Last week was another successful one overall. My blind pick of an unset Seattle line came off as they crushed the Ravens despite losing the impressive rookie Thomas Rawls, but I also suffered from thinking two mediocre teams were sure things. This week I’ve only taken one as a Best Bet – So lesson learned. Ish. But as I said, overall it was a good week. 9-7, I had a small accumulator pay off and my Patriots got back on the horse in beautiful fashion. This week sees two 14 point favourites at home and a potential wildcard dress rehearsal between Denver and Pittsburgh. There could be a spanner in the works for Denver though. They have this tricky trip to Pittsburgh this weekend and then host the Bengals – and the Chiefs are lurking. They will need to win one of those games (+ the finale vs San Diego) because it’s unlikely that the Chiefs lose another game and they would hold the tie-breaker over Denver should they finish week 17 level on wins. All 3 of the NFC East contenders find themselves underdogs this week. If you’re feeling brave there is some money to be had with the GIants money line over the Panthers – yes, the 13-0 Panthers. They have everything but the #1 seed sown up and a 2 game advantage over the Cardinals. If they were ever going to slip up it’s here on the road against a tricky Giants team who could easily have 10 wins under their belt right now. I won’t be placing that bet, but it’s just a suggestion… And so onto the bets I will be taking. The lines are from William Hill and the home teams are in capitals…
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-14.5) over Cleveland Browns
Seattle are the hottest team in the NFL right now. The offense has been electrifying and the defense close to it’s lights out best. Yes, 14.5 is a lot of points – especially with Thomas Rawls out – but Russell Wilson is on fire running options and throwing down field. Fred Jackson is a fine replacement and Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett should be far too much for the Browns secondary to handle. As for the Browns, Johnny Manziel will have the toughest test of career here. CenturyLink Field is still a loud, hostile place to go and with the Seahawks front seven firing on all QB-killing cylinders it’s going to be a long day for Johnny Football. As a bonus we get to see Joe Thomas go to war with Michael Bennett which is one of the best match-ups of the weekend.
Miami Dolphins (+2) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
This could well be the Chargers last game in San Diego, but their fans seemingly gave up hope long ago. Chargers home games have become a contest of “which team has the most disperse fan base” as all semblance of a home field advantage has evaporated. As has the Chargers offense. In 3 of the last 4 games San Diego have scored just 3 points. Mike McCoy is firmly entrenched in the hot seat while Dan Campbell has started to get some support to be made the full time Dolphins head coach. The Chargers offensive line is a sieve that keeps threatening to injure Phil Rivers and on the outside there are few weapons to worry Miami. Then there’s Lamar Miller who stole the show against the Giants and is looking like a real weapon for Miami, albeit one they apparently don’t want to keep around. This game could go either way but I think it’s at least very close and in those situations give me the team that can run the ball and has something to play for.
Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
I feel like this line should be 4 points higher. I know the Eagles have strung a few wins together but I don’t think they’re going to be able to handle the Arizona defense up front. Calais Campbell is having another stellar season, they look to have found a disruptive edge presence in Markus Golden and are finding ways to get production out of Dwight Freeney. Then there’s the fearlessness of their blitzing. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher hasn’t tinkered with the successful blueprint Todd Bolwes left and they just keep bringing pressure. Be it Tyrann Mathieu flying round the corner or Deone Bucannon through the middle. Chip Kelly’s spread offense often forces vanilla play from opposing defenses, but Arizona’s vanilla is blitzing. I think they’ll cause all kinds of problems for Bradford and shut down the running game almost entirely. Then there’s Arizona’s offense which despite losing Chris Johnson is still ticking along with a problem. Rookie David Johnson has filled in superbly and Arizona have 4 legitimate threats at wide receiver with a rejuvenated Larry Fitzgerald, speedsters John Brown and JJ Nelson and then Michael Floyd. I love watching this Cardinals offense go to work but the Eagles certainly won’t.
Rest of the picks:
Tampa Bay (+2.5)
New York Jets (-3) over DALLAS COWBOYS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (-5.5) over Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers (-5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-14) over Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons (+3) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+1) over Buffalo Bills
Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
Green Bay Packers (-3) over OAKLAND RAIDERS
Denver Broncos (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
49ERS Detroit Lions (+3) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
No line on Houston @ Indy Last Week: 9-7-0 (1-2-0) Overall 101-98-7 (20-21-1).