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Phew!

Both for the end of rolling out 16 NFL picks every week…and also for the New England Patriots’ win over the Buffalo Bills a week ago.

Although the Pats were down late, did anyone feel like they were going to lose that game?

I just never did.

Listen, the Bills have had a great year.  Sean McDermott seems to be a pretty good coach.  But I just haven’t been sold on them all year.

In the first Patriots/Bills game, if Tom Brady doesn’t throw that horrendous interception in the end zone mid-second quarter or so and they score a TD themselves, the game is 20-0 Pats at that early point.  (Or 19-0 anyway, as they weren’t exactly hitting a ton of extra points those days).  That game would have been OVER, sorry.

The interception gave the Bills life.  Defensive lapses on the first drive of the second half by the Bills made the score 13-10 at that point and it was a totally different ballgame.

Fast forward to last Saturday’s game.  The Pats offense finally showed up against a defense that supposedly had some ability.  Yet a Rex Burkhead fumble set a bad tone early.  Then a couple of bad big plays given up by the Pats defense led to two Bills touchdowns.

The Pats really should have smoked the Bills in both games.

Now, give some credit to the Bills of course.  Which I will begrudgingly do.  But neither of those games should have been close.

So is the Patriots’ offense “back”?  After all, the Bills defense was second in the NFL in points allowed (to the Pats), right?

You know how the Patriots get bashed for their pathetic schedule?  Welp, take a look at the Bills schedule.  Seem a little familiar?  Yup, their slate sucked too.

So can we really say the Pats O is rounding back to form?

Sure, they looked better.  Brady, in particular, looked a whole lot better.  I’m not ready to say that everything is all rosy nowadays, however.

I will say I feel a tad more positive about things, but that is all.

Let’s just get to the playoffs already and let the chips fall where they may.

As for this weeks’ games, I do love how the NFL schedules all the teams fighting for the same thing in the same time slots on the last week of the season.  That’s kinda cool.  But since most of the playoff spots are sewn up, teams are resting starters and Week Seventeen is primarily for seeding purposes…oh, and we are still trying to enjoy the holiday season ourselves…let’s just blow through these picks as fast as humanly possible.  Thank you very much for your understanding.

New York Jets at Buffalo (-1.5)

The Bills are locked into the #5 seed, could they be looking for a little momentum heading into Wild Card Weekend?  I initially thought “yes”.  But McDermott is being a little coy on how long he will actually play his starters.  So that tells me…not much.

New York Jets 17, Buffalo 13.  

Chicago at Minnesota (-1.5)

Not sure if the Vikings have a shot at the #5 seed if they win and Seattle loses.  But…that momentum thing…especially since they were wretched last Monday night against the Packers.  Wait…I just found out the Vikes are starting Sean Mannion at QB today.  Plus, Dalvin Cook is still out.  Nevermind the momentum thing…

Chicago 20, Minnesota 17.  

Cleveland (-2.5) at Cincinnati

I hope they give Freddie Kitchens one more chance next year, just for the comedic element.  We may have to worry about the Bengals playing hard again this week, as they did in their near colossal comeback against the Dolphins last week.  And…they already have locked up the #1 pick so they may play even faster and looser.  Maybe I should change my pick…after all, I just changed the first two…

Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 20.  

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-0.5)

Coach Dan Quinn pulled off a miracle and kept his job.  I guess GM Thomas Dimitroff was under the gun too and he also stays.  Tampa has been feisty lately as well.  Toss up here…what a surprise, based on what the spread is.

Atlanta 34, Tampa Bay 31.  

New Orleans at Carolina (-13.5)

Saints need this for a chance at the #1 seed.  The Panthers are still going with Will Grier.  And apparently will just give the ball to Christian McCaffrey so he can try to set some records, according to their offensive coordinator this week.  Nice to set the Saints up with your game plan so early!  The only thing that can prevent New Orleans from a romp is…Antonio Brown??

New Orleans 42, Carolina 20.  

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City (-8.5)

The Chiefs sure as hell are giving themselves a chance at the #2 seed.  Playing at the same time as the Pats, they will come out fast and furious at least.

Kansas City 34, Los Angeles Chargers 23.  Lock of the week.

Green Bay (-13.5) at Detroit

The Pack is still fighting for the first seed.  The Lions are terrible.

Green Bay 31, Detroit 10.  

Miami at New England (-15.5)

I’m not expecting the Patriots to take this game lightly, as they have been probably ridden by coach Bill Belichick all week on the importance of this game with getting the bye and all.  The Dolphins have won 4 games this year, about 3-4 more than most people expected.  They’ve shown some fight, led by their veteran QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick.  I’m sure coach Brian Flores and his guys would love to knock the Pats out of the bye.  But the thinking here is that the Pats come out firing and build up a huge lead before gradually inserting backups.  I hope that is how it goes anyway.  I hope to God that they don’t plan on running Stephen Jackson right into the line 40 consecutive times or something like that…

New England 34, Miami 16.  

Arizona at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5)

Kyler Murray is a game time decision and that is kind of important here.  The Cards may just shut him down.  But my understanding is that the Rams will be playing backups.  Ssssssssssooooo…your guess is as good as mine here.

Arizona 24, Los Angeles Rams 20.  

Philadelphia (-4.5) at New York Giants

Something keeps trying to tell me the Giants win this and I need to pick them here.  Philly All-Pro tight end Zach Ertz is out.  The Eagles have all sorts of injuries.  They have been a frustrating team all season.  But…I just cannot do it.

Philadelphia 23, New York Giants 20.  

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Baltimore

Can Robert Griffin III and the other Raven backups still beat a Steeler team helmed by the immortal Duck Hodges?  They sure can!  BUT, we think the Ravens will just try to get the hell out of there without any injuries and the Steeler defense will do what they need to.  With the playoffs on the line, we think Duck (or more specifically, the running game) will do just enough here to keep them in the mix.

Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10.  

Washington at Dallas (-10.5)

Talk about frustrating…HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS?!!  But I just read somewhere that the entire starting Redskin secondary is out.  Dallas needs to win.  That’s enough for me to offset the “Jason Garrett factor”.  Maybe that’s stupid, I don’t know.

Dallas 31, Washington 17.  

Oakland at Denver (-3.5)

Miraculously, the Raiders have a shot at the playoffs.  The Broncos have shown some life upon rookie QB Drew Lock’s insertion into the lineup.  Feel like Oakland will show up, despite RB Josh Jacobs already being ruled out.

Oakland 27, Denver 24.  

Tennessee (-4.5) at Houston

Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins are questionable.  Will Fuller is out.  It’s unlikely the Texans will get a better seed or if even that better seed matters.  Sounds like they are going backups too.  The Titans also need this one.

Tennessee 24, Houston 17.  

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Jacksonville

Dougie Marrone may be coaching his final game for the Jags.  Does anyone care?

Indianapolis 20, Jacksonville 14.  

San Francisco (-3.5) at Seattle

The Seahawks were embarrassed at home by the Cardinals last week, even after Kyler Murray exited the game.  They signed a couple of corpses to round out their running back room this week, including Beast Mode.  The Niners won a thriller against the Rams last week.  You know what all of this means.

Seattle 38, San Francisco 34.

Week (against the spread):  9-7

Week (straight up):  11-5

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  9-7

Season (against the spread):  121-119

Season (straight up):  155-85

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Speaking of turkeys, one non-football note (about time?) before we dive into the New England Patriots and then the three Thanksgiving Day games.

Kyrie Irving is coming back to Boston tonight.  Oh wait, nevermind.  He’s out with a shoulder injury.  BIG surprise.

Kidding, of course.  Kyrie has actually missed several games, so it’s not like he is ducking Boston.  That would be hard to do over the course of a long NBA season.

When healthy, Kyrie is lighting up Brooklyn.  But who else do they have?  Kevin Durant?  Sure, but not this season.  Spencer Dinwiddie can apparently play.  But what else?  Joe Harris?

So, of course, he is going to have monster numbers.  I mean, he is truly a great player for sure, there has never been any debate on that.

But I think most people have noticed the turnaround (thus far) in Boston this season.  The Celtics are 12-4.  Yup, it’s early and there is a loooooong way to go.  It’s also worth noting that the Nets are 9-8…but something like 5-1 without Irving.  Nice.

Sure, Kyrie wasn’t the only player leaving Boston after last season.  But I find it hard to believe that Al Horford or Aron Baynes caused any locker room turmoil.  Marcus Morris?  Perhaps…he is kind of a hothead.  Terry Rozier too, but as a part-time player, we can’t really say he led the charge or anything.

It’s all about Kyrie.

The players seem different on the floor as well.  The whole thing is obvious.  Of course, it hasn’t hurt that Gordon Hayward seemed to get back to his previous self before missing some games with a different, and lesser, malady.  And the younger guys have taken a step up as well.

But the general feeling cannot be mistaken.

It’s just awesome to see the Nets winning without Kyrie, while the Celtics come off a West Coast trip, don’t have Kemba Walker, Hayward (and Daniel Theis, if you will), have to play dudes like Semi Ojeleye and Tremont Waters 20 minutes plus and still win their game.

We said it here at the time:  Good riddance.

And…the most laughable thing I have heard in recent days is “will Kyrie get a tribute video?”

SERIOUSLY??!  FOR WHAT??!  Two years of a bad attitude and “leading” an underachieving team?

Listen, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t here all that long either.  But he absolutely deserved a tribute video upon his return.  100 percent.

Kyrie?  Please.

Ok, back to football and the Patriots.

Though I am not sure I have anything to add on them.

I mean, it was certainly a nice win against Dallas on Sunday.  But what did we learn?

The game was played in a monsoon.  It was raining sideways.  Wind.  All that.

The defense sure played well.  The offense still needs some work.  But if this game is played in better conditions, do the Cowboys score many more points?  Wouldn’t surprise me.  That’s why I am not sure I can put much stock into this game.

What did we learn about the kid wide receivers?  Not sure there either.  Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry had their moments…both good and bad.  Isn’t that to be expected though?

I am glad that they played basically the whole game, however.  How can the experience hurt?

Nice win at home against a fairly decent team in less than ideal conditions.

But that’s all I’m taking from it.

Chicago (-2.5) at Detroit

The Bears probably think they have a shot at the playoffs still, while the Lions lost to Washington last week.  ‘Nuff said.

Chicago 20, Detroit 10.  

Buffalo at Dallas (-6.5)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is pissed off.  About time!  He should have fired coach Jason Garrett years ago.  Not sure he picked the right time to sound off a little here, after those conditions last week, but better late than never I suppose.  That being said, I expect the ‘Boys to bounce back at home on Turkey Day.  The Bills are 8-3, but I am still not buying into any of that nonsense.

Dallas 27, Buffalo 13.  

New Orleans (-6.5) at Atlanta

The Saints should have lost to Carolina last week.  They amazingly got smoked by these same Falcons three weeks ago…at home.  New Orleans is 3-1 since Drew Brees’ return, but things have been seemingly a little uneven.  The Falcons seemed to be a little resurgent after that win at the Superdome, but then got hammered last week by an extremely average Tampa Bay team.  Combine that with my track record this season, well, who the hell knows?  But I am thinking that the Saints return the favor in Atlanta.

New Orleans 38, Atlanta 24.  

Week (against the spread):  7-7

Week (straight up):  8-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-7 

Season (against the spread):  87-89

Season (straight up):  114-62

Week Twelve…

Ho hum first place divisional matchup Thursday night with the Texans and the Colts.  Hard to get excited about a team that ran it 255 times like Indianapolis did.  Especially when they lost.  And even though the Texans are 7-4, I just thought they would be better and certainly more explosive.  Moving on…

Looks like Tom Brady is going to have to throw to Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry today after all…maybe still have to throw screens to Sony Michel as well.  Because it appears that Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett aren’t going to play.  Should be interesting in any event…

The picks have been so putrid, maybe I can put even less effort into it this week to change some fortunes.  Plus I am running out of time anyway…

Miami at Cleveland (-10.5)

Thought Miami was “rolling” at two wins in a row last week and would cover against an average Buffalo team.  Wrong again.  No idea what will be the Brown reaction to the whole Myles Garrett thing.  But…the Dolphins…

Cleveland 27, Miami 13.  

Detroit (-3.5) at Washington

I don’t love the Lions, but I like the ‘Skins even less.

Detroit 17, Washington 10.  

Denver at Buffalo (-4.5)

Maybe the Bills are for real?

Buffalo 24, Denver 13.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-4.5)

Falcons 9-7 and heading to the playoffs!!  Haha…

Atlanta 34, Tampa Bay 27.  

Seattle at Philadelphia (-1.5)

Seahawks are 5-0 on the road and off a bye.  Good enough for me.

Seattle 27, Philadelphia 24.  

Carolina at New Orleans (-9.5) 

That “Kyle Allen” era sure was fun, no?

New Orleans 34, Carolina 20.  

Pittsburgh (-6.5) at Cincinnati 

Can Cincy go 0-16?  I’m rooting for it!!

Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 9.  Lock of the week.  (At this point, I really don’t know)  

Oakland (-3.5) at New York Jets

J-E-T-S winning two in a row!!  Still…

Oakland 30, New York Jets 24.  

New York Giants at Chicago (-6.5)

Unwatchable.

New York Giants 17, Chicago 13.

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3.5)

Titans with a big win over KC and then off a bye.  Seems like a safe bet.  But with them, you just don’t know.

Tennessee 23, Jacksonville 16.  

Dallas at New England (-6.5)

My heart says NE at home.  But…even with Amari Cooper at half strength and Leighton Vander Esch out and the stout Patriot defense…it’s hard for me to see the Pats putting up a ton of points with a horrid running game/offensive line and backup receivers and all their offensive question marks (ie:  again, Isaiah Wynn is NOT Jesus Christ).  The Patriots CAN win.  But for this, I’m going to go this way.  The way the season is going for my picks, the Pats will probably win anyway.  Reverse psychology?  Well, it is supposed to rain…

Dallas 24, New England 20.  

Green Bay at San Francisco (-3.5)

The Niners are heading for a brutal stretch.

Green Bay 27, San Francisco 24.  

Baltimore (-3.5) at Los Angeles Rams

I’d like to say Rams at home…but I cannot.

Baltimore 37, Los Angeles Rams 24.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-6  

Season (against the spread):  80-83

Season (straight up):  107-56

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