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Pudge’s Picks – Week 17

December 28th, 2013
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez’s final game

As I predicted last week, I had a disappointing week. I finished 7-9 picking against the spread, indicating that I need to get to 10-6 this week if I want to end the year at .500. A tall proposition given that I haven’t hit that benchmark very often this year.

I was 8-8 picking games straight up, making my season total at 150-90.

This week, I noticed I’m predominantly picking the home teams to win straight up, with home teams projected to go 13-3. I hope I’m right.

Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-11)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Falcons (+7.5)

This will be a farewell game for Tony Gonzalez, and I have the feeling that the Falcons will be competitive. They were against the Panthers for the most part in their last matchup on the road, and they will benefit from not having a healthy Steve Smith to go against. So the real question is will this offensive line do as good a job as they did last time to hold off the Panthers front.

I like their chances to pull the upset, especially now that Roddy White is healthy and making impact players. Finally, the Falcons have the weapons to take advantage of the lone Panthers defensive weakness: their secondary. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the Falcons to win.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bengals (-5.5)

I simply don’t trust the Bengals, even though they should be able to handle the Ravens at home. The Ravens got their butts kicked so badly by the Patriots last week, while the Bengals just ran over the Vikings that I think this one is one where the opposite happens. The Ravens typically aren’t a good bet on the road, but they need the win more than Cincinnati.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Steelers (-6.5)

The Steelers aren’t likely to make the playoffs, but they have something to play for and thus should be able to take care of business against the Browns.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

Detroit Lions (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Vikings (-3.5)

I do not trust the Lions to finish their season strong now that they are eliminated from the playoffs. Especially if there are questions over Calvin Johnson’s health. The Vikings have proven that they don’t need Adrian Peterson to play well.

Spread Pick: Vikings
Straight Pick: Vikings

Houston Texans (2-13) at Tennessee Titans (6-9)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Titans (-6.5)

Who starts at quarterback is a game day decision for the Texans, which is not a good sign.

Spread Pick: Titans
Straight Pick: Titans

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Colts (-11.5)

That’s a big line for a Colts team that has been intermittent on offense the past few weeks. But their defense appears to getting back on track after a couple of rough games.

Spread Pick: Jaguars
Straight Pick: Colts

New York Jets (7-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-7)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Dolphins (-6.5)

This will be a defensive battle, which should favor a low-scoring affair and the underdog Jets. But the Dolphins need this win to have a chance at making the playoffs, and I think they pull it off.

Spread Pick: Jets
Straight Pick: Dolphins

Washington Redskins (3-12) at New York Giants (6-9)
Sunday, December 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Giants (-3.5)

I should have known better than picking against the Giants last week against a declining Lions team. Not sure if the Redskins are ascending under Kirk Cousins, although there are the signs that is the case. The Giants shut down Alfred Morris last time they played, and if that happens again they should get another win.

Spread Pick: Giants
Straight Pick: Giants

Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (11-4)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

Line: Patriots (-9.5)

The Bills and Pats squared off in Week 1, and the Bills looked competitive against the Pats with a two-point loss. But I think enough has changed since then, such as Thad Lewis starting, and Tom Brady being more comfortable with his receivers that will give the Pats the bigger edge this time.

Spread Pick: Bills
Straight Pick: Patriots

Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Bears (-3.5)

This is a “win and you’re in” game. Although the buzz surrounds the Packers now that Aaron Rodgers is expected to start. But with essentially an eight-week layoff, I don’t expect Rodgers to hit the ground running as he needs to this week. Instead, this win for Green Bay will rely heavily on Eddie Lacy, which I think will be tough given his ankle issues even against the Bears run defense.

Spread Pick: Bears
Straight Pick: Bears

Denver Broncos (12-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-11)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

Line: Broncos (-12.5)

This is a game where the Broncos might opt to sit their starters early in the game, and thus should be easy for the Raiders to cover. I think the Broncos will try to win this one just to get home-field throughout the playoffs, but it still may not be their best effort.

Spread Pick: Raiders
Straight Pick: Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS

Line: Chargers (-9.5)

The Chargers definitely have something to play for, while the Chiefs do not. It’s that simple.

Spread Pick: Chargers
Straight Pick: Chargers

St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (12-3)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Seahawks (-10.5)

I don’t know what is going on with the Seahawks offense. The Rams played them tough several weeks ago, but Kellen Clemens lost them that game. I think Clemens will once again be marginal, and I think the Seahawks will do a better job finishing this year strong.

Spread Pick: Rams
Straight Pick: Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at New Orleans Saints (10-5)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Saints (-12.5)

The Bucs were coming on strong but have dipped as of late. If the Falcons take care of business in the early slate of games, the Saints will have the incentive to go full throttle against the Bucs.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
Sunday, December 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Cardinals (-2.5)

Perhaps, I’m letting last week bias me too much. But the Cardinals upset the Seahawks on the road and the 49ers had a letdown game at home. With the Cardinals hosting the 49ers, I expect we’ll see a hungry Arizona team.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Cardinals

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
Sunday, December 29 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Cowboys (+6.5)

Kyle Orton has thrown 15 passes in a Cowboys uniform. I just don’t think he’ll be ready to take down the Eagles in another “win and you’re in” game.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

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