Just three weeks left and a lot to be decided
Just three weeks left in the NFL regular season and things are getting really weird. There are a lot of bad teams still in the mix for a playoff spot. The irony is that half of them would much rather tank to get a better draft pick rather than make the postseason and get blown out in the first round.
We also have to watch out for teams that just don't care anymore and have gone deep into their bench. For example, you probably won't see me back the Redskins any more with Josh Johnson at quarterback.
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Sunday, Dec. 16 unless indicated otherwise.
Here are this week's best NFL picks against the spread:
Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Denver Broncos (6-7), 8:20 p.m. (Sat.)
Last week's loss by the Broncos scared me big time. Their offense isn't good enough to struggle even against a bad defense. They looked pedestrian in San Francisco last week and it showed in the statistics. Cleveland has won three of its last four and the defense is getting a little bit better. Baker Mayfield is capable of lighting Denver's defense up if given the time as it looked bad against Nick Mullens without top cornerback Chris Harris Jr. Bradley Roby is having a tough year sO Jarvis Landry and/or Antonio Callaway could have a big game. Cleveland is 8-5 against the spread this season. Right now the Browns may actually be the better team than the Broncos. SELECTION: Cleveland +3
Dallas Cowboys (8-5) at Indianapolis Colts (7-6), 1 p.m.
I don't really like taking unders in the NFL, but this seems like a prime spot for one. The Cowboys have held opponents to just 86.8 rushing yards per game while the Colts are putting up some underrated defensive numbers. Dallas probably should have scored a little more against Philadelphia last week and the Eagles' banged-up defense, but Dak and the offense had three turnovers. The Cowboys could get some pressure on Andrew Luck and since the Colts don’t run it too well T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron will be key. I think this game will depend on field position. Indianapolis has gone under in four straight while Dallas has gone under in five of six road games this year and 16 of its last 22 overall away from Jerry World. SELECTION: Under 47
Detroit Lions (5-8) at Buffalo Bills (4-9), 1 p.m.
Last week I tried the Bills and it didn't work out, but that's not stopping me. For the second straight game, Buffalo's offense had three turnovers and that's why this team has lost close games to the Dolphins and Jets. I still like Josh Allen and the mobility that he brings at the quarterback position. The Bills' defense continues to be awesome as it has not allowed more than 200 passing yards in five straight games. I can't imagine Detroit will be thrilled to play outdoors in the cold after beating the Cardinals in Arizona last week. In that game, Matthew Stafford had just 96 passing yards. The Detroit offense has scored 22 points or less in seven straight. I'm not a huge believer in the Lions' defense either. Quite frankly, I think the Bills can win an ugly home game in this matchup. SELECTION: Bills -2.5
Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) at Chicago Bears (9-4), 1 p.m.
I've tried to fade the Bears several times this season and have had mixed results. They are 9-4 against the spread, but their offense doesn't scare me a ton. Mitchell Trubisky is a very hot and cold quarterback and doesn't have a ton of weapons around him at the skill positions. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard form a nice duo in the backfield and Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel are just okay as wide receivers. It's Chicago's defense that continues to carry the team thanks to a ton of turnovers and the ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Green Bay is coming off a 34-20 win over the Falcons and the defense has perked up a bit as of late. The Packers have given up 20 points each of the last two games. Aaron Rodgers is a guy I want to back in underdog situations whenever I can. The first meeting went to the Packers way back in Week 1 although the Bears dominated the game. I still think the road team is worth a look here. SELECTION: Packers +6
— 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.