I’ve been beaten so bad this football season, I ran out and called my mommy.
I hereby concede that Kevin Paul is considerably luckier, er…. what I meant to say was, better at picking NFL games than me. He whipped me soundly and thoroughly so congratulations to you, sir.
To honor the ones we love most this final week of the NFL season, Kevin and I have decided to do something special: Call our mommies.
I don’t know how much Kevin’s mom knows about football but I can tell you, Mother of Sportschump, while a sports fan, absolutely detests football. She tolerates Gator football as it’s the alma mater of the three men she loves most (me, my step-father and my uncle) but the NFL she could live without. She finds it violent and barbaric and that’s just what happens ON the field.
So who better should KP and I choose this week to pick against us than the Emmy Award winning Mother of. And if she beats me, well, that’d just be par for the course. And I couldn’t be more flattered.
Week 17 features some dudsville games but also plenty of match-ups that affect playoff positioning. Please note that gambling on games this week should be done with great caution as only coaching staffs (and probably Las Vegas) know for sure which players will be playing and which will be resting for the post-season.
SPORTSCHUMP’S PICKS OF CHRISTMAS CHEER
DETROIT +7 at GREEN BAY
I live in Tampa. The Packers just played here last week. I know people like to visit Florida on vacation but from the looks of Ybor City last week, I’d say about a third of Wisconsin was in town for that football game. There were literally Packers fans everywhere, their green and yellow shirts, their pale skin, ther bulging waistlines, their cheese breath and their unmistakable humility as far as the eyes could see. I asked one of them on Monday what they thought this line would be, you know, considering it’s for the division and all. The Packer fan guessed three-and-a-half. Just like a Packer fan to underestimate his team. They also thought they were going to lose against the Bucs. They didn’t. There was no way on Lambeau’s green earth that Las Vegas was going to make this a three-and-a-half point spread. Odds makers have been fired for less. Green Bay will win this game, and the division, and ride into the post-season on a hot streak with only Packers fans thinking they won’t go very far. The NFL just suspended Detroit’s center for stepping on the ankle of another player and intentionally trying to injure him. That’ll be nowhere near the damage the Packers do to the Lions this weekend. Packers cover.
JACKSONVILLE +9.5 at HOUSTON
Only one more game, Jacksonville fans. One more game to watch before you can finally put this season behind you. The bad news is that you’ll probably suck again next season so be prepared. While not technically eliminated quite yet, the odds are stacked against the Texans making the post-season, meaning they’ll have missed the playoffs in consecutive years. Just when we thought they were going to be somewhat decent. The worse news for these franchises is that they have to play Andrew Luck twice a year for the next ten seasons. But Houston still has something to live for, their slimmest of playoff hopes alive. They’re in if they win and San Diego and Baltimore both lose. They’ll do their best to make sure this one isn’t close which is why they cover… and still miss the playoffs.
INDIANAPOLIS -7 at TENNESSEE
The Colts don’t have anything to play for. As winners of their division, they’re locked into that four seed in the AFC. That means we can’t expect them to be playing any of their key starters for very long. Tennessee is horrible and hasn’t won a game since mid-October. For all intents and purposes, this is their Super Bowl. I know they’re bad but they’re playing for pride while the Colts are playing to not get hurt. I’m taking the seven here and feeling pretty good about it.
CLEVELAND at BALTIMORE -10
Yeesh, this is a steep line. I know Baltimore needs the win but Johnny Manziel is not playing. He’s nursing a bad hammy in a Las Vegas casino somewhere. Oh, and he’s also been fined by his team for being late to treatment. Still want him, Cleveland? Original starter Brian Hoyer is nursing a bum shoulder which means rookie Connor Shaw will get the start. Star receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended as well, meaning this could end badly for the Brownies. The Ravens can still make the post-season with a win and a little luck. They’ll definitely be scoreboard watching. Either way, Cleveland is falling apart and Baltimore is desperate for a win so I’ll take Baltimore to cover the large spread.
BUFFALO +5 at NEW ENGLAND
If you’re looking to see Tom Brady play in this one, look again. He’ll be patrolling the sidelines wearing a funny looking beanie and cheering on his teammates that weren’t fortunate enough to get the week of Christmas off. The Patriots have already locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs so Coach Hoodie will be giving most of his roster an extra week of rest. I think Buffalo would like to go into Foxboro and prove they can win even if it is against their third-stringers. I’ll take Buffalo and the five.
NY JETS +5.5 at MIAMI
Miami should feel good about the season they had. They should also feel like crap for missing the playoffs. I’m guessing they take out their frustrations on the Jets this weekend and cover the number. Besides, I hear Rex Ryan’s stapler has already been packed.
CAROLINA +3 at ATLANTA
What an absolute disaster the NFC South has been this season. The winner of this division will have seven wins and get to host a playoff game. It’s enough to make the commissioner rethink playoff seeding considering every other team in the league that makes the playoffs, and many that don’t, will have a better record than the winner of this ballgame. I’m taking the home team here. While neither team has shown any sort of consistency, Atlanta should be raucous, so why not take the home team and hope for the best?
CHICAGO +6 at MINNESOTA
More than anything, I’m just happy not to have to pick any more Bears games this season. I’m taking the Vikings because I’ll say it one last time… the Bears absolutely suck.
SAN DIEGO +1 at KANSAS CITY
No two words make a Christmas less pleasant than ‘lacerated spleen.’ That’s what Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith has which means he’ll be eating Jell-O instead of playing football this weekend. Prior to that rather unpleasant biology lesson, the line was Chiefs minus three and I would have laid the points. It’s now KC minus one. That’s what a bum spleen will do for ya’. With Smith out and Chase Daniel getting the start, plus San Diego needing this win, I’m going to go ahead and take the Chargers.
PHILADELPHIA +3 at NY GIANTS
Is Mark Sanchez still taking snaps for the Eagles? I’ll take the G-Men at home in another game that should be pretty unwatchable except for the fights that are bound to break out in the stands. Memo to MetLife Stadium: You might want to book some extra security for this game. Just sayin’.
DALLAS -6 at WASHINGTON
I’m thinking Dallas is going to rest their players. They’re already in the playoffs and while they can technically improve their seeding, I’m not sure that’s worth risking further injury. Romo’s not 100% nor is Demarco Murray. I know that with a win, Dallas can finish with an undefeated road record but that’s not nearly as important as being rested for the playoffs. I’m taking Washington and the points here.
NEW ORLEANS -3.5 at TAMPA BAY
The Buccaneers can’t win this game. They simply can’t. As I mentioned in a previous post, a win jeopardizes their chances at a top draft pick. But how does one go about losing to a team that is absolutely horrid and likely won’t be playing Drew Brees? I’m sure the Buccaneers will find a way. Imagine this visual: 35,000 drunken Buccaneer fans booing when their team gains yardage. Welcome to the Bizarro world! You’d have to pay me to attend this game. In fact, there’s no number large enough. Sleep is far more important. I’m going with the Saints here in the hopes that the Bucs wise up and tank away the game and their season. Marcus Mariota, welcome to Tampa Bay.
ST. LOUIS +12.5 at SEATTLE
Seattle’s been hot lately and a win this week locks up the NFC West, a division we all presumed they’d win. But nearly two touchdowns is a lot. The Rams beat the ‘Hawks earlier in the season, so there will a little revenge factor but I’m leaning towards Seattle taking their feet off the gas pedal a bit. Again, Week 17 is all about avoiding injuries. The Seahawks win this thing but not by the amount Vegas thinks.
ARIZONA +6 at SAN FRANCISCO
Arizona would like this win but they don’t have a quarterback. San Francisco would like this win but they don’t have a head coach. I wonder if Rex Ryan and Jim Harbaugh are using the same movers. With rumors of Harbaugh accepting the Michigan gig flying around the league, the Niners will play their last game with him as their khaki-clad leader. Arizona’s in the post-season and can actually still win their division but they’re starting Logan Thomas. This whole quarterbacking thing will eventually be Arizona’s demise, which is a shame because it would have been interesting to see what Bruce Arians could have done in the post-season with a healthy roster. I’ve gotta take the Niners here in the hopes that they might show up just one last time for their coach, which is something they failed to do most of this season.
OAKLAND +14 at DENVER
Denver still needs a win Sunday to lock up the second seed. That means we’ll see some early Peyton but the only late Peyton we’ll see will be in those godforsaken Papa John’s commercials. Better ingredients, better pizza, shut your face. Oakland will try their best to spoil things but that’s like a high school basketball team trying to play Kentucky. While I slightly fear a back door cover, Oakland’s offense is pretty woeful. Denver should get up big and do their best to keep it that way. What the heck, I’ll lay the two touchdowns. Denver doesn’t want to keep this close.
CINCINNATI +3.5 at PITTSBURGH
This is the Sunday late game, the final regular season game of the year. It’s also a doozy of a match-up between two teams vying for the AFC North. Win and get a home field playoff game. Lose and travel. For the second straight week, the Steelers are fortunate to be hosting a key game at home. They’ll win this one, cover the spread and head into the playoffs on a roll.
MAMACITA (OF SPORTSCHUMP)’S EMMY AWARD-WINNING PICKS
While I am most honored to be asked to contribute to the best sports blog in the world… I want to admit upfront… this isn’t my strong suit. Growing up when I did, girls didn’t learn about football. It wasn’t “lady like” as my mother would say (aka: Grandmother-of-Sportschump). I remember Joe Namath ‘cause he did a magazine spread wearing panty hose (many years ago) and I love Tim Tebow cause he’s cute, sweet & a great Gator… but really … I hope not to embarrass the Sportschump & you, his loyal readers.
Oh, and I HATE football. Don’t understand it. Don’t want to.
But never wanting to let my son down… I’ll do my best & make my picks.
DETROIT at GREEN BAY
OK I’m gonna go with Detroit for a number of reasons. Detroit’s economy needs some help. This might give them a boost, maybe help morale. Plus I love the Motown sound… “The Four Tops”, “Martha Reeves & the Vandelas” “The Supremes” … I’m gonna say “thank you” for the great tunes (which DIDN’T come out of Wisconsin) & go with Dee-troit.
JACKSONVILLE at HOUSTON
I pick Jacksonville. It’s a Florida thing. And I lived in Houston & hated it there… so good luck Jacksonville, go kick some Texas butt …heck you couldn’t be any worse than the Bucs.
INDIANAPOLIS at TENNESSEE
Tennessee is my pick. It’s a beautiful state. My husband drove me thru the Blue Ridge Mountains a few years ago on the way to visit family. Sweet small towns. Just the scenery alone should make you want to bet on Tennessee.
How am I doing? Pretty bad, huh? I warned you…
CLEVELAND at BALTIMORE
Here’s another very logical pick … I’m going w/Cleveland. The Sportschump’s Grandmother was born in Ohio & his Great Grandmother & sisters all worked or lived in Cleveland many, many, many years ago. So it’s a family loyalty thing. Ya’ gotta dance with the one that brung you… so go Cleveland…go Cleveland … and make our ancestors proud.
BUFFALO at NEW ENGLAND
New England Patriots have my vote on this one. The Sportschump & I lived in Providence for a few years … (which I’m sure you all remember from some of his great posts). We’d go to Boston often & I love Martha’s Vineyard. In fact we still have family there… so another very logical choice as I pick the Pats.
NY JETS at MIAMI
Ummm, this one is hard. We lived in NJ & NYC … but I love Miami & Florida is home now. So Miami it is.
CAROLINA at ATLANTA
Not sure if the Sportschump ever told you that I worked at CNN in Atlanta some years ago. See where I’m going here? It’s a great City, my brother lived there for years and except for the great James Taylor song, I have no connection with Carolina … so my bet is on Atlanta.
CHICAGO at MINNESOTA
This is a no-brainer. I was born in the “windy city” & my father’s family (Grandfather & Great Grandfather of Sportschump) were all born & raised there. So it’s Chicago for this gal. Hands down.
SAN DIEGO at KANSAS CITY
San Diego on this one. They’ve got a great zoo… it’s a beautiful city. My brother worked in Kansas City for a few years, wasn’t crazy about it. So good luck to Coach Mike McCoy on defeating the Chiefs.
PHILADELPHIA at NY GIANTS
Sure you probably think this former New Yorker is gonna go for the Giants? NOT. There’s just something about Giants fans… ummm… lets just say I’m not fond of. Besides my brother-in-law & his family live in Philadelphia & love their team. So I’m going with Philadelphia. Besides… it was a great movie.
DALLAS at WASHINGTON
Can’t go with Dallas. I’m still upset with them for killing my beloved President Kennedy. So I’m gonna pick Washington … great City even if the politics are dysfunctional there.
NEW ORLEANS at TAMPA BAY
Oh here’s a no-brainer … New Orleans. Might not be a popular thing to say but I’ve never liked the Bucs and they really suck. And we (taxpayers) are still paying off that stadium for that horrible team. You can change your team uniform and colors 100 times… doesn’t matter the Bucs are an embarrassment.
ST. LOUIS at SEATTLE
I hear that Seattle is a really good team. My husbands’ best friend lives there (a shout out to Eddie G!). It’s a nice place to visit … so I’m going with Seattle.
Geez… there sure are a lot of teams… whew…
ARIZONA at SAN FRANCISCO
Going with San Fran. Didn’t much like Arizona when I went there. Looked like a place that had survived a nuclear attack. I know some people like it there (sorry, don’t mean to offend) but it depressed me … missed our beautiful plants and colors… and San Fran is just so hip. Going with the 49ers.
OAKLAND at DENVER
You’re probably wondering “what family member is she gonna write about now??” Well that easy! It’s my sister-in-law Jan & her wonderful husband Bill. They live in…. wait for it …. DENVER! So even though Oakland is a very cool place that we enjoyed visiting, I’m gonna pick a family favorite & bet on the Broncos.
CINCINNATI at PITTSBURGH
(See pick#4 for family history :} ) I’m going with Cincy … go get ‘em tiger.
How’d I do SC? You’re a winner to me hon.
KP’S I’M CURRENTLY TAKING MY BOW PICKS
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-2.5)
Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, but it’s rather interesting to see the Giants favored. Rain is expected, which could make this a sloppy game. Well, that and the fact that these two teams are ranked in the top five in sacks (Eagles – 2nd, 49 and Giants 4th – 43). Odell Beckham continues to own every opponent’s secondary and Rashad Jennings is expected to return for the Giants. Still, this is Chip Kelly’s potent offense. To try and calm down what is likely to be angry fan base, I expect the Eagles to show up on Sunday, and in a big way. Philly wins on the road.
Against the Spread: Philadelphia Eagles
Straight Up: Philadelphia Eagles
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-10.5)
Rain is in the forecast, but NRG Stadium will leave that a non-factor. The Texans still have playoff hopes, but will need a win against the Jags, coupled with losses by both the Ravens and Chargers. J.J. Watt should feast off a Jacksonville line that has given up 66 sacks on the season (yes, that’s by far the most in the league). Houston’s fourth-ranked rushing offense should also have success against a Jacksonville run defense that is ranked 27th in the NFL. Houston won the first matchup 27-13 back on December 7th, and this time get the Jags at home. The pressure is clearly on Houston, and let’s take note that this young Jags squad has continued to play hard with playoff hopes dashed weeks ago. The Jags would love to play spoiler, and I expect Jacksonville to keep this game close.
Against the Spread: Jacksonville Jaguars
Straight Up: Houston Texans
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-5.5)
This was set to be an AFC East finale with two coaches on the hot seat, but it’s been stated that Joe Philbin will return next season. Rex Ryan remains in doubt, and this is likely to be his last game. The Dolphins won the first matchup 16-13 back on December 1st. Miami still had dreams of the playoffs then, and now, neither team has much to play for, unless you count going out on top, or sending Rex Ryan off on a high note (assuming he is let go). The Jets are still playing hard for Ryan, defeating the Titans two weeks back and losing to the Patriots 17-16 last week. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have struggled defensively for weeks. Miami’s most consistent offensive weapon has been Lamar Miller, and he’ll be facing a New York run defense that is ranked 5th in the NFL (87.3 ypg). With this in mind, I like the Jets to keep this game close. Dolphins win by a field goal.
Against the Spread: New York Jets
Straight Up: Miami Dolphins
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
Jimmy Clausen is out with a concussion, leaving Jay Cutler to start the finale. The Bears took the first game 21-13 back on November 16th, but Minnesota’s offense has played well in recent weeks, scoring 30 points or more in three of its last four games. Chicago’s offense certainly misses Brandon Marshall, but I expect a solid performance from Jay Cutler, who should be motivated and focused following his benching. It’s whether the rest of the Bears (especially the defense) follows suit. The Vikings have some key defensive players (e.g. Jared Allen) questionable, which should allow more time for Cutler to throw. This could also be Marc Trestman’s final game as head coach, and for some reason, I see the Bears coming to life and winning this game outright.
Against the Spread: Chicago Bears
Straight Up: Chicago Bears
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-10.5)
There is a 35 percent chance for rain in this game, and there’s probably a 35 percent chance that Belichick will play all his starters, considering that the Pats have clinched home field. It’s not in New England’s DNA to rest everyone, however, especially Tom Brady. On the other side, Buffalo’s playoff hopes were destroyed following a shocking loss to the Raiders. Still, Buffalo’s third-ranked pass defense has 19 interceptions on the season, while allowing just 16 TD’s. Mix that with the potential for Patriots players to sit out (or play one half), and you have what should be a closer game. Since Tom Brady is playing at home, I’ll take the Patriots to win in a close one.
Against the Spread: Buffalo Bills
Straight Up: New England Patriots
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)
Alex Smith has a lacerated spleen (ouch!), and will sit this game out. That leaves Chase Daniel to start for the Chiefs. This adds an interesting spin for two teams that are battling for playoff spots in the AFC. San Diego controls its own destiny and is in with a win. Meanwhile, the Chiefs need a win, coupled with losses by both the Ravens and Texans. The absence of Smith is the biggest storyline, although the Chargers have injuries of their own, most notably to Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews. Mathews has been out for the majority of the season, so his loss can’t compare to that of Smith. Toss in the fact that Philip Rivers is healthy and the Chargers have a winning record on the road. I like San Diego to “chase” down a road win and make the playoffs.
Against the Spread: San Diego Chargers
Straight Up: San Diego Chargers
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4.5)
Both teams have been eliminated from the victory-challenged NFC South division, and have little to play for. That is, unless you consider the Bucs playing for the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. One interesting stat comparison to note is third down conversions, where the Saints convert 48.1% of third downs (1st in NFL) and Tampa Bay is 24th in opponent third downs converted (43.2%). Drew Brees and the Saints’ third-ranked passing offense should move the ball efficiently against Tampa Bay’s 27th ranked pass ‘D’. I like Brees and the Saints to finish the season on a high note. New Orleans covers.
Against the Spread: New Orleans Saints
Straight Up: New Orleans Saints
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-9.5)
At game-time, it will be unseasonably warm, with a 50% chance for rain, which could negatively affect each team’s offense. Connor Shaw is off the practice squad and will start the finale for Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Ravens can make the playoffs with a win, plus a loss by the Chargers. Over the course of the season, I would expect a close game, but in this instance, the Ravens are fighting for the playoffs, and will be at home facing a rookie quarterback that is coming off the practice squad. Oh, and this just in: Josh Gordon has been suspended for violating team rules. Ravens cruise.
Against the Spread: Baltimore Ravens
Straight Up: Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (+7.5)
There’s a 65% for rain, which could lead to some sloppy play and turnovers. In the turnover differential department, both teams are ranked in the NFL’s bottom ten. Charlie Whitehurst is expected to start again for the Titans, with Tennessee in line to potentially snag away the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. On the other side, the Colts have already clinched the AFC South division, but likely will be looking to right the ship following a disappointing performance versus the Cowboys last week. Andrew Luck and the Colts have way too much talent, and with Tennessee in line for the top pick, I like the Colts to cover.
Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts
Straight Up: Indianapolis Colts
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (+6.5)
There’s a slight chance for rain (35%), which could affect the game depending on the conditions of the field – and people are aware of the history of FedEx field. The Redskins – led by Colt McCoy – shocked the Cowboys back on October 27th, and this week, will again start Robert Griffin III, who has played better over the last few games. But the Cowboys still have a chance to earn home field advantage in a wild and crazy NFC that features five teams with an 11-4 record. Dallas appears to be clicking on all cylinders following its blowout victory over the Colts last week. The ‘Boys are also undefeated on the road and have plenty to play for in its finale. A TD victory looks like a good bet to me. Dallas covers.
Against the Spread: Dallas Cowboys
Straight Up: Dallas Cowboys
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-12.5)
Seattle’s defense has held opponents to single digits over four of its last five games, and allowed a combined total of 33 points during that five-game stretch. Dating back to 2011, the Seahawks have beaten the Rams four straight times at home, with each win by a touchdown or more. This is a tricky spread, because the Seahawks have been so dominant on defense, and play so well at home. But the Rams have also been strong defensively, especially with its disruptive pass rush. However, St. Louis has allowed 13 runs of 20 yards or more, and could have a difficult time corralling Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s top-ranked rushing offense. In the end, Seattle can clinch the NFC West division with a win, and still has a shot at the NFC’s number one seed. With that motivation and a defense that is on a roll, I like the Seahawks to cover, despite the lopsided line.
Against the Spread: Seattle Seahawks
Straight Up: Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5)
The Cardinals still have a shot at the NFC West division title, but this is a team that is a shell of itself, due to injury after injury after injury. Ryan Lindley will get another start, and he had a rough go against the Seahawks last week. Arizona travels to San Francisco, where it will face the Niners, in what is likely Jim Harbaugh’s last game as head coach. The Harbaugh story has consumed the 49ers’ locker room, and the team has struggled to four straight defeats. San Francisco is not likely to play hard for Harbaugh, at least, not like the Jets are likely to play for Rex Ryan. That’s how it looks on the outside. Still, Arizona is so depleted, I like the Niners to force numerous Lindley errors. Niners win at home, but barely.
Against the Spread: Arizona Cardinals
Straight Up: San Francisco 49ers
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
The winner takes the NFC North title, and the Packers have the clear advantage, playing to an undefeated 7-0 record at home this season. Green Bay has scored 38 points or more in four of its last five home games, and now will face a Lions defense that is ranked first against the run and 13th against the pass. Detroit does have 20 interceptions on the season, but Aaron Rodgers has been efficient and putting up MVP numbers. Detroit has won the last two in this rivalry, including a 19-7 win on September 21st. Playing at Lambeau, I like Rodgers and the Pack to clinch the division, but expect Detroit to keep this one competitive. Take the Lions and the points.
Against the Spread: Detroit Lions
Straight Up: Green Bay Packers
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-14.5)
The Broncos have been a run-heavy team in recent weeks and Peyton Manning has been hampered with injuries and the flu. With those facts alone, this is a pretty steep line for the Broncos to cover. A win clinches a first-round bye for Denver, so this is a very important game. The Broncos have won the last six games in this rivalry by 13 points or more, but that was featuring a more pass-heavy attack. The Raiders have also won three of its last five and would love to play spoiler here. Plain and simple, Denver has too much talent, but I’ll take the Raiders and the points, assuming Oakland can keep this game at two touchdowns or less.
Against the Spread: Oakland Raiders
Straight Up: Denver Broncos
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)
The winner clinches the NFC South with a losing record, and will earn a home playoff game, facing off against a team with an 11-5 record. The Falcons have the home field advantage and will get Julio Jones back, which is an extremely big deal. The Falcons are dead last in passing defense (291.1 ypg), but have managed 16 INT’s and just 19 passing TD’s. This likely means the Panthers should be able to move the ball, but will it be enough when facing Atlanta’s fifth-ranked passing offense that averages 288.5 yards per game? With Julio Jones back and the home field advantage, I like the Falcons to win by a touchdown. Atlanta covers, heads to the playoffs with a losing record.
Against the Spread: Atlanta Falcons
Straight Up: Atlanta Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
The regular season ends with the third Week 17 game that will decide a division title. Both of these teams have had rocky seasons, with a hefty mixture of both stellar and ugly performances. Pittsburgh has the home field advantage, and features a passing offense that is ranked second in the NFL (300.5 ypg). Ben Roethlisberger is a sneaky MVP candidate, flying as under the radar as he can, considering others like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But Cincinnati’s pass defense has been fairly solid, and has only allowed 16 TD’s through the air, while managing 18 INT’s. After seeing the statistics on pass defense, coupled with Cincinnati’s 5-2 road record, my brain has slowly switched over to the Bengals, despite Big Ben’s big game antics. That, plus Andy Dalton recently got over his primetime struggles. Give me the Bengals outright, which I may regret later.
Against the Spread: Cincinnati Bengals
Straight Up: Cincinnati Bengals