This late in the season, it’s wise to invest only in meaningful games, particularly those in which both teams have something at stake.
Unfortunately, on the final weekend of the schedule, we don’t find too many of those.
Most intriguing is Carolina (No. 7 in AP Pro32) at Atlanta (No. 10, AP Pro32), where there’s plenty on the line.
The Panthers own a playoff berth and still can win the NFC South, though they need Tampa Bay to upset New Orleans. Atlanta, which came so close to winning the Super Bowl in February, must win or have Seattle lose to qualify.
Although the Panthers appear to be the much better team, they are 3½-point underdogs at Atlanta — the idea being there’s much more desperation for the Falcons. We’ll buy that, though if they were to meet in the playoffs, we’d go the other way.
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
Kudos to anyone who has gotten to the final week of the season without being knocked out. Certainly that was not the case for Pro Picks, which finishes off the schedule with ATLANTA to play its way into the postseason.
No. 6 New Orleans (minus 7 1-2) at No. 28 Tampa Bay
Saints won’t stumble this close to an also-ran to penthouse turnaround.
BEST BET: SAINTS, 30-16
No. 14 Buffalo (minus 2 1-2) at No. 24 Miami
The Bills’ playoff drought continues.
UPSET SPECIAL: DOLPHINS, 17-13
No. 23 Cincinnati (plus 10) at No. 11 Baltimore
Ravens’ D could be scary in postseason, which they get into with ...
No. 22 Oakland (plus 7) at No. 13 Los Angeles Chargers
From 0-4 to a wild card. Nice rally, Chargers.
No. 25 New York Jets (plus 15) at No. 1 New England
Patriots secure yet another AFC top seed.
No. 16 Dallas (minus 3) at No. 4 Philadelphia
Eagles already have home-field advantage for NFC playoffs.
No. 8 Jacksonville (plus 3) at No. 15 Tennessee
Jaguars are locked into AFC’s third seed, but they send Titans home.
No. 32 Cleveland (plus 10 1-2) at No. 2 (tie) Pittsburgh
Wonder if members of the 2008 Lions will applaud Browns’ perfecto.
No. 9 Kansas City (plus 4) at No. 26 Denver
Chiefs are No. 4 seed, want to keep folks healthy.
No. 27 Chicago (plus 12) at No. 2 (tie) Minnesota
Vikings take No. 2 seed in NFC, set sights on hosting and playing in Super Bowl.
No. 20 San Francisco (plus 6) at No. 5 Los Angeles Rams
Hey Niners, pay Jimmy G now. Rams resting starters so ...
No. 19 Arizona (plus 7) at No. 12 Seattle
Disappointing and injury-plagued season for both teams.
No. 21 Green Bay (plus 7) at No. 17 Detroit
When schedule was made, this looked like NFC North title showdown. Not quite.
No. 18 Washington (minus 3) at No. 31 New York Giants
What a mess the Giants have become.
No. 29 Houston (plus 1) at No. 30 Indianapolis
What a mess the Colts have become. But ...
Last week: Against spread (4-11-1). Straight up (12-4)
Season Totals: Against spread (108-113-10). Straight up: (153-85)
Best Bet: 9-7 against spread, 10-6 straight up.
Upset special: 9-7 against spread, 9-7 straight up