By Brien O’Donal
I’m not going to say much about last week. It wasn’t good. I have to pick better. I let the readers down by picking poorly and that is a reflection on me. But I haven’t gotten this far in the season without a few hiccups. I like where I am right now and I am moving on to the next week.
Also, Aaron Rodgers might be back so all I can really think about is whether or not he will show up with some fierce looking facial hair and lead the Packers into the playoffs.
Broncos (4-9) at Colts (3-10)- Thursday 7:25 p.m. CT; NBC, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Broncos -2 1/2, O/U 40 1/2
This will probably be one of those low rating games the NFL hates to have in a prime time spot. The Broncos did get a win against a Jets opponent who is at the same level they are, much like the Colts. On the flip side, the Colts didn’t get it done in the snow (probably because they wore white uniforms and couldn’t see their own players. But they are the home team and weather won’t be a factor. But truthfully, I think the Broncos are a better team and should be able to pull out a close victory, I will take them at the 2 1/2. I will be betting the over here. The game is on turf and I think that the scoring will get just ahead of the line so I will take the over 40 1/2.
Bears (4-9) at Lions (7-6)- Saturday 3:30 p.m. CT; NFL Network
Lions -5 1/2, O/U 44
The Lions really need this one. They still have an outside shot at the playoffs and will have to win out to get there. The Bears are about one or two games better than we thought they would be and just beat the crap out of the Bengals while the Lions got only a 3-point win against the Buccaneers. Divisional games are tough but I will take the team that should be better and is playing at home to win. The Bears have a good running game and the Lions are 20th against the run. With that in mind I will bet on the Bears at +5 1/2 and with Trubisky finding his way I will take the over 44.
Chargers (7-6) at Chiefs (7-6)- Saturday 7:30 p.m. CT; NFL Network
Chargers -1, O/U 46
Two teams going in the opposite direction face off for the lead in the division. In Week 3 the Chiefs were looking powerful and beat the Chargers 24-10. But now it looks like the Chargers are the stronger team and are making a push toward the playoffs while we sit back and wonder if the Chiefs will miss out because of a collapsing season. The Chiefs are at home against a divisional foe so it’s easy to say they will win but I’m going to go with the favorite and pick the Chargers by more than one point but I’m betting this will be a slug fest and I will take the under.
Texans (4-9) at Jaguars (9-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Jaguars -11 1/2, O/U 39
The Jaguars defense announced itself to the NFL in Week 1 by trouncing the Texans on their home field. It was a win that set the tone for how they would play this season and are now on the precipice of their first playoff appearance since 2007. T.J. Yates is expected to start this week for the Texans and if his performance in relief last week carries over, the Texans might not be the pushover they were expected to be. I know the Jaguars defense is good and should take advantage of the Texans but not by 12 points. I still think they will win the game and send the Texans to 4-10 on the season but I will put my money on the Texans at +11 1/2. I will take the under in this one because these teams aren’t great offensively.
Ravens (7-6) at Browns (0-13)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Ravens -7, O/U 40
The Ravens need to run the ball to win and the Browns have the ability to stop the run; sometimes. The Packers proved last week that a dedicated running game can still be effective against them. The Ravens will be just such a team but I think it will be their defense that gets them the win by more than 7 points. I will put my money on the favorite. I will take the under in this one because I think field goals will do a lot of the damage.
Packers (7-6) at Panthers (9-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Panthers -3, O/U 47
All reports indicate that Aaron Rodgers will play this week so the Packers will be 1,000 times better on offense. That must be why the line is as close as it is. But I’ll be he has some growing pains and the Panthers keep it going against a weak Packers defense that can’t hold up in coverage. Personally, I want the Packers to win but I don’t think they will get it done on the road so I will pick the Panthers to win but I couldn’t put my money on it. I would hate to bet this game but if I had to I would go with the Packers at +3 because I don’t think the Panthers can win by more than a field goal. I will take the over in this one because I expect a lot of aerial offense and some fireworks on the scoreboard.
Dolphins (6-7) at Bills (7-6)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
An NFC East battle for second place and the ability to have a long shot at a playoff berth. I know the Dolphins looked the part against the Patriots last week and the Bills haven’t been able to put up points but I can see this being a close game in the cold weather of Buffalo. I don’t like the Dolphins ground game and I don’t like the Bills passing game. I think this is a back and forth game that goes in favor of the home team. But not by much.
Bengals (5-8) at Vikings (10-3)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Vikings -10 1/2, O/U 42
The Bengals are coming off a really bad game against the Bears so they have to be looking for a bounce back. I don’t think they’ll get it in Minneapolis. Case Keenum had turnovers that have been uncharacteristic of him this year and the Vikings are coming off their third loss. They know they can’t afford to lose any more games so I expect them to get a big win at home. I am picking the Vikings to win and win big. I will take them at -10 1/2 but I will go with a total score over 42 because the Bengals defense will probably give up more than 30 points and A.J. Green will help Cincinnati get at least 10 points.
Cardinals (6-7) at Redskins (5-8)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Redskins -4 1/2, O/U 43
The records of both of these teams is a surprise to me. The Cardinals are grinding out some tough victories while the Redskins are failing to do the same. But at home, and with their offense, I agree that Washington should be the favorite. But 4 1/2 points seems just a tad too much for me tonight. While I think the Redskins will win, I will put my bet on the Cardinals at +4 1/2 points. I will take the over 43 because the Redskins defense isn’t the best right now and they might allow enough points to force a shootout.
Eagles (11-2) at Giants (2-11)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; Fox
Eagles -7 1/2, O/U 40
The Eagles are only favored by this many points because they are playing the Giants and their defense is still good. I don’t know how good Nick Foles will be but I am counting on Doug Peterson making him at least average. I can see the Eagles winning big again and using this game as a way to get the offense in sync without Carson Wentz. I will bet on them at -7 1/2 points and I will also bet on the over 40.
Jets 5-8) at Saints (9-4)- Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT; CBS
Saints -16, O/U 47 1/2
Do I think the Saints will make this a blowout? Yes. Without Josh McCown at quarterback their offense that isn’t that good will be even worse. The Saints defense is good enough to frustrate anyone the Jets have under center and Drew Brees should be able to light it up against them. I will place a bet on the Saints -16 and just because the Saints will probably put up 30 on their own, I don’t think the Jets will get very many and I will take the under.
Rams (9-4) at Seahawks (8-5)- Sunday 3:05 p.m. CT; Fox
Seahawks -2 1/2, O/U 47 1/2
Seahawks at home should be the favorite. I already had in mind them winning this one. The odds are right that it should be a close game but at -2 1/2 I will still bet on the Seahawks. If the Jaguars can turn it into a 30-24 game, I expect these two teams to be able to put up a score similar to that. I will bet the over in this one.
Titans (8-5) at 49ers (3-10)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
49ers -2, O/U 44
And now we start to see the Garoppolo effect. The Titans have announced that Marcus Mariota has been having injury troubles. In addition to that their running game has been struggling and their defense has had some troubles of its own. The 49ers seem to be on an upswing and are playing at home. This game doesn’t matter to them so the role of spoiler will be fun now that they have a competent quarterback. But I am not betting on them to pull it off. I think the Titans will find a way to grind out a win. I think they do it in a total under 44.
Patriots (10-3) at Steelers (11-2)- Sunday 3:25 p.m. CT; CBS
Patriots -3, O/U 53
And now the game of the week. The top two teams in the AFC square off in a game that was meant for prime time. The Patriots got flustered against the Dolphins last week when they couldn’t handle a constant pass rush and their defense allowed one too many plays at the wrong time. The Steelers have found their offensive form and Ben Roethlsiberger is finding the right guy down field. And by right guy I mean Antonio Brown. He is just making a mockery of opposing secondaries. In a game like this with the #1 seed in the playoffs on the line I will put my money on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I expect the Patriots to pull off a win. It will be tough to bet this one though. I will go ahead and put my bet on the Patriots to cover 3 points. And what shouldn’t shock you, I will take the over.
Cowboys (7-6) at Raiders (6-7)- Sunday 7:30 p.m. CT; NBC
Cowboys -3, O/U 46
Is Elliot back from suspension yet? The Cowboys really need him. Not all teams are the New York Giants. I picture this being a fun game to watch but also one to cringe at sometimes. These two teams will probably have a close game and with their running game coming around I will agree that the Cowboys are a good favorite. I will pick them to win the game, but I will put my money on the Raiders at +3. I will also take the under in this one. It might be close but I don’t think it will reach that total.
Falcons (8-5) at Buccaneers (4-9)- Monday 7:30 p.m. CT; ESPN
Falcons -6, O/U 48
I’ll just come right out and say it: I’m hitting on the under in this one. I don’t think the Buccaneers have the offense to put up a decent amount of points to compete in this game. -6 may seem like a lot to give the Falcons but their back and forth play all season means that they are due to pounce on their last place divisional opponent and I will pick them at this number.