Recent developments have raised the urgency of some games and reduced others, giving bettors interesting early considerations heading into NFL Week 17.
This already impacts the first game, as we look at early betting trends from the sportsbooks.
The Tennessee Titans are more geared toward their Week 18, winner-take-all battle for the AFC South against the Jacksonville Jaguars than in beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. They may rest key players, including star running back Derrick Henry.
At one point, the Titans were vying for the No. 1 AFC playoff seed, and this game seemed to have monstrous significance.
The Titans’ five-game losing streak changed that.
Here’s a look around the league, with DraftKings lines and spread-betting percentages as of Wednesday morning.
Betting Market Responds to Henry, Hurts, Tua Decisions
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook for DraftKings, told Gaming Today he believes several variables have already been placed into the lines.
Henry resting his injured hip Thursday night, when the Titans host the Cowboys. With the game meaningless to Tennessee, Dallas hit -10 and received 72% of the spread handle by early Wednesday. If Henry does play, the line may dip a little.
Tua Tagovailoa is in concussion protocol and likely to sit when the Miami Dolphins (+2.5) invade the New England Patriots.
Miami clings to the final playoff spot, and New England is one spot below, hoping to gain a berth. Between them, the teams have lost six straight, including four by the Dolphins. But Miami can clinch a playoff berth by winning.
Jalen Hurts, who missed Philadelphia’s 40-34 setback to the Dallas Cowboys, is pushing to start against the New Orleans Saints. Philadelphia is -7 at DraftKings and as of Tuesday had garnered 87% of the book’s spread handle.
Hurts, nursing a shoulder injury, wants to be in there to help Philadelphia win the game that would provide the No. 1 seed throughout the entire playoffs.
“He had the week to rest it and it seems like the kind of injury that he could bounce back from in this time frame,” Avello noted. “We’re expecting him to play, at this point.”
Here’s an overview of the NFL’s Week 17 betting slate:
Cowboys vs. Titans Betting Lines
The over-under is sliding toward enticement range for the Over, plunging from 42 to 40.5 in the last couple of days.
Credit some of that to the Thursday Night Malaise. Points have been hard to come by in December, with totals of 34 (twice), 33, and 22 in Thursday night games. Offenses don’t seem to be in sync on a short week.
Here are current odds for Cowboys vs. Titans TNF from top sportsbook apps.
NFL · Thu (12/29) @ 8:15pm ET
|Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee|
Cowboys Trending to the Over
Dallas contests, meanwhile, are on a 7-1 Over streak.
What gives here?
This one is tricky because the Titans play close to the vest and are offensively challenged without Ryan Tannehill and probably Henry. Malik Willis has not played well in relief of Tannehill.
The Cowboys are not likely to catch the Eagles for the NFC East title. But they remain in a desired playoff position, geared at a wild-card road opener at either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Carolina Panthers.
Before that happens, Dallas would like to prove it can hold a fourth-quarter lead. The ‘Boys have coughed up 14 and 17-point margins in road losses to the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Analysis: Cowboys vs. Titans odds, prediction
Eagles vs. Saints Betting Lines
Philly is a touchdown favorite midweek across the sports betting marketplace. Here are current odds for this contest.
NFL · Sun (1/1) @ 1:02pm ET
|Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
What to Watch
Potential put-away and statement game, with Miles Sanders, DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, and others as viable scorers. The Eagles defense, which scored last week against Dallas, always is a threat.
Bucs vs. Panthers Betting Lines
Bettors are putting 75% of the handle on Panthers +3. Should that move to 2.5, Tampa Bay backers will pounce.
NFL · Sun (1/1) @ 1:00pm ET
|Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida|
Division Title at Stake
Tampa Bay clinches the NFC South with a victory, but Carolina obtains first place by winning.
The Panthers, as a double-digit dog, humbled the Bucs 21-3 earlier in the season. A win against the Bucs on Sunday and at the New Orleans Saints in Week 18 gives Carolina the division title.
For this week, it’s the Carolina ground game versus the guile of Tom Brady.
Analysis: Panthers vs. Bucs odds and prediction
Teams in the NFL Playoff Hunt
Green Bay Packers -3 vs. Minnesota Vikings
The public is giving Green Bay 64% handle at the original number.
The Packers gave themselves a chance to make this game important with a Christmas road victory over the Miami Dolphins. They got enormous help with the Washington Commanders, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions all losing.
If the Packers win out versus the Vikings and Lions, they can reach the playoffs with massive help. All bettors need to know this week is that the Pack is motivated to play hard.
This is total relevance for them, mild relevance for the Vikings, who look destined to finish as the No. 2 seed.
Patriots vs. Dolphins Total
The big statement is 92% support for the Under 42, which would be a Patriots number. No Tua would help that cause.
In New England’s last four home games, the total has not exceeded 40. And two of them ended under 30.
Some rain is forecast, but winds are forecast to be mild. The kicking game for the Patriots, a strength, could return after abandoning them last week.
New England is out of the playoffs if it loses here.
Detroit Lions -6 vs. Chicago Bears
Gamblers like Detroit at 73% and know how well the Lions play at home. They could not take advantage of other teams losing last week. The Lions may need to keep pace just off the playoff edge and hope that the Commanders, seeded seventh, stumble against the Cleveland Browns.
Prop bettors will look for Justin Fields, Jamaal Williams, and Amon-Ra St. Brown to go off.
New York Giants -5.5 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Just win, baby. A victory puts Big Blue in the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The host Giants have covered two straight. The public is all over the G Men with a book-high 93% spread-handle support.
Monday Night: Buffalo Bills -1.5 at Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, the Bengals have seven straight wins, all covers. They own the AFC North lead. Bettors have been riding them and sweating the outcome because the Bengals play right near the number.
Cincinnati has kicking concerns, with Evan McPherson leaving five points on the field last week.
Bills can win the No. 1 seed outright with two victories. Cincinnati needs two wins and a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs against the Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders to steal the No. 1 seed.
Where to Celebrate: Sports Betting Begins in Ohio on New Year’s Eve
How Do They Do It?
Here’s a look at how some bettors manage to cash tickets at DraftKings, The creativity, week to week, is astounding.
The low-scoring, tight game between the Buccaneers and Cardinals led to a big win for one user. This $15 SGP ended up paying out $6,015. The selections for this bet were:
• Trace McSorley 23+ Passing Completions
• Trace McSorley 1+ Interceptions
• Alternate Spread – ARI Cardinals +17.5
• Alternate Total Points – Under 37.5
The bettor not only adjusted the line, but massaged it. There was still the overtime sweat. Had either team scored a touchdown, the total points would have been 38 and killed the ticket. How about the McSorley completion number? He needed 23. He got 23 in regulation and one in overtime.
In the Packers-Dolphins game, the user placed a $10, 11-leg SGP with odds of +70000, and it paid out $7.010. The legs selected were:
• Aaron Jones Under 59.5 Rushing Yards
• Jeff Wilson Jr. Over 34.5 Rushing Yards
• Raheem Mostert Under 69.5 Rushing Yards
• Aaron Jones Under 34.5 Receiving Yards
• Allen Lazard Over 49.5 Receiving Yards
• Christian Watson Under 69.5 Receiving Yards
• Randall Cobb Under 34.5 Receiving Yards
• Robert Tonyan Under 24.5 Receiving Yards
• Trent Sherfield Under 39.5 Receiving Yards
• Tyreek Hill Over 94.5 Receiving Yards
• GB Packers Moneyline
A couple of great angles. The Packers winning on the road at +4.5 was one of them, especially because the Pack trailed by 10 with Miami near field-goal position to lead by even more at the end of the first half.
And the Jeff Wilson Jr. call was gutsy. He needed 34.5 yards, he got 37, including the decisive three on his next-to-last carry.
FanDuel Sportsbook has Jakobi Meyers, Jaylen Waddle, and Tyreek Hill to each collect 50 receiving yards in Week 18. It pays +220.
Can J.K. Dobbins bust one? Yes, he platoons with Gus Edwards in the Baltimore Ravens backfield. That’s why Dobbins to rush for 100 yards and George Pickens of the Steelers to record 50 receiving yards is + 750.
Toward the end of the week, FanDuel also posts odds on which teams will score the most points and fewest points. Another prop involves the highest and lowest scoring games.
Caesars: Futures Value Remains
Although odds are dwindling, some reasonable payouts remain on futures bets.
The Buffalo Bills are +350 at Caesars Sportsbook to win Super Bowl 57, while the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are +500. The San Francisco 49ers are +450. Because the teams are relatively even in terms of ability, their odds keep one another honest.
The Bengals are +700 and the Cowboys are +1100.
Current prices: Odds to win Super Bowl 57