We’ve reached the final week of the NFL regular season, and I for one am glad. I’m a fan of a lot of sports, but I’m definitely a football guy first. I love college football, and I love the NFL, but even me, the most avid football fan has been finding other things to do on my Sundays this year, because the games have been largely unwatchable. And the worst have been the primetime games. The Thursday night games are always awful, I stopped watching after about Week 2, the Sunday night games have had a lot of blowouts and bad matchups, and the Monday night games have been horrible matchups. There’s been a ton of injuries, and the quality of play has really suffered in my opinion. The Patriots, Panthers, Cardinals, and Seahawks are the only real Super Bowl contenders, and the rest of the league can be tough to watch. There’s been a lot of bad quarterback play, and fantasy football leagues are being decided by third string rookie running backs from Northern Iowa. It’s been a wonky year, let’s put the 2015 season behind us and hope for an entertaining postseason.
Jets (-2.5) over BILLS
This is probably the best game of the week. The Jets are very well coached and Fitzpatrick is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Something very interesting is the way Jet fans have reacted to their teams recently. When Rex was the coach they were either wildly confident or loudly complaining about how bad they were, kind of reflective of their Head Coach. This year they’ve been quietly confident, also reflective of their Head Coach. Teams usually take on the identity of their coach, and in this case the fan base has taken the identity of their coach as well, which is much more sustainable than the former.
Patriots (-9) over DOLPHINS
In most cases I would take the Dolphins to cover here, just because it seems like the Patriots are trying to get to the postseason as healthy as possible, but let’s face it, the Dolphins suck. Throw in the fact that the Patriots have to give a crap about this game to make sure they get the one seed and I think they win easily. And for the record, I think it’s better for teams that are getting a bye to go all out the week before the playoffs. You don’t want two straight weeks of rest, just look at how the Patriots came out against the Ravens last year.
Saints (+5.5) over FALCONS
The Falcons had their Super Bowl last week beating the Panthers, they’ll probably have a letdown this week. The Saints aren’t a bad team, but of course they’re nowhere near great. Unless you have Devonta Freeman or Julio Jones on your fantasy championship team, don’t watch this game. Seriously, if you have Tim Hightower on your team and you’re in the championship it doesn’t count.
BENGALS (-9.5) over Ravens
I’m a little surprised the line was this big with the Bengals on a short week and the Ravens coming off a big win over the Steelers. Much like the Falcons, that was the Ravens Super Bowl and I don’t expect Ryan Mallett to put together back-to-back good weeks. I don’t hate A.J. McCarron, the guy made some good throws late in the game and didn’t try to do too much. He has a great team around him and I think the Bengals will be just fine in the playoffs. Of course, they’re not winning a Super Bowl with him, but they were a longshot to do that with Andy Dalton.
Steelers (-10.5) over BROWNS
Steelers fans I have good news for you. Even though you lost to the terrible Ravens to blow your chance at the playoffs, with the way the wonky NFL has gone this year the Jets will probably blow this and the Steelers will take care of business this week and still be in the playoffs. Honestly, as a Patriots fan I don’t know who I’d rather see right now.
Jaguars (+6.5) over TEXANS
The Texans are one of the worst playoff teams I can remember, but of course you get one of these horrible division winners every few years. This year we happen to have two. I still like the Jaguars offense and feel like they should at least keep this game close. I can’t wait to pick against the Texans in round one.
COLTS (Even) over Titans
I refuse to analyze this game. Don’t watch it unless your name is Joey Bosa.
Redskins (+3.5) over COWBOYS
The Redskins will probably be resting guys, but I don’t think that really matters. I can’t see the Cowboys scoring much and the Redskins are going to want to keep the momentum they have going into the playoffs so even if they rest some starters it’s not like they’re just going to lay down and die.
GIANTS (-3.5) over Eagles
Anyone who reads this knows I’m a supporter of Chip Kelly. I think the Eagles were dumb to fire him. For all his skeptics, just know that he went 26-21 with two ten win seasons in three years. Jeff Fisher has had six winning seasons in 20 years and is considered a good coach. Kelly did that with Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Bradford at quarterback. The guy can coach and his fingerprints are all over the game. Good luck Philly, Andy Reid looks like he’s doing just fine without you.
Lions (-1) over BEARS
The Lions are still playing pretty well late in the year. In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Buccaneers (+10.5) over PANTHERS
I think the Panthers win this game it’ll be relatively close. The Bucs have a good young team looking to go out on a high note. The Panthers don’t have the pressure of an undefeated season anymore, so if they get an early lead I’d expect them to play it safe and not try to blow them out.
CHIEFS (-7) over Raiders
It’s a good thing the Chiefs have already clinched because I don’t know many times they’ve blown a stupid game against a non-playoff team in Week 17 to miss the playoffs in the last few years. They still have an outside chance to win the division so I’d expect them to play like it here.
Chargers (+9) over BRONCOS
The Broncos still need to win this game, but this isn’t a gimme. Philip Rivers is not afraid to go into Denver, and I can tell you that while they’ll never admit it, Bronco fans are a little scared of him no matter how bad the Chargers are. The Broncos might’ve won on Monday night but they’re inconsistent offensively and coming off of a short week. Look for a close game that the Broncos have to sweat out.
Seahawks (+6.5) over CARDINALS
I think the red-hot Cardinals win but I think it’s close. I’m not worried about Seattle’s loss last week. Just like the Patriots with the Jets, for some reason the Rams give the Seahawks a lot of trouble no matter how good or bad either team is. These are two of the four teams that can win the Super Bowl, and I hope we see this game again in the playoffs.
Rams (-3) over 49ERS
If the Rams win this game they’ll go 5-1 against the NFC West and finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. I’d like to repeat a stat I mentioned earlier, Jeff Fisher has had six winning seasons out of 20 and is considered a good coach. Seems like an average coach to me.
PACKERS (-3) over Vikings
The Vikings had a huge win in primetime last week so there will probably be a natural letdown this week. Also, if they lose they’ll play either the Packers or Redskins in round one instead of the Seahawks. Call me crazy but I’d rather play the 8-8/9-7 Redskins than the two-time defending NFC Champions.