Most of the game around the National Football League have playoff implications of one kind or another and I’ve analyzed four of them. Read on friends….
Detroit (+3) at Philadelphia – Let’s go ahead and get the over/under of 53 out of the way. Take the over and don’t look back. Both teams average over 25 points per game and give up about 24 per game. Both teams can move the ball and move it on both the ground and through the air.
Both teams need a victory. The Lions have a one game lead over Chicago in the NFC North while the Eagles and Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East. Thus neither team can afford a loss with just a few games remaining. The Lions are 1-4 against the spread in their last five visits to Philly while the Eagles are 1-10-1 against the spread in their last 12 home games.
Matthew Stafford turns the ball over too much for my liking on what will be a cold day in Philly so take the hot hand of Nick Foles and the Eagles to cover.
Miami (+3) at Pittsburgh – With both team averaging 21 points per game and each giving up 20 points or more per game, I expect this to be a close, competitive ball game in the Steel City. The weather is currently scheduled to create problems as it will be in the low 20′s with ice and snow possible. That won’t create problems just for the Dolphins either as both teams will have to deal with those elements.
Ben Roethlisberger is 4-0 in his career against Miami and that includes his first career start down in South Florida. These two have met eight times since 1995 and this is just the third game in Pittsburgh over that span. The Dolphins are 1-4 straight up in their last four games in Pittsburgh while the Steelers are 18-6 straight up in their last 24 home games.
I expect a game won in the fourth quarter by the Steelers who will cover.
Carolina (+3.5) at New Orleans – While both teams are tied atop the NFC South at 9-3, the pressure to win is immense for Carolina. Why? Because they are playing in New Orleans and at night. Mix those two together and what you get is ten straight wins for the Saints in those situations.
The advantage Ron Rivera and his squad have is that the Saints played on Monday night and arrived home later than expected due to airplane issues. That means less time to prepare for New Orleans to prepare for Cam Newton and company.
These two will hook up in Charlotte two weeks from tonight so whatever happens this evening can be undone should both teams win and/or lose in between games. The Panthers are 2-3 in their last five visits to the Big Easy and call me crazy but I love them getting the three and half.
Seattle (+3) at San Francisco – The Seahawks have a three game with four games to play. A win wraps up the division title while a loss to the Niners will make things a little more interesting for at least one more week. I think there are two reasons the line is what it is today. First, the Seahawks are coming off an emotional Monday night win over New Orleans and secondly, the Niners typically play well at home in Candlestick Park.
The 49ers have played much better the last two weeks which were both wins and Colin Kaepernick has looked significantly better as well. Whether or not Kaepernick has returned to his form from last season is debatable but he has shown glimpses.
I think Seattle enters this game looking to put a stamp on an impressive season. Look for the running game to emerge just enough to get Russell Wilson going in playing-action. I love the Seahawks and the three here.