Week 13 and lots of teams in play for wild card spots and byes. While betting lines do attempt to take into consideration all factors, those teams in the hunt have that extra incentive to succeed and it can be difficult for odds makers to factor that into their deliberations, especially if one team is out of play.
Let’s take a look at some examples. Denver is in both the AFC west division race and a possible wild card. KC is completely out of any chances of making the playoffs, and they are only underdogs by 5. Can just playing for KC pride overcome the incentives of the Denver team. I can just imagine Denver bettors salivating over this one.
Pittsburgh is favorite over Oakland by 15, a big spot by NFL betting standards, but the prideful Super Bowl Champ Steelers are in a tremendous fight to overtake the Bengals for first in their division, not to say their very possible elimination altogether for a wild card spot by a myriad of AFC teams. Pittsburgh will be coming full speed ahead against the woeful Raiders, and are a good bet to make the 15 point spot look like a bargain to their supporters.
Great matchups of teams still alive to make the playoffs are Baltimore (+3) over Green Bay, Jacksonville (+1) over Houston, Atlanta (+5-1/2) over Philly, and Dallas (- 1/2) against the desperate Giants. These matches are tough and the victors will more than likely be the teams with the strongest will to win. Fortitude will often overcome superior ability.