At this point in the NFL season, only a few teams remain playoff eligible. On a frightfully similar note, time is running out for me to catch my wretched opponent, the almighty Kev. Have I mentioned I don’t like him? For a brief moment, we’ll ignore the fact that his wife, who hates sports, is out-picking us both with apathetic accuracy.
Kevin and I have both promised to turn in our man cards for the winter.
With wild card and divisional races heating up, this week’s schedule features another slate of games that should clarify who is in… and who is drafting.
We are honored to have a very special guest this week. Bill Freitas has hosted his own AM radio program here in Tampa and has written for a number of publications, most recently Creative Loafing, a bromantic interlude where first met. Previous celebrity punching bags are collectively hoping he’ll be able to get them out of their recent rut as they wait for him at the finish line with a cold beer in hand.
And off we go…
SPORTSCHUMP’S I’D REALLY FEEL GOOD ABOUT MY PICKS THIS WEEK IF IT WEREN’T ME PICKING THEM PICKS
ARIZONA +4 at ST. LOUIS
So let me get this straight. Arizona is leading the NFC West, the St Louis Rams are at the bottom of the division with no conceivable way to catch them and the Rams are favored?!? If anything, I thought the Cards would be laying the points. This has Vegas trap written all over it but I’m not biting. I like the Rams but I’ve been underestimating the Cards all season long. They have the leading coach of the year candidate in Bruce Arians and apparently it doesn’t matter who they start at quarterback. All they do is win, win, win not matter what. Like I said earlier, I like the Rams but not enough to beat the ten-win Cardinals by four points. I’ll take ‘Zona and the points.
OAKLAND +10 at KANSAS CITY
This year’s Oakland Raiders are kind of like the prize you get at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. You’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get but you do know it’s going to suck. The Raiders surprised the shit out of every one by beating an apoplectic 49ers team last week, a game in which San Fran was favored by eight. Harbaugh’s khakis are as good as packed. It’s just a matter of booking a plane ticket. The Kansas City Chiefs are not the San Francisco 49ers. Just ask Joe Montana. At 7-6, the Chiefs still have an outside chance of making the post-season. They’ll need a win here to keep hope alive. I know this is a fierce rivalry but the Chiefs cannot afford to mess around this Sunday. They’ll win and cover convincingly.
JACKSONVILLE +14 at BALTIMORE
This is like sending lambs to the slaughterhouse. How did Baltimore get lucky enough to have a late-season tune-up on their schedule? The other Harbaugh has to be secretly thanking Commissioner Goodell, which is probably the first nice thing he’s had to say about him since he suspended his star running back for elevator misconduct. The Ravens are clicking but are currently the first team out of the playoffs if the season ended today. Fortunately for Baltimore it doesn’t. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, it doesn’t either. The Ravens cover.
PITTSBURGH -2 at ATLANTA
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-2 against the worst division in football. This weekend, they close out that divisional series with a trip to play the Atlanta Falcons who just lost a shootout to the Patriots on Monday night. Atlanta has played three straight against opponents that are over .500. The Steelers have played three of their last four games against the likes of New York, Tennessee and New Orleans, in none of which they looked overly impressive. Believe it or not, at 5-8 the Falcons still control their own destiny. They’ll keep that up as they beat the Steelers this weekend in the Georgia Dome.
HOUSTON +6.5 at INDIANAPOLIS
Andrew Luck broke the hearts of Cleveland last week as he drove his Colts down field to beat the Brownies in the final seconds of the game. Not only that, he may have finally put Brian Hoyer out of a job. This was just the win the Colts needed heading into post-season play, a tough road win proving they could come behind against a quality opponent. I don’t see the Colts letting up this weekend. Houston’s won three of their last four but two of those wins were against Tennessee and Jacksonville. Neither of those two teams are anywhere near as good as Indy. I’m taking the Colts here to cover.
CINCINNATI (pick) at CLEVELAND
Yeah, I’m taking the Bengals. Johnny Manziel is starting for the Browns. Next question.
MIAMI +7.5 at NEW ENGLAND
Remember back in Week One when the Dolphins beat the Patriots 33-20? Yea, neither do the Pats. This has revenge game written all over it. Even though the Dolphins have had themselves a solid season and even though the Patriots are coming off a short week, Tom Brady is playing like a man possessed. He’s like that homeless guy with Tourette’s you see wandering the streets barking out curse words, except he has a hot supermodel for a wife and three Super Bowl rings in his dresser drawer. I like the Patriots here to cover and solidify their already healthy lead in the AFC East.
TAMPA BAY +3 at CAROLINA
The Buccaneers are 2-11 and head coach Lovie Smith hasn’t raised his voice all season. It must be nice to have such an even-tempered boss. Trust me, if I were as horrific at my job as the Buccaneers are, I’d be shown the unemployment line. But instead, Lovie Smith’s press conferences feature the even-keeled, southern drawl of a man who simply tells the media “We got beat by a better team today.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Where’s the fire? I need a little less Tony Dungy and a little more Denny Green in my head coach. If you wanna crown ‘em, then crown their ass. Anyway, Cam Newton, like Tiger Woods, needs a new driver. He’s out this week thanks to a car accident and an injured back. The line moved three points (from six to three) as a result. Makes no matter. The Bucs lost at home to the Panthers without Cam Newton in Week One in Tampa. They’ll do so again in Week 15 in Carolina. Panthers cover.
(THAT TEAM FROM) WASHINGTON +6.5 at NY GIANTS
Here we have the battle to see which team is not the shittiest in the NFC East. Ugh! Must I even waste the time trying to determine who’s going to win this game by how many? I’ll take the Giants just because (that team from) Washington doesn’t know who’s going to start at quarterback or for that matter who’s going to be coaching them next year. I want the last thirty seconds of my life back.
GREEN BAY -4.5 at BUFFALO
The Buffalo Bills have the misfortunate of not only living in Buffalo but also having to play potential Super Bowl champions in back to back weeks. Last week, as I predicted they covered the ten points in Denver, only losing by a touchdown. This week, they’re back home playing against a team that’s accustomed to playing in shit-ass weather. I like Buffalo but not this week. Their sleigh ride is over. Give me the Pack to cover.
MINNESOTA +8 at DETROIT
Detroit’s been picking things up lately. They’re 6-1 at home and have won six of their last eight. This will be their last home game of the season with two nasty division road games staring them in the face at Chicago and at Green Bay. They know that and they’ll need this win which is why they’ll get it. I’ll take the Lions at home to cover a line which should probably be larger than it is.
NY JETS -2 at TENNESSEE
If there were a minor league NFL, these two teams would qualify. They’re a combined 4-22 so in accordance with good taste, I am hereby dubbing this game “The Battle For Marcus Mariota.” Actually, despite how sucky these teams are and the likelihood that they’ll both draft in the top five next year, neither may draft a quarterback. The Titans are already experimenting with their top draft pick Zach Mettenberger and the Jets probably still think Geno Smith is the answer. So the real question here is not which team wants to win more. It’s which team wants to lose more and from what we’ve seen so far this season, they’re both pretty good at that. Despite losing their last two games, the Jets have actually played pretty well. The same cannot be said for the Titans who haven’t allowed less than 20 points since mid-October. Their defense might make Geno Smith look like he actually IS the answer. Now that’d be a cruel trick. The Jets are just better so I’ll take them to cover on the road… skeptically.
DENVER -4 at SAN DIEGO
Being a Chargers fan must be difficult. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. When you finally think you have a decent team, they turn out to be that same old kinda-sorta-good-just-not-when-it-really-matters Chargers. This week, they have the luck of hosting Peyton Manning only one week after they played Tom Brady. I ill-advisedly took San Diego last week. They lost. But at home, against a divisional opponent, with their season essentially on the line, I think they come to play. The Chargers need this one far worse than Denver does. Denver can clinch the division with a win on Sunday but as paper-soft as San Diego is, I don’t see them letting the Broncos do that in their house. I’ll take the Chargers and the points as they make one last-ditch effort at the post-season.
SAN FRANCISCO +10 at SEATTLE
If I would have told you at the beginning of the season that I would give you ten points and the 49ers against Seattle, you probably would have bet your 401K on it. Currently these two teams are headed in different directions, hence the healthy spread. The ‘Hawks are coming off three straight wins against Arizona, Philadelphia and these very same Niners while San Fran just lost to Oakland. Ten is a lot to lay here so how bold am I feeling? Not that bold. San Fran covers. Unpack the khakis.
DALLAS +3 at PHILADELPHIA
Think back to a few weeks ago when you had a turkey leg in one hand, a spoonful of stuffing in the other and cranberry sauce smeared all over your face. That performance was less of a Thanksgiving Day massacre than the Eagles put on Dallas in their very own building. That cemented Philly’s lead in the NFC… almost. Dallas can actually turn the tide on Philly by returning the favor this weekend. But do they have the talent? I think both these teams are good enough to make the playoffs which means Dallas needs a win here. They get it. Take the three.
NEW ORLEANS -3 at CHICAGO
I’m calling this one the Battle of the Underachievers. Think about it. The Saints are 5-8 and are road favorites against the Bears. Both these teams are atrocious. If it weren’t for the offense these teams have the potential to put up and the joy of seeing the Saints shiver in the miserable Chicago weather, this game would be entirely unwatchable. I’ll take the Bears and the points just because they’re the home team.
BILL FREITAS’ WOW THIS IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN I THOUGHT PICKS
We’ll start this week by ripping the Band-Aid right off and getting it over with. My beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the worst team in the worst division in the league, some say the universe. Mathematically eliminated from the post-season where a team with a losing record will likely host a playoff game…and get annihilated. Roger Goodell could easily and drastically turn his current PR disaster around by sending the NFC South to their rooms for the month of January with no video games. On to the picks.
Bucs @ Carolina – How big a badass must Cam Newton be if he fractures his back in a car wreck and the team didn’t announce he was sitting until later in the week? Derek Anderson takes the keys to the offense for the second time this season after beating the Bucs at home for the first with two TD’s. Awesome. Carolina is favored by 3 at home, which means according to the mafia, it’s a toss-up. The Bucs defense is coming around, but not enough to help their turd of an offense. Carolina bad, we’re worse. Panthers and the points.
Arizona @ St. Louis – Arizona is currently the bell of the NFC West ball at 10-3. But with backups at quarterback and running back coupled with their current road record counting for two losses including (cough!) Atlanta, I’m leaning towards the home team. Rams started the year like poo, but after AARP spokesperson Shaun Hill (Seriously, how old is that guy?) took over the quarterback position, nobody wants to play them. Throw in the downright nasty defense and I’m taking the Rams. Not so comfy adding 4 ½, plus those hands-up knuckleheads have still got my panties in a twist. So for that reason alone, Cards cover.
Pittsburgh @ Atlanta – Four out of the five Falcon wins were earned at the hands of NFC South opponents (obnoxiously long belly laugh) and despite the 8-5 record, the Steelers haven’t exactly been world beaters either. And they lost to the Bucs at home for the first time…ever (belly laugh plus fart). Since Joe Bagadonuts only gave Pittsburgh 2 ½, he’s not overly impressed either. Atlanta needs this game to stay in the playoff hunt (laugh with a spot of pee), but yeah, no. Steelers big.
Washington @ New York Giants – Really? I have to pick this one? Okay, the Redskins are terrible. The Giants are terrible. The Corleones are picking the G-Spots minus 6 ½, but they beat Jacksonville by one friggen point. Giants win, but Redskins cover. Looks like it’s okay to say Redskins again. Even Phil Simms reversed himself. Selective outrage much? REDSKINS!
Miami @ New England – The Fins haven’t been relevant since Marino routinely lost in the playoffs and Darth Belichik seems to get hot despite the spoiled Patriot nation inevitably wondering if the dynasty is over early in the season after losing to Miami in week one. The Dolphins haven’t really beaten anybody worth pounding your chest since then and the Pats not only have a better record, but also against slightly more formidable opponents. Tony Soprano picked New England -7 ½. Take it all day. I do hate them so.
Oakland @ Kansas City – Wait, Oakland beat San Francisco? Well, look at you little pirates go. Good for you. The Chiefs are in a bit of a spiral after losing three in a row beginning in…well, hey! Oakland! Can the Raiders make it two wins in a row against their division foes? No. Hell, no. Will KC cover the 10 points? Dammit, spreads are hard. Usually, I just circle a team every week on a hunch in my office pool. I already circled the Chiefs, so…what the hell. They win and cover. Oakland blows…all the way to LA (see what I did there?)
Houston @ Indi – I haven’t picked an upset yet, have I? No, really, have I? I don’t proof read. Colts are hosting in their unbeaten house this season, can clinch the division with a win, and never…EVER lost to Houston at home. But damned if they haven’t embraced the Christmas spirit early giving away all those footballs to the other team. Texans have been hot and cold but getting warmer as we approach Jesus’ birthday party (Myrrh? What the hell, dude. You got a baby Myrrh?). And I never count out a team with J.J. Watt. That boy can dance. You can’t lose there forever, can you? Texans are due.
Green Bay @ Buffalo – Aaron Rodgers may be arguably the best quarterback in the league. But I’m really not in the mood to argue, so shut up and let’s get through this. Because this year ain’t your slightly older brother’s Bills. This season they’re downright respectfully mediocre. Packers seem to have an issue stopping the pass and Buffalo QB Kyle Orton is the best quarterback in the league provided your team doesn’t have a quarterback. My cousin Vinny took the Pack -5. Sounds about right, but Rogers may score a few more than that. Green Bay wins and covers.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland – These fans have more in common than you think. Rabid, loyal and relentlessly cruel to the team they love when necessary. Basically, if you give a Browns fan a shower and a job, you have a Bengals fan. The game is at the mistake by the lake and you can thank the defense for pretty much every game Cleveland has been in. Bengals lost the first meeting and have really mastered the late season meltdowns under Marvin Lewis’ tutelage. That said, Johnny Meatball is starting and I’m not about to pick that punk to win anything. If Cleveland wins, it’s because of a pick-6 off of the Bengal ginger Andy Dalton. In hopes that won’t happen, I’m taking Cincinnati and the point (singular).
Jax @ Baltimore – Easy. The armpit of Florida is as bad as the crotch of the same state at 2-11; And is actually worse than Tampa Bay on the road, being winless. The winless streak continues in Baltimore despite Raven players dropping like flies to injuries and handcuffs. Will they beat the 13 ½ point spread. Hell, they already did seven times this year, why not.
Jets @ Titans – Let’s get this over with. Jets…awful. Two wins, one against Oakland. Titans…awful. Two wins, one against Jacksonville. Vegas gave the Jets 2 ½ for shits and giggles, but flip a coin. I just did. Literally. Tails…Jets. But to screw around it’s by one and Titans cover. Seriously, don’t bet.
Denver @ San Diego – The Chargers are just plain weird. They’re never really awful but nobody picks them to go anywhere either. The only team they beat this year that impressed me was Seattle in week 2; which Denver lost in week 3. Unless it’s Seattle’s defense, I don’t mess with Peyton. The Chargers offense just won’t keep up. I take Denver minus the 4.
Minnesota @ Detroit – I’m still waiting for Detroit to fall apart, but they still have flashes of scary good. Speaking of flashes, Viking quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had of few of brilliance in his rookie season so far…except against the Lions. He’ll have another rookie moment Sunday and Detroit will put off the season skid another week. The -8 spread may be a little bold. Minnesota hasn’t been blown out too often as of late this year and will cover.
San Francisco @ Seattle – 49ers lost to Oakland. Good God. After losing to Seattle the week before at home. Drama is a tangible intangible and San Fran is a great team with a few too many coach/front office distractions to get out of the 12th man with a win. But at -10, they will cover.
Dallas @ Phili – Mark “Butt Fumble” “Dirty” Sanchez won the mediocre quarterback duel against Tony Romo on Thanksgiving. But his luck runs out Sunday night. Plus, Dallas has a running game. Phili is favored by 3 ½, which is another toss-up. But I’m keeping the quarter in my pocket this time and giving the Cowboys and their offensive line the edge and the win.
New Orleans @ Chicago – This Monday night, get some sleep. The jewel of the NFC South heads to Chicago for a classic may-the-worse-team lose matchup. Both teams are 5-8, yet the Saints still have something to play for. Most 5-8 teams are looking to the draft. The world makes no sense. The boys in Nevada pick the Saints minus three. Since I still believe the Saints are the best of the worst in the division and Jay Cutler is the dumbest human being ever to come out of Vanderbilt, Saints will win and cover. Barely.
I need a beer and a shower. Thinking makes me tired and thirsty. Enjoy the games and don’t take my advice.
KP’S I ASKED MY WIFE WHO TO PICK THIS WEEK PICKS
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (-3.5)
The Rams have posted back-to-back shutouts and have home field advantage against an Arizona team that while injury depleted, still owns the best record in the conference. Andre Ellington was placed on IR, which will only hurt an Arizona rushing offense that is already ranked 30th in the NFL. On top of that, Drew Stanton has been erratic, and will be facing a St. Louis pass rush that is on fire, and very aggressive. Then again, no matter how often the Cards are counted out, Arizona manages to find a way. With that in mind, I do think this will be a close game, and a very low-scoring one. Seriously, take the under – and if you like shootouts, you should instead say, “Shoot me”. I’ll take the Rams at home, by a field goal, 13-10. Therefore, take the Cards and the points.
Against the Spread: Arizona Cardinals
Straight Up: St. Louis Rams
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5)
The Raiders are winless on the road and Arrowhead is an extremely difficult place for opponents to play. Oakland will be without LB Sio Moore, one of the team’s leading tacklers. This will deliver a blow to a run defense that is already 24th in the NFL, while also allowing 13 touchdowns on the ground. That should be a good sign for Jamaal Charles and a Kansas City rushing offense that is ranked 6th in the NFL. Expect the Chiefs to control the ground game and cruise to a two-TD revenge win at home.
Against the Spread: Kansas City Chiefs
Straight Up: Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-7.5)
The Patriots will be seeking revenge on its home turf after Miami took the first game in the opening week of the season. Dating back to 2011, the Pats have won each of its four home games in this series, and are also undefeated in front of its home crowd this season. The Dolphins have struggled on defense in recent weeks, and gave up 39 points in Denver three weeks back. Expect a similar performance by Tom Brady and the Pats’ equally explosive offense. New England covers.
Against the Spread: New England Patriots
Straight Up: New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5)
Look at what A.J. Green did against Pittsburgh’s defense last weekend (11 catches, 224 yds, 1 TD). Julio Jones could very well do something similar, that is, if he plays. Jones is questionable and a game-time decision. If he plays, I like the Falcons. If not, Harry Douglas, Roddy White and Matt Ryan should still lead this in the direction of a shootout, but Atlanta’s defense likely won’t be able to stop Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Call it the Julio Jones decision. Currently, my best guess is that he will be out, and therefore, I’m going with the Steelers.
Against the Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers
Straight Up: Pittsburgh Steelers
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5)
The Texans are 1-4 ATS in its last five road games against the Colts, and have lost four straight in Indianapolis, dating back to 2010. Houston will likely use a heavy dose of its fourth-ranked rushing offense, in hopes to keep Andrew Luck off the field as much as possible. Luck, meanwhile, will push Indy’s top-rated passing offense against a Houston defense that is ranked 28th against the pass. In the end, I think Luck and the Colts will prove to be too much playing at home. Indy covers.
Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts
Straight Up: Indianapolis Colts
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-6.5)
Colt McCoy has been medically cleared and is set to start against the Giants. Eli Manning will play for the Giants, as will Rashad Jennings. Washington’s pass defense has allowed 28 touchdowns, while managing just five interceptions. This unit likely has no answer for an explosive Odell Beckham, Jr., as long as Eli has solid pass protection. One awkward hit on McCoy’s neck, and this could be RGIII’s show again. With that risk in play and the Giants playing at home, I’m taking New York to cover.
Against the Spread: New York Giants
Straight Up: New York Giants
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+1.5)
A.J. Green has been a beast lately, and he will be the key to this game. Last time facing the Browns, Joe Haden was able to shut down Green, holding the star receiver to just three catches (over ten targets). Cleveland won that game on the road, and now get the Bengals at home. With Johnny Manziel getting his first start, the stadium will likely be electric, but I rarely go for the rookie quarterback, especially in games like this. This one is just too important for the Bengals. Manziel will make too many mistakes, and Cincinnati finds a way to win, despite the possibility of another sub-par A.J. Green stat line.
Against the Spread: Cincinnati Bengals
Straight Up: Cincinnati Bengals
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens (-13.5)
The Ravens defense – led by Elvis Dumervil – proved that it can still dominate, even without Haloti Ngata to wreak havoc in the trenches. Dumervil is putting up monster numbers, and should have another big day against a Jacksonville team that has allowed the most sacks in the NFL (54). The Jags are also without Denard Robinson, who had given the team a spark (and some balance) offensively. Baltimore is loaded with weapons and currently in a very tight division race. Jacksonville has put up a solid fight against many teams in recent weeks, but this one could get out of hand in Baltimore – and fast. Ravens win big at home.
Against the Spread: Baltimore Ravens
Straight Up: Baltimore Ravens
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-5.5)
Cam Newton was in a car accident and will not play, paving the way for Derek Anderson to get another start. Anderson had a very solid start against these Bucs on September 7th, throwing for 230 yards, with two touchdowns. Tampa Bay has improved offensively, with Mike Evans breaking out and becoming a major force. That, plus the Carolina defense has floundered, allowing points in bunches. With Newton shelved, I like the Bucs to win this one outright on the road.
Against the Spread: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Straight Up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills (+6.5)
There’s a slight chance for rain in Buffalo, but no crazy winds or storms expected. The Packers are playing on short rest, and will be challenged by a Buffalo defense that leads the league in sacks, with 48. The Packers have won each of its last three games by six points or less, which makes this an interesting line, especially considering Green Bay’s 3-3 road record. While I correctly predicted that the Bills would keep last week’s game close versus the Broncos, I am picking against Buffalo this time. Aaron Rodgers only needs to push the Pack to win by a TD, and that seems like a good bet to me.
Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers
Straight Up: Green Bay Packers
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (+1.5)
Unless you’re a die-hard fan of either team, you may have more fun watching paint dry. Both teams are 2-11, and the Jets are winless on the road. The Titans have lost by 19 or more points in each of its last three games, while the Jets have fared slightly better. Overall, I look for New York to push its run game against a Titans defense that is last in the NFL against the run. Jets win in a barn burner.
Against the Spread: New York Jets
Straight Up: New York Jets
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (+4.5)
Peyton Manning has thrown two interceptions in four of his last six games, raising question marks about his performance and arm strength. Peyton will never pull a Rodgers and say “relax”, but he’s going to be fine, and getting Julius Thomas back will help him and a potent Denver offense. The Broncos are also 11-4 in its last 15 games against division foes. Denver covers.
Against the Spread: Denver Broncos
Straight Up: Denver Broncos
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
The Niners are falling apart, losing last week to the Raiders and the previous week at home against these Seahawks. The two games before that were wins, albeit tight ones against the two cellar dwellers in the NFC East. Seattle is really clicking, and has lost just once this season in front of its home fans. Speaking of trends, the Niners are 0-5 in its last five road games against Seattle. Let’s make it six.
Against the Spread: Seattle Seahawks
Straight Up: Seattle Seahawks
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-7.5)
The Vikings are fighting through injuries on offense and scored just three points against these Lions earlier in the season. Detroit is 6-1 at home, while Minnesota is just 2-4 on the road. The Lions have the league’s best run defense, allowing just 62.8 ypg on the ground. Detroit’s pass defense has 17 interceptions, as well. Throw in Calvin Johnson, who is healthy and putting up big numbers in recent weeks, and you have a game that could get out of hand quickly. Detroit covers.
Against the Spread: Detroit Lions
Straight Up: Detroit Lions
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
The Cowboys have had a few extra days rest, and will be seeking revenge from its Thanksgiving day blowout loss to these Eagles. Dallas is 6-0 on the road, while the Eagles are 6-1 at home, making this an even more intriguing matchup – and battle for the NFC East division. The road team has actually won five of the last six games in this series, and Tony Romo acknowledged issues with the team’s preparation and performance on Thanksgiving. I expect this second matchup to be a lot closer than the previous one, coming down to a late field goal. Therefore, with the line, I’m obviously taking the Cowboys – and my gut says that Dallas finds a way to get a win, too.
Against the Spread: Dallas Cowboys
Straight Up: Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (+3.5)
The Bears have had a few extra days to rest and prepare, but will be without Brandon Marshall, who is out for the season. Losing Marshall will be a big hit, leaving Marquess Wilson to fill in for him, and the Alshon Jeffery – Martellus Bennett combo to fill in a bigger role. Both teams have really struggled on defense, specifically against the pass, where the two units have combined to allow 52 touchdowns, with just 19 interceptions. Despite how disappointing these teams have been, it should be a fun watch… if you like offense. For me, it comes down to the absence of Marshall, and the Saints win by a touch.
Against the Spread: New Orleans Saints
Straight Up: New Orleans Saints