For those of you who don’t care how we come to our predictions, you will find the picks at the top of these posts for the rest of the season. The explanations for them are below. Enjoy!
The BSN picks of the week:
Chicago Bears +5 at Minnesota Vikings
Denver Broncos -2.5 vs. Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers +4.5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
As we get ready for the playoffs and all the fun that comes with them we first must take on a weird and whacky NFL Week 17 with all sorts of traps laying in the way.
For starters betters need to beware of the teams who are done playing for anything, this doesn’t just include the teams out of the playoff hunt but also teams who are automatically in by now and have their seed established already. Meaning these spreads are significantly altered depending on who’s qualified already and who is still jostling for playoff positioning.
So much like in betting bowl games motivations for these teams will play a big role.
Because of this, we need to be careful in Week 17 and in some ways the best betting advice you could receive is to stay away this week, save your betting pool for the playoffs and enjoy the madness.
But here at BSN ATS you already know that we don’t shy away from any challenges, which is why we’re not backing off and offering up three picks.
The picks are as always based on our YPP metric that suggests all the games with a differential of 4.5 points or more. EW also came into play after a splendid Week 16 and we’ll get into it all below including the deceiving lines of the week that one should be weary of.
BSN ATS’ picks of the week
Chicago Bears +5
This will make it three weeks in a row that we bet on the Bears, YPP’s sixth-ranked team with a positive number of 0.5. Mind you that’s updated, so Chicago is still ranked that highly after suffering a brutal beatdown to the Washington Redskins this past week.
Despite Matt Barkley’s five-interception performance, the Bears still put up yards and moved the chains offensively though limiting turnovers will prove crucial against a ferocious Vikings defense. Or should we say formerly ferocious? as Minnesota’s 'D' has fallen off the past two weeks allowing 34 and 38 points respectively to the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers.
Obviously, the Bears offense doesn’t pose nearly the same threat that those two units did. Not to mention the Colts and Packers had the playoffs in their sights and were still playing for something.
The matchup that’s encouraging here for us in picking the Bears is defensively where they still rank as the sixth best team in the NFL allowing only 223 yards per game in the air and that’s all despite playing in a division with some ruthless quarterbacks. The Vikings one-dimensional offense anchored on the pass should struggle in this one. Which gives us confidence picking Chicago.
Motivations will play a big part in this bet. The Bears can guarantee the third overall pick in the draft with a loss - a spot they are jostling for with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Vikings have the opposite motivating factors as they don’t own their first round pick and would like for the Philadelphia Eagles - who received the pick in the Sam Bradford trade - to pick lower than 15th where they currently slotted.
But don’t think for a second that players or coaches are thinking about the draft in April now. Guys are fighting for their livelihoods and a Chicago team that’s played well lately should be motivated to go out and finish the season strong at home. For the last time this season we say Bear down!
Denver Broncos -2.5
This is a really interesting game because there are millions of factors in play. The Broncos are out of the playoff race after their loss this past week, while the Raiders will be fighting hard for a divisional title and Wild Card bye in the playoffs. Denver might also decide to start rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch which would further alter our metrics suggested spreads. Oh, and did we mention Oakland’s without David Carr? how’s that for factors in play to consider.
Regardless of all that, even with Carr YPP had the Broncos as 7 point favorites for a 4.5 point difference from the actual spread.
Also, don’t neglect the game being played in Denver against the hated Raiders and the Broncos being able to play spoiler and deny Oakland a divisional title. If Lynch starts things will even out a bit, but the Raiders are a totally different team without their star quarterback and will likely still be emotionally fragile after their Super Bowl hopes were essentially dashed by the loss of Carr.
We’ll take the Broncos as our one favorite of the week.
San Diego Chargers +4.5
This will be a bit of a remembrance Sunday in San Diego as this might be the last time the NFL plays down there for a while. Meaning that motivations and emotions going into this affair will be hard to predict until teams hit the field.
The Chiefs on their end will be fighting hard for an AFC West title, first-round playoff bye, not to mention an undefeated season vs their divisional rivals. KC, in fact, has only had one loss against the spread in their division this season - Week 1 when they beat the Chargers by 6 not covering the 6.5 point spread.
Both our metrics like San Diego who’s a 1 point underdog per EW and an outright winner by YPP that has them as 4 point favorites.
The Bolts aren’t just fighting for civic pride in their possible last appearance in their city as they’ll also be fighting for their coach and have lots of young players seeking to establish themselves. The Chiefs prior to Week 16 had been in one score games for seven-straight, a stretch in which the margin of victory was just over 3 points. We’re counting on the Bolts, much like the Broncos, playing for pride and trying to spoil the Chiefs divisional title aspirations here.
Numbers, news, and notes
This is a fun week to look at our suggested spreads compared to the actual lines because things really don’t matchup.
For example the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers are huge favorites per our metrics this week but since both teams have things clinched and will be starting their backups those are hard plays to take. Even Vegas doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with these games as Pittsburgh remains a touchdown favorite while the Cowboys are underdogs in Philadelphia vs the Eagles.
Other spreads that are affected by playoff scenarios are the New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins who are big favorites. Both teams have already stamped their tickets to the playoffs but the Dolphins are stuck in the wild card and already playing without their starting quarterback while the Pats need to win to ensure a top seed in the AFC - meaning home field advantage throughout. Our spread is much lower than the 9.5 but considering Miami is playing for nothing at this point and already looking froward to the playoffs there’s no point in messing around here.
Another line that’s greatly affected by the playoff hunt is the New York Giants +8 at Washington Redskins. The Skins can get in the post season with a win and Detroit Lions loss, which is very possible since Detroit will face off against the Packers in a de facto NFC North championship game.
A game that isn’t affected by the playoff race but still has outside factors making our spreads inaccurate is the New York Jets as 6 point underdogs at home to the Buffalo Bills. If the Jets start Ryan Fitzpatrick and show up motivated against former coach Rex Ryan then this might be enticing but since the Jets might be starting Christian Hackenberg who’ll be active for the first time all season this week we suggested staying far away.
That’s about all the news and notes on the week, we apologize in advance if we forgot anything but this week is so crazy we almost assume something will get lost in the shuffle.