NFL Betting Predictions: Week 17 Opening Line Report and Picks
We are already to the final week of the 2019 regular season (all games on Sunday). Here's hoping these Opening Line Report stories were of some betting value to you this year, and God-willing we will be back to do them again for 2020. That's not to say our work is done for this football season, of course, as Doc's will have everything NFL covered all the way through the Super Bowl.
My kudos to you if you bet Baltimore's Lamar Jackson at around the +5000 he was to win NFL MVP back in the preseason. Jackson is a lock to be named the MVP the night before the Super Bowl, the seventh straight quarterback to win the award and first-ever Raven to do so. Seems laughable now, but Jackson was priced the same as Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky and way behind guys like Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Jared Goff and Saquon Barkley, to name just a few.
I definitely didn't see this type of jump coming for Jackson; remember how bad he was in the Ravens' playoff loss last season to the Chargers? You won't see Jackson take the field in Week 17 against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers as the Ravens have wrapped up the AFC's top seed, so no way John Harbaugh risks his franchise player or most other starters. That obviously affected the Week 17 spread in a big way.
Could we see the first receiver in league history with 150 catches? Saints superstar Michael Thomas in Week 16 broke the single-season receptions record of 143 by Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts in 2002. Thomas has 145 catches, leading the NFL by a mile, and is also going to win the receiving yardage title as he's way ahead with 1,688. Frankly, Thomas should get some MVP votes, but no receiver has ever won that.
The passing yardage crown will apparently be won Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston (4,908), unless he sits Week 17. Dallas' Dak Prescott (4,599) definitely will be playing vs. Washington as Dallas must win to have any playoff shot (also need Eagles loss at Giants) but only has a chance if Winston doesn't play. Will Sunday vs. Atlanta be Winston's last game with the Bucs? His contract is up. Reports are the team slaps the franchise tag on him but doesn't try for a long-term deal because Winston is still such a turnover-machine. He had four more picks in last Saturday's loss to Houston. Prescott was supposed to get an extension either before this season or during it, but apparently his camp and Jerry Jones couldn't get it done. Prescott now might become the NFL's first $40 million a season player.
Finally, the rushing crown probably goes to Cleveland's Nick Chubb (1,453), but Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (1,361) could in theory catch Chubb with a huge Week 17. McCaffrey has been a fantasy superstar this year and is likely going to become the highest-paid running back in NFL history this offseason. The Panthers also have to find a head coach, maybe a general manager and figure out what to do with Cam Newton.
Carolina is +13 at home vs. New Orleans, which still has a first-round bye to play for. Here are some other Week 17 early lines that caught my eye. We will not touch on two marquee matchups in 49ers-Seahawks and Titans-Texans because we will preview those games individually.
Browns at Bengals (+2.5, 45.5): What a dumpster fire the Browns were this season. It's now abundantly clear that GM John Dorsey screwed up by making Freddie Kitchens a first-time head coach as the inmates are running the asylum in Cleveland right now. I don't see how Kitchens is back, and the Browns could trade Odell Beckham Jr. as well with how unhappy he is. The Giants have hugely won that trade thus far. As for the Bengals, the next time they take the field I'm presuming that Joe Burrow will be their quarterback. Cincinnati has earned the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and it would stun everyone if the Bengals didn't take the Heisman Trophy winner from LSU. Even though the Bengals are terrible, Burrow wants to play there because he's an Ohio boy. In 2014, he won the Ohio Mr. Football Award and Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year Award as a senior. Cleveland goes for the season sweep as it beat Cincinnati 27-19 in Week 14 despite Baker Mayfield competing just 11 of 24 for 192 yards with two picks. Joe Mixon had 146 yards rushing and a score for the Bengals. Pick: Bengals.
Raiders at Broncos (-4, 42): The 7-8 Raiders could still make the playoffs, believe it or not, but they need a victory as well as a Steelers loss to the Ravens, a Titans loss to the Texans and a Colts win against the Jaguars. It's the last time we will say "Oakland" Raiders for the foreseeable future with the Silver & Black off to Las Vegas. Most likely, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The No. 21 overall pick (the pick the Raiders got from Chicago in the Khalil Mack 2018 trade) has rushed for 1,150 yards and seven scores. He may not play here, though, as Jacobs missed Week 16 against the Chargers with a shoulder injury. Denver definitely needs to address its offense this offseason, although not necessarily quarterback. Second-round pick Drew Lock seems to have shown enough late in the season (3-1 record as starter) after coming off injured reserve to be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2020 job. Not clear yet if John Elway will bring back veteran QB Joe Flacco, who was largely terrible before going down injured. Pick: Broncos.
Chargers at Chiefs (-7, 48): Is this it for Philip Rivers in a Chargers uniform? He definitely has looked his age (38) at times this season with 18 interceptions and five games with at least two. That's not to say Rivers can't play as he has thrown for 4,334 yards and 21 touchdowns, but the Bolts might want to start fresh moving to their new stadium with the Rams. Shoot, maybe Rivers wants to retire to help his wife with their nine kids. Then again, he may need the money! The Bolts could offer him a one-year deal to mentor a quarterback they seem likely to draft in Round 1 next April. Let's go ahead and make Anthony Lynn an early favorite to be first coach fired in 2020 as well. Not out of the question he doesn't survive this year. Kansas City still has a shot at getting a first-round bye but not a very good one. The Chiefs, who won easily in Chicago on Sunday night, would need a win here and a very unlikely Patriots loss at home to Miami to get the second seed. I wonder if Andy Reid will just concede that New England will win and rest Patrick Mahomes and some other banged-up starters? The Chiefs were mostly outplayed by the Chargers Week 11 in Mexico City, but K.C. won 24-17 because it picked off Rivers four times. Pick: Chiefs if Mahomes plays as Bolts have quit on season.
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