National Football League

Cutting Through The Chaos

December 30, 2020

By Geoff Schwartz
FOX Sports NFL analyst

Week 17 of the NFL season can be a miserable weekend to wager. However, there is plenty on the line Sunday, as entering the final weekend of the 2020 only one of the 14 playoff seeds is locked in.

With seven teams having already clinched postseason spots, another seven will be determined this weekend. And with that, I’ve found some teams worth wagering on this week (with all odds via FOX Bet).

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Miami Dolphins (+105 money line) at Buffalo Bills

With the Steelers' starters not playing Sunday against the Browns, this game becomes likely inconsequential for the Bills, while it’s a win-and-in for the Dolphins.

Buffalo owns the tie-breaker with Pittsburgh, and assuming the Steelers lose to Cleveland, the Bills outcome doesn’t matter – Buffalo will be the No. 2 seed.

By no means do I believe Miami is a good team with rookie Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, but with the need to win to get in, plus Buffalo’s indifference, the Dolphins should win this game.

Miami's hopes took a hit Thursday when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and was ruled out of Sunday's game. That means it will fall on the Dolphins defense and Tua to do just enough to win in Buffalo.

Houston Texans (+7.5) vs. Tennessee Titans

In the AFC, four teams vying for a playoff spot are all over a touchdown favorite. Three of the those teams are playing against backup quarterbacks. The fourth is going on the road to face Deshaun Watson.

If there was a team expected to win this weekend that could lose, it’s the Titans and their horrid defense. Tennessee is league-worst on third down and in sacks.

Not to mention, against teams above .500, the Titans are last in points allowed and yards per play. They don’t have a single redeeming quality and now have the task of limiting a red-hot Watson.

Watson is the forgotten superstar in the NFL because he plays for a terrible franchise that has no vision and will be searching for a new coach and general manager once the final weekend comes to a close.

The Texans traded away Watson’s best weapon, and they’ve dealt with numerous injuries – but that hasn’t stopped Watson from being elite this season.

Since Week 6 of this season, Watson ranks first in the NFL in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating. He has been outstanding, and now, he gets to carve up the Titans’ defense.

The biggest concern for wagering on Houston is its rushing defense, which can generously be described as putrid. Tennessee running back Derrick Henry has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of the last two meetings against the Texans. And, if you include the previous three matchups, Henry is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

I'd bet the Texans will sell out to stop Henry as he is only 233 yards away from 2,000 for the season.

In addition, Houston’s defense does not want to be embarrassed to finish the season. I’m hopeful they can do enough to slow down Henry while Watson tears the Titans defense apart.

On a related note ...

Deshaun Watson over 284.5 passing yards

In the first meeting between of these teams, Watson aired it out for 335 yards, and I expect a similar performance this weekend.

Los Angeles Chargers -3.5 (buy to -3 if possible) at Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid is well known for resting his starters in Week 17. I know this from first-hand experience, as I played on his first Chiefs team in 2013, and we entered Week 17 locked into the No. 5 seed. Reid sat all his players, and we lost in overtime to the Chargers.

In 2017, Reid rested the starters as well, and Patrick Mahomes got his first NFL start. The Chiefs won that game, but I’m chalking that up to playing a quarterback who was actually better than the starter. That will not be the case here.

The Chiefs will be starting Chad Henne at quarterback against a resurgent Chargers team that has won three straight after getting embarrassed by the Patriots.

I have a strong "no wagering" policy on Anthony Lynn for many reasons, but in this game, I feel comfortable because the Chiefs don't care. Even when they’ve had a stake in the matchup, they haven’t covered.

So, I’m going to roll with the Chargers to win, and I’ll eat the juice buying to 3.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) vs. New York Giants

These are two teams headed in opposite directions.

The Cowboys have won three in a row, while the Giants have three consecutive losses. Dallas is +51 in point differential, while New York is -47. The Cowboys are +9 in turnovers, while the Giants are -2.

Big D has a quarterback in Andy Dalton who’s hitting his stride after returning from a nasty concussion about two months ago. In the last three games, Dalton ranks fifth in passer rating and sits third in yards per attempt.

The offense is humming with him running the show.

While the Cowboys defense will never be mistaken for anything more than average, they have begun to show some life rushing the passer.

The last two weekends, their pressure rate has increased by more than 10 percent, which spells bad news for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who has been pressured the most of any quarterback this season.

And as we’ve seen, more pressure leads to more mistakes! I like the Cowboys in this spot.

Week 17 5-way Money Line Parlay @ +194 (Bet $100 to return $294)

Cleveland Browns (-450): If the Browns lose, they must disband the franchise. That’s how terrible this loss would be for them.

Baltimore Ravens (-650): The Ravens are rolling right now, arguably the second hottest team in the NFL behind Buffalo. They will dominate the Bengals.

Indianapolis Colts (-900): The Colts' fate is out of their hands, as they must win and hope for a loss from someone else to get into the playoffs.

The Jaguars have given up on 2020 and already have their eyes on Trevor Lawrence.

Green Bay Packers (-225): Win and the NFC runs through Lambeau Field. It’s the only home-field advantage in the playoffs without fans.

New Orleans Saints (-300): First, the Panthers aren’t good, and second, a Carolina win + GB loss = home field.

Enter the NFL Challenge contest on the FOX Super 6 app for free and you can win this week's $100,000 jackpot! Download now at foxsuper6.com!


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