It's week 15 and 10 of 16 games have real impact on the playoff picture, if you want to stretch to include every game involving non-mathematically eliminated teams, then 14 of 16 have playoff implications. The other two matchups are rivalry games in Cleveland @ Cincinnati and Washington @ Dallas, all things considered not a bad slate for this late in the season.
Only one team has clinched a playoff spot (Patriots) and none have clinched their division yet. The way things are going the Pats may be the only team without any incentive to win in week 17, which is an incredibly rare treat for football fans everywhere.
It's much harder to say if this is good or bad news for the football bettor. On the one hand, you shouldn't have to worry as much about teams throwing in the towel and only playing their starters for a quarter of the game and obviously knowing which players will be playing is helpful when deciding whom to bet on. But on the other hand it means that many NFL teams are either evenly matched and/or inconsistent, neither of these bode well for the bettor. I myself really have to clean up my act and pretty much be lights out in the final three weeks to reach .500.
Last Week: 6-10
Lock of the Week: 12-2
Home Team in CAPS
CHARGERS (-9) over 49ers
I don't believe Alex Smith can put back-to-back solid performances together and the Chargers are in must-win situations from here on out. Backs against the wall I expect the Chargers to put up a big offensive performance (then again I thought that two weeks ago when they got manhandled by the Raiders. If you can't tell I've lost confidence in picking NFL games this season).
RAMS (-1) over Chiefs
Sadly, things seem to be unraveling for the Chiefs. It's questionable if they can get Cassel back for this game ten days after an emergency appendectomy and even if they do, it's questionable if he'll be 100%. Whoever wins this game has the upper hand in their divisional race, and for now there are too many questions about the Chiefs, particularly on the road.
Texans (+1) over TITANS
Is there any chance Cortland Finnegan won't try to goad Andre Johnson into a fight again? It won't be as easy for the Texans as when they played in Houston and the Titans started Rusty Smith, but the Texans should at least be favored. The Texans have showed flashes of their potential over the past few weeks, while the Titans have looked pretty much dead to rights.
Jaguars (+5) over COLTS
Even though I still don't trust the Jags, they always play the Colts tight, even when they are bad. Chances are high this game will be decided by a field goal either way, so take the points here and move along.
Cardinals (+2.5) over PANTHERS
I know the Cardinals are absolutely awful, I get it, but favoring the Panthers? What? People have seen them play right? They are attempting to set a record for least amount of time taken to destroy a rookie QB's career with Jimmy Clausen. And succeeding.
Browns (+1.5) over BENGALS
Looks like Colt McCoy might be back which would help to end the Browns offensive woes. Also the Bungles have founds ways to lose every game possible, no reason to think that will stop here.
Bills (+5.5) over DOLPHINS
The Dolphins have a worse home life than Precious. They are 1-5 in Miami and 6-1 on the road. Also neither team can score points of late, assuming that trend continues it would be very hard for either to cover a six-point spread.
Eagles (+2.5) over GIANTS
The winner of this game will likely win the NFC East, while the loser may miss out on the playoffs. Since I can't picture the Eagles not being in the playoffs I'll take the easy way out and just say they win this game.
COWBOYS (-6) over Redskins
Despite beating the spread last week (but still losing in a horribly disappointing, but expected and still infuriating fashion) I will continue to stick to my guns and not pick the Redskins for the rest of the season.
Lions (+6) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs proved last week that they don't win anything but close games.
Saints (+2) over RAVENS
The Saints are coming on while the Ravens appear to be struggling to hang on. It makes sense to give the Ravens the slight edge in the spread for home field advantage, but I'll go with the hot team. If the Ravens pass D looks like it did in the 2nd half on Monday, the Saints could light them up.
Falcons (-6) over SEAHAWKS
Lock of the Week
The Seahawks seem to be incapable of playing defense. Generally when you are playing the best team in your conference you're going to need to play some sort of defense to not get destroyed. And yes, a team that is incapable of playing defense has a very solid chance of hosting a playoff game. The NFC West's playoff participant will be like the girl from chess club who is nominated for homecoming queen; it's kind nice that she's there, but ultimately its sad how badly she'll be beaten.
Jets (+6) over STEELERS
While it's true that the Jets have been playing poorly the last two weeks, the Steelers offense has been just as bad. If not for Polamalu and the defense, the Steelers would be losers of two straight as well. The Jets defense still does well as long as they are not playing the Patriots, so one would expect this game to be close.
RAIDERS (-6.5) over Broncos
The Broncos are probably playing the worst football in the league right now. Their defense has never been good and it seems like now they've forgotten how to score in addition. Whoever inherits this team next year has just as much work to do as anyone, including the Panthers next coach.
PATRIOTS (-11) over Packers
Rodgers status won't be known until Saturday so really this is just a guess by me that he will not be playing. If he does play there is no way the line will be as high as 11, it'll probably drop to around 6. So even if its 50/50 that Rodgers plays the Pats are the safer pick because the way they've been playing recently they might beat the Pro Bowl team by 11.
Bears (-3) over VIKINGS
What a mess this Metrodome fiasco has been. Now they'll be playing in a stadium that is currently still covered in snow, has 14,000 fewer seats and who knows how many fewer luxury boxes and club seats, and has no beer taps in the entire stadium. Now they are asking fans to help shovel snow out of the stadium so it will be ready for Monday night, when it'll likely be about 8 degrees at kickoff. Also, this Vikings team isn't used to cold weather games as much as their Chicago opponents. This all will either completely kill the Vikings home field advantage or somehow ratchet it up to extreme levels, making it feel like a college game.
Unrelated, whats the over under going to be on the number of times the MNF crew mentions the Metrodome? Or for that matter mentions Favre? It's highly possible they discuss those two things more than the actual game. By the way, a hidden beauty of the roof collapsing is that it took a lot of the attention away from the end of the Favre streak, so instead of getting over praised and celebrated it actually got a little less attention, or about the right amount that it deserved.