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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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Wild Card Round…

Slacking in this space lately, but at least we are still pushing out the picks!

Tennessee at Kansas City (-8.5)  

The Chiefs seemed to have regained their early season mojo down the stretch.  The Titans stink and shouldn’t even be here.  Seems like an easy one.

Kansas City 34, Tennessee 17.

Atlanta at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5) 

All the home teams are favored by pretty healthy amounts this weekend, as they should be.  This tilt features the smallest spread.  And I think also the greatest potential for an upset.  The Rams have been a great story this year, no doubt about it.  But did the success come too fast?

Listen, I am no Falcon fan.  But after their collapse in the Super Bowl last year, they did in fact make it back to the playoffs this season.  Many thought that wouldn’t happen.  They have the experience.  The Rams do not.  The Rams rested their key guys last week…hard to say if that is a good thing or not.  It works for some teams, but not necessarily for others.   (Avoiding injuries is of course a good thing, but you know what I mean…did their rhythm get stunted?  Etc.).

Did you know that LA is only 4-4 at home?  Atlanta is 5-3 on the road.  The Falcons were also in arguably the toughest division this year, with three teams making the playoffs out of the NFC South.

Now I am not saying Atlanta will return to the Super Bowl, but…

Atlanta 27, Los Angeles Rams 24.

Buffalo at Jacksonville (-8.5)

The Bills return to the playoffs after 18 years.  Yay.  These guys stink too.  Nice choke job by the Ravens to get the Bills in there.  The Jags played their starters last week when they didn’t even have to and put in a clunker against the Titans.  A week after giving up 44 to the 49ers.  Yeah, I know, Jimmy G, blah, blah, blah.  But people have been jumping on Jacksonville’s bandwagon all year long…great defense and all that.  Has anyone looked at their division?  Woeful.  And their schedule overall?  Weak.  Nice win at Pittsburgh in Week 5, but other than that?  Not much.

Sssssssoooo…the Jags aren’t really any good either.  And…Blake Bortles.  ‘Nuff said.  Should be enough for this week, since it’s Buffalo.  And if Buffalo doesn’t have LeSean McCoy then it could get pretty ugly out there.  Then moving forward I expect the Steelers to return the favor to the Jags next week in the Divisional Round.  We will cross that bridge if we get there however.

Jacksonville 27, Buffalo 13.

Carolina at New Orleans (-6.5) 

This one has the makings to be a good one, even though the Saints handled the Panthers pretty well in both matchups this season.  But you know how the saying goes…”tough to beat a team 3 times in one season”.  Both teams played poorly last week with the division on the line, so that really doesn’t inspire much confidence.  Maybe I just have high hopes for this one as it’s the final game of the weekend.  I will say that this Alvin Kamara kid is exciting to watch.  That’s all.

New Orleans 30, Carolina 24.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  10-6

Season (against the spread):  138-118

Season (straight up):  173-83

Week Seventeen…

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

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