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BETTING

NFL Week 17 Best Bets: Expecting Some Fireworks in Dolphins-Ravens

Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins Baltimore Ravens
Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

The NFL’s Week 17 schedule has an epic matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens for control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC. We are also looking at the Eagles hosting Arizona and the Colts hosting the Raiders, who still have some very slim playoff hopes.

We make our best bets for Week 17 below, and you can always find these bets at top-rated sportsbooks.

Picks Summary

  • Cardinals +10.5 (-110) at Bet365
  • Colts Under 23.5 Points (-110) at Bet365
  • Dolphins-Ravens Both to Score 20+ Points (+105)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)


Why Can’t the Eagles Ever Win Comfortably?

The Philadelphia Eagles are 11-4 but it has not come easy this year. The Eagles have only outscored their opponents by 26 points this season. Even a 20-3 lead against the Giants at home last week did not lead to a double-digit victory, something the Eagles have done just twice all season.

The Eagles are a 10.5-point home favorite with a total of 48 points. We are looking at why the Cardinals can cover the spread.


Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, December 31, 2023 – 01:00 PM ET at Lincoln Financial Field


Philadelphia’s Close Calls

It is wild how much the Eagles have been living on the edge all year, because they were the opposite team for most of 2022 when they cruised to the Super Bowl from the NFC.

The Eagles are 10-2 in close games this year, which are games where at least one team had the ball in the 4th quarter with a one-score deficit. The only team to play more close games this year is Minnesota with 14 games. Philadelphia’s 10-2 record in close games is the best in the league this year.

The Eagles lead the league by successfully holding a 1-score lead in the 4th quarter in 8 games this season. But they have blown a pair of 4th-quarter leads against the Jets and Seahawks.

A big part of the reason for this decline is the defense, which has fallen from No. 8 in points allowed to No. 25 this year. The Eagles were known for having 70 sacks on defense last year, but they only have 40 right now with 2 games left.

Even the Giants found a way to score 25 points against Philadelphia last week, a number New York has only hit in 3 of 15 games this season. It helped that there was a pick-6, but Jalen Hurts has not always protected the ball well this year. His late interception is also what led to the loss against the Jets earlier this season, and he had a pair of picks in the 4th quarter before Drew Lock’s game-winning drive in Seattle.

Not much complementary football is being played by Philadelphia this year, so games usually end up being very close in the end for this team.

Arizona’s Road Defense and Last Year’s Tight Finish

We said the Eagles were blowing teams out last year, but that was mostly true for the 1st half of the season. In fact, the 2022 Eagles became only the 3rd team since 1970 to not trail in the 2nd half in each of their first 8 games.

But during that great 8-0 start, there was one opponent who did manage to tie the Eagles in the 4th quarter and make them drive for a winning field goal in a 20-17 game. That team was the Cardinals with Kyler Murray, and while the game was in Arizona, the Cardinals have not been that poor on the road this year.

In fact, since Murray was drafted in 2019, the Cardinals cover 60% of their road games, the 4th-best record in the NFL in that time. Since 2019, Arizona is 20-12-2 ATS (62.5%) as a road underdog.

Last year, the Cardinals were able to avoid much of that great pass rush from the Eagles with Murray only taking 1 sack and accounting for 292 yards of offense. The game would have gone to overtime if the Cardinals hadn’t missed a 43-yard field goal with 17 seconds left.

This year, the Cardinals have held 7 of 8 opponents on the road to 27 points or fewer. Only the great San Francisco offense dropped 35 points at home against these Cardinals in 2023.

The Cardinals have struggled to score on the road, but they did drop 24 points in Pittsburgh earlier in the month.

The Pick

Arizona was down 21-0 in Chicago last week before making a game of it at 24-16. They only lost by 11 because of a ludicrous decision to go for a 4th-and-6 deep in their own end instead of punting to try getting the ball back. This team has a mobile quarterback with experience who can put up some points on the No. 25 scoring defense. Philadelphia’s offense has been sloppy and still not clicking on all cylinders.

The Eagles haven’t been able to win any of their last 8 games by more than 8 points. It may not be another 20-17 game like last year, but we’ll take Arizona with the points in this one.

NFL Pick: Cardinals +10.5 (-110) at Bet365


Raiders Are Thriving on Defense

The Las Vegas Raiders are playing differently under interim coach Antonio Pierce, who just pulled off one of the upsets of the year as an 11-point underdog in Kansas City. The idea is to take that defense on the road against the Colts, who only scored 10 points in Atlanta last week in a disappointing loss.

The Colts are a 3.5-point home favorite with a total of 43.5 points. But we are going to focus on the Indy team total (over/under 23.5 points).


Las Vegas Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sunday, December 31, 2023 – 01:00 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium


Raiders Playing Intense Defense

After a bad September start, you could argue the Raiders have been one of the best defenses in the NFL since October. But they have really picked things up since Week 9 when Antonio Pierce took over as interim head coach for the fired Josh McDaniels:

  • The Raiders held the Giants to 6 points in Pierce’s first game and the Jets to 12 points in prime time the next week.
  • Proving it was not just a matter of playing the lousy New York offenses, the Raiders went into Miami and held the No. 1 scoring offense to 20 points, including a touchdown-less 2nd half.
  • The Raiders lost a 3-0 game to Minnesota where the only points were scored after the 2-minute warning.
  • The Chargers turned the ball over 5 times, including a pair of mistakes that were returned for touchdowns, as the Raiders won 63-21.
  • In their most impressive showing yet, the Raiders turned 2 Patrick Mahomes’ turnovers into touchdown returns in a 7-second span in a shocking 20-14 upset win.

Offense has long been the bigger issue in Vegas this season. The defense is thriving and in a great spot with more players than just Maxx Crosby contributing to the success. They are going to need every bit of it in Indy as the offense with Aidan O’Connell just cannot be trusted right now. O’Connell won in Kansas City despite not completing a single pass after the 1st quarter (0-for-10 to finish the game).

Colts Showing Hiccups on Offense

Rookie coach Shane Steichen is a major candidate for Coach of the Year for what he has done with so many backups on offense for the Colts this year. The Colts are still No. 9 in scoring at 23.6 points per game.

But sometimes the injuries can be too much to overcome. The Colts only scored 10 points in Atlanta last week despite getting Jonathan Taylor back at running back and Taylor scoring a touchdown on the opening drive. But Gardner Minshew was missing Michael Pittman Jr., his best receiver, who was out with a concussion.

Pittman is still in the concussion protocol following that hit he took against the Steelers in Week 15. But he will have a shot to return in this one. The other Indy receivers are not very reliable as rookie Josh Downs (670 yards) is the only other player with 500 receiving yards this year.

The Colts have scored over 23.5 points in 7 of 15 games this year, so it is slightly worse than a hiccup. However, all 3 of the team’s games with under 20 points this year have come since Week 10, so there have been more hiccups recently for the offense.

If the pass rush can get after Minshew the way it did against Patrick Mahomes last week, then the Raiders should be in great shape in keeping this score down.

The Pick

The Raiders are playing hard for Pierce as if they want to make sure he is the permanent coach, a mistake the franchise made 2 years ago when it hired Josh McDaniels instead of promoting interim coach Rich Bisaccia.

Under Pierce, the Raiders have held 6 of 7 opponents under 23.5 points. We’ll count on the defense to do it again in this matchup. Just don’t expect another pair of defensive return touchdowns like the last 2 games.

NFL Pick: Colts Under 23.5 Points (-110) at Bet365


Is Miami the Kryptonite for Baltimore?

Quietly, the Miami Dolphins are 2-0 against the Baltimore Ravens since 2021. Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson played in both games too, but it was Miami hitting the big pass plays late and coming up with the final stop of Jackson to get those wins.

Can the Dolphins do it again to Baltimore with the No. 1 seed on the line? We are not taking a pick for the spread where the Ravens are a 3.5-point home favorite. We are going with a game prop that says both teams will score at least 20 points after they played a 42-38 game last September.


Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, December 31, 2023 – 01:00 PM ET at M&T Bank Stadium


Why Miami Can Score 20 Points Against the No. 1 Defense

The Dolphins have to be pretty tired of hearing about how they can’t beat good teams on the road. Last week, it was that they couldn’t beat any winning teams period, but they finally ended that streak with a 22-20 win over Dallas.

Was it pretty? No, but it was effective enough to get a win against a very good Dallas team on both sides of the ball. This week’s challenge is tougher as it is in Baltimore, the team with the best record (12-3), leading MVP candidate (Lamar Jackson), and No. 1 scoring defense.

If the Dolphins could only muster 14 points against the Chiefs in Germany and 17 points against the Eagles (not a good defense this year) in Philadelphia, how are they going to score 20 against the Ravens in Baltimore? Even the 49ers were held to 19 points at home against this defense on Monday night.

Well, what if the Dolphins are just the kryptonite for this Baltimore team? They beat them 22-10 in 2021 with some deep balls, and they came back from a 21-point deficit in the 4th quarter last year with more deep bombs to Tyreek Hill for a wild 42-38 comeback win.

We know Hill is pursuing 2,000 yards, which is going to be very tough after he missed a game with injury. But he is back and ready for this one. The Ravens have not been challenged by many great offenses this year, but we have seen the Rams and Matthew Stafford go into their building this month and score 31 points.

In all, there have been 5 Baltimore games this year where both teams scored at least 20 points. It can certainly happen again with Miami, the highest-scoring team in the league at 30.9 points per game. Also, don’t forget that the 49ers had a high yards-per-attempt at throwing the ball against this secondary. They just had a lot of bad interceptions, which the Dolphins will need to avoid. But there are plays to be had against this defense. No one is going to confuse them with the 2000 or 2006 Ravens.

Why the Ravens Can Score 20 Points Against Miami’s Defense

Not to be outdone, the Ravens are No. 4 in scoring at 27.8 points per game. The Ravens have scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games, the longest streak by any team this season.

The Ravens have only been held under 20 points in 2 of 15 games this year, and one of those was in Pittsburgh where the receivers dropped a couple of touchdowns.

Baltimore has a variety of ways to attack. The Ravens rank No. 1 at rushing thanks in part to Lamar Jackson’s unique skillset. They also have the fewest interceptions (7) in the league and have a good passing game with rookie Zay Flowers playing like a No. 1 receiver already.

The Miami defense has shown improvement this year, but it still has allowed 20 points in 8 of 15 games, including 3 games of 30-plus points in road games. If the Dolphins want that No. 1 seed to avoid going on the road in the playoffs, they better show up on defense in this one.

But a corner like Jalen Ramsey is almost wasted in this matchup as there is no one to shadow. Jackson will just find the open guy and scramble when no one is able to get open. It is a uniquely tough offense to defend, and while the Dolphins played Jackson great in 2021, they were abysmal in last year’s game as he had 318 yards passing and 119 yards rushing.

The Pick

These “epic showdowns” have often been one-sided duds this year. Maybe that happens again in this one, but there is still a good chance of both teams getting to 20 points. The Dolphins just did it last week with Dallas, and while they were blown out in Buffalo earlier this year, it was a 48-20 game that would have also satisfied this prop.

Let’s just hope it’s not a 38-6 or 37-3 type of game like the Ravens had at home against the Lions and Seahawks this year. But Miami has recent experience of playing this team well, and the Ravens may be due for a defensive letdown after getting too much praise for Monday night when several deflected interceptions were the only reason they didn’t give up 30 points.

NFL Pick: Both Teams to Score 20+ Points (+105) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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