During baseball season, Yankees off days always feel like forever, but in reality, it’s the time between games during a bye week in football season that actually feels like forever. With the Giants suffering another heartbreaking loss, to the Patriots no less, the last thing you want to do is wait another 10 days for the all-important and potentially division-deciding game against the Redskins to take place. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to, but wait. Wait and make picks.
(Home team in caps)
JACKSONVILLE -3 over Tennessee
This would be “that” game of the week, but it’s on Thursday Night Football and everyone will watch since it’s the only game on and because the AFC South is so bad, this game actually has playoff implications. The 3-6 Jaguars are one game back in the division and the 2-7 Titans are two games back. Yes, two games back at 2-7. No one should ever say anything bad about the NFC East.
CAROLINA -7.5 over Washington
I don’t like that the Redskins are still in the NFC East race. It’s supposed to be the Giants vs. Eagles at this point and the Redskins are supposed to be battling the Cowboys to not finish in last place even though finishing in last place in the NFL gives you a schedule advantage the following season, so if you’re going to lose, you might as well lose big. It’s time for the Redskins to turn into the Redskins and go on a nice losing streak and clear the way for the NFC East two become a two-team competition.
Oakland -2.5 over DETROIT
The two hardest teams in the league to read are playing each other and the only reasoning I have in taking the Raiders and that I really, really, really don’t like this Lions team.
Dallas -1 over MIAMI
Tony Romo is back. Here is what the Cowboys did without Tony Romo:
Lost to Atlanta 39-28.
Lost to New Orleans 26-20 in overtime.
Lost to New England 30-6.
Lost to the Giants 27-20.
Lost to Seattle 13-12.
Lost to Philadelphia 33-27 in overtime.
Lost to Tampa Bay 10-6.
That’s an 0-7 record with five of the losses by seven points or less, four of the losses by six points or less, two of the losses by four points or less, two of the losses in overtime and one of the losses by one point. During those seven games, the Cowboys started Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. It’s very likely that the Cowboys would have won the NFC East if Romo had been healthy all year, but he wasn’t, and at 2-7 with seven games left, the Cowboys will have to be perfect and win out to reach the playoffs. It’s not going to happen, but I have a terrible feeling they are going to make things interesting because the Giants and Eagles will let them make things interesting.
Indianapolis +6 over ATLANTA
The Colts are 2-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as their quarterback this season and 2-5 with Andrew Luck as their quarterback and I feel more confident in the Colts with Hasselbeck playing. Couple that with the fact that the Falcons are a fraudulent 6-3 team that has lost three of four with the one win in that span being a 10-7 win over the Titans and this game feels almost too easy to pick.
St. Louis +2 over BALTIMORE
For some reason, I backed the Rams to cover a touchdown against the Bears last week. And when Todd Gurley brought them down the field with relative ease to give them an early 7-0 lead, I thought it would be smooth sailing to a W. Instead, they lost 37-13 at home. So why am I backing them this week? Good question.
New York Jets -2.5 over HOUSTON
The Jets’ season is over as a result of their loss to the Bills last week on Thursday Night Football. At 5-4, the Jets are in seventh place in the AFC playoff picture and they don’t have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Raiders or Bills. The Jets would have to finish at least 5-2 to make the playoffs and with the Dolphins, Giants, Cowboys, Patriots and Bills still on their schedule, that’s just not going to happen. I do think the Jets will stay in the race only too look back at their home loss to the Bills as the reason as to why they don’t make the playoffs. And in that loss, they turned the ball over four times, blew two fourth downs with a chance to win and still only lost by five. Better luck next year!
Tampa Bay +5.5 over PHILADELPHIA
The Cowboys are done in the NFC East race and the next step is to knock either the Eagles or Redskins out of it. The Giants aren’t going to make it easy on themselves to win the division, so it’s going to take a lot of rooting against their direct competition.
Denver -1 over CHICAGO
Brock Osweiler makes his first career NFL start on his birthday. You don’t lose on your birthday. That’s a fact. At least not at the casino. So it might be true for the NFL too.
Kansas City -3 over SAN DIEGO
Could the Chiefs win the AFC West despite starting 1-5? It’s not really that crazy. The Broncos are 7-2, but are now without Peyton Manning and their remaining games are against Chicago, New England, San Diego, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and San Diego. The Chiefs are 4-5 and three games back, but they finish against San Diego, Buffalo, Oakland, San Diego, Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland. It’s not going to be easy, but the Chiefs are very much alive in the division (and the wild-card) and could be looking at hosting a playoff game at Arrowhead after the way they started the season.
MINNESOTA 0 over Green Bay
If you’re not done with the Packers, you should be. The Packers have gone from NFC favorites to on their way out of the playoff picture. Right now, the Packers would be the 5-seed in the NFC and would play their first-round game at MetLife against the Giants, and we all know how the Packers do in the postseason against the Giants. A Vikings win on Sunday would improve them to 8-2 and make the Packers 6-4, creating a two-game gap in the NFC North with the Vikings holding the head-to-head tiebreaker with six games to play. I’m a Vikings fan when it doesn’t interfere with being a Giants fan because of my girlfriend (there will be issues in Week 16), and this week will be the hardest I have ever rooted for the Vikings.
SEATTLE -12.5 over San Francisco
The Seahawks are done unless they go on at least a 6-1 run, but even then, it still might not be enough. I was astonished that the Seahawks’ defense let the Cardinals go to Seattle and put up 39 points on them and that the Seahawks weren’t able to hold on to their lead after overcoming an early 19-0 deficit. The best cure for a fledging Seahawks team that is watching their season spiral out of control nine-plus months after their head coach gave away their second straight championship is Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers. This is the type of game the Seahawks dominate and it would be a victory for the 49ers if they score six points in it.
ARIZONA -5 over Cincinnati
I have been hot and cold on the Cardinals all season, but on Sunday Night Football in Seattle they showed me a lot. Now it could be a trap since I have never believed in Carson Palmer and have likely been way too high on the Seahawks, but going to Seattle and scoring 39 points is impressive even if the Legion of Boom isn’t what it once was. And since I have never been a believer in the Bengals during the Andy Dalton era or at any point this season even with them starting 8-0, their embarrassing loss at home to the Texans and to Brian Hoyer and T.J. Yates only reinforced my opinion on them. The Bengals couldn’t solve the Texans’ defense, which has underachieved and been dominated all season, and they certainly aren’t going to have a better showing against the Cardinals’ defense, which might be the best in the game.
Buffalo +7 over NEW ENGLAND
If the NFL didn’t have insane rules about a catch is and if it knew what a catch is then Odell Beckham Jr. wins the game for the Giants on Sunday and the Giants would have four straight wins over the Patriots and the Patriots would no longer be undefeated. The Giants also would have won if Landon Collins could catch an easy game-ending interception or if the defense could make a stop on fourth-and-10 or just make a stop at all with the game on the line on the final drive.
The Giants once again exposed the Patriots to the rest of the league just like they always do and now it’s up to their seven remaining opponents to take notice and capitalize and it starts with Rex Ryan’s Bills. The Bills control their own destiny for a playoff berth and going to Gillette and playing the Julian Edelman-less Patriots is a good place to start on their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999.
Last week: 7-7-0