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NFL Week 17 Odds, Picks, Trends: Cowboys-Cardinals, Packers-Vikings Among Early Bets

NFL Week 17 Odds, Picks, Trends: Cowboys-Cardinals, Packers-Vikings Among Early Bets article feature image
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Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers.

In case you were wondering, this is still the longest season in NFL history.

Christmas has come and gone — and we still have two weeks left.

Welcome to Week 17 of the longest season in NFL history.

This Sunday, we have 15 games.

Say goodbye to your family.

— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 27, 2021

Although I’m not a trends bettor, I find that using the Action Labs database helps me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.

Let’s take a look at a few trends for the early spreads and totals for this upcoming week. For the rest of my Week 16 plays, check out the FTN Bet Tracker as well as my best bets article.

All lines are from the Action Network NFL Odds page.

Abbreviations: Against the spread (ATS), return on investment (ROI).

Cardinals +5.5 at Cowboys

  • Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX

This is either the sharpest or dullest bet I’ve made all season.

It is known that Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is something of a late-season fraud.

Happy holidays to beloved American charlatan Kliff Kingsbury pic.twitter.com/zG2TkP3jve

— Matt Mitchell (@olboyunclemitch) December 26, 2021

Over the past three weeks, the Cardinals are 0-3 ATS and straight up despite being favored in each game.

Kingsbury undoubtedly has the bonafides of a fake sharp, as evidenced by his deplorable 4-10 ATS record as a home favorite.

Kliff Kingsbury is now 4-10 against the spread as a home favorite. pic.twitter.com/zyo2BlK4Fg

— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 26, 2021

Gross.

But this feels like a Pros-vs.-Joes matchup. The Cardinals are crashing while the Cowboys are a league-best 12-3 ATS. Why would anyone bet against the Cowboys?

Because they are probably overrated after their 56-14 Sunday Night Football beat down of the Football Team — and the Cardinals and Cowboys are more comparable than they may seem.

In expected points added (EPA) per play, the Cardinals are No. 7 in offense (0.084); the Cowboys, No. 10 (0.058). On defense, the Cowboys are No. 1 (-0.121); the Cardinals, No. 4 (-0.081, per Ben Baldwin’s RBs Don’t Matter website).

Despite their recent play, I think these teams are close to even — and being at home shouldn’t make the Cowboys this big a favorite.

And Kingsbury is no stranger to success on the road or as an underdog. Despite his fake sharpness, Kingsbury is something of a scrapper when pushed into a corner. As an underdog, Kingsbury is 17-7-2 ATS (35.3% ROI) for his career. On the road, he’s 16-6-2 ATS (38.4% ROI).

As a road dog? He’s 12-3-2 ATS (49% ROI).

This is a contrarian bounceback spot for the Cardinals, and no coach over the past three years has been more profitable for bettors to back as a road dog than Kingsbury.

  • Action: Cardinals +5.5 (-110) at DraftKings
  • Limit: +3.5 (-110)

Packers -6.5 vs. Vikings

  • Kickoff: Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC

I’m a simple man. I live by a few rules.

One of them is that I bet on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at home, where he’s an outrageous 68-37-4 ATS (25.2% ROI) for his career.

Say whatever you want about the predictiveness of trends, but not betting on Rodgers at Lambeau Field has historically been the equivalent of refusing free money.

Additionally, Rodgers has been absurdly dominant against the NFC North. For his career, he’s 49-28 ATS (24.6% ROI) in division — and 25-12 ATS (32%) at home against division.

Rodgers is the No. 1 quarterback this year in composite EPA and completion percentage over expectation (0.175), and he’s the frontrunner to win MVP — for the second year in a row.

With a win in Week 17 and a Cowboys loss to the Cardinals, the Packers can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC — and they can all but eliminate their division rival Vikings from the playoffs.

Rodgers is playing as well as any quarterback in the league right now, and the Packers should be motivated.

Betting on Rodgers at home might be so obvious it’s square, but I can’t imagine not betting on Rodgers and the Packers in this spot.

  • Action: Packers -6.5 (-112) at FanDuel
  • Limit: -7 (-110)

Browns-Steelers Under 41.5

  • Kickoff: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

The Steelers want to hide quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns want to hide quarterback Baker Mayfield. Both teams want their offenses to flow through their running backs. Neither team plays to win.

This game has all the hallmarks of a low-scoring, late-season affair.

As seasons progress, defenses coalesce, weather worsens and familiar foes rematch, we see that totals tend to underwhelm. In divisional games played outdoors in December and January, the under is 300-240-15 (8.1% ROI).

This trend holds especially true for the “cold weather divisions” — the AFC North, AFC East, NFC North, and NFC East. Collectively, they are 166-126-8 (10.8% ROI) to the under in outdoor divisional matchups in December and January.

I am comfortable betting this to the key number of 41.

  • Action: Under 41.5 (-110) at FanDuel
  • Limit: 41 (-110)

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