I was brought back to Earth a bit in week 16 as my picks went 0-2 and put an end to what was a great 3-week, undefeated run. The Packers and Buccaneers did not put up the points required to get over the total, and the same can be said for the Cowboys and Colts game despite Dallas putting up 42 points in that contest. It’s hard to believe the NFL regular season is coming to an end this week but the best part of the football season is yet to come. Having said that, some games this week do in fact hold some significance while others may see some regulars either not dressed or playing limited minutes on the field.
The Packers got the road win they needed to stay in a first place tie and set up a showdown in week 17 at Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions to see who will come away with the NFC North division crown. Green Bay still didn’t play offense the way we all know that are capable of and managed just 20 points against a hapless Bucs squad. Not helping the cause was the Buccaneers offense who managed just 3 points on the day. Lovie Smith and the rest of the Bucs brass will have plenty to discuss this offseason as this team is one of the worst in the league and is in desperate need of a Quarterback that can be relied upon to produce points, although giving up only 20 points to Green Bay has to be considered a victory for the Tampa Bay defense. Nonetheless the 20-3 final score did not get close to the over 49 and started my day off on the wrong foot.
The Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts squared off in Texas but this game turned out to be especially disappointing for both my pick and the Colts. Indianapolis was absolutely throttled by the playoff-bound Cowboys who did the majority of the scoring in this one. Dallas managed to put up 42 points on the struggling Colts and this one was put away early be the home side. DeMarco Murray played very well in this one despite a broken bone in his hand and Tony Romo used his wide range of targets in the passing game to shred the Colts defense. The problem was the Colts managed just 7 points of their own and Andrew Luck was eventually pulled from the game. If you would have told me Dallas was going to put up 42 points I would say the over 55 would be a lock. However I suffered a tough defeat as the 42-7 final fell under the 55 point total.
There is just a single week left in the regular season and the playoffs are just around the corner so let’s take a look at the week 17 action and roll in to the playoffs on a positive note.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
Lines – Green Bay -7.5 (+100)
OVER 47 (-110)
My Pick – LIONS +7.5 (-120)
As I mentioned above there are some games this week that are significant and this is certainly one of them. The Lions will invade Lambeau Field with a chance to win the division but they will have to deal with the league’s best home offense to do so. The Green Bay Packers boast the league’s most potent offense on their home field and appear to be poised to win the NFC North division this Sunday. The issue is that divisional games are never as easy as they may appear to be and the Lions will definitely not be pushovers come game time. A perfect example of this was Detroit’s game last week at Chicago. The Bears are mired in one of the most miserable seasons in recent memory, but they gave Detroit all they could handle. The Bears took a 14-10 lead in to the fourth quarter and it took 10 unanswered Lions points in the final frame to beat the division rival Bears. The Lions defense has been impressive all year long and they will need to be once again this week. They haven’t given up more than 17 points since their week 12 loss at New England and they average just short of 17 points against per game. They are especially stout against the run, surrendering just 63 yards per game on the ground and giving up less than 300 total yards per game. The Packers give up almost twice that much on the ground and there have been many occasions this season where Aaron Rodgers has had to put up north of 30 points per game to get the win. Detroit has actually possessed the ball for more minutes this season than Green Bay thanks to that defense, and keeping your offense on the field against the Packers is a good thing because it keeps Rodgers on the sidelines. Keep in mind the Lions held the Packers offense to just 7 points earlier this season and although the change of venue is big, they still proved they can beat the best. Rodgers has an impressive 36 touchdowns and 4155 passing yards this year, however Mathew Stafford has 4040 yards himself but with 19 touchdowns. The Lions offense is going to need to be more potent in the red zone and their kicking game needs to be reliable because every point in a game of this magnitude is huge. I’m interested to see if Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson can match the play of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Nelson and Cobb have combined for 23 touchdowns this season compared to 10 for Tate and Johnson, but Calvin missed significant time this year with a high ankle sprain. The Lions duo is certainly capable of beating this Packers defense and I am very optimistic Stafford can connect with these two to put up some points this Sunday. I’m not sure the Lions can march in to Lambeau and win this game outright, but in a divisional game I will definitely take the 7 points and feel comfortable, even if it is against the feared Packers offense. Take the Lions plus the points this Sunday and enjoy what should be one of the best game in the season’s final week.
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans
Lines – Indianapolis -7 (+100)
OVER 46 (-110)
My Pick – COLTS -7 (+100)
In what may seem like a contradiction to the reasoning for my pick above, I like the Colts to beat up a divisional rival this weekend. The difference for this particular divisional game is the fact that the Titans are just brutal this season. Tennessee is 2-13 on the season and they have only 1 win within the division and that was against the also brutal Jacksonville Jaguars on a last second field goal block. The Colts on the other hand have won 10 games so far this season and have yet to lose within the AFC South. The Colts come in to this game looking to be much better after a horrible loss in Dallas and the good news for them is T.Y. Hilton will return to the lineup and should see some action despite their playoff seeding being locked in. The Colts will be facing a much less potent offense this week as opposed to last as the Titans have totalled just 31 points in their last 3 games and don’t really appear to have a capable Quarterback. The Colts do though as Luck leads the league with 38 touchdowns and has thrown for a whopping 4601 yards on the season. He has found Hilton for 7 of those scores and breakout Tight End Coby Fleener for 6. Luck and Hilton connected for 105 yards in their matchup with the Titans earlier in the season and Hilton as matched a personal best with 82 receptions this year. The Colts beat Tennessee 41-17 in their matchup in September and have won six straight and 11 of 12 against the Titans. The Titans give up 142 yards on the ground per game and they average only 311 total yards per contest on offense. Unfortunately for Tennessee the Colts get over 400 yards of offense per game and Luck averages over 300 yards passing per game. Even though the Titans will tell you they are not giving up this team has had an awful season and they have to be demoralized. I’m looking for Luck and the Colts to take advantage and put up a ton of points this Sunday. Take the Colts minus the points and watch them end their regular season on a high note against a team who’s season simply cannot end soon enough.