I’m a bit late to the recap game due to the holiday, but it’s still beneficial for NFL bettors to take one last look back at week 17 (and the 2018 NFL regular season as a whole).
Using that information to bet on the wild card round of the NFL playoffs may not necessarily be something you want to do, but it’s also not illogical to think it could be useful.
Either way, week 17 was another wild one and it was quite the exclamation mark on a crazy stretch that capped a pretty ridiculous season as a whole.
Let’s take a look back at how everything shook out, where bettors went wrong and where you might want to look with the playoffs starting this weekend:
Week 17 NFL Results
|Matchup||SU Winner||ATS Winner||Total|
|ATL vs. TB||Falcons (34-32)||Buccaneers (+2.5)||Over 52|
|CAR vs. NO||Panthers (33-14)||Panthers (+7.5)||Over 41.5|
|DAL vs. NYG||Cowboys (36-35)||Cowboys (+7.5)||Over 38.5|
|NYJ vs. NE||Patriots (38-3)||Patriots (-14)||Under 46.5|
|JAX vs. HOU||Texans (20-3)||Texans (-7)||Under 39.5|
|MIA vs. BUF||Bills (42-17)||Bills (-5.5)||Over 39.5|
|DET vs. GB||Lions (31-0)||Lions (+7.5)||Under 44.5|
|AZ vs. SEA||Seahawks (27-24)||Cardinals (+14.5)||Over 39.5|
|SF vs. LAR||Rams (48-32)||Rams (-10.5)||Over 50|
|CIN vs. PIT||Steelers (16-13)||Bengals (+14)||Under 45.5|
|LAC vs. DEN||Chargers (23-9)||Chargers (-7)||Under 43.5|
|CHI vs. MIN||Bears (24-10)||Bears (+6)||Under 40|
|OAK vs. KC||Chiefs (35-3)||Chiefs (-14)||Under 53|
|CLE vs. BAL||Ravens (26-24)||Browns (+7)||Over 40.5|
|PHI vs. WAS||Eagles (24-0)||Eagles (-6)||Under 42.5|
|IND vs. TEN||Colts (33-17)||Colts (-5.5)||Over 42.5<|
The Falcons vs. Buccaneers showdown went about as expected. The (slightly) better team won and the game easily hit the Over. Bettors and fantasy gamers should have made easy money there, although as a whole both of these teams were wild disappointments on the year.
Tampa Bay actually ended the season with the #1 passing game by the numbers, but couldn’t parlay an awesome week one upset of the Saints into a playoff run. Atlanta stumbled in week one, but weren’t able to turn an overall solid start into a return trip to the playoffs, either.
I was as shocked as anyone to see Kyle Allen roast the Saints in week 17. Carolina had lost six straight games and even with New Orleans resting everyone that mattered (save for Michael Thomas), the Panthers dropping 33 points and getting the road win was a surprise.
New Orleans had nothing to play for, though. If anything, the only thing truly disappointing on their end was Teddy Bridgewater blowing a terrific chance to showcase his skills for a starting gig in 2019.
Then again, perhaps Kyle Allen is the quarterback the Panthers deserve:
Why Kyle Allen — not Cam Newton — could be the Panthers’ 2019 savior
MY COLUMN ⤵️
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) December 30, 2018
Another shocking development was watching Dallas play Dak Prescott the entire game in New York. The Cowboys were big underdogs with Ezekiel Elliott resting and bettors clearly didn’t expect Jason Garrett to keep any of his key starters out there.
In translated into one of Dak’s best games of the year and a Dallas win. The good news is that 38.5 Total was painfully low and a weird shootout should have equated to easy money for bettors.
Green Bay had the intention of closing their season strong and pushing interim head coach Joe Philbin to 3-1 during his time at the controls. Losing Aaron Rodgers early to a head injury derailed any chances of having that happen and quite possibly killed Philbin’s hopes of locking up the full-time gig too.
A-Rod going down crushed the Packers here and made the Lions a pretty fun underdog play if you were game enough for that risk. It also exposed Deshone Kizer and suggested that once again the green and gold may want to think about improving the talent behind their franchise quarterback.
The holiday brought a long line of head coaching firings. It was pretty brutal, but one that served as a mild head-scratcher was Steve Wilks. Was he great in his first and only season? No, but he also dealt with a woeful Sam Bradford and a rookie quarterback for all 16 games.
Going 3-13 will leave a poor taste in anyone’s mouth, but Wilks almost beat the Seahawks in Seattle, took out the Packers in Green Bay and had a less than stacked Arizona team in a number of other games.
Pretty much every head coach firing was deserving this year, but Wilks arguably was the lone canning that could have been convincingly argued the other way.
Boy, the Steelers are a mess. Not only is there a bunch of drama surrounding Antonio Brown, but Pittsburgh fell apart down the stretch and failed to make the playoffs. Baltimore sealed their fate with a win over the Browns, but Pittsburgh barely edged out the lowly Bengals at home.
Speaking of Baltimore, it really took everything they had to fend off Baker Mayfield and the Browns. Regardless, this Tim Tebow-esque run by Lamar Jackson has the Ravens in the playoffs. While surely not sustainable, it’s at least interesting.
The Eagles are also back in postseason play and will have a chance to defend their title. It’s the Nick Foles show again, too, as Philly got hot with him under center and also benefited from a classic collapse by the Minnesota Vikings.
Tensions are high in Minnesota these days.
Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen trying to get on the same page.
— ESPN (@espn) December 30, 2018
It seems the Vikes may regret paying Kirk Cousins all of that money. Either way, losing a playoff-like game at home to the rival Bears has to sting.
Indianapolis faced off with Tennessee in the last game of the week, giving fans a proper 2018 send-off with a legit postseason atmosphere on Sunday Night Football.
It should have been an amazing game, but Marcus Mariota wasn’t able to suit up. Now Andrew Luck and the Colts (formerly 1-5) are in the playoffs and that’s not good for anyone in the AFC.
Week 17 Stats – Year to Date
|Wager Type||Week 5||Year-to-Date|
|Underdogs vs. Favorites ATS||8-8||132-110-11|
|Home vs. Away ATS||6-10||118-124-11|
|Straight Up Underdog Wins||4||86|
The week 17 data wasn’t very eye-opening. The straight-up underdog wins weren’t over the top and everything else was pretty much right down the middle.
Underdog wins as a whole were pretty prevalent over the course of the season, though. Bettors could hope for about 3-5 true upsets every single week and there were a few weeks where we’d see as many as seven true underdog wins.
You see that in the ATS data, too, as those straight up underdog wins combine with the against the spread numbers to give the expected loser a sweet 132-110-11 edge. That’s not astronomical, but it shows us the spreads weren’t always on the money and that the competition in the league tends to be fairly tight.
You’re not getting that much wiggle room in home vs. away data, either. The road team fared better in week 17 and that kept them in the lead on the year, but the gap is ever so mild.
Save for a few specific cases, the home factor just didn’t matter that much this season, at least when it came to underdogs beating the spread.
I’ve had more of an issue with Totals this year.
The Over was just 120-134-2 on the year and it had everything to do with Vegas overreacting to a crazy start to the season. Totals ended up being ridiculously high for much of the year and while teams like the Chiefs (best at 10-5-1) usually helped you turn a profit, this was a great spot to lose money if you weren’t careful.
Overall, the NFL was pretty tricky in 2018 and if you were profitable you probably stuck to a handful of teams that were really reliable, targeted timely underdogs or took advantage of absurdly low Totals or fat spreads.
More specifically, the Chiefs and Jets (??) were the two best teams to bet the Over with and nobody was betting at covering against the spread than the Chicago Bears (12-4).
On the other side, the Cleveland Browns (8-4!) were amazing against the spread when picked to be the underdog. Pittsburgh (5-0), Baltimore (4-1) and Seattle (5-1-1) were also fantastic teams to roll with when Vegas doubted them.
Timing is everything when it comes to NFL betting, but if you hopped on trending teams at the right moment, it could have led to big winnings.
Looking to Wild Card Round
Whether you experienced a lot of success with your NFL wagering in 2018 or not, a new season begins this weekend. Bettors get four games to work with and there is actually an opportunity for elite betting value.
I won’t break down every game here, but perhaps the data can lead you in the right direction. Here’s one glaring stat for every single team playing for their playoff lives this weekend:
- Dallas is 7-1 SU at home
- L.A. is 7-1 SU on the road
- The Over is 5-2 when the Seahawks are road dogs
- The last two Colts/Texans games have seen the road team win
- The last two Colts/Texans games have been decided by a FG
- Eagles are 3-0 SU and ATS in the playoffs with Nick Foles starting
- Chicago is the best in the NFL (12-4) ATS and 7-1 SU at home
- Baltimore is just 3-5 ATS as home favorite
This should just be a starting point and you can’t always let the data do all the talking for you. Matchup history, team playoff success, coaching strategies, game location and actual talent on the field also needs to be incorporated in your sports betting strategy.
Regardless, hopefully, this look back at week 17 was either fun or helpful. Either way, good luck with your wildcard bets and enjoy the games!