I’m on vacation with my family in Cancun this week, so these picks are a little bit abridged this week. Please still free to enjoy them and/or send me money, though. I have a bit of ground to catch up on Asif, but it’s not insurmountable.
Last Week: 9-7
Last Week: 6-10
Miami (-2.5) @ Buffalo
Ryan: I haven’t been especially caught up on the 24-second news cycle this week — can somebody clue me in as to whether there’s been a puff piece about Joe Philbin and the Dolphins overcoming the adversity that they created for themselves yet? Line seems way too low, as the continuation of that narrative feels inevitable. Dolphins cover.
Asif: I think the reason we haven’t seen a Joe Philbin puff piece is because Joe Philbin is the least interesting man in football. The Dolphins just keep hanging around though. Miami covers.
New Orleans @ Carolina (-3)
Ryan: This seemed unfathomable a few games ago, but the loser of this game is in pretty real danger of losing their playoff spot to the suddenly-hot 9-5 Cardinals. New Orleans whooped Carolina just two weeks ago, but the Saints are a completely different team away from the Superdome — they’re 7-0 at home and 3-4 on the road.
This might be the best matchup of the week, and it’s pretty disappointing that it’s buried in the middle of a nine-game early slate. Panthers cover.
Asif: The Panthers are starting to look like “that team,” you know, the one that doesn’t seem that great on paper, but finds a way to get things done. I think Cam Newton is going to have a big game. Panthers cover.
Dallas (-3) @ Washington
Ryan: As life-altering as Sunday’s collapse against Green Bay seemed for Dallas, they still control their playoff destiny. The thought of their cruising this week and then crushing what’s left of Jerry Jones’ soul is too amusing not to go all-out in hoping for. Cowboys cover.
Asif: Last week’s performance brought out the “Romo is a choker” crowd, which in turn brought out the “look at all of Romo’s 4th quarter comebacks” crowd. The truth here is that both camps are right. The stats show that Romo is a reliably good late-game QB, but I don’t think there’s an “elite” QB that you’d trust less late in a meaningful game. Of course, the Dallas coaching staff has never done Romo any favors. Cowboys cover.
Tampa Bay @ St. Louis (-5.5)
Ryan: I had my first pedicure yesterday, and nobody adequately warned me about how cringeworthy it is when they take a file to your callouses. How often do girls get those things done? I’m so thankful that procedure isn’t a part of my regular, expected existence. I’m still shivering just thinking about it.
This is one of those games that should be held in March when we need it most. Bucs cover.
Asif: Whatever. Bucs cover.
Chicago @ Philadelphia (-3)
Ryan: This game got flexed to Sunday night and, as an odd technicality, could mean nothing for either team — if the Packers and Cowboys win and the Lions lose, then this game will have zero playoff implications because everything would be riding on the Week 17 Bears-Packers and Eagles-Cowboys games. Even if that does happen, though, I don’t think either team would toy with resting starters. Eagles cover.
Asif: This. Bears cover.
Cleveland @ NY Jets (-2)
Ryan: Gross. Jets cover.
Asif: I have to watch this or go to a bar? Where they’ll also be showing this? Jets cover.
Indianapolis @ Kansas City (-7)
Ryan: We’re at the weird stage of the season where you aren’t just picking how one team would do against another, but also trying to figure out if teams like the Colts, who lead their division by four games with two weeks left, will try or not. And that’s more guesswork than anything (I suppose the no. 2 seed is at stake for them as well, with the Patriots’ currently holding it at 9-5, but Indy’s playoff seeding seems more assured than the 11-3 Chiefs, who will likely find themselves either at no. 1 or no. 5, depending on if they beat out Denver.)
Asif: I don’t think it matters if the Colts try or not, I’m not convinced that they’re really that good. Chiefs cover.
Minnesota @ Cincinnati (-7.5)
Ryan: The Vikings have been better in the past month (2-1-1, with the loss coming in very bizarre fashion against Baltimore) than this line is giving them credit for. Minnesota covers.
Denver (-10.5) @ Houston
Ryan: I think I’d take the Broncos at -21. Denver covers.
Asif: Houston has pole position for the first pick in the draft right now and while some are saying they should take Teddy Bridgewater, I think they should take Clowney and try to build a truly terrifying defense. It’s really not a crazy idea. Denver covers.
Tennessee (-5.5) @ Jacksonville
Ryan: Instead of talking about this game, I’ll just provide you with video of Stone Cold Steve Austin beating up Booker T in a supermarket:
That’s preferable, right? Jags cover.
Asif: I really miss the CJ2k days… now every time they show Chris on the TV he looks profoundly sad. Titans cover.
Arizona @ Seattle (-10.5)
Ryan: The Seahawks are pretty clearly the best team in the NFL at this juncture, but the Cardinals have won six out of their last seven and aren’t yet getting the respect they deserve. Arizona covers.
Asif: Patrick Peterson was the most touted 1st round cornerback I can remember going into a draft (other than maybe Terrence Newman), and all the smart people seem to agree that he’s one of the best in the NFL. However, he never seems to get any love on game broadcasts or studio shows. In fact, almost every week they seem to pick on him for some perceived coverage gaffe. So, what gives? Y u no like Patrick Peterson Rodney and Dungy? Seattle at home, Seattle covers.
NY Giants @ Detroit (-9)
Ryan: The only touch of gray in the joy I’ve been taken in this Lions collapse is the fact that there’s a strong chance Jim Schwartz would get fired if Detroit doesn’t make the playoffs. If that happens, it had BETTER be because the Packers make it in — it’d be a double whammy if the Bears get in and the Lions bring someone in who doesn’t preside over constant self-destruction.
I think the Giants randomly un-quit this week — if that makes sense — and at least keep the game a little bit close. New York covers.
Asif: The Lions really blew it this season, huh? Jim Schwartz should probably get fired for that. Detroit covers.
Oakland @ San Diego (-10)
Ryan: I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m 3-0 since I started just flipping a coin for Chargers games. [Heads - SD; Tails - Oak] San Diego covers.
Asif: I think this game has underrated “fun” potential. Both teams usually come to play, which is more than you can say for other teams in their situations. San Diego covers.
Pittsburgh @ Green Bay (no line)
Ryan: Still no line, so we will count this as a draw. If you missed it I covered my feelings on the Packers’ comeback victory over Dallas extensively on Sunday night.
Asif: I honestly have no idea. Green Bay, I guess?
New England @ Baltimore (-2.5)
Ryan: Joe Flacco tends to play really well versus New England and the Patriots have averaged over 50 passing yards per game (298 vs 247) more with Gronk in the lineup versus without him. Baltimore covers.
Asif: The Pats just aren’t the same without Gronk. Baltimore covers.
Atlanta @ San Francisco (-12)
Ryan: I’d have to be a complete moron to pick 3/4s of the double-digit favorites this week after reading this tweet, right?
Double digit underdogs are 18-9 this year ATS (2-0 last week). There are 4 this week (Hou, AZ, Oak, ATL). is 3-1 possible this week?
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) December 16, 2013
But I’m doing it anyways because I LIKE TO LIVE DANGEROUSLY. 49ers cover.
Asif: 49ers cover, obviously.