Vikings will Conquer Panthers, Patriots and Steelers Will Clinch Division Titles
With four games left in the regular season, we could (and will) see some teams clinch their division crowns this weekend. There are also some tight races that probably won’t be decided until the last day of the season, like the AFC West, where three teams are tied for the lead at 6-6, or the NFC South where Tennessee and Jacksonville are tied at 8-4. Seattle is just a game behind the Rams, and the Panthers are one back of the Saints. This week’s schedule features some good matchups between likely playoff bound teams, and in the NFC, the four division leaders all still have a good shot at a first round bye.
Game of Thursday December 7th
New Orleans (9-3) at Atlanta (7-5). Saints favored by 1 ½. O/U: 53. A New Orleans victory will make it very difficult for the Falcons to repeat as NFC South champs. Atlanta has a brutal December schedule, starting with last Sunday’s loss to the Vikings. The Falcons will play the Saints in New Orleans in two week’s and close out the regular season at home vs. the Panthers. Saints 26 Falcons 23.
Games of Sunday December 10th
Indianapolis (3-9) at Buffalo (6-6). No Line. Buffalo will keep its very slim post season hopes alive for one more week anyway. Bills 31 Colts 21.
Chicago (3-9) at Cincinnati (5-7). Bengals favored by 6. O/U: 37. In last Sunday’s game against the 49ers, ex Bear Robbie Gould kicked five field goals to defeat his old team 15-14. It’s been that kind of year for the Bears, who have now lost five straight. Bengals 24 Bears 17.
Green Bay (6-6) at Cleveland (0-12). Packers favored by 3. O/U: 40.5. Green Bay’s offense sputtered against Tampa Bay last week before executing a nice drive for a touchdown in overtime to win 26-20. The Packers still entertain hopes of the playoffs, especially with the possibility of Aaron Rodgers returning from a broken collarbone, and this is a must win with both Carolina and Minnesota remaining on Green Bay’s schedule. Packers 23 Browns 12.
Oakland (6-6) at Kansas City (6-6). Chiefs favored by 4. O/U: 47. Currently in a three way tie with Oakland and San Diego for first place , the schedule benefits the Chiefs in terms of controlling their own destiny in for winning the AFC West. They play the Raiders this week and the Chargers next week, and close out the season with what should be winnable games at home against the Dolphins and at Denver; plus the Chargers host the Raiders for those teams’ season finales. But the Chiefs have come apart after winning their first five games, and its hard to pick a team that has lost six of seven, including the first meeting this season against Oakland. Raiders 28 Chiefs 23.
Dallas (6-6) at New York Giants (2-10). Cowboys favored b 4 ½, O/U: 41.5. The Giants started the rebuilding process early by firing head coach Ben McAdoo (after saying they would wait until the end of the season to make a coaching change) as well as general manager Jerry Reese. The Cowboys will keep their hopes alive for a Wild Card as the Giants begin to reinvent themselves. Cowboys 27 Giants 19.
Detroit (6-6) at Tampa Bay (4-8). No Line. Detroit QB Matthew Stafford injured his thowing hand last Sunday, and it is uncertain if he can play. Even if he does, he’s sure to be less effective, and the Lions, losers of two straight, have little margin for error. Buccaneers 24 Lions 20.
Minnesota (10-2) at Carolina (8-4). Vikings favored by 2 ½. O/U: 41. Minnesota is at the top of its game, winning eight straight. Playing Carolina on the road will be a challenge for the Vikings, but they are coming off a win at Atlanta so they can win at any venue the way they have been playing. Vikings will wrap up the NFC North title with a win. Vikings 28 Panthers 24.
San Francisco (2-10) at Houston (4-8). Texans favored by 3. O/U: 43. Not much to see here except teams playing for pride and jobs for next season. Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut at QB for the 49ers resulted in a victory over the Bears and was encouraging (26-37, 293 yards, one interception), but we’ll go with the Texans at home. Texans 21 49ers 17.
New York Jets (5-7) at Denver (3-9). Jets favored by 1. O/U: 41. The Broncos are a disaster this year but will finally break their eight game losing streak only because the Jets are just 1-4 on the road. Broncos 17 Jets 14.
Tennessee (8-4) at Arizona (5-7). Titans favored by 3. O/U: 44. The Cardinals are 5-7 but should not be overlooked by the Titans; Arizona beat Jacksonville just two weeks ago. But the Cardinals other wins have all come against sub .500 teams, and the Titans have won six of seven. Titans 31 Cardinals 24.
Washington (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6). Chargers favored by 6. O/U: 46. Chargers QB Philip Rivers is having a another great season, and the Chargers have surged back into contention in the admittedly, and surprisingly, mediocre AFC West. They’ll win their fourth straight. Chargers 34 Redskins 24.
Philadelphia (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (9-3). Rams favored by 2. O/U: 49.5. The Eagles nine game winning streak finally came to an end in Seattle, which is a tough venue, and the Eagles were probably due to lose one. Now we have a matchup of two rising young quarterbacks in Jared Goff for the Rams and Carson Wentz for Philadelphia. These two teams have scored exactly the same number of points (361) and lead the NFL. This will be a good one, and we think the Eagles will bounce back and edge the Rams to clinch the NFC East title. Eagles 28 Rams 27.
Seattle (8-4) at Jacksonville (8-4). Jaguars favored by 3. O/U: 39.5. Intriguing matchup here as the Seahawks try to stay on the Rams’ heels and the Jaguars try to stay in at least a first place tie with the Titans. Over the last few years, the Seahawks Legion of Boom defense has become famous, but Jacksonville is allowing just 14.8 points per game, and that is #1 in the league. Although Seattle is coming off a big home win over the Eagles, we’ll take the Jaguars at home. Jaguars 20 Seahawks 17.
Baltimore (7-5) at Pittsburgh (10-2). Steelers favored by 5 ½. O/U: 43.5. The Steelers continue to win and are now up to seven straight victories. Baltimore lost at home to the Steelers 26-9 in Week 4, and will do so again in Pittsburgh this Sunday, which will clinch the AFC North title for the Steelers. The Ravens will still have a good chance for the playoffs, with games against the Browns, Colts and Bengals to close out the regular season. Steelers 21 Ravens 17.
Game of Monday December 11th
New England (10-2) at Miami (5-7). Patriots favored by 11. O/U: 47. The Dolphins lost at New England 35-17 just two weeks ago and we have no reason to believe things will be much different this time, and the Patriots will win their ninth straight, as well as win the AFC East yet again. Patriots 34 Dolphins 20.