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Week 17 NFL Betting Strategy

NFL Betting: Week 17 Betting Strategy

By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Week 17 is a unique time of the NFL season--for the teams, as well as the bettors. It’s the last game of the season, but beyond that, it gives way to teams having a big variety of different agendas. One of the more popular times to bet during the season is also one of the more difficult times.

Teams arrive to week 17 in all different states of mind. There are teams that are hopeless as far as the playoffs are concerned. There are teams playing to get into the playoffs, in addition to teams who need to win and have another thing or two happen. There are teams with a higher playoff seeding at stake. And there are subtle variations--like low-end teams where there may be draft implications. You have spoiler teams with an agenda and axe to grind against a team that really needs to win. The combinations are endless.

When you think of all the different combinations of different teams that can be meeting in week 17, it’s clear that there are many different ways to look at it. It’s never as easy as it looks. We need to remember that whatever we are able to determine by gauging a team’s motivation is something the bookie also acknowledged and the line is set accordingly.

In other words, you might notice a team that is 13-2 has their playoff position completely locked up and is going to sit most of their key starters to rest them for the playoffs. You figure they’ll be at lower-power and are not really gunning to win. Well, that might all be true, but it will also be reflected in the line, with the bookie privy to all of that information.

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What about teams that are already guaranteed a shot at the playoffs, but still have a higher seeding at stake? They have reason to play as hard as they can, but the urgency isn’t always as robust as it would seem. Or a team doesn’t play as well in an urgent game as the other team plays while in spoiler mode. It’s really remarkable how teams that need to win or would really advance their case if they won stink it up in week 17.

The odds might be all over the place on week 17. You’ll see a good team with its playoff spot locked up as an underdog at home to a sub-.500 team. Or a team that needs to win is not as favored as you would think against a team that has little on the line. Don’t be suckered in with spreads that are too good to be true.

Even if a team is hopeless and they’re facing a more-prestigious team regardless of that team’s exact playoff standing, the team with a bad record is still trying. Maybe it’s the energy that comes from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the looseness that stems from there being no expectations, or the fact that coaches and players are playing for their professional futures. Whatever it is, teams in hopeless situations don’t phone it in on week 17 like some might suspect.

Week 17 on paper might look like an all-out betting bonanza with opportunities being rife. It’s not as easy as it looks. This can be a really dangerous time of the betting season for those who use a team’s level of urgency as a guiding light in their handicapping. When everything culminates in the last week of the season, the different teams’ levels of urgency is more crystalized--or so it would seem.

Thinking that the teams in more crucial situations stand a better chance to cover the spread is just wrong. Whatever insight you have in not terribly exclusive. The risk is in becoming overconfident because we think we have such a good read on all the teams at this point in the season. There are sub-.500 teams that are dwindling and ones on the upswing. There are good teams who can afford to take a break and those who still have work to do. And there are a lot of variations within.

Many of us have made the mistake of thinking this is the easiest time of the year to get a clear read on teams, especially on the mental side of things. Lest we forget the brightest minds in football betting are also on the case. We might think we have it all figured out by the final week of the season, but we have to remember that we still have to beat the bookies.

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