Here we go. The NFL regular season is down to it’s final two weeks. Crazy how fast the football season goes. Teams are jockeying for final playoff position and seeding and many are looking to sneak into the playoffs while sending a few on vacation earlier than expected. Despite the chaos and craziness of last week, I was able to maintain the 50% mark ATS at 8-8 with a few narrow misses including the Packers, but called the Chargers & Colts big wins. I went 9-7 straight up in games last week. Time to end the season on a high note with the last real full slate of games that mean something before we enter Week 17 player resting territory.
All lines courtesy of Bovada in Las Vegas
Saturday Afternoon: Washington Redskins (7-7) at Tennessee Titans (8-6): WSH +10, Confidence: 8
Credit to Jay Gruden and the Redskins. They keep fighting. With their fourth string QB just signed a few weeks back, they went into Northern Florida and beat a team that was minutes way from a Super Bowl berth last week. Josh Johnson is keeping the skins in this game along with their defense. The Titans are a physical team as showcased last week when they beat-down the Giants in their own house. 17-0 shutout by Mike Vrabel‘s guys and while I fully expect them to win, I just don’t trust their offense to put up big points against a tough Washington defense. I’ll take the 10 points for the Redskins here and the under, but Titans win and keep themselves in the playoff hunt.
Saturday Night: Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (11-3): BAL +4.5, Confidence: 7
Another good Saturday Night game after a great Thursday night one last week that saw the Chargers beat the Chiefs late going for two and the win. There’s no question how good the Ravens are with Lamar Jackson, they run it down the throat of the opposing defense and play a physical defense on the other side and are well coached by John Harbaugh. The playoff ramifications of this game are huge. With a win, the Chargers could be looking at home field in the AFC with the Chiefs drawing Seattle on Sunday night, and the Ravens could be on the outside looking in on the playoffs. Baltimore knows what’s on the line here and plays their heart out through the full 60 minutes. I just don’t think their best will be enough with how dialed-in Los Angeles and Phillip Rivers have been. Chargers win a tight and close game late and the Ravens wind up missing the playoffs because of it.
New York Giants (5-9) at Indianapolis Colts (8-6): IND -9, Confidence: 9
I don’t think anyone wants to play the Colts in the playoffs. Andrew Luck is healthy and producing behind an offensive line that isn’t letting him get touched and their defense just shut out the Cowboys behind some great production from young players led by defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. The Giants were shutout last week at home by the Titans and will likely be without OBJ once more. Eli Manning may be making his final start here as they might want to showcase Kyle Lauletta in Week 17. Colts control their own fate with a win and a Ravens loss.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-7): MIA -4.5: Confidence: 8
The Dolphins need to win to stay alive in the playoff hunt. They’ll need some help after losing to the Vikings last week on the road, but they return to Hard Rock where we last saw them stun the Patriots with the now dubbed “Miami Miracle”. They won’t need a miracle to beat a Jags team that has quit and has an even worse offense under Cody Kessler. Fournette may pose some trouble for the Dolphins who can’t stop the run, but Tannehill and Gase win and cover at home rather easily.
Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at Carolina Panthers (6-8): ATL -4, Confidence: 7
The Panthers have now last six straight games. How do you lose 6 straight games with that caliber a defense and a weapon out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey? Cam Newton that’s how with some Ron Rivera sprinkled in. They don’t have back-to-back winning seasons with him at QB and Monday Night showed us why. In a close game that their defense controlled, Cam couldn’t make accurate throws to win his team the game, as has been the story of the season. Meanwhile, Atlanta had their share of struggles this season, but their depth on defense was tested early with crucial injuries, but I like them to finish the campaign strong. They blew the doors off the Cardinals last week and Matt Ryan & Julio Jones should keep it up in Week 16. With the news of Newton being shut down for the season coming out this week the line quickly went from CAR -2.5 to CAR +4. I’ll still take the Falcons to win and cover against Taylor Heinicke.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-8) at Cleveland Browns (6-7-1): CLE -9, Confidence: 7
Baker Mayfield lit up the Bengals last time they played them and I expect more of the same this week. Gregg Williams is 4-2 as interim coach after the big win over the Broncos last week on the road so a date with the Jeff Driskel led Bengals will be a walk in the park. Baker still has something to prove to Hue Jackson who’s running the Cincy defense. He’s going to embarrass him this week in his return to Cleveland. Browns win big and remain in the hunt.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6): TB +7, Confidence: 6
If this line shrinks by Sunday, I’ll take Dallas as I have them to win the football game, but the Tampa offense can put up points even against a stout Cowboys defense. I just can’t see Dak Prescott doing enough to win a blowout game even against the Bucs. 27-21 or around there on Sunday as Cowboys win, but Tampa hangs around until the end with both a QB in Jameis Winston and HC in Dirk Koetter fighting for their jobs w/ the team in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) at Detroit Lions (5-9): MIN -6, Confidence: 8
The Vikings may have their limitations on both sides of the ball, but they are still position for a playoff berth and in the 1 PM window against a mediocre football team, I’ll take Kirk Cousins almost every time. That’s what he thrives on, beating bad teams when nobody is watching. I’ll swallow the 6 points for the Vikings on the road. Lions are sunk.
Buffalo Bills (5-9) at New England Patriots (9-5): BUF +13, Confidence: 5
I’m not very confident in picking against or for the Patriots of late. Back home they should do enough to win this football game and with some help could still back their way into a first round bye, but their deficiencies are real on both sides of the ball. They can’t stop the run, which the Bills love to do especially with rookie Josh Allen and their offense is limited especially against a tough Bills defense. This game will be no walk in the park, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady own the Bills and will get back on the right foot on Sunday. Pats win, but Bills cover this huge line.
Green Bay Packers (5-8-1) at New York Jets (4-10): NYJ +2, Confidence: 7
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers haven’t won a road game all season. There’s no reason to believe they will win one either. The Jets have been banged up and depleted all season, but Sam Darnold has done more with less every time he starts and he kept them in the game against a tough Texans team last Saturday. Rodgers playing a great game in the only chance the Pack have to win, but traveling east under an interim coach in Joe Philbin, he just won’t have the fight in him now that Green Bay is officially eliminated from contention. Todd Bowles is still trying to save his job going forward and his team will fight for him at home, although I believe he’s gone anyway after this year. Jets win and cover against a Packers team that is already thinking about golfing in a few weeks.
Houston Texans (10-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-7): PHI -2.5, Confidence: 7
The Eagles remain in the hunt after a great win last Sunday night in Los Angeles. Nick Foles is back and perhaps he’s got a little more magic under his hat. The defending Super Bowl champs draw a home contest with a very good Texans team that has to win to get that coveted first round bye. Despite their record, let me remind everyone this is still a super talented team that won a Super Bowl last year and they will come to play on Sunday. Their defense slows down Watson & Hopkins while Foles RPO’s the Texans to death. Eagles win and cover, 24-20.
Los Angeles Rams (11-3) at Arizona Cardinals (3-11): LAR -14, Confidence: 9
Sean McVay and Jared Goff need a blowout win to inspire confidence before their playoff run. They haven’t really had a great offensive showing since that Monday Night shootout with the Chiefs back in Week 11. They’ve lost two straight and luckily they draw a Cardinals team who just got thumped by the Falcons. Arizona has given up and I wouldn’t be shocked if Steve Wilks is fired after just one season as the coach. Rams respond with a monstrous performance to boost their morale before the postseason. I’ll swallow the two touchdowns here.
Chicago Bears (10-4) at San Francisco 49ers (4-10): CHI -4.5, Confidence: 7
If this line was 3 or more points higher, I’d go with Nick Mullens and the 49ers who just beat Seattle to cover here, but not at this current line. Chicago will win by a touchdown on the road with their fantastic defense and brilliant young offensive minded coach Matt Nagy. Trubisky has a good showing before he gets set for his first playoff start and the NFC North Champion Bears add to their win total this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) at New Orleans Saints (12-2): NO -6, Confidence: 9
It would be so Pittsburgh Steelers to win a huge emotional game at home then immediately follow it up by getting thumped on the road by a superior team. Much like the Rams of late, the Saints offense has sputtered and their defense has actually been a key reason for them winning tight games. After Dallas shut them down a few weeks back, Drew Brees hasn’t looked himself. That changes this week as he will carve up the Steelers who travel indoors to play New Orleans and Big Ben won’t be able to match that intensity against the Saints defense. I’m calling a blowout this weekend in the Big Easy, Saints 38-14.
Sunday Night: Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) at Seattle Seahawks (8-6): SEA +2.5, Confidence: 8
Patrick Mahomes has yet to win a big game this season. Patriots, Rams and Chargers all beat him when the lights shined the brightest and that defense just doesn’t have enough behind it to stop Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at home. Pete Carroll will have the gameplan to win the football game at home and slow down the KC high powered attack. Don’t let the upset to a stingy 49ers team fool you, Seattle is still a team no one wants to face in the playoffs, much less this late in the season at home. Mahomes and Reid on primetime again in a big spot, they will come up short on Sunday and find themselves as a wildcard team as a result. Lock it in.
Monday Night: Denver Broncos (6-8) at Oakland Raiders (3-11): OAK +2.5, Confidence: 5
This could well be the final game for the Raiders in Oakland. With the move to Vegas set for two years, the city has sued the franchise which would lead to the Raiders likely pulling out of the city for what was supposed to be the final season. They will find a place to play, but it probably won’t be in Oakland. They go out with a win for the fans alone and Jon Gruden and Derek Carr out-coach and out-play Vance Joseph and the Broncos. Denver will have a new coach next season as there’s no way a team with that defense should have back-to-back seasons where they miss the playoffs. They continue their slide on the road on Christmas Eve this week, take the Raiders.