Another (somewhat) abridged (but not so last-minute) holiday edition. Tough sledding here, as plenty of teams will be resting guys for the playoffs, shutting guys down period, playing some young kids to see if they are worth hanging on to for next year and any other scenario in-between. We will see what happens. If we go 1-15, we finish the year over .500 still. So that’s good enough for me anyway. Happy New Year!!
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-13.5)
Cleveland is shooting for 0-16. I think they can do it, even though the Steelers are apparently not playing any of their key guys…well, Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell anyway…with Antonio Brown still out too. Landry Jones and Stevan Ridley anyone? Sure. They could (and should) probably still beat the Brownies.
Pittsburgh 17, Cleveland 13.
Green Bay at Detroit (-7.5)
The Lions actually should win this one going away…but of course they won’t.
Detroit 20, Green Bay 17.
Chicago at Minnesota (-12.5)
I believe Minnesota still has to play its way into the second seed and the bye over in the NFC. Therefore…
Minnesota 30, Chicago 10.
Dallas (-2.5) at Philadelphia
Philly is apparently going to play their starters for a bit. Which Nick Foles will show up? Who cares?
Dallas 27, Philadelphia 17.
Houston at Indianapolis (-3.5)
Speaking of “Who cares?”, 7-23 between these two squads. The only intrigue will be after the game to see if either of the two coaches keep their jobs. They both honestly probably should, based on their respective teams’ injury concerns this season. But I’d keep O’Brien and fire Pagano. Then again, Billy O’B and the Houston GM apparently despise each other. Kind of thinking both are going, right or wrong. Oh, I have to make a pick?
Houston 13, Indianapolis 10.
New York Jets at New England (-15.5)
It’s apparently going to be 50 below in Foxborough Sunday. The Jets are likely ready to hit the offseason, despite their competitiveness this season. Because the Pats still need to win (or have the Steelers lose) to sew up the #1 seed, I’d say that they will probably just try to do enough to get the W and get the hell outta there unscathed. But they may only have Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden at running back…and I’d prefer not to give Lewis 30 carries on the eve of the playoffs. Maybe Pro Bowler (?!) James Develin gets some carries too. I’m starting to think the Patriots come out throwing and take a little bit of a lead and then ride Bolden to victory in the second half!
New England 27, New York Jets 16.
Washington (-3.5) at New York Giants
The brand new Giants GM said he is leaning towards keeping Eli as the starting QB next year. Yeah, until he finds someone better this offseason…likely with the #2 overall draft pick. The Giants owner also seemingly wants to bring cornerback Eli Apple back too, because you “don’t give up on talent…” or some nonsense like that. That should go over well in the locker room. Not to mention the Giants interim coach is playing Eli Sunday “start to finish”. Why? He says they already know what they have in third rounder Davis Webb…despite Webb getting zero game experience this year. All of the above is kind of irrelevant for Sunday…even Eli playing the whole game…but it does make me laugh.
Washington 14, New York Giants 13.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-9.5)
The Bengals winning on Marvin Lewis’ way out? Nah. The Ravens need this one. Though the spread is probably too high. I’m still doing it.
Baltimore 27, Cincinnati 17.
Carolina at Atlanta (-3.5)
This may be the one game worth watching. The Falcons need this one more. That of course makes me nervous…but I’m still gonna do it here too.
Atlanta 27, Carolina 20.
New Orleans (-7.5) at Tampa Bay
The Bucs are bringing back Dirk Koetter next year? Yaaaay! Wait, what happened to all those Jon Gruden rumors? Anyway, the Saints should roll here either way.
New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 23.
Kansas City at Denver (-3.5)
The Chiefs are resting everyone and the Broncos are starting Paxton Lynch (I think). I should be taking the Broncos defense here, but I’m not.
Kansas City 17, Denver 13.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3.5)
This may be the second best game of the week…if the Jags play their regulars…which their coach said they were going to. But we will see, since the game doesn’t mean anything to Jacksonville. Other than to get revenge on a Week Two beating the Titans handed to them. Since that point was mentioned specifically by Dougie Marrone, I’ll take my chances with the Jags this week. The Titans have continuously underwhelmed and I really don’t expect anything different here…even with a playoff berth staring them in the face.
Jacksonville 31, Tennessee 20.
Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)
The Cards are 7-8? Hard to believe. The Seahawks have been inconsistent, but still have a chance. Based on their inconsistency, laying 8.5 seems aggressive, but the feeling here is that they come out ready to go.
Seattle 34, Arizona 23.
Buffalo (-2.5) at Miami
Two times in three weeks for this marquee matchup, with the Bills winning by eight in the first one in Buffalo. The Bills are still remarkably in the playoff mix and therefore need it more. Despite the Bills not actually being very good. Throw in the fact that Miami isn’t good either, I am not expecting the ‘Phins to go all out to knock the Bills from the playoff chase. I don’t know…
Buffalo 27, Miami 17.
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5)
The Raiders actually gave the Eagles a game last Monday. Both teams were kind of inept though. Chargers have a chance. Raiders do not. That’s all I can say really.
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Oakland 13.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)
The oddsmakers apparently have not been watching the Jimmy G show. Of course the Rams are the better team, but when your coach has already said your best players aren’t playing and the rest of the starters aren’t playing much, one wonders how the Rams could still be favored in this game.
San Francisco 27, Los Angeles Rams 16.
Week (against the spread): 6-10
Week (straight up): 13-3
Season (against the spread): 128-112
Season (straight up): 163-77
…this week’s Thursday Night Football game, that is. But we pick every game here, so there’s that. I’m still getting over the excitement of Brian Hoyer signing a three-year deal with the Pats on Wednesday. Ok, everyone knew that. And absolutely no one was actually excited. But three years? Were other teams lining up to sign him?
Yeah, I know a “three-year NFL contract” isn’t really a “three-year NFL contract”. But still. Seems a little steep. But I guess Hoyer may have finally realized that his remaining NFL future is as a backup, at best. And he may as well spend that in what should be a sweet situation behind Tom Brady in New England. For as long as he can.
What it also tells me that the Patriots probably are comfortable with this QB situation for those 3 years. And perhaps they use San Fran’s 2nd rounder on a third QB to develop into the starter after Brady finally shows his age and hangs it up? Supposed to be a deep quarterback draft…at least I think that’s what I have heard.
One thing is for sure: I’m still not digging the Jimmy G trade. But I will probably eventually come around. The Patriots pretty much make me do that almost every time.
As for the Thursday game…
Buffalo (-3.5) at New York Jets
Is it time to start taking the Bills seriously? I don’t know. Besides beating the Jets already, the Bills have beaten the Broncos, Falcons, Buccaneers and Raiders. Looks great on paper, right? But in reality, those four teams have all underachieved to some degree this year. The Bills have also lost to the Panthers and Bengals. Couple of middle of the road teams as well. So it’s hard to say if we all should be buying in on them yet.
That all being said, I feel comfortable taking them against the J-E-T-S…even on the road this time…
Buffalo 23, New York Jets 17.
Week (against the spread): 5-8
Week (straight up): 10-3
Season (against the spread): 55-64
Season (straight up): 74-45
…no, I am not really going to talk much about Zeke here. But I will say, now I know how the rest of the world felt about the Deflategate circus. Well, I knew how they felt anyway on that, since I felt the same way. Dragged on for far too long, with all the appeals and all the lawyers and all that nonsense. Serve the suspension already. That’s how I felt about Tom Brady at the time, even though I thought the offense was ridiculous and that every team likely does something similar, just that the Patriots were dumb enough to get caught. In a nutshell anyway. But I just wanted him to serve the suspension so that the whole thing went away.
Now, Elliott is supposed to start serving his six game suspension after the latest court ruling this week. But does anyone think it is really “over”? Zeke’s men are “considering all options” and, though I am far from an attorney, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the field during the Cowboys next game in Week 7.
The reality is, he has (allegedly) a brutal history of domestic violence. Again, serve the suspension already. You know you deserve it. Not to mention some jail time too. Zeke gets six games for “allegedly” beating women on a regular basis. Brady got four for taking the air out of footballs. Sigh…
That’s enough of that…from me anyway.
As for the picks, almost picked the correct score for Thursday Night this week (picked 27-24 and ended up 28-23). Solid. Better game than I thought it would be as well. We shall see if this is a good sign for the rest of them…
Green Bay (-3.5) at Minnesota
Minnesota is always a tough place to play. Divisional matchup to boot. But Case Keenum under center again. No Dalvin Cook. No Stefon Diggs. Tough for me to take the Vikes here.
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 17.
Cleveland at Houston (-9.5)
All aboard the Kevin Hogan bandwagon!! Hell, I don’t know if Hogan can actually play. But with the Texans injury issues, I feel like taking the points with the Browns here. I know, Houston put up 57 on the Titans at home 2 weeks ago and even 34 at home against the Chiefs in a loss a week ago. How does anyone think the Browns are going to stop these guys? I don’t know. I just feel like the spread is too big. I’ve been wrong plenty though.
Houston 24, Cleveland 17.
Miami at Atlanta (-10.5)
On the flip side, this spread may not be big enough. In Atlanta, who is off a bye and off a terrible loss at home to Buffalo before the bye. This could be over by halftime.
Atlanta 44, Miami 10.
San Francisco at Washington (-9.5)
Yup, I’m taking the points with another awful team on the road. The Niners have lost all five games they have played. But did you realize that 3 out of the last 4 have been on the road and they have lost all 4 by a field goal or less? Sure, some of the competition has stunk too (Colts, Cardinals). But the other 2 (Rams, Seahawks) were decent foes. Similar to Cleveland, they may not win. But I’m looking for them to keep it close.
Washington 31, San Francisco 24.
Chicago at Baltimore (-6.5)
Mitchell Trubisky looks like he has some skills. But he looked nowhere near ready to play in the NFL when I saw him last Monday night. I don’t expect that to change against the Ravens.
Baltimore 23, Chicago 13.
Detroit at New Orleans (-4.5)
I put my faith in the Lions last week, while acknowledging it could be a mistake. Surprise! It was. Not this week. The Saints at home off a bye. Stafford banged up. Feeling good about N.O. I’m sure I’ll be wrong on this one though.
New Orleans 27, Detroit 20.
New England (-9.5) at New York Jets
Battle for first place!!! Who saw that line ever being printed in 2017, regarding the AFC East? No one. But this is where the Pats kick it into high gear and take off. So says me. Brady hurt? Pffffffft. This one won’t be close.
New England 38, New York Jets 17.
Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville (-2.5)
Goes without saying that these two teams, both sitting at 3-2, are the biggest surprises (on the positive side) in the league this year. Unless you count the Bills and the Jets with the same record…which I don’t. Although maybe I should count the Jets, since they did beat Jax. Anyway…the Jags have been kind of inconsistent this year, alternating dominant efforts with mediocre to poor ones. So I haven’t bought in on them at all. But last week’s demolition of the Steelers in Pittsburgh finally got me to take notice. So I guess it’s time for me to actually pick them to win for once.
Jacksonville 28, Los Angeles Rams 24.
Tampa Bay (-2.5) at Arizona
The Bucs stunk a week and a half ago and still almost came up roses at the end. Arizona simply stinks. Don’t try to convince me that AP is going to save the day here either. Certainly not this week.
Tampa Bay 31, Arizona 13.
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland (-3.5)
I don’t believe that the Chargers have been as bad as their record. Oakland probably has played as bad as their record. Derek Carr is back after missing the last game. Maybe Amari Cooper will finally show up too. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking that I think Oakland takes this game. They were supposed to be battling for one of the top seeds in the conference after all. Maybe this is the springboard.
Oakland 31, Los Angeles Chargers 24.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-3.5)
Is Big Ben done? I hope so! KC seems like a juggernaut. Typically, this is where the underdog wins and makes everyone look foolish. Sticking with the Chiefs at home this time though.
Kansas City 27, Pittsburgh 23.
New York Giants at Denver (-11.5)
The Giants lost 14 wide receivers for the year last week. Zero running game. Plus their coach seems to be a buffoon. And they plain suck this year. Denver coming off a bye should be ready to roll in this one.
Denver 34, New York Giants 17.
Indianapolis at Tennessee (-1.5)
Could go either way on this one. Mariota or Cassel, does it matter? Indy has surprised to go 2-3 in the absence of Andrew Luck. The Titans have underachieved for sure. Divisional matchup. I have no idea.
Tennessee 20, Indianapolis 17.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 38-40
Season (straight up): 49-29