I'm not enjoying the NFL's new playoff format. Don't get me wrong, when the playoffs start, I'm not going to be complaining about having a couple of extra playoff games, but that doesn't mean the postseason hasn't been watered down to a remarkable degree. I mean, here we are, entering December, and when networks put up those playoff graphics, nearly 90% of the league is still in the hunt for a playoff spot!

On the one hand, the league and networks that broadcast the games (including the beautiful and perfect in every way CBS) love it because it adds more "meaningful" games with playoff implications, but a game between a 5-6 team and a 4-7 team shouldn't have playoff implications! There's a genuine chance that we'll have at least one team with a losing record make the playoffs this year, and I'm not just talking about an 8-9 team. We could see a 7-10 team break through.

Why in the world does a team that can't win at least half its games deserve to be in the playoffs? It makes no sense, but don't worry, I'll go outside and finish yelling at clouds while you read my picks for this weekend.

All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.

Buccaneers at Falcons: Buccaneers -11 (-110)

When it comes to betting NFL games, there isn't much I enjoy doing less than betting on double-digit favorites, but this spread isn't big enough. The Falcons are 5-6 and IN THE HUNT, but they aren't a good team. Their five wins have come against the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Saints and Jaguars, who are a combined 19-37 this season. Their six losses have come by an average of 20.7 points each, including a 25-point loss to these same Buccaneers. Any time the Falcons have played a Super Bowl contender this season, they've been blasted, and I don't see the situation changing this weekend.

The Bucs got a bit lucky in a comeback win against Indianapolis last week, but they're also in a position where they cannot take anyone lightly. The biggest bonus of the new playoff format -- and the one I think actually leads to more meaningful games -- is that there's only one bye per conference and Tampa's locked in a battle with four other teams for that spot.

Prediction: Bucs 31, Falcons 17

Chargers at Bengals: Chargers +3 (-105)

Trying to figure out the Chargers from week to week isn't the easiest task, but we're catching them in an interesting spot here. My numbers tell me the Bengals are slightly overvalued here, which is understandable considering they dismantled Pittsburgh 41-10 last week and beat the Raiders 32-13 a week before. Still, while I think this Bengals team is good, it isn't likely to continue performing at that level for much longer. Very few teams are capable of that in the NFL.

While the Chargers lost on the road to Denver last week, it was a Broncos team coming off a bye. If you give Vic Fangio an extra week to prepare for you, he's more than capable of putting together a defensive game plan to make your life miserable, which is what he and the Broncos did. The Chargers should find more success against the Bengals' defense this week and keep this game close at a minimum.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Chargers 23

Broncos at Chiefs: Broncos +10 (-115)

As I said, I don't like taking double-digit favorites in the NFL. That said, I'm not making this play as a counterbalance to the Tampa Bay pick. This spread is just too big. I know the Chiefs looked awesome two weeks ago against Las Vegas in a 41-14 win, and the world proclaimed that the Chiefs' offense was back, but did you see last week against Dallas? It looked like it still had a lot of the same problems it's had all season long, and this week it'll be going against another tough defense in the Broncos.

Also, while I don't consider Denver a legitimate contender to win the AFC this year, it's a solid team. Teddy Bridgewater does what Teddy Bridgewater does, and the Broncos rely on a solid rushing attack and good defense. The Chiefs have one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL this season, and the Broncos will use that to their benefit to control the clock and keep the Chiefs within striking distance.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Broncos 20



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