– Jon Ramsey
Happy Thanksgiving everyone as we give thanks that the election is over and that playoff football is just around the corner. Call this week the leftover week because leftovers are my favorite and I love favorites this week. If you are into teasers, there is a lot of money to be made. But if that isn’t your jam, just stick to mashed potatoes and gravy and wolf down my picks!
San Diego at Houston (+1.5)
Division leader Houston is at home to face the last place AFC West Chargers. This line really says a lot about the strength of the 2 divisions. And personally I agree with it, the Chargers are the best “last place” team in football and the Texans are the worst 1st place team. But, can the Chargers beat the Texans on the road? I happen to think that they can, the Texans are coming off of a tough loss in Mexico on a short week, and I think that will be the difference in this game.
Tennessee at Chicago (+5) *** Best Bet***
A rapidly improving Marcus Mariota leads his Titans team into Chicago to take on the Bears who are starting Matt Barkley at quarterback. This is my favorite game of the week to bet, the Titans are a low-risk team that will not give the Bears anything easy. Matt Barkley is easily the worst player to start a game at quarterback this season. There will be little home field advantage as Bears fans are already looking towards the 2017 NFL draft. All of these things will add up to an easy win for the Titans and it is my best bet.
Jacksonville at Buffalo (-7.5)
The best 2-win team in football travels up north to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a must-win game for them to keep their “in the hunt” playoff dreams alive. Blake Bortles is a human turnover machine at quarterback, which is the exact type of player the Bills excel against. The Bills are +8 in the giveaway/takeaway stat, turning the ball over a league low 6 times. While the Jaguars are a league worst -15, turning the ball over a league high 22 times. If both teams play to their status quo, this should be an easy win for the Bills, but if we know anything about Buffalo, nothing is ever easy for them. At 6.5, I like the Bills, but at 7.5, I’ll take the points and the Jags.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4)
In a game that looked a lot more exciting 10 weeks ago, the Ravens host the Bengals in an attempt to keep up with the Steelers in the AFC North. The Bengals will be without AJ Green and Gio Bernard and are going up against one of the best defenses in the league. The Ravens defense only allows 295 yards per game, a figure that is good enough for 2nd in the league. So, this should be a low scoring game, exactly the type of game Baltimore has been winning this year. The Bengals are just having one of those seasons and I think it will continue this week.
Arizona at Atlanta (-5)
It is a battle of 2 top 10 offenses as the Cardinals travel to Atlanta to take on the NFC South leading Falcons. It seems like the Cardinals have been having a complete disaster of a year, but a win here and they are at .500 with a manageable schedule the rest of the way. While a Falcons win will keep them ahead of the Buccaneers who are making a late season charge. I was expecting a spread of about a touchdown here, and was surprised to see it only be 5. That must mean that I am overvaluing the Falcons (mainly their offense), which means I should take the Cards, because Vegas is far smarter than I am.
San Francisco at Miami (-7.5)
The surging Dolphins are back at home after a last minute win vs the Rams only to play the 49ers whose only win this year came versus that same Rams team all the way back in week 1. In their last 6 games the 49ers have only lost by single digits once and as much as I want to see them pull the upset, I can’t see them traveling to South Florida to do it. The 49ers just can’t score enough points to threaten the Dolphins, which will allow them to play a ball control game with Ajayi and keep Tannehill out of bad situations. I don’t like laying 7.5 points with Ryan Tannehill but the 49ers have shown no ability all year to even keep games close.
Los Angeles at New Orleans (-7)
It is amazing to think that the Saints and the Rams are both 4-6 this year. The Saints have played strong offensive football all year with Brees leading the way, while the Rams have won 2 games without scoring an offensive touchdown. Jared Goff was just awful last week vs the Dolphins and I cannot see him being much better this week. The Saints average 120 more yards per game than the Rams and have a great home field advantage. I cannot see the Rams even keeping this one close. Their only hope are some big plays by Gurley in the run game, but the Saints are a respectable 14th vs the run. I’ll lay the 7 and take the Saints.
NY Giants at Cleveland (+7)
This might be one of the last chances for the Browns to get a win this season as they host the turnover prone Giants. The Giants have won 5 in a row, yet only have a +5 point differential, which means when they win, they are just barely squeaking by. This game just reeks of being overlooked by the Giants and Josh McCown, while not great is not awful at QB. I can just envision an Eli 3 INT game here and while I am not sure if that will be enough for the Browns to upset the Giants, I do like them to cover.
Seattle at Tampa Bay (+6)
Many people’s preseason pick for NFC Champ, the Seahawks, seem to be hitting their stride as they make the long trip to the gulf coast to play the Bucs. Tampa Bay has won 2 in a row and are only 1 game back of the Falcons, while the Seahawks need to keep winning in order to grab one of those 1st round byes. The Bucs have gone as well as Jameis has this season as when he plays a clean game, his team is usually in position to win the game. But this Seattle secondary will prove to be too much for the young QB as I think the Seahawks will win. However, I think that Evans and Winston can get some garbage time points to give Tampa Bay the cover as a pretty big home dog.
Carolina at Oakland (-3)
Kitchen sink game here for the Panthers as a 7th lose will crush their playoff hopes. While the Raiders are riding high at 8-2, good enough for the 2nd best record in the AFC. The Raiders offense is definitely for real as Carr, Crabtree and Cooper form the best young passing attack in the league. The key to the Panthers defense is their dominant linebackers, Kuechly and Davis, but with Kuechly in the concussion protocol, it is looking like he will not play. This is a line that remembers how good the Panthers were last year and we must all come to grips with the fact, that they are not the same team this year. Time to give Oakland credit for being as good as they have shown,
New England at NY Jets (+7.5)
Tom Brady goes for win #200 as he brings his Patriots to the swamp in New Jersey to take on the lowly Jets. This looks like blowout city as the Pats are undefeated on the road and need to keep winning to stay ahead of the Raiders. While the Jets have been a complete mess all season and have shown no signs of turning things around. However, the Jets are coming off of their bye week and Fitzpatrick/Gailey have proven to give the Pats trouble in the past… But I can’t pull the trigger on the Jets, I’m taking the Pats.
Sunday Night Football
Kansas City at Denver (-3.5)
Great game on Sunday Night Football as the Chiefs travel to Denver to play their longtime rival in a game that has huge playoff implications. Both teams have struggled offensively with the Chiefs ranked 24th and the Broncos ranked 27th. So, expect a low scoring game that will be decided by the defenses. This is where Denver has the huge advantage with their 4th ranked defense. The Chiefs tend to play things close to the vest depending on taking advantage of other team’s mistakes. Denver however, plays a low risk style of football and allows their defense to carry them, leaving little hope for the Chiefs. Do you want to take Alex Smith on Sunday Night vs this Denver defense? I sure don’t.
Monday Night Football
Green Bay at Philadelphia (-4)
Aaron Rodgers is running out of time to relax as his Packers need to win at least 5 of their last 6 games to make the playoffs, while rookie Carson Wentz has his Eagles at 5-5 in a very tough NFC East. The Eagles actually boast the 3rd best point differential in the league and are undefeated at home this year. While, the Packers are 1-4 on the road and just look ordinary this year. This game to me seems a lot like the Panthers game from above, last year we look at the Packers and think that they can pull it out, but they aren’t the same team and the Eagles are much improved. The lights might be bright on Monday Night, but Wentz has proven to be able to manage things effectively and should be able to pull out the victory.
– Jon Ramsey (Twitter)