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It’s our final full slate of NFL games hitting Week 17, but with just a handful of teams vying for playoff positioning while the rest are thinking about the first games they’ll be firing up on their PlayStation 5s, there’s money to be made with that $500 bankroll you’ve set aside.
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As always, the odds featured below are courtesy of BetOnline.AG.
Lock of the Week
Our mistake has been thinking that the NFL we watched, experienced and bet on from Weeks 1-14 was the same league that would exist from Weeks 15-17. I can’t remember a time where the entire league, it seems, flipped on its head in the final three-game stretch of the season, yet here we are. Now we have to try to make sense of it.
And we must do it in a week that is designed specifically to make no sense. You see, Week 17 is an NFL anomaly as so many teams enter it playing for absolutely nothing.
Coaches have already had the chance, and many times failed, in saving their jobs. Players auditioning for better teams and payoffs in free agency have 15 games on tape. Quarterbacks that are on the cusp of being replaced by highly drafted rookies try, mostly in vain, have either saved their careers or circled the drain at this point. It’s Week 17. Ain’t no saving you now.
It’s why fantasy football leagues hold their championships in Week 17. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills have already done everything they can do for draft positioning. It’s why Tuesday morning the Steelers announced that Mason Rudolph would get the start at QB.
The NFL does its best to keep this Sunday interesting by scheduling every single game that matters, even a little bit, in the 4 p.m. EST window or in the Sunday Night Football nightcap. That keeps the Seattle Seahawks, who would normally know the results of the Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints at the Carolina Panthers games (usually played at 1 p.m. EST), from sitting Russell Wilson out. If the Panthers and Bears pull off the upset and the Seahawks win, they get home field advantage. They’ve got to play for that.
Same for the Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams. If the Packers-Bears game was played at 1 p.m. EST and the Pack wins, then both the Cards and Rams are in regardless of what happens in their own game. And while the Rams are already coming in without their starting QB Jared Goff thanks to a thumb injury, they’d likely set out most of their offensive and defensive starters if they could. Now, they can’t.
But, because of the importance of those games, none of them can be seen as locks. And you definitely don’t want to take a chance on a lock in a game with two teams playing for draft position. No, you have to choose a team that must win, playing a team it should beat handily. So I present to you the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens are a -800 moneyline, which is rough, but our only other real choice is the Indianapolis Colts at -1400 over the Jacksonville Jaguars. And that would pay chickenfeed.
The Ravens are on the playoff bubble and must win this game to get in
If you’re nervous about the Bengals and their sudden two-game win streak, you should be. Just look at what happened over the last two weeks with the Jets. But Lamar Jackson is 4-0 as a starter over Cincy and won his last two match ups with them 49-13 and 27-3.
Pick: $250 on the Ravens at -800 at BetOnline.AG
Teaser of the Week
Because we do have so many games that “count” in that second window, there are some good teaser plays here. I like the New Orleans Saints to close the deal as favorites over the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers to do in the Chicago Bears for good. The Pack has to go into the game feeling it’s a must win to keep that No. 1 seed, first round bye and home field advantage. If they lose, the Saints get both with a win. If both these teams lose and the Seattle Seahawks win, then they get jumped.
The Pack has lost exactly five games total to the Bears since 2008. They’ve won 21 in that span including three in a row. The Saints too are riding quite the streak over Carolina, and that includes back when Cam Newton was in his prime and the Panthers were good. New Orleans has been victorious in three straight and is 8-3 against the Panthers since 2015.
Teaser pick: $200 on the Packers at +0.5 and the Saints at -0.5 at BetOnline.AG
Prop Bet of the Week
We’ve been all over the place the last few weeks in our Coach of the Year thinking, but there’s been one guy that’s guided his team to victory the whole way. They never get caught by a team they should crush, made history, and ended the Dark Empire’s dynasty in the process. I’m talking, of course, about the Buffalo Bills.
Head coach Sean McDermott is currently leading the CotY odds at -110 and that’s a solid bet. Regardless of what happens in Week 17, with his team likely resting players. McDermott’s resume speaks for itself. He had real competition from Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski until the last two weeks and an unforgivable loss to the New York Jets. Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins has a claim and a good one, but I feel like the first Bills AFC East title since Chris Kirkpatrick could get Justin Timberlake to answer his phone deserves a little extra recognition.
Pick: $40 on Sean McDermott wining AP Coach of the Year at BetOnline.AG
The Crazy, Longshot, Throwing-a-Dart Parlay of the Week
Well those pretty girls can play their game. But they’re damn well gonna know my name. I’m a Crazy Parlay.
This is our last shot at this and we’ve got to make it count. Once the playoffs hit, there’s no crazy parlay other than putting the whole weekend into one. Which you should, frankly, tossing Frappucino money at one and the chance to turn it into a Tesla. But, really, no outcome Wild Card round on could count as crazy.
What we need now are some interesting upsets to pile up and pay us money. And Week 17 is ripe with them as so many teams are ready to just fold up the tents and head to the couch. Why not go ahead and ride with the New York Jets at +144 over the New England Patriots since they’ve already ruined their shot at Trevor Lawrence. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have secured a playoff spot, so they have nothing to lose in sitting guys against the Atlanta Falcons (+240). Nothing the Cleveland Browns could do would be more Cleveland Browns-ier than finishing 10-6 and missing the playoffs, losing to the Steelers sitting starters. That one pays at +385.
Go ahead and toss in our other moneylines, the Ravens (-800), the Packers (-240) and the Saints (-290) and you can create a solid little betting pile to turn into something special come the playoffs.
A $10 parlay bet on these teams pays $852.38 at BetOnline.AG