Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic warns that this is the roughest week for NFL bettors. Way too much uncertainty out there to bet too heavily.
Here are his thoughts and our staff picks. Lines are constantly changing as news evolves, so handle with care. Games are listed in standard oddsmaker’s rotational order.
Eagles (-4.5) GIANTS (45.5), 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
Bizarre is the only way to describe Week 17, with SO many what-ifs. who starts, who sits, how long do they play? That’s NOT the case in this spot. The Birds win and they’re IN.
With Carson Wentz playing out of his mind last week against Dallas (31-40 for 319 yards), a straight-up W looks good, but covering the 4.5 might be an issue. The Green squeezed past the Giants at home 23-17 (no cover) in Week 14, but that was against the robotic Eli Manning and a still-gimpy Saquon Barkley.
This time, they get mobile rookie QB Daniel Jones who was immense last week, throwing for 352 yards and five TDs. Sure that was against a lousy Washington team, but still, impressive. And Saquon’s ankle looked pretty healthy, as he gobbled up 189 yards on the ground and 90 through the air.
The NYG are not posting a ton of wins, but they have covered four of the last five. They’re gonna be loosey-goosey, no pressure, and would love to spoil the Birds’ party. Not gonna step out, but would buy the hook to +5, and take a small taste of New York.
Titans (-3.5) TEXANS (45.5), 4:25 p.m.
Tennessee is fighting for a playoff spot but the injury to Derrick Henry worries me. So we go with a slight lean toward Houston.
Browns (-2.5) BENGALS (44.5), 1 p.m.
Heard that Cleveland is gonna fly directly to Palm Springs after the game, and the golf clubs are in the locker. Actually, some of the Brownies might just leave at halftime, to beat the non-exisistant Cincinnati traffic.
Kidding, of course.
All you have to know about Cincy is, they are still fighting like crazy and Andy Dalton is playing for a few million dollars and his next contract. It ain’t gonna be in Cincinnati because the Bengals have the No. 1 pick and will bring home Ohio native son and LSU Heisman winner Joe Burrow.
Just look at last week against Miami when Cincy was down 28-12, then ripped off 23 points to force OT. Yea, they still lost, but the Red Rifle was exceptional, hitting 33 of 56 for 396 yards and four TDs. Since we had a pretty solid season (12-4 best bets, 129-105-6 overall), and don’t wanna get greedy, gonna wager only 1/8 of the normal bundle on what’s the closest thing I’d call a best bet in this treacherous week. And don’t sweat it, I’ll be back with some gorgeous BBs once the playoffs start.
VIKINGS (-1) Bears (37), 1 p.m.
Minny has been fab at home, winning 20 of the last 25, but with a playoff spot locked, not sure who plays and who sits.
Colts (-3.5) JAGUARS (43.5), 4:25 p.m.
This is all about the ground game. Indy is 5th in the league, while Jax limps in at an ugly 28th against the run.
BUCCANEERS (PK) Falcons (48), 1 p.m.
Atlanta has won three in a row, covered six of the last eight, and should be able to avenge an earlier loss to Tampa.
COWBOYS (-11) Redskins (44.5), 4:25 p.m.
A bit wary of laying double digits with the dysfunctional Dallas squad, but man, this IS the time for a BOUNCE BACK. Just look what the 'Boys did, at home after an ugly three-game losing streak. They blasted the Rams, 44-21. Speaking of home cooking, Dallas comes in with a perfecto at Jerry World against the NFC East, covering all six in a row. And the kids from D.C. have been absolutely brutal in conference play, losing nine in a row and covering only once!
Saints (-13) PANTHERS (47), 1 p.m.
Two words: Christian McCaffrey. Carolina is gonna get Run CMC his records. Might not win, but should cover double digits.
Steelers (-2) RAVENS (38), 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Baltimore clinched everything, and apparently, will play NO ONE! Steel still alive for a playoff spot, so we tickle.
BILLS (-1.5) Jets (36.5), 1 p.m.
Another team locked into the playoffs, and the Buffs might not step on the gas against the downstate New Yorkers.
PATRIOTS (-16) Dolphins (44.5), 1 p.m. (CBS)
Miami head coach Brian Flores makes sure that his Fish never give up. With eight covers in the last 11 games, and a ton of revenge for a 43-0 bagel they were forced to eat against his mentor Bill Belichick, can you say back-door cover, kids?
Packers (-12.5) LIONS (43), 1 p.m. (Fox)
These two Black & Blue Division rivals met back in October at Lambeau and Green Bay squeezed out a 23-22 win. That was with Matthew Stafford at QB. Detroit is now rolling, or should we say stumbling, with David Blough under center, and it has not been pretty. With a win here and a San Francisco loss later in the evening, the Cheeseheads would be the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs. And since the Lions have covered only one of the last 10, gotta rock the Pack.
CHIEFS (-8,5) Chargers (45.5), 1 p.m.
Just looked at Kaycee’s final game last season before going to the playoffs. It was a 35-3 beatdown of Oakland.
RAMS (-7) Cardinals (45), 4:25 p.m.
Funny thing about pressure is, when there’s none, it makes life easier. Which is why we like Jared Goff in this spot. But that’s not the only reason. Arizona QB Kyler Murray left the game last week with a hamstring injury, and is listed as questionable. Even if he goes, he AIN’T gonna be anywhere near 100 percent. And if Murray sits, Brett Hundley is the next man up. With nine career TDs against 13 INTs, this guy doesn’t have a prayer against the Rams.
49ers (-3) SEAHAWKS (47.5), 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
With the #No. 1 NFC seed on the line, not even the return of “Beast Mode” will prevent San Francisco from a glorious evening. That would send Seattle to Philly for the first round.
BRONCOS (-3.5) Raiders (41), 4:25 p.m.
Understand that the Silver & Black have a crazy-long shot to make the playoffs, but too many teams have to lose. Like what QB Drew Lock is doing in Denver guiding the Broncs to wins and covers in three of the last four.