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Must-win not a must-bet in ‘screwy’ Week 17 of NFL season

Week 17 is always the biggest crapshoot of the NFL regular season, and Sunday was no different.

Some teams that needed to win to make the playoffs and improve or secure their seed won and covered (see Chiefs, Rams, Patriots, Eagles, Texans). Others won but didn’t cover (see Ravens, Seahawks, Steelers). And then there were the Vikings, who lost outright.

Likewise, teams locked into their playoff seed that essentially had nothing to play for also proved to be a mixed bag for bettors, with the Cowboys and Bears pulling off outright upsets and the Saints losing outright.

“This is probably the toughest weekend to book and toughest to handicap,” Caesars Entertainment sports book director Bill Sattler said. “The teams that needed it (Sunday), like the Vikings, they choked. The Seahawks could’ve easily lost. The Steelers made it a lot closer than it should’ve been and even the Ravens.”

Minnesota, which simply needed to beat Chicago at home to make the playoffs, closed as a 5½-point favorite but played dead in a 24-10 loss. With the Rams in firm control of the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a 31-10 halftime lead over the 49ers, the Bears could’ve pulled their key players.

But coach Matt Nagy instead kept his starters in the whole game to set up a wild-card weekend showdown next Sunday in Chicago against the Eagles, who rolled to a 24-0 win over the Redskins.

Losing $240,000 on Vikings

A Westgate sports book bettor lost a $240,000 wager placed in the preseason to make $120,000 on the Vikings to make the playoffs when the Bears manhandled Minnesota.

“That was a big swing for us. It was such a long shot for it to happen (Sunday),” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “In Week 17, there’s so many screwy things going on. It’s part regular season and part preseason with the way these things play out.”

Backdoor Browns

An MGM Resorts bettor lost a six-figure wager on the Ravens, who closed as 7-point favorites and barely escaped with a 26-24 win over the Browns when C.J. Mosley intercepted Baker Mayfield on fourth-and-10 at the Baltimore 39 with 1:20 left. Mayfield threw a short TD pass to Antonio Callaway with 3:23 left for the backdoor cover.

The win gave the Ravens the AFC North title and eliminated the Steelers from the playoffs.

“We needed the Ravens to win the division,” Salmons said. “Someone bet $33,000 to win $10,000 on the Steelers (to win the division).”

Some win big

An MGM bettor won a total of $160,000 on four straight bets on the Bengals at plus 14 and plus 14½ over Pittsburgh, which needed a late field goal to pull out a 16-13 win over Cincinnati.

Another MGM bettor won $200,000 on the 49ers at plus 4½ in the second half, when San Francisco outscored the Rams 22-17 in a 48-32 loss.

“What we won in the morning we gave back in the afternoon,” The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback said before the Titans-Colts game Sunday night. “We really need the Titans for quite a bit.”

SuperContest winners

So did @Pigskin_Junkies, which would’ve won the $1.4 million first-place prize in the Westgate SuperContest if Tennessee had covered as a 3-point contest underdog to Indianapolis. But Andrew Luck threw for three TDs to lead the Colts to a 33-17 win and a playoff berth.

Personal Gourmet went 5-0 ATS Sunday to top a record field of 3,123 entries in the SuperContest with a 59-25-1 record (70.2 percent). It had the Cowboys, Chiefs, Eagles, Bears and Browns.

@Pigskin_Junkies, which went 2-3, and Rush YYZ 2112, which went 3-2, finished tied for second with 59-26 marks and will settle for $409,000 apiece.

Besides winning on a backdoor cover by the Browns, Gourmet also was fortunate the Cowboys covered as 6½-point underdogs. Dallas trailed 35-28 before Dak Prescott threw a 32-yard TD pass to Cole Beasley on fourth-and-15 to make it 35-34 with 1:12 left.

There Can Be Only 1 went 4-1 Sunday to claim the $640,000 grand prize of the winner-take-all SuperContest Gold with a 55-27-3 (67.1 percent) record. There Can Be Only 1 held off Hammer3, who went 5-0 Sunday, by one point when the Colts covered to go with winners on the Panthers, Texans and Falcons.

Bad beat

Atlanta was a 1-point contest underdog to Tampa Bay, but closed as a 2½-point favorite. Bettors who laid 2½ were dealt a bad beat when the Falcons blew a 31-20 lead in the fourth quarter. Trailing 32-31, Atlanta drove to the Tampa Bay 16 with 1:47 left. But Matt Ryan then took a knee on three straight downs to set up Matt Bryant’s 37-yard field goal as time expired in the Falcons’ 34-32 win.

More Betting: Follow all of our betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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