Fri, Dec 29, 9:47am by Staff Writer
The final week of the 2017 NFL season is upon us, with a number of teams still jostling for playoff positions.
In the AFC, New England and Pittsburgh have both earned a first-round bye and have a 12-3 record through 15 games.
Jacksonville and Kansas City have won their respective divisions so are expected to rest some of their star players ahead of their games this weekend.
Baltimore, Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo are fighting for two wild card berths, with the Ravens in the box seat at 9-6, while the remaining teams are 8-7.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles are atop the NFC at 13-2 with home field advantage. The Vikings (12-3) and Los Angeles Rams (11-4) are fighting it out for second place in the NFC and a first-round bye, with the Vikings needing a win this weekend.
The New Orleans Saints (11-4) and Carolina Panthers (11-4) are both guaranteed a playoff spot, with the wildcard battle between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks sure to capture the league’s attention this weekend.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburg Steelers
Monday, 1 January 2018 at 5am AEDST
The Cleveland Browns have assured themselves the number one draft pick for the second consecutive season after an 0-15 performance so far.
The Browns are at their final hurdle in the 2017 season, with one last chance to avoid the embarrassment of a winless season.
They face one of the best teams in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers who are looking to lock up top seed in the AFC. To do that, they would need New England to lose at home to the New York Jets. The Patriots are 17-point favourites.
The Browns are atrocious, turning the ball over nine times in the red zone this season, including twice last weekend in a shocking 20-3 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown won’t be on the field Sunday as he is nursing a sore leg. The Steelers may only play their starters for the first half, depending what is going on in New England.
With that in mind, the Browns have a fighting chance of keeping this game close against a Pittsburgh team that will have one eye on the playoffs.
Best bet- Pittsburgh Steelers Big Win Little Win 1-13 points at $2.58
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Monday, 1 January 2018 at 8.25am AEDST
In Carolina’s first trip to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium they are facing a desperate Atlanta Falcons team who are in need of a win to assure their playoff position.
In week 9 this year, the Panthers were three-point underdogs and defeated the Falcons 20-17. Carolina’s rushing game was the difference on that day, amassing 201 yards.
Carolina has a chance of winning the division if New Orleans loses to Tampa.
The Falcons were 1/10 on third down last weekend and had 10 penalties, eight offensive in their 23-13 loss at New Orleans
The Falcons have home-field advantage against a team with a slim chance of winning the division. The small line looks appealing in this fixture.
Best bet- Atlanta Falcons to cover -4.0 at $1.95
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Monday, 1 January 2018 at 8.25am AEDST
The Bengals have been very disappointing after having hopes of making the playoffs this season. Coach Marvin Lewis is as good as gone at season’s end and questions have to be asked about where the Bengals offensive game was this season.
For the Ravens the equation is simple; win and they’re in the playoffs.
The Ravens are double-digit home favourites in consecutive weeks, going 2-0 in that scenario this season.
The Bengals haven’t been such heavy underdogs on the road in three seasons, giving away 10.5 points in this match.
The Ravens have won five of their last six games and the offense has come to life with quarterback Joe Flacco completing 64.9 per cent of his passes. Despite beating the Detroit Lions last weekend, the Bengals won’t have much interest in this match-up.
The Ravens should roll.
Best bet- Baltimore Ravens to Big Win Little Win 14+ at $2.28
All odds provided by Sportsbet
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