The final week of the NFL regular season has arrived. In less than a week, 20 of the 32 NFL teams will be home watching the postseason, while 12 teams will start their trek toward the Super Bowl in February.
Many teams will change coaches or players or even both. Hundreds of players that suit up this weekend will not be suiting up for their current team next season.
Some of the teams already eliminated from the playoff hunt are broken in both spirit and body.
Injuries have taken their toll, poor play selection, poor player decisions and overall bad luck have some teams just counting the days until their season ends and they can go home for the winter.
These types of situations both odds makers and bettors like to avoid.
When there is doubt, bettors are better off passing on those teams who cause doubt in their minds about the team’s motivation.
This week teams like Buffalo, Tennessee, Oakland, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and St. Louis all could be considered as having a difficult time to put in a top-notch effort to cover a point spread or even win outright.
New Orleans, Philadelphia and Buffalo were all knocked out of playoff contention last Sunday, which makes figuring out their mindset for this weekend even more difficult.
Most sharp bettors will look to go with teams that still have something to play for. However, odds makers know that and because of that Houston, which has a long shot at a wildcard, and is starting its fourth quarterback is a favorite by 9.5 points against Jacksonville.
Big favorites, 7 points or higher, are not bad choices in the last week of the regular season. Since 1990, teams who were favored by 7 points or higher covered the number 55% of the team in the last weekend of the season. Those same teams are outright winners of those games since 1990, 85% of the time.
In games where both teams are out of playoff contention, the road team is tough to sell.
In games during Week 17 featuring two teams that are .500 or lower, the home teams are 62-27 SU and 51-38 ATS.
This according to Bovada and sportsbook.com is very prevalent the past five years as the home teams have posted 15-5 SU and 14-6 ATS records.
On Sunday, only two games fit the profile: Saints vs. Buccaneers and Bears vs. Vikings.
The Saints are favored by 3.5 points over the Bucs, but can anyone back New Orleans away from the Superdome with nothing on the line.
According to topbet and betonline, Week 17 is as tough to pick as Week 1 because of the uncertainty. In Week 1, no one is sure how teams will come out of the starting gate, while in Week 17 those teams with no postseason hope could pack it in for the season before the opening kickoff.