I would once again like to thank all those who participated in this year’s weekly pick ‘em contest. I know each of you scoured over the lines your designated week… and it showed. You guys went 54-30-1 on the season! That’s 64%, people! Had you guys been betting real money, you would have had a very profitable season.
Again, this exercise is designed to show us how we should be betting, by wagering more on the games we’re most confident about and minimal stakes on stabs we’re unsure of. No matter how you slice it, 64% is fabulous work and a hell of a lot better than any of those online scabs claim they’ll be able to make you. Nicely done!
Stay tuned for a season recap including who fared the best over the last two seasons and how we all did in our annual over/under contest.
But first, we finish the regular season with some final picks…
$50 on Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-2 ½)
You heard it here first… the Colts will usher Jeff Saturday off with a win. The ESPN analyst was thrust into the Indianapolis head coaching gig after Frank Reich was unfairly fired for leading this horrible team to a 3-5-1 record. Saturday took over, won his first game against the Raiders then proceeded to lose his next six. They close out the season at home to the Houston Texans who all but have the worst record in the NFL locked up at 2-13-1. They don’t want to screw that up though. The Bears also have three losses so the Texans don’t want to get cute and win a game that might potentially lock them out of a top draft pick, with which they’ll presumably take a quarterback. Despite the Texan’s feistiness, this game is all about the Colts. The Colts should muster up enough love to send Jeff Saturday off with a win. He won’t be back in Indy. He might never coach another game. But at least he’ll be able to say he won the first and last NFL games he ever coached. Colts cover.
$40 on Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-2 ½)
There’s something weird going on in Cleveland. As soon as you think this team is about to put it all together, you hear troubling stories coming from the locker room, like the alleged beef between Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. I know this entire season has been a wash as they waited for Deshaun Watson to return from suspension, and last week it appeared this offense finally put things together. It was Watson’s best outing of his shortened season. Then came the bickering. They’re closing out this season against one of the hotter teams in football, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are one win away from assuring that even in the most unlikely of seasons, their head coach Mike Tomlin once again finishes with a record of .500 or better. They know what’s at stake, plus they’re still mathematically alive for the playoffs. Their kid quarterback loves himself a comeback and while he’s not putting up monster numbers in the first three quarters of football games, he’s ensuring W’s in the fourth. The Steelers have won three straight and would love nothing more than to keep their coach’s record alive all the while welcoming Deshaun Watson to the AFC North with a final L of the season. Pittsburgh covers the two-and-a-half.
$30 on New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-2 ½)
Miami is going to lay it on the line in what can only be considered an incredibly disappointing season, especially if they lose their final game, which would make six straight. Just because their fans are used to losing doesn’t make it any easier for them to digest, especially with the firepower we witnessed from this team early on. The Dolphins went from handing the Bills one of their only three losses in Week Three to dropping their last five and all but missing the playoffs. This Sunday afternoon they’ll take the field hosting the Jets with the hopes that a win and some help will get them in. And they’ll win at home, even with their third string quarterback. But the help in the form of a New England loss in Buffalo might not be as likely as they think. Either way, the Dolphins still sans Tua Tagovailoa, will leave it all out on the field in Sunday’s opener and hope Buffalo’s hearts have recovered after seeing their teammate rushed to the hospital in a game that shook the NFL to its core. Regardless of what happens, Miami still has faith in their young coach who, regardless of Sunday’s outcome, will head into this offseason wondering whether he still has a job. A win in their final game should temper that concern, otherwise Lucy will have some ‘splaining to do. Dolphins cover.
$20 on Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-5 ½)
Seattle has had themselves an odd season. While everyone wrote them off as Russell Wilson headed to mile high, Geno Smith stepped in admirably and led the ‘Hawks to an 8-8 season. They’ll soon to be 9-8. A win here and they’ll become the biggest Lions fans on the planet. A win keeps their playoff hopes alive and every ‘Hawks fan tuned into the late game in Green Bay. The Rams have nothing to play for at this point so look for an animated Pete Carroll to inspire his team into one last win. Seahawks cover the six at home.
$10 on Rams/Seahawks over 41 ½
The Rams’ defense isn’t what it once was. To me, this game has track meet written all over it. 41 ½ is a pretty low number for two teams that probably aren’t going to be stopping anybody. The Seahawks should be so inspired to win this game, they might cover the number by themselves. The Rams offense isn’t what it once was either and by that, I mean they’re finally starting to score. The previously unheard from Cam Akers seems to be getting back on track, much to the chagrin of those of us who wasted an early fantasy draft pick on him. I also get the feeling Geno Smith will be auditioning to either keep his job in Seattle or prove he can play somewhere else. I like points in this one so I’m taking the over 41 1/2.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS PICKS WEEK EIGHTEEN
$50: Minnesota Vikings (-6) at Chicago Bears
Despite a 12-4 record, the Vikings have no shot at landing the NFC’s #1 seed. Minnesota hasn’t exactly played great football as of late. The playoffs are a lock and the #3 seed seems like a good bet. So if no major change, why place them at the top of the confidence list this week? Well, for starters, Justin Fields is out. Nathan Peterman is in. Peterman’s career numbers are as follows: 3 TD, 13 INT, 32.2 rating. The Vikings also play at 1pm, where the Cowboys and 49ers play in the afternoon slot. That means a win and hope there’s still a shot at the 2-seed. Vikings cover on the road.
$40: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-14)
In the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” department, I’m sticking with the Niners again. As always, Week 18 can be a bit tricky. By the 425pm kickoff, Minnesota will have beaten the Bears (if my above prediction is correct), leaving the Niners needing to win to take the #2 seed. Dallas also has a winnable game against Washington and has an outside shot at the top seed, if the Eagles falter. The scenarios can be dizzying. As for Arizona, David Blough will be starting and DeAndre Hopkins is not playing. Add in San Francisco’s ferocious defense. While that unit did give up a lot to Stidham and the Raiders last week, I still believe they are likely to take over this game. 49ers cover at home.
$30: TCU Horned Frogs (+12.5) vs Georgia Bulldogs – National Championship
TCU was one of my final cuts last week. That still stings. The semifinal games were phenomenal and the Horned Frogs proved they belong, taking down a very strong Michigan team and one of the best offensive lines in College Football. I believe in the playmaking ability of TCU QB Max Duggan. He and TCU will have their hands full facing Georgia’s #1 ranked rush defense, allowing under 80 yards per game. The key will be Duggan, combined with TCU’s defense, a group that has 16 INT’s, tied for 10th in College Football. Stetson Bennett was outstanding facing Ohio State and hasn’t had a multi-INT game since November 12th (at Mississippi State). In the end, I believe in the heart of the Horned Frogs. With most of the nation backing them, they’ll fight to keep this close. Give me TCU and the points.
$20: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-5)
As I said last week, I believe in Aaron Rodgers when it comes to these situations. He and the Packers delivered last week against the Vikings. They are peaking at the right time and will clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Lions. Detroit has defeated Green Bay in two straight after losing the previous five. Jaire Alexander delivered against Justin Jefferson last week, and is likely to keep some of Detroit’s key weapons in check. Playing under the lights in front of the Lambeau crowd, I simply don’t feel the need to dig up more stats on this game. I’m just going with Rodgers and the Pack. Packers cover at home.
$10: Dallas Cowboys (-7) at Washington Commanders
Rookie QB Sam Howell gets his first start for the Commanders. There were flashes of brilliance from him during the preseason and I do think he has a chance to surprise and snag this job in the future. Despite that, it’s his first start, facing a strong defense that still has an outside shot at the NFC’s top seed. Dallas has plenty to play for and Washington is out of the playoff picture – even though it took a while for Ron Rivera to figure that out. So while I think Howell will make some plays, Washington will be without its top three running backs. Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson are both out, leaving Jonathan Williams to start. Considering the depth and what’s at stake for Dallas, give me the Cowboys to cover on the road.
Week 18 NFL Bets: THE WIFE
With no Chicken Sticks, I’m giving THE WIFE a chance at bragging rights. Considering the season I’ve had, this worries me slightly. Either way, here’s who she went with (below). Oh, and if you’re looking for commentary, I tried – and guess how far that got me? I’m lucky to not be doing the dishes tonight.
I’ll only add that she does know that Tom Brady may not be playing – or at least, not playing the entire game. My family also has a lot of “Packer Backers”, so the Green Bay pick doesn’t surprise me.
$50: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-14)
$40: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-4)
$30: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-9)
$20: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-5)
$10: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-3)