Last week: 10-6, leaving the season forecast at 143-97 and counting the tie as a loss.
The final week of the NFL regular season is always one of the roughest forecasts. Teams have varying motivations, with injury replacements and playoff rest also in play. As such, the commentary is like the relative heat wave we’re having here in Michigan (it’s 58 degrees on Dec. 26th as I write this): brilliant but brief.
All games are on Sunday. The lines here are from BetOnline as of 6:27 p.m. ET on Thursday.
- San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (+3): Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to help the desperate Seahawks, who are now without their top three RBs. Two weeks ago Lynch was passing out shots in the Raiders parking lot as Oakland closed down being an NFL city. It’s a great story and it could spark the kind of magic the Seahawks need to sweep San Francisco. I don’t see it happening, not even in Seattle. The 49ers win the NFC West thanks to a passing offense that consistently finds a way. George Kittle will have a lot to do with that.
49ers 30, Seahawks 27
- Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (+4.5): The snarky chaos enthusiast in me desperately wants the Giants to win this game to throw the NFC East into even deeper craziness. And Daniel Jones and his aggressive throwing will be a real problem for the Eagles defense. So will Saquon Barkley and his ability to impact in both the run and passing game. But the Eagles are a proud team playing for the right to lose a postseason game at home next week. They’ll get it. Barely…
Eagles 25, Giants 24
- Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (+3.5): The AFC South champs are underdogs at home to a team they beat on the road two weeks ago. That tells you all you need to know about the motivations behind the respective teams to win this game. The Texans are all but locked into the No. 4 seed. Tennessee earns a playoff berth and the No. 6 seed with the win. Mission accomplished.
Titans 31, Texans 20
- Green Bay Lions at Detroit Lions (+12.5): The Packers are playing for a possible playoff bye. What’s left of the Lions, with eight starters going on IR in the last three weeks, closely resembles an expansion team.
Packers 37, Lions 10
- Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (+16): The Patriots will win, but the Dolphins have not quit on rookie coach Brian Flores. Team MVP Ryan Fitzpatrick will heroically keep his undertalented cast of characters close. I like Miami to cover quite a bit.
Patriots 21, Dolphins 13
- Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5): This should be the last game Freddie Kitchens gets to coach the Browns. Losing to the lowly in-state rival to drop to 6-10 just might pound another stake into his vampire heart. But Nick Chubb cementing his NFL rushing title and Odell Beckham crossing the 1,000-yard receiving threshold staves off those wanting Freddie’s blood...maybe.
Browns 31, Bengals 24
- Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-9): Just a hunch, but the Chargers have a death gasp upset still in them. Perhaps the NFL’s most disappointing team in 2019 gives the fanbase--what’s left of it--a giant dose of “what could have been” in stunning the Chiefs and preventing the hosts from earning a potential playoff bye.
Chargers 30, Chiefs 27
- Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-1): The Vikings will be the NFC’s No. 6 seed no matter what happens, yet they’re still favored over a Bears team that is trying to avoid a losing season. It says a lot about how the professionals feel about Chicago. Listen to them…
Vikings 20, Bears 16
- New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-1.5): The Bills are locked into their playoff spot, but they can complete the 3-0 sweep of their New York rivals with a win. The home fans exhort one of the NFL’s best defenses to make it happen.
Bills 23, Jets 20
- New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+13): The Panthers checked out of the season a few weeks ago. The Saints show no mercy in Carolina’s own dojo. Sweep the leg!
Saints 42, Panthers 12
- Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1): The Falcons have quietly played some good football of late. It was enough to save Dan Quinn’s job, something I’ll explore in greater depth in this week’s $.10. A win here gets the Falcons into a second-place finish in the NFC South.
Falcons 26, Bucs 24
- Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4): My 14-year-old wanted to be the guest picker for a game this week. His forecast, squeezed in between a relentless barrage of Modern Warfare and Rainbow Six that is approaching epidemic proportions,
“The Jaguars are just bad. The Colts are too but at least they don’t act like it.”
Colts 24, Jaguars 10
- Washington at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5): I have forecast Dallas to win 12 times in 15 games. They’ve made me look worse than the traffic guy reading the sling psychrometer and predicting next week’s weather. I’ll make it 13, against my better judgment. But the gambler in me loves Washington getting more than a touchdown.
Cowboys 28, Washington 24
- Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3.5): Oakland still has some playoff life, but they need a very specific set of outcomes to qualify. It won’t matter if the Raiders can’t win in Denver, and I don’t think they will. Drew Lock continues to prove he’s worthy of entering 2020 as the Broncos starting QB.
Broncos 33, Raiders 30
- Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-7): Pride game for the Rams a week after they’re eliminated. The Cards pulled their upset a week ago over Seattle. Put those hands together and I smell a rout.
Rams 36, Cardinals 20
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (even): The Ravens appear to be resting most of their key players. They might still knock off the hated rival Steelers. Bet at your peril.
Ravens 22, Steelers 21
LSU 35, Oklahoma 24
Clemson 26, Ohio State 21. Sorry, dad.
Penn State 33, Memphis 30
Florida 38, Virginia 10
Michigan 19, Alabama 17
Utah 38, Texas 12
Auburn 26, Minnesota 24