Las Vegas SuperContest: The sprint to the end begins
Las Vegas – If the Las Vegas SuperContest is a marathon, welcome to the final sprint. We are down to the final 15 picks before we find out who wins the $1.3 million dollar first-place prize.
This week also starts the final mini-contest for those eligible to see who wins $15,000 for the best record over the last three weeks of the season.
Team Gamenight (38-29-3), managed by the author of this piece, is riding a hot streak, winning nine of its last 10 picks to put me into a tie for 333rd place out of 2658 teams. It’s not bad, but it’s not near the top 50 yet. Let’s see if I can keep it rolling.
Chiefs PK vs. Chargers
The Chargers have won four games in a row to set up the biggest game of the year in the AFC West against the Chiefs. Both teams are 7-6 and have been up and down this season. I keep coming back to the question of whether LA is actually a playoff team or merely a squad that is just better right now than the four teams they just beat (Bills, Cowboys, Browns and Redskins). Sure, their defense has been playing better of late, but they still are one of the worst against the run in 2017. The Chiefs are at home, and on a cold night, Arrowhead Stadium can be an extremely tough place to play. KC’s rush offense played really well last week at home against the Raiders, and RB Kareem Hunt ran for 116 yards and one touchdown. I don’t love Kansas City, but at home, with the playoffs on the line, I’m going to go with the Chiefs here. Now, it was a while ago, but in the first meeting, QB Philip Rivers did throw three interceptions when KC beat the Chargers in Southern California. I don’t think we will see a repeat, but the Chiefs will nonetheless be confident they can stop LA on Saturday.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) December 14, 2017
Jaguars -10.5 vs. Texans
Dance with the one who brought you, right? I’ve picked the Jags for a sixth straight week because I just don’t think third string QB T.J. Yates and Houston can score enough against the top-ranked defense in the NFL. Turnovers will be a big part of this game, and that’s why I’m not afraid of the double-digit line here. Jacksonsville is for real in my opinion, and this is the type of game they should win going away. QB Blake Bortles is facing a shell of what Houston normally deploys on defense, and the Texans have nothing to play for but pride. I like Jags by two touchdowns.
Rams +2 at Seahawks
I had a hard time between picking the Rams +2 or the Packers +3 this week. I went back and forth on this, but ultimately I picked LA because of the Seahawks’ inuries. I know they are at home, but their defense may be without five starters. Linebacker Bobby Wagner has a hamstring issue, and K.J. Wright has a concussion. Both didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. Defensive lineman Cliff Avril, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor are out for the year already, so who is going to stop one of the best offenses in football? I normally would never pick against Seattle at home, but I think this is where the injuries really catch up to them. The Rams lost last week at home to the Eagles and can’t afford to drop another one this week. I’ll take LA to win on the road.
Patriots -3 at Steelers
This pick was automatic for me as soon as New England lost to the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. QB Tom Brady has thrown 22 touchdowns to 0 interceptions against Mike Tomlin-coached teams. Brady is 10-2 all-time against the Steelers and he hasn’t thrown a pick against Pittsburgh since 2005. With the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski from suspension, the Pats will be back to converting third downs again. New England will score at least 30 points on Sunday afternoon, and I think the Pats’ defense is good enough to hold Pittsburgh under 25. Give me the Pats all day here.
49ers -2 vs. Titans
The 49ers have won two games in a row and return home for the first start of the Jimmy Garoppolo era. The Titans have eight wins, but it’s smoke and mirrors. They lost last week at Arizona and have to go out to the West Coast again this week. San Francisco is fired up for Jimmy G, and they are playing hard for their first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan. The Titans are toast, and they know it. QB Marcus Mariota has regressed, and there aren’t enough weapons to overcome it. Here’s a great stat from our fellow Action Network site, SportsInsights.com, on this game: Teams with a winning percentage of .250 or worse that are favored over an opponent with a winning record have gone 41-28-5 (59.4%) ATS since 2003. Give me San Fran again this week.
Just Missing The Cut
Packers +3 at Carolina
I was going to take the return of QB Aaron Rodgers as a gut pick that Green Bay would play really hard for him, but I’m nervous about him getting re-injured. The Panthers get after the QB as well as anyone, and they are going to blitz the heck of out of Rodgers. The Packers need this, but everyone is trying to downplay the impact Rodgers’ return. I would have taken Green Bay and the points, but I couldn’t do it ultimately. These picks are too important right now to trust that Rodgers will be as good as he was earlier in the year this week.
Cowboys -3 at Raiders
With the injury to WR Amari Cooper keeping him out officially for this week, and with Oakland coming off a ugly loss to the Chiefs, the Raiders looked primed for a home loss here. However, I’m just not 100 percent on the Cowboys right now without Zeke Elliott. Another SportsInsight.com stat scared me away: Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is 7-12 ATS (36.8%) when the Cowboys are above .500 and playing in primetime. The Cowboys have lost their past three games ATS on the road in this spot. I passed.
Our Other Action Network Picks
Team Bet The Process (36-32-2) is taking the Chiefs (pick’em), Bengals (+10.5), Texans (+10.5), Jets (+16.5) and Titans (-2).
Team Sports Action (33-35-2) is taking the Jets (+16.5), Ravens (-7), Rams (+2), Titans (-2) and Falcons (-6.5).
We are back with Week 15 of the Fade Or Follow podcast tomorrow afternoon right here!