NFL Week 17 Games to Bet Before the Lines Move (History Says Back Broncos with Nathaniel Hackett Fired)

Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett highlights a signal to the field during their matchup at home in November.
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett highlights a signal to the field during their matchup at home in November. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Getting ahead of the inevitable line moves in the NFL can often be a profitable strategy when it comes to wagering on games.

For example, in Week 16, the Dallas Cowboys opened as a 1.5-point home favorite to the Philadelphia Eagles. As the betting market started to rapidly shift towards the Cowboys with the Jalen Hurts rumors starting to swirl, I noticed many sportsbooks moving Dallas up at their shop, and took them at -2.5 before the line hit 3; eventually going all the way up to -6.5 before falling back down to anywhere between -3.5 and -4.5.

The Cowboys went on to win 40-36, covering for everyone except those who took them late at -6.5.

That's a happy ending. Other times, it doesn't quite work out the way you hoped.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened as a 3.5-point road favorite vs. the struggling Arizona Cardinals. I jumped on that number immediately, and was elated to see the line move all the way up to Tampa Bay -7.5 before kickoff.

Final score? Bucs 19, Cardinals 16 in overtime.

So what are the games worth considering for Week 17?

With multiple matchups already on the move this Monday, here are three games I've already wagered on for Week 17 as I expect the lines to move away from the best number:

NFL Week 17 Games to Bet Right Now

  • Broncos +13.5 (-110) at Chiefs
  • Commanders -2 (-110) vs. Browns
  • Steelers +3.5 (-110) at Ravens

Broncos (+13.5) at Chiefs

Yes. I'm betting the Broncos this week, because 13.5-points, even in the spot they currently find themselves is still far too high in a late season divisional matchup. It also comes against a Chiefs' team that covered in just their second home game all season with a 14-point victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.

Denver officially fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett just 16 weeks into his first season in the NFL, and 20 years of betting trends suggest this is an advantageous spot for the team that just let their coach go.

Furthermore, divisional favorites of 13 or more points in December and January in the regular season are just 39-50-2, covering only 43.8% of the time since 2004. The number also doesn't change when the line moves to 13.5, according to BetLabs data.

I know the Chiefs barm-stormed the Broncos in the early going at Mile High, only for Denver to storm back after some turnovers from Mahomes, failing to cover in a game they once led 27-0.

With a new head coach, I expect a wake up call to come from the Broncos' defense who up until last week had been a top 5 unit in the league. This is simply too many points despite what the Denver narrative may have you believe.

Commanders (-2) vs. Browns

A possible quarterback controversy may be looming between Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz, but at least the Commanders can be grateful they don't have Deshaun Watson and his massive contract on their books for the next several years.

Regardless of who's throwing the ball, Washington's Jahan Dotson has been eating of late, with 14 receptions, 226 yards and three touchdowns over his last three games. Defensively, stud lineman Chase Young is finally back in action, and with the Browns' offensive line struggling, should help the Commanders front create a ton of pressure on Watson up the middle as well as on the outside.

The Commanders are still fighting for their playoff lives, while the Browns have been unofficially done for weeks. They've made a living through their run game this year, and couldn't get it done at home against a bad New Orleans Saints team in weather conditions that called for a run-heavy set of plays.

I'm jumping on this number stat before it gets to 3.

Steelers +3.5 at Ravens

We've gone over these numbers many a time, but if you're new to this, let's have some fun.

Mike Tomlin has the best winning percentage in the NFL since he began coaching the Steelers in 2007 as an underdog.

Via BetLabs, the Steelers are 50-27-4 ATS as a dog in Tomlin's tenure during the regular season. While he's a staggering 15-4-2 ATS as a home favorite, even on the road, Tomlin's still 35-25-2 ATS as a dog, including 8-2-0 ATS vs. the Ravens in this spot for his career.

There's still a potential chance that Lamar Jackson returns this week for the Ravens, but with the Ravens clinching a playoff spot, they may elect to sit Lamar, knowing the game against the Cincinnati Bengals the following week could potentially decide who wins the AFC North.

Even if Jackson plays, I still buy into the Steelers' rejuvenated defense, along with the playmaking ability of George Pickens and company downfield. It will be a crazy environment for rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, but Pittsburgh has shown an ability to hang tough all season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

These AFC North battles always seem to end up tight, so let's take Pittsburgh with the hook before it shifts over to +3.

Follow all of Ben's betting plays in real-time HERE!

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.