Last week was another tough one to predict as we had numerous games come down to the final minutes. I fared alright picking straight up, but once again struggled against the spread after a nice start to the year. At this juncture of the season, it is time to monitor how teams will be ending the season. Every year there is always a team viewed as a threat as they “came into the postseason hot” (early candidates at this point are the Chiefs and Seahawks), while there are teams where the reverse can be said (such as the Falcons who after starting off 5-0 have gone 1-6 in the ensuing games). This even applies to teams who are out of contention as well. Sometimes young teams who end the year on a high note enter the following season with more confidence having won same games paired with offseason development.
Last week: 10-6, Season: 124-68
Last week against the spread: 6-10, Season: 99-93
Game of the weak: 49ers vs Browns: This past July, the NFL’s official website ranked the backup quarterbacks around the league. Taking up the last two spots in that list were Johnny Manziel and Blaine Gabbert. Well, here we are in mid December and they’re squaring off against each other in a battle for draft position.
The crazy thing to a lot of people is that in the games he has started, Gabbert has actually looked pretty good. Considering many (including myself) ranked him above Cam Newton as the best quarterback in the 2011 draft. Competent quarterback play shouldn’t be all that surprising given those expectations. But following a nightmarish start to his career in Jacksonville, getting the chance to sit and clear his head for over a year might be the best thing to happen to him. At the least, with this level of play he should of bought himself the chance to go into next year as the starter if the Niners do decide to go quarterback early in the draft. 49ers 20 Browns (-1.5) 16
Game of the week: Steelers vs Bengals: Divisional game with all the makings of a potential shootout? Yeah, I’ll bite. The Bengals via tiebreakers are currently the number one seed in the AFC and are up by three games in the division. But is anyone going to want to play the Steelers come playoff time?
Ben Roethlisberger is finally healthy and with a very talented receiving corps and a rejuvenated DeAngelo Williams can put huge points up on anyone. Granted, the defense has some question marks but if it comes down to a shootout, chances are the Steelers personnel is better equipped for that. A win for them against a stingier defense would have the makings of a big “statement game” down the stretch. Steelers 31 Bengals (-2.5) 27
Bills 27 Eagles (+0.5) 23
Lions 24 Rams (-0.5) 17
Saints 21 Buccaneers (-3.5) 26
Titans 17 Jets (-7.5) 28
Seahawks 30 Ravens (+7.5) 17
Colts 21 Jaguars (-0.5) 24
Chargers 16 Chiefs (-9.5) 26
Redskins 20 Bears (-3.5) 23
Falcons 20 Panthers (-7.5) 28
Raiders 13 Broncos (-7.5) 21
Cowboys 17 Packers (-7.5) 24
Patriots 26 Texans (+3.5) 21
Giants 24 Dolphins (+1.5) 20