Football! This Weekend's Best Bets, the Mea Culpa Edition

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First, with Christmas now in the books, I'd like to issue an apology. If you were paralyzed financially this holiday season, unable to buy gifts, and woefully relegated to giving your loved ones esoteric, abstract gifts like "more personal time" or crappy pieces of handmade artwork, it probably means you were counting on my picks this season for Christmas money. (Hell, I was counting on them myself!)

To all of you in that situation, I apologize. And to all of you who received a homemade coupon for chores or a crappy diorama, my picks are probably the root cause. This year has been the antithesis of 2011, when I tore the ass out of bookies everywhere.

Now, we still have the playoffs and bowls to get our head back above water. So there's no time to cry about it, let's just do this already:

Syracuse +3 1/2 over West Virginia (Pinstripe Bowl, December 29) Outdoor college football in December! This line is clearly the public (a) loving on West Virginia's high powered, high octane offense and (b) fondly remembering the 70 points West Virginia scored in last year's bowl game. What they're forgetting is that these two teams actually played last season. And Syracuse won the game. Handily. 49-23 on a Friday night last season. And you could argue that Syracuse is a better team this season and West Virginia is about the same. This also feels like a game where the "wants to be there" factor would be heavily in favor of Syracuse, given that West Virginia is a couple months removed from being mentioned as a national title contender.

Vanderbilt -7 over North Carolina State (Music City Bowl, December 31) Oklahoma State -16 1/2 over Purdue (Heart of Dallas Bowl, January 1) A couple "prey on teams that fired their head coaches right after the regular season ended" picks for you (Tom O'Brien canned at N.C. State, Danny Hope and his mustache fired by Purdue). I feel great -- not good...GREAT -- about both of these picks.

VIKINGS +3 1/2 over Packers My buddy Wooly B has a rule that there is a fifty percent chance I'm about to butcher and fuck up whereby if a team wins on the road as an underdog (Vikings throttled the Texans 23-6 in Reliant on Sunday. CHECK.) and then comes back home and is an underdog again (Vikings are catching 3 1/2 against the Pack in the Metrodome. CHECK.), then you back that team. So there's that. Also, Adrian Peterson will probably carry the ball roughly 30 times, if necessary. We are on the Christian Steele train, peeps!

BILLS -3 1/2 over Jets Not that I would ever wish a concussion on somebody, but it appears that somewhere in that barrage of sacks that buried him last Sunday, Jets quarterback Greg McElroy sustained a concussion, which is not really surprising. Seriously, there was a better chance of McElroy putting on a beard of bees and not getting stung than there was of him avoiding a concussion in that Chargers game (ELEVEN sacks!). Anyway, McElroy's injury spawned a headline that gave me the three magic words I needed to back the Bills -- Sanchez To Start. CHA-CHING!!

Cardinals/49ERS UNDER 39 The only three words nicer than "Sanchez to start"? "HOYER to start"!!! The Cardinals signed former Patriots backup Brett Hoyer off the street a couple weeks ago. He will now start in Week 17. Keep in mind, the Cardinals have started arguably three of the five worst quarterbacks in the league this season -- Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley. So in theory, Hoyer is worse than all three of them. The Cardinals won't score seven points in this game. The under feels safe.

Last week: 2-2 Season record: 43-49-2

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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