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The most important contest of Week 17 comes from the NFC North, where the Green Bay Packers will take on the Detroit Lions. The Washington Redskins will be watching attentively because if they win and there isn’t a tie in the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions affair, then Washington will qualify, and the loser of the NFC North matchup will miss the playoffs.


Game of the Week

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Favourite: Packers -3.5

The Packers have stormed to the top of the NFC North on the strength of a five-game winning streak. Their most recent win came against the Minnesota Vikings; it was a 38-25 victory in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers registered five total touchdowns (four passing). After a shaky start to the season, Rodgers is back in the MVP conversation and tied with Tom Brady as +300 co-third favourites to win the award. After defeating the Vikings’ defense, which has been one of the highest-rated this season, Rodgers will get a break with the Lions’ defense, which was shredded by the Dallas Cowboys last week.

The Lions’ 42-21 defeat at the hands of the Cowboys was their second straight loss. Since the Lions failed to secure a playoff spot, they’ll now have to find a way to tie or beat the red-hot Packers to make it to the postseason. They’ll be up against some pretty steep odds; the Packers have won four straight Week 17 meetings against Detroit.


Game with the Biggest Spread

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
Favourite: Patriots -10

The Patriots are 13-2 SU (12-3 ATS) after bombing the New York Jets 41-3 last Saturday, but they still need to win on Sunday to secure the top seed in the AFC. It should be easy enough in Miami, but the Pats made some critical errors last season. They blew a winnable game in Week 17 in Miami, giving up the No. 1 seed to the Denver Broncos and then lost on their turf in the AFC Championship Game.

The Dolphins will be hungry. They’re 10-5 SU (9-6 ATS) and going to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. If Miami wins and the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the San Diego Chargers, the Dolphins could climb into the fifth spot and visit the 9-6 Houston Texans rather than the 10-5 Pittsburgh Steelers. 


Game with the Smallest Spread

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Favourite: Broncos -1.5

The Raiders are 12-3 SU (10-5 ATS) and leading the AFC West, but they lost franchise quarterback Derek Carr to a season-ending injury. They now find themselves as underdogs in a game with many implications. If New England loses to the Dolphins, a Raiders’ victory over the Broncos would result in Oakland climbing as high as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, if the Raiders lose and the Kansas City Chiefs win, the Raiders could fall as far as fifth. A tumble of that magnitude would mean no home-field advantage or first-round bye week. 


*Odds as of December 29, 2016