Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Rather amazingly, the NFL is going to be able to complete its full regular season during a coronavirus pandemic, something that Major League Baseball, the NBA or NHL couldn’t do. Week 17 is upon us, meaning every game is played Sunday and is an intradivisional matchup.
Some spreads will look a bit unusual this week where perhaps an inferior team is favored over a clearly better one. That’s because some playoff-bound teams have nothing to play for and likely will rest starters. For example, when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City has wrapped up the top seed in the AFC, and Coach Andy Reid already has acknowledged he’s going to rest some key guys – a list that starts with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. It concludes a fabulous season for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who should win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Los Angeles is a 3.5-point favorite despite winning just once in the past 13 in the series.
The top seed in the NFC is up for grabs when the Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears. Green Bay gets home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory, and Aaron Rodgers is now the favorite to win a third career regular-season MVP Award. Chicago has turned its season around on a three-game winning streak and will be a Wild-Card team with a victory. The Packers are -5.5 and have covered eight of their past 10 in Chicago.
Only twice in NFL history has an 11-win team missed the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts could be the third. The Colts almost surely will get to 11 victories Sunday as they are 14-point favorites over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, but Indy has to have at least one other AFC playoff-relevant game go its way to reach the postseason. The Jags, meanwhile, already have wrapped up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the chance to select expected franchise-altering quarterback Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. Jacksonville has covered nine of the past 11 in this series and upset the Colts in Week 1.
The Cleveland Browns need a victory to earn their first playoff spot since 2002 as they host the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland probably will get that victory as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will rest most of his starters, including QB Ben Roethlisberger. That has shot the spread up to Browns -9, but Cleveland is 0-7 ATS in its past seven games against AFC North foes.
A playoff spot is guaranteed to the winner of Sunday’s Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams matchup, and the Rams could still get in with a loss but the Cardinals can’t. Arizona will catch a major break in that Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff is expected to miss the game due to thumb surgery as will top receiver Cooper Kupp due to COVID. The Rams would have been favored if healthy but are 3-point underdogs. They have won the past seven in the series (6-0-1 ATS).