With far fewer teams likely to still have a shot at a postseason berth, next week, Vinnie likes what he sees in this weekend’s slate. A number of division crowns hang in the balance, while few playoff seeds have been set in stone.
San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans (-3): The Chargers are as hot as any team right now, winners of nine straight and surging toward an opening round bye in the AFC playoffs. They have but to win in Tennessee, and the #2 seed is theirs. Chris Johnson is putting up eye-popping numbers, Vince Young has really come on as a weapon for Tennessee, and together they can topple almost any opponent with seemingly little help. But no one’s getting the better of Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates these days. Rivers and Gates, in particular, are each playing arguably the best ball of his career. And while not a top 10 caliber defense, the Chargers are keeping rushing touchdowns against them to a minimum and rushing the quarterback a lot better. Interestingly, the Titans have failed to defeat San Diego in their last five meetings.
Gimme the Chargers plus the points.
Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants (-6.5): DeAngelo Williams laid four touchdowns on the Giants the last time these teams played, but is hurt enough that he stands a good chance to be shelved this time around. His backup, Jonathan Stewart, has been making a name for himself and faces a Giants front seven that at times holds opposing running backs to very little productivity but at times yields much. One of the keys, though, to Carolina’s recent improvement on offense is the Matt Moore/Steve Smith connection. But Vinnie sees Steve Smith getting held in check this week, or at least as compared to a good many of the Giants offensive playmakers. The Giants win by plenty, in a game they must win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Gimme the Giants minus the points.
Denver Broncos @ Philadelphia Eagles (-7): Philly’s passing game has played a major role in this playoff run it finds itself in, helped largely by the explosiveness DeSean Jackson provides and another stellar year from Donovan McNabb. The latest reports have Brian Westbrook returning to the lineup, which, coupled with the multi-faceted talents of LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver, should bolster the Eagles running game enough to keep things unpredictable. With a strong finish to the season and some help from the Minnesota Vikings, Philly can seize an opening round bye in the NFC playoffs. So there’s quite a bit on the line for Andy Reid and his team, heading into Week 16. The Broncos similarly have much to play for, seeing as if the season ended today they would be playoff bound, but face a worthy challenge from a handful of other promising AFC teams down the stretch. But the inconcistency of Denver’s offense, other than Brandon Marshall of course, gives Vinnie great comfort in how much the Eagles can potentially win by.
Gimme the Eagles minus the points.
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (+6.5): The Redskins were annihilated on national television and host a desperate Dallas team after a short week, armed with a recently sagging defense and such household names as running back Quinton Ganther. As matchups go, Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Marion Barber are all in line for big-time production this week. But according to Vinnie, statistics and homefield and winning streaks and losing streaks and historical significance count for little, in this case. Will Washington, against a division rival no less, play the same brand of borderline pathetic football we’ve seen out of them in recent weeks and mail it in? Are the real Cowboys the team America watched march into New Orleans and hand the Saints their first loss, or the disappointing team football fans have grown accustomed to fading in December and January? These are the questions that matter, according to Vinnie, and he’s seated firmly on the Dallas bandwagon – for now.
Gimme the Cowboys minus the points.