There have been some major pointspread moves since the NFL Week 17 opening odds were released on Sunday night, and the so-called sharps or Wiseguys or big betting groups have been backing the Bears, Buccaneers, Browns and Patriots enough to move numbers 2, 3 and even 4½ points already from openers as the regular season wraps up with all 16 games on Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings At Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. EST
Open: Vikings -6½, Sunday (BetOnline)
Monday: Vikings -5 +100 (BookMaker)
Some sharps are backing Chicago here in this NFC North matchup. Minnesota’s postseason bubble was burst in Green Bay in Week 16, so the Vikings may be short on motivation in Week 17, even at their new home. The Bears are used to playing with their bubble burst. Remember when we thought the Vikings were Super Bowl contenders?
Chicago (3-12 SU) had been playing inspired football, but backup QB Matt Barkley threw 5 Interceptions in an ugly 41-21 Loss to the Redskins in Chicago in Week 16, and like many in the NFL, Chicago could really use a QB ... or two.
Carolina Panthers At Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. EST
Open: Buccaneers -3½, Sunday (BetOnline)
Monday: Buccaneers -7 +120 (5Dimes)
Some big early movement in this NFC South matchup, and it’s all because the Playoff Picture shows Tampa Bay (8-7-0 SU) as the NFC’s No. 8 seed, meaning the Buccaneers have to win here against eliminated Carolina (6-9) and get a miracle-level amount of help to reach the playoffs. But buyer beware as this number may already be out of hand in a game the Cats could win. Tampa Bay is just 3-4 at home and it’s still hard to trust second-year QB Jameis Winston, who threw 2 crucial Interceptions in a 31-24 Week 16 loss at NO.
Cleveland Browns At Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. EST
Open: Steelers -11 Sunday (BetOnline)
Monday: Steelers -7 -111 (BetDSI)
The Week 17 Advanced Line line from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook for this opened Steelers -16½, so Antonio Brown being able to reach the pigskin over the goalline and get host Pittsburgh (+1150 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) the win over Baltimore Christmas Day has made a reality here where early sharp bettors (again) wanted the 1-14 Browns. And we’ve already seen a 4-point swing from the Sunday night opening 11 to the Monday afternoon 7 in this meaningless humdrum AFC North matchup.
So that’s a 9½-point difference between the Advanced Line (-16½, Dec. 20) and Monday’s (Dec. 26) 7 hanging at offshore sportsbooks like BookMaker, BetOnline and Heritage. Last week we recommended laying the 16½ here, so, we’ve literally defined “getting the worst of it.” Without motivation, the hosts may be ambivalent.
New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. EST
Open: Patriots -6, Sunday (BetOnline)
Monday: Patriots -10½ (5Dimes)
The burning desire by current No. 1 seed New England to earn that precious home-field Advantage throughout the AFC playoffs is the reason the sharps have moved the number 4½ points already in this AFC East matchup. Should the Patriots (+310 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) lose to the Dolphins (125/1 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) -- who give zero funks cause they’re already in -- in Miami Gardens and the No. 2 seed Raiders win at the Broncos in Week 17 (DEN -2½ -120, Intertops), then Oakland would earn that valuable AFC home-field edge.
New England HC Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady remember how tough it was in Denver last postseason and still have a Deflategate-bitterness motivating them. Pick: Patriots -9 -105 (Heritage)
NFL OVERALL ATS PICKS RECORD: 81-63-3