NFL expert Tom Selwyn (@Tom_Selwyn) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available from Sunday's Week 17.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills | Sunday 30th December 2018, 18:00
Week 17 can always be a bit of a minefield when it comes to betting, with a number of teams already having nothing to play for and some potentially having nothing midway through their games if things fall in certain ways.
A division game though? These are always played tough. The Bills and the Dolphins may both be eliminated from play-off contention, but they will still be giving their all in this one I’m sure. I’m struggling to see why Buffalo are such heavy favourites though.
Miami may be coming off a disappointing home loss, and the line could certainly be put down an overreaction to that, but they are at the very least the even of the Bills and I’ll be backing the Dolphins +5.5 to start at evens with Marathon.
Buffalo has been playing better of late, there’s no doubt about it, but they are averaging just 15.1 points a game and are somehow expected to cover over a third of that?! It doesn’t add up.
Yes, the Bills defence is pretty good, ranking 1st against the pass and 2nd overall, but they were run over to the tune of 275 yards and 2 TDs by New England last week. You have to expect that Dolphins coach Adam Gase will look to do the same.
It’s tough to trust this Miami offense given how up and down they’ve been this season, but Josh Allen and the Bills have such a predictable offense (Allen taking off with the ball on passing plays or Allen running the ball on designed QB run plays) that they really shouldn’t be this favoured.
They may win, sure, but I can just see another 14-13 type win that they had over the Lions. Yikes.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers | Sunday 30th December 2018, 21:25
After last week’s crushing loss in New Orleans (and a great game it was, despite the officiating..) the Steelers need to take care of business against the Bengals and get a little help from the Browns to make the play-offs. It’s crazy to think a team as talented as Pittsburgh could miss the play-offs, but they’d have no-one to blame but themselves.
They should easily hold up their end of the bargain against Cincinnati though – the Bengals have been decimated by injury and are a shell of the team that looked quite good early on in the season.
Among others they’ll be without Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and now Tyler Boyd as well. That’s 3 of their top 4 skill position players and the other, RB Joe Mixon, I can’t see having much success against Pittsburgh’s 6th ranked run defence (94.2 yards a game) despite his talent.
The Steelers really should win this comfortably so I’ll be backing them to lead after every quarter and, because quite frankly they should do, I’ll also be having a little on them winning every quarter too.
Pittsburgh has the league’s 4th ranked offense in terms of yards and sits at 6th for points scored in the first quarter at home with 7.7 a game. The Bengals, shorn of nearly all their best players, are getting worse each week, generating just 209 total yards against Cleveland last week.
To put this in some better perspective, the Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger, one of the best OLs, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown and James Conner (although the latter two are questionable). The Bengals have Joe Mixon. That’s not a fair fight in my book.
The Steelers may well win this and still end up on the outside looking in, but if they don’t comfortably beat this Bengals team they probably don’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers | Sunday 30th December 2018, 18:00
Sticking with the divisional theme for my final pick as the Lions travel to Green Bay.
It’s been a season to forget for the Packers, but Aaron Rodgers batted away questions about him sitting the final couple of games after their play-off hopes were extinguished in Chicago. He promptly put up 44 against the Jets in a rousing comeback. I’m thinking there’ll be more of the same this week and so will be backing the Packers -7.5 over the Lions.
Over the last three games, Green Bay has averaged 31.7 points a game (best in the league over that span) whereas Detroit has managed just 13 a game. That’s a huge difference and despite Green Bay’s defence having looked suspect of late, this Detroit team really doesn’t look like it has the tools to take advantage. Kerryon Johnson is on IR, Golden Tate is in Philadelphia and the result is 22 points being their best total over the last nine games.
Despite what has very clearly been a down year for Rodgers and the Packers, they still put up the 9th best yardage total in the league and are capable of magic at any given moment, as evidenced by last week’s comeback win.
The Lions defence has performed admirably even though they’re handicapped by the offence, allowing Detroit to hang around in games they have no right to, but against Rodgers at Lambeau should be a step too far for them in my view.
Happy New Year to all! Here’s hoping for some great games to round off the regular season.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills – Miami Dolphins +5.5 handicap (1/1 Marathon)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh Steelers to lead after every quarter (10/11 Bet365)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh Steelers to win every quarter (6/1 Bet365)
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers – Green Bay Packers -7.5 handicap (13/14 Red Zone)