Good to see the Patriots look like "The Patriots" again. But, I must admit, I got more satisfaction watching the Colts squander what appeared would be an unbeaten season. Thank you, NY Jets...and thank you, Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian!
Here are my picks, with the "Game of the Week" being:
1.) Philadelphia Eagles (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys: Huge game, for the NFC East title. Both teams will make the play-offs, regardless of who wins. So, this game is all about seeding. The Cowboys have a chance for vengeance and vindication, for the 44-7 pasting the Eagles gave them...eliminating them from the 2008 play-offs. The Eagles appear to be far more explosive on offense, with Desean Jackson, and a supposedly healthy Michael Westbrook. But, they lost their starting center last week for the season. Dallas appears to have a better front seven, but the Eagles have the better secondary. This should be a great game:
2.) Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills (no line): After "wimpgate" last week in Indy, is there any surprise that Vegas is not giving odds on this game? Wouldn't it appear silly if the Colts play Peyton Manning even for a series, after giving him the hook last week, to prevent any chance of injury? The Bills will be playing for jobs. The Colts will be playing not to get hurt.
3.) New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers (no line): Tough game to call, as the Panthers have been playing very well of late. The Saints clinched the #1 seed in the NFC, after getting a huge break Monday night...when the Vikings lost to the claw-less, clue-less Bears. Nonetheless, I doubt that the Saints want to enter the play-offs on a three game losing streak. This is a game that both teams might play to win:
4.) Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5) @ Cleveland Browns: Though the Jags still have a super slim chance to make the play-offs, the players and coaches on the Browns will be trying to impress the new boss, Mike (The Walrus) Holgrem:
5.) Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (+2): The Bears might carry some momentum from their OT win over the Vikings with them to Detroit. Can the Lions win three games this season? I think not:
6.) New England Patriots (+8) @ Houston Texans: No...I didn't make a mistake. The Pats are really eight point 'dogs to the Texans. The logic for this is probably based upon the fact that the Texans must win this game to keep their play-off hopes alive, the Texans are a decent team, and because the Patriots have been a horrible road team. But, I'd be surprised if BB goes the way of Jim Caldwell. The Pats will play to win:
7.) Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins (no line): As the Steelers take care of their business in Miami, they'll be keeping a close eye on the Pats/Texans score. If the Steelers are to have any realistic chance of making the play-offs, the Patriots must help them by beating Houston:
8.) NY Giants (+9.5) @ Minnesota Vikings: The Giants looked awful last week against Carolina, after looking so good the week before against the Redskins. Other than salvaging some pride, this game is meaningless to them. Though the Vikings through away any chance at earning the #1 seed in the NFC last night in Chicago, they still can earn a first round bye with a win, and an Eagle's loss:
9.) Cincinnati Bengals (+10) @ NY Jets: Thanks to Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian, the Jets control their own play-off destiny. If they win, they're in as a wild card. But...they're the Jets. A Bengals' win and a Patriots' loss would give Cincy the 3rd seed...and, if both the Pats and Bengals win, depending on what happens elsewhere, the Bengals might still earn the #3 seed. Its' hard to predict how Cincinnati will approach this game. But, my guess is that they'll at least cover:
10.) San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams (+7.5): Hard to believe that the Rams/49ers was once one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL. But now, it would be better for both these teams to lose, in order to secure better draft positions. Currently, the Rams are in position to "earn" the #1 overall pick...which is sure to be a boy name "Suh".
11.) Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5): Another meaningless game for play-off purposes. But, both teams are led by young QBs, who will want to end the season on a high note:
12.) Green Bay Packers (+3) @ Arizona Cardinals: Play-off wise, this game means little. The Packers own a wild-card spot, and are in. The only question is, will they be seeded 5th or 6th? The Cards have already clinched their division, but could earn the second seed, if they win, and both Minnesota and Philly lose. This should be a fun game to watch:
13.) Kansas City Chiefs (+13) @ Denver Broncos: The Broncos need lots of help, but still have a chance to sneak into the play-offs. What the Jets do is really important to them. The Chiefs have been playing better of late. I expect them to cover:
14.) Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders (+10): Like the Jets, for the Ravens, its' simple. Win and their in. I don't see the Raiders stopping them. But, they may cover:
15.) Washington Redskins (+4.5) @ San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have nothing to play for. The Redskins are playing like they have nothing to live for:
16.) Tennessee Titans @ Seattle Seahawks (+4.5): Titans are out of contention, even with a win. Still, they'll want to close out whats' been a very disappointing season for them on a high note:
Best Bets: Titans, Bears, Browns.
Heres' a breakdown of the various play-off scenarios: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_3058