NFL Tipsheet: Mini previews and recommended bets for Week 17 fixtures

Chandler Jones on the warpath
Chandler Jones on the warpath

Luca Bercelli wraps up the regular season with a tip on all of Sunday's games...

"With the Dolphins in crisis and New England with top seeding to play for the W will definitely be heading N"

Recommended Bet
Back the New England Patriots -10.5pts @ 2.111/10

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, 18:00

Backup QB for the Bengals AJ McCarron has looked pretty good in relief of Carrot Top and it doesn't worry me at all that he's at the helm against the 5-10 Ravens. If you take out the home and away wins against divisional rivals Pittsburgh, the Ravens' season has been nothing short of disastrous (I still can't quite work out how they beat the Steelers last week). This should be a cinch for Cincy and only giving up 7.5pts make it one of your bankers.

Recommended Bet
Back the Cincinnati Bengals -7.5pts @ 2.01/1

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears Sunday, 18:00

According to to Betfair's collective punting brain the chances of either team winning this meaningless fixture are similar to heads beating tails in a coin toss. Neither organisation with a 6-9 record should be too fussed about wooden spoon honours in the NFC North, and although Detroit's better recent form could sway you in their direction I'm inclined to side with the home team. Let's face it - if you've underachieved all year long the least you can do is send the fans home happy at season's end. Not even a watching brief unless you are a die-hard Bears fan... there's probably something on 'Dave' that will be much more enjoyable.

Recommended Bet
Back the Chicago Bears to win @ 2.01/1

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans Sunday, 18:00

This game appears to offer more of a solid betting proposition than most this weekend since Houston do actually need the win to secure a playoff spot (although even if they lose they will in all likelihood progress). Add to that the fact that the Jags have really gone off the boil lately with four losses from their last five games (all against mediocre opposition) and the Ten Gallon Hat Mob are worth a nibble at -6.5.

Recommended Bet
Back the Houston Texans -6.5pts @ 2.01/1

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins Sunday, 18:00

Injuries are catching up with the Pats who have lost three of their last five and don't deserve to be Super Bowl favourites in my book. The fact that they've still managed to clinch their division via their 'next man up' philosophy says a lot about their system and coaching staff. Bill Belichick might be the grumpiest man on earth but he knows how to win football games. Luckily for him the Gronk has sidestepped the injury plague and if he's healthy most teams have no answer. With the Dolphins in crisis and New England with top seeding to play for the W will definitely be heading N.

Recommended Bet
Back the New England Patriots -10.5pts @ 2.111/10

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons Sunday, 18:00

'Tis the season to be merry and very very wary, especially of NFL sides with nothing to play for. This game is about as meaningless as they come and for that reason I make it a pick. The fact that the Saints receive 4.5 points and have an unplayable receiver in Brandin Cooks offers a couple of incentives to get involved, but with Drew Brees nursing a foot injury stakes need to be kept skinny.

Recommended Bet
Back the New Orleans Saints +4.5pts @ 2.0521/20

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills Sunday, 18:00

Of all the teams to face in order to nail a play-off spot the Bills are probably one of the last the Jets would have chosen. Rex Ryan will be desperate to get one over on his old employers, but more importantly, he knows most of the Planes' players inside out. Knowing them and beating them are two very different matters, however, and with the Jets currently riding such a roller-coaster of positivity they have to be the call.

Recommended Bet
Back the New York Jets to win @ 1.695/7

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants Sunday, 18:00

Glad to see my Chuck Chip Out campaign finally came to fruition after a season in which the Eagles' coach found new depths of incompetence to plumb. Laughably plenty of experts (Bill Belichick included) have all rushed to Chip's defence, but I'd wager they're only doing so as they know that any team he gets to manage in the future will be a pushover. His list of faults is too long to describe here but my highlights are turning the league's leading rusher into a ski-hat model on the sidelines and drafting Mr Butt-Fumble; no, there is no method in this madness. Back to the game, and although the Eagles might play with more freedom and some of the players are undoubtedly in the shop window, the same old question emerges versus the Giants. Can anyone stop OBJ? The phenom has a huge point to prove after his recent party piece and I think he'll dominate.

Recommended Bet
Back the New York Giants -3.0pts @ 1.910/11

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns Sunday, 18:00

The Browns have improved in recent weeks under John Football but with the emerging quarterback likely to be on the sidelines after concussion, and the Steelers desperate for a win to keep their play-off hopes alive this is likely to be a landslide. Austin Davis is likely to take over for Cleveland and in his one start so far this season he took a 3-37 pasting at the hands of the Bengals; it wouldn't surprise me if this turned out to be Nightmare on Brown Street Pt II.

Recommended Bet
Back the Pittsburgh Steelers -9.5pts @ 1.910/11

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts Sunday, 18:00

A season to forget for the Shi-tans who have only the prospect of the number one pick in the draft to look forward to. That depends on them losing this match so not the biggest incentive ever for them to put a shift in. However, as we've seen on many occasions this is not a sport that lends itself well to anything less than 100% effort so tread carefully. The market has yet to stabilise and there is no handicap available (mainly due to Indy's QB conundrum) so it's a tricky one to put it mildly. My angle is going to be that the handicap might be exaggerated because of Tennessee's incentive to lose and I'll be looking to exploit it.

Recommended Bet
Back the Tennessee Titans on the handicap at best price available

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys Sunday, 18:00

If any team will want to keep their positive momentum going into the post-season I feel it's the Skins and head coach Gruden has intimated as much. He's keen to end the regular season with a four-game winning streak but, as with many of these final games, not much is riding on the outcome. Some starters will be benched as a precaution, but with Dez Bryant out for the Boys and a restless home crowd to contend with, I'm happy to ride the Washington bus for one last time.

Recommended Bet
Back the Washington Redskins to win @ 2.915/8

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, 21:25

The Chiefs pose pass rush problems for the Raiders and actually got to quarterback Derek Carr four times in the reverse fixture in week 13. Despite that worrying statistic Oakland still managed to keep the game close(ish), and with doubts over the participation of Pro Bowl linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali it just could be worth a sneaky one on the Raiders. There will be a lot of emotion around the Silver and Black organisation as it bids farewell to 18-year legend Charles Woodson, and that energy might be enough to propel them to a handicap win.

Recommended Bet
Back the Oakland Raiders +6.5pts @ 2.26/5

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos Sunday, 21:25

I've been pulling for Brock over Pick Six Peyton from day one and if the latter gets any kind of look in over the former the Horses can kiss goodbye to any Super Bowl ambitions they may still hold. Luckily for Denver it seems seems that reason has finally entered the stadium and will carry the day. With Pick Six consigned to Gatorade duties the Broncos can concentrate on notching up the W they need to wrap up the division and earn a first round bye...a carrot of humungous proportions. I'm wary of the 8.5pt handicap, however, so with one and a half super D's on show (the Chargers have a decent pass defence) I'll have a piece of the unders.

Recommended Bet
Back under 40.5pts @ 2.01/1

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals Sunday, 21:25

The Cards are my firm Super Bowl fancies and I expect this game to be part two of the emphatic statement they made to the league last week when they dispatched Green Bay 38-8 in a rout. Coach Bruce Arians (who would be the god of coaches if it wasn't for his taste in hats) has said that the pedal will be firmly to the metal in the season finale, and that no players will be rested. That's what I like to hear...foot on throat and squeeze. The NFC's number one seeding is up for grabs with an Arizona win and a Panthers' loss, and I'm fully convinced that the Cards will fulfill their part of the equation. With this one out of the way there are only three more games to go until the Cards win it all and I head off to a yacht showroom!

Recommended Bet
Back the Arizona Cardinals -3.5pts @ best price available

St Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers Sunday, 21:25

The late season surge by the Rams should extend to a four-game winning streak against the woeful Niners. St Louis dialed up a great all round performance to down the Seahawks last week and if their frisky defence, elusive receivers and stud running back Todd (I'm not) Gurley click again in San Fran, this could be a wide margin win. With only 3.5pts to give up on the spread and even a decent price for the straight win this is must bet material.

Recommended Bet
Back the St Louis Rams to win @ 1.684/6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers Sunday, 21:25

The Panthers must be sick that they lost to the Falcons last week because now they have to win their last game to guarantee home-field advantage throughout the play-offs. That's a big deal, and not a situation they should have allowed to develop playing a mediocre team. I expect the Big Cats to come roaring back as they look to grab the number one seed and banish that poor performance from the memory banks. It's the poor old Bucs who will bear the brunt, and although they've had a decent season nurturing their franchise rookie quarterback, they'll most likely be outmuscled here. The handicap of 10.5pts is well within reach.

Recommended Bet
Back the Carolina Panthers -10.5pts @ 2.0521/20

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