Last week: 8-8 in a week chock full of surprises. 152-81 straight up on the season.
As this is the final week and many games carry no playoff implications, I’ll keep the commentary brief. All games are on Sunday this week too.
- New York Giants at Washington (-7.5): If Washington wins, they make the playoffs as the NFC’s 6 seed. New York is locked in at No. 5 no matter what happens. I worry the home team will choke a little on the pressure, and the Giants match up well with what Washington does on both sides of the ball. A touchdown is too much to give, but I do expect the Skins to sneak into the playoffs.
Washington 24, New York 20
- Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-4): The winner captures the NFC North title. If Washington loses earlier in the day, the teams will know whether the loser also makes the playoffs. That’s big for Detroit, which limps to the finish line with several key players either out or limited. The most notable is CB Darius Slay, who would match up with Jordy Nelson and give the Lions pass defense some semblance of a chance against Aaron Rodgers.
It looks like Slay will give it a go on the gimpy hamstring, but how well he plays remains to be seen. Detroit also has injury issues on the offensive line and sorely misses scatback Theo Riddick to help balance the offense. If the Packers play anything better than their B-minus level game, they prevail unless Matthew Stafford can pull a record 9th comeback rabbit out of his hat. Then again, Detroit has lost two in a row and is coming off one of the worst halves of football all season in the Monday Night loss in Dallas.
Packers 37, Lions 24
- Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5): Minnesota’s great gamble in trading for Sam Bradford on the eve of the season wound up not paying off, though not for the reason I expected. Bradford has largely played quite well despite terrible protection and what will wind up being the least-effective rushing attack in the Super Bowl era in terms of yards per carry. The Vikings' defensive mutiny last week shows where this team’s head is. As long as Matt Barkley doesn’t throw the game away, I really like the Bears. Then again, Barkley does throw an inordinate amount of interceptions…
Bears 24, Vikings 21
- Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (+2.5): Rex Ryan got fired Monday, so the Bills are a mystery. The Jets might be the worst team in the league right now and sure don’t look like they have any pride left, if Brandon Marshall is any indication.
Bills 33, Jets 27
- Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-1.5): I think the Raiders try and prove they can win with Matt McGloin, and doing so against the mighty Denver defense would build some confidence for the playoffs. McGloin just might wind up being the better QB in this game, too.
Raiders 17, Broncos 15
- New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-7): Atlanta is still alive for the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and they’re lethal at home. I think they come out and blow the doors off a Saints team that played spoiler last week against Tampa Bay. This could be Sean Payton’s last game with New Orleans, but I’m not sure that will matter much during the game.
Falcons 41, Saints 24
- Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (+5.5): Is this the final game in San Diego?
Chiefs 31, Chargers 21
- Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (+10.5): The 49ers blew their shot at the No. 1 pick by winning last week. It won’t happen again.
Seahawks 26, 49ers 10
- Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (+6.5): The Rams had the fewest percentage of drives end in points this year; just one out of every five possessions resulted in points. That’s the worst since Alex Smith’s dark years in San Francisco under Mike Nolan. Jeff Fisher got fired for good reason…
Cardinals 29, Rams 13
- Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5): Steve Smith has strongly hinted this is his last game. That makes this game worth watching, and I think he goes out with a bang.
Ravens 24, Bengals 20
- Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5): Better Cleveland teams than this one--and that would be all of them--have been blown away by far lesser Steelers teams than this one in Pittsburgh.
Steelers 30, Browns 16
- Dallas at Philadelphia (-1.5): I don’t think we see Tony Romo, though Zeke Elliott might get fewer carries than usual. Dallas knows enough to remain sharp for the playoffs and not accrue rust during their bye week. However, they’re without stud left tackle Tyron Smith and that’s a bad matchup against the Eagles aggressive pass rush.
Eagles 23, Cowboys 20
- Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (-2.5): I have no idea how the Titans come out without Marcus Mariota, but I do suspect their desire to finish 9-7 is strong. Houston is trying to learn if Tom Savage can be the quarterback to lead them into the playoffs, and that’s powerful motivation. On a more Xs and Os level, Houston’s run defense nicely foils Tennessee’s rushing attack.
Texans 19, Titans 17
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-4.5): For no other reason than the randomness of the universe, I think the Jaguars play their best game of the year and pull the upset.
Jaguars 38, Colts 22
- New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+9.5): Both teams play to try and avoid injury. Don’t expect much in this one.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 21
- Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6): Tampa Bay had some adversity this week with RB Doug Martin suspended for PEDs. That’s a down ending to what has been a promising season for the Bucs. Technically Tampa Bay still has very slim playoff hopes, though if the above games play out as forecast literally everything they need to have happen does not.
Buccaneers 24, Panthers 19
Michigan 33, Florida State 20
Alabama 24, Washington 21
Ohio State 32, Clemson 28
Wisconsin 17, Western Michigan 14
Oklahoma 30, Auburn 18
North Carolina 29, Stanford 27
USC 39, Penn State 21
Florida 18, Iowa 15