Denny the Dog by Dennis Ball |
So you’re looking for an AFC wild-card and you don’t control your own destiny? OK. I understand you’re desperate. I feel your pain. NFL I’m having trouble gauging your anger level. How badly do you want to strangle Jim Caldwell for pulling Peyton Manning? And, in the process, the Jets are permitted to waltz home with a win that allows them to control their playoff destiny. I think your anger level is probably at a 10 on a scale from one to 10.
I’m truly sorry about your situation. But I have to side with the Colts on their decision to rest Manning and not risk injury to any of their key players. Indy’s goal is to get ready for the money games. They took Manning out and basically assured the Jets of the victory. The Colts won enough games to earn the right to make that decision. Jim Caldwell shouldn’t have to answer to anyone about that decision but himself.
If Indy ends up losing their offensive rhythm and momentum, Caldwell will only have himself to blame. But he earned the right to take that risk. Enough said. We’ve reached the final week of the regular season. Be careful with these games as there will be similar situations on tap for this Sunday and several lines not available early Monday morning.
Colts NL at Bills: If the Colts pulled Peyton in the second half versus the Jets, there’s no telling how many starters might be rested here. However, I think Caldwell will play enough to stay competitive and an attempt will be made to regain some momentum heading into the playoffs. COLTS.
Saints NL at Panthers: One of the most interesting matchups on the board this week. The Saints have dropped 2 consecutive games to Dallas and Tampa Bay after opening the season with 13 straight wins. Carolina on the other hand has won 2 straight and looked playoff caliber-like in the process. I told you last week that Matt Moore was improving each week. Hard to believe the Saints could lose 3 in a row after such a fantastic start but it could happen. PANTHERS.
Jaguars +2½ at Browns: I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that’s won more money for their backers over the last 5 weeks than the Brownies. It’s been quite a surprisingly smooth ride so I’m staying on board the Cleveland Express for the final leg of the trip. Jerome Harrison has rushed for 434 yards over the last two games. BROWNS.
Eagles +3 at Cowboys: This one is for all of the marbles in the NFC east and worth every penny of the admission price. Eagles have won 5 of their last 6 games and appear to be the team to beat when the NFC playoffs begin. But I have a hunch the Cowboys will play like this is the Super Bowl. COWBOYS.
Bears NL at Lions: Jay Cutler will finally meet a QB that can match him pick for pick and then some. I was not overly impressed with Drew Stanton’s first NFL start. BEARS.
Patriots +7 at Texans: I’m not exactly sure what needs to happen for Houston to make the playoffs. I’m sure they have to win and several teams need to lose. I don’t like those odds. The oddsmakers figure Belichick to rest the entire team but I don’t think he wants to lose too much momentum heading into the playoffs. PATRIOTS.
Steelers PK at Dolphins: Steelers would have never beaten Baltimore if not for the Ravens’ undisciplined penalties. If the Fish can’t stop Houston at home in a must win I’m not sure how they’re going to stop Pittsburgh. But I have confidence that the man behind the shades will figure it out. DOLPHINS.
Giants NL at Vikings: I believe the "Chilly" feud will be long over by the time this game kicks off. All Chilly Childress will be thinking about in this game is keeping Favre and Peterson healthy. But the G-men were eliminated after tossing in the towel against Carolina. VIKES.
Bengals +8 at Jets: This game has to mean more to New York than Cincinnati. The Bengals are in the money games and have little or no incentive to win or get anyone injured in the road finale. JETS.
49ers -8 at Rams: The Niners beat the Rams like they were sacrificial lambs on week 4, 35-zip. The Rams have not improved at all since week 4. If they’re without Jackson again this week this game could have the same exact score as the first match-up. 49ERS.
Falcons PK at Bucs: The Bucs will be spent after taking down the Saints in over-time at New Orleans. Josh Freeman finally had a decent game but he hasn’t convinced me he won’t have a few turnovers in him for this home finale. Matt Ryan wasn’t around when these two clubs met on week 12. FALCONS.
Packers +3 at Cards: There isn’t too much incentive for the road team here. Packers proved they were ready for the money games last Sunday versus Seattle. Cards don’t have much to play for either so I will take the home team and hope that Lineart will look to impress. CARDS.
Chiefs +12 at Broncos: Denver pounded the Chiefs a few weeks ago, 44-13. I expect more of the same with a playoff berth possibly on the line. Even if there isn’t a playoff opportunity, the Broncos put forth a gutsy effort in Philly last week and earn my vote here because of it. BRONCOS.
Ravens -9½ at Raiders: Baltimore must have kicked themselves in the butt all week for blowing at least 4 chances to beat the Steelers last Sunday. Eleven costly penalties for a total of 113 yards cost them a ticket for the money games last Sunday. The Ravens have one last chance in Oakland and I think they will run Ray Rice early and often on the way to a rout. RAVENS.
Skins +5½ at Chargers: I’m not sure Washington could win the Rose Bowl. I will take the home team in what has to be Jim Zorn’s swan song. San Diego can beat this team by a TD and rest up for the playoffs at the same time. CHARGERS.
Titans +4½ at Seahawks: I couldn’t bet the Seahawks if they were playing Washington State and getting 14 points! Say what you want about Vince Young, but with the exception of the Chargers’ fiasco he was pretty darn good down the stretch. TITANS.
BEST BETS: TITANS, BROWNS, COWBOYS