SEAHAWKS (-3) over Falcons: Twiddling thumbs after fattening up early vs. NFC North foes, Falcons left themselves much to do to attain postseason participation. Hawks have their own depth issues without Richard Sherman, but face easier path, while Atlanta must cope with Saints and Panthers three times in final four weeks. RB Davonte Freeman (concussion) would be direly missed here.
Chiefs (-10¹/₂) over GIANTS: Winners once in the past month, Andy Reid’s minions figure to rediscover their success formula here — and next week, when entertaining the now-unsteady Bills. Big Blue defense appears to be “battling” for a high draft pick next spring. Concern is Reid’s notorious coziness, once comfortably ahead.
BEARS (+3) over Lions: In recent times, when Matthew Stafford’s Lions have enjoyed a talent advantage, they’ve tended to prevail. But since the Bears’ sustained defensive revival and the game-by-game maturing of Mitch Trubisky and the running game, their level of home-underdog performance has perked up. Lions rushing isn’t good enough to endorse their willy-nilly road favoritism within the division.
Buccaneers (Pick) over DOLPHINS: WR Mike Evans is back in the fold, following that single-game suspension stemming from the Saints fracas. Tampa Bay now looking to duplicate last season’s second-half salary drive against home side currently not displaying necessary energy levels.
PACKERS (+2) over Ravens: Compelled to choose, forced to look to the Packers (even without RB Aaron Jones), up against a broadly inefficient offense that has problems against most motivated defenses — and has already failed to handle Green Bay’s NFC North reps Minnesota and Chicago.
VIKINGS (-2) over Rams: Both sides come in smokin’ hot — though neither has faced monsters. Saw what this year’s Rams could be (earlier than most), but Vikings have been devastating outside division for Mike Zimmer. Case Keenum’s stint with Rams last year isn’t enough to point to visitor under these circumstances. Teddy Bridgewater in relief nice backup option.
TEXANS (-1) over Cardinals: Your starting pitchers: Blaine Gabbert for the Cards vs. Tom Savage for Houston. After disappointing multi-year runs with the Jaguars and 49ers, Gabbert gets another shot to pump the lengthy ugly résumé of ex-Mizzou QBs in the NFL (Chase Daniel? Oh, OK).
Jaguars (-8) over BROWNS: It remains difficult to pigeonhole the Jags, but tempted to ride the broad generalization that visitor’s defense typically shows up — and is hell to get by when it does, especially when it gets shot to disrupt the kind of mistake-prone offense Cleveland runs out there.
Redskins (+8) over SAINTS: Drew Brees has hung up a passing percentage of 71.7 percent this season — rare air. Considered in tandem with the Saints’ broad sizzling recent form, look for some measure of regression, and give Washington yet another shot to do us good — though that read logically leads to belief that the over should work here as well.
CHARGERS (-4¹/₂) over Bills: Despite actually occupying a playoff-eligible position were the season to end now, Buffalo benching established QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of Pitt product Nathan Peterman (though Jon Gruden is a big fan). Bolts are optimistic they’ll enjoy Philip Rivers’ services, though he’s recovering within concussion protocol after getting dinged last week.
Bengals (+2¹/₂) over BRONCOS: Though this is Cincinnati’s third straight away game, Denver has checked out defensively, and Brock Osweiler is never the right answer. Would love to put on the headphones in this one. Let Andy Dalton play, Marvin. As Fast Eddie Felson said: “Fast and loose.”
Patriots (-7) over Raiders (at Mexico City): To sustain their exposure to extreme altitude, Pats killed time in Denver after destroying Broncos. Mexico City’s appreciably more elevated than Denver, and you get lousy air quality (and high winds Sunday) in the bargain. Oakland is going to try to slow Tom Brady with a defense which has zero interceptions in nine games.
Eagles (-4 ½) over COWBOYS: Having withdrawn the appeal of his suspension, Ezekiel Elliott is idled until Week 16 — and note that Byron Bell is the man at left tackle if Tyron Smith (groin) doesn’t play. Market is bear-hugging the Eagles (Alshon Jeffrey should be a go) as if they have copies of Monday’s newspapers. Line move is aggressive. Close call.
Last week: 6-7-1
Follow Richard Witt on Twitter: @rich_witt1