Here’s an early look at some key games for the final week of the National Football League season. Green Bay and Chicago currently have no line listed, thus that omission.
Baltimore (+6) at Cincinnati – The Bengals may have locked up the AFC North but they may still have something to play for against rival Baltimore. Should the Bengals win and the Colts lose, the Bengals would then host either the Ravens, Chargers, Dolphins or Steelers. Should the Bengals lose and the Colts win, then they would host Kansas City.
In other words, it could all come down to what match-up Marvin Lewis and his staff prefer. This will determine how long he keeps his starters in the game. Both the Colts and Bengals play 1pm games so there will be lots of scoreboard watching by both teams.
Jacksonville (+11) at Indianapolis – Right now, the Colts know they will be playing on opening weekend of the NFL Playoffs with New England and Denver securing the one and two seeds. With that thought in mind, how will Head Coach Chuck Pagano proceed in terms of resting his starters? I don’t expect to see Andrew Luck much more than a half and the same will be said for other key players on both sides of the ball.
Jacksonville has made tremendous strides in the second half of the season and will be a thorn in the side of Indianapolis whether the starters play or not. I really like Jacksonville getting those 11 points on Sunday.
NY Jets (+7) at Miami – Miami needs a win and then help from Baltimore and/or San Diego. A loss eliminates them regardless of what else happens around the league. The Jets have played decently the last couple of weeks and they have to be wondering if this isn’t the last time Rex Ryan will be on the sidelines as their head coach.
That issue aside, the Jets and Dolphins always seem to play great games whether in Miami or in New York. I love the Jets getting the touchdown here.
Cleveland (+7) at Pittsburgh – The Steelers offense is fresh from a 31 point output at Lambeau Field in Green Bay (they had a pick six in winning 38-31). Cleveland enters the finale against the their rival off of a bad loss against the Jets and seem to be playing out the string now.
The Steelers must win and then get help from Miami, Baltimore and San Diego. All three must lose in order for Pittsburgh to even have a shot at the postseason. Despite the poor season, Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger has had a monster season and will look to continue it against the Browns. He has only lost once to them in his career.
I like the Steelers to cover in this game.
Buffalo (+9) at New England – The Bills pulled off a bit of a shocker in beating Miami on Sunday. They had Thad Lewis at QB and were missing several other key players while Miami was playing for a playoff spot. Buffalo doesn’t exactly do well at New England in recent years and that’s a big reason for the big line.
The Pats are coming off a total dismantling of Baltimore in Maryland on Sunday. They are continuing to prove that they can do things without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. As of right now, I think this is a line where you go with New England. A great start could put pressure on Denver to win in order to claim home-field advantage. Both teams play at 425pm Eastern.
Philadelphia (-7) at Dallas – The line moved from Philly +4 to the current line almost immediately after the news that Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo was done for the season. Head Coach Jason Garrett still claims Romo is ‘day-to-day’ but mainstream thought is that Kyle Orton will be under center for Dallas.