With 10 of the 12 playoff teams locked in (and Indianapolis needing a ten-team parlay to come in to stop Houston being team 11), Neil Monnery looks at the hot ones and the not ones going into Week 17.
"Arizona be my SB favourite but the NFC is way better than the AFC but the fact the market has adjusted and made them the 2.727/4 favourites to come out of the NFC doesn't shock me one jot."
I like the Cardinals. I really like the Cardinals. Heck, I'm going to come out and say it, I think they are the best team in football today. The only team I think is better are the Patriots but they have so many injuries that if these two played on a neutral field tomorrow, I would take the NFC West champs. Losing the Honey Badger sucked as he is a game-changing player but next man up. They are not weak in any single department. Not one. They would be my Super Bowl favourite but the NFC is way better than the AFC and it'll be tough to get through the playoffs. The fact the market has adjusted and made them the 2.727/4 favourites to come out of the NFC doesn't shock me one jot.
Next up: home v Seattle
New York Jets
I predicted they would beat the Pats last week, not because I think they are remotely better than the team from New England, but because the Pats were banged up and are just in 'rest up and get healthy mode' for the playoffs. Still they did what they had to do and the fact Pittsburgh dropped a clunker has put them in prime position to sneak into a wildcard spot. If they do, they would probably beat a Bengals team whose QB situation is snake-bitten. They aren't winning at New England or Denver when push comes to shove but if they make into the tournament and win a game, that is a very good season. Still though this is the Jets and Rex Ryan will be frothing at the mouth to beat them, therefore crushing their dreams. Deep deep down, it wouldn't shock me if he did just that.
Next up: @ Buffalo
How often do you think teams want to lose a game that decides whether they win their division or not? Once in a blue moon? Well that is the picture on Sunday night as the Vikings travel to Green Bay knowing a win will give them a home game against Seattle on wildcard weekend, defeat and they travel to Washington. I know which I'd prefer. Still they are trending up because they have done far better than I thought they would this season. I don't see them going deep but I love them for the upset on Sunday night at 2.3211/8, the issue is victory will come at the cost of facing Pete Carroll's mob, in what I suspect would be the prime time game a week on Saturday.
Next up: @ Green Bay
So, just a week ago, I (and every other NFL fan) saw Pittsburgh as the scary floater that no-one wanted to face in the AFC playoffs. Then they somehow managed to lose to a Ryan Mallett-led Ravens and they now need to win on Sunday and for the Jets to lose at Buffalo. It wouldn't be the stunner if that is how it played out but they should never be in a position where they are relying on the Buffalo Bills to do them a favour in week 17. The rest of the AFC playoff contenders cheered mightily on Sunday seeing that they had gone down and they'll be hoping they don't sneak in, because if they do, I would still have them as close third favourites behind the expected top two seeds.
Next up: @ Cleveland
Green Bay Packers
I previewed their game on Sunday but chickened out of picking the result and played with the points and first TD scorer markets. This is because every time I write-off the Packers they play well the next week. Still something is very wrong with them. I know Arizona are good but the way they got to Aaron Rodgers all afternoon was worrying. Then you think back and see every game they've lost it is because a defense has basically got blitz heavy. The film is out there and unless they can shore up the o-line in the next fortnight then the Packers will be one and done.
Next up: home v Minnesota
This may be a tad harsh but who is going to play quarterback for them on wildcard weekend? Andy Dalton has a broken thumb and AJ McCarron got hurt on the final play of the game in Denver on Monday night. If either player is fine to go then it isn't terminal but with it now looking like they won't get that important bye week, my trust in them has dipped. I'm on the record as liking the Pats and if Denver can find a QB who can play average ball, I like them too. I just can't see the Bengals beating them both on the road, which they now look likely to have to do to make Super Bowl 50.
Next up: home v Baltimore
2pt back Minnesota to win straight up at 2.3211/8 on the Exchange
Neil Monnery NFL P/L 2015 Season
Staked - 190pts
Returned - 247.92pts
P&L - +57.92pts