Another week, another even mark, as we enter the final week of the regular season. I hit on the game I felt strongest about - Green Bay and Tennessee going under 55.5, but that didn’t cover by much, with the teams combining for 54 in the winter wonderland of Lambeau Field. The Bucs destroyed the Lions in the biggest butt kicking I’ve seen on an NFL field since the Pats embarrassed the Redskins 59-0. Or at least that’s the one that sticks out in my mind. So, those two went my way. The Eagles forgot the Cowboys aren’t good, and the Dolphins eeked by.....so a moneyline bet was the play for the Dolphins rather than laying 3. Oh well.
Week 17 is trickier to figure out than most, because some teams simply aren’t motivated at this point and are ready to call it a season, some could use a win but may rest some but not all starters, etc etc. It’s tough to figure out. That said, here are the current lines.......
Miami at Buffalo -2; O/U 42
Dallas -1.5 at NY Giants; 44.5
Atlanta at Tampa Bay -7; 50
Baltimore -14 at Cincinnati; 44
Minnesota -4 at Detroit; 53.5
NY Jets at New England -3; 39.5
Pittsburgh at Cleveland -9.5; 43.5
Arizona -2.5 at Los Angeles; 41.5
Green Bay -4.5 at Chicago; 49.5
Jacksonville at Indy -14.5; 48.5
Las Vegas -2.5 at Denver; 50.5
LA Chargers -5 at Kansas City; 43
New Orleans -6 at Carolina; 46.5
Seattle -7 at San Francisco; 46
Tennessee -7.5 at Houston; 54.5
Washington -4 at Philly; 44
In what is almost a must win for the Dolphins today (since the other wild card contenders are heavy favorites), it will really come down to whether the Dolphins can control the clock against an exploitable Bills run defense and take the pressure of their young QB, on whom this game and the entire season will ride with no Ryan Fitzpatrick waiting in the wings. He will have to make throws to win this game, but will he have enough weapons at his disposal to be effective? It was one thing to do it against a toothless New England offense; it’s a whole other thing to trade shots that way with an offense as volatile as Buffalo’s. There still hasn’t been word about whether Josh Allen will get any rest since the Bills are still playing for home field advantage in the divisional round of the playoffs (should they advance), but if he doesn’t, I really don’t like trading punches with a fully operational Bills offense, especially on the road in the cold. In that situation, I’ll take the Bills, lay the two points, and hope the Bengals, Jags, or Steelers come through. May I please be wrong here.
I’ll lay 1.5 points and take the Cowboys, who have been playing inspired football lately. It’ll be cold in New York, sure, but the Giants are trending the wrong way, totaling 26 points over a 3-game losing streak since upsetting Seattle. They won’t keep up with a Dallas offense that’s starting to click, especially in the passing game.
Speaking of road favorites, give me Green Bay -4.5 at Chicago. Sure, the Bears are playing better, but a reeling Minnesota team and Jacksonville tanking for Trevor last week wasn’t exactly a measuring stick. This more than will be, as Green Bay is looking to lock up the top spot. Aaron Rodgers threw 4 touchdowns last time these teams met, so offense shouldn’t be a problem against a normally game Bears defense.
Lastly, I’ll go under 50 on Atlanta-Tampa Bay. This is a line for a normal, pre-Week-17 game, not one where Tom Brady (and other starters) could possibly get some rest at different points today. The Falcons also just came off a sloggy 14-10 affair at Kansas City last week. Julio Jones is also out again this week for Atlanta. As such, this could end up being another lower scoring game.