Beating the Book
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
We were 6-10 last week which doesn't sound too good until you consider that we were 1-8 heading into the afternoon. It's like thinking you needed a lobotomy but finding out that a little electroshock therapy would do the trick.
This week, Damon is off in Mexico, and we were only able to go over the picks together once on Tuesday. As a result, I freelanced a bit more - and also because it's Week 17, so there are some teams likely resting key players for the postseason. In general, we treated teams that were eliminated from the playoffs as we normally would.
Happy holidays - and thanks for reading all season.
Rams +14.5 at Falcons
The Falcons are potentially playing for a bye (if Carolina loses), so this game matters to them. But that's priced into this big line, and if last week was any indication, the Rams haven't yet mailed it in completely. Back St. Louis.
Falcons 27 - 13
Patriots -7 at Bills
The Patriots looked great last week, but they hardly could have faced less resistance. The Bills played spoiler in Denver, and you have to think they'd enjoy spoiling New England's postseason hopes even more. As such, we expect both teams to show up, and seven is far too much to part with in a cold-weather divisional road game. Back the Bills.
Patriots 23 - 20
Chiefs +3 at Bengals
This one could be called "the doormats who never quit" Super Bowl, and it's tough to decide between them. We'll go with Cincy thanks to its improving defense. Back the Bengals.
Bengals 24 - 17
Lions +10 at Packers
When I talked to Damon who's in Mexico (via Skype), this line was off the board, and we agreed to take the Lions plus more than 10, or the Packers minus 10 or less. The line checks right in at 10, and I'm of two minds. First, the Lions got plastered by the Saints last week when everyone (including me) seemed to think Detroit might win outright. It has to be pretty good motivator for a team, in last week's case New Orleans, not only to avoid being the sole loser to them, but also when people are predicting you *will* lose to them. In some ways that turns the opponent into as desperate a team as the Lions. But after last week's home disaster, no one is predicting the Lions will go on the road and beat the Packers at Lambeau. In other words, while the Pack equally won't want to be the only team to lose to Detroit, they can't rally around the notion that people are predicting them to lose to the worst team in the league. As such, Green Bay might actually take them lightly. I'd prefer if Green Bay weren't on a losing streak themselves and needing to go out on a confidence-building win, but I have to take the Lions and the points. (Going rogue here, though only by half a point). Back Detroit.
Packers 23 - 17
Bears +2.5 at Texans
The Bears have a potential playoff berth on the line, but there's no reason to think the Texans won't go all out, too, especially after the loss in Oakland last week. If Chicago were getting the full three for an equal team on the road, it would be a tougher call, but they're not, so we're taking Houston. Back the Texans.
Texans 27 - 23
Titans -3 at Colts
Neither team has anything to play for, but we've seen the Colts mail it in under these circumstances in the past, while Jeff Fisher and Tennessee just might try harder to win the game. Plus Vegas is begging us to take the Colts to the point that it's unseemly. Back the Titans.
Titans 27 - 13
Giants +6.5 at Vikings
This is probably the right line considering the Giants have nothing to play for and will probably rest some of their starters for significant portions of the game, while the Vikings are fighting for their playoff lives. This line was also off the board last we looked, and I can't remember if our cutoff point was seven or eight. It doesn't matter either way, as the line is 6.5. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 24 - 13
Panthers -3 at Saints
Damon and I initially liked the Saints getting three at home against a team that doesn't travel all that well. And it doesn't matter that Carolina's playing for a first-round bye, because New Orleans isn't likely to lay down in its season finale against a division rival. The one thing that concerns me is that the Saints might have taken the edge off after blowing out the Lions in a game where many pundits picked them to lose. It's odd because I realize how speculative that is, but for some reason it seems compelling to me. Still, I'll set that aside and stick with our pick. Back the Saints.
Panthers 24 - 23
Browns +10.5 at Steelers
The Steelers have cemented their playoff seed, so they have nothing to play for, while the Browns haven't had anything to play for since the midpoint of the season. Still, we have to expect the Browns to treat this game like any other, and it's unclear whether the Steelers will. In that case, it's best to accept the double-digit points. Back Cleveland.
Steelers 20 - 16
Raiders +14 at Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have a playoff berth potentially on the line, but we don't see how this number could be any higher. It's not like the Raiders will be resting players. Back Oakland.
Buccaneers 24 - 12
Jaguars +12.5 at Ravens
Unless the Pats and Dolphins both lose, the Ravens will need a win to put them in the playoffs. But the Jaguars have been game of late, beating the Packers and nearly taking down the Colts in an important game for Indy. Baltimore does tend to crush lesser teams, but this large number already prices that in. Back the Jaguars.
Ravens 20 - 10
Dolphins +2.5 at Jets
The Dolphins are a great story, and we'd like to see them win here against a Jets team that generated so much more hype. But two and a half is probably not enough for a road game at the Meadowlands in December. Back the Jets.
Jets 20 - 17
Cowboys +1.5 at Eagles
The Eagles have virtually no chance to get into the playoffs - not only do they need to beat Dallas, but they need Tampa and Chicago both to lose. In fact, by the time this kicks off, we expect them to be mathematically eliminated. Still, we can't imagine they'll go easy on such a hated rival, particularly with the chance to deny Terrell Owens a trip to the postseason. In other words, Philly will have plenty of motivation, but none of the pressure. Back them at home laying less than the full three.
Eagles 27 - 19
Seahawks +6 at Cardinals
Damon wanted to take the Seahawks, but I argued for the Cardinals who need to atone for their disgraceful showing last week. The question is, assuming Arizona is determined to make amends, are they still capable of easily handling an improving Seahawks team? I honestly don't know. Take the Seahawks and the points.
Cardinals 27 - 24
Redskins +3 at 49ers
Damon liked the Redskins, while I was intially inclined toward the 49ers. I can see both sides as San Francisco is playing well (aside from the first three quarters of last week's game), but Washington has been the better team all year. I'm torn, but I think I'm going Frisco as Washington will have a letdown after last week's big spoiler win. Back the Niners.
49ers 17 - 13
Broncos +9 at Chargers
Everyone seems to think the world is a just place, and San Diego will be able to right the wrong done to them by Ed Hochuli in Week 2. Tell that to the people who invested with Bernie Madoff. No way I'd lay nine with a Norv Turner-coached team against a Mike Shanahan one with a playoff berth on the line. Back the Broncos who pull off the upset.
Broncos 27 - 24
We were 6-10 in Week 16, to put us at 118-114-8 on the season. We were 127-120-9 last season. From 1999-2007, we were 1184-1018 - not including ties - (53.8 percent).
Article first appeared 12/24/08