Only two weeks left to go. Only 32 regular-season games left to pick and then 11 playoff games after. The stretch run carries on and another winning week is needed to finish the 2014 season the right way.
(Home team in caps)
JACKSONVILLE -3.5 over Tennessee
There’s no more fitting end to Thursday Night Football than having the the 2-12 Jaguars and the 2-12 Titans meet. The Thursday Night Football games this year were decided by 20, 42, 31, 32, 5, 2, 14, 18, 21, 13, 4, 13, 6, 8. Only four of the 14 games were decided by eight points or less in what were some of the worst and sloppiest played game of the entire season. Sure, Thursday Night Football has shortened the week for fans who need their fix (either viewing or gambling) before the following Sunday, however there’s no denying the games are rarely competitive and overall not exactly in the best interest of the health of the players. But Thursday Night Football isn’t going anywhere, so look forward to another slate of lopsided next season and maybe there won’t be any matchups as miserable as this one.
Philadelphia -8 over WASHINGTON
One of my favorite parts of this season has been Jay Gruden’s weekly roasts of Robert Griffin III’s abilities even if Gruden has recently said that his words about RGIII get misconstrued.
San Diego +1 over SAN FRANCISCO
If Michigan really offered Jim Harbaugh a six-year, $48 million deal and he doesn’t take it, then what the eff is he doing? That’s $8 million a year to coach a program that can’t go anywhere but up and if it doesn’t work out he can just get another job somewhere else. After three straight NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl loss, I’m not sure what the 49ers are thinking by trying to trade or fire Harbaugh unless he is really the absolute biggest dick in the world. Maybe they haven’t seen the rest of the head coaching landscape in the league, but they are going to have a likely impossible time trying to replace him.
Minnesota +6.5 over MIAMI
There isn’t a bigger fraud team in the NFL than the Dolphins. Last season, at 8-6, the Dolphins controlled their own destiny looking to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and the second time since 2001. They lost to the Bills 19-0 and the Jets 20-7, two teams with nothing to play for, and missed the playoffs once again with an 8-8 finish. This season, at 7-5, the Dolphins have lost back-to-back games to the Ravens (28-13) and Patriots (41-13) and will miss the playoffs once again. All Miami did this season was cost me picks and parlays and I’m happy to watch them endure another late-season collapse.
Green Bay -12 over TAMPA BAY
The Packers’ loss to the Bills dropped the Packers from second in the NFC and getting a first-round bye and then a home game in the divisional round to sixth and having to play on the road during Wild-Card Weekend with the Lions taking over the NFC North lead. The Lions are going to win this week in Chicago against Jimmy Claussen and improve to 11-4. The Packers are going to win in Tampa Bay to also move to 11-4. So next week’s Week 17 Packers-Lions game in Detroit is going to be for the NFC North title, a first-round bye and a divisional round home game in the NFC playoffs.
Detroit -9.5 over CHICAGO
Here are the quarterbacks that lost by 10 or more points to the Lions this season: Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. What do those five quarterbacks have in common? They’re all better than Jimmy Claussen, who hasn’t started a game since 2010, didn’t play in any games in 2011, 2012 or 2013, has never thrown for more than 195 yards in game, has thrown three touchdown passes in his career and has one win in the NFL. That quarterback is being asked to jumpstart a Bears team that couldn’t win when they had a healthy Brandon Marshall and a team that has absolutely nothing to play for at 5-9 and playing for a coach that won’t be the Bears head coach the second their Week 17 game ends. Good luck, Jimmy Claussen.
NEW ORLEANS -9.5 over Atlanta
The 6-8 Saints playing the 5-9 Falcons for first place in the NFC South. If the Giants were in the NFC South, they would be in the mix for a postseason berth and a home playoff game. Instead, the only thing they have to play is their draft position and Tom Coughlin’s future. Meanwhile, if the Falcons win this game, Mike Smith will keep his job since the Falcons could be postseason bound. I’m rooting for the return of the Superdome Saints because of what Julio Jones did to me in Week 14 in Green Bay.
NEW YORK JETS +10.5 over New England
This is the final Jets-Patriots game of the Rex Ryan era. Here are how the other 12 have gone.
Patriots 27, Jets 25
Jets 30, Patriots 27 OT
Patriots 13, Jets 10
Patriots 49, Jets 19
Patriots 29, Jets 26 OT
Patriots 37, Jets 16
Patriots 30, Jets 21
Jets 28, Patriots 21 (playoffs)
Patriots 45, Jets 3
Jets 28, Patriots 14
Patriots 31, Jets 14
Jets 16, Patriots 9
The Jets are 4-8 in the 12 games, but have lost by 10 points or fewer eight times. Obviously none of that has anything to do with how this week will play out with the Patriots playing for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC and the Jets playing for nothing other than pride and trying not to get hurt with 120 minutes of football standing between them and the offseason. All the past Rex Ryan-Bill Belichick matchups show is that the Jets, even at 3-11, can’t be counted out to keep this game close or give the Patriots a tough time. (As I finish writing this, I can definitely see the Patriots winning 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.)
Kansas City +3 over PITTSBURGH
I originally picked the Steelers to win this game, thinking the Chiefs were worse on the road than they actually are. Whichever team wins this game is in the playoffs heading into Week 17 and the one common factor between these two teams are their bad losses. The Steelers have lost to the Buccaneers and Jets, while the Chiefs have lost to the Titans and Raiders. Without knowing which version of both of these teams will show up with major playoff implications on the line, I’m going to have to take the points.
Cleveland +4 over CAROLINA
I was as excited for the Johnny Football era as anyone, but after that embarrassing performance at home against the Bengals, I no longer have any interest in watching or rooting for Manziel until he proves he is better than Brian Hoyer. But for as bad as things were in his first NFL start, they can’t get worse. At least I don’t think they can.
Baltimore -6 over HOUSTON
Unfortunately, the Ravens are going back to the playoffs after missing out on them last season for the first time since 2007. I have rooted heavily against the Ravens this season after the way owner Steve Bisciotti handled that early-season Ray Rice-related press conference, but here they are at 9-5 and in control of their season with two games left. I guess I will just have to settle for rooting against them in the playoffs. Unless they play the Patriots.
NEW YORK GIANTS +6.5 over St. Louis
Odell Beckham Jr. put up 108 receiving yards against the Seahawks, so I don’t think the Rams will be able to contain him. I just hope the Giants’ defense can do to the Rams’ offense what the Cardinals did in their 12-6 Week 15 win against the Rams. That’s asking for a lot and too much, so this one is going to come down to the Giants’ offense being able to score against the Rams’ defense, specifically Beckham Jr, and I trust him more than I have ever trusted anyone in any Giants’ offense.
Buffalo -7 over OAKLAND
I am all aboard the Bills’ bandwagon. I desperately want the Bills to win out against the Raiders and Patriots and have everything need to go their way actually go their way and then pull off a first-round upset on the road against either the Colts or the NFC North champion. Let’s go Bills! Let’s go Bills! Let’s go Bills!
DALLAS -3 over Indianapolis
The Cowboys have to have this game. The Colts don’t need it and can focus on staying healthy for the final two weeks before their inevitable first- or second-round playoff loss.
Seattle -9 over ARIZONA
Ryan Lindley vs. the Seahawks’ defense, which has allowed 27 points in its last four games and allowed only three points to the Cardinals four weeks ago in a game Drew Stanton started, is going to be a disaster.
Denver -3.5 over CINCINNATI
Once again, the Broncos need to win out and have the Patriots lose to either the Jets or Bills to take over the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. It’s a longshot at this point, but it’s still a possibility and as long as it’s a possibility, I’m rooting for it.
Last week: 8-6-2