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NFL Week 17 Preview: Odds and Betting Trends

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (14-1) are the only team in the NFL that has clinched a specific seed in this year’s playoffs, leaving the door open for several others to move up, down, in or out of the postseason picture in a pivotal Week 17. That is why the Chiefs are 3.5-point home underdogs on the NFL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the Los Angeles Chargers (6-9) for Sunday, and why bettors will need to pay extra close attention to which teams are motivated to win.

For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) have already announced they will rest starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and give backup Mason Rudolph the nod for Sunday’s AFC North matchup with the Cleveland Browns (10-5). The Steelers may also decide to rest more starters despite the fact that they could end up with the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a win over the Browns and a loss by the Buffalo Bills (12-3) to the Miami Dolphins (10-5) as small home favorites. The Bills could choose to rest some players too, so stay tuned for news there.

Cleveland is listed as a 10-point home favorite at online betting sites against Pittsburgh and needs to win or see the Indianapolis Colts (10-5) lose in order to make its first playoff appearance since 2002. Indianapolis hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) later Sunday as 14-point home chalk but lost to them 27-20 as a 7-point road favorite back in Week 1.

The Baltimore Ravens (10-5) are in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the AFC as well, and they are in with a victory against the Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1) as 13-point road chalk. The Ravens could finish as high as the No. 5 seed if the Dolphins lose to the Bills or not make the postseason at all with a loss to the Bengals or tie and win by the Colts.

Indianapolis needs a victory or tie and loss or tie by Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami to get in, or can clinch the AFC South title with a win and loss by the Tennessee Titans (10-5), who are in with a win or loss by the Ravens or Dolphins. The Titans remain in the driver’s seat atop the AFC South and visit the Houston Texans (4-11) in the season finale for the second year in a row as 7.5-point road favorites.

If you think that is confusing, then the NFC playoff race could hurt your head even more. The Green Bay Packers (12-3) can lock up the No. 1 seed in the conference with a victory against the Chicago Bears (8-7) or loss by the Seattle Seahawks (11-4) to the San Francisco 49ers (6-9). The Packers and Seahawks are coincidentally both 5.5-point road favorites. The Bears need a win or loss by the Arizona Cardinals (8-7) to the Los Angeles Rams (9-6) to make the postseason. The Cardinals and Rams are each dealing with injuries to their starting quarterbacks, with Los Angeles signal-caller Jared Goff already ruled out after thumb surgery.

The New Orleans Saints (11-4) can lock up the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a victory against the Carolina Panthers (5-10) as 6.5-point road chalk. Then finally in the NFC East, the Washington Football Team (6-9) controls its own destiny for the division title and No. 4 seed.

A win for Washington as a 2-point road favorite over the Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1) on Sunday night is all that is needed for the team to get in. Otherwise, the winner of an earlier divisional matchup between the Dallas Cowboys (6-9) and New York Giants (5-10) would claim the NFC East title if Washington loses. The Cowboys are listed as 3-point road chalk and riding a three-game winning streak overall, also taking each of the past seven meetings with the Giants (going 6-1 against the spread), according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Odds Shark aims to become the global authority for online sports betting odds, whether it be in sports betting, poker, casino games or horse racing. To that end, it continues to add new football betting lines for NFL fans and new college football odds on all games for players who bet more on Saturdays than Sundays.

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