Share this article

print logo

Bettors Guide: Colts-Titans turns out to be meaningful finale

Only five of the 16 games on Sunday's NFL Week 17 schedule do not have a bearing on which teams make the postseason playoffs or what order they will be seeded.

One game tops them all, though, because its a win-or-go-home scenario. And who would have thought before Week One that it would be the Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans?

The Colts were coming off a 4-12 season with a quarterback, Andrew Luck, who missed all of the previous season with an injury and was a physical question mark. To top it off, they were going into the season with a rookie head coach, former Bills quarterback Frank Reich, and a revamped coaching staff.

Then there was the opposition in the AFC South. Jacksonville was a final four team in 2017 and had to blow a second-half lead not to make the Super Bowl. Houston was getting its talented young quarterback DeShaun Watson back and Tennessee had a rookie head coach, too, in Mike Vrabel, but was coming off a playoff season when it upset the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs.

So, there was little reason to expect Reich, Luck and the Colts would be in the position they are in today. They can win the AFC South with a win and a Houston loss. The same for Tennessee.

Even with all the intrigue surrounding Sunday's games, four of the six AFC playoff teams have already been determined and five of the six NFC teams are locked in.

To be determined, though, are the North, South and West division champions and one wild-card slot in the AFC and the final wild-card qualifier in the NFC. All 16 games are divisional matchups, return games from previous meeting this season.

A capsule look at Sunday's Week 17 games:

Game of the day
Colts (9-6) at Titans (9-6)
TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Colts -2 1/2.
Record ATS: Colts 8-5-1; Titans 7-7-1
Over/under: 44.
Times over/under: Colts 8/5/2; Titans 7/7.
The scoop: It's simple. The winner makes the playoffs as a wild-card at least, but if Houston should lose its home game to Jacksonville, it would open the door for the Colts-Titans survivor to win the AFC South. Indy won the previous encounter between the teams, 38-10, at Lucas Oil Stadium when Luck passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns.
Outlook: Indy defense will have to stand up to Titans' run game and Derrick Henry. If they do, it's Colts, 26-20.

Top attractions
Jaguars (5-10) at Texans (10-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Texans -7.
Record ATS: Jaguars 6-8-1; Texans 5-6-3.
Over/under: 40 1/2.
Times over/under: Jaguars 6/8/1; Texans 5/6/3.
The scoop: Houston won the first meeting, 20-7, on Oct. 21 when the Jaguars were in the middle of their offensive slump. Jacksonville goes back to Blake Bortles as the starter at quarterback.
Outlook: J.J. Watt and Houston pass rush will bother Bortles even though Jags probably will employ a very conservative plan behind the running of Leonard Fournette. Texans, 17-13.

Browns (7-7-1) at Ravens (9-6)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Ravens -6.
Record ATS: Browns 9-5-1; Ravens 9-6.
Over/under: 40 1/2.
Times over/under: Browns 6/8/1; Ravens 4/9/1.
The scoop: Last year it was Bengals who bounced Ravens out of playoffs on final day, allowing the Bills in. Could Browns do the same? It would be fitting. Cleveland won first meeting, 12-9, on Oct. 7. Browns rookie Baker Mayfield has passed for 24 TDs with 11 interceptions and is playing less like a rookie in recent games. Ravens will start rookie Lamar Jackson at QB again. Robinson is more of a run threat than a passer (6 TDs, 3 INTs).
Outlook: Jackson gives Ravens just enough offense to go with NFL's No. 1 ranked defense. Ravens, 23-20.

Bengals (6-9) at Steelers (8-6-1)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Steelers -14 1/2.
Record ATS: Bengals 8-7; Steelers 8-7.
Over/under: 45 1/2.
Times over/under: Bengals 8/5/1; Steelers 7/8.
The scoop: Steelers have been tormenting Bengals and Coach Marvin Lewis, a Western Pennsylvania native, for years. Now Cincy has chance to gain some revenge and end any Pitt playoff hopes. Steelers need a win and a Baltimore loss to make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
Outlook: Don't see Bengals getting it done with backup Jeff Driskel at QB. Steelers, 31-21.

Raiders (4-11) at Chiefs ( 11-4)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Chiefs -13 1/2.
Record ATS: Raiders 5-9-1; Chiefs 8-7.
Over/under: 53 1/2.
Times over/under: Raiders 7/8; Chiefs 10/4/1.
The scoop: Seems odd that the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes, everybody's darlings, haven't sealed their postseason position yet. KC can go into playoffs as No. 1 seed and AFC West champion or have to settle for No. 5 seed as wild card if they should be upset by Raiders and Chargers win at Denver. Oakland gave Chiefs a battle in first meeting before going down, 40-33. Mahomes needs two TD passes to join Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as only passers in NFL history with 50 or TD passes in a season.
Outlook: Chiefs have failed to cover as favorite last four games. Make it five. Chiefs, 33-28.

Chargers (11-4) at Broncos (6-9)
TV: CBS, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Chargers -6 1/2.
Record ATS: Chargers 8-7; Broncos 7-8.
Over/under: 41 1/2.
Times over/under: Chargers 8/7; Broncos 4/11.
The scoop: One-point loss to Denver (23-22) on Nov. 18, only thing that's keeping Chargers from sitting alone in first place in AFC West. L.A. needs a win and Kansas City loss to win division because Chiefs have tiebreaker advantage (record in division games).
Outlook: Denver will be without rookie RB Phillip Lindsay but expect Broncos to give the Bolts a hard time. Chargers, 20-17.

Eagles (8-7) at Redskins (7-8)
TV: FOX, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Eagles -7.
Record ATS: Eagles 6-9; Redskins 9-6.
Over/under: 42.
Times over/under: Eagles 8/6/1; Redskins 7/8.
The scoop: Philadelphia needs a win and help in the form of a Minnesota loss to have a shot at defending its Super Bowl championship. With all the great passers in Eagles history (Norm Van Brocklin, Sonny Jurgensen, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, and Donovan McNabb) isn't it surprising that it was Nick Foles who set franchise single game passing record last week (471 yards) in win over Houston. Eagles defeated Redskins, 28-13, at home in first meeting.
Outlook: Despite all the injuries, Eagles can expect tough fight against old divisional rival. Eagles 30-28.

Bears (11-4) at Vikings (8-6-1)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Vikings -5.
Record ATS: Bears 11-4; Vikings 9-6-1.
Over/under: 40 1/2.
Times over/under: Bears 7/7/1; Vikings 6/9.
The scoop: Bears are truly biggest surprise team in NFL this season. They keep grinding out close wins. Only Ravens (263) and Titans (270) have allowed fewer points than Chicago's 273. Bears have shot at first-round bye if they win and Rams should lose, but that's a real longshot.
Outlook: Minnesota should be the more desperate team. Vikings leaning more on rushing game than Kirk Cousins. Minny, 20-17.

Cardinals (3-12) at Seahawks (9-6)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Off.
Record ATS: Cardinals 6-8-1; Seahawks 10-5-1.
Over/under: OFF
Times over/under: Cardinals 6/9; Seahawks 8/7.
The scoop: Seattle will not be an easy out for any NFC playoff opponent. Seattle leads league in rushing average (158.5 ypg). Even Bills have scored more points than Arizona's 201, last in league.
Outlook: Going through the motions. Seahawks, 24-13.

49ers (4-11) at Rams (12-3)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Rams -10.
Record ATS: 49ers 5-9-1; Rams 7-8.
Over/under: 49 1/2.
Times over/under: 49ers 8/7; Rams 8/6/1.
The scoop: Only suspense here is the slight possibility that the Rams could blow a first-round bye by losing to their West Coast rival while Chicago wins.
Outlook: Niners played Bears tough last week, but game was in Santa Clara. This one's at L.A. Coliseum. Rams, 35-17.

Jets (4-11) at Patriots (10-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Patriots -13.
Record ATS: Jets 5-9-1; Patriots 8-7.
Over/under: 45 1/2.
Times over/under: Jets 9/6; Patriots 5/10.
The scoop: Patriots try to wrap up first-round bye and avoid wild-card round which they haven't had to deal with in their long run this century. Jets rookie Sam Darnold has been standout last two games. This will be his first time going up against Patriots and Tom Brady. Josh McCown started in New York's 27-13 loss to Pats on Nov. 25.
Outlook: New England and Brady have not impressed in recent games, but here they are back looking at a first round playoff bye. Patriots, 24-13.

Best of the rest
Panthers (6-9) at Saints (13-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Off.
Record ATS: Panthers 6-9; Saints 10-5.
Over/under: Off
Times over/under: Panthers 7/8; Saints 7/8.
The scoop: Teams met just two weeks ago with New Orleans winning, 12-9, in Charlotte.
Outlook: Expect to see a lot of Kyle Allen (Panthers) and Taysom Hill (Saints) at quarterback in game that has no effect on playoff picture. Panthers, 23-21.

Cowboys (9-6) at Giants (5-10)
TV: FOX, 1 p.m.
The line: Giants -6 1/2.
Record ATS: Cowboys 8-6-1; Giants 9-6.
Over/under: 42 1/2.
Times over/under: Cowboys 6/9; Giants 10/5.
The scoop: Cowboys locked in as No. 4 seed in NFC playoffs and Giants are destined for another early draft pick. Ezekiel Elliott of Cowboys has 183-yard lead for NFL rushing title so it figures he will see only token action.
Outlook: Odell Beckham Jr. of Giants still questionable but Saquon Barkley will play. Giants, 20-17.

Dolphins (7-8) at Bills (5-10)
TV: CBS, 1 p.m.
The line: Bills -3 1/2.
Record ATS: Dolphins 7-6-1; Bills 6-8-1.
Over/under: 38.
Times over/under: Dolphins 7/7/1; Bills 6/8/1.
The scoop: Dolphins have dropped last two, at Green Bay and home to Jaguars after Hook-and-Ladder on last play upset Patriots. Just think: If Bills had taken winnable games at Houston, Miami and home against the Jets they might be playing for a playoff spot today.
Outlook: Bills, 20-13.

Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (5-10)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bucs -1.
Record ATS: Falcons 5-10; Bucs 5-10.
Over/under: 51 1/2.
Times over/under: Falcons 8/7; Bucs 9/6.
The scoop: Falcons won shootout over Bucs, 34-29, first time around. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has 11 TDs, no INTs, 70 percent completion rate in his last five against Tampa Bay. Everybody wondering if shakeup is coming in Tampa.
Outlook: Falcons 35-28.

Dog of the day
Lions (5-10) at Packers (6-8-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Packers -7 1/2.
Record ATS: Lions 7-7-1; Packers 5-10.
Over/under: 45.
Times over/under: Lions 7/8; Packers 7/6/2.
The scoop: Lions won, 31-23, in first meeting but offense has gone cold since, even against Buffalo.
Outlook: Don't see flat Detroit team winning in meaningless game at Lambeau. Packers, 27-10.

Last week: Favorites covered the spread eight games and underdogs covered eight times. Six games went over, nine went under and the Bengals-Browns ended up a push at 44 points.
Last week's results: 13-3 straight up; 11-5 against the spread.
Season's record: 118-90-2 straight up; 105-97-7 ATS.

There are no comments - be the first to comment