Last week’s results continued a three-week trend.  Good week in the overall, so-so in the pick 5.    A solid 10-6 in the @andyslater pick ‘em challenge pool moved me up to a season high 9th and 102-78 (56.7%) for the season and 9 games behind the leader.  However, once again I dropped in the Pick 5 falling to 41st despite a 3-2 week.  The record improves to 35-25 (58.3%) but 5 games out of the money.  I consider myself ‘still in the playoff hunt’ as are many NFL teams this week.

COLTS -1.5 @ Titans.  AFC South collision of 6-5 teams both of whom have scored 269 total points.  This is a coin flip game for me.  The Colts won’t have star Jonathan Taylor at running back although back-up Zach Moss is certainly capable.  The Titans still rely on King Derrick Henry to control the offense and the clock.

STEELERS -5.5 vs. Cards   The 7-4 Steelers welcome the tank-mode 2-10 Cardinals to Heinz Field.  The Cards had a spark when QB Kyler Murray returned to the lineup, but after last week’s 37-14 home drubbing by the Rams, I think the Cards will mail it in the rest of the season.  The Steelers seem to be winning with smoke and mirrors yet have amassed a 7-4 record.  I don’t expect a lot of points in this game, and as a result, it might be a close one.  Let’s call it a two field goal game and a Steelers cover.

FALCONS -2.5 @ Jets.  The 4-7 Jets have decided to trot out Tim Boyle again at QB.  Talk about teams tanking.  The Falcons somehow have a shot at winning their weak NFC South division.  Yes folks, at 5-6 that is good enough for a tie for first in the NFL’s worst division.  So with something to play for, I’ll take the Falcons.

LIONS -4.5 @ Saints.  There are two reasons why I’m taking the 8-3 Lions.  1) they looked awful in a Thanksgiving loss to the Packers.  I’m hoping for a bounce back here.  2) Derrick Carr is the Saints QB.

PATS +5.5 vs. Chargers.  I have to be crazy to side with the lowly Pats here, right?  But have you seen the Chargers lately?  I think offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is highly overrated, I don’t think head coach Brandon Staley is in over his head.  The Pats are turning to back-up QB Bailey Zappe, and I think that’s a good move.  The Pats D keeps the game close.

BUCS -5.5 vs. Panthers. This game is a candidate for the ugly game of the week.  The Panthers fired their head coach and have a rookie QB who looks lost.  The Bucs are 4-7 and look every bit of that.  Still, 4-7 is only 1 game behind the leaders in that wonderful NFC South division.  It would surprise me none the least if the Bucs win but don’t cover, but I’ll take my chances.

BRONCOS +3.5 @ Texans.  My pre-season darlings have awoken and have won 5 straight games.  It has not been pretty offensively, but the Broncos defense has come around.  The Texans are a solid team and rookie QB C.J. Stroud has been good.  But after a 3-interception game, perhaps he is going to hit the rookie wall.  This should be a field goal game either way.

BROWNS +3.5 @ Rams.  The 7-4 Browns are turning to old man Joe Flacco at QB.  The last I saw of him, he looked really old playing for the Jets.  But he’s still an upgrade over PJ Walker.  The Rams continue to be good one week and bad the next.  Last week they won 37-14 so…

49ERS -2.5 @ Eagles.  Game of the week.  Normally, with two really good teams, I’ll take any points I can get especially at home. But the Eagles had an emotional win over Buffalo last Sunday night.  At 10-1 they look to be the team to beat in the NFC.  But the 8-3 49ers can have a say if they manage to beat the Eagles.  I’m not overly confident here.  It’s just a hunch.  McCaffrey and company get it done.

PACKERS +6.5 vs. Chiefs.  Has Packer QB Jordan Love turned the corner?  Seems so.  The 5-6 Packers remain on the edge of the ‘in the hunt’ playoff pack.  If they lose this game, it’s all over.  The 8-3 Chiefs are looking to secure overall homefield advantage in the AFC.  That’s a lot to play for but a little too early for them to think about.  This is one of my infamous ‘makes no sense’ picks given the line is less than 7.

JAGS -8.5 vs. Bengals. The 5-6 Bengals have seemed to have packed their bags for the season.  Their season ended with QB Joe Burrow’s injury.  The 8-3 Jags are a mysterious 3-3 at home and 5-0 on the road.  They’re clearly the better team, but 8 ½ is a big number to cover.  Perhaps they get enough turnovers from Bengal back-up QB Jake Browning to make it happen.

FINS -9.5 @ Commanders.  Followers know I cannot pick Riverboat Ron, but besides that notion, The Dolphins get some speed back as De’Von Achane returns to the lineup.  The Defense is playing better and better each week although it may be without Safety Jevon Holland.  Statistically, the Commanders are a bottom three defense going up against a top three offense.  The only worry here is that the turnover bug crops up again, but beyond that, I see the Fins covering.  27-17.


COWBOYS -8.5 vs. Seahawks (Thursday). Loss

LIONS -3.5 @ Saints

PATS +5.5 vs. Chargers

BRONCOS +3.5 @ Texans

BROWNS +3.5 @ Rams