The National Football League has reached its penultimate week and there are no shortage of great games and great storylines for week 16. I’ve got a good feeling about these three games and each has some bearing on the playoffs. Enjoy!
Minnesota (+8) at Cincinnati – The Vikings have to be one of the more competitive 4-9-1 teams in NFL history. They play every opponent tough and last week hung a big loss on the Philadelphia Eagles who were one of the hotter teams in the league. The Vikings may run into a buzz saw when they head to Cincinnati today.
The Bengals were soundly beaten in Pittsburgh on Sunday night and looked bad in all three phases of the game. While they still control their own destiny for the AFC North title, they could find themselves out of the playoffs all together if they lose their final two games. What the Bengals have going for them is that they are unbeaten at home and that’s where they play their last two games.
Minnesota enters with a questionable Adrian Peterson and plenty of banged up players. The Bengals are 15-7-1 against the spread in their last 23 games while the Vikes are 4-10-1 straight up in their last 15 games. Look for an offensive explosion by the Bengals and I like them to cover.
Arizona (+10.5) at Seattle – The Pacific Northwest is host to a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Seahawks can wrap-up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win while an Arizona victory keeps them alive for a wild-card.
Both teams have injury issues but nothing too uncommon for this time of year. Percy Harvin is still out for Seattle while Larry Fitzgerald looks like he’ll play despite a concussion last Sunday in Tennessee. The Seahawks will look to establish the running game and then the play-action where Russell Wilson really excels.
The Cardinals will attempt to find some balance as well and must keep Carson Palmer upright in order for the Cards to have a chance. Arizona is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five games but is just 2-6 ATS in their last eight trips to Seattle. The Seahawks are a solid 8-2 straight up in their last 10 games at home against the Cards.
I have to believe the Seahawks will win but I like the Cards getting ten and a half.
Chicago (+3) at Philadelphia – Jay Cutler made Head Coach Marc Trestman look pretty darn good last week as he led the Bears to a win in Cleveland with a big second half. Many felt Josh McCown had done more than enough to deserve the starting job but Trestman stuck to his word. Now Chicago goes into Philly where the Eagles are smarting from their loss to Minnesota.
Both the Eagles and Bears are in similar positions. They each have a game lead in their respective divisions but will need to keep winning in order to make the playoffs. Both also realize that the division title is the only way they make the postseason as the wild-card is not an option.
The Eagles will look to get LeSean McCoy as many touches as possible which could allow Nick Foles to thrive in the play-action. The Bears will do the same with Matt Forte and their big, athletic receivers. The Bears are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road.
The Eagles are 2-10-1 ATS in their last 13 games at home. With both teams facing must-win games next week, I expect an absolute battle here. Because Philly just doesn’t do well at home recently, I like the Bears getting the three.