The final week of the regular season brings with it enough possible seeding scenarios to make the final week of the college football regular season look like an amuse-bouche. The AFC has 2 slots locked up with New England at the 1 and Indianapolis at the 4. Meanwhile, the NFC has every slot with at least 2 teams viable of filling the respective slot; Best of all, the 1 and 2 seeds each have 4 teams with chances of getting a first round bye.
Sunday, December 28th
CBS, Baltimore, MD
Joe Flacco is coming off of his worse performance of the year with a QBR of 3.2. However, in every performance where Joe Flacco’s passer rating has dropped below 80, his next game was a drastic improvement into the 100s. Meanwhile, Brian Hoyer had his best passer rating game in 4 games against Carolina. Baltimore has a better defense than Carolina, but the AFC North divisional games have been all out wars this season; I don’t suspect this game to be any different.
Winner ATS: Cleveland
FOX, Houston, TX
The last time these two teams met, J.J. Watt had his season game high in sacks at 3. Case Keenum did not have an impressive game against the Ravens, yet they still managed a 12-point win. There’s little doubt that Keenum can improve upon his 47.6% completion rate and 185 yards against the Jaguars. An improved offense and a strong defense at home should be enough to win and cover.
Winner ATS: Houston
CBS, Kansas City, MO
The Chargers managed to post 38 points on San Francisco who had given up at least 20 points just once in their past 5 games. The flaw of the Chargers is that they don’t do anything rush-wise well, ranking 29th offensively and 26th defensively. They’ll need to run against the 2nd best pass defense of Kansas City, but the Charger defense should be able to shut down the very limited offense Alex Smith can provide.
Winner ATS: San Diego
CBS, Miami Gardens, FL
The Jet defense has been the one bright spot for them as they reach the finish line of the season. They held the Patriots to just 231 yards last week. In addition, the Jets can really run the ball. The Jets ran for 277 yards the last time they played the Dolphins. Their ground game keeps the offense on the field to chew up the clock. In the end, this will likely be another field goal fest.
Winner ATS: New York Jets
FOX, Minneapolis, MN
The Vikings are one of the most improved teams in the NFL this season. The Vikings haven’t lost by double digits since week 6 and are 12 points away from adding 4 more wins to their total. They’ve won 4 of their games at home this season. The Bears will be starting Jay Cutler again whose performance will be a large question mark.
Winner ATS: Minnesota
CBS, Foxborough, MA
New England has the 1 seed locked, and Bill Belichik won’t say whether or not he’s sitting starters, which has to be about the least surprising bit of news in the history of media. I imagine the starters will play a half, as their next game won’t be for 2 weeks where rust can form. Buffalo has been able to score points lately, scoring at least 20 in 4 of their last 5 games. I like Buffalo to at least cover.
Winner ATS: Buffalo
FOX, East Rutherford, NJ
The Eagles find themselves in a big slide after losing 3 straight and falling out of the playoff hunt. The Giants meanwhile have been out of the playoffs for nearly half the season but are playing their best football as the season winds down. They’ve scored 24 or more points in each of their last 5 games. They put up 514 total yards last week against a good St. Louis defense, which included 391 passing yards. The Eagle defense is struggling mightily to defend the pass, which will play greatly into the Giants’ favor. However, the Eagles have scored plenty of points of their own and will look to feast on a weaker Giant rushing defense. I imagine Chip Kelly will have Philadelphia better prepared for this game than any this season to ensure ending the season on a high note.
Winner ATS: Philadelphia
FOX, Tampa, FL
The Buccaneers are in a tricky spot with a chance at getting the number 1 pick in the 2015 draft. They’re in the middle of a 5-game losing streak that ties their high from earlier in the season. They’re losing these 5 games by an average of 9 points. They’ve scored 17 points 6 times this season, which won’t help them against the Saints’ 10th scoring average in the league at 25.2.
Winner ATS: New Orleans
CBS, Nashville, TN
Chuck Pagano has said the Colts will be going with their starters on Sunday, which is probably in part to prove to the coaching staff that they can still play football. After getting smoked on the road at Dallas, the Colts will likely bounce back against a weak opponent. The average score of the Colts’ games this season against teams with losing records is 39.4-17.6. The Colts are a strong 5-0 against losing teams, and I don’t suspect this game to be any different.
Winner ATS: Indianapolis
FOX, Landover, MD
The Cowboys will be playing starters on Sunday, but their playoff seeding is out of their control. The Redskins got a win last week, but they still only managed 305 total yards, were 2-9 on third down efficiency, and RGIII had a stat line of a conservative quarterback. Regardless, I don’t think the Cowboys will put up much of a fight in the second half and will let the Redskins back into the game.
Winner ATS: Washington
CBS, Atlanta, GA
The winner of this game claims the division and a 4 seed in the playoffs. The Falcons have been my favorite to win the division since beating Carolina in week 11. In their past 4 games, the Falcons have scored an average of 29 points, which includes games against Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Green Bay. With Julio Jones around the Atlanta offense has been hard to stop.
Winner ATS: Atlanta
CBS, Denver, CO
The Raiders have taken to winning. They’re 3-2 in their last 5 games, and have been scoring a decent number of points. Meanwhile, the Broncos have looked less elite in their past 3 games. Despite a 2-1 record, Peyton Manning only has 3 TDs and 6 INTs over that stretch. The Raiders will likely empty their playbook to try to get a big road win.
Winner ATS: Oakland
FOX, Green Bay, WI
This game has the biggest playoff implications of them all in that the winner gets the 2 seed and the loser gets the 6 seed. As for the game itself, the Lions have lost 3 of their last 4 games on the road while the Packers are perfect at home. The Packers are averaging 41.14 points per game at home this season, while the Lions have scored an average of 11.6 points per game in their last 3 road games. Even though Aaron Rodgers has been struggling lately, some home advantage and the motivation of the 2 seed feel like a recipe for big points.
Winner ATS: Green Bay
FOX, Santa Clara, CA
The 49ers looked much more like the 49ers we all expected to see this season in the first half of their game last week against the Chargers. That is until the second half collapse. Regardless, the 49ers look to have shaken off much of the funk that existed in their current 4-game losing streak. They had over 400 total yards for the first time since week 6. The Cardinals are in scramble mode in trying to find a quarterback and have elected to switch to Logan Thomas this week. A new quarterback in the teeth of a ticked off 49ers team that has not had the season they expected to have does not sound good.
Winner ATS: San Francisco
FOX, Seattle, WA
Seattle will clinch a 1 seed with a win and make all roads to the Super Bowl roll through Seattle. With the way the Seahawks embarrassed the Cardinals last week, there doesn’t seem to be a defense out there that can hold Seattle low enough and allow their offense an opportunity to outscore them. The Seahawks have a current 5-game winning streak against teams with a collective winning percentage of .600. What makes the run impressive is their average margin of victory in those games is 16.2. While the Rams did beat the Seahawks in their last match up, the Seahawks have things figured out this time around and look to be rolling into the playoffs.
Winner ATS: Seattle
NBS, Pittsburgh, PA
The Bengals shocked many in their win last week over the Broncos. But, Peyton Manning is in a bit of a slump, and the Bengals had the comfort of their home field. In other stats, the Bengals have lost by an average of 24 points in their 3 losses to teams with winning records, meaning they can’t keep things close against good teams. Despite last week’s win, the Bengals will have to win on the road at night, which won’t play well for Andy Dalton.
Winner ATS: Pittsburgh
Spreads courtesy of Officefootballpool.com