As I head into the final two weeks of the regular season, I am on a bit of a hot streak. I’m 11-1 since Thanksgiving in posted picks, so things have been going excellent, to say the least. Stay tuned for the regular season finale’s picks next week and more throughout the playoffs. Good luck!
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills +3 Total: 43
Miami heads into Buffalo looking for their fourth win in a row, and have a chance to clinch a playoff spot this Sunday depending on other outcomes. However, they do control their own destiny. If they win this week and take care of the Jets in Week 17, they will get the AFC’s final Wild-Card spot.
The Dolphins improved to 8-6 after last week’s 24-20 win over division leading New England. After opening the season 3-0, Miami then dropped four straight games but have since won five out of their last seven.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been a massive part of their current run. He has completed over 64 percent of his passes over the Dolphins current win streak, throwing for eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. Their defense has also improved. The Fins are allowing just 18.4 over their last seven games, compared to over 28 points during their four-game losing streak.
Miami looks to have a fortunate draw this week with lowly Buffalo, a team that is now without its starting quarterback in E.J. Manuel who will be sidelined with a knee injury. They will also be without top wide receiver Stevie Johnson. This looks to be a tall task to overcome, especially for a subpar 5-9 Buffalo team, but not so fast.
Backup and now-starter, Thad Lewis already has a win under his belt against the Dolphins this season. It was an Oct. 20th 23-21 win at Miami in which he previously started for the oft-injured Manuel. While the Bills are 3-4 at home, they have been in nearly every game till the final whistle and have notable victories against both Carolina and Baltimore at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Miami’s poor offensive line will also be ripe for the picking against the Bills strong defensive front led by Mario Williams. A not so well known fact is that Buffalo leads the NFL in sacks over the past three weeks, and lead all NFL teams for the season, as well. They got to Tannehill often in October’s matchup. He was sacked just twice, but was hurried a dozen times and hit five times.
The Bills will be eager to play spoiler to a divisional rival, and this matchup is not the cakewalk many are making it out to be for the Dolphins. I think Buffalo spoils Miami’s playoff chances this Sunday.
Pick: Bills +3(-120)
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers -3 Total: 47
The Saints head into Charlotte with a lot on the line this week. With a win against their division rivals, they will clinch not only the NFC South, but secure the NFC’s number two seed and with that a first-round bye.
After beating the Panthers at the Superdome 31-13 just three weeks ago on December 8th, New Orleans suffered a setback last week for their divisional hopes as they were beaten soundly at St. Louis, 27-16.
Carolina got back to their winning ways with a 30-20 win over the New York Jets at home, and if can win their home-leg of this divisional series, they could find themselves grabbing the number two seed if things go their way. However, a loss would be dire for their divisional hopes and dangerous for their postseason aspirations as a whole. Arizona, their main competition for the last Wild-Card spot in the NFC also has a 9-5 record, but has a head-to-head win against Carolina this year, giving them the tiebreaker.
Many will point to New Orleans’ dismantling of the Panthers two weeks ago as a reason to bet the Saints in this contest, but let’s not forget that game was in the Superdome. The Saints are clearly a different team at home, where they are undefeated, but the road has been a different story. They are just 3-4 in away games this season and have looked like a different team away from the Big Easy.
Carolina needs to win this game even more than New Orleans with their tiebreaker implications the rest of the way. Also, despite the beating they received the first game, I still think they have a strong matchup from a Xs and Os perspective.
After all, the Saints did just allow the Rams’ Kellen Clemens to throw two touchdowns last week. Cam Newton is a far better player and is dangerous with his legs, a part of his game he did not utilize enough in the first meeting. Carolina is a run-first offense and New Orleans has one of the worst rush defenses in the league.
The Panthers defense should keep them in the game and their ball-control offense should limit Brees’ ability to get New Orleans back in the game. I hope Ron Rivera was watching the Rams last week because their gameplan was a blueprint of how to beat the Saints. Carolina is a much better team than St. Louis and should be able to do the same this Sunday.
Pick: Panthers -3(-120)
Oakland Raiders at San Diego -10 Total: 50.5
This AFC West matchup has plenty of meaning for San Diego as they try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but this game is merely an audition for next season for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders won their first game against San Diego this year, a 27-17 home win on October 6th.
At 7-7, the Chargers are lucky to be in the playoff picture at all, and a loss against the lowly Raiders would eliminate them from playoff contention. They pulled off a huge road upset of the Denver Broncos last week, winning 27-20 at Mile High Stadium.
Oakland has been the AFC West’s punching bag as of late, and last week’s throttling by Kansas City was another example of that. They lost 56-31 to the visiting Chiefs and allowed running back Jamaal Charles to score five touchdowns and amass 195 yards receiving in the defeat.
This is a classic fade of public opinion. No one looked worse than Oakland last week, and their defense is among the worst in the league, but they certainly are not ten points worse than the Chargers. San Diego’s defense is a poor unit as well, and even though the Raiders have nothing to play for in the standings, they have many young players who are auditioning for next year.
I will take the points in this divisional contest that I think will come down to the wire.
Pick: Raiders +10(-115)
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