The Steelers are going to be desperate for a win in Week 17 to keep their playoff hopes alive and that desperation has led oddsmakers to make Pittsburgh a monstrous favorite over the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the early odds for Week 17, the Steelers have opened as a 16.5-point favorite over the Bengals. If that seems like a huge number, that's because it is. Not only is it tied for the second-biggest point spread of the 2018 season, but it's also the second-most points the Steelers have ever been favored by in a game.
The only time the Steelers were a bigger favorite came in 1976, when they traveled to Tampa Bay to play an expansion Buccaneers team that was 0-12 at the time. In that game, the Steelers were anywhere between a 26- and 27-point favorite at most sports books. Although the Steelers covered with a 42-0 win, the team is 0-3 against the spread (ATS) when favored by 15 or more points during Ben Roethlisberger's career.
The reason the point spread is so big this week is because the Steeler HAVE to win if they want to have a shot at the playoffs. The Steelers' easiest path to the postseason is a win over the Bengals combined with a Ravens loss to the Browns. Not only are the Steelers in a must-win situation, but they'll also be facing a Bengals team that will be starting a backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel.
The Steelers are the fourth team this season to be favored by 16 or more points. In the three prior games, the favorite went 0-3 ATS and 2-1 straight-up. (The only loss was the Bills' 27-6 upset win over the Vikings as a 16.5-point underdog in Week 3. In the other two games, the Bengals covered as a 17-point underdog to the Chargers with a 26-21 loss in Week 14 and the Cardinals covered as a 16.5-point underdog to the Chiefs with a 26-14 loss in Week 10).
So, who else is favored?
Let's get to the odds for the final week of the regular season.
NFL Week 17 early odds
All lines from Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, all games on Sunday. Keep in mind, the point spreads you see below represent the opening odds for Week 17. For the most up-to-date line on each game, you can click here)
Bengals (6-9) at Steelers (8-6-1)
Opening line: Steelers -16.5
The Steelers have won nine of the last 10 in this series and have gone 8-2 ATS in those games. This will mark only the eighth time over the past 25 years that the Bengals have been an underdog of 14 points or more. They've gone 7-1 ATS (0-8 straight-up) in those games. The Bengals are 2-8 straight-up in their past 10 games and 3-7 ATS.
Dolphins (7-8) at Bills (5-10)
Opening line: Bills -3.5
If there's one thing that Florida teams aren't very good at, it's playing on the road in December. In their past 10 December road games, the Dolphins have gone 3-7 straight-up and just 2-8 ATS. Of course, it's not just December, the Dolphins have been bad in every road game lately, with a 2018 record of 1-6 straight-up and 2-5 ATS. On the Bills' end, they're 0-4 ATS in their past four games and 6-9 ATS on the season. These two teams played back in Week 13 with the Dolphins covering as a 3.5-point favorite in a 21-17 home win.
Opening line: Packers -7.5
The only time the Packers have been any good this year is when they're playing at home. The Packers are 5-1-1 at Lambeau Field, which includes a mark of 4-3 ATS. Of course, the Lions probably won't be intimidated and that's because they've won three straight against Green Bay and two of their past three at Lambeau. Back in Week 5, the Lions covered as a one-point favorite in a 31-23 home win over the Packers. Although the Lions have had recent success at Lambeau, they're just 2-23 straight-up playing in Green Bay since 1993. One other note on the Lions is that they're 5-2 ATS on the road this year, which is tied for the fifth-best mark in the NFL.
Raiders (3-11) at Chiefs (11-4)
Opening line: NO LINE
When the line is released for this game, expect it to be one of the biggest points spreads of the season. For one, Kansas City was a 14-point favorite when these two teams met in Oakland back in Week 13 and since this game is at Arrowhead, the spread will likely only get bigger. Also, the Chiefs have a lot to play for. A win over the Raiders would clinch the AFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. In their past 10 games against the Raiders, the Chiefs are 8-2 straight-up and 6-4 ATS. Although the Chiefs have been nearly unbeatable at home this year (6-1 straight-up), they've struggled ATS, going just 3-4. No matter what the spread is, one thing to keep in mind with the Chiefs is that they're 0-5-1 ATS over the past six weeks.
Bears (11-4) at Vikings (8-6-1)
Opening line: Vikings -6.5
If you're wondering why the Vikings are such a big favorite here, it's simple: This is basically a playoff game for them. If the Vikings win, then they'll be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. If they lose, their season could end. As for the Bears, although they still have a shot at a first-round bye, that can only happen if the Rams lose to the 49ers. The Bears have covered in four of their past five games against the Vikings, including a game back in Week 11 when the Bears won 25-20 as a 2.5-point favorite. The Bears are 8-1 both straight-up and ATS in their past nine games and they're 11-4 ATS on the season, which is the best mark in the NFL.
Opening line: Patriots -13.5
There are a lot of reasons to bet on the Patriots in this game. For one, a win over the Jets will clinch a much-needed first-round bye in the postseason. The Patriots are also the only team in the NFL this year that's undefeated in home games with a record of 7-0 (5-2 ATS). Oh, and let's not forget the fact that the Patriots are 10-0 straight-up and 9-1 ATS in the past 10 games where they've been favored by 13 or more points. The Jets have also lost 10 straight to Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium. One reason to like New York might be the fact that they're 3-1 ATS in their past four games against the Patriots.
Opening line: NO LINE
The reason there's no line on this game actually has to do with both teams. For one, it's not clear who the Panthers quarterback will be on Sunday. Not only did Taylor Heinicke get banged up in Week 16, but he also struggled in his first career start, throwing three interceptions. As for the Saints, they've clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC, which means there's basically a 99.9 percent chance that they'll be resting their starters. The Saints are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games against Carolina and 10-5 ATS on the season, which is the second-best mark in the NFL.
Opening line: Giants -7
With the Cowboys locked into the fourth seed in the NFC, they have nothing to play for in this game, which means they'll likely be resting their starters. That means that biggest question in this game is: Do you trust the Giants' starters to beat the Cowboys' backups by more than seven points? The Giants are 1-4 ATS in the past five games where they were favored by a touchdown or more. The Giants have also lost three straight to the Cowboys (0-3 ATS), including a game in Week 2 where the Cowboys covered as a three-point favorite in a 20-13 win
Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (5-10)
Opening line: Falcons -2.5
This game has zero playoff implications, which means the one thing you might want to keep in mind is that the Falcons are 5-10 ATS on the year, which is tied for the worst mark in the NFL (Tampa is 6-7-2 ATS). The Falcons have also been bad on the road, going 2-5 both straight-up and ATS. On the other hand, one reason to like the Falcons might be the fact that they have four-straight wins over the Bucs and have gone 3-1 ATS in those games.
Opening line: Eagles -7.5
If the Eagles want to have any shot at the playoffs, they have to win this game, which is why they're such a heavy favorite. One thing you never want to do is bet against Nick Foles. Since taking over for Carson Wentz in Week 15 of 2017, the Eagles have gone 8-1 straight-up and 6-3 ATS in games where Foles has played from start to finish. The Eagles have also won and covered in three-straight games against the Redskins. Of course, the Redskins have their own secret weapon in quarterback Josh Johnson: the team is 2-0 ATS in games where he's played this year. The Redskins are 9-6 ATS overall on the year, which is the fifth-best mark in the NFL.
Browns (7-7-1) at Ravens (9-6)
Opening line: Ravens -6
If the Ravens beat the Browns, they'll win the AFC North, but it won't be easy and that's because the Browns are on a roll. In their past six games, the Browns have gone 5-1 straight-up and 4-2 ATS. Of course, the Ravens have been just as hot over the past few weeks. Since Lamar Jackson took over the starting job in Week 11, the Ravens have gone 5-1 straight-up and 4-2 ATS. Although the Ravens have won five of their past six games against the Browns (5-1 ATS), that one loss came earlier this season in Cleveland, when the three-point underdog Browns beat the Ravens 12-9. The Ravens are 9-1 straight-up in the past 10 games where they were favored by six or more points (5-5 ATS).
Opening line: Texans -7.5
To clinch the AFC South, all the Texans have to do is beat a Jaguars team that struggles on the road in December. Including Sunday's win in Miami, the Jaguars are 2-13 straight-up and 6-9 ATS in their past 15 December road games. The Jaguars have also struggled on the road this year, going 2-5 straight-up and 2-4-1 ATS. One thing that should worry the Texans is that the Jags have won two of three in this series and have gone 3-1 ATS in the past four games between these two teams. The Texans are also just 3-6-1 ATS in the past 10 games where they were favored by a touchdown or more. One thing to keep in mind for this game is that the Texans won't have Demaryius Thomas, who ruptured his Achilles in Week 16.
Chargers (11-4) at Broncos (6-8)
Opening line: NO LINE
When the opening odds for Week 17 were released on Sunday, it wasn't clear if the Chargers would have anything to play for this week, but we now know that they well. The Chargers could still clinch the division title and the top seed in the AFC if they beat the Broncos AND the Chiefs lose to the Raiders. However, a Chargers win in this game definitely isn't guaranteed and that's because they've struggled against the Broncos in the past. In their past 10 games against Denver, the Chargers are just 3-7 straight-up and 4-5-1 ATS. That total includes a game back in Week 11 where the Broncos pulled off a 23-22 upset as a 7.5-point underdog in L.A. Of course, one reason to like the Chargers is that they've been one of the best road teams in the NFL this year. The Chargers have gone 6-1 both straight-up and ATS away from L.A., with the ATS mark being the second best of any team in the league this season.
49ers (4-11) at Rams (12-3)
Opening line: Rams -10
This is a huge game for the Rams and that's because if they win, they'll clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. However, if they lose, they could be stuck playing in the wild-card round if the Bears beat the Vikings. The problem for the Rams is that they're playing a team they tend to have trouble with. In their past six games against the 49ers, the Rams are 2-4 straight-up and 1-5 ATS. The Rams have also been in a rut, losing two of their past three games. Of course, betting on the 49ers is never smart, especially on the road. The 49ers are on the only team in the NFL that hasn't won a game on the road this year (0-7) and they've gone 2-5 ATS in those games. The 49ers are also 5-10 ATS on the season, which is the tied for the worst mark in the NFL. On the Rams' end, they're just 3-7-1 ATS in their past 11 games.
Cardinals (3-12) at Seahawks (9-6)
Opening line: NO LINE
The reason there's no opening line in this game is because it's not clear how the Seahawks are going to play it. After clinching playoff berth with their win over the Chiefs, the Seahawks could rest their starters in Week 17 or they could try and win the game in order to lock up the fifth-seed in the NFC, which would give them an opening round playoff game against the Cowboys. The Seahawks have actually struggled against the Cardinals, going just 5-4-1 straight-up in their past 10 games. That being said, you might not want to bet against the Seahawks at home no matter what the spread is. In seven games this year, they're 5-2 straight-up and 5-1-1- ATS, which is the second best home mark in the NFL. The Seahawk are also 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven games overall. As for the Cards, they're 1-5 ATS in their past six games.
Opening line: NO LINE
The reason there's no line in this Sunday night showdown is because oddsmakers don't know who's going to be playing quarterback for the Titans. Marcus Mariota injured his elbow in Week 16 and didn't return to the game. If Mariota can't go, then the Titans will roll with Blaine Gabbert. Of course, no matter who starts, the Colts might be the pick here and that's because one of the biggest locks you can bet on in the NFL is Andrew Luck against the Titans.
Since Luck's rookie year in 2012, he's a perfect 10-0 straight-up against the Titans and 7-1-2 ATS. That total includes a home game for the Colts back in Week 11 when they covered as a one-point favorite in a 38-10 win. One thing to keep in mind is that this is basically a playoff game: The winner will be going to the playoffs and the loser will see their season end.