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NFL Bargain Bets: Week 17
December 27th 2007
by Old Man Winner

New England Patriots -13.5 @ New York Giants

This one is very risky. Giving 13.5 points to any team playing on the road, with no real reason to play their starters as they head into the playoffs may seem ludicrous . . . . and it probably is.  However, so is Bill Belichick. He has had his team playing with a huge chip on their shoulder all year, and he will play this one the same way. They absolutely want to win this game to remain undefeated. They also want to crush the Giants as they have crushed most teams this year. Tom Brady also has some personal motivation to overtake the Golden Boy, Peyton Manning's record for most TD's in a season. He needs two. Randy Moss also needs two receiving TD's to overtake Jerry Rice's longstanding record (let's not forget that he did it in 12 games - THAT is utterly amazing). The Giants, will be playing it much more conservatively. Like most teams, they will likely rest their key skill players (in this case we use the term very lightly) and rest Eli Manning, along with their banged up RB's, and Plax, as much as possible in preparation for their first playoff game next week. This one could go South in a hurry if Brady connects with Moss for two scores early and they both exit the game. Can you name Brady's backup? I didn't think so.

Cincinnati Bengals -3 @ Miami Dolphins

Both these teams are out of the playoffs, and thus we can forget about "motivation" and revert to normal assessment of the teams. Miami sucks. Cincy has a lot of talent, but they are simply undisciplined and poorly coached.  They are also a finesse team, and will often get beat by teams that are more physical. As a team, they are also more vulnerable playing in inclement weather, which they have had to do the past three weeks. Fortunately, none of that applies this week, as they finally get a break and will play in decent weather against a team that is not the least bit physical. Palmer should have a nice game, along with Kenny Watson.

Chicago Bears +2.5 vs. New Orleans Saints

The Saints need to win to have any shot at making the playoffs. Although they need help from Washington and Minnesota, those games will be played later in the day, so they will feel very pressured to win.  The Bears have no pressure. They will be playing the spoiler role. They played it to perfection last week against the Packers. Once again, the weather will be cold, and the winds gusty. There may even be some snow. This is Bear weather, not Superdome weather. The Bears' last Soldier Field loss in December against a team that plays its home games exclusively in a dome came back on Dec. 26, 1993, against the Detroit Lions. Although Drew Brees has been playing better of late, Colston was beat up last week and will likely not be 100%, the conditions will be less than optimal for throwing, and the Saints will be starting their 4th option at RB, as their three previous starters are all out (McAllister, Bush, and Stecker). The Bears actually looked like the Bears last week, and they are probably healthier on defense than they have been all year. I expect them to relish in the spoiler role again this week and win this one outright.

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