NFL Week 17 Lookahead Lines Report

Dec 23, 2021
NFL Week 17 Lookahead Lines Report

Trying to predict where each game's line is going to re-open isn't complicated, but it's invaluable. Week 16's top play, the Packers -6, moved through the seven and is now 7.5 across the board. I typically have more than one play from the lookahead market each week, but these are unique days.

In a normal year, betting on a side within 48 hours of kick is a long-term losing play for 99% of casual bettors. This season, and especially this month, my desire and edge in getting down early are slowly diminishing. I believe the tenants of betting lookahead lines are strong, but in the current climate, you have to be willing to accept the added layer of variance COVID-19 brings.

With that said, I still believe the only way to consistently put yourself in a position to gain positive expected value (+EV) while betting on NFL sides is to beat the closing line. Sportsbooks gradually increase the limits they let bettors get down as the week progresses, which is an indication the book feels they've priced the game correctly. Unless you're waiting later in the week because you're betting five-to-six figures on a side, your +EV increases if you can get down on a number before it's sharpened by the whales.

Each week of the season, I provide a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of lookahead lines. This brief lookahead window provides a sneak peek at how teams are valued by bookmakers prior to the start of the week. It's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening after the previous week's games are complete. These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of the recency bias that comes after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down you'd like, depending on your unit sizing. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number was.

When I take a position on a lookahead line, I believe the current number will beat the closing line. At times, it ends up being the best of the number, which is ideal. Basically, I'm parlaying my handicap. In essence, if I'm right in my Week 16 evaluation of the team and market, I'm going to have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 17.

For reference, I'll be using the initial odds released by Westgate back in May to show you how the game opened. You can use the game tiles below to find the best number, and the spread listed is based on the home team:

2021 Week 17 NFL Lookahead Lines
Eagles @ Football Team +3 -3
Panthers @ Saints -7 -6.5
Buccaneers @ Jets +11.5 +8.5
Dolphins @ Titans -3.5 -3
Jaguars @ Patriots -16 -5.5
Raiders @ Colts -8.5 -6.5
Chiefs @ Bengals +4 +7.5
Giants @ Bears -4.5 -2
Falcons @ Bills -13.5 -8.5
Cardinals @ Cowboys -2.5 -1.5
Texans @ 49ers -15 -13.5
Broncos @ Chargers -6 -3
Rams @ Ravens +3 -3
Lions @ Seahawks -9 -9.5
Vikings @ Packers -6.5 -3
Browns @ Steelers -1 pk

Week 17 Lookahead Lines Takeaways

I'm always on the hunt for scheduling and travel advantages. For the most part, these quirks are already baked into the number, but there are instances each week that aren't accurately accounted for in the market. Week 17 features numerous divisional matchups and inter-division tilts that'll impact the playoff picture heading into the final week of the regular season.

Eagles @ Football Team (+3)

This game again? One team is a double-digit favorite in Week 15, the other, a double-digit dog. The Eagles should and likely will cruise past the Giants in Week 16, but I'm not sure they should be laying more than three on the road and that's likely what we'll see if Week 16 plays out as bookmakers anticipate. If you have an appetite for road dogs in the division, you should wait and catch this when it gets above the three.

Panthers @ Saints (-7)

You can't make this total low enough. I'm not sure I can lay the seven with New Orleans right now, but this could be a Sam Darnold start for Carolina, and that instills very little confidence in me as a bettor. If this gets above the touchdown though, the Panthers deserve consideration.

Dolphins @ Titans (-3.5)

The Titans have a massive rest advantage here. Coming off of the Week 15 mini-bye after playing on Thursday night, Tennessee stays home and hosts Miami, on the road again, this time coming off of a short week against the Saints on Monday night. This is a playoff game for Miami, needing to all but win out in order to make the playoffs, while the Titans are getting healthy and trying to stave off the Colts for the AFC South crown. A Tennessee loss on Thursday against San Francisco could move this to Titans -3, and I'd be interested.

Chiefs @ Bengals (+4)

The Bengals have a difficult finishing stretch, but a divisional title is within their reach if they can win at home in Weeks 16 and 17 before finishing the season in Cleveland in Week 18. In spots like this, coaching needs to be factored into the handicap more, and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor still gives me reasons to be concerned. I don't see a spot where this line gets out of hand, so there's no reason to act early and take on any unnecessary COVID-19 concerns.

Giants @ Bears (-4.5)

How many teams in the league are more than a field goal underdog in Chicago right now? Not many, but the Giants are one of them. Congratulations.

Cardinals @ Cowboys (-2.5)

Despite having a bottom-third offense over the second half of the season, Dallas moved into second place in the NFC after the Cardinals lost against the Lions in Week 15. Arizona gets the rare opportunity to get back what was theirs on the field, but the bookmakers are still confident in them despite their 0-2 December slide. If the Cardinals don't beat the Colts on Christmas night, this 2.5 is gone and it'll open back up on the other side of three.

Texans @ 49ers (-15)

What a bad beat for the Texans. For the second straight week, they'll face a team coming off of extra rest after playing on Thursday night the week before. These subtle rest edges matter, especially in December. At 15, you can make a case that it's already baked into the number.

Broncos @ Chargers (-6)

This is the second-straight road game in the division for the Broncos, and if they're able to survive the Drew Lock Experience in Las Vegas in Week 15, this trip to Los Angeles becomes a pseudo-playoff game. The Chargers are likely playoff-bound regardless, but stranger things have happened.

Rams @ Ravens (+3)

Even though this isn't your prototypical late-season divisional matchup, this could be a terrific game with massive implications for both teams. If the Ravens stumble in Week 16 against the Bengals, Baltimore will likely need this win against the Rams to have something to play for in Week 18. The Rams' passing offense is built to cause the Ravens fits, especially considering how ravaged their secondary is right now. In the late window in Week 17, this will be a great game to watch.

Lions @ Seahawks (-9)

Should the Seahawks be favored by nine against anyone right now? The Fighting Dan Campbells will be ready.

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