Fri Dec 31 12:09pm EST
A winning season is already in the books, but let's try to up that winning percentage before the campaign ends.
Bengals +9.5 at Ravens: It's hard to trust the Bengals much, I realize that, even off a win. You can close your eyes and imagine the Carson Palmer(notes) pick-six that does you in. But the Bengals have three straight victories in this series (and 9-of-12 if you care to look back that far) and the decisive thumping of San Diego buys some cred. It's also nice knowing that Cincinnati will feed Cedric Benson(notes) early and often; let's shorten this game if at all possible.
Buccaneers +8 at Saints: This is a strange spot for New Orleans – in theory the Saints need the game, but do they really think there's much of a chance of Carolina winning in Atlanta? If we assume a Falcons win this weekend, New Orleans locks into the No. 5 seed and drops into a meaningless game. Josh Freeman(notes) always gives you a shot at a cover, be it through the front door or in garbage time.
Seahawks +3 versus Rams: Brian Billick nailed it with respect to the Seahawks at home – he likes the 12th man, but he doesn't trust the 11 men on the field. And yes, it pains me to go against my darling Rams, a team that's been wonderfully undervalued for just about the entire season. But the line has adjusted here – at least enough for my liking – and for all the flaws of Charlie Whitehurst(notes), perhaps a full week of starter reps will be enough to keep him competent in this game.
Chargers -3.5 at Broncos: Here's a good chance to buy low on the Chargers and sell high on the Tim Tebow(notes) experience. I understand that we can't get into the minds of all the San Diego players – perhaps they'll be deflated after wasting their playoff shot and they'll lay an egg here. But I still feel like this is one of the 2-3 best teams in the AFC, and I'm expecting a statement on the way out.
Patriots -4 versus Dolphins: New England has absolutely nothing to play for here, but I recall instances where Bill Belichick has used his starters deep into these types of games. Miami's got that crazy home/road thing going, but I expect Chad Henne(notes) to donate a couple of loose throws to the turnover-happy Patriots defense.
Survivor: If you've gone 16 weeks in a row without a loss, now's not the time to go with outside opinions. Trust your gut. (And if you don't trust your gut, try to negotiate a split beforehand.)
Last Week: 3-2 (44-34 season).
Image courtesy Associated Press. Good dog.