NFL Best Bets Week 17: Our Top 5 Picks including Cardinals vs Cowboys and Dolphins vs Titans

By Roy Burton   January 2, 2022 

NFL Best Bets Week 17: Our Top 5 Picks including Cardinals vs Cowboys and Dolphins vs Titans

One of the NFL’s strangest seasons continues in Week 17, only this time, this isn’t the last week of the regular season. COVID continues to wreak havoc on the NFL Odds and has left some teams scrambling to fill their depth chart. And with playoffs and draft positioning on the line in each of these games, there’s no telling how it’ll play out. 

Underdogs hold a 125-113-2 lead for the season. Away teams, particularly road underdogs, have been really good this season, posting a 79-61-2 mark so far (covering over 56 percent of the time). But Favorites continued their recent run against the spread success, covering in nine games last week. Favorites went 4-2 in games with a spread greater than a touchdown. 

Total points were up last week as well. The Over hit in nine games, marking the second time in three weeks that the Over hit more. The Under still holds a comfortable 131-108 lead on the year though, including hitting in 57.5 percent of non-overtime games this season (127-94).

Keep a close eye on player availability before placing any of your bets this week. Don’t miss the  NFL Week 17 Picks and Predictions piece that navigates through all of the Week 17 NFL lines.

Despite all the COVID uncertainty, the NFL Week 17 slate features a number of actionable lines and totals to bet this weekend. Here’s a look at five NFL best bets to follow for Week 17.  

NFL Best Bets Week 17

Game Bet
Dolphins at Titans Best Bets Over 39.5/-105 (PointsBet)
Broncos at Chargers Best Bets Under 45.5/-110 (DraftKings)
Texans at 49ers Best Bets Texans +12.5/-110 (Bovada)
Cardinals at Cowboys Best Bets Cardinals +5.5/+100 (FoxBet)
Browns at Steelers Best Bets Steelers Moneyline +155 (DraftKings)

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans

Best Bet: Over 39.5/-105 (PointsBet)

The Miami Dolphins play the Tennessee Titans in one of the biggest games of the NFL Week 17 slate. This game carries with it implications for not only the AFC South division race, but also the AFC Wild Card chase. Miami enters this one as one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of seven in a row. The Titans, meanwhile, rallied for a huge victory in Week 16 to keep themselves alive for the AFC’s top seed. 

The Dolphins (8-7, 8-7 ATS) became the only team in NFL history to have both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak in the same season. This sudden resurgence has come, in large part, thanks to the defense. The Dolphins went from one of the worst defensive units through the season’s first eight weeks, to the best over the last seven.

In their 7-0 stretch from Week 9 through Week 16, Miami’s defense ranks first in each of those categories, 4.3 yards per play, 10.7 points per game, and 13.5 percent sacks per attempt. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has led the offense to an average of 23.9 points per game over that stretch.

The Titans (10-5, 9-6 ATS) scored an important come-from-behind victory last week to stem the tide of their recent struggles. Following an 8-2 start to the season, Tennessee’s lost three of their last five. But much of that has come because of injuries and player unavailability. 

Tennessee hasn’t scored more than 23 points since Week 9, and over their six, the Titans average 17 points per game. But even if these teams stick to their offensive averages of late (Miami 24 and Tennessee 17), the still means they’d hit over 39.5. 

While this game doesn’t profile as a barnburner by any stretch, these offenses should be able to combine for 40 points. Miami and its opponents have combined to score more than 39.5 points in eight of 15 games this season. The Titans and their opponents have done that 10 times. 

There are other trends pointing to the Over as well. The Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these two clubs.  The Over is 11-4-1 in Titans last 16 games following an against the spread win. The Over is 4-1 in Miami’s last five road games versus a team with a winning home record.

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

Best Bet: Under 45.5/-110 (DraftKings)

The Denver Broncos play the Los Angeles Chargers in a contest that amounts to an elimination game for the AFC playoff picture. And the winner isn’t guaranteed a spot either. Both of these teams saw their playoff odds take a major hit following disappointing losses last week. Both teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues, with Los Angeles missing some significant players during the week. However, with the NFL reducing the isolation of players from 10 to five days, several of those players could be active for Sunday.

The Broncos (7-8, 7-8 ATS) squandered a halftime lead against the Las Vegas Raiders last week. Denver converted just one of their 10 third down tries and rushed for a season-low 18 yards. With Drew Lock at quarterback, the Broncos managed just 158 total yards on the day. 

Lock could get another start here, and that doesn’t bode well for offensive production. Over the last two weeks, Denver’s scored a total of 23 points. That’s spoiled solid efforts from the Broncos’ defense. Denver’s gone 2-3 both straight up and against the spread despite allowing only 15.4 points per game in those contests. This offense has averaged a measly 11.3 points per game in its last four losses.

Denver’s defense has held some of the top quarterbacks in check this season. Against Joe Burrow, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and Dak Prescott, the Broncos surrendered an average of 215 passing yards per game, and only five total touchdowns. 

The Chargers (8-7, 7-8 ATS) have lost two games in a row and face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. Los Angeles couldn’t hold fourth quarter leads in one loss and dropped what should have been an easy win on the road against the Houston Texans. 

Los Angeles has turned the ball over five times in their last two games, and Justin Herbert threw two critical fourth quarter interceptions the last time these two teams played. That game ended as a 28-13 victory for the Broncos, a total Under what’s set for this week. 

The trends support the Under play in this one. The Under is 5-0 in the Broncos’ last five games as an underdog. The Under is 4-1 in Denver’s last 5 games following both a straight up loss and an ATS loss. The Under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings between these clubs, and 10-1 in the last 11 on the Chargers’ home field. Under is 18-4 in Chargers last 22 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.

Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers

Best Bet: +12.5/-110 (Bovada)

The Houston Texans play the San Francisco 49ers in another matchup with serious playoff implications. The Niners need a win here to maintain their hold on an NFC Wild Card berth, but they shouldn’t take Houston lightly. The Texans have nothing to play for but pride at this point, but they upset the LA Chargers last week and could do the same to San Francisco. 

The Texans (4-11, 7-8 ATS) forced three turnovers and Rex Burkhead ran for a career-high 149 yards in their 41-29 Week 16 win. Houston ran up a season-high 189 rushing yards and saw rookie quarterback Davis Mills throw for 254 yards and two touchdowns. 

The 49ers (8-7, 7-8 ATS) squandered a 10-point halftime lead in their Week 16 loss to Tennessee. Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions, including a critical one in the end zone. He also strained a ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand and fractured that same hand. Garoppolo may try to play through the injury, but if he can’t go, the Niners will turn to third-overall pick Trey Lance to start. 

Lance has made one start and played in five games, completing 25 of 48 pass attempts for 354 yards and carrying the ball 30 times for 137 yards. This line was San Francisco minus-15 on the look-ahead, opened at minus-15.5, but has since been bet back down to minus-12.5 with the news of Jimmy Garoppolo’s hand injury.

The Texans have picked up back-to-back wins as underdogs versus the Jaguars in Week 15 and, more impressively, versus the Chargers last week. Their offense put up 30 and 41 points in those victories, and look to be much healthier in Week 17. Receiver Brandin Cooks, starting center Justin Britt, and 12 other players were removed from the COVID list this week and should play.

When playing as at least 12-point underdogs this year, the Texans have an against the spread record of 3-2. Houston is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game. San Francisco, meanwhile, is 15-31-1 against the spread in their last 47 games as a favorite, with a 16-34-1 ATS mark in their last 51 games as a home favorite. 

The Niners haven’t covered a double-digit spread this season, and with a rookie quarterback and a shaky secondary, 12.5 points might be too many to lay. San Francisco’s 3-4 both straight up and against the spread at home this season. 

Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

Best Bet: Cardinals +5.5/+100 (FoxBet)

The Arizona Cardinals play the Dallas Cowboys in a potential playoff matchup in the NFC. This game carries with it significant playoff implications for the conference. Arizona enters on a three-game losing skid and backed into their playoff spot. Dallas entered last week knowing they’d clinched the NFC East, and now maintain hope of a run at the top seed and home field advantage.

The once-explosive Cardinals (10-5, 9-6 ATS) sit fifth in the NFC after starting the season 7-0. Arizona put up 30 points or more in seven of its first nine games, but have hit that mark in just once in their past six. The Cardinals scored 16 or fewer in three of those six games. 

That said, Arizona has one of the league’s best passing offenses, an eighth-ranked unit that picks up 272.9 yards per game. They will be up against the 23rd-ranked defense in that category (258.1). Dallas allows a score on 61.5% of its opponents’ red-zone trips (22nd in the league), which should help with the Cardinals’ recent struggles inside the 20-yard line. 

The Cowboys (11-4, 12-3 ATS) clinched the division ahead of their 56-14 rout of the Washington Football Team. Dallas enters Week 17 holding the 2-seed in the NFC and have an outside shot to grab the top spot, but that requires a Packers loss. Green Bay hosts the Vikings this week, then travels to Detroit for their season finale. 

Dallas could be ripe for a let down here. The Cowboys certainly don’t want to show their hand at all to a potential playoff opponent. Dallas’ current four-game winning streak comes in large part thanks to a takeaway binge. Over their last four games, the Cowboys have forced 14 turnovers. They’ve preyed on poor offenses, though, facing Washington twice, the Saints, and the Giants over that span.

The Cardinals are 5-1 both straight up and against the spread in their past six meetings with Dallas, including a dominating 38-10 win at AT&T Stadium last October, albeit one the Cowboys played without Dak Prescott. 

There are a few other trends that support a Cardinals play here. The Underdog is 5-1 against the spread in the last six meetings between these clubs. The Cardinals are 17-6-3 against the spread in their last 26 games as a road underdog. The Cowboys are 5-12 against the spread versus a team with a winning record. Dallas is 0-6 against the spread in their last six January games. If Arizona can take care of the ball, they should stay in this game and could win outright.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Bet: Steelers Moneyline +155 (DraftKings)

The Cleveland Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of teams still hoping to make the playoffs. By Monday, the AFC playoff picture could be clearer, leaving this game as simply an emotional exercise as potentially Ben Roethlisberger’s final game in Pittsburgh. 

The Browns (7-8, 7-8 ATS) took a difficult loss in Week 16, a defeat that levied a major blow to their playoff chances. Cleveland couldn’t overcome four interceptions from Baker Mayfield in the 24-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Browns have been competitive in most games this season, but something’s missing with this team. 

The Steelers (7-7-1, 6-9 ATS) weren’t competitive in their Week 16 loss in Kansas City and now face the daunting reality of missing the postseason. While Pittsburgh isn’t officially eliminated from contention, they need to win-out and get a lot of help. That leaves this game as likely Big Ben’s last at Heinz Field.

That factor alone feels enough to time the scales toward Pittsburgh. In Week 8, the Steelers beat the Browns in Cleveland, 15-10. Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards and a second-half touchdown in that game. Pittsburgh’s defense limited the Browns to 96 rushing yards, keeping Nick Chubb to 61 yards on 16 carries. 

The trends point to a Steelers win in this one as well. Cleveland is 2-7 against the spread in their last nine games as a road favorite, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five as a Moneyline favorite. Cleveland’s 1-6 against the spread in their last seven road games versus a team with a losing home record. 

The Steelers, meanwhile, are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games following an ATS loss. Pittsburgh is 18-6-2 against the spread in their last 26 games as a home underdog. The Steelers are 4-1 against the spread in the last five games in this series. Pittsburgh has gone 5-0-1 in its last six home games, and this one will obviously be the biggest of the year, especially if Roethlisberger is truly set to retire.

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