I don't have as brilliant an idea as “Inconceivable!”, so I’m going legit. Happy New Year everyone!
New Orleans (11-4) -7.5 at TAMPA BAY (4-11)
Saints win gets them a home wild card game. Saints are 7-1 at home this year. This line moved the wrong direction, probably because the betting public knows that a Carolina loss also gives the Saints the bye. The betting public also knows that Jameis Winston will take this game as seriously as a crab leg special at Costco. The betting public may have forgotten that rest of the Bucs don't have his level of intensity in the face of nothing to play for. You think Mike Evans is going to put himself in harm’s way for the team today?
Pick: Saints -7.5. Stay away from this bet.
ATLANTA (9-6) -3.5 vs Carolina (11-4)
Win and in for Atlanta. Also in if Seattle loses. Carolina can get the division and a 1st round bye with a win and Saints loss, and can get the #2 seed and home playoff game with losses by Saints, Vikings, and Rams. We just don't see that happening. But the game is a coin flip. We’ve thought all year that the NFC South is the best division in football, so it wouldn't be surprising if the Falcons got knocked out of playoffs with 2 division losses. The NFC Super Bowl team is coming from this division.
Pick: Panthers plus the hook. Stay away from this bet.
SEATTLE (9-6) -7.5 vs Arizona (7-8)
Last week the Hawks won despite having more penalty yards (142) than total yards (136). The week before that they got spanked by the Rams, with 149 yards of total offense. So 285 yards of offense in last two games. You think Russell Wilson might be getting run down? Bruce Arians is likely to retire from coaching after this game. The coach plus a .500 record gives them something to play for. It’s win or go home for the Seahawks, and we’re going to say bye-bye.
Pick: Cardinals +8.5. Consider the moneyline +305. And then stay away from both bets.
LA RAMS (11-4) -4.5 vs San Francisco (5-10)
Current line: Rams +5
Yup. 9.5 point move, even after Jimmy Jesus’ latest miracle at Jacksonville. It’s not enough. Unless Jimmy G gets hurt. Then it will have been Belichick’s plan all along.
That trade may go down in history as one of the most short-term and selfish decisions ever made. Belichick and Brady will ride off into the sunset together very soon. What’s left will remind the fans of the Pat Patriots days of the last 70s. It’s a “win now” decision worthy of the Steinbrenner Yankees.
Pick: Niners +4.5. Stay away from this bet.
BALTIMORE (9-6) -9.5 vs Cincinnati (6-9)
This one is tricky. Baltimore wins and they’re in, or they get in with a Bills or Titans loss. Cincy is playing for about nothing (Marvin Lewis’ last game?), and to avoid their first 10 loss season since 2010.
These teams have played 43 times. Baltimore leads 22-21. They’ve played 14 times at M&T Stadium, with the Ravens up 8-6. Only 2 of those games were decided by more than a TD. Point being, these AFC North matchups are tough, regardless of the records. It’s 20 degrees in Baltimore. We mention it only because it will let these teams just go out in the cold and smash into each other for 3 hours, then go inside for hot cocoa.
Pick: Bengals +9.5. Stay away from this bet.
LA CHARGERS (8-7) -8.5 vs Oakland (6-9)
Current line: Chargers -7
This line moved the wrong way, too. We’ll be at this game, watching the scoreboard for a Titans loss, then a Bills or a Ravens win. Tennessee is at home vs Jacksonville, who have nothing to play for. Awesome.
Pick: Chargers -8.5. Stay away from this game.
TENNESSEE (8-7) -6.5 vs Jacksonville (10-5)
Current line: Titans -2.5
How little respect do the Titans get? They have to win and they’re in. At home. Against a Jacksonville team that will take advantage of the effective by week to get healthy. And the line moved 4 points against them.
The Jags probably win this game by accident.
Pick: Jacksonville +6.5. Stay away from this bet.
DENVER (5-10) -3.5 vs Kansas City (9-6)
Nothing to see here. Let’s check out Von Miller’s Twitter feed. (pause.) Even that’s slow. He did take the time to drop this RT for all of our benefit. He’s a good dude. Also the best player on the field.
Pick: Broncos -3.5. Stay away from this game.
Buffalo (8-7) -2.5 at MIAMI (6-9)
This line hasn't moved. Likely due to complete lack of interest in this game. Too bad it’s in Miami (70 degrees) and not Buffalo (9). Another snow game would be awesome. The warm weather makes it like the Pro Bowl for these teams …. Since none of their players would qualify for the real one.
We are acknowledging and ignoring the playoff implications of this game. The Bills don't belong, and we’re counting on Jay Cutler to take us there. Gulp. But we think it will work out, since he plays every game like there’s nothing to play for.
Pick: Miami +2.5. Go to the place where you’re going to stay away from all these bets, and then go twice as far to make sure you get away from this one.