Hello friends! We’re getting closer & closer to the playoffs, and a ton of these games have big-time playoff implications. They could also have big-time implications on your wallet, so let’s get right to it!
Sunday, December 11
Denver at Tennessee (-1)
Paxton Lynch’s AFC South tour continues this week some two hundred and ten miles east on I-40 of where he spent his collegiate career, the University of Memphis. Lynch was born in Texas & went to high school in Florida, so I don’t even know if he’s actually been to Nashville before, but it’s kind of sort of maybe a homecoming for him. Some Memphis fans might make the trip. He didn’t do a whole lot last week against Jacksonville but he didn’t need to. He might have to do a little more this week against the Titans, which might lead to problems. The running back situation is in flux, and while the defense is still very good, they’ll have some difficulty dealing with DeMarco Murray and maybe Derrick Henry in the backfield.
I’d like to pull the trigger on the Titans here, but I just can’t do it. Take the Broncos since they have the big game experience and should be able to overcome any mistakes from the QB position. That’s all they’ve been doing the past two years.
San Diego at Carolina (-1.5)
The Carolina Panthers hit rock bottom this past Sunday in Seattle. Their season had already been a disappointment by any objective standards, but it hit a new low on SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT as they were completely decimated and destroyed by the Seahawks. Cam Newton was benched for the first drive due to a dress code violation…there’s been other speculation on the Internet but I’ll take Ron Rivera at his word here. Some are questioning the move because they like Cam’s silly wardrobe choices, but rules are rules and it’s not like Cam couldn’t have bought a tie somewhere on the road trip. Either way, it didn’t make a difference as Seattle was the dominant team & Carolina was a shell of their former selves.
Will things get any better this week? Well, they couldn’t get any worse. San Diego is coming to town and they’re a tricky team to predict. They’ve been doing the win one lose one thing recently, and since the Chargers lost one last week I think they’re in good shape to win one this week.
Houston at Indianapolis (-6)
The Colts look like a different team with Andrew Luck, don’t they? At least an AFC South-winning team anyway. The Texans would be able to take advantage of the Colts’ porous defense if they had any kind of offense.
Cincinnati (-5.5) at Cleveland
Is this going to be the Browns’ week? Cleveland, the 0-12 unlovable losers that they are, are coming off a bye. Hue Jackson knows the Bengals better than anybody. He’s had a lot of time to prepare for it. Can he lead his team to their first victory of the season?
I mean, nobody’s more down on the Bengals than I am most of the time, but take a look at their roster and take a look at Cleveland’s roster. The reason the Browns don’t win doesn’t come down to heart or desire or strategy…it comes down to the fact that they don’t have the talent. They’re collecting draft picks and maybe someday that’ll work out for them. But not today.
Pittsburgh (-2) at Buffalo
I don’t pick against the Steelers this time of year. This is when they run over everybody in their path to the playoffs. Happens every year.
Arizona at Miami (-1)
The Dolphins got back to playing actual football teams last week, and they got blown out of the water in Baltimore. We probably should have seen that coming. Are they playing a real team this week? Maybe? Possibly? I can’t tell with the Cardinals from week to week. One thing I can tell you is that Arizona has won one road game this season and it was against the sorry, no-account 49ers. Can they make it two? Sure. I can’t pick against Cardinals in an ACC city.
Chicago at Detroit (-8)
The Lions are riding a four-game winning streak and looking like the team to beat in the NFC North. We all know how this typically ends. Detroit will fall flat on their faces and some other team, probably the Packers will take the division title. That’s just how it goes. I don’t make the rules. I don’t think I’ll pick them to lose this game, but I think the Bears can somehow keep it close and make Lions fans a little bit worried about what’s to come for their team in later weeks.
Minnesota (-3.5) at Jacksonville
Remember when the Jaguars were supposed to be kinda good this year?
The Vikings should be able to shut down Blake Bortles & Company without much of a problem.
Washington (-1) at Philadelphia
I watched the Eagles last week against Cincinnati and they looked like one of the sorrier teams the Bengals have played in recent memory. They couldn’t get anything going on offense, their defense was non-existent and it was a complete disaster. Things should go a little bit better at home this week, but I can’t pick them against Washington, a team hanging in playoff contention and needing a win here.
NY Jets at San Francisco (-2.5)
What a mess. The Jets & the 49ers were the two worst looking teams in last week’s action, and now they get to play each other. My apologies to anybody that has to watch this. I’ll pick the Jets because I just can’t pick the 49ers against anybody at this point.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-2.5)
I think people are starting to pick up on this Tampa Bay thing. They got some good young talent and the way things tend to go in the NFC South, a team can come out of nowhere and win that division. And that’s what the Buccaneers are doing right now. The Saints will be better on offense this week than they were last week in that clunker against Detroit, but that defense will get carved up by Jameis Winston & Mike Evans.
Seattle (-3) at Green Bay
I mean, I know that the Seahawks are the best team ever invented and they looked really damn good against Carolina last week. But you’re going to give me the Packers and three points on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field during December? I gotta take that every time, I don’t care who the opponents are. This is the time of year when Green Bay makes its playoff push…people will tell you they look worse this year than they usually do, but we were saying that last year too and we know how that ended. Playoffs.
Atlanta (-6) at Los Angeles
The Rams have a good defense, but I think the Falcons can score more than six points.
Dallas (-3) at NY Giants
The last time the Cowboys lost was in Week 1 to the New York Giants. We didn’t think that would be the last time Dallas would lose before these two teams met again in Week 14, but here we are. SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT. Dallas is heading to the playoffs & the Giants seem to be on the way there too, but they had a bit of a setback last week in Pittsburgh. I see the Giants rebounding this week and these teams having a heck of a Sunday night football game that could go either way.
Monday, December 12
Baltimore at New England (-7)
Ravens vs. Patriots is one of the more underrated rivalries out there. Yes, New England has a 9-3 advantage in the rivalry, but these teams have met in the playoffs four times in the 2010s. You might also recall it was reportedly Ravens coach John Harbaugh that smartened up Colts coach Chuck Pagano to the tendency the Patriots had to use slightly deflated balls. Harbaugh denies this, but when was the last time anybody believed anything John Harbaugh had to say about anything? The Pats get a lot of flack for cheating but Harbaugh is definitely one of the sneakiest coaches in the game, always looking for any loopholes he can find in the rulebook.
This will either be a blowout victory for the Patriots or a really close game. New England is New England and was clicking on all cylinders last week against the Rams. Sure, Gronk is out for the season, but the Patriots are the type of team that doesn’t get affected by things like that. People step up. Baltimore’s had a pretty weak offensive effort all season but it looked like Joe Flacco turned things around last week, and he’s known for getting it done late in the season. I think the Ravens will keep it close, and make ESPN somewhat happy for spending all that money on these Monday night games.