Titanic showdown in Cincy as the Bills meet the Bengals. Can NY take a Giant leap into the playoffs against Indy & what will happen when Denver take on the Chiefs?
Denver Broncos (4-11) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-3) (Chiefs -12.5)
Right now, the Denver Broncos are a team in disarray. Last weekend’s humiliating 51-14 loss at the LA Rams was the final straw for the ownership and first year head coach, Nathaniel Hackett was relieved of his duties.
The blame for this abject season doesn’t lie solely at Hackett’s feet though. The trade for QB Russell Wilson has been a disaster! Simply put, Wilson has played badly. He’s thrown 9 interceptions to 12 touchdowns and is completing just 60 percent of his passes. Russ hasn’t cooked, Denver’s season was fried weeks ago and a 4-11 record is a reflection of that.
The last team you want to visit at this point is the Kansas City Chiefs. Tied for the best record in the AFC at 12-3 with the Buffalo Bills, knowing if they win out and the Bills slip up, they’ll once again hold the no. 1 seed in the playoffs. 3 weeks ago, they should have thrashed the Broncos in Denver when leading 27-0, only to allow them to rally before eventually winning 34-28. Do not expect Mahomes and co to be so charitable at Arrowhead this weekend. The Chiefs have the no. 1 ranked offense in the NFL this season. With 29.2 points per game, they’re the no. 2 ranked scoring team behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Kansas City have lost just once in their last 9 games and seemingly are playing their best football when it matters most.
Contrast that with the hapless Broncos. The question isn’t will the Chiefs win. The question is by how much?
PICK: Kansas City Chiefs -12.5
Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1) @ New York Giants (8-6-1) (Total Points – over 38)
It’s been torrid month and a torrid season for the Indianapolis Colts. After an initial bounce following the appointment of Jeff Saturday as interim head coach, they’ve lost 5 straight. That includes blowing a 30 point lead on the road to the Vikings and last week they started their 3rd different QB this season but the result was the same. Despite that loss to the Chargers, Nick Foles remains the starting QB and now they face another team chasing a post season berth.
The New York Giants raced to a 7-2 record, largely on the back of a stout defense. More recently though, that defense has been weakened by injuries and hasn’t been nearly as tight. The Giants have gone 1-4-1 in their last 6 games. A period which has seen them concede an average of 27.7 points per game. Over that same 6 game stretch, Indianapolis have shipped 174 points (29 points per game).
The line of 38 total points for this game is founded on the premise that both of these offenses have lacked potency this season. While the Colts average just 16.5 points per game (only Denver is worse), the Giants score at an average of only 20.7 per game. However, an early score or two can erode what little morale is left in a shaky defense. That is what we have in this matchup this game may well provide more points than would initially be anticipated.
PICK: Total Points – over 38
Buffalo Bills (12-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) (Bengals +1)
This is the game of the week and one which could well prove pivotal in deciding how the seedings fall in the playoffs.
Buffalo currently hold the no. 1 seed by virtue of holding the tie breaker over Kansas City. But if Cincinnati were to win on Monday night and the Chiefs beat Denver, we’d enter the final week of the regular season with the Chiefs as the no. 1 seed, the Bengals would be the 2nd seed while Buffalo would slide down to 3!
The Bengals are red hot right now, having reeled off 7 straight wins. Despite lingering concerns over the health of QB Josh Allen’s elbow, the Bills are also in good form – unbeaten in 6. Both teams have found ways to win tight games in this stretch. Both teams lay claim to top 6 scoring offenses and top 10 scoring defenses. There’s next to nothing on the stats sheets to chose between them and if the Bengals win, they’ll hold identical 12-4 records.
It’s a game which comes down to who do you trust most? Buffalo have been knocking on the door for several seasons now and they’ve already been to Kansas City and won this year. The Bengals have homefield advantage. They’ve also beaten the Chiefs this season, but they have a QB in Joe Burrow who’s also experienced going to Arrowhead and winning the big game when it matters most – Josh Allen can’t claim to have done that! Add into the mix, the question marks over Allen’s elbow (however slim they might be) and the fact that the Bills no longer have Von Miller – the man they brought in to finish games at the business end of the season. The edge, in a game that’s likely to be every bit as tight as the line would suggest, lies with Cincinnati.
PICK: Cincinnati Bengals +1