NFL Week 17 betting: Vikings might upset Packers; Pats have edge over Dolphins

  • ESPN Sports Betting Analyst
  • Host of Daily Wager
  • Behind The Bets podcast host

The NFL has no shortage of storylines, yet we encounter a recurring topic seemingly every other week. The Minnesota Vikings continue to be disrespected by the market and this time, it comes at the hands of a team that tends to get the benefit of the doubt.

The sub-.500 Green Bay Packers are three-point home favorites to the 12-3 Vikings, after the spread opened at 3.5. That’s just the way it is going to be for the Vikes. A pro bettor and oddsmaker each told me this week they would favor about seven to nine teams over Minnesota on a neutral field and about nine others would be a coin flip.

“The Vikings are the Lions. They’re the same team,” SuperBook oddsmaker and longtime Las Vegan Ed Salmons told ESPN. “

Adding another layer is the impact this game has on the playoffs. The 7-8 Packers must win their last two games to have a decent chance. Minnesota is the NFC North champ and can finish no worse than a three-seed.

“With (Aaron) Rodgers there, Green Bay is always going to have the backing of the public and even some sharps, especially on the frozen tundra in January,” pro bettor Jay Romano told ESPN.

It’s impossible to mention the Vikings without also mentioning their 11-0 record in one-score games, which is an NFL record. I give them credit for that but the market dismisses any positive spin.

The Pack have won and covered three straight but I think it’s been a case of smoke and mirrors. I’ll grab the points with the Vikings. After all, their lone win by more than one score was a 23-7 beatdown of Green Bay, albeit in the season opener.

Line moves of the week

The final two weeks of the regular season can present unusual betting odds. The reasons range from playoff implications to key injuries. And we certainly have a couple scenarios, much like we saw Thursday night with the Tennessee Titans sitting Derrick Henry.

San Francisco 49ers (-9.5) at Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Las Vegas Raiders announced Derek Carr was benched, even though they are still mathematically alive for the postseason.

That moved the San Francisco 49ers from 6.5-point favorites to 9.5 points. San Francisco has covered six straight and also five straight against teams with losing records. That’s the only side I would play.

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (-6.0)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

The Atlanta Falcons are six-point home favorites, now that David Blough will be the fourth different QB to start for the Arizona Cardinals this season. The line was 3.5 with Colt McCoy slated to go. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is also out.

Favorite plays

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-2.5)
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts

This is a play against Teddy Bridgewater and Miami having to play outdoors in New England in January. Obviously, the Dolphins are not as good without Tua Tagovailoa but I wonder just how much is left in the tank. This will be their fourth road game over the past five weeks. Plus, they have lost four straight games and must know their championship chances are doomed without their starting QB. It’s a little tricky because the Patriots are mediocre, but Bill Belichick has managed to rack up wins this season against backup quarterbacks.

Pick: Patriots -2.5

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-6)
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan

The Lions have captured our hearts this week but did drop a tough one last week. Detroit is now 7-1 ATS in its last eight games but I like the underdog. The Bears offense has clicked in the second half of the regular season. Justin Fields is dynamic, and Detroit ranks second worst in defensive efficiency.

He should be able to thrive like he did in the first meeting when he accounted for four touchdowns in a 31-30 loss. I initially looked to play this over 52.5, considering the Bears defense ranks dead last in efficiency, but I prefer Chicago and the points.

Pick: Bears (+6)

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants (-5.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

A close friend nicknamed me “The Betting Bully”, so this is right in my wheelhouse. The Colts have serious issues and shockingly, Nick Foles was not the answer to their offensive woes. He threw three interceptions and struggled with timing. That rust cannot be shed in less than a week. On top of that, the Giants need a win to clinch a playoff berth and want to avoid that scenario at Philadelphia next week. Brian Daboll has provided competence and credibility to this franchise, and they should take care of business.

Pick: Giants -5.5

Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California

The Rams showed more than a pulse on Christmas behind Baker Mayfield. I expect that to continue, as Sean McVay is doing the polar opposite of mailing it in. The Super Bowl champs will not defend their title but I saw enough from the offense to expect some points. Mayfield is auditioning for other teams. As for the Chargers, Justin Herbert is already elite and now that the team is getting healthier, they are finally putting up some points. The Rams have Jalen Ramsey but the defense still has weaknesses without Aaron Donald.

Pick: Over 42.5

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