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And with that... on to the picks!
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Cleveland at BALTIMORE (-9)
The Ravens need help and don't deserve it after last week's turd in a punchbowl that was the Texans game. Cleveland is ending this year with as much misery as possible, which is hard to imagine when you consider that they had their division by the short and curlies just a few weeks ago. Trends, amirite?
Ravens 24, Browns 13
DALLAS (-5.5) at Washington
Neither team needs or even really wants this game, and while Robert Griffin III might surprise, the DC secondary is still a mess. Dallas sets their fans up for maximum disappointment with another week where they look like world beaters. The fall here is going to be wonderful. Oh, and if they go to the Super Bowl and play the Patriots, you will know that God is dead and/or Cthlulu.
Cowboys 34, Slurs 20
INDIANAPOLIS (-7) at Tennessee
The Colts are still on de facto bye, but after last week's face punch in Dallas, they'll be looking for some get-even on anything in front of them. They are still world-class frauds, but you get to that level by torching teams like the Titans.
Colts 31, Titans 17
JACKSONVILLE (+9.5) at Houston
The Jags come in with extra rest, their usual level of late-season spunkiness, and a Houston team that doesn't really believe they have a real shot at the playoffs. Look for them to hang around and cover late.
Texans 24, Jaguars 17
SAN DIEGO (+3) at Kansas City
Hey, Chiefs Fan, are you tired of the Andy Reid Era yet? It's all gone wrong in the past 1.5 years, and when you see your QB throwing to RAC-less wonder retread WR Jason Avant in the middle of the field when down late, you know that the man isn't learning clock management in his old age. Chargers QB Philip Rivers deserves some serious MVP votes, not that he'll get them.
Chargers 24, Chiefs 20
NJ Jets at MIAMI (-6)
The Rex Ryan Sayonara was last week in NY, where his team fought the Patriots to a 17-16 defeat that had honor and etc. One last time in the South Florida mugginess, between Christmas and New Year's? Not so much. Miami should have gotten more out of this year, and will work out some frustrations in this game.
Dolphins 30, Jets 13
Chicago at MINNESOTA (-6)
The Bears looked like a football team last week against Detroit, only to fall apart late and lose QB2 Jimmy Claussen to injury. They'll go back to QB1 Jay Cutler here, and feel free to notice how much less they try. (Also, the home/road thing has something to that.) Anyone else wonder if Minny might have contended for a wild-card if RB Adrian Peterson hadn't run afoul of basic human decency?
Vikings 24, Bears 17
BUFFALO (+5) at New England
One team cares, the other team, well, not so much. Buffalo's defense can hurt you, and the Pats are going to treat this one like a de facto bye. The Pats might still win, just on defense, but the offense has issues even when the starters are in. And they really should not be in.
Patriots 24, Bills 20
Philadelphia at NY GIANTS (-3)
If the Eagles couldn't win at home against Dez Bryant, or on the road against DeSean Jackson, what chance do they have on the road against Odell Beckham Jr., who is honestly playing better than both of those guys right now? Besides, I suspect Green HC Chip Kelly will roll out more rooks and benchies than expected in this one. And, well, he should.
Giants 34, Eagles 24
NEW ORLEANS (-4) at Tampa Bay
If you watch this and aren't related to anyone in the game, you don't have a gambling problem. You have a life problem. I'll take the Saints just because the Bucs secondary is just that bad, and Saints QB Drew Brees feels bad about murdering everyone in fantasy for the past two months.
Saints 38, Bucs 27
Carolina at ATLANTA (-3.5)
If you don't get to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, you don't generally stop the Bird offense... and at home, I think they get it done. Carolina hasn't looked as good in front of QB Cam Newton as they have with QB Derek Anderson, which is one of those things that the national media can't say, because, well, Newton is actually an NFL QB, while Anderson is the rich man's Rex Grossman. Yes, indeed, gross.
Falcons 31, Panthers 20
Detroit at GREEN BAY (-7.5)
It feels like a big number against a team that might dominate the line of scrimmage... but the Packer defense might do as much harm to the Lions, and whoever gets a short field could turn this into a wilding. The Lions have trouble in the red zone, and also in the kicking game, which won't help them either. A defensive score late ices the cover.
Packers 38, Lions 24
OAKLAND (+14) at Denver
Blowout city? Maybe... but the Broncos seem committed to running the ball now, aren't nearly as good in the red zone since TE Julius Thomas had the ankle issue, and could get beat up a bit by a Raider offense that's showing signs of a pulse in the last month. Look for Orange to lead early, coast late, and cover not at all.
Broncos 27, Raiders 17
Arizona at SAN FRANCISCO (-6)
Can the Cards wind up getting the NFC South winner, just to make sure that we've got a double-digit spread line in the final eight? We just might see that, especially with the proud Niner defense wanting to do everything to Big Red that the Seahawks did last week. This won't be pretty.
Niners 23, Cardinals 13
St Louis at SEATTLE (-13)
At this point, it's getting harder and harder for me to see how the Seahawks don't go to the Super Bowl again, and win it handily. The Rams could puncture that feeling with a strong defensive performance, but after watching them fall to pieces at home against the Giants last week, it's hard to see things bouncing back in the league's toughest home field. Against a great team with something on the table.
Seahawks 34, Rams 16
Cincinnati at PITTSBURGH (-3.5)
Big deal matchup for the SNF game, and I'd like the Bengals so much more if WR AJ Green was right. He's not, the Steeler secondary will not look quite so horrible, and Cincy doesn't show up well under the lights. You've probably heard about that by now.
Steelers 24, Bengals 20
Last week: 9-7