For the first Sunday in January, weather across the National Football League game sites is cold and overcast but only in New Jersey, where the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys, is there any forecast of measurable rain.
The 2020 NFL regular season, one in which games for the first time were played on every day of the week, comes to a close today with all 32 teams in action. The league has scheduled Week 17 games to have contests contingent on each other to be played at the same time. Years ago, we used to get advantages for afternoon contests once we knew morning results that made games more or less significant to one opponent or both.
Now, the NFL shifts the times for the Sunday schedule after the Week 16 results are in so they can have contests that matter to each other being played at the same time. There are a lot of games that matter to each other this year, with the only team in the league locked into their playoff seed being the Kansas City Chiefs. Their win last week over the Atlanta Falcons clinched the number one AFC seed for the defending Super Bowl Champions.
Over the years, we have had great success wagering against teams locked into their playoff slot with nothing to play for, ideally against a team that needs a win to earn a postseason date. In the Chiefs case today, they are playing the Los Angeles Chargers who are already eliminated from playoff consideration.
Every other game involving teams locked into the playoffs or with the potential of earning a postseason date matters. We have a couple contests where one team is playing to improve their postseason seed and their opponent needs the game to get into the postseason. The advantage in these kinds of matchups consistently favor the team needing the game to get a playoff berth against a team only looking to improve their seed. But, one of those games is the Chicago Bears, who advance to the postseason with a win at home over the Green Bay Packers today. Problem is, the Packers are not just looking to improve their seed, but to lock up the only bye available in the NFC.
The Miami Dolphins need a win to assure themselves of a playoff date, and they travel to Buffalo where the Bills are looking to lock up the second seed in the AFC. A second seed assures at least two home playoff games if the team wins their first postseason game, a Bills defeat could drop them to the third seed in the AFC.
In the AFC South, The Indianapolis Colts win the division with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars if the Tennessee Titans are upset in Houston by the Texans. If the Texans win, and they are favored by a touchdown on the road, then the Colts could miss out on the playoffs even with an 11-5 won/loss record. Even with a win, the Colts need the Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins to lose.
The NFC East, which has four teams with losing records, will still advance a division winner who will host a Wild Card game next weekend. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants play in an early game, and whichever teams wins that game has a chance of entering the postseason if the Philadelphia Eagles upset the Washington Redskins in the Sunday night game. And yes, if the Cowboys and Giants tie, the Redskins win the division and could end the season with a 6-10 mark.
We have a problem backing the Saints today given they will be without any of their runningbacks after Alvin Kamara tested positive for Covid-19 and his fellow backs had to be quarantined. When a Covid-t9 positive test knocked out all the Denver quarterbacks, they got clobbered by the Saints, 31-3. When the Ravens suffered multiple Covid-19 infections, they lost three straight games. When the Browns were forced to go without any receivers they lost last week to the Jets.
Not good news for the Saints, although they have clinched their division title based on two regular season wins over their closest division pursuer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay seems to have the least to play for today of all the teams locked into a postseason play date. The Buccaneers will either be a fifth or sixth seed depending on today’s results.
Suffice it to say the NFL has led us to an intriguing final day of the regular season, and the public has checked in with their three favorite Week 17 plays. Their most bet game is the Buccaneers (-6½) over the Atlanta Falcons, followed by the Tennessee Titans (-7) over the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints (-6) over the Carolina Panthers.
As for Qoxhi Picks, our selections are now posted on this site and if a Bullet Play develops in the final hour leading up to the day’s first kickoff, that game will be added to the list of recommendations by 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.