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Divisional Round…

Picks, nothing but picks to see here…

Atlanta (-2.5) at Philadelphia  

Boy, it sure looks like the Eagles’ season sure went down the crapper quickly, eh?  A comeback win in Week 15 against the lowly New York Giants, followed by uninspiring efforts in two home games against the Oakland Raiders (win) and Dallas Cowboys (loss) to wrap up the regular season surely can’t inspire confidence in the Philly faithful.  To be fair, the Eagles rested several key players against the ‘Boys.  Also, to be more than fair, this kind of thing can happen when your franchise QB, who is playing at an MVP level, goes down for the year.  Of course, we are talking about Carson Wentz.

That all being said, one would think Nick Foles would be capable enough to take over the controls and still lead the team to victories.  Especially if the rest of the team remained intact.  He SHOULD, right?  I mean, he has had flashes of brilliance in the past, even though he has mostly performed as well as…well, a backup QB.  But still…

The Falcons are no juggernaut, but they did (as the Blowhard correctly predicted) knock off a good Los Angeles Ram team last week.  At this point, it really wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta ended right back up in the Super Bowl this year.  One thing is for sure I would say…their defense has stepped it up in recent weeks.

Atlanta is now 6-3 on the road this season.  I don’t know if the bye week helped Philadelphia, but it would seem the team is a little deflated.  I am probably wrong to count them out, but…

Atlanta 23, Philadelphia 17.

Tennessee at New England (-13.5) 

Nice win for the Titans last week, but the reality is the Kansas City Chiefs did more to lose the game than the Titans did to win.  I mean, Travis Kelce is one of the top tight ends in the game.  But once he was concussed and done for the day, the team fell apart?  What happened to Kareem Hunt?  What happened to, well…everyone?  Blown 21-3 lead.  Andy Reid once again folks!

So I will say once again this week that Tennessee isn’t really very good.  The weather will be to the Patriots’ liking Saturday night.  New England had their entire roster at practice this week.  Now, that doesn’t mean they are all 100% healthy.  But there will be options.  Theoretically, plenty of them.  I cannot in any way see how the Titans stay in this game from the jump.  There is really no sense in even talking about it anymore.

New England 37, Tennessee 14.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh (-7.5)

I said this last week also…Jacksonville isn’t as good as people think they are.  And then they went out and proved it last week by barely beating the atrocious Buffalo Bills 10-3.  10-3??!  Blake Bortles RAN for more yards than he THREW for.  And what he threw for…again, against the Buffalo Bills…was not even measured in three digits, but instead two.  How is that possible?

Pittsburgh has won a lot of close games against bad teams all year long.  And yup, the Jags buried the Steelers in Pittsburgh back in Week Five to the tune of 30 to 9.  It won’t happen again.

The world wants a New England/Pittsburgh AFC Championship Game and that’s what the world will get.

Pittsburgh 27, Jacksonville 13.

New Orleans at Minnesota (-4.5) 

The NFC games seem to be more intriguing than the AFC ones, no?  This one should be a good one to cap off the weekend.  These clubs met in Week One, resulting in a 29-19 Viking win.  But that was eons ago.  Sam Bradford was the Viking QB and the Vikes also had Dalvin Cook at RB.  The Saints were attempting to shoehorn Adrian Peterson into their backfield, Colby Fleener led the team in receiving that day and New Orleans had no idea what they were doing on defense back then.  None of the above will be a factor in this game, well, other than the improved Saint defense.

The Minny D?  For real for sure.  And Case Keenum has taken the reins after Bradford got hurt (again) and performed much better than the Case Keenum we have always seen in the past.  The Saints have relied on the running game more this year than as far back as I can remember…but I have to imagine the Vikings will shut that down a bit.  So the Saints will have to go back to relying on Drew Brees primarily…not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe if I keep writing I won’t have to make a pick?  I’m torn on this one.  I kind of want to take New Orleans here.  Keenum against Brees is no contest…despite Keenum’s solid year.  Minny’s D is better, but Drew could find a way to beat them.  I also feel like the Vikings will NOT be the first team to play at their home stadium in the Super Bowl.  But I’m going to take a stab and say that we all will have at least one more week to see if that happens.

Minnesota 23, New Orleans 20.

Week (against the spread):  2-2

Week (straight up):  3-1

Season (against the spread):  140-120

Season (straight up):  176-84

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Week Sixteen…

Abridged (and last-minute) holiday edition.  Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Happy Festivus!  Have a great “whatever you celebrate”!!

Indianapolis at Baltimore (-12.5)

Hate laying this many points with an average Ravens team.  But their offense has picked up.  And Indy’s D ain’t good.  Baltimore still fighting for playoffs of course as well.

Baltimore 34, Indianapolis 17.

Minnesota (-2.5) at Green Bay

If Aaron Rodgers was playing, this game would be a whole lot more interesting.

Minnesota 31, Green Bay 20.

Detroit (-3.5) at Cincinnati

MARVIN LEWIS IS GONE!!!  Or he will be.  Will that spur the Bengals on?  Well, it didn’t last week.

Detroit 27, Cincinnati 17.

Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) at Tennessee

Seems like the Titans should be better than they are.  So when their collapse this year is complete, people should lose jobs.  Only fear here is the Rams have a letdown from their blowout win against Seattle last week.  And the cross-country travel.  But I don’t see it.

Los Angeles Rams 37, Tennessee 23.

Denver at Washington (-3.5) 

Brock Osweiler looked great in relief last week…wait…it was against the Colts.  Paxton Lynch?  Surprisingly, not a better option.  The ‘Skins actually should have lost to the Cards last week, but the Cards couldn’t get in the end zone.  Otherwise, Washington is also playing out the string.  Tough call here.

Washington 24, Denver 17.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-5.5)

Second time these foes meet in three weeks, with the Falcons winning the first by three in Atlanta.  Should be another close one that could go either way.

New Orleans 30, Atlanta 27.

Cleveland at Chicago (-6.5)

Hate laying this much with the Bears.  But seems like they are letting Trubisky loose a little bit.  Plus…the Browns.

Chicago 24, Cleveland 20.

Buffalo at New England (-12.5) 

No revenge expected on Gronk with the Bills still being in the playoff chase.  I think.  Some think this game will be close.  Buffalo, with Tyrod Taylor early on last game moving the ball fairly well.  And maybe a letdown from the Pats after their “controversial” win in Pittsburgh last week.  But don’t count me among that group.

New England 38, Buffalo 20.

Miami at Kansas City (-10.5) 

Jay Cutler sure came crashing back to earth last week, eh?  The Chiefs seem close to early season form as well.

Kansas City 34, Miami 20.

Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) at New York Jets

I know, the Jets seemingly play everyone close.  The Chargers are on the East Coast.  There is some merit to all of this.

Los Angeles Chargers 20, New York Jets 14.  

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-9.5) 

Couple of three-point losses the last two weeks against the Lions and Falcons.  Still a lost season for them.  And the Panthers are in the thick of it, have won 6 of 7 and have been putting up some points.  Don’t expect that to change against Tampa

Carolina 38, Tampa Bay 23.

Jacksonville (-4.5) at San Francisco

Could be a little bit of a trap here.  The Jags appear to be for real, as I now begrudgingly admit.  They are on the opposite coast.  Jimmy G has the Niners playing some inspired football.  The Jags could possibly be looking ahead to the matchup with the Titans next week.  But since the Jags are inexplicably in the mix for a first round bye…and even the #1 overall seed in the East…I’m thinking they will show up this week.  Led of course by their defense.

Jacksonville 31, San Francisco 13.  

New York Giants at Arizona (-4.5)  

Eli seemed rejuvenated last week against the Eagles.  Arizona choked a game against Washington.  In the end, I really don’t care about this game, but I have to pick someone.

New York Giants 27, Arizona 24.

Seattle at Dallas (-4.5)

I know, Zeke is back.  The Seahawks are not the same team as in past years.  Lots of holes.  I just don’t see them throwing up a couple of stinkers in a row.  Plus…every time you want to count Seattle out, they prove us all wrong.

Seattle 31, Dallas 27.

Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Houston

The Steelers need to keep winning games.  They are probably still infuriated about last week.  T.J. Yates.  Pittsburgh hasn’t really blown many teams out this year.  But expect it to happen this week, even with no Antonio Brown and a porous defense.

Pittsburgh 37, Houston 10.

Oakland at Philadelphia (-8.5) 

The Raiders are just about done.  Disappointing season, to say the least.  The Eagles had a tougher fight than expected last week against the G-Men.  Maybe a Carson Wentz injury letdown.  But then Nick Foles comes in and tosses 4 TD’s anyway.  The Eagles need to keep winning, so expect a score closer to what they have been normally doing this year.

Philadelphia 34, Oakland 20.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  14-2

Season (against the spread):  122-102

Season (straight up):  150-74

Week Fifteen…

Diving right in:

Chicago at Detroit (-5.5)

I wanted to take the Bears in this one.  I really did.  I don’t believe in the Lions at all.  But I’m also not going to get fooled by the Bears’ blowout against the Bengals last week.  After 5 straight losses.  That result shouldn’t fool anyone.  Chicago lost at home to Detroit about a month ago and obviously would like to avenge that loss…while at the same time hurting Detroit’s playoff hopes.  I can’t do it though, even if the Lions are banged up on the O-Line.

Detroit 24, Chicago 13.

Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5) at Kansas City

Two teams seemingly headed in different directions in recent weeks.  But did the Chiefs get back on track with last weeks win against Oakland?  This may go against my better judgement, but I am saying yes…for this week anyway.  Sure I was speaking highly of the Chargers last week, who again could be something like 9-4 if they had a kicker.  But this week I am pumping the brakes a little bit.

Kansas City 30, Los Angeles Chargers 24.

New York Jets at New Orleans (-15.5) 

15.5 is a large number.  But two words will make you feel better about taking the Saints:  Bryce Petty.  That, in and of itself, should be enough.  But throw in the fact that the Jets Offensive Coordinator very publicly said he gave up in last week’s game, the Muhammad Wilkerson benching, the Saints’ 5-1 record at home, the Saints having ten days to prepare and New Orleans needing to keep winning because of the tight NFC South division they are in and for the playoff race…well, that’s many more reasons to expect a blowout here.

New Orleans 45, New York Jets 10.

Houston at Jacksonville (-11.5) 

11.5 is another large number…especially for an unproven “contender” like the Jaguars.  Sure, the Jags did beat Seattle last week.  And their D is apparently top-notch.  But what does that mean now?  Not sure.  That being said, looks like the Texans are going with T.J. Yates on Sunday.  Once again, this alone should make one feel comfortable about laying the points.

Jacksonville 33, Houston 7.

Philadelphia (-7.5) at New York Giants

The G-Men actually were tied with Dallas about midway through the fourth quarter last Sunday…until the ‘Boys finally snapped out of it and blitzed in 3 touchdowns immediately after that.  Will there be some sort of hangover for the Eagles, what with them losing Carson Wentz for the year this past week?  Possibly.  But it will take much less than three and a half quarters for them to shake it off.  The Iggles should still win this one pretty handily, even with Nick Foles at the helm.

Philadelphia 34, New York Giants 14.

Miami at Buffalo (-3.5)

Tyrod Taylor is back.  Yaaaaay!  In all seriousness though, that is good news with Joe Webb being the only alternative.  The ‘Phins looked pretty damn good in beating the Pats Monday night.  Or did the Pats just look that bad?  I am certainly a total homer, but I think it is more the latter.  And Miami only won by 7 in the end, sad considering how it looked like they had total control of the game at all times.  In any event, I don’t expect Jay Cutler to put together standout performances two weeks in a row.  And although the game in Miami Monday had the temperatures in the 50s…of course cold for Miami…in Buffalo what will it be in Sunday, the 20s?  That’s not going to help the Dolphins.

Buffalo 21, Miami 17.

Baltimore (-6.5) at Cleveland 

Yup, the Ravens did kind of choke away their game against the Steelers last week.  But here they are again in the mix to get into the playoffs, with a pretty easy schedule remaining.  The Browns have had chances to win a game this season plenty of times.  But I don’t think that’s a realistic option this week.  Even if Josh Gordon goes off for 300 yards receiving or something.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 17.

Cincinnati at Minnesota (-10.5) 

The Bengals stink and I don’t even want to talk about them.

Minnesota 31, Cincinnati 9.

Arizona at Washington (-4.5)

A couple of teams playing out the string.  The Cards still appear to be competing, and I suppose are still technically alive in the playoff chase…even with the immortal Blaine Gabbert under center.  On the flip side, the ‘Skins may have already packed it in.  Maybe it’s all the injuries, but it’s been an ugly last couple of games for Washington.

Arizona 20, Washington 17.  

Green Bay at Carolina (-2.5) 

Aaron Rodgers is back.  That’s nice.  But does it get them a win against the 9-4 Panthers?  Well, they may not get behind consistently, as in the “Brett Hundley era”, where they had to come back late the last couple of weeks to beat bad teams to stay in the playoff chase.  But I am not sure it gets them a win.  Will Rodgers show some rust?  Likely.  Maybe he will shake it off quickly, but who knows?  Taking the safe route here.

Carolina 27, Green Bay 24.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle (-1.5)

Second tough one in a row for the Rams, after losing a tight one to the Eagles last week.  Now they have to go to Seattle to face a team that already beat them in LA earlier this year.  If the Seahawks do win, they take over first place and, based on whatever else happens by the end of the weekend, could actually knock the Rams out of the top 6 in the conference.  Yes, there are two weeks left after that, but that is still a kind of surprising turn of events.  Seattle tried to come back against the Jags last week…as Russell Wilson has been pretty amazing in the 4th quarter all by himself this season…but came up short.  The ‘Hawks are hurting all around, but you can’t ever count them out.

Seattle 34, Los Angeles Rams 27.  

New England (-2.5) at Pittsburgh 

I love it how after a game in which the Patriots and, in particular, Tom Brady, play atrociously, then the sky is falling, the Pats “dynasty” is over and Brady is washed up.  Happens at least once a year and then the Pats and Brady then repeatedly prove everyone wrong.  Now look, this all will happen someday.  The Pats are banged up, Brady included.  Pittsburgh is a pretty good team, albeit one that gave up 38 to a poor Raven offense last week.  But will it happen this year?  No.  And not this week.  If it does, then it may be time to worry.  Let’s also not forget that for whatever reason Brady sucks in Miami.  And it was the second time in three weeks playing the Dolphins.  And the Pats, though they will never admit it, were likely looking past Miami to this one.  In the whole scheme of things, that game meant nothing.  This game means everything.  I’m expecting a few bodies to come back and for the ship to right itself.  If I am wrong we will deal with that next week.

New England 42, Pittsburgh 34.

Tennessee at San Francisco (-1.5)

The Titans are probably the worst 8-5 team in the league.  Wait…only Atlanta and Seattle are 8-5 across the league, so that claim was too easy.  Anyway, when is this Marcus Mariota kid going to take the next step?  I am not impressed.  Look at their schedule and results this year.  Unimpressive, to be kind.  They’ve actually given up 21 more points than they have scored on the season.  Though they can pretty much thank two blowout losses to the Texans and Steelers for that.  But still.  This team does nothing for me and with any luck they will make the playoffs and the AFC Championship and the Pats can blast them easily en route to the Super Bowl.  Ok, I’m getting off track…and waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of myself.  In any event, they aren’t that good.  The Niners appear to be better now that Jimmy Football is in charge.  SF is at home.  I’m going 49ers.

San Francisco 17, Tennessee 16.

Dallas (-2.5) at Oakland

Two teams with high expectations coming into the season.  Both underachieving, to say the least.  No Zeke for Dallas hasn’t helped.  I’m not sure what Oakland’s problem has been…other than the fact that Jack del Rio is their coach.  And their receivers drop like 20 balls a game.  We will have to get through this one in prime time somehow.  Not expecting much.

Dallas 31, Oakland 17.

Atlanta (-6.5) at Tampa Bay

Speaking of prime time, we have this on Monday.  Tampa has lost 7 of 9, with the two wins against the Jets and Dolphins.  The Falcons have been inconsistent this year, but have won 4 of 5, with the loss coming to Minnesota.  This one shouldn’t be close.  I’m sure Atlanta will make it closer that it has to be however.

Atlanta 30, Tampa Bay 17.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread):  113-96

Season (straight up):  137-72

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