Freedman: 13 NFL Betting Trends Worth Noting for Week 17
David Berding, USA Today Sports.
Sunday of Week 17 is special: It’s not just the end of the regular season. It’s also the only day all year when we get 16 NFL games.
Sure, some of these contests mean nothing in the big picture, but to us sports bettors, each game is special.
Each one is an opportunity.
Although I am not a “trends bettor,” I find that trends help me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
Using our Bet Labs database, I have uncovered some intriguing NFL trends for 13 games this week.
Odds as of Monday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Washington Redskins +11.5 at Dallas Cowboys
Under head coach Jason Garrett (since 2010), the Cowboys have been the league’s worst team against the spread as home favorites. The problem is Garrett.
Road dogs are a delicious 36-20-1 ATS against Garrett’s boys, good for a 26% return on investment, and I doubt the team will get up for this game after disappointing in such ignominious fashion last week with the NFC East title at stake.
If you bet on the Cowboys this weekend, you must hate money.
Green Bay Packers -9.5 at Detroit Lions
I’m writing this before the Week 16 Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Vikings, but regardless of the outcome, the Packers should be motivated in Week 17.
If the Packers win on MNF, they will still be in the running for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. If they lose, they will be competing with the Vikings for the NFC North title.
Opponents are 5-1-1 ATS (54.2% ROI) since the Lions lost quarterback Matthew Stafford (back, IR), and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has historically crushed in divisional games, going 41-24 ATS (23.2% ROI).
Kansas City Chiefs-Los Angeles Chargers Under 47.5
Whenever the Chiefs are home, I almost always automatically bet the under.
That might seem counterintuitive: If the team with one of the best offenses in the league is at home, shouldn’t we expect that team to score more points than usual? And wouldn’t that drive the game to the over?
With the Chiefs, that historically hasn’t been the case.
Under HC Andy Reid (since 2013), the Chiefs have actually scored 2.9 fewer points at home than on the road. That’s easily the most negative home/away offensive scoring differential in the league.
In fact, Chiefs games have an NFL-worst home/away total differential of -7.8 points. In Kansas City, NFL games rank No. 27 with a mere 43.3 points. On the road, Chiefs games blow out with 51.0 points, the No. 2 mark in the league.
Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to score, for both the home and visiting teams.
In the Reid era, no home team has made under bettors more money than the Chiefs have with their 36-21-1 under record (including playoffs, 23% ROI).
Minnesota Vikings -7 vs. Chicago Bears
UPDATE (Dec. 24): Now that the Vikings are locked in as a wildcard team, they could rest players in Week 17. As a result, this line has dropped to Vikings -1.
Under HC Mike Zimmer (since 2014), the Vikings have had all sorts of regular-season edges.
- At home: 31-14-1 ATS, 33.7% ROI
- As favorites: 36-18-1 ATS, 29.4% ROI
These trends make sense within the context of who Zimmer is as a coach and what kind of team the Vikings are.
Zimmer is a no-nonsense, risk-adverse, process-oriented, defense-focused overseer, and the Vikings are a disciplined team that doesn’t often make big mistakes.
They don’t waste the natural advantage they have at home. And they don’t play down to the level of their underdog opponents. And this week, two of Zimmer’s historical edges line up.
As home favorites, the Vikings are 25-10-1 ATS (38.4% ROI).
Miami Dolphins +16.5 at New England Patriots
I respect the Patriots, but they’re not as dominant as they once were, and they’re dealing with injuries to starting cornerbacks Jason McCourty (groin) and Jonathan Jones (groin).
Against free-wheeling downfield-throwing nothing-to-lose quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the absence of McCourty and Jones could be significant.
Say what you want about the Dolphins — they’ve allowed an NFL-high 31.3 points per game — but at least they are giving full effort and playing as if they want to win.
And they have been significantly better since their Week 5 bye.
- Weeks 1-4 (four games): -34.3 point differential, 6.5 points scored, 40.8 points allowed
- Weeks 5-16 (11 games): -4.9 point differential, 23 points scored, 27.9 points allowed
After going 0-4 ATS in September, the Dolphins are 8-3 ATS (40.6% ROI) since the bye week.
New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles Under 46
If the Eagles win this game, they will be the NFC East champions. Given what’s at stake, I expect them to slow the game down and play with more intention.
And that makes sense: Whenever divisional opponents face off in the final month of the season, we typically see lower-scoring games. The teams are familiar with each other, the weather is colder and they tend to be a little more conservative on offense.
In the Bet Labs database, the December divisional under is an A-graded 292-220-12 ATS (10.9% ROI).
And when these December divisional games are played outdoors, the under record improves to 231-170-11 ATS (12.1% ROI).
New Orleans Saints -13 at Carolina Panthers
The Saints are in the running for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and the Panthers have lost seven straight games. Last week, in third-string rookie quarterback Will Grier’s first NFL start, the Panthers suffered a pathetic 38-6 defeat at the hands of the mediocre Colts.
Since HC Ron Rivera was dismissed after Week 13, opponents are 2-0-1 ATS (70% ROI) against the Panthers.
How have top-tier teams with something to play for historically done at the end of the season against bottom-feeder divisional rivals with limited motivation?
If we look at Week 17 divisional matchups between teams that are at least .650 and teams that are no greater than .350 — and if we exclude underdogs with strong records, since they are likely to be resting players — we get the answer: 21-14 ATS (18% ROI).
Indianapolis Colts -3 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Since joining the Colts last year, HC Frank Reich has had notable opponent-based ATS splits.
- Divisional Opponent (12 games): 8-3-1 ATS, 38.1% ROI
- Non-Divisional Opponent (21 games): 8-11-2 ATS, -16.1% ROI
It helps that the Jaguars are in the AFC South. In 2017, they almost made the Super Bowl, but since then, HC Doug Marrone’s team has sensationally underwhelmed, and just last week, Executive VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin was fired.
I’d say there’s an above-average chance the Jags fire Marrone after the season, and it’s hard to say it wouldn’t be deserved. Marrone’s offense over the past three years has been one of the league’s least imaginative.
Since last season, opponents are 18-11-2 ATS (19.7% ROI) against Marrone’s Jags.
Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have clinched the No. 1 seed, and quarterback Lamar Jackson is the no-doubt 2019 NFL MVP. They have almost no incentive to play this week.
But the Steelers will be motivated. If they win and the Titans lose, the Steelers will make the postseason.
L-Jax might play, but I doubt he’ll go more than a few series, and he’s by no means a guarantor of success. Road underdogs are 8-3 ATS (40.6% ROI) against the Ravens in Jackson’s starts.
As for the Steelers, they’ve lost two straight games, but they have been a winning team since they lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2 and added defense-altering safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week 3.
- Weeks 1-2 (two games): -16 point differential, 14.5 points scored, 30.5 points allowed
- Weeks 3-16 (13 games): +2.8 point differential, 19.2 points scored, 16.5 points allowed
Since Week 3, the Steelers are 9-4 ATS (36.1% ROI).
Tennessee Titans-Houston Texans Over 48
The Texans have one of the league’s most explosive offenses thanks to quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and since quarterback Ryan Tannehill became the starter for the Titans in Week 7, they have put up points with ease.
- Tannehill’s starts (nine games): 29.9 points scored, 25 points allowed
- Other starts (six games): 16.3 points scored, 15.3 points allowed
In Tanny’s nine starts, the over is 8-1 (75.4% ROI).
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Denver Broncos -4 vs. Oakland Raiders
I’m by no means a stan for quarterback Drew Lock, but he’s probably the best passer the Broncos have had this year, and they’re 3-1 ATS (45.6% ROI) in his starts.
More importantly, Denver is a tough place to play in December, and home opponents are 10-5 ATS (32.5% ROI) against the Raiders under HC Jon Gruden (since 2018).
Based on his arbitrarily laissez-faire coaching style, I don’t think Gruden’s road record with the Raiders is random: He’s the type of guy who would have a team that underperforms when traveling.
Arizona Cardinals +7.5 at Los Angeles Rams
With their 34-31 loss to the 49ers last week, the Rams have been officially eliminated from the playoff race, and big organizational changes are expected this offseason.
The Rams are in disarray, and they have no motivation for Week 17.
The Cardinals, though, are a young-and-hungry team with two straight wins and the desire to prove themselves. HC Kliff Kingsbury has flashed at points in his first year with the team, and quarterback Kyler Murray (hamstring) could win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award with a big game.
Given that Murray left Week 16 early with a soft-tissue injury, hold off on betting this game till we know more about his status, but if he’s healthy enough to play, he provides an edge.
As road dogs, Kingsbury’s feisty Cardinals are 5-1-1 ATS (52.8% ROI).
Sunday Night Football
Seahawks +3 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Underdogs against HC Mike Shanahan’s 49ers are 10-4-1 ATS (36.6%), and at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks have a true home-field advantage with the famed “12th Man.”
Under HC Pete Carroll (since 2010), the Seahawks have scored 7.2 points more than their opponents at home. With that differential, they are No. 3 in the league, trailing only the Tom Brady-led Patriots in Foxborough and Aaron Rodgers-led Packers at Lambeau over that time.
With Carroll, the Seahawks at home are 48-34-3 ATS (14.1% ROI).
Matthew Freedman is 540-410-22 (56.8%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
He’s the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.