Pigskin Picks: 11-5 ATS or bust!

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 25, 2008



Throughout the NFL season, we have relied on our Quality Stats in analyzing and predicting all of the games. Our results have been decidedly mixed.
 
Picking straight-up winners, we're 65 games over .500 on the year. A 9-7 record in Week 16 brought our overall mark to 152-87-1 (.635).
 
Unfortunately, we have been much worse against the spread. With last week's 7-9 showing, we are now 114-119-7 for the season.
 
Now, with one Sunday slate left in the regular season, our Quality Stats can no longer be used as a guide. It's all about motivation at this time of year, and the lines are a reflection of that. The trick is determining which teams will rest their players, which will try to build some momentum and which will play for pride.
 
At CHFF, we lost any semblance of pride long ago, but we still have a hint of ambition. The goal is to go 11-5 or better ATS and finish above .500. Here's our take on Week 17:
 
Oakland at Tampa Bay (-13)            
Needing to win and then hope for a Dallas loss, the Bucs should handle their business, but the points are too generous.
 
The pick: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 13
 
Detroit at Green Bay (-10)                           
The first 0-16 record in NFL history seems inevitable for the Lions, and the rival Packers won't show any mercy after a season of many narrow defeats.
 
The pick: Packers 31, Lions 17
 
Dallas at Philadelphia (-1½)                         
With this game now starting at 4:15 local time, the Eagles should already know if a playoff spot is possible, and it's unlikely that both the Bucs and Bears will have lost.
 
The pick: Cowboys 27, Eagles 20
 
N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (-7)                                 
The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a victory, and the primary concern for the Giants will be staying healthy to defend their championship.
 
The pick: Vikings 24, Giants 16
                       
Chicago at Houston (-3)                    
The Bears need help, but they could still claim either the division crown or a wild card, so that should be sufficient incentive.
 
The pick: Bears 22, Texans 20
 
Carolina (-3) at New Orleans           
Assuming an Atlanta win over woeful St. Louis, the Panthers will need a victory to capture the NFC South and the No. 2 seed.
           
The pick: Panthers 34, Saints 30
 
St. Louis at Atlanta (-14)                  
With a playoff berth already in hand, the Falcons will be trying to improve their position, and the Rams may offer only token resistance.
 
The pick: Falcons 28, Rams 13
 
Kansas City at Cincinnati (-3)                      
In a game that redefines "meaningless," we'll back plucky quarterback Tyler Thigpen and the usually competitive Chiefs.
 
The pick: Chiefs 20, Bengals 17  
 
Jacksonville at Baltimore (-12)                               
The Ravens need a win to secure a wild-card spot, but the Jaguars should be able to stay within this big number.
 
The pick: Ravens 23, Jaguars 16
 
Tennessee (-3) at Indianapolis
Since both teams are locked into their playoff positions (Titans at No. 1 and Colts at No. 5), the player with the most motivation may be Tennessee backup QB Vince Young.
 
The pick: Titans 24, Colts 20
 
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-11)                                
The Browns haven't scored an offensive touchdown in five games, but they may not need many points to get the cover against the disinterested Steelers.
 
The pick: Steelers 17, Browns 10
 
Miami at N.Y. Jets (-3)                                 
Having lost control of their own destiny, the Jets could take the field knowing that the AFC East title is gone and a wild-card slot hinges on the Ravens getting upset.
 
The pick: Jets 22, Dolphins 20
 
New England (-6) at Buffalo                      
With the other relevant games not being contested until later, the Patriots should have a singular focus and remain on their high-scoring roll.
 
The pick: Patriots 30, Bills 22             
 
Seattle at Arizona (-6)                                   
After getting embarrassed last week, the Cardinals will look to recapture their offensive rhythm in time to make a decent playoff showing.
 
The pick: Cardinals 27, Seahawks 17
 
Washington at San Francisco (-3)    
Lame-duck offensive coordinator Mike Martz won't be pulling out all the stops to ensure that Mike Singletary and the 49ers finish on a high note.
 
The pick: Redskins 21, 49ers 20
 
Denver at San Diego (-9)                 
The AFC West title goes to the winner, and the Broncos should at least put up enough points to stay within shouting distance.
 
The pick: Chargers 31, Broncos 24

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