We live in Atlanta and LA. This week we got a major snowstorm (10” north of town) the kind of wet, heavy snow that freezes underneath and takes a long time to go away. Residents responded appropriately by getting in their cars and driving around in the icy conditions. Southern California could use the snow, because it’s on fire. 175,000 acres across 6 major fires, with a 400-acre minor one threatening Bel Air. Of course this small but dangerous fire (question: isn't every fire dangerous?) received more media attention than anything in the news all week, because rich people. But we know the truth. Not a brush fire. Enraged studio executive burned down half the town when “Dolphins in primetime” showed up on his calendar. Again.
New England (10-2) -11.5 at MIAMI (5-7)
Pats are 20-5 without Gronkowski in his career. 9-0 since beginning of 2016, their last 28 games. It seems Gronk has a little Jordan Reed in him. (Somewhere Gronkowski wants to giggle at that sentence and say “bro, not cool” at the same time.) This is so not going to matter. The line is slightly lower than expected. We assumed it would be Pats minus infinity points.
Reasons to be scared:
Tom Brady is 7-8 career in Miami.
This week was the Art Basel show, which is a hoity toity scene where we’re sure the Brady-Bundchens made a few appearances.
Miami’s D knocked Brady around a couple of weeks ago and may be able to get more
We would binge watch a show called “The Brady Bundch”.
Pick: Pats -11.5
NY Jets (5-7) -0.5 at DENVER (3-9)
The Jets try. The Broncos say they try. Everything on paper says take Denver, because they can’t be this bad. But if you’ve watched any football, even if for the very first time, you can tell that there’s something seriously the matter with this team. If Mork came down from Ork in 2017 instead of 1978, he would have picked a different place than Boulder, CO, because something just doesn't feel right in the Denver area on Sundays.
This town loves their team, and they’re all just sad. So are we, because we’ve picked them over and over.
Pick: Jets -0.5 (Sorry Denver.)
Tennessee (8-4) -2.5 at ARIZONA (5-7)
Tennessee still has no identity. Unless you count “amazingly mediocre at every facet of the game” as an identity. They do run it better than they pass it, but not exactly lighting the world on fire in the run game. And yet they sit at 8-4, virtually assured a playoff spot if they win 1 of their last 4 games, and they hold the tiebreaker over the Jags for the division title. The Titans have a -16 point differential and they’re 8-4. Compare that to Houston, -13 differential and 4-8. They’ve basically won a lot of close games and gotten blown out a few times. Delanie Walker is too talented to be on this team. It’s likely to be another close game, and we don't trust Mariota on the road, so take the points.
Pick: Cardinals +2.5
LA CHARGERS (6-6) -6.5 vs Washington (5-7)
Washington secretly stinks. OK, maybe it’s not a secret. These teams are heading in opposite directions. So much is said about their injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and we've said on this blog that Cousins is for sure franchise QB, but it’s their defense that’s been the difference. They’ve given up 30 or more in 6 of their 7 losses, and gave up 29 to the Chiefs in the 7th. In their 5 wins they’ve allowed no more than 24. Unless you apply the “McAdoo Multiple”. The Skins gave up 10 to the Giants, which is like giving up 50 to a typical NFL offense.
So the question here is whether or not the Chargers can get to 25. We’ve been watching this team in person all year, and it’s like the movie Major League. It’s a slow-rolling bandwagon that is picking up steam. The matchups on both sides of the ball are too good for the Chargers.
Pick: Chargers -6.5
LA RAMS (9-3) -2.5 vs Philadelphia (10-2)
Best record on the line and a potential NFC championship matchup preview. Philly had their letdown game against Seattle, and will be looking to bounce back. But they’re going to have to do it without Zach Ertz, who hasn't cleared the concussion protocol, and against a Rams team that believes they’re way better than they are, but without Robert Woods again.
Both of these teams have feasted on an easy schedule and built up significant momentum. If the Rams win, the despair alarms in Philly will start to go off, which is always fun to watch. There’s no such risk with the Rams. Nobody expected this team to be as good as they are, so they’re playing with house money. The Rams having nothing to lose will make a difference. Eagles fans are secretly terrified that the real team is the one that needed a 61yd FG to beat the Giants.
Pick: Rams -2.5
JACKSONVILLE (8-4) -2.5 vs Seattle (8-4)
Back to concussions. We’re surprised that Ertz is likely out. We thought the whole concussion thing was voluntary in Seattle. He should have asked Russell Wilson for tips on how to walk away from a doctor.
The Seahawks violated the concussion protocol a month ago. The league has conducted its investigation, and last week said the results would be forthcoming. We’ve been watching for this because of how much fun it is to watch Roger Goodell hand out punishment. But he’s trolling everyone on this one! He won't announce the results. We think it’s because he didn't want to fuck up his contract extension so close to signing.
Russell Wilson is going to need his concussion-proof fizzy water this game. The Jags front 7 will be all over him, and Bortles will make sure that Seattle gets the ball lots of times. We love the under in this game (41).
Pick: Jaguars -2.5
Free Money Bonus Pick: Special Teams / Defensive TD: Yes, +175
PITTSBURGH (10-2) -5.5 vs Baltimore (7-5)
Baltimore needs this game to keep their 6 seed in the playoff race, and to keep slim hopes of catching the Steelers for the division crown alive. The Steelers clinch the division with a win today and we assume they keep pace with the Patriots, who should shellac the Dolphins.
Baltimore’s defense is the league MVP. Flacco has been pretty bad but getting better, since their line has been able to keep him standing for an extra few seconds. That guy got beat up for the first 10 weeks of the season.
The Steelers don't need this win as much as the Ravens. They might get it, because they’re pretty good at football, but the Steelers always seem to do just enough. It will be close.
(I ran out of time on this one because I got the Brady Bundch idea and got sidetracked making that picture.)
Pick: Ravens +5.5