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Market Insights: Early action for NFL Week 17

December 24, 2019 05:46 AM

The Packers upset the Vikings 23-10 on Monday Night Football, much to the chagrin of sportsbooks and sharps. More than two-thirds of bets took Green Bay plus the points, yet liability remained on Minnesota all week long (opened -4, reached -5.5 and closed at -4.5). However, the public got the last laugh as the Packers won straight up ( 180 on the moneyline) to clinch their first NFC North title since 2016. 

With the loss, Kirk Cousins drops to 0-9 on Monday Night Football. The Vikings had already clinched a playoff spot and will enter the postseason as one of two NFC Wild Card teams.

Despite the Vikings failing to cover, Monday Night Football favorites finished 10-7 ATS (58.8%) this season. 

Wiseguys were able to cash the under 47. With the win, December divisional unders are now 15-8 (65%) this season and 57% since 2003 according to Bet Labs Sports. When the total is 45 or higher the under improves to 60%. 

This trend will be extra important in Week 17 as all 16 matchups feature divisional games.

The VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum will be on a two-day hiatus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and can't wait to be back at it starting on Friday.

In the meantime, let's discuss where early sharp action is flowing for five Week 17 games. 

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-2)

This AFC North matchup means much more to the Steelers than it does for the Ravens. Pittsburgh is still alive in the playoff hunt but needs a win and a lot of other breaks in the final week in order to make the playoffs. The Steelers have dropped two straight, including last week's disappointing 16-10 defeat to the lowly Jets as 3-point favorites. Meanwhile, the Ravens have wrapped up the number 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout. As a result, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has decided to rest many of his starters. Robert Griffin III will start at quarterback over Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens opened as 3-point home favorites. As soon as the news broke that Jackson and others were sitting, wiseguys crushed Pittsburgh and flipped the line to Steelers -2. Week 17 favorites are 53% ATS since 2003. Baltimore has value as a home divisional dog. Sharps have crushed the under, dropping it down from 40 to 38. The forecast calls for 8-10 MPH winds. These two teams met in early October and Baltimore won 26-23 but failed to cover as 3.5-point favorites. The over is 8-7 in Ravens games but the under is 12-3 in Steelers games. 

Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5)

This AFC South grudge match features two teams with differing motivations. The Titans can clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC with a win. Tennessee is coming off a 38-28 loss to the Saints as 3-point dogs, but is expected to have star RB Derrick Henry back for the regular season finale. The Texans just beat the Buccaneers 23-20 as 3-point favorites last week and have already clinched the division and punched their ticket to the postseason. 

This line opened with Tennessee listed as a 6-point road favorite. Houston Head Coach Bill O'Brien said he planned on playing all of his starters in this game even though the outcome doesn't matter playoff-wise. As a result, sharp money has grabbed the Texans plus the points, dropping the line down to 4.5 or even 4 at some shops. Houston has value as a divisional home dog and enjoys one extra day of rest having played last Saturday. The total has fallen from 47 to 46. The Texans beat the Titans 24-21 as 3-point dogs two weeks ago. 

San Francisco 49ers (12-3) at Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

The stakes are massive for this NFC West showdown. Both teams have clinched playoff spots. But the winner of this game wins the division while the loser drops to a Wild Card spot. The 49ers avenged an unexpected 29-22 loss to the Falcons as 10-point favorites two weeks ago with a 34-31 win over the Rams last Saturday (but failed to cover as 7-point favorites). The Seahawks started the season 10-2 but have gone just 1-2 in their last three games, including a disappointing 27-13 loss to the Cardinals last week as 8-point favorites.

This line opened with San Francisco listed as a 3-point road favorite. Three-out-of-four bets are laying the points, which has juiced up the 49ers to -3 (-120), signaling a likely move to -3.5. Seattle has value as a contrarian home divisional dog. The Seahawks are dealing with several key injuries, losing running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise along with offensive lineman Duane Brown. The Seahawks have brought back Marshawn Lynch for this game and the upcoming playoffs. This is a revenge game for the 49ers, who lost to the Seahawks 27-24 as 6.5-point favorites in early November. The total has ticked down slightly from 47.5 to 47, signaling some early sharp under money. 

Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Denver Broncos (6-9)

The Raiders are technically still in the playoff hunt but will need to win this game and catch several improbable breaks in order to sneak into the postseason. Oakland is coming off a clutch 24-17 win over the Chargers as 7.5-point underdogs, which snapped a 4-game losing skid. Denver has been eliminated from playoff contention. Last week the Broncos took down the Lions 27-17 as 8-point favorites. 

This AFC West matchup opened with Denver listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. Some shops opened closer to -4.5 and have fallen to -3.5. Oakland has value as a road divisional dog (27-17 ATS, 61% this season), a short road dog 6 or less (52-37 ATS, 58%) and a dog with a low total. Wiseguys have jumped on the under, dropping the line from 42 to 41. Both teams are 8-7 to the under. These two teams met up in Week 1 with the Raiders upsetting the Broncos 24-16 as 3-point dogs. 

Atlanta Falcons (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccanneers (7-8)

 

This NFC South showdown features two division rivals who have both been eliminated from playoff contention. Atlanta started the season 1-7 but has gone 5-2 since and is riding a three-game winning streak, most recently beating the Jags 24-12 as 7.5-point favorites. The Bucs have won five of their last seven games but had their four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday, falling to the Texans 23-20 as a 3-point home dog. 

This line opened with Tampa Bay listed as a short 2-point home favorite. Both Pros and Joes have pounced on the Falcons, moving this line down to a pick'em. Sharps have gotten down hard on the under, driving the line down from 50 to 49. The forecast calls for 10 MPH winds. These two teams met up in late-November and the Bucs won 35-22 as 3.5-point underdogs.

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