Well, after a tough go at it down the stretch here, I’m still having a solid season. I’m looking to cap it all off with a huge Week 17, one of the more difficult weeks to cap in my opinion. But I put in my work, that’s for sure, and I think I have some solid stuff that should get me in the green in week seventeen. I’m 16 games up through 16 weeks, only because of a couple toughies to end the season, but a good finish gets me 20+ and that’s what I’m looking for. Enjoy!
Oakland Raiders (+14) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I hate the Raiders more than the next guy, I promise, but 14 points is too much for a team taht’s lost 3 straight games, and wilted down the stretch badly in two of those games. As big favorites the Bucs are 1-2 ATS this season, covering against only Detroit. The Raiders have their best games against smaller teams, and the Bucs fit in their. I think Tampa wins by 10, but Oakland covers in that case so I’ll go with the Raiders here.
Detroit Lions (+10.5) @ Green Bay Packers: Detroit plays better on the road than they do at home. And wouldn’t it be perfect for the ultra-disappointing Packers to have a tough one against the winless Lions in the last week of the season. I’ll tell you this, the Lions should be playing harder than the Packers, but it’s not like the Packers have nothing to lose here, how about some respect? Every other team that has strapped it up against the Lions this season has beaten them. Do you think the Packers want to be the first to fall? No way, no how. Still, though, the Lions might have played their worst game of the season last week – I think they bounce back from that and catch the Packers a little off guard. Tough to be the Lions, but it seems like the right thing to do. Raiders and Lions in the same week though? Yikes.
Dallas Cowboys (+2) @ Philadelphia Eagles: I guess it comes down to poor play calling (the Eagles have been brutal there, doing their best not to lose while losing because of it) and talent. The Cowboys have more talent, more to play for, and Tony Romo needs to step up in a must win game. Plus, the Cowboys always play the Eagles tough, and even though this game is in Philly, I still like the Cowboys chances to find the playoffs behind a great game from Tony Romo. McNabb and the Eagles and maybe Andy Reid and the Eagles as well – they might be playing their last games together. This season has been disappointing for both of these teams, but Dallas is the better team, so I’ll take them in the last game.
New York Giants (+7) @ Minnesota Vikings: Tom Coughlin got out of my dog house when he manned up and ran the ball in last week to beat the Panthers in overtime. He wasn’t dumb, he wanted a sure thing, and you’ve got to think that a 3 yard run with Brandon Jacobs is more of a sure thing than a kicker letting loose in windy conditions. Smart coach. Looks like an evil smurf, but he’s smart. That being said, he also believes in last season’s recipe for success, playing hard until the end and riding your winning ways into the playoffs. Smart move as well. You can rest in the off-season. That kind of attitude, and the fact that NY has nothing to lose, should be enough to keep them in it against an offense that should really struggle against the Giants defensive pressure. I also see that the Giants don’t struggle against run-heavy teams, they just outrun them and hold them down. DeAngelo Williams may have scored four times last week, but it took him a lot of carries to get to 100 yards, and that Carolina offensive line is awesome. The Giants do work against the run. I’ll take NY.
Chicago Bears (+3) @ Houston Texans: I love the Texans. They play very tough at home, and I see them throwing the ball around against the Bears secondary – but how about the will to win? The Bears have that. I hate betting on teams that won last weak where I thought they should have lost. That’s the Bears to a T. But what about the will? As a coach, a player, and a fan, I see the will to win as the #1 most important thing in sports. With playoffs on the line and their season in the balance, how can this Bears team fail here? They might not make the playoffs, but it’s not going to be because they lost in their season finale to the Texans.
Carolina Panthers (-3) @ New Orleans Saints: Because this game matters and the Panthers are much better than the Saints. New Orleans can throw the rock, no doubt but Carolina can do it all, and that’s worth a field goal in a game that will give them a bye in week 1 of the playoffs.
St. Louis Rams (+15.5) @ Atlanta Falcons: Do the Falcons need this game? You bet, a win for them and a loss by the Panthers gives them a first round bye and happiness all over the world. At least a 1st round bye. However, they won’t need to go for the throat, and I think it would take that to win by more than two touchdowns. The Rams have played 3 tight games in their last 4. They aren’t a great road team, but they have a rushing attack that is strong enough to stay tight against the Falcons. Especially if Atlanta is up a couple scores late and just pounds the ball to end it fast.
Kansas City Chiefs (+3) @ Cincinnati Bengals: The Chieftains score too many points for the Bengals to hang, that’s my humble opinion. They’ve scored 20 or more in 7 of their last 9 contests, and that’s often against much better defenses than the superstar caliber guys in Cinci. Yhatzee. The Bengals, on the other hand, have scored 21 points or less in, well, all but two games this season. They’ve never scored more than 23, and after playing the Browns last week I think they’ll be in for a bit of a surprise, these Chiefs may be 2-13, but they play hard. I like the Chiefs to win easily in Cincinnati.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens (-12): I hate taking a low scoring team by double digits, but it seems to be the only way. The Ravens absolutely annihilate bad teams. Since beating the Bengals by a touchdown in Week 1, when Cinci still had Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco was starting his first game as a pro, the Ravens have beaten the Browns by 18 and then 10, the Raiders by 19, the Texans by 28, and the Bengals by 31… Bad teams, big wins, the Jags aren’t good either and this is a bad match-up for them.
Tennessee Titans (-3) @ Indianapolis Colts: Neither of these teams will play their starters throughout the game, but I think the Colts lose more when their #1’s sit. The Titans are toughness and grit and offensive line play and just straight power and will. The Colts are Peyton Manning and finesse. When Peyton goes out, and those stars start to sit, I see the Titans walking away with this one.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-10): The Browns have lost their last three games by at lest 14 points a piece. The Steelers come into this knowing all they have to do is score a couple touchdowns, keep Ken Dorsey from beating them, and they have a first round bye wrapped up and home field in their first game. I don’t see them coming out soft. The Steelers, like the Ravens, beat the piss out of bad teams. The Browns are bad.
Miami Dolphins (+3) @ New York Jets: If the Jets’ play calling is stupid enough for them to lose at home to Denver, in San Francisco, and then in Seattle in 3 of their last 4 games, then it is probably bad enough to choke this one away too. I don’t know about the average football mind, but if I had an old quarterback that got respect on his deep passes, one that was having shoulder issues, I would probably run the ball more than I threw it. If the Jets did that, they’d have won against the Hawks last week. They would have beaten the 49ers as well. But Man-Jina loves to throw the ball, regardless of the auto five yards Thomas Jones is getting and the great back-up speedster they have in Leon Washington. All things being equal, that stupidity should get Miami into the playoffs.
New England Patriots (-6) @ Buffalo Bills: The Bills haven’t won at home since San Diego back in the middle of October. Losing to the Jets and Dolphins at home is at least understandable, but taking it to the dome against teams like Cleveland and San Francisco hardly gets me thinking home filed advantage. There’s no pressure on them, though, but I don’t think that helps them against this offensive juggernaut. The Patriots put up too many points for the Bills to hang, and they’ve proven the ability to do that in all weather conditions. Buffalo’s defense has regressed and that is why I’ll take the Pats in a game where everyone seems to be on New England. Oh well, hopefully we all win!
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (-6): I have to pick this game as if the last couple weeks didn’t happen to the Cardinals. The Cardinals are 6 points better than Seattle, especially at home, and especially after getting slammed each of the last two weeks. They have to get it together now or never, and I think their offensive firepower will be tough for the Hawks to handle. Big tough receivers aren’t the easiest on the little coverage guys in Seattle’s secondary.
Washington Redskins (+3) @ San Francisco 49ers: I would normally like the Niners here. They’ve been playing really well with a new toughness since Mike Singletary took over. They have been winning games too, taking 4 of their last 6, including the Bills and Jets. But two were also St. Louis, so don’t get too excited. Last week’s game is why I’m on the Redskins here, and I’m not talking about the Redskins game either. The 49ers should have lost last week, but they pulled out some magic hat type stuff and got it done. You know how I feel about that, if they should have lost, the truth will come out next week where they will lose. I’ll take the Redskins here – plus, in reality, the Redskins are better than the 49ers – there’s always that.
Denver Broncos (+9.5) @ San Diego Chargers: The Broncos have lost to the Raiders, Chiefs, Bills, Jaguars and more. Gross. The Chargers really haven’t lost to a terrible team all year, and they have to be ready to get the Broncos back for that terrible muscle man referee call that gave the Broncos life the last time these two teams played. The Broncos seem to be the kings of choke while the Chargers have been all but out of the playoffs for some time now. All but out. Interesting term now, isn’t it? All the Chargers have to do is hold serve at home and they are in. All but in? But I still think this will be a fight, the Chargers, I expect them to win – but I expect Jay Cutler and company to do some things to keep this tight. 9.5 is too many for me – the Chargers haven’t been that good.