We have hit the fourth quarter of the 2017 regular season and nobody has yet to fully clinch a playoff spot (although for teams like the Patriots and Eagles, it is all but a formality). That field should change this week, as should the landscape of the league since there are some huge matchups coming as potential playoff previews. Who will come out on top? Here are my selections.
Last Week: 8-8
Thursday, December 7th, 8:26 e.t.
New Orleans Saints (9-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
This is a big-time game for the Falcons and they are playing it at home on a short week, but unfortunately I do not see them winning and that is because of their defense. They let Case Keenum complete 25-30 passes last week and can be run on. That plays right into the Saints’ strengths and that should add up to a sixth loss.
New Orleans 34, Atlanta 27
Sunday, December 10th, 1:00 e.t.
Chicago Bears (3-9) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)
The Bengals’ playoff hopes are alive but they are in it still by a thread. They do draw a poor Bears team and should roll this week since the Chicago offense has been very bad as of late (putting up just 10 points over the past two weeks). As long as Dalton and company take care of the ball, they should be fine.
Cincinnati 27, Chicago 13
Indianapolis Colts (3-9) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6)
The Colts have been embarrassed twice this season by the Jaguars and will now have to hit the road to Buffalo to take on a middling Bills’ team. The big question going in will be the health of Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo is going to be a desperate team here and regardless of who starts at QB, I think they will win but it will be a squeaker.
Buffalo 17, Indianapolis 14
Dallas Cowboys (6-6) @ New York Giants (2-10)
Back under center goes Eli Manning as the Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese show has concluded mercifully in New York. The Giants, at home would be a sexy pick since the team would be playing for pride but I still think they’re in full on tank mode and the Cowboys offensive line is back to its top form. Dallas should win here.
Dallas 28, New York 14
Green Bay Packers (6-6) @ Cleveland Browns (0-12)
The Packers took down the Buccaneers at home in overtime a week ago and are playing much better team football since getting blasted by the Ravens a couple of games ago. They should handle a Cleveland team that is on the brink of going 0-16 this season.
Green Bay 26, Cleveland 13
Detroit Lions (6-6) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)
The Lions lost by 24 points last week and you can largely blame it on their defense as they let Joe Flacco and the Ravens look like a competent offense. On the year, no “D” has been doing that more on a week to week basis than the Buccaneers. Matthew Stafford will likely gut out his hand injury to lead his team to a win. Also, the Lions may have something here with Tion Green. Feed the kid the rock.
Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20
Minnesota Vikings (10-2) @ Carolina Panthers (8-4)
No team in the NFL is hotter than the Vikings, and I have been burned the past three weeks for picking against them, so I am all done doing that. They have proven themselves against some of the finer teams in the league and it starts with their defense. Case Keenum is balling out as well and I think Cam Newton is in for a rough day against the Minnesota front. Turnovers will sink the Panthers on Sunday while the Vikes play careful with the ball.
Minnesota 19, Carolina 10
San Francisco 49ers (2-10) @ Houston Texans (4-8)
The Jimmy Garappolo show got underway last week and it gave the Niners’ fans hope as he lead the team to a come from behind win in Chicago. I think he makes it two in a row here because the 49ers have no reason to tank. They have likely found their franchise quarterback so they can look elsewhere in the draft when a lot of the top picks will be used on signal-callers.
San Francisco 21, Houston 18
Oakland Raiders (6-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)
This is as close to a playoff game between two below-average teams as you are going to get in the NFL. The Chiefs are still continuing a nose-dive while the Raiders have fought their way back to .500 by playing poor teams. This is hard to pick but I am going to go with the Chiefs because A) They are the home team and B) I think their offense can get back to making some big plays against a bad secondary.
Kansas City 30, Oakland 24
Sunday, December 10th, 4:05 e.t.
Washington Redskins (5-7) @ Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
This is an interesting game because you have two frisky teams that can play very entertaining contests. I did want to pick the ‘Skins to win this one but in the end I cannot see their banged up offensive line standing up to Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and company on the road.
Los Angeles 29, Washington 24
Tennessee Titans (8-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-7)
The Titans have been getting by with beating bad teams this season. I think they were exposed by a Pittsburgh team a few weeks ago and the Cardinals are by no means on that level, but I do think they are better than a lot of the teams the Titans have been beating. At home, I like Arizona to pull off a close win. (These teams always play close games).
Arizona 24, Tennessee 22 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***
New York Jets (5-7) @ Denver Broncos (3-9)
I think that the Jets are one of the more fun teams to watch this year and that is about the only reason anybody would want to tune into this game as the Broncos have been pitiful as of late, especially on offense. A team that gives up 30+ points to the Dolphins gets no respect in this column. I’m going with the Jets.
New York 23, Denver 10
Sunday, December 10th, 4:25 e.t.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (9-3)
The game of the week goes down in L.A. and Philadelphia looks to rebound from just their second loss of the season. This is a hard game to figure and both teams are tied in scoring the most points in the league yet I think this will be a low scoring affair. Call me crazy but I think the Eagles defense is the better unit and that will be the difference in an otherwise evenly matched game.
Philadelphia 19, Los Angeles 16
Seattle Seahawks (8-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)
Here is another good afternoon game as the Seahawks who are fresh off of their finest effort of the season take on the Jaguars who just demolished a bad Colt team. Seattle’s defense played very well and Russell Wilson proved why he should be in the MVP discussion with a win over the Eagles. Going on the road in December is no problem for this team and this is not a time you want to play Seattle. They will win handily.
Seattle 24, Jacksonville 6 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***
Sunday, December 10th, 8:30 e.t.
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10-2)
This is a game that has a little bit of juice to it now since the Ravens have been playing good football (especially on defense) and the Steelers who have been playing some pretty entertaining and close games this season. That said, Baltimore will be without Jimmy Smith and I just don’t know how they are going to be able to cover Antonio Brown in this game. Pittsburgh wins the game and the division on this night.
Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 23
Monday, December 11th, 8:30 e.t.
New England Patriots (10-2) @ Miami Dolphins (5-7)
The Patriots are absolutely rolling right now while the Dolphins have been a joke offensively. Their defense can frustrate Tom Brady slightly as he will be without Rob Gronkowski for this game but Brady seems to find a way every time despite injuries or takeaways. Nothing changes as New England should throttle a poor Miami squad.
New England 30, Miami 10