The NFL Lines: Week 17

Filed in NFL, NFL Tips by on December 29, 2011
Week 16 saw the Packers wrap up home field advantage, the Saints wrap up the NFC South, the NFC Wild Card race be finalised (Lions and Falcons making the cut) and the Chargers drop out of the crapshoot otherwise known as the race for the AFC West title. Nonetheless, there are still 3 divisonal titles, one wild card berth and some first round playoff byes to be determined in week 17, creating more intrigue than is often the case for the final week of the regular season. Nick Tedeschi and Cliff Bingham break down the action and give their tips.

CB – In week 17, motivation trumps all else – just remember that when making your wagers this weekend. Speaking of motivation, with 2012 all but upon us, this may also act as a forum for some New Year's Resolutions for yours truly. 
Summary of Week 16 results
NT – 7 selections, 10.5 units bet, return of 12.34 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = 18%
CB – 2 selections, 3 units bet, return of 2.88 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -4%
Total – 9 selections, 13.5 units bet, return of 15.22 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = 13%
Summary of Overall results
NT – 89 selections, 130 units bet, return of 114.69 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -12%
CB – 53 selections, 66 units bet, return of 60.10 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -9%
Total – 142 selections, 196 units bet, return of 174.69 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -11%

NY JETS @ MIAMI -1 to -2
NT-There are a string of meaningless games to round out the 2011 NFL season and this is the first of them. The road team has won 8 of the last 10 between these two but Miami have been playing very well. I lean the Dolphins but no bet.

CB-The Jets had their playoff destiny in their own hands a fortnight ago and have submitted 2 stinkbombs since. Now they need a win in Miami and a ton of help just to sneak the 6-seed. I'm not even sure they can get the first part of the equation handled – apart from a pizzling at the hand of the Eagles 3 weeks back, the Dolphins have been pretty solid for over 2 months now. I can't lay points about a 5-10 side and thus while having a lean to the Dolphins at the minus, cannot play here.

IND @ JAX +3.5 to +4
NT-You know that show Mike and Molly, that sitcom about two fatties and their marriage? I would rather watch that drivel. No play.

CB-Indy want to lose and give themselves the opportunity to acquire Andrew Luck with the number 1 draft pick; Jacksonville want to lose so that Indy acquire a 3rd season win and almost certainly lose that pick to St Louis. Duelling banjos of ineptitude are a worry and as such, I will be staying miles away from a wger in this game.

WAS @ PHI -9 to -10
NT-The Eagles have finally put it all together with three straight wins to finish off a nightmare season but the Redskins have won their last two road games and can be a feisty opponent. No play.

CB-The Eagles have finally come to the party but all too late. The key to this game is their motivation level – if they still feel they have a point to prove, the single digit spread won't be enough for Rex Grossman et al. But do you want to trust them when their season is essentially over? I don't – no play.

TEN @ HOU +3
NT-A relatively interesting match-up with the Titans a small chance of making the playoffs but requiring the Bengals to lose as well as a win in Houston. Funnily enough, four of the Titans’ last seven games have finished 23-17 with another finishing 22-17. I’d be looking at the under but no side bet though leaning towards the team that wants it more.

CB-The Titans need a win (and some luck) to snare a 6-seed while Houston have a 3-seed irrespective of the outcome – that, along with the insipid last 2 efforts of the Texans, explain the otherwise counterintuitive line here. Importantly, the 2 games Tennessee need some luck in don't commence until after this game is done, so there is no chance of a score update from elsewhere taking the wind out of their sails. Not sure that I fancy a road favourite here though, as Houston are in quite dire need of a win to avoid entering the playoffs on a 3-game losing streak. No play. PS – NY Resolution #1 – If a futures prices seems generous (like say, Indy at $2.37 to win the AFC South for the umpteenth time), do lots of research on the health of the star player before backing them. That bet was dead in the water by the end of week 1. 

CHI @ MIN +1
NT-Totally meaningless match-up. Anything could happen.

CB-With nothing to play for and injuries galore to both sides, what are the odds of the teams agreeing to a '3 kneels, punt, fair catch' playbook for at least the first 3 quarters? I couldn't trust either side less at this point – no play.

SF @ STL +10.5
NT-The Niners need to win this to lockdown a first week playoff bye and are 12-2-1 ATS. The Rams are 2-12-1 ATS. The Niners have to be a bet here. Bet them for 1 unit even though they are a road favourite by 10-plus points.

CB-I can't lay double digits on the road – I just can't. Still, with the Rams needing a loss and an Indy win to snare the number 1 draft pick (which they can sell for some desperately needed help elsewhere on their roster) and the Niners neeeding to win to clinch a first round bye, I can't see the Rams winning. Smells like a Niners win coupled with the 'unders' total points to me – something like 17-7 sounds about right. NY Resolution #2 – Pay close attention to the early season schedule before making futures bets like… I don't know…. say the Rams to win the NFC West and win more than 7 games (still shaking my head sadly at those ones – the Rams also qualify for Resolution #3, which we'll come to in a bit).

CAR @ NO -9.5
NT-Most books don’t have a number on this but the ever-reliable Flemington Sportsbet have gone up with 9.5. The Saints can still win a first week bye with a victory and a 49ers loss so they will take this reasonably seriously. In that case, I am keen on the Saints minus. They have covered seven straight and won their last three at home 125-57. Carolina have looked good against some bad teams but should find their match here. 1 unit on the Saints.

CB-At first glance, everything about this game screams to lay the 8.5 (the Saints high voltage offensive unit, Carolina's well established inability to prevent 30+ being put on them by good sides when travelling, etc) except for one small hiccup. You see, Sean Payton has proven over previous week 17 encounters that if the Saints don't need it for the playoffs, he doesn't care. Just bear that in mind in case the Saints race out to a 24-10 lead by halftime but a score update of "SF 17, St L 0, Q3" from St Louis sees him pull Drew Brees and half of the starting lineup from the remainder of the game, allowing Cam Newton and the Panthers to score heavily on the Saints' reserve team. You have been warned.

DET @ GB +3.5
NT-Both these sides have secured playoff berths with the Packers securing the No.1 seed and the Lion wrapping up a wild card spot. The Lions will be hoping to win in order to take on the winner of the Cowboys/Giants game but there are too many variables here to bet.

CB-Another bizarre looking line explained by motivation – the Packers don't neeed it at all, while the Lions can secure a 5-seed (and thus play either Dallas or the Giants next week, as opposed to New Orleans) with a win. Without knowing how much of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 'A-Team' we will see, I can't recommend a bet here.

BUF @ NE -11.5
NT-The Bills ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots earlier this season and then collapsed to miss the playoffs. The Patriots should have too much for Buffalo but have struggled to make the number against bad teams, covering only one of four. No play.

CB-The Pats need the win for a 1-seed in the AFC, but with a double digit line and a dubious defence leaving open the threat of a backdoor cover by the Bills, this is not a bet. Not that I'd bet against my Bills in any event. Did you see how they took down Tebow and snapped an approximately 324-game losing streak last week? Did you? What do you mean it was a meaningless game to you? Bills fans need all the assistance they can get…

BAL @ CIN +1.5 to +2
NT-First fun fact: The Ravens have not covered against the Bengals in their last five. I am swinging on a Ravens win here but I cannot back them. Second fun fact: The Bengals have only covered once in their last seven. I can’t be on them either. I need the Ravens to win the AFC North so I’ll just be cheering on my futures plays.

CB-The Ravens need a win here to secure the AFC North and a 2-seed, which would also mean they are likely to avoid top-seeded New England and 5-seed Pittsburgh (who would play the 4-seed in wild card week and then the 1-seed) until the AFC Championship game. That's a big carrot. It's a case of 'win and you're in (the playoffs)' for the Bengals, who have done an excellent job this year of beating the teams that they should. Indeed, they could still grab a wild card with a loss and some luck elsewhere. Despite some lacklustre efforts of late I really like the Ravens here – they tend to play up/ down to the level of their opponent and have wins against the Steelers (twice) and 49ers this season. Compare this to the Bengals, who have come up short against the Ravens once already and the Steelers twice. 2 units on the Ravens -1.5.

KC @ DEN -3 to -3.5
NT-The outsider has covered six of the last seven in this match-up and it is hard not to get too worked up about the Chiefs pulling off a win as the underdog here after Denver allowed 81 points in their last two. But I don’t want to take on God’s man, Tim Tebow. No play.

CB-The Broncos and Tim Tebow lock up the AFC West with a win here, while Kyle Orton (who was all but run out of Denver only months ago) and the Chiefs would only gain personal satisfaction from spoiling the party. I can't imagine Tebow throwing 4 picks again this week and have a lean to the minus, but the AFC West is a bit like a Rubik's Cube – just as you think you've got one side figured out, one of the other components blind sides you and buggers everything up again. I'll sit this one out.

SD @ OAK -3
NT-I am quite keen on the Raiders here. Oakland have covered five straight against the Chargers, who have given up on the season. They were pathetic against the Lions, who the Raiders stuck with strongly only two weeks back. With the division title still on the line, I fancy the Raiders to cover the line. Bet 1.5 units.

CB-Here is the remainder of the Rubik's Cube. The Raiders need a win and a Broncos loss to claim the AFC West or a win and a Bengals loss to grab a wild card. All 3 games are being played simultaneously, so pending scores from elsewhere the Raiders may have the wind taken from their sails come the 4th quarter. Couple that with the Chargers' ability when they're legitimately trying (take out last week's disgraceful effort and they were one of the form sides of the NFL over the previous 3 weeks) and I want no part of this game.

TB @ ATL -12
NT-The Bucs are a joke, covering only one of their last nine. Atlanta should belt them but I’ll  be letting the 12 go as they are almost certainly on their way to the No.6 seed.

CB-Okay, this is a tricky one where a conditional bet may be in play. If Detroit lose to Green Bay (game will be wrapping up as this game starts), Atlanta can gain a 5-seed and avoid a trip to New Orleans in wild card week with a win; if the Lions win, this game is irrelevant for playoff seeds. Given how erroneously the Bucs have quit on Rasheed Morris, if the Falcons have a carrot to chase, I think you could lay the 12. 1 unit on the Falcons at the minus IF AND ONLY IF Detroit loses to Green Bay earlier in the day. NY Resolution #3 – When a longtime easybeat punches above their weight one season, be exceptionally careful about backing them to repeat the dose in the folowing year – Tampa Bay (and St Louis), I'm looking squarely at you.

PIT @ CLE No Line
NT-It looks like Ben Roethlisberger may play here but at this stage no bookie in the world is up. I can’t offer any thoughts at this stage.

CB-The AFC North title and a 2-seed for the Steelers if they win and Baltimore loses, a 5-seed under all other circumstances. I fancy their defence can handle the Browns in cold weather with or without Big Ben playing QB for Pittsburgh, but the possibility that an in-progress Ravens score may see the Steelers put the queue in the rack is enough to dissuade me from any bet other than potentially the unders in total points markets. NY Resolution #4 – Don't back perpetually bad teams pre-season to break out of their funk on the flimsy basis of an easy schedule and a 'Colt McCoy might be better than you think' argument

SEA @ ARI -3
NT-I wouldn’t have thought so…

CB-Both have exceeded my expectations in terms of their competence in 2011 but with nothing at stake for either side, this is not a match you want to be heavily involved in under any circumstances.

DAL @ NYG -3
NT-Four points have tipped me into the Giants here: (1) The Giants have covered 7 of 9 against Dallas, (2) Dallas are 3-4 on the road and have struggled against good teams, (3) Tony Romo has a busted hand and (4) Dallas always choke when it matters. Bet the Giants for 1.5 units.

CB-It's another Enigma Bowl matchup to end the regular season! Winner makes the playoffs as NFC East champ while the loser goes home for the season, much like the old midweek fifth-placed playoff match in rugby league. I miss that game. Anyway, with futures bets on (a) Dallas to win the NFC East at $4.00 and (b) Dallas to win over 8.5 games this season already in my back pocket I contemplated a hedge (of sorts) on the Giants here but with them being 3-point faves at home, it wouldn't really work. Besides which, any outcome here wouldn't shock me. Either side could win by 30, blow a 20-point lead to lose in OT or quit on their coach by the 3rd quarter. Those aren't games I want involvement in.
Recommended Bets

NT-1 unit on New Orleans -9.5 at $1.97 at Flemington Sportsbet, 1 units on San Francisco -10.5 at $1.87, 1.5 units on Oakland -3 at $1.91 at Sportingbet at $1.92 and 1.5 units on New York Giants -3 at $2.02 at Luxbet.

CB-2 units on Baltimore -1.5 at $1.85 (Luxbet), 1 unit on Atlanta -12 at $1.92 (Luxbet) IF Detroit loses to Green Bay.

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