If you want to know how weird Week 17 can get when it comes to betting on the NFL, just take a look at the point spread in each game involving a quarterback who was lost for the season in Week 16.
Both the Raiders and Titans lost their starter on Saturday, and let's just say, oddsmakers feel very differently about the two situations.
Does this mean the oddsmakers in Las Vegas love Tennessee backup quarterback Matt Cassel?
No. Not at all.
A big reason the Texans are an underdog in this game is because they clinched the AFC South on Saturday, which means they have absolutely nothing to play for in Tennessee. If coach Bill O'Brien wants to start Brock Osweiler just to see if he'll thrown nine interceptions, he can do that because this week's game will have no bearing on Houston's postseason status.
No matter what happens Sunday, the Texans will be the fourth seed in the AFC when the playoffs begin. That likely means that O'Brien will be resting a bunch of key players Sunday.
On the Raiders' end, they're actually an underdog to a team that has nothing to play for. Thanks in large part to the loss of Derek Carr, Oakland is currently a 3.5 point underdog for their game in Denver on Sunday.
Basically, if you see a point spread this week that seems kind of weird, there's probably a good explanation for it.
Let's get to this week's odds.
Note: Due to Christmas, several game spreads weren't available as of Sunday night. The odds will be updated as the spreads become available.
NFL Week 17 early odds
(All lines via VegasInsider.com)
Texans (9-6) at Titans (8-7)
- Opening line: Titans, -3 points
- Current line: Titans, -3 points
This game is a perfect example of why betting Week 17 is so tricky. The Titans actually opened as a favorite in this game even though they won't have Marcus Mariota. With the Texans clinching the AFC South in Week 16, they won't have anything to play for Sunday, which means there's a good chance coach Bill O'Brien rests his starters. The Titans starter in this game will likely be Matt Cassel, who is just 3-8 as a starter dating back to 2014. Tennessee has been horrible in division games this year, going 1-4 both straight up and ATS.
- Opening line: Bills, -5 points
- Current line: Bills, -5 points
If Rex Ryan gets fired by the Bills after the season, then it will almost be fitting that his last game would come against the first team that fired him: the Jets. These two teams have been horrible in division play this year, with both of them going 1-4 straight up. The Jets' only division win came in Week 2, when they beat the Bills 37-31 in a game where Buffalo was favored by one. The Bills are 1-4 ATS in divisional games, which is tied for the third-worst mark in the NFL this year (they're 5-5 ATS in non-divisional games). Of course, the Jets have also been bad ATS: They're 5-10 ATS on the season, which is the second-worst mark in the AFC (only the Browns, at 3-12, are worse).
- Opening line: Bengals, -2.5 points
- Current line: Bengals, -2.5 points
After watching the Ravens lose a rough one to the Steelers on Christmas Day, oddsmakers don't seem too optimistic about their chances of rebounding in Week 17, which makes sense because Baltimore has been eliminated from playoff contention. These two AFC North teams will be playing for pride and, apparently, the Bengals have about 2.5 points more worth of pride than the Ravens. The fact that Cincy is favored isn't a complete shocker: The Bengals have won five of the past six games in this series and are 4-0 at home against the Ravens dating back to 2012. That being said, the Ravens won their only meeting this season 19-14 in a game where Baltimore was favored by 3.5 points. Also, the Ravens are 8-2-1 ATS against divisional opponents since the beginning of the 2015 season, which is the best mark int he NFL over that span.
- Opening line: Redskins, -5 points
- Current line: Redskins, -7.5 points
This spread shot up in the Redskins' favor after Saturday's games, and that's mainly because the Giants won't have anything to play for Sunday. New York is locked into the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs and that won't change with a win or loss against Washington. On the other hand, the Redskins will be playing for their playoff life. If Dallas beats the Lions in the final game of Week 16 on Monday night, then a Redskins win over the Giants will put Washington in the playoffs. The last time these two teams played came in Week 3 when the Redskins won a game (29-27) where the Giants were favored by 3.5. The Redskins are 4-1 ATS in divisional games this season, which is tied for the second-best mark in the NFL.
Packers (9-6) at Lions (9-5)
- Opening line: Packers, -3 points
- Current line: Packers, -3 points
Although the winner of this game is going to end the 2016 season as the NFC North champion, there is a chance that both teams could have clinched a playoff berth by the time this game kicks off on Sunday night, which is something you'll want to keep an eye on before betting it. The Packers have been on a roll ever since Week 12 when Aaron Rodgers said they needed to run the table. Since then, Green Bay has gone 5-0 straight-up and 4-1 ATS. As for the Lions, they're 0-2 ATS in their past two games, a number that could drop to 0-3 if they don't cover six points against the Cowboys on Monday night. Overall, the Packers have won three of their past four against the Lions. However, that might not help them this week: The Packers are just 1-3 ATS as a road favorite in 2016.
- Opening line: Colts, -7 points
- Current line: Colts, -7 points
With the Colts officially out of the playoff race after their loss to the Raiders on Sunday, these two teams will be playing for nothing, which could be seen as an advantage for the Jaguars because they're almost always playing for nothing at this point. Although the Jags have struggled, one of their three wins did come against Indy, in Week 4. In a game where the Colts were favored by one, the Jags pulled out a 30-27 win in London. The Colts are basically the only team Jacksonville has been able to beat lately. Over their past 21 games dating back to last season, the Jags are 2-0 against Indy and 2-17 against everyone else. Indy is an NFL-best 19-8-2 ATS in divisional games since drafting Andrew Luck in 2012.
- Opening line: Eagles, -6.5 points
- Current line: Eagles, -6 points
That point spread isn't a typo, the Eagles are currently a 6-point favorite to beat the Cowboys this week. It looks like the oddsmakers in Vegas are buying what Jason Garrett is selling. The Cowboys coach has said that his team will be full-go for Week 17 even though they have nothing to play for. Of course, if you believe Garrett, then the Cowboys might be a lock here. The Cowboys have been an underdog four times this season, and not only have they covered in all four games, but they've won each of those four games outright. The Cowboys are also 6-1 straight-up on the road this season, which is tied for the second best road record in the NFL.
- Opening line: Vikings, -6.5 points
- Current line: Vikings, -6.5 points
If you're a believer in teams tanking for top draft picks, then it's probably worth noting that the Bears could lock up the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft with a loss to Minnesota. Of course, the Bears might not have to tank to lose this game, they might just lose because they're horrible on the road. At 0-7, the Bears are the only NFC team that's winless on the road. Chicago is also 0-4 in Minnesota dating back to 2012. Of course, betting on the Vikings might not be a good idea, either. The Vikings are 1-4 ATS in divisional games in 2016, which is tied for the third-worst mark in the NFL. In the first meeting between these two teams this season, the 4.5 point underdog Bears beat the Vikings 20-10.
Panthers (6-9) at Buccaneers (8-7)
- Opening line: Buccaneers, -3.5 points
- Current line: Buccaneers, -3.5 points
Divisional games have been a disaster for the Panthers with Carolina going 1-4 straight up and 0-5 ATS. If that ATS mark sounds ugly, that's because it is: The Panthers and Browns are the only two teams that have gone 0-5 ATS in divisional games. The Panthers' ATS record includes a Week 5 loss (17-14) to the Bucs where Carolina was a six-point favorite. This game will have playoff implications for the Bucs, but they'll have to win and get some serious help, and when we say serious help, we mean nine things would have to happen, including a Bucs win and a Redskins tie with the Giants.
Browns (1-14) at Steelers (10-5)
- Opening line: Steelers, -12.5 points
- Current line: Steelers, -7.5 points
When it comes to covering the spread this year, the Browns have been the worst team in the NFL, going just 3-12 ATS. Despite that stat though, this number shrank by five points thanks in large part because the Steelers clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Ravens on Christmas. The Steelers are locked in to the No. 3 seed in the AFC and that won't change whether they win or lose this game. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has already said that he'd like to see the Steelers rest their starters for this game, which means we'll likely see that happen. The slap in the face here for Browns fans is that oddsmakers think the Steelers backups are 7.5 points better than the Browns.
- Opening line: Falcons, -6.5 points
- Current line: Falcons, -6.5 points
This is the second-largest number the Falcons have been favored by all season, and that probably has to do with the fact that they have a lot riding on this game. With a win over New Orleans, Atlanta would clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. However, that's not going to be easy as they go up against a Saints team that has won two in a row and averaged 39.5 points in those two wins. The Saints are also 8-3 ATS in divisional games since 2015, which is the best mark of any team in the NFC over the span. As for the Falcons, they're 4-1 ATS since Thanksgiving, and they've been a good team to bet all year. Atlanta is one of just four teams that has covered in 10 or more games. One of those covers came in Week 2 when the 2.5-point underdog Falcons beat the Saints 45-32 in New Orleans.
- Opening line: Patriots, -6 points
- Current line: Patriots, -7 points
The safest bet of the NFL season has been the Patriots, and this might be the game where you want to go all-in on them. The Patriots will need to win this game to clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. Also, the Dolphins won't have much to play for Sunday since they've already clinched a playoff spot. A Dolphins team playing for nothing vs. a Patriots team playing for everything sounds like a recipe for a big New England win. The Patriots are an NFL-best 12-3 ATS this year, a total that includes a 41-3 win over the Jets in Week 16 where the Pats covered the largest spread of the season (16.5 points).
- Opening line: Cardinals, -7.5 points
- Current line: Cardinals, -7 points
Not even firing Jeff Fisher was enough to spark the Rams. Since Fisher was fired, the Rams are 0-2 both straight up and ATS. If we include Fisher's numbers, things are actually worse: Dating back to Week 5, the Rams are 1-10 straight up and 1-9-1 ATS. Basically, this is not a team you want to be betting on -- unless they're playing the Cardinals. One of L.A.'s four wins this season was a 17-13 win in Arizona in a game where the Cardinals were favored by 10. Although the Cardinals have nothing to play for, they proved against Seattle in Week 16 that they're not going to roll over. This game seems like a true toss-up. First, these two teams have split their past four meetings, and second, they're two of the three worst teams in the NFC when it comes to covering the spread this year.
- Opening line: Chiefs, -4.5 points
- Current line: Chiefs, -4 points
After watching the Chargers lose to the Browns on Saturday, no one will blame you if you never bet on them again. The Chiefs will actually have a lot to play for in this game: If Kansas City wins and the Raiders lose, then KC will win the AFC West title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. With the Raiders and Chiefs playing at the same time, the Chiefs will definitely be playing their starters for all four quarters in this game. One big thing to keep in mind here: The Chiefs are the only team in the NFL with an undefeated division record this year. Kansas City is 5-0 straight-up and 4-1 ATS in divisional games this season (the Chiefs have won 10 division games in a row dating back to last season). On the other hand, the Chargers are 1-4 straight-up and 3-2 ATS. These two teams last met back in Week 1 when the Chargers covered a 6.5 point spread in a 33-27 loss.
Seahawks (9-5-1) at 49ers (2-13)
- Opening line: Seahawks, -9 points
- Current line: Seahawks, -9 points
If the Seahawks want to have any shot at a first-round bye, they're going to have to win this game, which might not be that difficult considering that Seattle has won five straight regular season games in this series. The games haven't been close, either, with the Seahawks winning all five games by at least 10 points. This doesn't seem like the 49ers team that's going to end the drought. The 49ers are 3-11-1 ATS this year, which is the second worst mark in the NFL.
Raiders (12-3) at Broncos (8-7)
- Opening line: Broncos, -3 points
- Current line: Broncos, -3.5 points
If you're wondering how important Derek Carr is to the Raiders, consider this: The Raiders opened as an underdog to the Broncos even though Denver has absolutely nothing to play for in Week 17. With Carr done for the season, it looks like oddsmakers aren't giving Matt McGloin much of a chance to steal a win in Denver. The Raiders need this win in the worst kind of way. If Oakland can beat the Broncos, and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins, then the Raiders would clinch home-field advantage in the AFC. However, if the Raiders lose and the Chiefs win, then Oakland will drop all the way to the fifth seed. With Carr in the lineup, the Raiders went 10-5 ATS this season, which is tied for the second-best mark in the NFL. Without Carr, it's complete mystery how they'll do, so this might be a game you want to stay away from.