The 2011 NFL regular season will conclude this Sunday with a full slate of games, no Thursday, Saturday, or Monday showcases this week. The playoff picture is still a bit murky, particularly in the AFC, with five teams still fighting over two spots, but a Sunday night meeting between the Cowboys and Giants will decide the NFC East champion and fill the final playoff hole in the NFC. More importantly, though, this is the last weekend for football bettors to take advantage of a full 16 game serving of NFL action.
The “are they for real” line of the week: Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants (-3)
Who would have thought this tag would still be apt in week 17, but in the case of these two teams it most certainly applies. Both teams have been up and down all season long and, frankly, it is difficult to predict just what they might do on Sunday night. The Giants, however, do appear to have a bit more momentum, having won two of their last three games while the Pokes have dropped three of four. There is also the Tony Romo bruised hand issue. All signs are pointing toward a Romo start, but who knows how effective he will be with a banged up throwing hand. And there is also the fact that New York has dominated this rivalry of late, winning four of its last five against Dallas.
The “barking dog” line of the week: Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5)
The Ravens have all the name recognition and a shot at wrapping up the AFC North title when they square off against Cincinnati on Sunday, but buyer beware in this one. The Bengals have proven to be more than just heart, they are beyond a good story line…they are a good football team with a playoff appearance hanging in the balance. And Baltimore does not travel well with all four of its losses coming on the road. The Ravens are not too fond of the Queen City either as they have lost four of their last five games there. Take the Bengals plus the points.
The “rebound” line of the week: San Diego Chargers vs Oakland Raiders (-3)
Yes, the Raiders are the only team with anything at stake in this divisional battle, but they have been anything but reliable down the stretch. Granted, the Chargers have been a head case as well, but they do play well in Oakland. San Diego had a six game win streak going at the Coliseum until last year’s special teams debacle, but I predict they will start a new one on Sunday.
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2011 NFL Schedule Week 17 & Odds: BetOnline.com
Sunday, January 1st:
1:00pm ET Panthers vs Saints (NA)
1:00pm ET Bears vs Vikings (NA)
1:00pm ET 49ers vs Rams (NA)
1:00pm ET Lions vs Packers (NA)
1:00pm ET Redskins vs Eagles (-10/46.5)
1:00pm ET Titans vs Texans (+1.5/40)
1:00pm ET Colts vs Jaguars (-4/37)
1:00pm ET Jets vs Dolphins (PK/41.5)
1:00pm ET Bills vs Patriots (-11.5/51)
4:15pm ET Ravens vs Bengals (+1.5/38)
4:15pm ET Chargers vs Raiders (-3/49)
4:15pm ET Chiefs vs Broncos (-3/36.5)
4:15pm ET Seahawks vs Cardinals (-3/41)
4:15pm ET Steelers vs Browns (NA)
4:15pm ET Buccaneers vs Falcons (NA)
8:20pm ET Cowboys vs Giants (-3/46.5)