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Somehow my modest two correct picks over the Christmas games has seen me pick up another point on Dan, but let’s see if I can get any more and make Dan sweat a little going into the final week.

Early Games:

There are a few games from the early slate that have play-off repercussions but there is only one that looks like a real contest and that is the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Indianapolis Colts. However, even then the line could be deceiving as the Steelers have lost three straight having won their first eleven games wity the offence seeming to have been solved in recent weeks whilst the injuries at linebacker have started to really hurt the defense. The Bengals’ offence did not actually do a lot against the Steelers defense last week, but the Colts offence ranks seventeen places better by DVOA and their defense ranks nineteen places better so having seen the Steelers lose by ten to a then two win Bengals team I give the edge to the Colts this week.

Points from the rest:

  • I’m a little torn as to what to do with the Kansas City Chiefs game as whilst they have a 13-1 record, you have to go back to week eight against the Jets to find an opponent they have beat by double digits. The Atlanta Falcons have not exactly been good value recently after the minor recovery under Raheem Morris stalled, but they haven’t been beat heavily since playing the Saints in week eleven so I’m going to nervously back them to keep within eleven.
  • The Chicago Bears are in a slightly strange position of having had a mini recovery after re-inserting Mitchell Trubisky into the starting line-up but need to catch the Cardinals to get into the play-offs and likely have too many wins to draft a quarterback in the off-season. They should have enough to beat a bad Jaguars team who are currently in position to pick first in next year’s draft, but I don’t know about doing it by eight points.
  • The Bengals got a third win on Monday, but they are not a good team and whilst neither are the Texans, they should win this game although I don’t know if they can do it by ten points.
  • The New York Jets managed to avoid going winless but might have cost themselves the number one pick in next year’s draft in the process. This week they welcome a Cleveland Browns team who are making a late push to win the AFC North as the Steelers continue to slide and if things break right, the Browns could find themselves in a winner takes all divisional game in week seventeen. I don’t know if the Steelers will continue to lose, but I do expect the Browns to have eleven wins going into that final game in Pittsburgh.
  • I may have been a bit bullish on the Giants, who definitely need a lot of work on offence, but I do wonder if their defense can limit Lamar Jackson and a Ravens offence that has looked good in the last three weeks. I don’t expect the Giants to win, but keeping the deficit within twelve seems possible. That said, the Ravens have posted scores of 34, 47 and 40 in the last three weeks.

Falcons @ Chiefs (-10.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Falcons
Dan’s Pick:      Chiefs

Bears @ Jaguars (+7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:      Jaguars

Bengals @ Texans (-9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Bengals

Browns @ Jets (+9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Browns

Colts @ Steelers (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Colts
Dan’s Pick:      Colts

Giants @ Ravens (-11.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Giants
Dan’s Pick:      Giants

Late Games:

The late slate of games looks to be a lot more competitive, but the best quality matchup must be the LA Rams trying to put their loss to the Jets behind them as they travel to take on the Seattle Seahawks. This season the Rams look as well balanced as they ever have under Sean McVay, but the questions that surround Jared Goff and his ability to cope with pressure remain, making it impossible to entirely trust the Rams even if McVay has coached them to four straight winning seasons and should return to the play-offs for a third time in January. However, while the Seahawks have a game lead in the division, the Rams have a 5-2 record against them since McVay took over the Rams and as good as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offence has been with DK Metcalf establishing himself as one of the most promising young receivers in the league, their defense still only ranks twentieth by DVOA. Given that the Seahawks have been perhaps as affected as any team in the league by the absence of their fans in a stadium designed to enhance crowd noise, I like the Rams getting the points in this one. It should be a cracking game.

Points on the Rest:

  • The LA Chargers have had some extra rest after beating the Raiders on Thursday night in week fifteen, but the only teams they have beaten by more than a field goal this season are the Jets and Jaguars. My concern in picking this game is the Broncos offence being thirty-second in the league by DVOA, but with injuries to young quaterback Drew Lock amongst others disrupting their season, I think this might be near the worst of possible outcomes for the Broncos and so I like them to cover this one.
  • The problem that Washington have right now is that with Alex Smith fighting a calf injury they have had to turn to Dwayne Haskins at quarterback and might well have to turn to him again this week despite him being fined and stripped of his captaincy for violating Covid-19 protocols when he was photographed in a club without a mask. The Panthers might not be a good team yet, and Washington’s defensive line is definitely impressive, but I can’t lay these kind of points with this level of uncertainty at quarterback.
  • The Dallas Cowboys have won two straight including scoring forty-one points against the 49ers but come into this game as underdogs thanks to a reversal in fortune for the Philadelphia Eagles after inserting rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts into their starting lineup. That said, the Eagles lost to the Cardinals last week and it is hard to know what will happen when two NFC East teams face each other. Still, the Eagles are laying a point and a half less here than I’m seeing as the consensus on line so I guess I have to take the Eagles in this one.

Broncos @ Chargers (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Broncos
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Panthers @ Washington (-2.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Washington

Eagles @ Cowboys (+1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Eagles
Dan’s Pick:      Cowboys

Rams @ Seahawks (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Rams
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Sunday Night Football:

Titans @ Packers (-3.5)

This is the game of the week for me as it sees two teams with double digit wins face off in a matchup that has the potential to get lopsided for both teams but could be a great contest. The weakness for the Tennessee Titans is their pass rush and facing Aaron Rodgers and the second ranked offence by DVOA this has could go horribly wrong. That said, the Packers rush defense is ranked twenty-first in rush defense by DVOA, which is surprisingly high and I could absolutely see Derek Henry dominating this game for the Titans. There may be eleven percentage points between these two teams by overall DVOA, but I think this could be a great game and the Packers defensive frailties make me just nervous enough about laying three and a half points to back the Titans. It will be ominous for the NFC if the Packers win convincingly in this one.

Gee’s Pick:      Titans
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Monday Night Football

Bills @ Patriots (+6.5)

Week sixteen finishes with the newly crowned AFC East Buffalo Bills getting a chance to sweep the New England Patriots and improve their chances of securing the second seed in the AFC. The New England Patriots have struggled thanks to the problems on offence and the number of Covid-19 opt outs across the team. There are going to be plenty of questions about the offence during the off-season and the Patriots will need an answer at quarterback, but there’s still part of me that worries about what Bill Belichick could scheme up to cover this line. However, the Bills have looked really good in recent weeks and if they are to deliver on the promise of the season in the play-offs then this is the kind of game they should win.

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:      Bills

DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.