NFL Odds: Three Betting Favorites To Avoid In Week 17

Be careful out there


Dec 27, 2022

At first glance, Week 17 in the NFL looks like it has no shortage of land mines.

Picking winners in the final weeks of the regular season is typically precarious. That’s in large part due to motivation. Eliminated teams with seemingly nothing to play for are susceptible to falling apart and playing out the string. Conversely, some teams embrace the role of spoiler, looking to gain momentum on the way into the offseason by knocking off a longtime rival clinging to playoff hopes.

It’s the latter especially that makes laying the points with favorites worth second-guessing. There also are going to be playoff-bound teams that are fine with dialing back the game plan and workloads ahead of what they hope is a deep postseason run.

With all that in mind, here are three favorites probably worth avoiding in the NFL’s penultimate regular-season slate.

(-2.5) New England Dolphins at Miami Dolphins
Are we sure Tua Tagovailoa is worth four points to the spread? The Dolphins opened as 1.5-point favorites but have since flipped to underdogs in wake of the news that Tagovailoa is yet again in concussion protocol. Maybe he gets out in time for Sunday, but if he can’t go, Teddy Bridgewater is a suitable one-week replacement. Tagovailoa had been brutal lately, completing just 52.6% of his passes with five interceptions over his last four games. Bridgewater can’t match the ceiling, but he typically has been pretty careful with the football, which is all he really needs to do in this one. It’s not like the Patriots’ offense is going to inspire a whole lot of fear in a defense. New England can’t get out of its own way and has been especially bad in specialty situations like third down and the red zone. The Patriots have by far the worst red-zone offense in the NFL while the Dolphins’ defense shored that up the last few weeks, ranking tied for seventh in red-zone defense over its last three games. It’s hard to imagine, but we’re at a point where it’s difficult to trust the Patriots laying points at home pretty much against anyone.

(-3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers
The betting market has made it clear where it stands on this one, and that’s running away from the stuck-in-neutral Bucs. This game opened at Tampa Bay -5.5 which is borderline egregious and is already down to the field goal, but it’s still going to be hard to lay the points with Tampa Bay. The Bucs’ biggest advantage, obviously, is Tom Brady. But he’s amid a slump the likes of which we’ve rarely ever seen in his storied career. Brady threw seven interceptions in his last for games with a passer rating of just 77.3 in that span. The Bucs were outscored by 35 points in those four games and somehow won two. To their credit, they’re still finding ways to scrape together wins, but it’s completely unreliable and unsustainable the way they have done it. The Panthers, meanwhile, have won three of four with a suddenly resurgent Sam Darnold at the controls of an offense that has been running wild on teams over the last month.

(-3) Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are wildly unimpressive, at least as far as 12-3 teams go. Their plus-5 point differential for the season is 10th in the league and is only a few touchdowns better than the Packers, who are five games back. Green Bay has a little momentum on its side, too, so you add it all up, and you can see how the Packers might be favored here. But as much as we all want to discredit the Vikings for not being as good as their record says, they do find ways to win games. The Packers, on the other hand, have spent most of the NFL season finding ways to lose games. And even when they win, like last weekend in Miami, it’s not overly impressive. The Packers needed a few boneheaded plays from the Dolphins to have a chance to win that game and they just barely did that. Green Bay is hard to trust, making it difficult to want to lay points against a 12-win team regardless of the situation.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
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