What a crazy season.  There are literally only two games on the entire schedule this week that don’t have some kind of playoff implications.

One of them already got played on Thursday and the one remaining without playoff implications, the Giants vs. the Rams, is actually kind of an interesting matchup.

In his heart, Jay Cutler knew it was better this way

In his heart, Jay Cutler knew it was better this way

Because of the high stakes tension around the league, this is your chance to see some of the best football of the year or, conversely, some of the worst.  If you can pick out the teams that have already checked out, you can cash in on some of these games without a second thought.

Last Week’s Picks:  11-6-2    Best:  2-1
Season Total:  143-108-6       Best:  34-23


Philadelphia (-7.5) @Washington (Westgate Superbook)

This spread seems high for an Eagles team playing on the road, coming off a disheartening loss against Dallas, and playing a division rival that showed signs of life for the first time in a month last week.  The Eagles need the game, and they’ll win it, but Washington may be able to make it interesting for a while.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Washington RacialSlurs 21


Green Bay (-11) @Tampa Bay (CG Technology)

I wouldn’t touch this game.  Are the Packers in a funk after losing to the Bills, or in a mood to stick it to someone.  Green Bay shouldn’t by laying 11 points on the road, but Tampa couldn’t cover 11 points if they were playing Florida State.  I’m not taking the awful Bucs, but I won’t be surprised if the Packers don’t wind up looking a bit bored in this game.

Green Bay Packers 34 Tampa Bay Bucaneers 17

Detroit (-9) @Chicago (CG Technology)

Here’s a game to steer clear of.  The Bears’ benching of Jay Cutler makes them a total mystery.  Jimmy Clausen could come in and surprise everyone and play really well.  Or he could stink like day old fish.  The Lions aren’t going to run up the score on their own, but if they get handed a bunch of turnovers, they’ll murder the Bears.  I’m inclined to think Chicago keeps it simple and therefore keeps it relatively low scoring, but this is not a game I’d touch.

Detroit Lions 21 Chicago Bears 13


Atlanta (+7) @New Orleans (5Dimes)

I can’t bring myself to pick the Falcons to win outright, but the Saints surely deserve no loyalty, especially at home.  I’ll take the 7 points, but watch this be the week things finally go back to normal for New Orleans.

New Orleans Saints 28 Atlanta Falcons 24


New England (-10) @NY Jets (MGM Mirage)

This spread is way too high to want to take the Patriots, and you have to think there’s a core on the Jets who want to make Rex Ryan look good on his way out.  That said, the Pats have been leaving a trail of heads on spikes around the NFL, and there’s no way I can pick against them.

New England Patriots 34 New York Jets 20


Kansas City (+3) @Pittsburgh (Westgate Superbook)

This might be the toughest game of the week to size up.  The Steelers have occasionally shown us lapses, while the Chiefs have occasionally shown us some ferocity.  I think Pittsburgh is probably the right side here, and they’re the ones who are at home and have the inside track to the playoffs.  I’m taking them, but this is probably a better game to watch than to bet.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Kansas City Chiefs 20


Cleveland (+3) @Carolina (Westgate Superbook)

I’m not convinced you can just dismiss Johnny Manziel as a bust off of one admittedly really terrible start, but I’m also sure you can’t possibly take the Browns here unless and until Manziel shows something better than he did last week.

Carolina Panthers 24 Cleveland Browns 17


NY Giants (+7) @St. Louis (5Dimes)

While I like the job the Rams have done this season, it’s just crazy for them to be giving a touchdown to a not quite bottom of the barrel team like the Giants.  The Rams just don’t score enough points to have confidence that they’ll be able to cover this number.

St. Louis Rams 20 New York Giants 17


Buffalo (-7) @Oakland (Atlantis Reno)

The Bills are a touchdown better than the Raiders under most circumstances, but they’re coming off an enormous win against the Packers and they will have their entire season on the line next week against their archrivals, the Patriots.  I think Buffalo doesn’t so much win this game as escape from it.

Buffalo Bills 17 Oakland Raiders 13


Seattle (-8) @Arizona (Atlantis Reno)

The Cardinals have defied the odds for weeks, but this is where the fun stops for them, at least this week.  The Seahawks defense gives good quarterbacks fits.  That said, the Cardinals defense is going to play out of their minds this week to try to keep the game within one score and give themselves a punchers chance at the end.  I bet they do it, and fall just short.

Seattle Seahawks 16 Arizona Cardinals 10


Denver (-3) @Cincinnati (Wynn Las Vegas)

I’ve been testifying all year that the Bengals are pretenders.  When you see what Denver does to this team, you may have to look away.  It won’t be pretty.

Denver Broncos 34 Cincinnati Bengals 21


Best Picks of the Week

Despite injuries, Jerry Jones’  insists that DeMarco can play

Despite injuries, Jerry Jones’ insists that DeMarco can play

San Diego (+1.5) @San Francisco (Westgate Superbook)

There’s just so much to like about the Chargers in this spot.  They are still very much alive in the playoff hunt, and even though they’ve lost two straight, that was against the Broncos and Patriots.  The 49ers, meanwhile, have lost three in a row, and more significantly, haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since week 5.  Last week was San Francisco’s Super Bowl, their last chance at the playoffs, and they fell short against Seattle.  With rumors running wild about their coach’s next job and everyone in the world questioning the quarterback, you have to wonder what the Niners will bring to the table in this game.  Answer?  Not much.

San Diego Chargers 22 San Francisco 49ers 13


Minnesota (+6.5) @Miami (Westgate Superbook)

Technically the Dolphins might be mathematically alive for the playoffs, but their season ended last week and there’s talk of Joe Philbin getting fired.  Miami’s also more banged up than most teams.  Conversely, the Vikings are trying to build on what they’ve done this year with Teddy Bridgewater and without Adrian Peterson, and to date they’ve been a lot better than anyone would have guessed.  Even if they weren’t demoralized, the Dolphins don’t usually put up big margins, and they don’t have any particular home field juice, having gone just 3-3 there this year.  I love the Vikings this week.

Miami Dolphins 24 Minnesota Vikings 21


Baltimore (-5) @Houston (Westgate Superbook)

I know the Texans have a good defense, but they’re down to a pair of quarterbacks who weren’t even on the roster a month ago.  The Ravens have a good defense too, and their a pretty solid road team, and they should roll against a Texans team that got eliminated last week.

Baltimore Ravens 23 Houston Texans 14

Indianapolis (+3.5) @Dallas (Westgate Superbook)

I wish the Colts were playing just a little bit better coming in, but I can’t pass up the chance to get more than a field goal here.  I’ve never seen a more panic stricken 10-4 team than the Cowboys, who are thinking of playing one-handed DeMarco Murray.  It’s like they know they’re going to lose.  December jinx Cowboys.

Indianapolis Colts 35 Dallas Cowboys 28


Seattle @Arizona o/u 37 (Atlantis Reno)

This is the lowest over/under number of the year.  In fact, I don’t ever remember seeing one this low before.  There’s a reason.  Arizona might not score at all in this game, and Seattle won’t score much more than that.  Take the under.

Seattle Seahawks 16 Arizona Cardinals 10

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