This Sunday will see all 16 NFL games played on one day for the first time all season, giving football bettors a lot to think about leading up to kickoff of the regular-season finales in Week 17. There are just two games with totals sitting above 50 points on the NFL odds for this week at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with many lower-scoring matchups expected.
Trying to figure out what teams are playing starters and for how long is one of the most important handicapping factors to consider. For those teams resting starters, you also need to determine how good reserves are, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
For example, the New Orleans Saints (13-2) have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC along with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Saints are hosting the Carolina Panthers (6-9) in a rematch from their Week 15 game that saw them win 12-9 on the road, with the total easily going UNDER 50.5.
This time around, the total is sitting between 43.5 and 44 points, and New Orleans has not yet revealed whether Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater will be the starting quarterback. Meanwhile, Carolina is down to third-stringer Kyle Allen under center due to injuries to Cam Newton and Taylor Heinicke, so take the UNDER with confidence as this week's best bet.
The Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1) clinch a playoff berth with a win this week, and they are hosting the Chicago Bears (11-4), who have already clinched the NFC North title. The Bears have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed and a bye but need a win and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams (12-3) to make that happen, so they may pull their starters at halftime or earlier if that scenario does not look promising.
Four of Minnesota's last five games have also gone below the total, averaging 39.4 points according to the OddsShark NFL Database, so UNDER 40.5 looks like a solid play here.
The two highest totals on the betting board involve divisional matchups in the AFC West and NFC South. The Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) can lock up the AFC West title and the conference's top seed with a win over the Oakland Raiders (4-11), who lost the first meeting 40-33 at home in Week 13, flying OVER the closing number of 53.5. The total is lower for the second meeting at 52.5, and the only thing that might keep it UNDER is a Kansas City rout, with Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the starters not needing to finish it out.
Eight of the past 10 meetings at Arrowhead Stadium have gone UNDER the total.
In the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons (6-9) close out a disappointing year by visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-10) in a near-pick'em game at sports betting sites. This is the second-highest total between 51 and 52, and rightfully so. Neither team has much to play for, and the OVER has cashed in four of their last five meetings, averaging 57.6 points.