December is money time in the NFL. The leaders usually emerge in December, and the pretenders fade. The NFL week started Thursday with the San Diego Chargers upsetting the Broncos in Denver. The win put the Chargers back in the Wild Card picture along with the Ravens and Dolphins for that last spot.
Only the Seattle Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot in the NFC. The Cardinals, Bears, and Cowboys are still in the mix, but will need some help. The Saints, Panthers, and 49ers can all clinch today with some help today.
The best game of the day should be in south Florida. The New England Patriots, the comeback kids, will look to play a decent first half this week. The Patriots have struggled in the first 30 minutes the last three weeks, before pulling off miracle wins in two of those games. The Miami Dolphins have won two in a row and desperately need this one to stay in the Wildcard hunt.
Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
Matchup:Two teams with very disappointing seasons finishing out the year. The Falcons have at least showed some signs of life of late with a win two weeks ago. The Redskins have basically mailed it in and will start quarterback Kirk Cousins which could actually be a spark.
Steve’s Pick: Falcons 31 Redskins 30
Dan’s Pick: Falcons 27 Redskins 24
Matt’s Pick: Redskins 20 Falcons 14
San Francisco (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matchup:The fear here is if the 49ers have a letdown after the huge win at home against the Seahawks. They travel to the other side of the planet to take on the Bucs. The 49ers have won 3 in a row, and they take care of business against the sub .500 teams.
Steve’s Pick: 49ers 34 Buccaneers 17
Dan’s Pick: 49ers 33 Buccaneers 20
Matt’s Pick: 49ers 27 Buccaneers 20
Seattle Seahawks (-7) at New York Giants
Matchup:The Seahawks travel to Giants Stadium this week, and the question is will they be back here in February for the big one? This is the Giants Super Bowl, and expect them to bring their best effort. The Seahawks are off a late loss at San Francisco, and now travel across the country to play early in a frigid environment.
Steve’s Pick: Giants 23 Seahawks 20
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks 24 Giants 21
Matt’s Pick: Seahawks 28 Giants 20
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns (PK)
Matchup:The Bears are off the big win against the Cowboys Monday night. So the offense puts up 45, and now the Bears go back to Jay Cutler. If you have to question this move. The Browns have lost 4 in a row, most recently against the Patriots. They were up big in that game and had a total meltdown in Foxboro.
Steve’s Pick: Bears 23 Browns 20
Dan’s Pick: Bears 21 Browns 17
Matt’s Pick: Bears 24 Browns 18
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
Matchup:The 2-11 Houston Texans travel to meet the playoff bound Indianapolis Colts. Even with a loss last week to the Bengals, the Colts clinched the division. Meanwhile, the hapless Texans lost to the Jaguars. The Colts are 12-0 ATS off a loss.
Steve’s Pick: Colts 34 Texans 13
Dan’s Pick: Colts 27 Texans 17
Matt’s Pick: Colts 29 Texans 21
New England Patriots (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins Detroit Lions
Matchup:The New England Patriots had their 3rd straight comeback last week against Cleveland. They needed an onside kick recovery to get over the top, and they got it last Sunday.
Steve’s Pick: Dolphins 27 Patriots 26
Dan’s Pick: Patriots 31 Dolphins 28
Matt’s Pick: Patriots 32 Dolphins 25
Buffalo Bills (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Matchup:The Buffalo Bills have lost two in a row, and have struggled mightily on the road going 1-5 this year. The Jags have quietly won 3 in a row. They also had 3 extra days rest as the Bills play their second in a row in the sunshine state.
Steve’s Pick: Jaguars 27 Bills 21
Dan’s Pick: Jaguars 21 Bills 18
Matt’s Pick: Jaguars 19 Bills 17
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Matchup:The Philadelphia Eagles have been red hot, winning 5 in a row and putting up a lot of points. They’ll have a dry surface this week, after playing in a blizzard at home last week. The Vikings have played hard, despite their 3-9-1 record. They’ll be without the heart of their team as RB Adrian Peterson will sit this one out. RB Toby Gerhart will also not suit up.
Steve’s Pick: Eagles 37 Vikings 17
Dan’s Pick: Eagles 31 Vikings 24
Matt’s Pick: Eagles 30 Vikings 19
Sunday 4:05 PM
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (-11)
Matchup:The Carolina Panthers went down to New Orleans and got their butts kicked. They settled for two FG’s early and then got worked by the Saints 31-13. Their 8 game win streak came to a sudden halt. Can the Panthers bounce back this week? Well, they should with the Jets coming to town. The Jets have been awful on the road going 1-5, and they’ve been blown out in a few. Santonio Holmes, the Jets WR, said that the Panthers secondary was their weak spot. This has been chalkboard juice for Carolina. We’ll see if this is added motivation for the Panthers.
Steve’s Pick: Carolina 27 Jets 24
Dan’s Pick: Carolina 30 Jets 23
Matt’s Pick: Carolina 27 Jets 20
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders
Matchup:The Chiefs bounced back from their 3 game losing streak with an easy win in Washington. The Raiders have lost 3 in a row, most recently on road against the Jets. A win today for the Chiefs and they clinch a playoff berth.
Steve’s Pick: Chiefs 31 Raiders 20
Dan’s Pick: Chiefs 34 Raiders 27
Matt’s Pick: Chiefs 27 Raiders 20
Sunday 4:25 PM
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
Matchup:The Packers finally got a win last week without Aaron Rodgers, defeating the Falcons by one in Green Bay. The Cowboys defense was once again exposed last Monday giving up 45 points to the Bears. Rodgers will not be in the lineup Sunday. It’s December, time for the Cowboys and Tony Romo to fold.
Steve’s Pick: Cowboys 30 Packers 27
Dan’s Pick: Cowboys 33 Packers 17
Matt’s Pick: Cowboys 24 Packers 13
New Orleans Saints (5.5) at St. Louis Rams
Matchup:The Saints bounced back in a big way, as discussed above, routing the Carolina Panthers. With a win today the Saints clinch a spot in the playoffs. The Saints are 6-14 ATS on the road under Payton, but after that debacle at Seattle, look for the Saints to bring their best effort to St. Louis.
Steve’s Pick: Saints 38 Rams 23
Dan’s Pick: Saints 383 Rams 23
Matt’s Pick: Saints 31 Rams 24
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at Tennessee Titans
Matchup:The Cardinals are in the thick of the Wild Card race with a 8-5 mark. This is the first home game for the Titans in 4 weeks and they’ll have their work cut out for them. This game will be played in the 30’s and could give the Titans a bit of an edge.
Steve’s Pick: Cardinals 24 Titans 20
Dan’s Pick: Cardinals 21 Titans 20
Matt’s Pick: Cardinals 26 Titans 20
Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Matchup:This isn’t the hard nose Steelers team we’ve become accustomed from years past. This Steelers team is old, and has a cream puff defense. The Bengals are 9-4 and comfortably lead the NFC North. On paper this looks like an easy one for the Bengals, but this is a big rivalry coupled with being a Sunday night game. The Steelers will give a full effort, but they’ll have their hands full.
Steve’s Pick: Bengals 27 Steelers 17
Dan’s Pick: Bengals 31 Steelers 21
Matt’s Pick: Bengals 32 Steelers 21
Monday 8:40 PM
Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (-6)
Matchup:The Lions are one of the most explosive teams in the NFL with an abundance of offensive talent. Unfortunately, they make mistakes and the absolute wrong time and can’t get rid of the turnover bug. The Lions are tied with the Bears for the lead in the NFC North with the Bears. They should be pumped in Detroit for this prime time game. The Ravens have actually won 3 in row, but have so much trouble scoring. They’ll be hard pressed to keep up with the Lions in this one.
Steve’s Pick: Lions 31 Ravens 17
Dan’s Pick: Lions 28 Ravens 24
Matt’s Pick: Lions 28 Ravens 20
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