It seems like only yesterday we were watching Kevin Ogletree blow the Giants out of the Week 1 waters, and now we face the final regular-season week in the NFL season. Thanks to all of you for bearing with the quiet as the site moves over to WordPress! Good things are on the way for 2013 and beyond.
This is the last regular-season preview so I’m gonna reach down deep and close the season with a bang – let’s build that bankroll…
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3.0)
Win or lose, the Bengals are locked into the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs. The Ravens, on the other hand can move up to the #3 seed with a win and Patriots loss to the Dolphins. Given that both teams may see each other in a week or two, expect vanilla offenses and Ray Rice to be the best player on the field (with all respect to A.J. Green) and the Ravens to manage a win. I’ll take the visitors and the points.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.0)
A meaningless game which features Thaddeus Lewis starting for the Browns…yawn. I think the Steelers will be more ready for the off-season than the Browns will be. The Steelers will win but the Browns will make it exciting. Give me the Browns and the points.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (+6.5)
The dome should be rocking as Coach Pagano returns to the sidelines after battling his illness throughout the season, and this game will definitely have a playoff-type vibe. Houston is playing for home field throughout the playoffs, an advantage they know is critical to a Super Bowl run. I think the Texans win a close one, but the Colts will cover. I’ll take the home underdog.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-5.5)
The Jags are 5-2 ATS as a road underdog this season. Keep it rolling, give me the Jags and the points.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (-9.0)
Remember when Michael Vick was a fantasy football relevant QB? Yeah, me too. Hey, remember when Eli Manning was a fantasy football relevant QB? Those were good times… Vick will be under center (or behind center as the case may be) in New York this weekend, with fresh legs, which could be dangerous for the Giants. New York needs to win to keep any glimmer of playoff hope alive – I think they do, but not by this many points. I’ll take a rusty Vick and the road Eagles plus the nine points.
BONUS Lock of the Week – play the over in this game!
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills (-3.0)
The NFL season has truly come full circle. Remember Week 1 and the Jets’ 48-28 pasting of the Bills? Believe the Bills remember it too. This week the difference is spelled C.J.S.P.I.L.L.E.R. Give the points and take the Bills.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (+3.0)
While I would like to recommend another home underdog, the Lions continue to be undermanned and overmatched. The Bears are playing for Lovie Smith’s job and for their playoff lives. Take the Bears and give the field goal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (-3.0)
In my Week 12 preview I mentioned that I’d been waiting for the Buccaneers’ offense to slow down. While I may have been a week or two early in that prediction, they certainly have slowed down these past few weeks, with Doug Martin likely costing fantasy football owners playoff victories as well. The Falcons want to keep their hot streak alive heading into the playoffs, and I expect them to have enough to beat the Bucs handily. I’ll take the chance and play the Falcons minus the points.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-4.0)
2012 can’t be over soon enough for these two underperforming teams. While the Saints can look ahead to Coach Sean Peyton’s return in 2013 (and beyond) the Panthers aren’t even assured that Coach Ron Rivera and his staff will return. I like New Orleans to cover at home in the 2012 finale.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (-16.0)
OK, I know the Broncos are really, really good but sixteen points? C’mon, Man. This game may be meaningless for the Broncos, depending upon the 1:00 games and the Chiefs play the Broncos tough. I’ll take the Chiefs to come out and be inspired one final time for Coach Romeo Crennel – give me the Chiefs and the points.
Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (-4.5)
I once gave the Oakland Raiders credit and said I thought they would play well against the Ravens. They got drubbed as the Ravens dropped a 50-burger on them. I’m probably going to get Norved, but I’ll give the points and take the Chargers at home in their coach’s last hurrah.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (-16.5)
Remember when the Cardinals started 4-0 and everyone thought they were the team to beat in the NFC West? Yeah, me too. How things change and we now have Brian Hoyer playing QB as the team tries to throw its first TD pass since Week 9. Unlike the Broncos-Chiefs game, this one has significant consequences for the host 49ers. I’ll take them to cover and I’ll give up the 16.5 points to a hapless Cardinals team.
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (-11.0)
This is the week of double-digit spreads apparently, which in today’s NFL seems to favor the underdogs. Seattle has been playing out of their minds the past three weeks, averaging more than 50 points per game. They always play better at home, and this game has heavy implications for the NFC playoffs. So I’m taking the Seahawks and giving the points, right? Nope. The Rams are playing pretty well themselves, and I expect them to cover in a tight game. Give me the Rams and the points.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (+3.0)
The Vikings need to win to have a chance at the playoffs. Then there’s that Peterson guy’s chase for 2000 yards which should have the home crowd rocking the dome’s roof. And the Packers are dealing with (still more) injuries in the receiving corps and on defense. Sounds like the Vikings should be an easy call, getting a field goal at home. Again, I say, nope. Green Bay is starting to click and the running game’s resurgence will be the key. I’ll give the points and take the Packers. Lock of the Week.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-11.5)
These teams met in Florida in Week 13 and the Dolphins held the Patriots to 23 points, losing by a TD. A win for the Patriots will most likely only mean the difference between the #3 and #4 seed in the AFC playoffs, and while I expect to see the Patriots’ starters for at least the first half, he second half may be a different story. I personally wouldn’t play this game, but for the purposes of this column, I’ll take the Dolphins and the points.
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (-3.5)
Thank heavens for the flexible scheduling system! America’s Team has the privilege of kicking off the 2012 season against a division rival and they now have the final game of the season, also in prime-time also against a division rival. This time, however, it is with a playoff berth at stake. In what should be a fantastic game, I like the Cowboys to finally get the win-and-they’re-in monkey off their back. Sorry rookie, there’s always next year… Give me the Cowboys and the points.
To all of my readers, thank you most sincerely for taking time to follow these columns this season. Hopefully you’ve had some success from the thoughts and advice, if only to decide what NOT to do each week!
Good luck during the playoffs and of course, on the Super Bowl in a few weeks!