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December 17, 2017

There are two picks today.

#1: Take Oakland Raiders +3 spread against Dallas Cowboys for 3% of the bankroll.

This is a must-win game for both franchises as they harbor dreams of making the playoffs via a Wild Card spot. The problem for them is that they’re both on the outside looking in and need quite a few things to go their way in the remaining 3 games of the season. Even if they win out, they aren’t guaranteed to make it given that they also need help from other teams but when all is said and done, one team will be eliminated tonight while the other will live to fight another week as it hangs on to its slim chances. We believe the hosts are overlooked in this spot and are the more likely team to come out on top.

The Raiders had an embarrassing performance at Arrowhead Stadium and now find themselves basically out of the AFC West division race. If they win out from here, they could still technically win the division but they would need Kansas City Chiefs to lose their remaining games! Their destiny as far as the division title goes is no longer in their own hands but they still aren’t mathematically out of it. They’re also in the hunt as far as Wild Card spots go but face stiff competition from a handful of other teams and are unlikely to get there. Having said that, they know they must come out victorious tonight in order to stave off elimination and given that this is their final home game of the season, we believe they’ll do so.

The Cowboys finally found their footing last time out and have Sean Lee to thank for that. This is a different team on the defensive side with their veteran linebacker present. When Lee misses games, teams run the bottle down Dallas’ throat with great success and that ends up opening passing lanes eventually as well and yet when Sean Lee is there, teams find it much tougher to rush for meaningful yards. Lee will captain the defense tonight but he isn’t at 100% and neither are some of his colleagues. Quite a few players are banged up for America’s Favorite Team and others like Justin Durant will be missing altogether. With Marshawn Lynch having woken up over the last few weeks to rumble for big yards, they’ll need all the help they can get to stop the Oakland native. 

Derek Carr has had a disappointing season but is a resillient individual. As a leader for this franchise, he knows he needs to do better and it wouldn’t surprise us if he put in a good performance tonight. He and the Raiders have some critics to silence and while their year hasn’t gone the way many imagined in pre-season, they must be tired of all the criticism. They were completely outplayed in Kansas City and that means their pride was hurt. Tonight, we believe they’ll want to show the national audience watching this game that they are not a poor team and they can do so by ending Dallas’ playoff hopes while keeping their own alive. This should be a closely contested affair with both teams having a chance to win it. We think the Raiders will not wanna disappoint their passionate fanbase in what is their final home game of the season, especially with a relocation to Vegas happening in the near future! Look for them to win this outright or fall just short and if that’s the case, the 3 points are precious and might come in handy.

#2: Take Carolina Panthers -3 spread against Green Bay Packers for 3% of the bankroll.

There has been a lot of talk surrounding the return of Aaron Rodgers in this matchup and while it is expected that Rodgers is to play the role of "savior" for his team's season, this is an extremely difficult matchup for him to return to. Not only will Rodgers be facing an extremely dangerous and physical Carolina defense, but it should not be ignored that he hasn't seen the field or actual playing time in 8 weeks! That is an extremely long layoff to be expected to just interject himself into the game and expect that he will pick up play exactly where he left off. Even for a quarterback as good as Rodgers, it is going to take some time for him to adjust.

Carolina meanwhile has themselves is a solid position ahead of the postseason. They have bene playing extremely well over the last month with wins in 5 of their last 6 games. Their lone loss during that stretch came against a red-hot New Orleans Saints team at the Superdome. The NFC South is a very competitive division this season and the Panthers know that in order to keep pace with the likes of New Orleans and Atlanta, that they need to continue to win football games.

The Packers currently find themselves in the middle of the pack in the NFC North and three games back in the Wildcard. Green Bay will likely need to win out in order to even have a chance at the playoff this season, and even with that, it still may not be enough. They certainly need to win this game this afternoon, however, given Rodgers lengthy layoff and playing the caliber of defense that is near top in the NFC, we believe it will be too much for the Pacers to overcome in this matchup.

Cam Newton has had an up and down season this year and it is never quite known what Cam is going to show up on any given day. That being said, the Packers defense has given up their fair share of big plays this season. They are currently ranked 24th in the league against the pass, which should allow Newton to expose a rather suspect secondary. Guys like Devin Funchess and TE Greg Olson should be able to maneuver their way through the secondary and allow Newton to air the ball out.

The Packers rush defense has also struggled somewhat this season, ranking 19th in the league. Jonathan Stewart showed that he still has plenty to offer in the backfield as he scampered for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns last week against a tough Minnesota defense. Stewart even managed to break contain and rumble for a 60-yard gain in the early part of the first quarter last week. As dangerous as Stewart showed he can still be, the Packers also must contend with Christian McCaffery and Cam Newton as well. All three runners provide different and elusive styles to contend with and should keep the Packers defense on their heels for much of the game.

Even with Rodgers in the lineup, we believe the Panthers are simply the more complete team on both sides of the ball. Rodgers will have some success in this game, however, it won't be enough to lead his team to victory. At home, the Panthers will find a way to limit the damage done by Rodgers and Newton will lead his team on a drive late in the game that will give us the win and cover.

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