The final Sunday of the NFL season is always odd. Usually a maximum 10-15 teams have something to play for, and often it can be a lot less. In these situations, motivation can be tough to read. Sometimes teams will play hard just simply because they have players fighting for job, or they want to put the axe into a division rival. My general advice in this situation is caution. Yes, it is the final week of the season and you want to make the most of it but beware losing a lot of money getting carried away. Even the teams with something to play for may just decide to shut up shop once they have a comfortable lead, which may prevent them covering the spreads. My final piece of advice is to identify your teams you believe have something to play for and look to parlay a group of them to win.
Here are this week’s NFL Picks:
Bet of the Week:
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings | 1:00 pm EST
1u – Chicago Bears +1.5 @ -110
- The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to play for in this game
- After a bad season the Bears are likely to be looking to restore pride with a victory over their rivals
Right now, the Vikings have made no decision on whether they will play or rest their starters in this one. However, while they want to build momentum for next week, I seriously doubt they want their starters playing for a full 60 minutes. Therefore, I expect we see the Vikings starters pulled in the second half. That will leave the Bears with a chance to escape this season with a divisional victory they can point at this offseason when people question their season.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills | 1:00 pm EST
1u – New York Jets +1 @ -110
- The Buffalo Bills cannot change their seeding for the playoffs
- The New York Jets are looking to continue a relatively strong finish to the season
This is a similar story to the game above. The Bills will likely give their starters “a showing”, but will they be in for long? Probably not. Meanwhile the Jets are still trying to build a culture and a style. After a big win over the Steelers last week, a win on the road against a double-digit win playoff team will be a nice “trophy” for this team this offseason.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns | 1:00 pm EST
1u – Cincinnati Bengals +3 @ -110
- The Cleveland Browns have been one of the most dysfunctional teams this season
- The Cincinnati Bengals have secured the number one pick and demonstrated a lot of fight last week against the Miami Dolphins
The Browns have largely failed to motivate themselves at the best of times this season. In a “dead-rubber” type game to end the season, I am not even sure a battle for Ohio will be enough. Elements of this team have simply quit, and Freddie Kitchens does not seem popular enough that his team will rally to save his job. In contrast, the Bengals are fighting hard. They erased a 22-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins last week, and their quarterback is fighting for his NFL career. I just think there is only one of these two teams playing hard in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans | 4:25 pm EST
1u – Tennessee Titans -3.5 @ -107
- Per Statschecker, the Houston Texans are 2-5 ATS at home
- The Texans can improve their seed if the Chiefs lose, but they will know before kickoff whether that is possible
This is a bet to wait until Sunday to make. The Texans have said they will not rest their starters, but if the Chiefs have won in the early kickoff, then they just might change their minds. The Texans home form ATS has been miserable this season and the Titans have their best player, Derrick Henry, rested and ready to roll. If the Chiefs lose then I would not be placing this bet.
By Ben Rolfe