Closing time: NFL betting's best and worst finishers
The final two weeks of the NFL schedule finds teams at opposite ends of the motivational scale.
Playoff contenders are giving it all they’ve got down the home stretch while those outside of the postseason picture are ironing out their holiday plans and putting the final days of football on the back burner.
We take a look back over the last 11 seasons to see which teams fight to the finish and which ones run out of steam in Weeks 16 and 17 of the NFL season.Best finishers
Believe it or not , the Cardinals are the best bet in the final two weeks of the season since 2001. Arizona owns a 15-7 ATS record – 7-4 ATS in Week 16 and 8-3 ATS in Week 17 – in that span. The Cardinals finally showed some fight last week, picking off two passes for touchdowns in a 38-10 upset over Detroit as 6-point home underdogs. Arizona is a 5.5-point home pup versus Chicago Sunday.
New England Patriots
New England is always in contention this time of year and the Pats boast a 15-5-1 ATS mark in Weeks 16 and 17 since 2001, when it had a bye in Week 16. They are also 9-2 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in the season finale in that span. New England visits Jacksonville as a 14-point road favorite this Sunday before closing the year versus Miami at home.
Green Bay Packers
When the weather gets cold at Lambeau, the Packers heat up. Green Bay is a stunning 14-6-2 ATS in the final two weeks of the schedule since 2001, posting an 18-4 SU mark in those games. The Cheeseheads own identical 7-3-1 ATS marks in Weeks 16 and 17 in that time frame. Green Bay, which clinched the NFC North title, is home to Tennessee and at Minnesota in the final two contests.Worst finishers
This one needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The Colts are just 6-16 ATS in the final two weeks of the season since 2001, but the majority of those games were played by second and third-stringers as Peyton Manning and the starters rested up for the playoffs. It’s a different world in Indianapolis now, with a rookie QB pushing the Colts towards an AFC wild card berth. Indianapolis is a 6.5-point road fave at Arrowhead Sunday then is back home versus Houston in Week 17.Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have been habitual towel tossers at this time of year, going just 7-15 ATS in the final two weeks of the slate. Jacksonville is just 6-16 SU in those outings and likely won’t improve on that late-season record this year. The Jags are home to New England Sunday and wrap a horrific year at Tennessee next week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Beware the Bucs at season’s end. Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to close the door for bettors in the past and seems to be trending that way in 2012. The Buccaneers are just 7-15 ATS in the final two weeks of the schedule since 2001, going 8-14 SU in those games. Tampa Bay is once again stumbling in the final weeks, bringing a four-game losing skid in Week 16’s home date with St. Louis (+3). The Bucs finish the season at Atlanta on Dec. 30.