Chargers (+1.5) over 49ers: The 49ers have nothing to play for and Jim Harbaugh has one foot out the door in San Francisco. The 49ers also played the Seahawks last week and teams struggle the week after playing Seattle. The Chargers need this game to stay in the playoff race.
Vikings (+7) over Dolphins: The Dolphins aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but they are pretty much done. Their coach also might be fired and the Vikings have been a covering machine.
Raiders (+7) over Bills: The Bills had a huge home win against Green Bay, and have held Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers without a touchdown pass the last two games. However, the offense has been terrible and their touchdown last week was a special teams score. The Raiders have shown up the last two times at home and won. I think they will cover this number and possibly spoil the Bills’ postseason chances.
Bengals (+3.5) over Broncos: The Broncos are winning games but something is wrong with Peyton Manning. It looks like Denver is locked into the No. 2 seed so I don’t think they will give a maximum effort on the road. The Bengals are in a must-win situation and I think they will be able to run with rookie running back Jeremy Hill. A successful running game will keep the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, which would be ideal for Cincinnati in primetime.
Redskins (+8) over Eagles
South Alabama is staying in their state on Saturday night when they play Bowling Green. South Alabama is making their first bowl appearance in program history so they will be very motivated and have a home field advantage. Bowling Green ended the season poorly, and it was capped off by being routed in the MAC Championship by Northern Illinois.
The MAC didn’t win or cover a bowl game last year and I will look for opportunities this year to fade teams from that conference.
Pick: South Alabama (-2.5) over Bowling Green
Utah and Colorado State meet in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon in a battle between two former Mountain West rivals. Now Utah is in the Pac-12 and back in a bowl game after a two-year absence. The Utes finished 8-4 overall and 5-4 in a challenging conference slate. Colorado finished 10-2 but only played five teams that reached a bowl game.
The Utah offense is led by quarterback Travis Wilson and running back Devontae Booker. I think Booker will able to run on the Colorado State defense. Rams head coach Jim McElwain won’t be on the sideline because he took the Florida job. I don’t think McElwain’s absence will make much of a difference but I’m going to pick Utah in this game.
Utah played a tougher schedule and I like to pick teams from a power conferences when they are playing a “mid-major”. The talent level might not be much of a difference here but I think the Utes are a more motivated team in this spot after being left out of postseason play for two seasons.
Pick: Utah (-2.5) over Colorado State