Saints offense shouldn’t be too heavily impacted. New Orleans calls up practice squad players and they contribute on offense all the time. They have a good system. They will be okay this week.

The Picks: Saints -6, Over 46.5

Seattle Seahawks (-7) at San Francisco 49ers

Total Points: o/u 46
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Seahawks are playing for: To possibly clinch the 1 seed if the Saints and Packers both lose. They are also playing for the 2 seed, which they could win if New Orleans loses. The Seahawks are not expected to rest their starters.

49ers are playing for: Only pride, missing many key starters as they have all season, but now also including Brandon Aiyuk and others. They had a great showing last week in beating Arizona, but that may have been all they had left in the tank for this frustrating, injury-riddled season.

The Picks: Seahawks -7, Under 46

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)

Total Points: o/u 42.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Chargers are playing for: Anthony Lynn’s job? Los Angeles has nothing to gain from winning.

Chiefs are playing for: Nothing at all. The Chiefs have locked up the number one seed and will be resting many key starters, including Patrick Mahomes. Chad Henne is expected to start at quarterback in his first start since 2014.

The Picks: Chargers -4.5, Over 42.5

Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5) at Denver Broncos

Total Points: o/u 50.5
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. CT

Raiders are playing for: Nothing, but Derek Carr and the rest of the available starters are expected to play. They do have their pride on the line and the chance to avoid a losing record by reaching their eighth win.

Broncos are playing for: A good start to 2021 and something for Drew Lock and Vic Fangio to build upon. Denver will be playing to win with nothing to actually gain.

The Picks: Raiders -2.5, Under 50.5

Washington Football Team (-3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Total Points: o/u 44
Kickoff: 7:25 p.m. CT

Football Team are playing for: The NFC East win and a spot in the playoffs with a losing record. Alex Smith is expected to go, but will try out his leg in the morning. We should know his status well before kickoff, but it’s something to monitor. Antonio Gibson is expected to play, while Terry McLaurin is questionable, and he will reportedly try to play.

Eagles are playing for: Nothing, and they could spoil the hopes of both the Giants and Cowboys by losing this game. The Eagles are sitting a vast number of key starters and don’t really appear to be trying to win as hard as one might like to see from the Sunday Night primetime showdown.

The Picks: Football Team -3.5, Under 44.

A quick reminder for anyone unfamiliar with betting lines. “Favorites” are listed next to a negative number, which represents how many points they must win by to “cover the spread.” Titans -2.5, for example, means that Tennessee must beat the Broncos by 3 points or more for bettors to win. Gamblers can also bet on the game’s “total,” betting on whether or not the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a pre-selected number of points.

“ML” or “moneyline” is not against the spread, just picking the winner of the game. Many people refer to the moneyline as “straight up,” but this can be confusing, because if you’re ever at a betting window in Vegas, a “straight bet” means you are betting on the point spread. Instead of saying “straight up,” you’d want to say “moneyline” when you mean to pick the winner of the game regardless of the point spread to avoid any possible confusion.

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