December 31, 2017
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Miami Dolphins +3 spread (buy the half point) against Buffalo Bills for 3% of the bankroll.
Last week we correctly predicted that the Bengals would play spoiler and eliminate the Lions from playoff contention and this week we see a similar situation in Miami. The Bills not only need to win but also need help from other teams like either the Ravens losing or both the Titans and Chargers falling short. In all likelihood, we believe it is too little too late and that Sean McDermott's decision to try the 'Nathan Peterman experiment' midseason by inexplicably benching Tyrod Taylor costing them dearly. The Bills were in a Wild Card hunt and playing well at the time before that one-game benching of Taylor meant they got humiliated by the Chargers (a direct rival for a Wild Card spot)! Since then, they have recovered somewhat but things aren't the same and their post-season dreams hang on by a thread.
We believe the Dolphins are capable of winning this game outright and preventing any late Wild Card drama. Miami is far from a perfect team but they have been tenacious under Adam Gase and would like nothing more than to end the season on a high. The fact that this is a matchup against a divisional opponent makes them even more eager to do so. What we believe makes them extremely motivated heading into this contest however is the fact that they lost to this same Buffalo team just a few weeks ago. LeSean McCoy burned them for a couple of touchdowns (one on the ground and one through a reception) while Tyrod Taylor got outside the pocket for a rushing TD of his own. Expect Miami's defense to have a better game plan this time around.
The Bills have a limited offense but the acquisition of Kelvin Benjamin at least gives them a big-bodied receiver who's a threat in the red zone! Unfortunately for them, he's quite injury-prone and can't be overly relied on for that reason. The 'Fins actually limited McCoy to just 50 rushing yards in the last meeting but he managed to slip out of the backfield for a costly reception or two. Miami has some excellent players on the defensive side and it wouldn't surprise us if they made life difficult for the Bills today.
The good new for the Dolphins is that they've found a running game of their own with Kenyan Drake. Drake has done better than Jay Ajayi did and gives them hope for the future especially with QB Ryan Tannehill set to return next season. In the meanwhile, Jay Cutler has done a serviceable job even if he's once again being criticized by the masses. In what could be his final start as an NFL signal-caller, look for him to do well. He's an intelligent and highly experienced QB and having seen this defense a couple of weeks ago, he'll have a good idea of where to hook up with his receivers. Jarvis Landry in particular might pose problems for the Bills, especially since he's a free-agent after this season and could be playing his final game as a Dolphin. He's been a reliable source of catches this season and ranks among the league leaders as far as receptions go. Given his fiery personality and determined demeanor, we believe he'll want to go out on a high note and should do well. Miami has revenge on its mind and will relish the chance of playing spoiler today. Take the valuable 3 extra points as added insurance since it could come into play.
#2: Take Tennessee Titans -1 spread (buy the half point) against Jacksonville Jags for 3% of the bankroll.
Unlike most other playoff hopefuls, the Titans control their own destiny. Win at home today and they'll be heading to the post-season! Lose and not only will they likely miss out, rumors have it that coach Mike Mularkey will likely be let go of. There is of course a scenario where they could lose and still clinch a Wild Card spot but for that to happen they would need not only the Bills to fall short in Miami but also the Chargers to lose at home to the hapless Raiders! It's fair to say then that Tennessee needs this 'W' and has a lot riding on this game.
The Titans have heard a lot of criticism in recent weeks. Selected by many as a trendy preseason pick, they've somewhat disappointed despite being in a good position heading into Week 17. Luckily for them, they can silence doubters and put the last couple of week's upsetting results in their rearview mirror by securing a victory and hence a post-season spot today! It's a fair ask to expect a team to win at home if they consider themselves a playoff team. It won't be easy for the Titans given that they face a menacing defense in the Jaguars but we do believe they will come through.
Marcus Mariota has had a season to forget. Injuries coupled with a lack of true identity on offense has hurt this offense and yet we believe they have enough playmakers to make it count when it matters most. Delanie Walker could have a big game for the hosts as he's clutch in important games and moments while Mariota himself can certainly play better than he has in recent weeks. The Titans have played it safe with him after he hurt his hamstring earlier in the season but in what is a must-win game for them, we expect him to have the full playbook ready to be unleashed. The former Oregon standout causes problems for teams with his dual-threat mobility and with a full complement of receivers at his disposal, he'll have no excuses not to deliver. We believe he has a couple of magical moments left in him this season and it might just be enough to end a long playoff drought for the team from Music City.
Doug Marrone has elected not to rest his starters for this matchup against the Titans but it is a decision that we believe could backfire. While it makes sense that he wants to see a 'response' from his squad after an embarrassing defeat in San Fran, we doubt he'll see what he's looking for. The Jaguars could lose a key player to injury in Week 17 in what is ultimately a meaningless game for them and if that happens, it'll severely dampen the mood of everyone in Jacksonville. The former Buffalo Bills coach is hoping his team bounces back and doesn't limp into the playoffs off two straight losses but we believe they will still have one eye set on the important game coming up in what is their first playoff berth in a decade! The Titans, on the other hand, will be solely focused on the task at hand and will be the more motivated side. DeMarco Murray will sit out but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in our opinion. Derrick Henry should've become the lead RB for this Tennessee side already and will likely seize his opportunity and perhaps even carry the Titans to the playoffs. The bruising former Alabama bellcow has been the better runner this season anyway and yet having to split carries with Murray has held him back. Look for him to be turned loose today in what is a pivotal matchup for the hosts. This could be a close game but since the spread is minimal, our interests are fully aligned with the team as far as covering spreads and winning the game goes.
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