Free Sports Picks: New England at Houston and KC at Denver
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/31/2009
One final week of the NFL regular season and only a few games carry significance in terms of playoff seeding. After last week with the Buccaneers winning outright as 14-point underdogs and my other two-touchdown underdog, Kansas City, covering, I am 5-1-2 in the NFL this regular season. Including my 6-2 record in college football I am 11-3-2 overall in football picks. For Week 17 here are two more free NFL picks.
New England Patriots at Houston Texans
Sunday 1 p.m. ET
When a line opens at seven and moves all the way up to nine, it usually indicates something more than heavy public action. This case is no different. Word of Tom Brady and other starters getting some rest has driven the home-standing Texans up to nine-point favorites against a New England team who would probably be favored by just as much if the teams were meeting in a different setting.
Even though the line has moved in Houston’s favor, the total has remained steady at 46.
The Patriots’ playoff seeding will be affected by the outcome of this game but it’s hard to imagine them really going all out to secure a No. 3 seed. To them a No. 3 or a No. 4 will work just the same. The Texans have it made. They are at home, against a team with a questionable motive. Where they do not have it made is in playoff scenarios where they need a lot of help but because they play at 1 p.m., the Texans will go into the game knowing they are at least alive for now.
Throw the Record Books out the Window
Normally that sports cliché would apply to rivalries, but in this case you really do need to throw them out the window. It is nice to know that the Patriots average 402 yards of offense per game (second best in the NFL) and they have the fourth best scoring defense (16.7 points per game) but many of the players around for those games, likely will not finish this game.
For the AFC teams needing a Texans’ loss, Bill Belichick is the coach you want on the other sideline. He will play to win the game, just like he did when the Patriots were on their way to a 17-0 season. He has played starters late into games even without a perfect record on the line. That is the way he coaches. But Tom Brady is banged up. His ribs, thumb and shoulder will force Belichick to finally bench him.
Oh yeah, and the Texans currently employ safety Bernard Pollard, the same Bernard Pollard who, as a Kansas City Chief, rolled into Brady’s leg last September knocking him out for the season.
The Patriots will play to win, you can count on that, but it will be with Brian Hoyer.
You may or not may not remember Brian Hoyer as the undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. He has seen limited time this year in mostly mop-up duty but he has completed 11-of-15 passes for 71 yards and no picks. Not much to go on but he should have Randy Moss and Wes Welker for at least a half. And the Patriots have seven other receivers with at least 13 receptions this year and the Patriots have a compliment of running backs after Laurence Maroney including Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor.
Oh Yeah the Texans
What the other team involved in this game will do hardly has the same implications as what the Patriots decide to do (or not do), but it is worth noting. The Texans’ second-ranked passing attack is the big reason they have the fifth best offense in the league. But they are second to last in the league in running the ball with an average of 88 yards per game. You are going to have to do better than to put points up against the Patriots, whether it is first team or second team.
Look for the Patriots to jump out to an early lead and keep most of his starters in longer than many would expect. They may lose that lead and maybe the game but the nine points will hold up. Take the Patriots and the points.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Sunday 4:15 p.m. ET
The line was as low as 11 at opening but has been driven up pretty quickly to 13 where it should stay for kickoff.
Trends That Matter
Chiefs are 10-2 ATS the last 12 times they were double digit underdogs.
Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games on the road.
Chiefs are 1-4 ATS in their last five divisional games.
Broncos are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games as a double digit favorite.
Broncos are 1-7 ATS the last eight times they have hosted a team with a losing road record.
If the playoffs ended today the Broncos would be the No. 5 seed. Unfortunately for Denver the playoffs do not start today. And even though they are currently the first Wild Card seed in and favored by 13 points at home, things are about as bleak as they can get. The Broncos’ playoff hopes will still be breathing at the time of kickoff thanks to NBC moving the Jets game to primetime. So at kickoff the Broncos will enter the game thinking they have a shot and that is all that matters.
Late Season Slide
A six-game winning streak gave way to a four-game losing streak that gave way to back-to-back wins that gave way to a three-game losing streak. The Broncos are as streaky as a team out there. They blew a chance at home against Oakland as 14-point favorites to seal their playoff destiny and have not recovered. The Chiefs are losing too, losers of five in a row but their losses could be considered moral victories for a 3-12 team. They lost three consecutive games by an average of less than seven points per game. Six of their losses this season have come by less than six points per game.
Take the Chiefs and all 13 of those points for the second straight week.