Every season, about this time of year, with about four or five weeks to go in the NFL season, the league will begin to send out emails to the media explaining the playoff clinching scenarios that are in play during the upcoming weekend. The first of those emails came out last week informing us that the Dallas Cowboys, who were working on a Romo-less 4-12 stinker of a season this time last year, could clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Vikings.
Well, the Cowboys obliged, beating the Vikings 17-15 last week. This week, the email from the league had home field clinching scenarios for the Cowboys, along with playoff clinching scenarios for the Patriots and the Seahawks. Soon, those weekly emails will get much longer as more teams face clinching scenarios each week.
I bring this up because the league is one more great gambling week from me away from having to tell the world that I have clinched a winning 2016 season. It's true! If we factor in the industry standard of ten percent vig, then a gambler would need to get about 53 percent of his picks right in order to win in a given season. Assuming we decided to walk away after the NFL's regular season (highly unlikely, but let's pretend!), a simple 4-2 week this week would clinch a 53 percent winning percentage on the entire season, assuming I pick six games each of the final three weeks (which I will).
In other words, if I go 4-2 this week (an outcome I've been attaining in my sleep over the last two months), then I could go 0-18 in Weeks 15 through 17 and still win money on the season. So get on the stick, NFL! Alert the masses! I am kicking gambling's ass this year!
Here are your six winners for this week:
Redskins PICK EM over EAGLES
It's a long way from Carson Wentz's 3-0 start to his NFL career, a start in which he threw five touchdowns, no interceptions, and completed 65 percent of his passes. Since that stellar beginning to his career, Wentz has a 2-7 record, and has thrown seven touchdowns, eleven picks, and attained a 73.2 passer rating. Needless to say, the league seems to have cracked the code on the rookie edition of Carson Wentz. The Redskins, at 6-5-1, are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Eagles are basically done. The Skins handed the Eagles the second of those seven losses back in Week 5, and they'll do it again in Philly, despite the Eagles' 4-1 SU and ATS record at home. (NOTE: They were 4-0 SU and ATS at home until the Packers smoked them on Monday night a couple weeks ago. )
Vikings/JAGUARS UNDER 39
If President-elect Trump is reading this, may I suggest using footage of this game as leverage when interrogating terror suspects. "Tell us who the others are, or we rewind the second quarter of Bradford versus Bortles and watch it from the beginning... TELL US.... TELL US!
Saints +3 over BUCCANEERS
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Saints and Bucs have made it to Week 14 without playing each other. They now square off twice in the next three weeks, including this matchup coming upon Sunday in Tampa. The Bucs have won six of their last eight after a 1-3 start, while the Saints have been up and down since an 0-3 start. With a short number like -3 at home, the optics on taking the Bucs look like an easy choice, however, they're just 2-4 SU and ATS at home this season. The Saints away from the French Quarter have gone 5-0 ATS this season, with four of those games in an underdog role. We will take the points in a shootout here and hope for the best.
Falcons -5.5 over RAMS
There are three things at play here with this pick — first, the Falcons have been a stellar road team this season, going 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS away from the ATL; second, coming off a heartbreaking 29-28 loss to the Chiefs last weekend, the Falcons bounce back well from losses, averaging 34 points per game in the games after their four losses this season; third, Jared Goff is starting at quarterback for the Rams against one of the better pass rushes in the league. Also, Jeff Fisher got a two-year extension this week, meaning that he will be back to add more non-winning seasons to the 15 he will have amassed once this season is over. (He has six winning seasons, for the record. Also, he is awful, for the record.)
Cowboys -3 over GIANTS
Finally, after three months, the Cowboys get a chance to avenge their only loss of the 2016 season, a Week 1 nail biter against these Giants. Since that game, the Cowboys have established Ezekiel Elliott as the leading MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate, and Dak Prescott as the possible runner-up for BOTH awards. The two may be rookies, but they party like ten year Cowboy vets...
PATRIOTS -7 over Ravens
Since 2007, Tom Brady is 14-2 at home in prime time, and the Patriots are 9-3 ATS this season. The Ravens are coming off a 38-6 thrashing of the Dolphins, and anytime a team wins by 28 or more, the play is to fade them the following week, especially when they are going against Sir Thomas of New England.
Last Week: 5-1
Season Record: 54-29-1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.