My season-long funk continued in Week 15 as I turned in another abysmal week at 5-10. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I am the Kansas City Chiefs of prognosticating this season.
This week can clarify the playoff picture somewhat. The AFC could be incredibly simple: If the Houston Texans win, they have home-field advantage secured. If the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals and Indianapolis Colts would clinch the final two open spots. Indy also gets in regardless with a win at Kansas City.
The Baltimore Ravens can clinch the North with a win or a Cincinnati loss or tie and the Denver Broncos can lock up a first-round bye with a win and a loss by the New England Patriots or a tie and a Patriot loss.
The NFC is somewhat more complicated but the Atlanta Falcons can lock up the No. 1 seed for the second time in three seasons with a win Saturday night at Detroit.
The San Francisco 49ers can secure their second straight West title with a win or tie at Seattle and can also secure a first-round bye with a win and a loss or tie by the Green Bay Packers or a tie and a Packer loss.
The Seattle Seahawks clinch a playoff spot with a win or with losses by the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. There are also something like 5 billion clinching scenarios involving a Seahawk tie, but I am going to choose to not get into all of that.
The Giants can clinch this weekend with a win and losses by Washington, Dallas, Minnesota and Chicago and the Redskins can get in with a win and losses by the Giants, Vikings and Bears.
Bloodied but unbowed, here are my picks against the spread for Week 16, with home teams in CAPS:
Falcons (minus 3½) over LIONS: Atlanta won’t have to stray from the home dome during the playoffs after winning under Detroit’s home roof on Monday night, which comes on a Saturday this week.
Chargers (plus 1½) over JETS: Two teams with broken dreams and coaches on the hot seat collide. But San Diego comes in without a quarterback controversy.
Vikings (plus 8) over TEXANS: I like Houston to win but I like the Minnesota Adrians to keep it close.
BUCCANEERS (minus 3) over Rams: Tampa Bay has to bounce back from that drubbing in New Orleans, right?
COWBOYS (minus 1) over Saints: New Orleans has been good and bad. After being very good last week, Dallas is waiting.
Redskins (minus 6½) over EAGLES: Andy Reid’s farewell tour continues with another loss at home.
Colts (minus 7) over CHIEFS: Indianapolis locks up a playoff berth. Who saw that coming?
Patriots (minus 14½) over JAGUARS: Pretty sure I would have laid 35 if that was what the spread was this week.
STEELERS (minus 3) over Bengals: Andy Dalton comes out of the weekend still having never beaten Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Bills (plus 4½) over DOLPHINS: I like Buffalo to keep this close. Of course, I liked Buffalo to keep it close against the Seahawks last week and, well …
Raiders (plus 8½) over PANTHERS: Carolina wins but the Raiders keep it interesting for a change.
PACKERS (minus 12½) over Titans: Tennessee is coming off a four-point win during which it got five turnovers and committed 14 penalties. So it’s Green Bay in a laugher.
BRONCOS (minus 13) over Browns: The longer this season goes the dumber that Brandon Weeden pick looks.
RAVENS (plus 2½) over Giants: Two teams moving in the wrong direction, but I’m just not confident Big Blue can actually find that switch this time around.
Bears (minus 5½) over CARDINALS: Two good defenses, one actual NFL offense. That proves to be the deciding factor.
SEAHAWKS (plus 1) over 49ers: Seattle wins at home to keep the NFC West in play.
Last week: 5-10