Of the seven leading NFC contenders, six of them play each other this week, and the other (Seattle) is on the road against the team leading the AFC South. This is likely the biggest moving week remaining, with several toss-up games in a race where one game separates the top 4 seeds, and two games separates the wildcard teams from the #1 slot.
So expect fireworks in the NFC. The Rams and Eagles play in a game that is very important for Los Angeles as they try to fight off Seattle and try to get anything but the 4-seed if they win the division. Atlanta to its big win against New Orleans last night to tighten up the NFC South, and Minnesota goes on the road again, a week after winning in Atlanta, against Carolina. There is a chance that we could have a three-way tie at 10-3, with three other teams at 9-4, and the Falcons at 8-5.
Last Week: 11-5 ATS
Overall: 91-80-2 ATS
SUNDAY at 1 PM
Detroit (OFF) at Tampa Bay
Detroit is playing for their lives and needs to win out. Matthew Stafford’s status is up in the air with a hand injury, but he’ll play if he can. I would expect the line to have Detroit as a slight favorite if Stafford is in. I like Detroit if he plays and if he doesn’t, well.
Chicago (+6.5) at Cincinnati
Cincinnati is coming off a devastating loss to Pittsburgh where they led all game. The Bears need a win. I expect a closer game for Chicago. Bears +6.5.
Indianapolis (OFF) at Buffalo
Tyrod Taylor now has a chance to play, which is why the line is still off. Buffalo is back in the playoff hunt and needs this one at home.
Seattle (+2.5) at Jacksonville
Big turnaround for Gus Bradley.
Oakland (+4) at Kansas City
Kansas City has squandered every bit of its lead in the AFC West. Remember back to that Thursday Night Game that came down to the final play(s)? The Chiefs offense at least looked good again for the most part last week. I’ll go against recent trends and say the Chiefs -4 rebound.
Minnesota (-2.5) at Carolina
The Vikings have been rolling, but one week after moving into the #1 seed spot based on tiebreakers, this feels like a desperation game for Carolina, and the playoff race tightens. Panthers +2.5.
Green Bay (-3) at Cleveland
Green Bay had less than 100 yards passing. Josh Gordon is back for the Browns offense as they still search for the first win. And Aaron Rodgers could be back in a week. This feels like a potential letdown spot for a team that is below average without Rodgers, on the road. Browns +3.
San Francisco (+3) at Houston
I’m all aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo train and barreling down the tracks against the Tom Savage one. 49ers +3.
Dallas (-4) at NY Giants
Eli Manning is back after one week off to think about how bad he’s been. Word is a game-worn Eli helmet from last week’s game is going for quite a lot on the black market. Giants +4.
SUNDAY AT 4:05/4:25 PM
Washington (+6) at LA Chargers
The general strategy of going against the Chargers when they are at “home” has been pretty good as even the Browns covered last week. Washington +6.
NY Jets (-1) at Denver
Loser has to sign Tim Tebow. There’s a good chance that Vance Joseph doesn’t make it to year two. Elway seems willing to scapegoat everyone but himself. Meanwhile, I am rooting for the Jets just to make the playoffs just so McIntyre can root for them to lose to get better draft position. Jets -1.
Tennessee (-3) at Arizona
Arizona could be missing the law firm of Peterson & Peterson in this one. Titans -3.
Philadelphia (+2.5) at LA Rams
The Eagles could go from top seed to #4 in a hurry if the West Coast swing gets them again. Rams -2.5.
Baltimore (+5) at Pittsburgh
The Ravens have been dominating defensively and now they get their toughest test. Expect a close battle. Ravens +5.
New England (-11.5) at Miami
New England seems to occasionally come up with the stinker in Miami (2-3 SU in Miami and 1-4 ATS in last five years) in December, and Gronk is out. Dolphins +11.5.