Will RG3 and the Redskins win the NFC East on Sunday?
NFL fans, now that we're hitting the final regular-season week of 2012, latest odds and picks against the spread become intensified.
The postseason is right around the corner and some teams are looking to just play the spoiler role as well.
That said, one game to definitely watch for is Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at home against the Dallas Cowboys. The winner takes the NFC East and heads to January.
Before we hit the featured primetime game of Week 17 though, let's break down what the rest of Sunday's action offers.
Note: All picks are courtesy of FootballLocks.com. Also, be sure to check back prior to each game's kickoff as the spreads may change throughout the week.
No playoff implications here, just bragging rights of having the last laugh of 2012.
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills present sound running games, but also fail miserably at stuffing the run.
Neither have a reliable passing game and don't present much explosiveness either. Buffalo, though, is better at passing, and the stronger balance with C.J. Spiller is the difference.
Buffalo against the spread
Bills 21, Jets 14
The only thing the Miami Dolphins can spoil here is a potential bye week for the New England Patriots.
Still, Miami lacks the pass defense to slow down Tom Brady, and the Dolphins allow an average of four yards per rush.
Although that's not terrible, New England's high-powered attack is capable of thwarting Miami downfield to set up the run. Not to mention the Dolphins offense has no dominant balance to keep pace with Brady.
New England against the spread
Patriots 34, Miami 16
The Cincinnati Bengals are playing for confidence.
They, along with the Baltimore Ravens, are already in the postseason.
Week 17 is simply about attitude and buffing out the rough spots for January. Right now Cincy has been playing consistently well and fields the better defense.
With 47 sacks on the year, the Bengals will get pressure on Joe Flacco and force some turnovers. The coverage has been improving, and Baltimore must display consistent balance offensively.
Cincinnati against the spread
Bengals 20, Ravens 14
If there's any significance of this game, it's the Cleveland Browns trying for a season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After losing last week, Pittsburgh is out of the playoffs and Cleveland is looking to end on a strong note.
Well, the Browns have proven to force more turnovers and get more quarterback pressure in 2012. The Steelers lock down defensively, but Pittsburgh's offense has not scored above 24 points since Week 8.
By no means are the Browns explosive offensively; however, the defense provides additional possessions and will win the field position battle.
Browns 19, Steelers 16
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have an interesting opportunity to shake up the AFC playoff picture.
The Houston Texans could potentially drop from the No. 1 seed with a loss, which then opens the door for the Patriots and Broncos.
Here, Indy must throw the ball relentlessly to stretch Houston downfield. As a result, this opens up running lanes for Vick Ballard and Co. up front. The concern, though, is Indy's defense.
Will the Colts slow down Houston's offense enough?
Allowing an average of 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, Arian Foster steamrolls as the Texans control the tempo throughout.
Houston against the spread
Texans 24, Colts 17
Just like the Jets and Bills, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans matchup is for bragging rights.
Given that the Jags allow 145 rushing yards per game and an average of 4.3 per carry, Chris Johnson will take over from the start.
Tennessee may not be overly dominant offensively, but it's slightly better than Jacksonville's and also fields a better defense.
Tennessee against the spread
Titans 27, Jaguars 20
Even if the New York Giants win, a postseason berth is not guaranteed.
As for the Philadelphia Eagles, we see the return of quarterback Michael Vick.
Andy Reid hinted he will start Michael Vick on Sunday. The two allies and friends would be going out together.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 24, 2012
This is an advantage for Philly as well because New York has struggled with its pass rush all season. In addition, the Giants defense has failed against mobile quarterbacks, and the Eagles did win back in September over Big Blue.
Not to mention Eli Manning and the Giants offense remains in a funk.
Philadelphia and the points
Eagles 21, Giants 20
The Detroit Lions are in the best of spoiler roles this week.
Not only do the Chicago Bears need a win, but they also need the Minnesota Vikings to fall.
A loss, however, ruins everything for Chicago's postseason hopes.
This season's previous matchup was a defensive slug-fest where the Lions crumbled too many times in the red zone. Fortunately for Chicago, Matthew Stafford turns it over often and Detroit struggles with rush and pass defense.
Giving up a 63.9 completion percentage and average of 4.5 per carry, the Bears just need to keep Calvin Johnson off the field. Doing so shortens the game, allows for better in-game defensive adjustments and limits opportunities for Megatron altogether.
Chicago against the spread
Bears 16, Lions 13
The Green Bay Packers are still vying for the NFC's No. 2 seed.
The Minnesota Vikings win and are in the postseason.
As one of Week 17's biggest impact games, Green Bay must put all its defensive focus on Adrian Peterson. It's a favorable strategy because forcing Christian Ponder to outplay Aaron Rodgers is to the Packers' advantage.
Minnesota isn't impressive in coverage or at generating turnovers, so Green Bay will move the rock. If anything, Rodgers' pass protection is the key because he has been sacked 46 times and Minnesota enters the game with 39 recorded.
Nonetheless, Green Bay also has collected 46 sacks this season and stacking the box will keep Peterson in check.
Green Bay against the spread
Packers 31, Vikings 21
What will the Atlanta Falcons do in Week 17 with their starters?
[Mike] Smith, asked today if he has a plan on how long he will play his starters Sunday against the Buccaneers, said: “We’re going to play the game to win.”
And on the other hand, according to George Henry of the Associated Press via the Ledger-Enquirer:
"It is a grind through four preseason games and 16 regular-season games," Smith said on Sunday. "If you're fortunate enough to play in that second season, you want to be as fresh as you can be."
Looking at the risk involved, Atlanta playing full-go in Week 17 seems a bit far-fetched. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out of the postseason and this is nothing more than a glorified exhibition matchup.
Falcons 23, Buccaneers 20
The only motive for the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 is to reach .500.
Sporting a 7-8 record, Drew Brees and Co. are presented with a fortunate opportunity to finish on a three-game win streak.
Plus, New Orleans fell to the Carolina Panthers earlier this season. So, the chance to even things up and get second in the division is quite impressive considering the circumstances entering the season.
As for the Panthers, they are finishing strong once again. The question: Can Cam Newton defeat Brees in the Superdome, especially against a Saints defense that has gained immense confidence over the past two weeks?
New Orleans against the spread
Saints 30, Panthers 24
The Denver Broncos are playing for a playoff bye.
The Kansas City Chiefs are playing to end the season and a loss would virtually lock up the No. 1 draft pick.
Denver, though, needs a win to guarantee at least the No. 2 seed. Winning also could potentially lead toward the No. 1 seed should Houston flop in Indianapolis.
In other words, the Broncos will come out playing to win.
Von Miller and the defense lead pro football with 48 sacks and Peyton Manning is virtually unstoppable. K.C. doesn't possess the talent to match Denver and this game closes out by halftime.
Denver against the spread
Broncos 38, Chiefs 14
Another game that's basically an exhibition matchup, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders square off in Southern California.
The Raiders defense fails miserably at stopping the run and pass and barely gets quarterback pressure.
San Diego at least presents two solid pass-rushers in Shaun Phillips and Corey Liuget to fluster Oakland's starter, who has yet to be named for Week 17.
Per the Associated Press via ESPN.com:
For as unreliable as Philip Rivers has been in 2012, he's still better than Leinart and Pryor. Oakland just happens to be one of the few teams San Diego is better than.
Chargers 24, Raiders 10
The Arizona Cardinals have a small spoiler opportunity to potentially drop the San Francisco 49ers back to the NFC's No. 5 seed.
Unfortunately, Arizona doesn't match up with San Francisco like the Seahawks.
The Cardinals don't bring a stellar rushing attack to set up the pass, nor is the pass protection consistently dependable. Even worse, Arizona's passing game pales in comparison to Seattle.
Factor in San Francisco desperation for a win and needing victory to claim the NFC West, and the 'Niners aren't letting up in Week 17. Anticipate a heavy dose of Frank Gore and the 49ers bulldozing Arizona at home.
San Francisco against the spread
49ers 41, Cardinals 7
The Seattle Seahawks are arguably the NFL's hottest team right now.
And with plenty to play for regarding a possible division championship shot in Week 17, Seattle won't slow down against the St. Louis Rams.
St. Louis lacks a passing game to keep up with Russell Wilson, and the Seahawks' pass rush will create turnovers. Now, yes, the Rams can run the ball quite well.
But so can Seattle with Marshawn Lynch and Wilson's mobility. We also can't forget about St. Louie's pass defense that gives up a 65.7 completion percentage.
Seattle against the spread
Seahawks 31, Rams 17
Last time the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins met, Robert Griffin III diced up Big D.
On the flip side, Tony Romo did a number on Washington's vulnerable pass defense.
In short, expect a high-scoring affair between Dallas and Washington.
The Redskins field a more consistent running game and is just as capable of applying constant quarterback pressure. Include Washington's more opportunistic secondary and RG3 is provided with additional possessions.
The end result is Washington pushing the tempo while in the driver seat and claiming the NFC East division title.
Washington against the spread
Redskins 35, Cowboys 30
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