Back-to-back poor showings against the spread have brought our record against the spread and on over/unders to about the same level, with both hovering around a 54% success rate. Still good, but not astoundingly so as it was in the middle of the season. We have just one week left to finish strong, and it happens to be one of the most difficult weeks to dissect each year — Week 17.
Redskins (+8) at Eagles
The Eagles have played well over their last three games, winning handily against the Dolphins, Jets and Cowboys. Too little, too late. The Redskins’ best weapon, Roy Helu, is banged up and will play at less than 100 percent. It seems the Eagles should win easily, but a perfect capper to their season would be a loss to the Redskins. The Football Gods have one last kick in the groin ready for Philadelphia.
The Pick: Redskins +8, Under 45.5
49ers (-10.5) at Rams
The Rams have had trouble scoring points all season long, and they lost to this same team 26-0 a few weeks back. There’s no reason we won’t see a repeat this week — the 49ers are playing for a coveted No. 2 seed. The Rams will happily drop this game, hope for the No. 1 pick and clean house in the offseason.
The Pick: 49ers -10.5, Under 35.5
Bears (+1.5) at Vikings
The Bears, even with injuries aplenty on offense, still have a stellar defense and an elite special-teams unit. The Vikings don’t have much of anything without Adrian Peterson, and they’re one of the few teams the Bears should have no trouble passing against. The Vikings ended a big losing streak last week, and the Bears get to do the same in Week 17.
The Pick: Bears +1.5, Under 41
Lions (-3) at Packers
How in the world could the Lions be favored in Green Bay against the one-loss Packers? Glad you asked — Green Bay has no reason to risk their starters in this game, so if Aaron Rodgers and the first unit plays at all, it won’t be for long. The Lions are fighting for a trip to the NFC East winner instead of San Francisco or New Orleans, which is kind of a big deal.
The Pick: Lions -3, Over 44
Panthers (+8) at Saints
The Saints are still fighting for the No. 2 seed, but not really — the 49ers should pull off an easy Week 17 win to lock it up. It’s possible New Orleans could move to the second unit in the second half. The Panthers defense isn’t good enough to stop the Saints, but the offense can score with anyone. At the very least, expect a back-door cover in the fourth quarter, but don’t be surprised if Carolina wins this one.
The Pick: Panthers +8, Over 54.5
Titans (-2) at Texans
The Texans are coming off two straight losses despite playing the Panthers and Colts in those games. The Titans have been up and down all year, but they’ll be expected to be at the top of their game as a playoff spot could be on the line. Houston is locked into the three seed, which explains the fact that they’re a home underdog. They know they can beat the Titans, and they’ll get a huge advantage if they get to face them again next week without showing their hand this week.
The Pick: Titans -2, Over 40
Colts (+3.5) at Jaguars
The Colts proved to the league that without Peyton Manning they’re terrible, losing 13 straight to open the season. They then won two straight to put their shot at Andrew Luck in jeopardy. Look at it from Jacksonville’s side — do you want the Colts to have the No. 1 pick and potentially see Andrew Luck twice a year for the next 10 years? I didn’t think so. If the Jaguars lose this game, they win in the long run.
The Pick: Colts +3.5, Under 37.5
Jets (+3) at Dolphins
The Jets won pretty handily in the first meeting of these two teams, and with Reggie Bush out for Miami, I would expect them to have the edge here. You don’t expect Matt Moore and the passing offense to move the ball against Revis Island, do you? Throw in the high stakes for the Jets, and this seems like easy money.
The Pick: Jets +3, Under 41
Bills (+10) at Patriots
I haven’t picked a home team yet, but that’s going to end right here. The Patriots will be going full throttle in an attempt to lock up the top seed in the AFC. They also have unfinished business against the Bills, a team that beat them way back in Week 3. Buffalo scored 40 last week, but don’t be fooled — they had just one offensive TD to their credit in the game.
The Pick: Patriots -10, Over 50
Buccaneers (+11) at Falcons
When the Bucs were dropping games in mid-season against quality teams, it looked like they were being victimized by the schedule. When the losses kept coming against subpar competition, it became clear that this is one of the league’s worst teams. The defense has been non-existent, which doesn’t bode well against Atlanta.
The Pick: Falcons -11, Under 45.5
Ravens (-2) at Bengals
The Ravens could have a first-round bye, or they could be on the road next week. The Bengals are fighting for a playoff spot, so this one means a lot on either side. I like the Bengals in this game, as the Ravens haven’t played that well on the road this season, losing to the Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks and Chargers while going undefeated at home. Anquan Boldin’s absence will help Cincinnati as well.
The Pick: Bengals +2, Over 39
Steelers (-7) at Browns
The Steelers had no problem against the Rams last week even without Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to play for no more than a half this week. Like the Rams, the Browns are far from an offensive juggernaut, so this game should be handily won by the Pittsburgh defense and rushing attack. The Steelers won 14-3 in this matchup a few weeks back — take the under.
The Pick: Steelers -7, Under 35
Chargers (+3) at Raiders
The Raiders find themselves fighting for the AFC West crown in Week 17, while the Chargers have nothing but pride to play for. Several Chargers are ailing and could play anywhere from the full 60 to not at all. The Raiders wide receivers have gotten healthier, and I think they have the advantage at home. They won in San Diego earlier this season and should complete the sweep.
The Pick: Raiders -3, Under 48.5
Chiefs (+3) at Broncos
This game features Broncos QBs old (Kyle Orton) and new (Tim Tebow), and I hate to break it to you Chiefs fans, but there’s a reason Denver didn’t want Orton. But this game boils down to the simple fact that I can’t pick against Tebow in a high-pressure situation.
The Pick: Broncos -3, Over 37
Seahawks (+3) at Cardinals
Both teams have caught fire in the second half, leaving the winner of this game with a .500 record on the season. Remember, both were 2-6 at the halfway point. Even with a portfolio full of wins, the Cardinals haven’t looked very good — overtime played a big role in their run, so they could easily be 4-11 instead of 7-8. If Arizona does win, it’ll be by a field goal. I’ll take the points.
The Pick: Seahawks +3, Under 41
Cowboys (+3) at Giants
The Cowboys have dropped three of their last four games, including one to these Giants in Dallas. Now they have to head into Giants Stadium with a gimpy Tony Romo and win an outdoors game to reach the playoffs. I don’t see it happening — the Giants have proven they can take this team. Moreover, with Eli Manning playing at a high level and Jason Pierre-Paul looking unstoppable, I wouldn’t want to play this team in January.
The Pick: Giants -3, Over 47
49ers/Rams Under 35.5
Steelers/Browns Under 35
Panthers (+320) over Saints
Best Bets: 48-29-3