Written By Billy Attridge
NFL Week 17 is one of the more difficult boards in any sport to navigate, as we see plenty of “must-win” narratives flying around. Some teams rest starters, other players and coaches have agendas, and it some cases information is far more valuable than the number. First, let’s take a peak at two NFC South defenses that have trended upward the last quarter of the season. In the NFC East, Philadelphia continues to find ways to win, but can the Giants play spoiler? Finally, we have a monster matchup in the NFC West with playoff implications and a division title on the line. Is there a move on the total coming? Before investing your hard-eanred money this weekend, find out why numbers could be on the move.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay UNDER 48
We’ve seen real improvement on the defensive side of the ball for both teams, and what Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has done is nothing short of amazing. The Buccaneers run defense is #2 in efficiency, and improvement from young players in the secondary has helped Tampa climb to 7th in passing success rate defense. To think early in the year Tampa would have the 10th most efficient defense in the league would be insane. Hats off to coach Bowles! For Dan Quinn, ever since the bye week his Atlanta defense has improved as well. Over the last three games the Falcons have held opponents to just 5.0 yards per play. We’ve seen this total shoot down from the opener of 50.5 at FoxBet.com, to where it currently sits at 48. With the Buccaneers void of its best offensive weapons, and the improvements that have been made defensively by both, this total should continue to drop.
Philadelphia @ New York Giants +4.5
Fresh off their biggest win of the season, Philadelphia travels to New York for a chance to clinch the NFC East and host a Wildcard playoff game. Despite recreational support for the Eagles and the “must win” angle, we’ve seen profession money on the Giants at +5 and +4.5. Three weeks ago at home, and with an arguably healthier team, Philadelphia needed a 4th quarter comeback and overtime to beat this Giants team with Eli Manning at the helm. Two weeks ago, Philly needed another 4th quarter drive to beat Washington. Last weeks Cowboys game took its toll on some of the Eagles very best players; TE Zach Ertz came away with broken ribs, CB Ronald Darby injured his hip flexor, DT Fletcher Cox is dealing with a triceps tear, and CB Jalen Mills aggravated an ankle injury. With OT Lane Johsnon likely unable to go, and many others like Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard still on the mend, it’s tough to justify this price. The Giants defensive front does a good job stopping the run (currently 4th in defensive run success rate) and defending short passes. The narrative is that the Cowboys are dead, their season is over, and Philadelphia has the NFC east division on lock. But there’s one game left, and the Giants would love to play spoiler. Unlike the Redskins game two weeks ago where the spread shot out to +7, I doubt this line much higher despite the “must-win” attached.
San Francisco @ Seattle UNDER 47
In the marquee Week 17 game of the day, San Francisco looks to avenge its earlier loss to Seattle. Let’s start with the number here from a side perspective. Due to the lackluster performance by the Seahawks last week, the mountain of injuries piling up, and the year long metrics showing what Seattle truly is, we’ve seen a move from the 49ers PICK to -3.5 at FoxBet.com. Seattle has injuries along the offensive line, as LT Duane Brown is out, C Justin Britt is on (IR) and won’t return, his backup Joey Hunt hasn’t practiced this week, LG Mike Iupati hasn’t practiced, and now all of a sudden Jones and Ifedi are on the injury report. The only offensive lineman not on the injury report this week is D.J. Fluker. In the backfield, Seattle was forced to sign Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin now that Carson, Penny and Prosise are all out for the season. Add the loss of WR Josh Gordon, and the Seahawks will need a truly magical performance from Russel Wilson to be able to have success offensively. When San Francisco has the ball, we should look for them to utilize their powerful run game against a Seattle defensive line that should be getting back DE Jadeveon Clowney, but still has holes on the interior. With CB Shaquille Griffin also likely to be available, and a questionable status on S Quandre Diggs, we could see some health return to the defensive side of the ball. Factoring in the magnitude of this game combined with it being the second meeting, grabbing the Under 47 at that key number before these defensive players are announced in could be the way to go.