nfl week 17 upset picks
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

Once upon a time, Week 17 was the final installment of the NFL regular season. But under the new 17-game set up, it will now serve as the penultimate chapter of the 2021 season and beyond. The schedule is built such that 15 of the week’s 16 games fall on Sunday, and thus there’s no shortage of options when dialing in on potential upset picks.

Let’s take a look at our three favorite NFL Week 17 upset picks, complete with full betting and ATS analysis.

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NFL Week 17 Upset Picks

Dolphins vs. Titans

There are some, including oddsmakers, who have become enamored with the Titans once again, likely because of their comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers last week. But that game demonstrated just how fragile Tennessee can be. The Titans went into the half down by 10 points, were outgained by over 100 yards in the game, allowed 6.7 yards per play (while gaining just 4.8), and failed to top 200 yards passing for the fourth straight game. Kudos for winning a home game, but call us unimpressed by this team that lost its identity when Derrick Henry went down, along with three of its last five games.

Miami’s story is the exact opposite. The Dolphins beat New England in the opener, but proceeded to lose their next seven games. A bow blow like that would sink most NFL ships, but this team somehow then managed to become the first in league history to win seven straight games after losing seven in a row. Now, Miami has all the confidence and momentum in the world and actually controls its own playoff destiny.

Yes, the Dolphins’ schedule during this win streak has been weak, but they can only play who they play and every team is dangerous on any given week in this league. Miami still owns a 4-1-1 ATS mark on the road this season, covering both road games as dogs of less than seven points. Meanwhile, Tennessee is just 1-2 ATS at home as favorites of less than seven points, with its lone cover coming back in Week 3 when the team still had Henry in the backfield.

An interesting subplot here will be Ryan Tannehill facing his former team. Tannehill leads the league in interceptions and will be facing the defense with the highest sack total thus far in 2021 (48).

That’s a potentially lethal combination given the fact that Tannehill is unlikely to get much help from his run game, as Miami also boasts the league’s seventh best run-stuffing unit. With Tua Tagovailoa completing a league best 70.1 percent of his passes and the Dolphins defense buzzing lately, Tennessee may not get the same chances to come back like it did against San Francisco.

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Notably, Miami is on a brilliant 20-8-1 ATS run as underdogs and has only lost one of its last seven ATS as road underdogs. The Fins are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games after allowing 14 points or fewer previously and have run off four straight covers following a SU victory by more than 14 points.

Miami is 5-2-1 ATS in its last eight road games against teams with winning home records and the Dolphins have covered four of their last five games in Tennessee. The head official for this matchup, Shawn Smith, has seen road teams cover over 60 percent of his games and road dogs of seven points or fewer this season are 63-29 ATS.

Dolphins vs. Titans Pick

This game has massive implications for both teams, each reliant upon its defense. It should feel for all the world like a playoff game and we have to take the points with the hotter team. Look for the dog in this head-to-head series to cover its fifth straight here, as Miami makes it six ATS wins in its last eight tries against Tennessee.

Our ATS Pick: Dolphins +3.5 

Chiefs vs. Bengals

The Chiefs are on an undeniable run right now and should not be taken lightly. However, a dismantling of Pittsburgh last week has skyrocketed this team’s stock perhaps a bit too high, now laying more than a field goal on the road againskt a team set to clinch one of football’s toughest divisions. We aren’t as convinced that defeating Pittsburgh, even soundly, is enough to warrant this bloated point spread. After all, the Bengals played the Steelers twice already and won by 14+ both times, while holding them to just 10 points in each meeting.

Cincinnati proved a lot in the last two weeks and not simply because it defeated two marginal opponents. The Bengals won a defensive war two weeks ago and then showed their ability to explode offensively, dropping 41 last week on Baltimore — the third time they have topped 40 points this season and their sixth time over 30 points.

Meanwhile, four of Cincinnati’s six losses came by three points, showing this team is going to be in almost every game.

We are not floored by Kansas City’s win streak. The Chiefs have only played four games all season against teams that currently have nine or more victories. They lost two of those games outright and one of their victories came over Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers. In fact, Kansas City averaged just 13.8 points per game in those outings, never topping 20 points, while conceding 20.3 points per contest. That’s hardly a convincing case for a team now listed as favorites to win the Super Bowl.

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Furthermore, off the 36-10 thumping of the Steelers, it’s important to remember that Kansas City is just 4-9 ATS in its last 13 games after topping 30 points previously. By contrast, the Bengals have covered four of their last five conference games and four of their last five against winning opposition.

Chiefs vs. Bengals Pick

Kansas City has a lot to do to cover this spread in a road game laying significant points. Oh and they’ll have to do it with head referee John Hussey, who has seen 55 percent of home teams cover in his games. This game is a proving ground for a confident Joe Burrow and the Bengals against an established conference opponent they could see again in a few short weeks. Expect Cincinnati to make a run at planting some seeds of doubt in the Chiefs’ heads as the Bengals move to 4-1 ATS in their last five home games against Kansas City.

Our Pick: Cincinnati +5

Rams vs. Ravens

Admittedly, the optics here are all wrong. The Rams, who have repeatedly proven they can win on the road, head to Baltimore to face a crumbling Ravens team ravaged by injuries and COVID-19. Baltimore just allowed 41 points and 525 yards passing to the Bengals last week. That’s the fourth most passing yards in a game in league history en route to a fourth straight defeat. Now, Lamar Jackson will attempt attempting to return from an ankle injury in an effort to save the season, but it’s hard to imagine he will be anywhere close to 100 percent.

However, there is still hope in backing the home underdogs here. The Ravens know this game is their season, making this a playoff game for them. They currently sit in eighth in the AFC and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. With Miami as underdogs at Tennessee this week and then facing New England next, a win by the Ravens here would make a legitimate claim for that final playoff spot.

Baltimore will also have all the motivation it needs, playing this game as a home underdog. The Ravens are 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games as underdogs anywhere, including four straight covers when getting points at home. If Jackson can go, it’s worth pointing out that he has never lost ATS as a home underdog in his career.

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Baltimore, as mentioned, was picked apart through the air last week and faces another stiff challenge here in the form of the Rams’ sixth ranked passing attack. Yet, the Ravens have responded after allowing more than 250 yards passing by covering eight of their next 10 games. They have also bounced back after poor performances, generally speaking, going 6-2 ATS in their last eight following both SU and ATS defeats.

Los Angeles has impressed during its four game win streak, overtaking the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. And while they are a solid 6-2 SU on the road this season, they are also just 3-12 ATS in their last 15 tries after four game or better winning streaks. Entering 2021, the Rams had also covered just two of their last 20 games against teams with above .400 records entering play off consecutive SU defeats.

Despite Sony Michel’s recent successes without Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers in the fold, it’s unlikely that Los Angeles will find any success on the ground against this stout Ravens run defense. If Matthew Stafford has one of those subpar games we have seen from him recently, the Rams could prove vulnerable here.

Rams vs. Ravens Pick

We have to take the generous head start with a Baltimore team that has covered nine of its last 13 in January and seven of its last 10 here at home. In fact, the Ravens are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 at M&T Bank Stadium after a division game when facing an opponent with a win percentage of .300 or better. With their playoff lives on the line, we expect them to find a way to take this game down to the end and win it on the foot of the NFL’s best kicker.

ATS Pick: Baltimore +5.5