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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

Week Seventeen…

Holiday week speed edition.  Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-13.5)

We were burned on the spread by the late garbage touchdown by the Bills against the Pats last week.  So why would we do it again, with an even higher spread?  The Pats need this one, as we know.  Though this year, that hasn’t necessarily meant much, I know.  But the J-E-T-S will be practicing their golf swings on the sideline.  Well, maybe not that.  But we do know no one will be listening to their head coach, Todd Bowles, since he will probably be fired right after the game.  Perhaps even at halftime.  Yes, the Jets played the Packers close last week and actually appeared to be in control of the game at one point.  Yes, the Jets would love to knock the Pats out of the second seed and therefore a bye week in the playoffs.  Yes, the Jets were competitive with the Pats in their earlier game in New York.  Yes, but…no…

New England 31, New York Jets 10.

Jacksonville at Houston (-7.5)

Blake Bortles is back!!

Houston 27, Jacksonville 13.

Miami at Buffalo (-3.5)  

Who cares?

Buffalo 17, Miami 13.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-1.5) 

Tampa’s coach said this week that their third-string quarterback may get some snaps in this game.  I don’t remember the guy’s name, even though where I read the quote said the QB had been in the league for like three years.  That’s enough for me to take the Falcons…I guess…

Atlanta 24, Tampa Bay 17.

Detroit at Green Bay (-7.5)

Not a great year for the Pack.  But an even worse one for our old friend Matty Patricia.

Green Bay 38, Detroit 20.

Carolina at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) 

The Saints have locked up the #1 seed.  Are they going to play their starters?  Sean Payton insists they are.  I say, yeah, enough to get Drew Brees the 8 yards he needs for another 4,000 yard season.  But I would assume they play for a quarter.  The Panthers should easily cover then, right?  Well, they are using their third string quarterback in this one.  And not to just “get snaps”, but to start.  Ssssooooo…my guess is a lot of running and both teams just try to get the hell out of there unscathed.

New Orleans 20, Carolina 13.

Dallas at New York Giants (-7.5) 

The Cowboys’ seeding will not change either way and they are 2-5 on the road.  So that explains the big spread in favor of the G-Men.  But still…

New York Giants 17, Dallas 13.

Philadelphia (-6.5) at Washington

Saint Nick!!

Philadelphia 27, Washington 17.

Cleveland at Baltimore (-5.5)

The Browns have been scrappy, no doubt.  With a win, they finish 8-7-1…whoda thunk that?!  But the Ravens have been hot, they need this one and I suspect that their defense shuts down Baker Mayfield and Co.

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 16. 

Arizona at Seattle (-8.5)

The Seahawks are the #5 or #6 seed, but do they care?  Pete Carroll says they are going to play their starters.  Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  But the Cards are truly wretched either way.

Seattle 23, Arizona 6.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver

Disappointing loss for the Chargers last week at home to the Ravens after the huge win at Kansas City the week before.  But LA can still get the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Broncos had that dud on Monday night, are banged up and their season is over anyway.

Los Angeles Chargers 31, Denver 18.  

Chicago at Minnesota (-5.5)

The Bears still have a shot at a bye.  The Vikings are maddeningly inconsistent, though also in control of their playoff destiny.  Seems like a close one is in store here.

Minnesota 20, Chicago 17. 

Oakland at Kansas City (-14.5)

The Chiefs have come back to earth a bit, but still hold all the cards for the #1 seed in the AFC.  The Raiders left it all on the field Monday night when they likely played their last game in Oakland.  Should be a runaway for KC.

Kansas City 38, Oakland 20.

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) 

Have to love the 49ers still being competitive down the stretch, despite their season being over weeks ago.  But the Rams still need this one to keep the playoff bye.  So even if Todd Gurley doesn’t suit up, we are still expecting them to win by double digits.

Los Angeles Rams 34, San Francisco 17.  

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-14.5)

The Steelers have played their way out of the playoffs (so far) and almost nothing brings me more joy.  But a win still gives them a chance.  Jeff Driskel appears to be horrendous.  And we know what the Bengals are.  But to trust Pitt to cover this large of a spread after the way their season has gone seems to be a stretch.

Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 17.  

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-1.5)

Will Marcus Mariota play or will he not?  Seems to be the same question every week.  Do you trust Blaine Gabbert?  Do you even trust Mariota even if he plays?  I know, Derrick Henry has been lighting it up lately.  And the Titans have won 4 in a row…though against inferior competition.  Indy has won 8 of 9, and beaten a few good teams along the way.  The Colts hammered the Titans in Indy 38-10 in their earlier meeting this year.  Wouldn’t shock me if this one went the same way, despite being in Tennessee.  Side note:  It’s been awesome to see Dion Lewis throw up dogcrap numbers after he shot his mouth off following the win against the Pats.

Indianapolis 31, Tennessee 23.  

Week (against the spread):  8-8

Week (straight up):  13-3

Season (against the spread):  129-111

Season (straight up):  151-89

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