Not a bad way to wrap the regular season at 11-5 in the Week 17 Confidence Pool as the Packers at No. 11 were the highest-rated team that did us wrong. After a successful regular season, we will move into the wild-card round of the postseason where we will make our picks against the point spread. Below we rate our most confident ATS (Against the Spread) pick from (4) all the way to our least confident (1).
Week 17 Straight Up Record: 11-5 (94 of possible 120)
4. Bears: Eagles at Bears (-5½): The best online sportsbooks, found over at Sportsbook Review, are hanging the Chicago Bears as the biggest favorite on the board this weekend, and wouldn’t you know it’s against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s face facts, the Eagles are supremely fortunate to be where they are after a woeful start, and to make matters worse they lost their starting quarterback Carson Wentz. But doesn’t it figure that once Super Sub Nick Foles took the reins of the offense the team started … winning? What is it with this guy anyway? He’s a serviceable starter who has a knack for getting his team across the finish line first when he is tapped as the understudy to fill in for the leading man.
Well, it will all be much ado about nothing soon enough because the Bears’ defense is relentless and will make Foles wish it was he, and not Wentz, who was on the trainer’s table getting his back massaged and his muscles kneaded. Chicago has allowed a mere 10½ points per game over their last four contests and owns the No. 1 run-stop unit against the Eagles’ 28th rushing attack, or what should be described more realistically as a mild affront. Chicago wins this one by double-digits, so lay it and like it!
3. Chargers: Chargers at Ravens (+2½): Forget about those who are telling you that the Chargers are a West Coast team and can’t win on the frigid East Coast. First of all, the Bolts are 5-1 ATS under head coach Anthony Lynn in early East Coast starts and the weather in Baltimore will be 52 degrees and sunny on Sunday. All in all, the elements will be a non-factor here.
However, what will be a factor is Lamar Jackson under center for the Ravens as a rookie starter in his first playoff game. Quarterbacks, veteran or otherwise, starting in their first postseason game have a lousy track record in their debuts, and in addition Jackson will be facing a Chargers team that held Jackson to his lowest rushing total of the season (39 yards) when they met a few weeks ago in the Ravens 22-10 victory.
Los Angeles has had time to review the tapes and see exactly what went wrong the first time around when the game was held in LA. But now the Chargers get to cook on the highway where they are 7-1 both straight up and against the number. We’ll take the Chargers’ Philip Rivers’ passing assault over Jackson’s running attack any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Grab the points but you won’t need them as the Bolts electrify the Ravens on Sunday.
2. Cowboys: Seahawks at Cowboys (-1): Two hot teams colliding at the same time pretty much summarizes this playoff game in Dallas. The Cowboys will have a well-rested Ezekiel Elliott, who didn’t even dress for the Cowboys’ meaningless victory over the Giants last weekend and much of the offensive line also got a blow as well. Nevertheless, the Cowboys offense was cookin’ with gas as Dak Prescott fired four touchdown passes and racked up 387 yards against New York. It’s the perfect setup for Dallas that will own home-field advantage, momentum and will be playing against a Seahawks’ defense that has been relatively porous down the stretch allowing 24 points per game over the second half of the season. Good spot for the Boys to roll.
1. Texans: Colts at Texans (-1): Everybody loves the Colts and the best online sportsbooks, found over at Sportsbook Review, have dropped this line from Houston as a 2½-point favorite down to one at many of the major offshore shops. But that just makes it easier for us to fade the public who view the Colts as a live road dog and, instead, back the team with the better defense and whose offense has come alive down the stretch. The Texans are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games while the Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five following a straight up win of more than 14 points, as they did in last week’s 33-17 road victory in Tennessee. Texans advance.