The Dallas Cowboys looked miserable against the Chicago Bears. The Philadelphia Eagles looked bad last week too but were fortunate to be playing a fellow NFC East team, and beat the New York Giants in overtime.
The failure of the NFC East has been one of the biggest non-Lamar Jackson stories of this season. All four teams are bad. It’s a division that will flirt with being the worst since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
And yet, someone from that group will make the playoffs. And host a game on wild-card weekend, probably in prime time because television networks love the NFC East.
Which team we get stuck watching is likely to be determined in Week 16. The Cowboys play at the Eagles. Both teams are 6-7. The winner is very likely to get the tiebreaker too, so it’s hard to see that outcome not determining the NFC East champion.
Because both teams understand that scenario, we’re likely to get another week of bad NFC East football. The Eagles play at the Washington Redskins, so at least the division will win one game this week. The Eagles are dangerously thin at receiver, and they’re stuck devising an offense around that. Washington probably isn’t good enough to take advantage of that, so taking the Eagles as a 5-point favorite seems like the right move. Though it won’t be pretty either way.
The Cowboys play a Los Angeles Rams team that has looked better the past couple weeks and needs to keep winning to have a shot at the final wild-card spot in the NFC. The Rams are playing better and need it more, so it’s an easy pick to take them as a 1-point favorite. The Cowboys don’t deserve a benefit of the doubt against a good team, but perhaps they can look better when they face another NFC East team.
Here are the against-the-spread picks for Week 15, with lines from BetMGM:
Jets (+17) over Ravens (picked Thursday): Silly me for thinking the Jets could keep a game within 17 points.
Lions (+4) over Buccaneers: It’s tough to take the Lions over anyone, but Jameis Winston’s thumb injury worries me. Even if he plays, it’ll be tough for him to be effective. Losing Mike Evans doesn’t help either.
Bears (+4.5) over Packers: Mitchell Trubisky is playing better. The path for the Packers to win the NFC North is easy: Beat the Bears at home, then beat the Lions in Week 17. Why does it seem it might not end up being that easy?
Patriots (-10) over Bengals: Only 10 points? A Patriots team that has been hearing for a while about how they’ve fallen off, and Bill Belichick with a reason for vengeance due to the latest SpyGate kerfuffle? Yeah, 10 isn’t enough.
Titans (-3) over Texans: In a week that doesn’t have a lot of great matchups, this one is huge in the playoff picture. The Texans are unpredictable, which means they could have a great game. But you never know with them. I know what I’m getting from the Titans. It’s a team that looks like it’s coming together and will be tough to deal with in the playoffs.
Seahawks (-6.5) over Panthers: This Panthers team is broken. Seattle understands that if it wins the next two games, then Week 17 is an NFC West championship game (what a prime-time game that would be).
Broncos (+9.5) over Chiefs: I’m not saying I believe Drew Lock is a star based on two games, but he has looked good. The Broncos have been quietly very competitive this season, covering the spread in seven of their last nine games. I’ll keep taking the Broncos to cover.
Dolphins (+3.5) over Giants: The less said about this game, the better.
Bills (+2) over Steelers: It’s probably time to quit thinking about what the Steelers can’t do and appreciate the job Mike Tomlin is doing getting the most out of what he has. But I do think the Bills are pretty good as well. If the Steelers win here, that’s a huge step toward getting a wild-card spot.
Raiders (-6.5) over Jaguars: Purely a pick based on the Raiders getting an emotional bump from his being the last game in Oakland. And, the Jaguars stink.
Cardinals (+2.5) over Browns: The last time the Browns won on the road was Sept. 29. The Cardinals are losing some steam it seems, but I don’t trust Cleveland.
Falcons (+10.5) over 49ers: The 49ers went on the road and lost a last-second game to the Ravens. Then they went on the road and beat the Saints in the final seconds. Now they come home to face a Falcons team everyone expects them to destroy, and it’s impossible to believe there won’t be some emotional letdown.
Vikings (-1.5) over Chargers: There’s probably some reason why picking the Chargers as a home favorite is the right move, but the Chargers have no home-field advantage and the Vikings are the far superior team. Let’s keep this simple.
Saints (-9) over Colts: I think the Colts just reached a breaking point with injuries and a second-half swoon that knocked them out of the AFC South race. The Saints will be happy to get an easier opponent after that incredible game against the 49ers.
Last week: 7-8-1
Season to date: 97-109-3
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