|Carrie Fisher Dying Is Also Stupid|
Then there's this year, terrible on so many levels, which is going to pollute 2017 with a week in which the majority of the games aren't going to mean a thing to anyone, with the possible exception of the order of next round's draft picks.
In sessions like this one, you are best off with the teams that have been playing for nothing for a while, honestly. These clubs give you your best sense of playing time for starters, whether the coach in question is just handling fourth downs and two-point conversions as a training exercise, and if the club has pretty much ran out of effs to give. After that, you can go with the teams that have a track record of being able to figure out what they do in silly season (Bill Belichick has this situation every year, because Bill Belichick coaches in a clown division), or throw darts with interim coaches in tire fire franchises.
In other words, if you are betting these games for anything other than chuckles... you may have a gambling problem. Or, more accurately, a winning problem.
And with that... on to the picks!
* * * * *
BALTIMORE (+1) at Cincinnati
The Ravens are playing for pride in what will likely be WR Steve Smith's final game, and the plain and simple fact is that the Ravens have pride, while the Bengals do not. Expect Smith to rage against the dying of the light, and for BMore to lay a beatdown. Ice up, son.
Ravens 31, Bengals 20
HOUSTON (+3) at Tennessee
Both teams on QB2, but the Texans are there by choice, while the Titans are there by disaster. QB Tom Savage is going to be terrible in the routine Texans Playoff Meltdown, but he'll give them hope before that happens. He's also not so good as to get rested before that happens, despite the fact that the Texans don't really need this one.
Texans 24, Titans 16
CAROLINA (+5.5) at Tampa
Tampa theoretically has something to play for here, but the late year 2-game losing streak has taken most of the starch out of those sails, and the road team has a margin for error with QB Cam Newton.
Panthers 24, Bucs 23
Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5)
Neither team with anything to play for, but the Colts are at home, and the Jags already played their good game last week.
Colts 31, Jaguars 13
NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) at Miami
Patriots need the game to wrap up the #1 seed, not that the Raiders are still scary after a disaster injury. Miami might like the game to avoid the trip to Pittsburgh instead of Houston, but honestly, no one thinks about these things.
Patriots 34, Dolphins 20
Chicago at MINNESOTA (-5.5)
Both teams are DOA, but only one has an ex-Eagles QB who avoids, rather than wallows in, turnovers. Take the home team and lay the wood.
Vikings 27, Bears 16
BUFFALO (-3.5) at NY Jets
This might be the worst game in NFL history, which means go with the road club. But honestly, if you are betting this, seek help.
Bills 17, Jets 9
Dallas at PHILADELPHIA (-3.5)
A feel pick, in that I think QB Carson Wentz has a big-time beatdown in him for a home game to close out the season, and Dallas doesn't need the game for anything. I think the Eagles go up early, cause an injury and/or inspire the back ups, and just have a feel-good close to a feel-bad year.
Eagles 34, Cowboys 20
CLEVELAND (+6) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers will rest their starters, and the back-ups are not good enough. The Browns will cover, and maybe even win.
Steelers 19, Browns 17
New Orleans at ATLANTA (-7)
Falcons have a shot at a bye, and a history of driving the Saints to distraction in a home dome. High confidence pick.
Falcons 34, Saints 20
NY Giants at WASHINGTON (-7)
The Racial Slurs need the game, the Giants don't. With home field and that not small point in hand, take the Slurs to win, reach the playoffs for the second straight year, and continue to prove that God's away on business. BUSINESS. HAH!
Slurs 31, Giants 17
ARIZONA (-6) at LA Rams
Hard to pick the Rams to win after getting swept by the putrid Niners. Harder: loving the number in a road game. Hardest would be watching it.
Cardinals 24, Rams 17
OAKLAND (+1) at Denver
Raiders without QB and MVP candidate Derek Carr, but with one of the best OLs in football, against a team that lost its way a month ago, when it really needed to bear down. Take the home team.
Raiders 20, Broncos 13
KANSAS CITY (-6) at San Diego
Playing your best football at the right time of year is an important skill, and the Chiefs are passing that test with flying colors. San Diego lost to Cleveland last week. Nothing more needs to be said about their season. Or, possibly, their entire existence.
Chiefs 27, Chargers 20
SEATTLE (-9.5) at San Francisco
Seahawks need the win and some help to be the 2nd seed and keep a bye, so look for them to bring the wood to the 2-win Niners. It'd also help if their offensive line showed up for 4 quarters. As for the Niners, I think they used up all of their collective effort in getting that second win, honestly.
Seahawks 34, Niners 20
GREEN BAY (-3.5) at Detroit
A win and in game in the only division that needed Week 17 to decide things, with Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers just four quarters away from a month-long Houdini effort to get his team to money games. Detroit played well on offense for a half in Dallas last week, then fell apart on both sides of the ball. Not a good sign against a defense that's better than Big D when healthy. This just in: they are getting healthy.
Packers 34, Lions 27
Last week: 8-8
Season to date: 106-131-5