Welcome to the holiday season where there is NFL football on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Last week's 3-2 record provided reinforcement that I know what I'm doing, but it also confused me more. How could the Vikings lay such an egg at home against a Colts team that they are better then? How could the Chiefs lose at home to the Titans? I'll continue to say that motivation is a big factor and so is the weather. We've seen several teams check out already on the season and don't expect them to change with just two weeks last to go.
Note: All games are on Sat., Dec. 24 and times ET.
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-8), 1 p.m.
This one is purely a situational play as I really don't like taking the Falcons on the road. I think the Panthers put a lot into their Monday night game against the Redskins. To me, Carolina is a team still with a lot of flaws and now has to contend with Julio Jones, who is back after a two-game absence. Remember what Jones and Matt Ryan did the first time these teams met in Week 4. The wide receiver went for 300 yards and a touchdown while the quarterback threw for 503 and four scores. Money is coming in on the Falcons. I'd take them up to -3 although I'd also be aware of Luke Kuechly's status (concussion) for the home team. SELECTION: Falcons -3
New York Jets (4-10) at New England Patriots (12-2), 1 p.m.
This is a huge number, I know, but the Jets are one of those teams that have mailed it in. They have allowed 34 points to the Dolphins and 41 to the Colts in the last three weeks. Bryce Petty has been OK so far, but he's running into a Patriots team that likes to take away what you do well. New England's offense really hasn't exploded much yet this season. The Baltimore game two weeks ago featured more than 400 yards, but three turnovers. I don't think the Patriots will be looking ahead to the Dolphins next week. New England has covered in 11 of 14 games. SELECTION: Patriots -16.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at New Orleans Saints (6-8), 4:25 p.m.
These two teams met just 13 days ago with the Buccaneers winning 16-11 at home in an ugly contest. Tampa Bay managed just 270 yards of offense in the victory while Drew Brees threw three interceptions. The scene shifts to New Orleans where games typically feature plenty of points. The Saints average 31 points while allowing 30.3 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers are on the road for the second straight game so who knows how effective they will be. What we do know is that there should be points. The Bucs have put up 67 in their last three road contests (Kansas City, San Diego and Dallas). New Orleans has gone over in 18 of its last 29 dome games. SELECTION: Over 52.5
— Last week I came really close to adding the Panthers and they won outright against the Redskins. Now Washington is traveling to Chicago to play a Bears team that has had a pulse as of late. It’s a short week for the Skins, who are clearly the better team with a lot to play for, but there are too many variables for me to make a pick either way.
— 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.