It is hard to pick games against-the-spread in the NFL, especially in Week 17. Which teams care, what teams don’t? While some squads are making a push for the playoffs, others are booking vacations.

Motivation is a tricky beast but this week there are nine teams (Patriots, Raiders, Chiefs, Falcons, Seahawks, Lions, Packers, Redskins, and Buccaneers) with a chance to clinch a playoff berth or improve their seeding. We know they will be trying.

How do teams with something to play for perform in Week 17?

Using the Bet Labs database we pulled every Week 17 games in the last five years where at least one team had a playoff spot or seeding on the line. In those games, the team with motivation went 45-21 straight-up and 33-31-2 against-the-spread.

In games where only one team had postseason motivation, the team with something to play for went 32-8 straight-up and 20-18-2 ATS. In all but three of those games, the team with motivation was favored and went 32-5 straight-up and 19-16-2 ATS.

There were also 13 games in the last five years in Week 17 where both teams had postseason motivation to win. In those contests, the favorite went 8-5 straight-up and 7-6 against-the-spread.

Teams with motivation that are favored performed much better straight-up than expected. From 2011 to 2015, favorites won 66.6% of their games. In Week 17 teams that had motivation and were favored won 80.0% of their games. These same squads also performed better against-the-spread than expected. Favorites from 2011 to 2015 covered 49.1% of the time, while in Week 17 favorites with playoff implications had an against-the-spread win rate of 54.2%.


Sunday Night Football: Lions vs. Packers

There is a Pro System pick for this game that is 103-59 (64%) ATS all-time

Get game matches for this system


Motivation matters, when there are playoff ramifications on the line in Week 17 teams that are favored perform better.

SeasonTeamOpponentSpreadSU resultATS result
2015JetsBills-2.5LL
PatriotsDolphins-10LP
BengalsRavens-10WL
SteelersBrowns-13WW
TexansJaguars-5WW
ColtsTitans-3.5WW
Panthers Bucs-10WW
ChiefsRaiders-6.5WL
BroncosChargers-10WL
SeahawksCardinals6WW
CardinalsSeahawks-6LL
VikingsPackers3WW
PackersVikings-3LL
2014SeahawksRams-11WW
LionsPackers9LL
CowboysRedskins-6WW
PanthersFalcons2.5WW
PackersLions-9WW
Cardinals49ers6LW
BroncosRaiders-16.5WW
ColtsTitans-7.5WW
BengalsSteelers3LL
SteelersBengals-3WW
ChargersChiefs3LL
RavensBrowns-14WL
TexansJags-8.5WL
ChiefsChargers-3WW
FalconsPanthers-2.5LL
2013BroncosRaiders-10WW
PatriotsBills-7.5WW
BengalsRavens-6.5WW
ChargersChiefs-15.5WL
SteelersBrowns-9.5WW
SeahawksRams-13WW
PanthersFalcons-5.5WL
49ersCardinals3WW
EaglesCowboys-7.5WL
CowboysEagles7.5LW
BearsPackers3LL
PackersBears-3WW
SaintsBucs-11WW
Cardinals49ers-3LL
2012TexansColts-6.5LL
BroncosChiefs-17WW
PatriotsDolphins-11.5WW
RavensBengals5.5LL
PackersVikings-3LL
49ersCardinals-16WL
RedskinsCowboys-3WW
SeahawksRams-11WL
VikingsPackers3WW
BearsLions-3WL
CowboysRedskins3LL
GiantsEagles-6.5WW
2011PatriotsBills-10WW
RavensBengals-2.5WW
SteelersBrowns-7WL
BroncosChiefs-1LL
RaidersChargers-2.5LL
BengalsRavens2.5LL
JetsDolphins1.5LL
TitansTexans-1WP
49ersRams-12.5WL
SaintsPanthers-7WW
GiantsCowboys-3WW
CowboysGiants3LL