Well now that wasn’t so bad was it? I had a neat bounceback week to set up my resurgence in the season’s final month in my effort to save my streak of winning seasons. This week presents a real challenge, however, as there are a number of teams that are matched up pretty evenly. I would consider breaking even overall this week an accomplishment.
That said, there are some opportunities to cash in a couple of games that aren’t so even. That’s where you have to look for winners. And, especially at this time of year, don’t ignore the injury report! Nothing you see about any game is more valuable than knowing whether a key player will be out or not.
Last Week’s Picks: 11-7 Best: 2-1
Season Totals: 99-107-6 Best: 23-28-1
Pittsburgh (+3) @Cincinnati (Westgate Superbook)
Call this one a hunch, but I like the Steelers to win this game outright. The Bengals have not necessarily been all that intimidating against top competition, the Steelers have long given Cincinnati trouble, and let’s face it: Pittsburgh needs this game, the Bengals, while they would like to win it and keep pace setting in the AFC, aren’t in as immediate a situation of need. I like Pittsburgh to steal one here.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Cincinnati Bengals 24
Buffalo (+1) @Philadelphia (Betonline.ag)
I don’t trust the Eagles defense in this game. They’ve been shaky, and Buffalo has weapons a plenty to exploit Philadelphia’s weaknesses. While I think the Eagles will score some points in return, don’t expect the Eagles to score 21 points on defense and special teams every week. Their luck runs out here.
Buffalo Bills 31 Philadelphia Eagles 26
San Francisco (+1) @Cleveland (5Dimes)
Bleck! Stay the hell away from this game. The 49ers have played well with Blaine Gabbert under center, but for that matter, the Browns are a lot better with Manziel at quarterback than the non-NFL player Austin Davis. Mike Pettine might sabotage Manziel with his play calling – he clearly hates the guy that much, so I wouldn’t bet this game either way. If both teams show up, the Browns are good enough to win a home game against another team that, despite some modest recent improvement, still stinks just as bad as they do.
Cleveland Browns 22 San Francisco 49ers 19
Washington (+3) @Chicago (CG Technology)
I like this game in a cynical way. Washington spent all season fighting to make themselves relevant again and what did they do the second they were? That’s right, blew a home game to Dallas playing without Tony Romo. The Bears, meanwhile, were a team everyone counted out, until they surprised people and actually positioned themselves to be relevant until, what happened? That’s right, they choked at home vs. the dreadful 49ers. The Bears are now out of it, so winning this game hurts them. The RacialSlurs are still in contention, so losing this game hurts them. What do you think I expect these teams to do. That’s right. . .!
Chicago Bears 24 Washington RacialSlurs 20
Detroit (-1) @St. Louis (5Dimes)
The Rams are going back to Case Keenum at quarterback. I know Nick Foles has been awful this year, but the Keenum move decided this pick for me. This game was a pick ‘em all week until that announcement was made. Now you can find the Rams getting as much as 3. That’s what people (correctly) think of Case Keenum.
Detroit Lions 20. St. Louis Rams 16
Detroit @St. Louis over/under 41 (5Dimes)
The Rams offense is so unbelievably horrible, I can’t pass up the under here. The Rams also have a pretty good defense, so they should be able to hold the Lions down effectively. Like I said, I just can’t pass up the low total.
Detroit Lions 20 St. Louis Rams 16
San Diego (+10.5) @Kansas City (Westgate Superbook)
Ugh! Stay away from this game. The Chiefs are giving way too many points, but it’s so hard to trust the Chargers to show up and play even remotely well. I can’t justify giving double digits with a Kansas City team that hasn’t earned that kind of juice so this is a don’t touch game for me.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 San Diego Chargers 20
New Orleans (+4) @Tampa Bay (Westgate Superbook)
I just don’t know what to do with this one. I love the Buccaneers story this season, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to start throwing points around like some drunken sailor. And the Saints have shown fight at times this season, they just don’t seem to have what it take to win games. I think the Bucs will win a shootout here, but I’m betting New Orleans can keep it within the spread.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New Orleans Saints 24
Indianapolis (pick ‘em) @Jacksonville (BetOnline.ag)
This is a complete hunch pick for me, and I’m taking the Jaguars. The Colts are NOT the team people thought. And that goes beyond Andrew Luck’s struggles and everything else. They just didn’t build this team right, and it’s killing them this season. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are on the rise. They’re not ready to take that next step just yet, but they are good enough to rise up and bite a vulnerable opponent and that’s what they’ve got in front of them this week. Add in that Jacksonville would absolutely LOVE to play spoiler and hand the Colts a divisional loss. Yeah, that.
Jacksonville Jaguars 30 Indianapolis Colts 26
Tennessee (+7) @NY Jets (Westgate Superbook)
Oy, I HATE giving a touchdown with the Jets. I just hate it. But I’m not taking the inconsistent Titans on the road, even getting 7. New York has surprised me consistently this season with their ability to rise to the occasion. The Jets are still playoff hunting. The Titans are draft positioning.
New York Jets 24 Tennessee Titans 16
New England (-3.5) @Houston (Pinnacle)
I heard a lot of stats this week about how long it’s been since New England lost 2 in a row. Yeah? How long has it been since they lost three in a row then? I know Gronkowski probably doesn’t play and let’s face it, without Gronk this offense is beyond pedestrian, even Saint Brady under center, but New England still brings defense and Bill Belichick’s hyperevil mojo. Use the force Bill. That’s right, the DARK SIDE of the force. I pity the Texans.
New England Patriots 23 Houston Texans 17
Dallas (+7.5) @Green Bay (Pinnacle)
Oh just get away from me with this game. The Packers, once so very reliable at home, are now a complete question mark. I don’t trust them to cover a touchdown plus against ANYONE, much less a Dallas team that seems to specialize in losing close ones. Lose one more close one guys.
Green Bay Packers 22 Dallas Cowboys 16
NY Giants (-1) @Miami (Westgate Superbook)
I honestly think the Giants are a touchdown or more better than the Dolphins but they have become Falcons or Packers-like in their ability to blow games late. The Giants ought to win this game easily. Will they win at all? Who the hell knows.
New York Giants 27 Miami Dolphins 21
Buffalo @Philadelphia over/under 46.5 (BetOnline.ag)
I’m counting on these two defenses to continue to live up, er, down to their level of play all year. The Bills have been disappointing defensively, struggling to pressure the quarterback as much as any team in the NFL. The Eagles are toast to any top receiver, so expect Sammy Watkins to go HAM on them. Ditto LeSean McCoy, who clearly is holding a grudge against Chip Kelly. I’d consider playing any Bills you have available in fantasy this week. If not, take my advice and take the over here.
Buffalo Bills 31 Philadelphia Eagles 26
Atlanta (+9) @Carolina (Westgate Superbook)
Nine? Holy mother of. . .Nine points? The Falcons are snakebit, I grant you, but they’ve only lost by 10 points (and that’s EXACTLY 10, not 10 or more), twice all season. Carolina seems to have the magic this year, but that keeps them winning, not necessarily blowing people out. I’ll take my chances and take the nine points with Atlanta.
Carolina Panthers 28 Atlanta Falcons 23
Oakland (+7.5) @Denver (Wynn Las Vegas)
Why are the Broncos giving more than a touchdown at home with an offense that is only marginally better than it was, against a Raiders team that still has punch left in it? Teams are starting to figure out Brock Osweiler, and the Broncos offense is starting to look a lot like that juggernaut offense that brought Gary Kubiak all those monster 8-8 seasons in Houston. Good thing Denver has a championship defense because the rest of this squad? Not so much.
Denver Broncos 20 Oakland Raiders 16
Seattle (-9.5) @Batlimore (BetOnline.ag)
This spread just exploded this week, but I’m board with it. The Seahawks are hot, they’re a December team, and they’re playing with the confidence of the last two years for the first time all season. The Ravens, meanwhile, are a big hot roadkill mess with injuries everywhere and who knows what playing who knows where. This one will get out of hand in the second quarter.
Seattle Seahawks 27 Baltimore Ravens 10