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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, December 29, 2017 at 4:16 PM


Here's the skinny when you're getting ready to digest NFL Week 17 all day long on Sunday afternoon - remember that's seven games to be played at 1 p.m. Eastern time and another nine games to kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET: There are two playoff spots still open in the AFC, just one spot open in the NFC and we wanted to get you the key spread stats when it comes to the teams battling for those remaining post-season berths (note the straight-up team records are below in parentheses):

In the AFC, it's ...

Baltimore (9-6) - The good folks in Las Vegas have the Ravens favored by 9.5 points for Sunday's home game against Cincinnati and note John Harbaugh's crew is an electric 9-2 ATS (against the spread) versus divisional foes since the start of last year. Win and you're in, Ravens.

Tennessee (8-7) - The Titans are a 3-point home favorite against the playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars but Tennessee's just 4-9-1 ATS in this rivalry since mid-2010. Win and you're in, Titans.

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) - The Bolts are 7.5-point favorites against underachieving Oakland and did you know this former San Diego-based squad is 7-3-1 spreadwise this year following an 0-3-1 ATS start? The Chargers need to win and get some outside help.

Buffalo (8-7) - The Bills are 2.5-point betting favorites at Miami but Buffalo's failed to cover its last three consecutive road fav games dating back to early last season. The Bills get in with a win and a loss by Baltimore or losses by both the Titans and Chargers.

In the NFC, it's ...

Atlanta (9-6) - The defending NFC champs are 3.5-point home favorites against playoff-bound Carolina and the Falcons are "in" with a win or a loss by Seattle. Hey, Dan Quinn's club is just 12-13 against the odds at home the past two-plus seasons.

Seattle (9-6) - If the Seahawks are gonna be in the playoffs for a sixth straight season then they need to beat 9.5-point pup Arizona and have the Falcons stub their toe at home. Note that Seattle is 6-3-1 ATS in its last 10 tilts against 'Zona.

Take note: Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the College Football Bowl Winners along with Sunday's NFL Week 17 card, so check with us here online or 1-800-323-4453 and cash in big on the gridiron this holiday season. Plus, get all the daily/nightly College Basketball action too!


On Friday, Dec. 29th, it's ...

BELK BOWL - at Charlotte, NC
TEXAS A&M (7-5) vs. WAKE FOREST (7-5) - 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
The A&M Aggies couldn't even get to the "finish line" with one-time head coach Kevin Sumlin (51-26 SU) and so interim boss Jeff Banks takes the helm here before we get to the official start of the Jimbo Fisher Era ... got all that? Wake Forest QB John Wolford (25 TDs, 6 INTs) is one of the country's most underrated slingers and keep in mind the Demon Deacons have four different players with 35-or-more catches this year including leader WR Greg Dortch (53 grabs for 722 yards, 9 TDs).
Spread Stats - Texas A&M is 6-4-2 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Aggies are 3-6 spreadwise in all bowls dating back the past 10 years; Wake Forest has covered 17 of its last 24 games since the start of the '16 season.

SUN BOWL - at El Paso, TX
#24 N.C. STATE (8-4) vs. ARIZONA STATE (7-5) - 3 p.m. ET, CBS
Let's hope the sun is out for this matinee tilt - no doubt the sun shined on the N.C. State Wolfpack this year with big wins against Florida State, Louisville and in-state rival North Carolina. Now, N.C. State QB Ryan Finley (3,200 yards passing with 16 TDs and 6 INTs this year) "auditions" for NFL folks who want him to be part of the massive QB class entering the league in time for 2018. Arizona State's Todd Graham finishes his coaching career - he's been fired but will run the show here and then hand things over to ESPN's Herm Edwards.
Spread Stats - Arizona State covered seven of its final nine regular-season games this year; N.C. State is 4-7-1 ATS this season and the Wolf Pack has covered five of its last seven bowls games since 2008.

MUSIC CITY BOWL - at Nashville, TN
KENTUCKY (7-5) vs. #21 NORTHWESTERN (9-3) - 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Big 10 bagged some earlier bowl wins with Iowa and Purdue copping Tuesday "W's" - now, Northwestern looks to join in the league's winner's circle (they're 7.5-point favs here) with TB Justin Jackson (1,154 yards rushing) spearheading a better-than-you-think offense while the Kentucky kids are looking for their first bowl since 2008. If the UK 'Cats don't shore up their defense - they allowed nearly 36 ppg in the second half of this 2017 season - than this could be one of the bowl season's many blowouts.
Spread Stats - Kentucky's a rotten 3-9 ATS overall this year and the 'Cats are 13-22 versus the vig since the start of the 2015 season; Northwestern is 9-1 against the odds after starting this season with back-to-back pointspread losses.

ARIZONA BOWL - at Tucson, AZ
UTAH STATE (6-6) vs. NEW MEXICO STATE (6-6) - 5:30 p.m. ET, CBSC
This all-Aggies bash marks New Mexico State's first trip to a bowl since 1960 - QB Tyler Rogers (3,825 yards passing with 26 TDs) could now spark the mild upset (Utah State's a 4-point favorite) if he can figure out a U-State defense that ranks 17th in the country in passing "D".
Spread Stats - New Mexico State is 0-4-1 spreadwise in its last five games; Utah State is 6-13 odds-wise away the past three years.

COTTON BOWL - at Arlington, TX
#8 USC (11-2) vs. #5 OHIO STATE (11-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Best game of the Friday card - and by far - and talk about bowl tradition as USC and Ohio State have played one another in seven Rose Bowl games between 1955-through-1985 and keep in mind that the OSU Buckeyes entered the season ranked #2 in the land while the SC Trojans ranked #4. Go ahead and say these clubs "underachieved" but the fact of the matter is USC have strung together back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time in a decade while Ohio State was edged out by Alabama for that fourth playoff spot - so this could be a real redemption game for the 7.5-point favored 'Eyes.

Two quickie keys for this clash deep in the heart o'Texas: Ohio State must pressure Trojans' QB Sam Darnold (14 TDs and just 3 INTs in last seven games) and must sack 'em at least once per quarter; USC, on the flip side, has to contain the Buckeyes' speed at RB and WR and so that means bottling up runners/receivers the minute they touch the ball but if Ohio State breaks a few biggies with frosh RB J.K. Robbins (1,364 yards rushing / 7.5 ypc average) zooming into the "second" and "third" levels, than this could be a blowout win for Urban Meyer's gang.

Spread Stats - Ohio State is 6-3 in bowl/post-season play since 2008 and the Buckeyes are 7-14 ATS as betting favorites since the middle of 2016; USC is 3-9-1 versus the vig this year and a composite 6-13-1 away the past three years.


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