National Football League

How To Win $100,000 In Week 17

December 29, 2020

By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports betting analyst

Depending on your outlook on life — is this glass half-full or half-empty? — Week 17 is one of the best to gamble on, or one of the worst.

Underdogs are usually the play, primarily for this reason: The conventional wisdom saying teams that "need to win" are somehow more incentived to beat a team that has "nothing to play for."

Take last weekend. Arizona needed a victory over San Francisco to get to the playoffs. The 49ers' season was over. The Niners were down to their third-string QB. Naturally, Arizona lost.

And in Washington, Carolina had nothing to play for. Washington needed a win to claim the NFC East title. Of course, the Panthers led wire-to-wire.

Keep that in mind before making your Week 17 picks in the FOX Bet Super 6 contest, where $100,000 is on the line if you can correctly predict the outcomes of all six games on the final weekend.

Let's dig in to the Super 6 slate (all odds via FOX Bet):

Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at New York Giants:

The Cowboys have won the last seven in this series, including the earlier meeting this year, the game in which Dak Prescott’s season ended. The once-proud Giants franchise has fallen on hard times, suffering 10-plus losses for the fourth straight season, and sixth time in seven years. Since they were in first place after a stunning Week 13 upset of Seattle, the Giants have lost three in a row. The offense has been anemic down the stretch, whether it’s Colt McCoy or Daniel Jones under center: 19 points, followed by 17, seven, six and 13.

The winner of this can win the division with a Washington loss to Philadelphia. Dallas has won its last three games by not making mistakes. The Cowboys had at least one turnover in 11 of their first 12 games; they have just one turnover total in the last three weeks, while collecting 10 takeaways. Yes, those last three games came against backup QBs, but that’s the level Jones has played at this season. THE PICK: Cowboys by 4-6.

Atlanta Falcons (+6.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Falcons are just 4-11, but their fight should be applauded — they only have a minus-1 point differential. Close games continue to be their bugaboo: Atlanta is 0-7 in games decided by five points or fewer. That could bode well for next season, as close game results are heavily based on a lucky bounce, and tend to flip year-to-year.

This matchup is curious because Tampa Bay needs a win (or a Rams loss to Arizona) to maintain the fifth seed, which would mean a date with the division winner with the worst record. That’s the NFC East. The Bucs would certainly be heavy favorites against that division winner in the first round. The Falcons will play hard, just like they did against Tampa two weeks ago, when they led 17-0 at halftime. But ultimately the Bucs win a close one. THE PICK: Bucs by 1-3.

Minnesota Vikings (-7) at Detroit Lions:

The Vikings got humiliated Christmas Day in New Orleans, giving up 52 points in a game their coach Mike Zimmer said was the "worst defense he has ever had." Minnesota is getting pushed around in the trenches, but the Lions are not a team prepared to do that.

Given the injuries to the Lions, and the potential for Matt Stafford to sit out the season finale — he has suffered ankle, hand and rib injuries in 2020 — this feels like a spot where the Vikings take out some frustration on a young, beat-up Detroit defense that has given up 30-plus points in five straight games, including allowing 40-plus three times. THE PICK: Vikings by 10-12

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills:

The Dolphins' Brian Flores might win the Coach of the Year award and at the same time be going into the playoffs with a QB controversy. The Bills haven’t seen Tua Tagovailoa up close, as they beat Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 2. There’s a chance the Dolphins could play the Bills in the first round of the playoffs.

The vaunted Miami defense was torched by Josh Allen in the earlier meeting (415 yards, 4 TDs), but Miami cornerback Byron Jones left injured early in the first quarter. The Bills have virtually nothing to play for and are primed for a potential Super Bowl run. They might rest starters at halftime or earlier. THE PICK: Dolphins by 4-6.

Cleveland Browns (-10) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Mike Tomlin made the decision Tuesday morning: Ben Roethlisberger will not play in Week 17 at Cleveland. Roethlisberger, who is coming off elbow surgery and struggled for much of the 2020 season, will be replaced by Mason Rudolph. What’s unclear is who else is sitting for the Steelers. Let’s assume Defensive Player of the Year candidate TJ Watt is not going to play much, and the same goes for Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerback Joe Haden.

So, the Browns are the side here, but how convincing of a win will it be? Cleveland was down two linebackers, four receivers and two offensive linemen against the Jets. How many will return? The Browns need a win to get in the playoffs, so expect coach Kevin Stefanski to empty the playbook. THE PICK: Browns by 4-6.

Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Chicago Bears:

All the pressure is on Mitchell Trubisky and the surging Bears, who have scored 30-plus points in four straight games for the first time in more than 50 years. Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy have taken down the for-sale signs in their front yards. But the recent success has come against bottom-tier defenses.

The Packers have an elite offense that should once again find success against an overrated defense. The Packers led 27-3 and 41-10 in the earlier meeting with Chicago before garbage time fourth-quarter scores made the Bears look competent. A Green Bay win secures home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs and a first-round bye. The Packers haven’t lost a playoff home game since January 2014, so they will be motivated to secure that edge. THE PICK: Packers by 7-9.

Make your Week 17 picks in the FOX Bet Super 6 contest, where $100,000 is on the line if you can correctly predict the outcomes of all six games on the NFL's final weekend.


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