With just a few weeks left in the NFL regular season and so few playoff spots determined, there will be a lot of teams still trying. This week could be one of the best weeks of the season with New England vs. Pittsburgh, Green Bay vs. Carolina nd Los Angeles vs. Seattle among the matchups on tap. We’ll also see what the Eagles look like without Carson Wentz.
Record: 39-25-3 (4-1 last week; 30-18-2 last 10 weeks)
Note: All games are on Sunday, Dec. 17 and times are ET.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) at New York Giants (2-11), 1 p.m.
The Eagles need one more win to clinch a first-round bye and probably two more to secure the No. 1 and home-field advantage throughout. But they’ll have to do this without starting quarterback and MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL late in last week’s road over the Rams. Now Nick Foles takes over and that means a bigger emphasis on the run game and the defense. The Giants are allowing nearly 400 yards of offense per game and have not managed much when they have had the ball. Eli Manning's return last week seemed like a feel-good story when in reality it produced the team's fourth straight effort of 20 points or less. The first game between these two back in September was Jake Elliott's coming out party. It also featured Odell Beckham Jr., who has been long gone. To me, until I see something from the Eagles, I'll fade them especially at this bloated number. SELECTION: Giants +7.5 & Under 40
Green Bay Packers (7-6) at Carolina Panthers (9-4), 1 p.m.
Aaron Rodgers is back for the Packers as they try to revive their slim playoff chances in Carolina. Rodgers has been out for a while, but he'll be an instant improvement over Brett Hundley. Carolina's defense has struggled at times this season in the points allowed department, but has been able limit the damage in terms of yards. The Panthers have won five of their last six and are playing good football right now. Despite all that, Rodgers' return has caused the line to fall dramatically. To me, this fall is a bit ridiculous as Rodgers won't fix what ails Green Bay's defense and one hit could send him to the sidelines again. I can’t predict the future in terms of line movement, but if this one continues to fall below 3, then I'm on Carolina. SELECTION: Carolina (I would take them at 2.5 or less on Sunday or even before)
Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-13), 1 p.m.
I hate myself for considering this, but I think the Browns might be worth a look. I've said on Twitter that if you bet on this team and complain afterwards then you deserve it. Unfortunately, now I'll be in this situation because I think this is the right spot to play them. The Cleveland offense is showing pulses and I don't know if the Ravens have someone to shut down Josh Gordon. Baltimore is coming off a tough loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh where it allowed Ben Roethlisberger to throw for more than 500 yards. If DeShone Kizer (above, right) can just limit the mistakes, Cleveland has a shot to win. The Ravens’ offense still doesn’t scare me very much and the Browns’ defense has shown flashes of improvement. They've held two of their last four opponents under 20 points. SELECTION: Browns +7
New England Patriots (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2), 4:25 p.m.
The best game of the week features two teams fighting for the top seed in the AFC. The Patriots struggled mightily against the Dolphins on “Monday Night Football” but get Rob Gronkowski back, which should help. Pittsburgh's defense has gone downhill the last few weeks allowing 28 points to Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers and 38 to a mediocre Baltimore offense. And it doesn’t help New England’s cause that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are hot right now. The Patriots are playing their third straight road game, so that could be a factor too. These teams have combined to go over in 11 of their last 19 games. I think this one will feature plenty of points as well. SELECTION: Over 53
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.