Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-9.5): The Titans’ stock has been plummeting since Week 7. The highlight for Tennessee since then coming in the form of a home win against the ice cold Houston Texans. Kerry Collins isn’t what he used to be as a viable starting quarterback, so opposing defenses are bottling up Chris Johnson with regularity. Indianapolis is riding a three-game winning streak into this week’s rivalry tilt, and Peyton Manning is the primary reason. Well, he and a suddenly resurgent Colts ground game, any way. The numerous injuries to key players on both offense and defense, in the end, hasn’t knocked Indianapolis out of playoff contention as it appeared it would at one point. The Colts win and they are in, thanks to a one-game lead over Jacksonville in the division. Which they will … comfortably.
Gimme the Colts minus the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (+2.5): Yes, the Jaguars can keep their postseason hopes alive by snapping their current losing streak with a road win in Houston plus a little help from the Tennessee Titans. Yes, the Texans’ defense is as terrible as just about any NFL team’s in recent memory, meaning Jacksonville is capable of putting 30-plus on the scoreboard. But as streaky as his play has been this season, David Garrard is a big reason Jacksonville has won as many games as it has. But he’s been placed on Injured Reserve. Maurice Jones-Drew is questionable for this game, and could very well be ruled out sometime between now and Sunday. In other words, the offensive firepower Jacksonville would usually have to take advantage of Houston’s issues on defense appears to be hamstrung. Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and the Texans will be motivated to win their season finale for head coach Gary Kubiak.
Gimme the Texans plus the points.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-10): Chicago is locked in as the No. 2 seed and will enjoy a first-round bye in the playoffs, with a slim chance at improving its position. Should the Atlanta Falcons somehow lose at home to the Carolina Panthers, the Bears could earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by knocking off Green Bay. Vinnie feels Atlanta is 98 percent likely to close out the regular season with a win over the visiting Panthers, which would by game time of the Bears-Packers game mean Chicago has little to play for. Despite being the heavy favorite, Green Bay is the pick here. Aaron Rodgers and Co. want nothing more than to smack their division rival around, regardless of to what extent Chicago decides to rest its starters. Remember, the Packers have yet to clinch a playoff berth.
Gimme the Packers minus the points.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (+4): While it hasn’t resulted in an abundance of wins, Washington has been playing for little more than pride for weeks now yet has managed to play opponents hard. The Redskins played spoiler to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, knocking them out of the AFC playoff picture for all intents and purposes. And Vinnie has them embracing the role of spoiler again in Week 17, this time hosting the Giants in an intradivisional battle. While New York destroyed the visiting Redskins a month ago, there are quite a few factors to keep in mind. Rex Grossman and Ryan Torain weren’t on the field for Washington at that point but have been playing pretty well in recent weeks. As for the Giants, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were pounding the rock with a ‘heckuva’ lot more effectiveness than they are now, and Eli Manning wasn’t tossing quite so many game-killing interceptions. But perhaps most glaring for New York, right now, are the extensive problems on the defensive side of the ball.
Gimme the Redskins plus the points.