Playoffs approach with football games having impact

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, IN, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, and VA.

With just three weeks remaining in the regular season most games have some impact on at least one of the teams involved in the playoff chase or in seeding.

Of this week’s games only the tilts between the Chiefs and Raiders, Jaguars and Dolphins, Panthers and Chargers and the Lions and Cardinals involve team both of which are playing for next season.

Even next Monday night’s game has a team with the potential to make the playoffs as the 6-7 Jets travel to Tennessee to face the first of its final three foes, none of which can finish with winning records.

Earlier this season the Jets hammered the Indianapolis Colts who need just one win in its final three games to secure a Wild Card. The Jets are a game behind a pair of teams with 7-6 records, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers have a tie breaker edge over the Jets because of their week two win. But the Steelers have a tough game at Dallas this week and also host Cincinnati next week. So either the Bengals or Steelers will have at least the same seven losses as the Jets. Cincinnati ends the season hosting likely Division winner Baltimore.

Much remains unsettled as the playoffs approach but all will be resolved in these final three weeks. No team clinched a playoff spot this past week so just four of the dozen postseason teams are certain: Atlanta, Denver, Houston and New England.

The race for the NFC East title is especially intriguing as the New York Giants are now just one game ahead of both Dallas and Washington. With Chicago and Seattle both at 8-5 and in control of their own fates, the final 3 weeks will be extremely intense. We’ll see if the Giants can make the playoffs and defend their Super Bowl title.

It’s quite possible that the second place team in the NFC East will not make the playoffs and that 9-7 may be good enough to win the division as it was for the Giants a season ago.

Baltimore is two games clear of both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North but faces a tough test this week when they host red hot Denver. The Broncos have won eight in a row, the longest current winning streak that is one better than the winner of Monday night’s game as both Houston and New England were on six game winning streaks.

Here’s a preview of Week 15.

PRO FOOTBALL – THURSDAY

Bengals -3 at Eagles (46): The Eagles are just playing out the string and there should be wholesale player and staff changes in the offseason. Both teams have played better defense in recent weeks and that is often an edge when playing on shortened preparation. UNDER.

PRO FOOTBALL – SUNDAY

Green Bay (NL) at Chicago: The status of again-injured Chicago QB Jay Cutler keeps this game off the boards early. Expect Green Bay to be the slightest of road favorites. This is Chicago’s final home game and thus we should get the Bears’ best effort. Green Bay is expected to have some key defensive players back and Chicago injuries to personnel on both sides of the football appear to be too much to overcome. GREEN BAY.

Giants +1 at Falcons (51): Atlanta played its worst game of season in losing at Carolina last week. The Giants controlled the second half of their game against New Orleans, getting major contributions from rookie RB and kick returner David Wilson. The Falcons are a dominant team and home and basically just have to win this game to cover the number – and get their revenge while getting back on track. FALCONS.

Bucs +3 at Saints (54): The Saints are playing out the string while Tampa Bay’s loss last week all but ends their Wild Card hopes. Both teams have porous defenses but the Saints have a solid edge on offense, especially at home on the fast track. The Tampa defense should be the tonic that cures the ills of Saints QB Drew Brees who has been an interception machine the past three weeks. SAINTS.

Vikings +3 at Rams (38): This is only the second time this season the Rams are favored. With the playoff chances of the loser likely extinguished, these pair of mediocre teams likely will use low risk, conservative game plans, especially with each team having an outstanding RB in the Ram‘s Stephen Jackson and the Vikes‘ Adrian Peterson. UNDER.

Redskins (NL) at Browns: The late injury to RG III in the ‘Skins’ OT win at Baltimore keeps this game off the boards early. Washington should be a slight favorite even if backup rookie QB Kirk Cousins, who looked sharp in the preseason, gets the start. The Redskins have edges up front with a stronger rushing offense and the better rushing defense. Cleveland has also run the football better over the past month and neither coach may want their QB to take too many chances. UNDER .

Jaguars +7 at Dolphins (37): Both teams are playing out the string as the Jaguars have lost 9 of 10 and the Dolphins have lost five of six. It’s hard to make a case for either team but it might be a bit easier to support a play on the Jags getting generous points. Added motivation for the visitors as QB Chad Henne was not invited back by Miami after last season with the Dolphins instead choosing to go with a rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill. JAGUARS.

Broncos -2½ at Ravens (48½): Denver has won eight in a row as QB Peyton Manning is making a strong case for league MVP. Baltimore has a strong home field and will be eager to make amends for blowing a home game to Pittsburgh two weeks ago that ended a 16 game home win streak. It’s tough to resist taking such a strong host as underdogs, even against a hot foe. RAVENS.

Colts +8½ at Texans (48): The Colts continue to win close games with only one win by more than a TD and six of their nine wins by 4 points or less. Getting more than a TD with a team playing to make the Playoffs against a team off of what was an emotional game with short rest is appealing. COLTS.

Panthers +3 at Chargers (45½): Both teams are playing out the string. We may see both offenses open things up and take chances they normally would not take if this game had significance other than attaining player incentives. OVER.

Seahawks -4 vs. Bills (42): Game at Toronto. It’s hard to find a more impressive win than Seattle’s 58-0 blowout of Arizona last week, a win that puts Seattle in excellent shape to make the playoffs with their final two games at home where they are unbeaten. Buffalo led much of the way against St. Louis last week but lost in the final minute. The motivation and energy will clearly be on the Seattle sideline. But such a dominating win often leads to a decline in performance the following week. BILLS.

Lions -6 at Cards (43½): Wow! After a 4-0 start Arizona has lost nine in a row, punctuated by that ugly 58-0 loss in Seattle last week. Pride should kick in and we should get an inspired effort from the home team and they are facing a team quite accustomed to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. CARDS.

Steelers pk at Cowboys (44½): Dallas has won four of five while the Steelers have dropped three of four. The result may well doom the playoff hopes of the loser. Pittsburgh has the league’s best overall defense, ranking third against the run and first against the pass. Expect QB Ben Roethlisberger to be sharper with a game under his belt following his ribs injury. STEELERS.

Chiefs +2½ at Raiders (42½): This is Oakland’s final home game of the season and they do have a decided edge at QB with Carson Palmer. Perhaps that is enough for the Raiders to give their fans an early Christmas present. RAIDERS.

49ers +3½ at Patriots (48): Both teams rank in the top 10 in both rushing offense and rushing defense. New England’s fifth ranked passing offense will be challenged by San Francisco’s second ranked passing defense. In what might appear to be a high scoring game, don’t be surprised if the defenses make the key stops and we see more field goals than touchdowns. UNDER.

PRO FOOTBALL – MONDAY

Jets +1 at Titans (42): Tennessee’s once potent rushing game has been very inconsistent and has been held below the NFL average of 116 ypg 9 times in 13 games and in 7 of those games they failed to reach 100 yards. JETS.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

 GamingToday on Facebook      and         GamingToday on Twitter

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

Get connected with us on Social Media