Cam Newton is winning games and making people mad by dancing, which is probably the most fun a person can have. (Image via vivi1867)
One of the problems the NFL runs into around this time is the amount of teams who are just hopelessly cooked. If you look around the schedule this week, you see a lot of match-ups involving a team with something to play for taking on a team with nothing to play for. Niners/Bears, Broncos/Chargers, and Panthers/Saints are all good examples of this. While that makes for a boring Red Zone day, it also means a lot of big point spreads (eight games with 4 or more points) and most likely a lot of blowouts. The Panthers can actually clinch a playoff spot with a win today and it’s only the first week of December. In the Philadelphia area, we’re lucky enough to get Seahawks/Vikings and Jets/Giants at 1PM on Fox and CBS respectively, which is the best scenario you could ask for with the early afternoon games. Trust me, it’s bad.
I need a big rebound week following the Thanksgiving disaster and my 6-7 record last Sunday, so let’s get into the games. There’s only one real upset pick I’m taking this week, so my apologies in advance for boring you with chalk picks. But you gotta do what you gotta do to get back above .500 this late in the season. Plus, like I said, these games are bad.
EARLY AFTERNOON GAMES
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears (-7)
Somehow, the Bears are 5-6 and just a game out of the final wildcard spot in the NFC and coming off an impressive win over the Packers. The Niners, well, at least they’ll be in position a draft a new QB. Sean Draughn is again a good fantasy fill-in because Blaine Gabbert checks down to his running backs non-stop Chicago keeps rolling here.
PICK: BEARS -7
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns (+9.5)
The Browns lost in the Brownsiest (new word I invented) way possible last week, with a game-winning field goal attempt turning into a blocked kick returned for a touchdown. Remember Eagles fans, it could ALWAYS be worse. The Bengals look like the AFC’s second best team and this might be the year Marvis Lewis finally gets that elusive playoff win. Only took 13 years!
PICK: BENGALS -7
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
The Titans are a stunning 0-6 at home and already lost to Jacksonville two weeks ago, but the Jags are 1-4 on the road and give up over 27 points per game. Gus Bradley has to be thankful for Chip Kelly, otherwise someone might notice how he’s made no progress with the Jags in three years despite a ton of high draft picks. This game will be awful and will blind anyone who views it for too long.
PICK: TITANS -2.5
Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Texans have flown under the radar lately, but they’re very much alive in the AFC South at 6-5 and their defense has given up 35 points in the last four games combined (all wins). The Bills are still in the wild card hunt despite consecutive losses to the Pats and Chiefs, but it’s tough to pick against the Texans right now. That’s not something I thought I’d be saying this season.
PICK: TEXANS +3.5
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
Here’s another game that will assault the eyeballs of anyone who watches it. The Dolphins have lost four of five since their 44-26 beatdown of Houston and their only win was against the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Ravens have actually won three of their last four, but have lost Justin Forsett and Joe Flacco in the process. Matt Schaub threw a brutal INT against Cleveland last Monday that should’ve cost them the game, but Browns gonna Brown and he got away with it. Don’t think he gets away with it this time.
PICK: DOLPHINS -3.5
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings (+1.5)
Seattle is starting their annual playoff push with wins in four of their last five and their schedule down the stretch features the Browns, Ravens, and Rams. They may not catch the Cardinals, but the Seahawks are definitely getting back in the postseason. Minnesota leads the NFC North and Adrian Peterson is back to being the best RB in football, but Teddy Bridgewater will need to make some big plays to win this game and I’m not sure he’s ready yet. This is your best 1PM game today.
PICK: SEAHAWKS -1.5
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams (+4.5)
Annnnnd back to garbage. The Rams are terrible and would probably be better off snapping the ball to a chocolate lab instead of either Nick Foles or Case Keenum (the Eagles should look into this as well). The read-option potential of Todd Gurley/chocolate lab is legit in my opinion, but until dogs get the respect they deserve in the NFL, we’re stuck watching stiffs like Foles. The Cardinals are closing in on a bye in the NFC playoffs and I don’t think they have consecutive letdown games.
PICK: CARDINALS -4.5
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Bucs (PICK)
This is a somewhat interesting game as the Falcons are falling apart after starting 5-0, while the Bucs have slowly improved since opening 2-4. The Bucs have a lot more talent than people give them credit for and Jameis Winston looks like he’ll be at least a competent NFL quarterback. The Falcons hot start was a lot of smoke, mirrors, and Devonta Freeman, but they’ve already lost to Tampa and dropping this game would be a stake in the coffin. I think Matt Ryan has a big game and makes Jameis play catch-up.
PICK: FALCONS PK
New York Jets @ New York Giants (+2.5)
It’s funny to see the contrast in fan bases when the two New Jersey teams play. The Jets fans seem to be your more typical rowdy drunk football fans, who have no issue drinking at 9am and will punch anyone in defense of their team. The Giants’ fans are far more quiet and reserved, mostly because there’s only like nine of them under 65. Jets fans boo, Giants fans take a nap. As far as the game’s concerned, I don’t like the Jets defense without Revis taking on this Giants’ offense. Probably going to see some Odell Beckham fireworks today.
PICK: GIANTS +2.5
LATE AFTERNOON GAMES
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers +4
I’m not ready to say Denver is better off with Brock Osweiler than Peyton Manning, but he owns a win vs the Pats and now takes on a terrible Chargers defense. Philip Rivers was having a record setting season before losing his entire offense to injury and the Chargers are now heading for a top 10 pick. Every opponent has scored at least 22 points against San Diego this year and they’ve allowed 27 or more seven times. Great opportunity here to let Osweiler throw 30 times and gain confidence against a bad team. Broncos win big.
PICK: BRONCOS -4
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders +3
Look at Andy Reid! The Chiefs have won five in a row and currently own a wild card spot in the AFC. Like the Texans, their resurgence has been in large thanks to the defense, who held six straight opponents under 20 points until the Bills scored 22 last week. The Raiders have faded, losing three straight until last week’s unimpressive win over crappy Tennessee. Oakland’s getting better and a win here would be huge, but I’m sticking with the Chiefs. Don’t let me down, Andy.
PICK: CHIEFS -3
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints +6.5
The Panthers seem to be getting better, winning their last three games by a combined 104-40 score. The Saints have lost three in a row and have only 20 combined points in their last two. There’s no rhyme or reason for this, but I think the Saints cover at home, maybe even pull the upset. Drew Brees isn’t going to be held down three games in a row, is he?
UPSET PICK: SAINTS +6.5
Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots (-8)
The Eagles continue to get overrated in Vegas. This line opened at -13, settled to -9.5 later in the week, but now sits at -8 before kickoff. What do bettors see? The Pats are missing Edelman, Gronk, and Dion Lewis, but they’re getting Danny Amendola back this week and Brady still has more than enough options to move the ball. I might have taken the Eagles at +13, but I think Pats win easily. I do think this will be closer than everyone’s predicting and I’d suggest going under the 49 total if you’re so inclined. I’m thinking something like 27-17 Pats.
PICK: PATRIOTS -8
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)
The Steelers let a win vs Seattle slip away last week and now take on the Luck-less Colts at home. Matt Hasselbeck couldn’t beat the Steelers in 2006 and I’m not giving him much of a chance here in 2015 either. The Colts are hanging on in the putrid AFC South, but I think the Steelers deliver a beatdown here.
PICK: STEELERS -7.5
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (-4)
The Cowboys season has gone completely to hell and it’s been pretty much the only enjoyable part of 2015 if you’re an Eagles fan. The Skins have been surprisingly competent and they should handle a defeated Dallas team at home. Kirk Cousins is always a threat to throw three picks, but the Cowboys are cooked.
PICK: REDSKINS -4