Normally, I feel a little sad when the NFL regular season is ending.
This year, I don’t. I have more going on in my personal life this year, so that’s probably part of it.
But it might also be that this was a weird NFL season on the field. It didn’t feel like a lot happened.
The Patriots, Broncos, Seahawks, and Packers are the favourites going into the playoffs. At the start of the season, those four teams would have been your favourites.
The Patriots had a minor hiccup in the beginning of the season, but otherwise they rolled all year long. Same with the Seahawks, except their hiccup was in the middle of the season.
The rest of the teams pretty much shook out how we expected. The only real surprise is the Eagles, who totally choked down the stretch. But they’re not all that talented and they had a backup QB, so it’s not too shocking.
Off the field, it was pretty tumultuous, but so far the end result of the tumult is nothing.
Let’s just pick the games. Week 17 is a weird week to pick.
Last week I went 8-7. For the year, I am 56-61-3.
The Green Bay Packers are 7.5-point favourites at home against the Detroit Lions.
The last time the Lions won in Green Bay was 1991. So, that suggests the team struggles a bit in Lambeau Field. This a different Lions team, with a better defence. And Aaron Rodgers has a calf injury which is limiting him. It’s not crazy to think that the Lions defence gets after a gimpy Rodgers. I think the Packers win by seven, and thus do not cover.
The pick: Lions +7.5
The Indianapolis Colts are 7-point favourites on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
Win or lose, the Colts are the No. 4 seed. So, it’s unclear how hard they’re going to try. Indianapolis has been reeling to end the season. So, I would expect they want to play hard for the first half of the game then ease back. The Titans are bad. And there’s not much of a reason to try to win. But, I’ll take the points for Titans at home.
The pick: Titans +7
The Houston Texans are 9.5-point favourites at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I’ll take the Texans because I think they’re going to try harder. They have a slim shot at the playoffs. The Jaguars have nothing to play for.
The pick: Texans -9.5
The Baltimore Ravens are 13-point favourites at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Here’s a tweet you don’t want to see two days before the game:
Connor Shaw has agreed to terms on a deal with the Browns. Will be promoted from practice squad in time to start Sunday
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 26, 2014
After a promising start to the season, the Browns reverted to being the Browns.
The Ravens started in a messy situation, and eventually got to a good place. I think the Ravens win this game, but 13 points seems like a lot. I understand that the quarterback was just signed off the practice squad, but is he that much worse than Brian Hoyer? Why not take a chance with some points here?
The pick: Browns +13
The New England Patriots are 4.5-point favourites at home against the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots are locked into the No. 1 seed. There’s no reason to play any starters. In fact, it would be a terrible idea to play Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady and risk them getting hurt. The Bills defence is tough and it could mess up Brady. I expect one quarter, or less from those guys. Then it’s the Patriots second team against the Bills first team, which is just what Belichick wants. Belichick probably gets bored just coaching his first-team guys against his opponents’ first-team guys. So, he’s going to enjoy the challenge of winning with second-team players.
The pick: Patriots -4.5
The Miami Dolphins are 7-point favourites at home against the New York Jets.
The last game for Rex Ryan as the head coach of the New York Jets. As far as I can tell, the Jets players like Ryan. He’s a good coach. But, he’s been in a bad situation with bad quarterbacks, so this is it for him.
Where does Ryan go next? If he’s burnt out, then he can go to TV for a year or two. If he wants to dive right back in … the Atlanta Falcons would be perfect, assuming they fire their coach. They have a great offence, so Ryan doesn’t have to worry about that. He could tune up the defence and win a weak NFC South division for years to come.
The pick: Jets +7
The Atlanta Falcons are 3-point favourites at home against the Carolina Panthers.
This is a fun game! The first playoff game of the year. I like the Falcons. They’re actually playing pretty well when Julio Jones is available.
The pick: Falcons -3
The Minnesota Vikings are 6-point favourites at home against the Chicago Bears.
The Bears are a disaster. Their coach will be (or should be) fired. I see no reason for them to play hard in this game. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been playing better and better. They will want to end the season on a bang.
The pick: Vikings -6
The Denver Broncos are 14-point favourites at home against the Oakland Raiders.
Something is not right with Peyton Manning. He looked off last Sunday. I’m sure he can win this game, but 14 points seems like a lot. If you’re a Broncos fan you should be worried.
The pick: Raiders +14
The Kansas City Chiefs are 1-point favourites at home against the San Diego Chargers.
Not what you want to read two days before the game about your starting QB:
Chiefs announced QB Alex Smith is out Sunday vs SD with a lacerated spleen.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2014
Phil Rivers is hurt too, but he’s able to play. So, I’ll take him and the Chargers over the Chiefs and Chase Daniel.
The pick: Chargers +1
The New York Giants are 2.5-point favourites at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia is bummed right now. It doesn’t have a reliable quarterback. It needs cornerbacks, and a safety. Its linebackers are iffy. Its offensive line is suddenly old. And it’s going to have to pay its wide receiver a boatload of money. Good luck Chip!
I expect the Giants to win this game because I don’t see anyway the Eagles stop Odell Beckham Jr.
The pick: Giants -2.5
The Dallas Cowboys are 5.5-point favourites on the road against the Washington team.
If the Cowboys had any brains, they would treat this game like a bye week. Don’t let Romo or Murray risk injury. There’s no upside.
The pick: Washington +5.5
The New Orleans Saints are 4-point favourites on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs are getting Marcus Mariota. Pretty great for them. They can pair him with Mike Evans, and those two should be exciting for years to come. The Saints have had a terrible season. But, I think they’re better and they will win.
The pick: Saints -4
The Seattle Seahawks are 12.5-point favourites at home against the St. Louis Rams.
The Seahawks will win the Super Bowl.
The pick: Seahawks -12.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 3.5-point favourites at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This is such a dumb game to feature as the Sunday Night game. Both teams are already in the playoffs. The Bengals looked really good against the Broncos on Monday night. If that team shows up, they can cover. The Steelers are the most frustrating team in the league. They’re inconsistent. But, I think they win this game and cover.
The pick: Steelers -3.5
The San Francisco 49ers are 6.5-point favourites at home against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals don’t have a quarterback, so I get why this line is so high. But, the 49ers might fire Jim Harbaugh before the game even starts. It’s going to be hard for him, or his players to focus on this game.
The Cardinals have a good defence, which will mess up the 49ers. Even without a QB, I think they win this game. Or, at least cover with 6.5 points.
The pick: Cardinals +6.5
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