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Handicapping NFL: Best Week 17 Matchups

NFL Online Betting Week 17 Monster Games

We’re just days away from the end of what’s been an incredible online NFL betting regular season, and as we head into this weekend’s play there’s numerous games with playoff implications and even more muddled scenarios that may or may not put your favorite team into postseason. All of which that makes it easy to forget about a Week 2 blown call and a 1-15 team of last season, which will fuel two of Week 17’s monstrous games.  

AFC West Title Game

Trailing the San Diego Chargers 38-31 in the waning seconds of Week 2’s game, the Denver Broncos were poised to find the end zone with the pigskin resting on the 1-yard line on a second-and-goal. Denvers’ Jay Cutler reared back to throw for the score when the ball clearly slipped out of his hands, bounced off the Mile High grass and into Chargers’ linebacker Tim Dobbins’ arms. Game over, right? Wrong!

Referee Ed Hochuli blew his whistle when the ball came out, ruling it an incomplete pass. A review showed an obvious fumble. But with the play blown dead on an inadvertent whistle, instant replay and reversal wasn’t an option as the Broncos lived to fight on. Two plays after the botched call, Cutler hit Eddie Royal for a 4-yard TD strike to make it 38-37. Instead of coach Mike Shanahan sending place-kicker Matt Prater on the field for the PAT try to tie the game, he rolled the dice and won 39-38 with a successful 2-point attempt with 29 seconds remaining.

The call took cash out of the hands of San Diego investors that bought stock in the bolts at -1, and bailed out the online NFL betting fans in Denver with a push. Ref Hochuli’s inadvertent whistle also sets the stage for a Week 17 one-game playoff between the Broncos and Chargers with an AFC West crown and postseason berth at stake.

Last week, Philip Rivers, who’s the NFL’s highest-rated passer, threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns, leading his club to a 41-24 victory over Tampa Bay for their third straight win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Chargers have won 13 consecutive December games SU, including seven on the road, since a loss at Kansas City on Dec. 24, 2005. As well, they’ve earned holiday cash regularly with a stout 7-1 ATS record in their last eight games played in December.

San Diego got help when Buffalo, as the touchdown underdogs, beat Denver 30-23. The Broncos blew an early 13-0 lead and lost in the second-coldest game in Denver’s history, setting up the due-or-die game on Sunday night. Despite the frigid temps, Cutler threw for 359 yards and broke Jake Plummer’s franchise record with 4,210 yards for the season, but threw a costly pick at the goal line with six minutes to go. It was Denver’s third consecutive loss SU and ATS. Not good news for Bronco backers with their banged up club heading into a colossal division matchup, owning a stagnant 3-13-1 ATS mark in their last 17 games versus AFC West opponents.

San Diego was 3-5 SU and 3-4-1 ATS before their Week 9 bye, leaving much of the NFL wagering public scratching their heads after appearing so dominate last season. The Broncos led the Chargers by three games with three to go, but now face the possibility of watching the playoffs on television from home for the third straight year.

Sunday night’s showdown, starting at 8:15pm EST, is the regular-season finale and what a way to end the campaign. The AFC West rivals will fight for the division title and their postseason lives at Qualcomm Stadium, where the bolts have covered ten of its last 14, with the Chargers being the BetUS NFL odds 8-point favorites (Total 50½). If you bet on NFL action, you’ll most likely get down on this one. Here’s some key online NFL wagering trends to keep in mind, followed by a look at Miami Dolphins and New Yorks Jets matchup, towing equally as heavy stakes.

Key head-to-head Denver at San Diego sports betting trends:

—Broncos are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
—Favorite is 5-2-4 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
—Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.

AFC East Title Games

Heading into last week’s play, there was a three-way tie atop the AFC East between the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Among the trio, the Jets were the one that crashed and burned, losing 13-3 at a snowy Seattle.

Brett Favre finished just 18-of-31 for 187 yards and two interceptions. The Jets were 8-3 earlier in the season and the legendary gunslinger seemed to have his new team well on its way to the playoffs. But New York has lost three of four, failing to cover in all four, while Favre has thrown just one touchdown pass and six interceptions during the bankroll busting span.

Meanwhile, Miami beat Kansas City on the road in a 38-31 shootout, and New England thrashed Arizona at home in a 47-7 rout. That puts the Fins and Pats in a division first-place tie at 10-5. New York must now down Miami at home, and hope either New England or Baltimore, also 10-5, stumble to get in the playoffs. The Pats are at Buffalo (1:00pm EST) and the Ravens, playing for the AFC’s final wild-card, host Jacksonville (4:15pm EST).

A year after going 1-15, the Dolphins can clinch the AFC East next weekend by beating the Jets, the team that pushed Miami QB Chad Pennington aside when it acquired Favre. Last week’s win made the Dolphins the first team to win 10 games after winning only one the prior season. Pennington finished 26-of-34 with 235 yards and three TDs, leading Miami to its fourth straight win and eighth in the last nine games.

The Favre-Pennington battle is immeasurable, starting at 4:15pm EST. Oddsmakers are giving the Jets a slight -2½ edge with a game total of 42. The Dolphins are one more win of completing the unthinkable. It’s certainly a feel good story unless your a Pats’ fan, who will be pulling for the Jets and Jags.

Key head-to-head Miami at Jets online sports betting trends:

—Dolphins are 4-20-2 ATS in their last 26 meetings.
—Dolphins are 1-7-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings in New York.
—Road team is 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.

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