NFL Week 17 Best Bets

We’re onto Week 17 of the NFL season, and I have you covered with spread bets across the entire slate. A common theme across my plays this week is fading the narrative of a team needing to win a game. According to Action Labs, eliminated teams versus teams that need to win in the final two weeks are 95-57-4 ATS (62.5%) since 1990.

In the last two weeks of the season, you will often see inflated spreads in favor of the team that supposedly needs the game more, but bettors tend to forget that these are professionals fighting for more than just playoff positioning – careers, contract opportunities, coaching jobs, and pride are all on the line.

Be sure to check out the Lineups YouTube page for more coverage on every NFL game in Week 17. I have you covered with a handful of my favorite player props on the site, as well. Feel free to always reach out to me on Twitter with questions about the upcoming slate of games. Let’s get to work.

NFL Season Record: 137.5-106.5-2 (56.4%)

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are dominant. They’re 13-2 straight up and a win away from clinching the top seed in the NFC. They’ve been entrenched atop the Super Bowl odds board for weeks. However, I think they’re in real danger in this matchup, particularly with Gardner Minshew under center.

The first thing I analyzed when I worked through the stats from the Eagles’ loss to the Cowboys last week was Minshew’s metrics. He had a strong game overall, completing 60% of his passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns, although he did have two interceptions.

However, Minshew thrived the most when the Cowboys decided to blitz him. On eight blitzed dropbacks, Minshew went 8-8 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown. A similar pattern emerges throughout his career where Minshew is great off script when he gets blitzed and can throw against softer coverage on the move.

The Saints won’t give him that opportunity. New Orleans gets pressure on just 16.6% of opponent dropbacks, the third-lowest in the league. It’s by design, as they blitz on just 16.4% of dropbacks, the seventh-lowest rate. They’re perfectly content to sit back and force quarterbacks to throw against their sound coverage.

Using that formula, the Saints are one of three defenses in the NFL that have allowed fewer than 20 points per game in four straight games. They also rank third in dropback EPA allowed over the past month.

On the other side, the Eagles’ defense was exposed last week as Dak Prescott completed 77% of his passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. There have been three instances since 2020 of quarterbacks completing 95% or better of their passes against zone defense, and they have all been against the Eagles.

Andy Dalton has quietly had a very efficient season, ranking third in PFF’s passing grades and 11th in both adjusted completion rate and passer rating. Against that zone defense from the Eagles, Dalton should have plenty of success, especially with Philly still missing key secondary players Avonte Maddox and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

That zone defense is especially music to Chris Olave’s ears, as he ranks second among receivers with 30+ catches against zone coverage with 15.5 yards per reception. He’s also fourth with 2.77 yards per route run in that same sample size. Olave is trending towards playing after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury.

The Saints still have an outside shot at winning the NFC South, but it starts with a win this week. There are significant matchup advantages for them here, and in what should be a low-scoring game, six points is too many on the spread. I’m also sprinkling some ML as an outright upset wouldn’t shock me.

Best Bet: Saints +6 (play to +4.5)

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

The Giants have been a betting darling this season, going 11-4 ATS this season, good for a 73.3% cover rate, the second-best in the NFL. However, that has mostly come in the underdog role – they’ve gone 9-2 ATS as an underdog this season. This week, they find themselves laying six points at home against the Colts.

Big Blue hasn’t won with margin all season – in fact, all eight of their wins have come by one score. In fact, their average scoring margin is -1.9 points, which ranks 23rd in the NFL, despite having a winning record this season.

A major issue for the Giants this season has been their poor run defense. They rank 31st in run defense DVOA and 32nd in yards per carry allowed. Despite Jonathan Taylor being out, the Colts should be able to establish their ground game against this porous Giants run defense.

A lot will be made about Nick Foles’s performance on Monday Night Football, and it was awful, there’s no question about it. However, I’m willing to give him somewhat of a pass. It was his first start in a year and his first start with the Colts. It’s tough to imagine him not improving after shaking off the cobwebs last week.

The Colts’ defense is also arguably the best unit on the field in this game. Darius Leonard remains out, but the rest of the defense is mostly healthy after some injuries early in the year. It’s been a top ten unit all season, ranking tenth in both DVOA and EPA, and it won’t allow the Giants to completely run away with this game.

Indy has made a habit of recovering quickly from its worst performances this season. A 24-0 shutout against the Jaguars was followed by a win over the Chiefs. A 26-3 loss to the Patriots was followed by an upset road win over the Raiders in Jeff Saturday’s first start. I believe they can do it again here.

The line for this game before Monday Night Football was 3.5 points in favor of the Giants. That number felt solid. It suggested the Giants were 1.5-2 points better than the Colts on a neutral field, which made sense. However, the number is now completely overinflated, and we have no choice but to come back in on the underdog here.

Best Bet: Colts +6 (play to +4.5)

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

These teams met in Week 11, and the Lions earned a 31-30 road win that came down to the final moments. It was a back-and-forth game, but the Bears actually held a 14-point fourth-quarter lead that they ultimately squandered. However, that game illustrated that there isn’t a wide gap between the quality of these teams.

After a stretch where the Lions’ defense looked massively improved, they allowed the Panthers to generate 8.8 yards per play and score 37 points. It was a pitiful display, and while I wouldn’t expect their defense to be that bad again, they somewhat predictably fell back down to earth in that game.

Most concerningly in that game was that the Lions allowed nearly nine yards per carry to the duo of D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard. Now, Detroit has to face the electric run game of the Bears with a healthy Khalil Herbert joining David Montgomery and the ever dynamic Justin Fields, who ran for 147 yards against them in that first meeting.

Fields should have success through the air here, as well. The Lions blitz at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL this season, and Fields devours blitzing defenses. He has posted a 105.2 passer rating against the blitz this year compared to an 81.7 passer rating when not blitzed.

The Lions’ defense is allowing a touchdown or a first down on 77% of opponents’ drives, which is the highest rate in the NFL. It’s tough to imagine the Bears not finding significant offensive success in this game, even with their weakened receiving corps.

The Bears’ defense isn’t any good either, but it’s not any worse than the Lions’. These defenses rank 30th and 31st in EPA per play allowed over the last month, so both offenses will have plenty of success. That introduces a ton of variance where there’s more room for an underdog to cover or possibly win outright.

When meeting with the media this week, head coach Matt Eberflus spoke about wanting to “finish these two games off strong” and having “a lot of development to do.” That showed me that they are still focused on this season, and they will be excited at the opportunity to play spoiler against their divisional rival.

When the Lions and Bears played earlier this season, the Bears closed as three-point home favorites. If we use 1.5 points as a baseline for home field advantage, the line for this game indicates that the Lions are now six points better than they were on November 13. I don’t buy that at all, and there’s plenty of value in backing the Bears at this number.

Best Bet: Bears +6 (play to +4.5)

New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks

The market isn’t giving Mike White enough respect. Well, more accurately, it’s not giving Zach Wilson enough disrespect. Only two quarterbacks have a worse ELO rating than Wilson all-time – Josh Rosen and Ryan Leaf. Among 44 quarterbacks with with 100+ dropbacks, Wilson is 44th in PFF grade, 44th in completion percentage, and 43rd in passer rating.

Mike White isn’t great – he’s 19th in PFF grade, 33rd in completion rate, and 29th in passer rating – but he gets the job done. Most importantly, his turnover-worthy play rate is 2.2%, the seventh-lowest of that sample, while Wilson’s is at 5.9%, the second-most.

That’s all he’ll need to do against the Seahawks’ defense that has disintegrated before our very eyes. Seattle ranks 31st in EPA per play allowed since Week 10, and they have no pass rush to challenge White – they rank 30th in PFF’s pass-rush grade.

On the other side of the ball, Seattle faces one of its toughest defensive tests of the year. Luckily, they’re expected to get Tyler Lockett back, which is huge as we saw how lifeless their offense was against a mediocre Chiefs defense without him last week.

However, the duo of Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are facing perhaps the best cornerback duo in the league. PFF has Sauce Gardner (1st) and D.J. Reed Jr. (9th) inside the top ten cornerbacks in the NFL in coverage grades.

More importantly, the Jets get pressure with a three or four-man rush frequently. They pressure opposing quarterbacks at the ninth-highest rate in the league while blitzing at the lowest rate. That’s a problem as the Seahawks’ offensive line has been on a sharp decline recently. It’s not surprising given that they are starting two rookies at the tackle spots.

Geno Smith, meantime, has been coming back down to earth lately. He ranks 14th in EPA+CPOE since Week 10 after ranking fourth through the first nine weeks of the season. He’s still been above-average, but he hasn’t been the quarterback that was elevating above his circumstances earlier in the year.

This is effectively a loser goes home match for playoff considerations, and the 12th Man will be in full force in Seattle. However, the Jets have tons of matchup advantages here, and they’re a value at the current number. I’d take anything under the key number of three.

Best Bet: Jets -1.5 (play to -2.5)

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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