The playoffs are right around the corner! In the AFC, five good teams are fighting for four playoff spots, as one of the Titans, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, and Ravens will end up drawing the short end of stick. It’s sad, but it appears as if a 11-5 team in the AFC will probably miss out on the playoffs, despite the extra playoff seed this year. In contrast, the NFC’s final playoff spot will come down to either the Bears or the Cardinals, which is disgusting. It would be a real shame if the Bears get in at 8-8 or 9-7 and the Browns or Colts, for example, don’t get in at 11-5. In any case, here are three lines this week that don’t make sense.
Overall record: 10-8
Titans (+3) @ Packers
The Packers don’t need to win this game given that they’ve already secured their division and would still have the inside track to the one seed with a loss, while the Titans could clinch the AFC South with a win and a Colts loss earlier in day. Even with a Colts win, the Titans would like to keep pace in the crowded AFC playoff picture and not jeopardize missing out on the playoffs completely. (As a side note, it would feel weird if the Titans beat the Packers but still find themselves in the 4-seed entering week 17 while the Packers remain the 1-seed in the NFC.) I like the Titans to cover the three tonight because they’re a tougher team and the Packers are due for a loss. Green Bay’s last two victories were by just one-score margins against the Lions, who objectively suck, and the Panthers, who are the worst team in the NFC by record. Meanwhile, Tennessee is hitting their stride as Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill are making their offense borderline elite. In thier last five games, these teams share two common opponents, the aforementioned Lions, as well as the Colts. The Titans beat the Lions by 21 while the Packers beat them by just 7; Tennessee beat the Colts by 19, the Packers lost to them by 3. Given that I think the Titans have a great chance to win outright tonight behind a gameplan that involves them controlling the clock, I really like them to cover the three points.
Eagles @ Cowboys (+3)
Believe it or not, but both these teams are still alive to win the NFC East. With the division-leading Football Team also playing in the late afternoon time slot, these teams will be playing without the potential morale suffering of a Football Team win earlier in the day. In regards to this game specifically, though, I think the Cowboys are getting overlooked a bit. All the talk is about Jalen Hurts, and rightfully so, but Dallas has quietly won two straight games. With all the buzz surrounding Hurts and a Dallas defense that is terrible, I actually think that Philly will come out a little flat and out of sorts. After all, it’s a divisional game, pride is on the line; the Cowboys won’t want to get swept by a divisional rival, even in a seemingly lost season. I mean, look what the Bengals did to the Steelers on Monday night. Plus, Philly is just 1-6 this season on the road, with the lone win happening back on October 4th in San Fransisco, which, for reference, is longer ago than the entire NBA offseason.
Bengals @ Texans (-7.5)
This is simply a “DeShaun Watson is really good at football, my gosh, if only Houston can build around him in the future” game. Coming off of a personal pride game on Monday, I don’t see the Bengals having that same type of energy. Also, if you’re the Bengals, losing this game ensures that you have a better pick than the Texans first-round pick, which will be conveyed to the Dolphins. Cincinnati will be without four of their offensive starters (including, of course, Burrow and Mixon), so I find it hard to believe that they’ll keep up with Watson and the Texans.