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FOX Sports Betting Analyst
The NFL playoff picture is shaping up, and Week 17 will be critical for a few teams fighting for their postseason lives.
The fun is really getting started.
There are a few games on this weekend’s slate that I’m looking forward to making some wagers on. So let’s dive into my best bets for NFL Week 17 that will hopefully all win us some cash (odds via FOX Bet).
‘These Cowboys will make the NFC Championship game. Book it’ – Skip Bayless
Skip Bayless has a reminder to NFL and Dallas Cowboys fans/haters: ‘They will make the NFC Championship game. Book it.’
Cowboys at Titans (8:15 p.m. ET Thursday, Prime Video)
The Dallas Cowboys are traveling to Tennessee to play a Titans team that is reeling. The Titans started 7-3 but have lost five straight. Now, they’re in danger of losing the AFC South since the Jacksonville Jaguars are surging. The Titans are also banged up, and they’ve lost impact players on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been replaced with rookie Malik Willis, and it’s also likely Derrick Henry is out on Thursday. The result of this game does not matter for the division since the Titans and Jaguars play each other in Week 18. So that will affect who coaches decide to play in this matchup.
Considering all of this, I could easily make a case to take the Cowboys laying 13.5 points, but I do not trust Dallas to cover a double-digit number on the road. However, I do like the Titans Under 13 total points with Willis at quarterback and Henry sitting on the bench.
Dallas has one of the league’s top defenses, and Malik struggles to play quarterback at even an average level right now. He has not thrown for 100 yards in any of the three games that he has started. In those games, the Titans put up 14 points once and 17 points twice. Two of those games were against the Texans and the other against the Chiefs’ porous defense.
The Cowboys have a real defense. They will shut down Malik Willis.
PICK: Titans team total Under 13 points scored at FOX Bet
Broncos at Chiefs (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)
There will be no dead-cat bounce for the Broncos after the firing of head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Hackett & Co. got embarrassed against the Rams on Sunday, looking lifeless in a 51-14 blowout loss. The team is broken. Russell Wilson is broken. The offensive line dislikes him. His receivers show open contempt for him on the field. The defense appears to have thrown in the towel, which is not surprising because they’ve attempted to carry this team for months. A new voice in the room is not going to change much this weekend.
The Broncos players are ready for 2023 to begin.
The Chiefs are normally awful at covering large points spreads under Andy Reid. They seem to care less about these games on offense, not being as creative or pushing the ball down the field as often. And the defense — well, the defense allows opponents to rack up points and sometimes, very quickly. However, the Chiefs have scored two double-digit point spreads in the last month, both at home. They covered the Rams and Seahawks games. And there are a couple of reasons Kansas City will cover this game.
The Chiefs were up 27-0 against the Broncos in their first meeting just a few Sundays ago. The Broncos scored 21 straight points to scare the Chiefs but then, didn’t get closer than that. Mahomes & Co. will remember that first matchup against Denver, so they won’t take their foot off the gas this Sunday.
Also, the Broncos have given up on the season. I’ve been in their shoes. The players are just looking to escape without getting hurt, and the result of this game is meaningless to them. That’s another reason the Chiefs will win big.
I’ll take KC to cover this spread.
PICK: Chiefs (-12.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 12.5 points
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Saints at Eagles (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX)
It appears we’re getting the second take of Gardner Minshew under center for the Eagles this weekend with Jalen Hurts nursing a shoulder injury. The Eagles are facing a Saints team that’s still fighting for a playoff berth, and they are more feisty than they get credit for. I’m banking on the Saints defense to keep them in the game.
The Eagles scored 27 offensive points against the Cowboys on Christmas Eve, and the Dallas defense has better efficiency numbers than the Saints. However, the Saints defense doesn’t allow as many points as the Cowboys. They haven’t allowed more than 20 points since the middle of November. In this contest, they have an advantage that will limit the Eagles scoring output.
Philadelphia is without right tackle Lane Johnson, the best right tackle in the league. When he’s out of the lineup, it’s almost more noticeable than when the offense is missing Hurts. The Eagles offense grinded to a halt without No. 65 in the lineup against the Cowboys. N.O.’s Cam Jordan, one of the most underrated pass rushers of this generation, will be able to exploit his matchup over the Eagles right tackle. That matchup, alone, will cost the Eagles points.
I’m taking the Eagles to score under 26.5 points in this game
PICK: Eagles team total Under 26.5 points scored at FOX Bet
Browns at Commanders (1 p.m. ET Sunday, FOX)
I can’t believe I’m about to write this. I’m wagering on Carson Wentz this weekend. That makes me shiver in fear, but it’s absolutely the right play here.
The Browns — with their offense that just has not played well — have been eliminated from the playoffs. In the four games that Deshaun Watson has started since his return to action, the Browns scored six offensive points against the Texans, 10 against the Bengals, 13 against the Ravens and then just 10 against the Saints. There have been three games where Watson has thrown for 161 yards or fewer.
The Washington Commanders can play defense, ranking 11th in total defensive DVOA. And while they have an average pass defense, they have an excellent pass rush. I do not think the Browns will be able to score in this game.
The Commanders had to remove Taylor Heinicke from the offense. Heinicke is a limited thrower and plays more with instinct than with structure. He has been turnover-prone lately, and that is why the Commanders went back to Wentz.
Wentz has higher upside, and if he can eliminate some of the Y.O.L.O. plays, the offense can work.
I like the Commanders to cover here.
PICK: Commanders (-1.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 1.5 points
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Jaguars at Texans (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)
I’m going to fade the red-hot Jaguars visiting the Texans this weekend.
The Jaguars have won four of their last five and have put themselves in position to win the division after the Titans have collapsed down the stretch. Because the Titans and Jaguars share the same record and meet in Week 18, this game against the Texans does not matter at all. Win or lose on Sunday, and the Jags would still need to beat the Titans next weekend to win the division. I would imagine Doug Pederson coaches this game with that in the back of his mind. No injuries and nothing creative in the game plan.
The Texans were on the struggle bus for most of the season. They are bad and did not cover big spreads. However, it appears they’ve turned the corner a bit over the last three games. They had two close losses to the Cowboys and Chiefs, where they easily covered those games. They followed those tight contests with a win against the Titans on Christmas.
The Texans’ two-quarterback system is starting to generate more offense, and their defense has moved up to 20th in efficiency.
I like the Texans to cover this division game.
PICK: Texans (+4 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 4 points (or win outright)
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Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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