Editor's Note: Notes for Late Sunday games and Monday night will be posted on Saturday this week. Also, we want to call out that we don't have an editor which explains any typos you might come across.
Sunday, December 3rd: 1 pm EST Games
ATLANTA (7-4) -2.5 vs. Minnesota (9-2)
We typically rank the games in each post by watch-ability. These days, no one has the attention span to make it to the end of our posts. That’s probably a good thing for all our readers. Falcons vs. Vikings is by far the early game of the week and a potential playoff preview.
The Falcons are a first half team. When the offense is clicking, they usually jump out to an early lead. But hanging on, that’s been their Achilles Heel this season. Last week against Tampa, Julio Jones and the Falcons dominated the game. Yet, Tampa snuck back in and was driving late to tie the game. Maybe the Falcons were looking ahead. Maybe.
The Vikings are coming off a good win over Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. With some extra rest, the Vikings come into Atlanta healthy and hungry for a battle. We see this game having sneaky shoot-out potential, something like 38-35.
These teams are pretty evenly matched. Julio Jones and Adam Thielen should both have great games. The Falcons may be without Desmond Trufant which would be a big lose in the secondary.
No doubt this will be a fun game to watch. We think the Atlanta offense will do enough to hang on and the Falcons will win and cover with a late Matt Bryant field goal. Take the home favorite, give the 2.5.
PICK: ATLANTA -2.5
New England (9-2) -8.5 @ BUFFALO (6-5)
Fans in Buffalo are notoriously crazy and Bills tailgates have been known to get out of hand.
So much so that Deadspin.com has a whole section dedicated to the “Bills Mafia” - https://deadspin.com/tag/billspin. Here’s a sampling of the parking lot shenanigans that go on in Orchard Park.
When the Patriots come to town, expect the Bills Mafia to be on their best behavior. How you want to define best, I’ll leave up to you? Last year, when the Patriots played in Buffalo a fan threw a dildo on the field during a Patriots play.
Even though the Patriots have been taking care of business on both sides of the ball, you never know what will happen in Buffalo. Public bettors are pounding the Patriots with more than 80% of the bets on the road favorite. We’re going the other way and taking the 8.5 points. I’m sure that the Bills Mafia will come up with a very creative way to act out this likely Backdoor Cover.
PICK: BUFFALO +8.5
BALTIMORE (6-5) -2.5 vs. Detroit (6-5)
Matt Stafford was injured in the Thanksgiving game vs. Minnesota but did not miss a snap. All signs point to Stafford starting on Sunday, keeping his streak of consecutive starts alive. Since consecutive starts by a QB has been a hot topic in the news this week, let’s look at the list of top active streaks:
The next longest active streak – Blake Bortles at 56 games. No joke.
The Ravens defense has been playing very well and they are very tough against the pass, 2nd in the league. However, the Ravens offense is second to last in the league only generating more yards per game than division rival Cincinnati. It looks like the Ravens will be without lead RB Alex Collins which further weakens the offense. Detroit is better than average on offense and on defense. Both teams are fighting for the last playoff spot in their respective conferences. We think Detroit gets the win here because Stafford is way better than Flacco.
PICK: Detroit +2.5
GREEN BAY (5-6) -0.5 vs. Tampa Bay (4-7)
Good news for the Packers, it looks like Jameis Winston will be back at QB for Tampa Bay. Winston has missed the last three games with a right shoulder injury. Unless the injury results in a “Rookie of the Year” (obscure movie reference of the week) type miraculous improvement on his accuracy, Winston will be back overthrowing a wide-open Mike Evans.
Brent Hundley (you can also use Brett, no one really knows which is his true first name) looked half-way decent against the Steelers last week. It took a few weeks, but Green Bay finally devised a game plan that plays to Hundley’s strengths. This team has too much talent on offense to be as bad as they have been. With a win this week against Tampa and next week against the Browns, the team will be 7-6 when Rodgers is ready to return to rally the team into the 6th seed in the NFC. The NFL needs this positive story to finish the year so bank on it happening. Take the Packers in what is essentially a pick ‘em game.
PICK: GREEN BAY -0.5
TENNESSEE (7-4) -7.5 vs. Houston (4-7)
Growing up, the Houston Oilers were one of my favorite teams and Warren Moon one of my favorite players. I was really bummed out when the team announced they’d be moving to Tennessee in 1998. They played two years in Tennessee as the Tennessee Oilers before changing the team name to Titans.
In 1999, Houston was awarded an expansion team that would begin play in 2002. Unfortunately, at the request of the Titans owner, the NFL retired the nickname Oilers preventing it from being used by the new Houston team. So, they went with the Texans and thus we have Titans vs. Texans or as I like to refer to it Old Oilers vs. New Oilers.
Last Monday night, Tom Savage channeled his inner Blake Bortles and single-handedly gave the game away to the Ravens. Two late turnovers finished off the Texans but they still managed to cover the 7.5 spread. And this week, the Texans are again getting 7.5. Set up perfectly for the Texans to deliver another Me Undies Backdoor Cover off the Week.
PICK: Houston +7.5
JACKSONVILLE (7-4) -9.5 vs. Indianapolis (3-8)
Jacksonville has only lost 4 games this year, all during even numbered weeks. Good news Jags fans, it’s week 13.
Last week Blake Bortles led the team in passing yards, rushing yards, total TDs and interceptions. Not a good sign for the Jacksonville offense. Another bad sign, Leonard Fournette only had 12 carries for 25 yards last week. No surprise the Jaguars lost. The Jags D also had a so-so game only managing 1 sack, 1 INT and 1 fumble which was returned for a TD.
The Colts should have won last week against Tennessee or at a minimum, covered. But even though they had a 13-6 lead with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd, they managed to fumble in their own red zone and give up 14 unanswered points in the last 18 minutes, losing 20-16 and not covering the 3.5 spread. Amazingly, the Colts are one of five teams to have at least 8 half time leads. They are 2-6 in those games. The other four teams (Philly, New England, Carolina and Minnesota) are a combined 31-2 in those games.
The difference in this game will be the Jags D. They may not have 10 sacks like they did vs. the Colts in a 27-0 victory in Week 7. But, we still think they own this game. Expect a late defensive play that swings the margin of victory getting the cover for the Jags.
PICK: JACKSONVILLE -9.5
Kansas City (6-5) -3.5 @ NY JETS (4-7)
Oh, Kansas City! After a promising 5-0 start, the Chiefs are 1-5 including losses to the Giants, Bills, and Raiders. At 6-5, the Chiefs are 1 game up on the Chargers and Raiders, but going in the wrong directions.
Now the Chiefs head back to New Jersey to face the Jets. Only two week ago, the Chiefs played in New Jersey and only managed 3 field goals in a 12-9 loss to the Giants. Last week, back at home vs. Buffalo the Chiefs only managed to score 10 points. There are major problems in KC and it all starts with the QB play.
Alex Smith has thrown 4 INTs in the past three games, all losses. In the previous 8 games, he threw O INTs. His average yards per completion are way down as well. But you can’t pin this all on Smith, the offensive line has been terrible and Kareem Hunt has been held in check. We need to see this team perform before we’d be comfortable backing them.
On the other hand, the irrational confidence of the Jets and QB Josh McCown have been the surprise of the season. The Jets are 6-4-1 ATS overall and an outstanding 5-1 ATS at home. This game is in the (Stadium formerly known as) Meadowlands. Take the Jets and the 3.5.
PICK: NY JETS +3.
CHICAGO (3-8) -3.5 vs. San Francisco (1-10)
This game was saved from the bottom of the early slate by Jimmy Garoppolo’s ridiculous good looks.
The line opened at Chicago -5 and moved to -3.5 when Garoppolo was announced as the starter. Interesting move as Garoppolo has only thrown 6 regular season passes since 9/18/16 and only two this season – 2-2 last week in garbage time. Sure, he played well in New England in the first two games last season. Both in his 4-year career, Jimmy G. only has 2 starts and 96 total pass attempts. Why did this line move a 1.5?
The Bears have faced the toughest schedule this year and they have played it tough. Two of their 3 wins have come at home where the Bears have a distinct home advantage. The wind will be strong on Sunday, but it will likely be unseasonably warm.
We expect Trubisky to play his best game of the season against the team that traded out of the 2nd spot rather than draft him. Without Belllichek and the Patriots weapons, Jimmy G. will struggle. We think the Bears win this one handily and will give the points.
PICK: CHICAGO -3.5
Denver (3-8) -0.5 @ MIAMI (4-7)
Denver #3 in overall defense. Miami #30 in overall offense.
PICK: Denver -0.5