Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants Sunday Night Football Free Pick: This is how it should be. The Giants have pulled a few games out of their blue tailpipes and that’s why they are here. The Cowboys have squandered many an opportunity (just about every loss they’ve had all season long), and that is why they are here. The Cowboys’ defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody when it matters, but something tells me they’ll be a little big better in this one. Just call it a hunch, I guess, because there is absolutely not one single bit of evidence that I can find to suggest what I’m saying makes any kind of mathematical sense. I just expect good players to play better than they have been.
As for the offenses, both are in a weird spot. The Cowboys and Giants have both been able to put up good numbers, but consistency isn’t a strength of either team. We all know that Romo gets a little too much hate and love, which makes him the Titanic of NFL football. No, Titanic isn’t that bad GUYS and no Titanic isn’t even close to that good LADIES. Tony is better than his haters make him out to be, more clutch as well. But his lovers seem to forget a lot of his failures when making their claim to All-Pro status.
Eli Manning has been battered by me over the years, as I’ve always thought him to be WAY overrated – but right about now, I just think he’s real good. He’s had an amazing season and is the only reason this Giants team has a chance heading in to Week 17.
So who gets the nod? I like the Cowboys to pull this one out. I think Romo finally puts it together – but then again, maybe I’m a bigger fan of Titanic than you are…
San Francisco 49ers (-10.5) @ St. Louis Rams
The Rams are really bad, and I see the 49ers doing just enough and keeping their starters in just long enough to cover this spread. One touchdown and about 5 field goals should do the job offensively as the 49ers schemes and athleticism on defense will be strong enough to limit the Rams even more than normal. The 49ers are still playing for that first round bye, so an all out effort here will give them next week off for sure.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (-3)
This does reek of a game the Chargers would win. Means nothing, end of the season, they’ve already drastically underachieved and will almost certainly see their coach fired as soon as the season is over. Perfect time for those guys to play well. But I have to go with Oakland, everything on the line, they need to win and need help – but the playoffs are very much possible.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (-3)
Yeah, I’m betting Tim Tebow. He’s clutch – they win and they’re in – this is the kind of game for him, right? He’ll probably play at least 2 good quarters because of how important this game is. Tim for 2 good ones is almost a guarantee over a team like KC.
Buffalo Bills (+11.5) @ New England Patriots
The Patriots have clinched a first round bye, but they could clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win against the Bills. The Bills will certainly come to play in New England even though their season ends at this game, nothing would make them happier than helping the Patriots lose home field throughout. New England hasn’t been the kind of team that takes breaks and rests key players, but that could change a bit with Welker’s injury a couple years ago. Possibility of rest, and the fact that Buffalo can be very explosive, makes 11.5 seem like way too many here. I’ll take the dogs.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Houston Texans
The Titans aren’t playing for nothing this weekend. They need some forms of help but a wildcard spot is still very much possible. In all scenarios possible for them to make it, they have to win. But there playoff scenarios are weird, for certain, as they can get to the playoffs with a win and a Cinci, Jets, Raiders loss combo – a Cinci, Jets, Broncos loss combo – or a Cinci, Jets loss combo and if both Oakland and Denver win. Crazy. The bottom line is, they’ll be playing for something and Houston can’t do anything to up their chances. I would doubt we’ll see Arian Foster, and it will be back-up central for the Texans.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions Point Spread Pick & Preview: I know the Vikings walked into Philadelphia last Tuesday Night and beat up on a very good Philadelphia Eagles team, but it’s hard for me to buy them coming back on short notice, going on the road, and playing another good game against a solid team. So I’ll be putting my chips on the Lions to cover the field goal spread at home in Week 17.
I like what Joe Webb brings to the table – he’s a solid young player that has freakish athleticism, a strong arm, and a competitive nature that impresses me. But he’s also a rookie that will need time to become a consistently good starting quarterback in this league. Last week he played very well, running the ball with success and completing 65% of his passes without throwing an interception. He managed the game well and didn’t make any mistakes that killed his football team. But consistency is not something that swims around in young project quarterbacks, it is something that gets built over time. He will struggle this week because he doesn’t have the consistency to beat the Lions where they struggle most, in their secondary.
Shaun Hill, the Lions’ starter, continues to be a consistent player for Detroit. He finds his playmakers in the offense, and has really been a strong force in their offense in the games he’s started this season. Detroit gets the advantage at the quarterback position.
Defensively, the Vikings played better last week – but they’ve struggled all season, and I can’t bet on one week over the rest of the season. The Lions are still competing and a win means more to them than it does to Minnesota. I think they win and cover at home.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens Point Spread Free Picks: This game is always close, and I don’t see why, with everything for the Ravens to gain (possibly a 1st round Bye if things go right) and nothing for the Bengals to lose (they’re playing better of late, but have had a terrible year) that this game won’t be tight from start to finish.
Carson Palmer looked like the old (or young, I guess) Carson before the knee injury that set him back the last few years. He looked to many different targets and relied on the run game more- it worked as the Bengals ousted the Chargers and kept San Diego out of the playoffs for the first time in a while. They can’t keep the Ravens out, but a talented secondary and a solid offense could keep the Ravens from getting a free pass to Round 2, and I think the Bengals have that kind of game in them.
The Bengals have won 3 straight games in this division rivalry. They beat the Ravens 15-10 for one of their 4 wins this season. It was a defensive game, and while that might be to the advantage of the Ravens, it’s not to the advantage of covering a double digit spread.
In fact, the Bengals have only lost by double digits 4 times this season. They’ve won two straight games, and they’re playing solid on both sides of the ball. Yes, I’m willing to say they have a chance, and I’m taking them on the road getting 10 and change.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots NFL Week 17 Free Picks: You never know what the Patriots are going to do, especially after watching Wes Welker go down to a season ending knee surgery late last year in a meaningful game before the playoffs. But Bill Belichick isn’t the type of guy to second guess himself, even when a tough injury got to his squad in a similar situation, so I think he plays his guys, at least most of them, for the better part of this game. If we’ve learned anything from the coaching of the master, it’s that his young defense needed seasoning to become a solid unit – and I don’t see why they wouldn’t come out playing tough against the Dolphins this Sunday morning.
I would think that Tom might get a half game off or so, but the Patriots do a lot of things right, and they will be well coached. With Miami’s head coach in danger of being ousted – and their quarterback questions looming, the pending free agency of both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, it’s hard to expect much out of those Dolphins.
Despite being favored in all but 1 of their last 10 games, the Patriots are 7-3 ATS with wins of 29+ points against two of the best defenses in football, the Jets and Bears.
I know Brady has a ton to do with his teams’ success, and nobody knows if he’ll play or not – but either way the best team will be at home on Sunday, and giving just 3 points makes them a solid enough bet for me.