NFL Week 17 Preview: NJ Sportsbooks Get Behind The Eagles As Other Teams Jockey For Position

Posted on December 27, 2019

Go deep!

New Jersey bettors have more to wager on this week than in previous NFL Week 17 matchups.

Although only two playoff berths remain undetermined, the seeding and valued home-field playoff positions will be decided this weekend, opening the sports betting floodgates.

Bettors can expect plenty of betting enticements in this week’s 16 games from NJ sportsbooks, such as:

There are enough playoff scenarios to wager with confidence and, if necessary, double up on important games rather than taking a stab at the contests that don’t matter.

In a magical quirk, all high-stakes teams will compete at the same time. There is no 1 p.m. game making a 4 p.m. contest unimportant. That means NJ sports betting customers can wager on the 4 p.m. games through the afternoon.

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It’s Philly betting fever at NJ sportsbooks

The game of the week — and the year — for Philadelphia Eagles‘ backers will involve their road battle against the stubborn New York Giants with the NFC East title in sight.

Philadelphia gives four points and gains 65% of the betting support at SugarHouse, according to Matt Stetz, the COO of Rush Street Interactive. Rush Street operates online sports betting apps in NJ, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. 

The Eagles have confused their backers, performing well when not being supported and flopping when the masses believe in them.

Life has changed for the birds in the last couple of weeks. 

The Eagles were once 5-7 and trailed the Giants 17-3 in the second half of their Week 14 game. The season appeared lost, but they rallied to beat the Giants in overtime, overcame the Washington Redskins the following week and then throttled the Dallas Cowboys. Presto, the NFC East has become theirs to lose, nevermind the 8-7 record right now.

Big Blue, meanwhile, has suddenly won two straight and covered three consecutive times. 

Quarterback Daniel Jones looked all-world last week as the G-Men defeated the Redskins, but faces an Eagles team who gave up only 9 points to the Cowboys last week.

This matchup will boil down to whether the Eagles can muster defensive pressure on Jones and contain Saquon Barkley, who had an unreal 279 scrimmage yards last week. Jones can give up big plays when pressured.

Eagles-Giants: Behind the numbers

The PlaySugarHouse prop board illuminates a world of betting possibilities beyond the straight Eagles -4 and an unappealing moneyline bet of -180.

The Eagles were winning the game by 7 points, just one more field goal than the line boosts a payout to +133. 

How about Big Blue? The Giants led the first game against the Eagles 17-10 with two minutes remaining. If that margin of victory holds up here, the Giants would return a whopping +380.

Another revenue angle could be the point total. It was 40 in Game One, via overtime; however, the line sits at 45.5 now. 

If the shootout suggested by the Giants’ win over Washington prevails and this game goes higher by one touchdown, the payout is +205. The same payout applies if this game lands one touchdown or more below the total.

There are some unique considerations in the field-goal department. The total for the game over/under is 3.5. For each team, the over/under is 1.5. 

These are interesting calls because more coaches, in general, are eschewing field goals for fourth-down gambles, even deep in an opponent’s territory.

But in a must-win game, if the Eagles have a small lead, coach Doug Pederson may play more conservative to protect the lead and take field goals if available.

Stetz added that the Dallas Cowboys are in must-win mode against the Washington Redskins, received 65% of the tickets as a 10.5-point favorite. 

Dallas must triumph and pull for the Giants to upset the Eagles in their longshot NFC East hopes.

Case Keenum replaces the injured Dwayne Haskins at quarterback for Washington, who scored 62 points in the last two weeks but covered in neither game.

At the FanDuel site, Washington has received roughly 75% of the tickets.

AFC wild-card scramble

The Tennessee Titans become the most desperate, yet well-groomed team for the final week. 

They are a 3.5-point road favorite over the Houston Texans at DraftKings, despite losing to them at home two weeks ago, in search of the final AFC playoff berth.

The Titans play a Houston team that’s essentially locked into hosting a first-round playoff game. Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson is hobbling, and Houston may rest most of the team. 

Tennessee could not ask for more. Interestingly, Houston took more than 50% of the early action, according to FanDuel, but Tennessee flipped those percentages by late in the week.

Do the bettors think Tennessee can’t beat a second-string Texans team or are they waiting to unload big money on Sunday?

The team battling Tennessee for the final AFC spot, the Pittsburgh Steelers, are favored by 2-2.5 points around the books against the Baltimore Ravens, instead of being a dog of perhaps 10 points.

Why? The Ravens own home-field edge throughout the playoffs and will rest almost everybody here. 

Would you start imminent league MVP, Lamar Jackson, in this game? Absolutely not. 

That’s good news for the Steelers, who face Ravens’ backups but are still struggling offensively. They have only 10 points in each of their last two games and can’t find a good quarterback. 

Their defense must stop backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, who stylistically resembles Jackson’s run-pass option style. The Ravens are sitting most of their regulars, mostly constituting a two-week bye for their starters before the next playoff encounter for some players.

The Steelers only need a measly field advantage to cover against a team with nothing to play for, which is a good scenario for them. Baltimore has won 11 in a row.

According to FanDuel, the Steelers are getting 69% of the tickets.

Niners-Seahawks rematch

The San Francisco 49ers can clinch home field throughout the NFC playoffs with a win in Seattle. 

The Seahawks won the first meeting of these teams, but a recent spate of injuries makes them 3.5-point underdogs at DraftKings for the rematch. Seattle lost three running backs in the last couple of games and had to resign running back Marshawn Lynch this week.

The Seahawks were drubbed by the Arizona Cardinals 27-13 last week and overall public sentiment backs the Niners.

For San Francisco, the stakes are high. A loss drops the Niners into a road game in the first playoff round. A win ensures home playoff games as long as they are in action.

Seattle could win the division with a victory, ensuring a first-round home game. These teams have to show up, and will.

The New Orleans Saints, whopping 13-point road picks against the Carolina Panthers at DraftKings, must win and hope for a loss by the Niners or Packers to snare a first-round bye.

Otherwise, they will host a wild-card game next week, which is why the last-play loss to the 49ers a couple of weeks ago looms large against New Orleans. The 49ers own a valuable tie-breaking edge by virtue of that win. 

Saints coach Sean Payton said the starters would be in there against Carolina, even though his team needs a miracle, i.e., the Detroit Lions knocking off the Green Bay Packers to give his team a No. 2 playoff berth.

How things change: The Saints needed a field goal in the final seconds to nip Carolina in the first meeting a few weeks at home. Now, on the road, they are a 13-point pick. 

The Panthers, once 4-2, have slid to 5-10. The Packers, who win behind just enough offense and an improved defense, must only defeat the Lions to secure a first-round bye.

The Packers are 12.5-point favorites, according to FanDuel. This is another case of tie-breaking procedures being important.

San Francisco’s regular-season victory over Green Bay delivers the 49ers a higher seed, which could mean hosting Green Bay in an NFC final.

New England: A generous line

The New England Patriots, who look to be put together with bandages this year with the absence of stud tight end Rob Gronkowski, clinch a first-round bye and second-round home game by merely defeating the Miami Dolphins at home Sunday. 

From the spread-wagering view, the Pats are giving 16 and early Dolphins bettors are salivating, providing nearly 90% of the action throughout the sportsbooks. 

New England is methodically becoming more efficient on the ground in its last two wins. The Dolphins have covered eight of the previous 11 weeks.

The Kansas City Chiefs will play hard against the Los Angeles Chargers, as a 7.5- to 8-point pick across the sportsbook landscape. Kansas City needs to win and for Miami to upend New England to steal the No. 2 playoff berth and a first-round bye. Not likely, but the Chiefs must still take care of business.

Other matchups odds at NJ online sportsbooks

The Cleveland Browns give 2.5 to the host Cincinnati Bengals in the battle of Ohio. 

Cincinnati was stopped inside the 10 twice late in the game in the first meeting. Does Cleveland want to make a statement after a lost season?

The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should at least provide an entertaining contest. The Falcons have gone from 1-7 to 6-9, beating high-quality teams like New Orleans and San Francisco.

Tampa Bay has the entertaining Jameis Winston, who can throw for more than 400 yards but also deliver six touchdowns to the opposing defenses. This game features nonplayoff teams on the rise. 

Tampa Bay gives two points at DraftKings.

The Arizona Cardinals began the week as a 7-point underdog against the host Los Angeles Rams, but the line moved to five around the books with good reason. The Cardinals have beaten the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks convincingly in their last two games.

The Minnesota Vikings give one point to the Chicago Bears, down from the seven they were favored by before losing to the Packers on Monday night. Savvy Bears bettors made that pick before the Green Bay game and now get a touchdown.

William Hill season wagers online

Credit the oddsmakers at William Hill Sportsbook for some over/under projected win totals posted before the season that are in play for the final week.

The Dolphins are longshots against the Patriots, and they have four wins. Projected total back in Week One? It’s 4.5, meaning that this bet gets decided one way or another in Week 17.

How about the Indianapolis Colts? The sudden retirement of Andrew Luck knocked their estimated total from 10 to 7.5. And they have seven heading into the season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

It was a savvy adjustment by the book to forecast a total that was right on. It was a good move by those who jumped aboard the new number.

The Titans are a push right now at eight wins before they face the Texans. This game will determine a winner and loser of that wager, with a tie maintaining the push.

And the Arizona Cardinals, hot of late, take a 5-9-1 mark into their finale against the Los Angeles Rams. The over/under was five.

Booms and busts department. Biggest busts are the Los Angeles Chargers, projected at 10 and sitting at five before the finale against the Chiefs.

The Dallas Cowboys were another bust. Their forecast was nine wins, and after a 3-0 start, they continued gaining strong betting support through last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

How about them Cowboys? They are 4-8 after the hot start and can finish with no better than eight wins.

Here’s a head-scratcher: The Cowboys have the same number of wins since Oct. 1, four, just like the Dolphins.

The Buffalo Bills rewarded their preseason optimists, who took them over seven wins. The Bills have 10.

The Ravens soared past their forecast number of 8.5 wins and can finish at 14-2 if they want to, against the Steelers.

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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