NFL Betting Odds: Week 17 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
It's our last Line Movements & Last-Minute News story for the 2018 regular season, although obviously things are just getting started in a way NFL wise with the playoffs on tap. We'll have you more than covered through the first Sunday in February here at Doc's.
Before we get to some key games this week, let's check on some updated Bovada odds for individual honors. The MVP race is clearly over as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the -230 favorite to win the honors in his first year as a starter. It's a no-brainer as Mahomes will become only the third player in NFL history to have a 5,000-yard, 50-TD season.
Well, Mahomes does need 184 yards and two scores Sunday vs. Oakland to reach those totals, but it's a safe bet. Will he win the passing yardage title? Mahomes is even money vs. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (-140), who has a 4,842-4,816 lead and Big Ben also plays in a game that matters Sunday vs. Cincinnati. The Bengals are worse against the pass than the Raiders are.
I'm not sure if any player has led the NFL in passing yards and picks in the same year, but Big Ben is No. 1 in interceptions with the Jets Sam Darnold in throwing 15 picks. Darnold, whose Jets are in New England, is -115 to lead the league and Big Ben -105.
We talked about NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in our Colts-Titans preview this week , with Indy linebacker Darius Leonard the -155 favorite over Chargers safety Derwin James (+170). Leonard, who leads the league in tackles, is more than deserving.
The Offensive Rookie race could come down to Sunday. Giants running back Saquon Barkley is -130 and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield -110 to win it. Both have a great case. Barkley is 114 scrimmage yards from becoming the third rookie in league history with 2,000 in a season, joining future Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (1983) and Edgerrin James (1999). Both won Offensive Rookie of the Year. Mayfield didn't start until Week 3 but has 24 TD passes. Only Peyton Manning with 26 in 1998 had more passing TDs as a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era. Some mocked the Browns for taking the too-short Mayfield at No. 1 overall, but they appear to have gotten it right.
There are no props as of this writing on the rushing yardage or receiving yardage totals as those races look over for the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott and Falcons' Julio Jones, respectively. It would be the second such title for both.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 17.
Cowboys at Giants ( -6, 41.5): No real line shift here, but I have to say I don't understand what Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones is doing. In 2016 when the Cowboys had their playoff seeding locked in Week 17, they rested all their key guys in a meaningless game. Dallas is the NFC's No. 4 seed regardless of what happens here, so you HAVE to rest your starters for next weekend. Yet as of now, Jones says they will go. The owner says he doesn't want to go into the postseason off a terrible offensive effort in a Week 16 win over Tampa Bay in which the Cowboys had only 232 yards. Jones did add that players who won't play "are going to be pretty obvious" as in those even a bit banged up. So, you won't see All-Pro guard Zack Martin, for example. I'm still skeptical the starters play more than a half. Meanwhile, it looks as if the Giants will not have Odell Beckham Jr. again. No shock. And they will start Eli Manning, which makes zero sense. Why don't you see what rookie Kyle Lauletta has? Reportedly, Manning has shown enough the past two weeks to likely be brought back in 2019. The Giants make me laugh.
Bengals at Steelers (-14.5, 45.5): This was as high as Steelers -16.5 and the total at 47.5. I want to bring up something I didn't think about and which probably won't matter: A tie game. That would make the Steelers 8-6-2. The NFL treats a tie as half a win and half a loss, so an 8-6-2 record really would be 9-7. Alas, even a tie wouldn't get the Steelers the AFC North title unless Baltimore loses at home to Cleveland. If the Ravens win (or tie), they take the division. But if the Ravens lose to finish 9-7, that's the same as 8-6-2, and Pittsburgh would win the tiebreaker via best division record. This scenario is also relevant for the final NFC wild-card spot. If the Vikings tie the Bears to finish at 8-6-2, they would get that spot over the 9-7 Eagles (assuming Philly wins in Washington) because of a head-to-head win. Pittsburgh is expecting back starting running back James Conner this week. He missed the past three with a high-ankle sprain but is practicing in full.
Cardinals at Seahawks (-13.5, 38.5): Shocked this opened so high and hasn't dropped, but the total has two points. If you coached an NFL team, would you care if you were the No. 5 or No. 6 seed? Getting the No. 5 would mean a trip to Dallas, and the No. 6 to Chicago (probably). Just for not having to play in the elements of the Windy City in January, you probably pick Dallas. Still, I'm not sure why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is planning to play his starters despite a wild-card spot being clinched. If they win, they are headed to Dallas. If Seattle loses and Minnesota wins in Chicago, the Seahawks head to the Windy City. "I think anytime that you back off you stand the risk of not being able to get back on," Carroll said of playing his guys in Week 17. He also mentioned caution with injured guys, though. I suppose there's the outside chance a No. 5 seed could host the NFC title game if it and the No. 6 both make it. The Cardinals will get the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with a loss. You already hear rumors they might trade that if some team is desperate for a QB because Arizona already has a young one in Josh Rosen. Apparently, this will also be the last game as coach for Steve Wilks, who will be one-and-done. Bovada has a prop on whether Wilks will be the 2019 coach: no is -550 with yes at +325.
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