Can you remember the last time a playoff picture seemed so up for grabs? I know I've complained in this space about the NFL's new playoff format before, and while I'm not a huge fan, I can't deny that this year, in particular, it has added a new level of drama. While the NFC seems destined to have at least one losing team in the postseason, what the AFC has lacked in dominant teams, it has made up for with a complete lack of clarity on which teams will make it.
Like the NFC, the AFC has three teams tied at the top of the standings, all fighting for a bye. Unlike the NFC, the AFC has seven teams behind them, all within a game of one another fighting for the other four spots. The race for the final wild-card spots over the final month of the regular season could be more exciting than the playoffs themselves -- like many others, I have the sneaking suspicion the Chiefs have flipped the switch. It'll also make it a bit more challenging to handicap the games, but we don't have to worry about that this week because I'm betting on bad teams instead.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
OK, so the Cowboys aren't a bad team, but they're playing one, and I'm not betting on either. Instead, I'm betting the over because this number is too low. I can see this game playing out a few different ways, including one where the Cowboys offense does most of the work for us and scores at least 30 points. Plus, at the rate the Cowboys defense turns opponents over, the unit could contribute and help us get over the total even in a blowout.
Another factor I cannot overlook is the official for this game: Jerome Boger. While I'd never advise anybody to bet on an NFL game based on officiating assignments, there's a strong correlation between Boger's crew and games going over. But, again, that's just a cherry on top of the sundae.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Giants 20
Which NFL picks can you make with confidence this week, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $7,200 since its inception.
Remember when it was the Houston Texans who were the league's embarrassment? The Texans should send a thank you card to Urban Meyer because, hoooooo boy, are the Jaguars an absolute mess right now as Meyer was fired early Thursday.
The Jaguars have lost five straight and have been outscored 57-7 in the last two weeks. Everything about the franchise seems dysfunctional, and while the Texans are pretty awful themselves, at least they seem to have a plan. I don't know what Jacksonville's is.
Prediction: Texans 21, Jaguars 17
It's hard to win consistently betting the NFL, but one of the ways I've managed to do so this season is by making the bets nobody wants to make. This, like betting the Texans, is another example of that. The Jets are awful, and seven of their 10 losses have been double-digit losses. That's not great! Still, while the Jets are bad, that doesn't mean I want to be the person trusting the Miami Dolphins to cover as a double-digit favorite, either.
Miami is only 6-7 itself, after all, and it's being overvalued this week because it's riding a five-game win streak. But if we look closer at that streak, we see that the five teams Miami has beaten are a combined 22-43. One of those teams was the Jets, who Miami beat at MetLife Stadium, 24-17, but it was a lot closer than the score suggests if you look at the box score.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jets 17