It’s feel like the NFL season has already ended to me and that’s because the Giants haven’t played a meaningful game sine their Week 12 loss to the Cowboys a month ago. Now I’m stuck looking at an under-.500 picks season, there’s no fantasy football left to be played and the amount of games available to wager on will start to dwindle as teams lock up playoff berth and home-field advantage or mail it in for the last two weeks.
With Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve all in the next 13 days, football takes a backseat to the holiday season. But once New Year’s ends, football is back with Wild-Card Weekend and that’s when I lean heavily on football to get through the frigid January weather in the northeast. (Thankfully this year we have the Winter Olympics and therefore Olympic hockey to get through the February weather.)
But before I can even start to think about playoff football, I have to finish strong here in the last two weeks of the regular season with my picks. I’m currently 101-113-9 and 43 games left in the season, including playoffs, I have to finish at least 28-15 to finish over .500 for the season. It’s not going to be easy, but I have a 10-5-1 Week 15 to build off of.
Miami -3 over BUFFALO
It’s Week 16 and there is a lot on the line. Out of the 16 games, 13 of them have playoff implications with five divisions and eight playoffs spots still available. One of those games is this one because if the Dolphins beat the Bills and the Patriots lose to the Ravens, the Dolphins will be one game back of the Patriots with one to play. Sure, the Patriots play the Bills next week and will win that game and the Dolphins really don’t have a chance to win the AFC East (this is half the truth and half a reverse jinx attempt), but let me at least believe for a week, Football Gods?
CAROLINA -3.5 over New Orleans
The Saints have put themselves in a bad spot. If the NFC playoffs were to go through New Orleans, the Saints would easily be the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl. But because of the Saints’ 3-4 road record (they are 7-0 at home) with brutal losses to the Patriots, Jets and Rams, the Saints are now playing for the NFC South title in Carolina. If this game were at the Superdome, I would be all about the Saints like always. But on the road, I’m going against them … like always.
Dallas -3 over WASHINGTON
Come on, this one is easy. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Cowboys will go to D.C. and walk all over the Redskins to make the Week 17 Cowboys-Eagles game in Dallas the NFC East Championship Game. Every year the Cowboys find themselves playing in a win-or-go-home situation in Week 17 and this year will be no different.
ST. LOUIS -4.5 over Tampa Bay
Did you know the Rams have more wins (6) than the Giants (5)? Sure, two of those wins came against Jacksonville and Houston, but the Rams did beat Arizona (9-5), Indianapolis (9-5), Chicago (8-6) and New Orleans (10-4). No, the Rams wouldn’t have been a playoff team if Sam Bradford didn’t get hurt considering they play in the same division as Seattle and San Francisco, but they are at least on the right track for the future, which is more than you can say about the New York Football Giants.
Cleveland +2 over NEW YORK JETS
You know who else has more wins the Giants? The Jets, that’s who. The Jets, who went weeks without throwing for a touchdown have more wins than a team just 23 months removed from winning the Super Bowl and a little over a year removed from looking like they could win the NFC East and possibly even have a first-round bye. No, things haven’t flipped in the New York football landscape (a terrible landscape to be a part of) and the Giants are still king, but it’s never a good look to finish a season worse than the Jets. Let’s go Browns!
KANSAS CITY -7 over Indianapolis
Here are the points against the Chiefs in their first nine games, which were all wins: 2, 16, 16, 7, 17, 7, 16, 17, 13. And here are the points aginst the Chiegs in their last five games: 27, 41, 35, 10, 31. I’m not sure what has happened to the Chiefs’ defense since their first loss of the season back in Week 11, but when the Raiders are putting up 31 on you at home it’s never good. Knowing that, I would normally shy away from the picking for the Chiefs to cover a touchdown at home, but this is the Colts we’re talking about and no playoff team has the ability to get run out of a building on the road like the Colts.
Minnesota +8 over CINCINNATI
I originally had the Bengals to cover here, but I thought more about it and the Vikings have covered for me so many times this year that I can’t turn my back on them now. (And my girlfriend, a Vikings fan, would probably give me a glare and not talk to me for at least 20 minutes upon finding out I picked against her Vikings.)
Denver -10.5 over HOUSTON
The same week in which reports come out that the Texans passed on Peyton Manning, Peyton returns to Reliant Stadium where he tormented the Texans for years. The last thing you want to do is pick against Peyton in a dome with the single-season touchdown record and the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed on the line. Maybe he will choke in January and the Broncos will lose in the divisional round, but when it comes to the regular season, Peyton Manning knows how to get the job done.
Tennessee -4.5 over JACKSONVILLE
There it is! It’s that Game of the Week …
Somewhere someone who isn’t a Titans or Jaguars fan is going to bet on this game and watch it in its entirety. Think about that.
SEATTLE -11 over Arizona
Carson Palmer in Seattle. Carson Palmer in Seattle. Carson Palmer in Seattle.
DETROIT -9.5 over New York Giants
I’m not sure what line would make me feel uncomfortable picking against the Giants right now, but 9.5 in Detroit certainly isn’t it. Maybe if this line were -13.5 or higher I would start to think twice about it, but even then, this Giants team has already started thinking about the Monday after Week 17 and a desperate Lions team at home only makes matters worse.
Oakland +10 over SAN DIEGO
I am always big on the Raiders covering against the Chargers and usually the line is a lot lower than 10. The Chargers have proven to be a December disaster in recent years and now that they have played themselves into an unlikely-but-still-possible position for the playoffs, I’m thinking the Raiders’ money line isn’t a bad decision here either.
GREEN BAY -2 over Pittsburgh
I have a feeling we are going to be looking at the NFC North being decided in Chicago next week between the Bears and Packers. You just know the Packers are going to win and then Aaron Rodgers will be back in Week 17 to face the Bears. That’s just how things happen. It’s what the Football Gods want.
BALTIMORE -2 over New England
It’s very weird to not see the “x” next to New England in the standings entering Week 16 to represent the Patriots’ clinched playoff berth. It’s even weirder not to see the “y” next to the “x” showing that the Patriots have also clinched the AFC East with two weeks left. The Patriots aren’t used to playing meaningful late-December games and now they will have to try and clinch the division on the road against the defending champions, who seem to pull off a different miracle each week.
Chicago +3 over PHILADELPHIA
Unfortunately, next week in Dallas, either the Cowboys or Eagles have to win. And one of those teams has to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. But that’s next week. This week it’s still easy to decide who to root against when it comes to an Eagles game.
SAN FRANCISCO -13 over Atlanta
This game would have been in every 10-point teaser this weekend if it weren’t Monday Night Football. But I can’t imagine a lot of people will want to create a 10-point teaser over two days and instead will end up taking the 49ers -13 by themselves on Monday night. That means this line isn’t going to stay at -13 for long and I am thankful it was there when I wrote this.
Last week: 10-5-1