2021 is here, and so is the final week of the NFL season.
Playoff implications abound on Sunday, which means a ton of betting opportunities to ring in the New Year. With that in mind, Week 17 is a tough slate to navigate with so many injuries and inactive players.
Fear not, however, as in this piece, I’ll be going over my best bets for the slate. All odds listed here are courtesy of William Hill. As always, please play responsibly.
Minnesota Vikings (-4) at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.
Best bet: Irv Smith Jr. over 35.5 receiving yards (-120)
The Minnesota Vikings playoff hopes are officially dead, but they still want to close the 2020 season on a high note. Unfortunately, star running back Dalvin Cook is out for the contest, which changes the game plan of their offense.
Cook’s absence means the Vikings will look to throw the ball more, and Irv Smith Jr. will continue to be a benefactor. Since starting tight end Kyle Rudolph went down with an injury in Week 13, Smith has averaged 51 receiving yards per game.
The 22-year-old is a quietly effective player, taking advantage of secondaries that are too focused on Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. He saw nine targets last week and should play a key role again to close the season. I think he gets over 50 yards with ease.
Baltimore Ravens (-13.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m.
Best bets: Ravens -7 first-half spread (-115), Ravens -13.5 full-game spread (-115)
I truly do not think this game is going to be close. The Baltimore Ravens guarantee themselves a playoff spot with a win and are playing at a very high level.
They are averaging 37 points per game across their past four contests, all of which were wins. They already beat Cincinnati by 24 earlier this season, and Joe Burrow started that game. The Bengals are coming off of a feel-good victory over the Houston Texans in Week 16, but they’ve been downright terrible without their franchise quarterback.
The Ravens are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games. I like them to cruise the entire way, so I am taking the first-half and full-game spreads.
Dallas Cowboys (-1.5) at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m.
Best bet: Ezekiel Elliott over 85.5 rushing + receiving yards (-120)
The Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes are on the line this Sunday, and I think that means we see a lot of Ezekiel Elliott. Despite some inconsistencies this season, Zeke certainly looked like himself against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16.
He put up 105 yards on 19 carries plus 34 yards on four receptions in the win. Now, he gets a match up against a Giants defense that has been gashed by opposing running backs in recent weeks.
Zeke had 105 all-purpose yards when he played the Giants in Week 5. They surrender the second-most receiving yards to opposing running backs in the NFL and have allowed an average of 156.2 rushing yards across the last four games.
In their biggest game of the season, expect the Cowboys to get Elliott involved early and often.
Seattle Seahawks (-7) at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
Best bet: Under 46 total points (-110)
People still seem to believe that the Seattle Seahawks have a dynamic offense, even though that narrative has not been true since the first few weeks of the season. Over their last seven games, which includes a 40-point performance against the lowly New York Jets, they are averaging just 22.7 points.
The under has hit in all seven of these games, which is also buoyed by a resurgent Seahawks’ defense.
On the other side, we have third-string quarterback CJ Beathard starting for the 49ers. He will be without his top two wide receivers, top running back, and arguably the best offensive lineman in football. That is a lot of talent to make up for, even with star tight end George Kittle back in the fold.
I think we get a physical, hard-hitting divisional battle at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. It seems like the sharps also agree, as 94 percent of the money is coming in on the under according to The Action Network’s public betting data.
Green Bay Packers (-4) at Chicago Bears, 4:25 p.m.
Best bet: Packers -4 (-110)
I understand that the Chicago Bears have been playing better as of late, having won three games in a row to get themselves back in the playoff race. However, the teams they beat have a combined 11-34 record. This line is just disrespectful to the Packers.
The Packers, fresh off of a 40-14 demolition of the Tennessee Titans, have won five games in a row. They need a win to lock up the NFC’s number-one seed, and Aaron Rodgers is trying to put the finishing touches on his third MVP award. On top of that, the Packers beat the Bears 41-25 in Week 12, leading by as many as 31 points in that game.
The Bears have something to play for, and David Bakhtiari’s season-ending injury is a blow to the Packers. Nevertheless, they are a way better team than the Bears and have the motivation to back it up. Take the favorite.