I will keep the theme of picking meaningful games this week.
Here are this week’s picks. I’ll be using the point spreads from Yahoo! Sports. Feel free to include your picks for these or any other of the week’s games in the comments section. Good luck!
Week 15 Record: 2-2
Overall Record: 26-34
New Orleans Saints (+3) at Carolina Panthers
You couldn’t really ask for a better divisional matchup late in the season. Both teams come into this game at 10-4. The Saints won the first game between these two teams handily, 31-13, but that was in their building. Now the venue shifts to Carolina, where the Panthers are 6-1 this season. Not only does this game have huge implications for the NFC South division, but the winner (assuming there’s no tie) would clinch a first-round bye. The Saints would clinch the division outright with a win, since they would have won both head-to-head matchups. I think the Saints go into Carolina and get the win. The Panthers have come a long way this season and have some impressive wins, but New Orleans has been there before and that experience may carry them through. And even if the Panthers get the win, I would not be surprised if it’s by three points or less.
Arizona Cardinals (+10.5) at Seattle Seahawks
The Cardinals likely wish they played in a different division. Arizona would be in first place in two of the four NFC divisions, but they instead find themselves on the outside looking in at the second wild card spot thanks to the 49ers and either of the Panthers or Saints. The Seahawks would clinch the division as well as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win, and playing at home, Seattle is unstoppable. But based on how their offense has not exactly found its groove the past few weeks, I can see the Cardinals covering the spread, even with Larry Fitzgerald questionable to play. Believe me, Seattle should win this game, but the Cardinals know that they really have to win out to stay alive for the playoffs, so that should at least lead to a close game.
Chicago Bears (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles
Both these teams are barely hanging onto division leads, so this becomes a huge game for both squads. The easiest way to not have to worry about different playoff scenarios is to go out there and win. Both teams have been very inconsistent, especially the Eagles at home. Jay Cutler returned last week to lead the Bears on the road past the Browns, and I can see him doing that again against the Eagles to put Chicago in a good position heading into Week 17.
New York Giants (+9.5) at Detroit Lions
Between these two teams, expect a game chock full of mistakes. And now that it’s looking like the Giants will be starting two reserves along the offensive line, good luck surviving Eli Manning against the Detroit pass rush! The Lions need this game after a disappointing loss Monday night to the Ravens. The Giants meanwhile are likely just playing out the games with the hopes that the season just comes to an end. I don’t want to see the Giants get embarrassed again, but frankly I just hope nobody gets hurt.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.