The final week of the regular season is the most difficult to find value in, which is why James Scully is delivering a late Christmas present with his Week 17 NFL free picks! Enjoy and happy holidays from all of us here at BetAmerica!
*ATS (Against the Spread) / SU (Straight Up)
* PK indicates pick
*home team in caps
Cleveland Browns +6 vs Baltimore Ravens
(Sunday 1 p.m. ET)
Cleveland (+6) turned season around once Hue Jackson was fired, going 5-2 SU in seven games under Gregg Williams, and have really made a statement of late winning three straight. I like them in this role Sunday, looking to play spoiler against a heavy favorite facing a probable letdown.
With an outstanding defense and improving QB play, Baltimore has proven to be a terrific underdog (4-0 ATS). But you don’t want to be laying many points with the Ravens. After getting up for and dropping a tough OT game at KC on Dec. 9, Baltimore was sluggish at times and failed to cover as a home favorite versus Tampa Bay two weeks ago. They’ve been an awful 1-5 ATS in last six when favored.
The NFL can be a roller-coaster ride for teams. After winning at K.C., the Chargers simply could not bring the same energy and played their worst game of season losing 22-10 to Baltimore last week. Ravens put it all together offensively with their best offensive showing in the difficult road setting, but it will be no surprise to see a drop-off following such a huge emotional victory.
Baltimore hasn’t been a dependable home team from a betting perspective this season, 1-4 ATS last five, and Cleveland 4-1 ATS in last five when not favored. Browns offense has been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, with RBs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr. making a positive impact and Baker Mayfield throwing six TDs and only one interception the last three games, and Cleveland ranked 11th in defensive efficiency.
Cleveland playing with so much confidence and Williams (among the best defense coordinators in the business) can devise schemes to slow down Baltimore’s ground game. Browns motivated to finish the year with a winning record (8-7-1) and complete an amazing turnaround season for a once-hapless franchise. They’ve got a chance to win straight up and I love the points with Cleveland!
Week 17 NFL Free Picks – Bet Cleveland +6 over Baltimore!
Dallas Cowboys +6 vs New York Giants
(Sunday 1 p.m. ET)
New York Giants (-6) came stumbling out of the blocks for new coach Pat Shurmur, losing seven of the first eight games, but G-Men have turned things around in second half of season by winning four of the last seven games. And they’ve been profitable for bettors, recording a 5-1-1 ATS mark in the last seven contests.
Let’s go to the well one final time with the Giants, who are more than capable of exploiting Dallas’ back-ups. Cowboys have nothing to play for and will treat Sunday like an exhibition game; they just want to get back to Dallas with no injuries before the playoffs begin next week.
Eli Manning exits an excellent outing versus a good Indianapolis defense, completing 25-of-33 passes for 309 yards, and Sunday’s game will be key for outstanding RB Saquon Barkley, who needs a strong showing to bolster his Rookie of the Year chances after failing to gain 100 yards from scrimmage the last two weeks.
Giants enter 3-0 ATS in last three home meetings against Dallas and the offense has averaged 31 points per game in the last five versus NFC competition. Barkley needs 114 yards to become only the third rookie ever with 2,000 yards from scrimmage and can establish a new record by a rookie running back with two pass completions. Look for him to reach both marks as the Giants roll to an easy cover!
Week 17 NFL Free Picks – Bet New York Giants -6 over Dallas!
Miami Dolphins +3.5 vs Buffalo Bills
(Sunday 1 p.m. ET)
Buffalo (-3.5) will finish the year strong against woeful Dolphins, who are expected to part ways with injury-prone and ineffective QB Ryan Tannehill in postseason.
Bills dominated Miami statistically earlier this month on the road, putting up 198 rushing yards as they outgained the Fish by a 415-175 margin, but lost a close one when dropping a would-be TD pass in the end zone. Dolphins have gone into the tank since then but Bills still have plenty of fight behind one of the league’s top-ranked defenses, winning three of the last six games and forcing three turnovers at New England last week as they recorded a back-door cover.
Miami 1-5 ATS in last six road games and can’t stop anybody defensively, allowing one-dimensional Jacksonville to rush for 126 yards in an ugly 17-7 home loss last week. Jags nearly had more passing yards than impotent Dolphin offense, which failed to gain 200 yards for the second consecutive week, and Miami now faces the NFL’s #1-ranked pass defense with little ability to move the ball on the ground.
Well-coached Buffalo will control the clock and dominate the scoreboard this time, take the Bills!
Week 17 NFL Free Picks – Bet Buffalo -3.5 over Miami!
New York Jets +13.5 vs New England Patriots
(Sunday 1 p.m. ET)
New England must win to earn first-round bye but Tom Brady dealing with a sore knee and can’t move laterally. Patriots left plenty points on the field last week, scoring up only 24 when they could’ve reached 50 against a Buffalo team completely lacking an offense, and not laying double-digits against the New York Jets (+13.5), who are averaging 29 points per game over the last three weeks.
Despite losing eight of nine, Jets have played much better since Sam Darnold returned from injury in Week 14. The offense failed to score more than 22 points for six straight games without the rookie QB, including 13 or less on four occasions, and Darnold immediately brought a spark when re-entered into the line-up, tossing six TDs and only 1 TDs as New York suddenly became competitive. He exits the best game of his career, throwing for 341 yards against Green Bay, and Robby Anderson developing into a big-time talent at WR with 16 receptions and 236 receiving yards over the last two weeks.
New York has lost the last three games by an average of 5.6 points (2-0 ATS in last two road games) and eight of the last 10 meetings between these teams have been decided by 14 points or less. Jets 7-3-1 ATS in last 11 versus Pats.
New England used to be good laying double-digits (15-4 ATS) but that was before the offense became pedestrian. Pats enter on 0-3 ATS slide, scoring a total of 16 points in the second half over the last three games, and they’ve become dependent on the ground game because the offensive line struggles to protect Brady. Losing the only deep threat (Gordon) was a blow and the Patriots have looked old and slow on both sides of the ball during the second half of the season.
Not expecting any fireworks as the Patriots look to grind out another win and improving Jets offense has appeal with near two-TD spread, give me the points!
Week 17 NFL Free Picks – Bet New York Jets +13.5 over New England!
San Francisco 49ers +10 vs Los Angeles Rams
(Sunday 4:25 p.m. ET)
Los Angeles (-10) can secure a first-round bye with a win. And perhaps more importantly, Rams can use a good tune-up for the playoffs.
Consecutive late-season losses cost L.A. home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the offense tailed off after a thrilling 54-51 win over Kansas City in Week 11. Once a MVP candidate, Jeff Goff struggled over three straight games (Lions-Bears-Eagles), throwing six interceptions and only one TD, and clearly felt the midseason loss of WR Carson Kupp. Todd Gurley has also been sidelined with soreness in his knee but the top RB is expected to play this weekend after a three-week absence.
The run defense declined in recent months as opponents became able to run the ball straight up the middle successfully, with the Rams tied for last in the league allowing 5.0 yards per game, but L.A. played better last week, outrushing Arizona 269-104. I liked how they shut down a woeful offense and the Rams will benefit from another strong showing before stepping up in the postseason.
San Francisco extremely limited, gaining only 49 rushing yards last week, and back-up RB Matt Breida left the second straight game with a leg injury. Third-string Jeff Wilson isn’t much of a threat and injuries have wreaked havoc on both sides of the ball, with multiple defensive backs going down in recent weeks.
Niners don’t force turnovers (only two interceptions all season) and will give the ball away, ranking last by a wide margin with a -21 turnover differential. The don’t score many points, averaging only 17 per game over last six games, and are 0-3 ATS in last three away games (2-5 ATS season). And after playing three straight at home, I can’t envision San Fran being up for a meaningless season-finale.
Rams won by 29 earlier this season and will look to carry momentum into the playoffs with another big win, lay the points!
Week 17 NFL Free Picks – Bet Los Angeles Rams -10 over San Francisco!
James Scully is a professional handicapper who hails from the great state of Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesScully.