With the NFL grouping games with playoff implications into similar start times, there will be plenty of motivation for teams to play out the season on Sunday
With so many teams already out of playoff contention, those still battling to get into the postseason will all be playing in the late-afternoon window on Sunday after the league adjusted the Week 17 schedule and removed the prime-time matchup altogether.
That move impacts bettors who look to take advantage of motivational angles based on must-win situations like these.
For example, three teams fighting for wild card berths just need to pick up a victory to fill out the rest of the playoff field while others need a lot of help. The Baltimore Ravens (9-6) and Tennessee Titans (8-7) can earn the two wild card spots in the AFC by winning as home favorites on the Week 17 odds while the Atlanta Falcons (9-6) can take the last spot in the NFC the same way.
Baltimore is one of the biggest favorites on the board as 9.5-point home chalk against the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Even though the Bengals have been eliminated from postseason contention and will likely be saying good-bye to head coach Marvin Lewis after Sunday, they have won six of the past eight meetings versus the Ravens, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. That, combined with the fact that Baltimore is not expected to have a full house on New Year’s Eve, might make Cincinnati worth a look as a big underdog.
The Titans and Falcons are also involved in divisional matchups, but both are much smaller favorites facing opponents who have already qualified for the playoffs.
Tennessee is a 3.5-point favorite against the AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5), who lost the first meeting at home and plan to play their starters with a potential third game in this series on deck next week.
Atlanta is similar chalk hosting the Carolina Panthers (11-4), a team that still hopes to win the NFC South. The Panthers need the New Orleans Saints (11-4) to lose on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) for that to happen. The Saints have won 10 of the past 12 meetings with the Bucs.