We are starting the holiday countdown with only four games left in the regular season. Only four games to decide who goes to the playoffs. If only choosing the college football final four were this easy. MAN! The Washington Redskins let me down Thursday night, but I will rebound with the rest of the week's picks. Here we go............
MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS ATLANTA FALCONS:
Potentially, this is a must see game depending on which Atlanta team shows up. The Vikes defense is giving opposing offenses a hard time. Atlanta WR Julio Jones will be covered well by Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes. RB Devanta Freeman may return after two weeks clearing concussion protocol. QB Matt Ryan will have a tough time against one of the top defenses in the league. Minnesota's front seven has given many QBs this season the blues. The Vikings are on a roll and Atlanta will not be the ones to stop them.
HOUSTON TEXANS VS TENNESSEE TITANS:
QB Tom Savage has been a turnover machine for the Texans. Will there be a flash on brilliance for the Texans today? Not so much. The Titans are playing better. Definitely better than the first matchup against the Texans. Exploiting the Texan defense will not be difficult for QB Marcus Mariota. Houston is hurt in key defensive positions. Titans WR Rishard Matthews is a possibility for today's game. Houston does not have anything to lose but this game.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS VS NEW YORK JETS:
A team that started out looking like they were on their way to post season success slowly became a flicker of their once selves. The Kansas City Chiefs cannot seem to put together what they once had at the beginning of all of this. This will be the perfect opportunity for Jets QB Josh McCown and company to get back to their winning ways; especially with the addition of CB Darrelle Revis. The Jets are better than their record shows. They are not the best, but they are better.
New York Jets
DENVER BRONCOS VS MIAMI DOLPHINS:
The words that could be used to describe these teams! Picking and moving on.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS VS JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:
Hopefully, Jacksonville has seen the error in their ways and will come out this week strong against an Indianapolis team that is ready for the season to be over with. The Colts will put up a good fight, but Jags QB Blake Bortles and RB Leonard Fournette will have a pretty good day. The Jags need a win to keep in contention. They should have no problem today.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS VS GREEN BAY PACKERS:
Bucs QB Jameis Winston will be back for this game. This, hopefully, will be an improvement over Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will be without RB Doug Martin, but will have WR Mike Evans who could give the Packers defense some trouble. Packers QB Brett Hundley has been coming into his own. Rookie RB Jamaal Williams added some flair to a much needed running game. They almost won against the Steelers last week in a game that went down to the wire. The Bucs have had a lot of trouble on the road. The Packers should not lose another one at home.
Green Bay Packers
DETROIT LIONS VS BALTIMORE RAVENS:
Great offense against a great defense. Who wins out? Both teams are in the hunt. With Baltimore's fading offense led by QB Joe Flacco, there should be no doubt who the winner should be. Expect the Ravens to have that flash of brilliance, but not enough to keep the Lions contained. The Ravens defense will not be able to hold out for as often as they will be on the field.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS BUFFALO BILLS:
With a running theme of who needs a win, the Bills are playing the Patriots to keep their chances alive. They are playing the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS! It is very possible that Pats QB Tom Brady will not tear the Bills secondary to pieces. It is very possible that Bills QB Tyrod Taylor could make enough plays on his feet to keep them in the game. Anything is possible. Will it happen though? Not so much. For Brady and company, the mission is clear.
New England Patriots
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS VS CHICAGO BEARS:
Games have to be played. Neither team has made any changes during the season that have moved them in the right direction. The drill in times like these is to give the advantage to the home team. So be it.
CLEVELAND BROWNS VS LOS ANGELES CHARGERS:
Chargers hot. Browns not. It is not even fair how Cleveland's season will end up.
Los Angeles Chargers
NEW YORK GIANTS VS OAKLAND RAIDERS:
The Giants will start QB Geno Smith in place of the "benched" Eli Manning. Oh boy! This could go one of two ways: 1. Smith manages to find a way with a mediocre offense to pull out a win or 2. the Giants go down in flames causing them to put rookie QB Davis Webb in. Going to go with option 2 here. Even as dysfunctional as the Raiders are (Crabtree suspension, Cooper concussion, Lynch bust), they are much better (and who isn't) than the Giants.
CAROLINA PANTHERS VS NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:
This should be a wonderful matchup between division teams. The first time these teams met this season did not end well for the Panthers. That was their first loss and that started the Saints' eight game win streak. Although the Saints loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week, they are looking to take the division lead here heading into the last games of the regular season. For Carolina, it will boil down to QB Cam Newton. He will be the one to win it for them. For the Saints, RBs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara will make all the difference. They will test the Carolina defense.
New Orleans Saints
LOS ANGELES RAMS VS ARIZONA CARDINALS:
Who else needs to be convinced of the Rams legitimacy? There really is not much of a contest against the Arizona Cardinals. Even with WR Robert Woods out, the Rams will use RB Todd Gurley a bit more. This will not fair well for a weak Cards defense. Look for the Rams to make a statement to the league that they are contenders.
Los Angeles Rams
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES VS SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:
The struggle is real for the Seattle Seahawks. The surmounting number of injuries is making getting into the post season harder than ever. Hawks QB Russell Wilson will have to dig deep into his bag of tricks to get the win against the Eagles. Eagles QB Carson Wentz is playing out of his mind. Seattle can stay in the game and maybe even keep it exciting, but ultimately the Eagles will prevail.
I feel that this will be a very lopsided week of games, but this is why they play the games. So many "need to win" games are being played this week. Let's see how it all ends. Good luck to your teams and picks!
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