With Ernesto the Prediction Iguana at the helm for the final week of the season, we went a surprising 3-1, 1-1 record. Week 17 is always tough, what with who sits and rests and who plays, but we finish the season at 61-21-2 overall and 22-13-2 in teasers. Solid numbers. Now for the playoff push...
There are a lot of new faces in unlikely places this year, but if anyone can sort out the chaos and parity, it’s Ernesto the Prediction Iguana, finishing his 12th year now. As always, we use the consensus lines from Vegas Insider (a much stronger site for detail than Don Best) and we do two-team teasers, so you can move the line 6 points either way (which we have done for you). HOME TEAM IN CAPS.
Dolphins (+16) at STEELERS
TEXANS (+2.5) vs. Raiders
Here’s an example of the adage, “The line isn’t a reflection of who Vegas thinks is going to win the game, but how they think the public will bet.” A lot of people have quickly forgotten that Miami already went into Pittsburgh this season – at a time when the Steelers were also healthy – and embarrassed them 30-15, piling up over 200 yards running by Jay Ajayi. I don’t see how Pittsburgh can shut him down. The Dolphins should win this game outright, even if a blizzard hits because that, again, means the ground game.
Meanwhile, back in the ’70s there was a saying about quarterbacks: Knock ’em out, count ’em out. With Derek Carr gone, and the Raiders having to play a game this week (and do it on the road), Oakland has hit the chamber with the bullet in it. Brock Osweiler may have had a flaccid season, but, even though this team is not last year’s Broncos, he has a chance for redemption and should out-duel whomever Oakland throws in at QB.
TEXANS-Raiders OVER 30.5
SEAHAWKS (-2) vs. Lions
30.5? That’s the lowest over total I’ve seen for a playoff game in a decade or more. Jump on that statistical outlier of a number.
P.S. There’s one other statistical outlier to consider jumping on: getting 20 points in the NFL. We ordinarily do just that, but two weeks ago, we noticed it was the Jets playing the Patriots and getting 22 -- of course we DIDN’T take it; it was the Jets vs. the Patriots. Congratulations, Jets. In over a decade or more of doing this, you’re only the second team we didn’t take getting 20 or more. (We were right both times. The other time was the Vikings, for those of you scoring at home.) Other than that, jump on 20. Even the worst Browns and Raiders teams of the past could cover 20 under the right circumstances.
Over in the NFC, the Seahawks are easier to get a pulse on than either the Pack or Jints. At home, giving less than a field goal to a fading Lions team, they’ll have no problem covering.
Sorry, everybody, but PACKERS-Giants is too close to call, although Jints +10.5 is tempting for you degenerates out there...