This week’s podcast focuses on the final week of the NFL as teams jockey to make the playoffs and get better seeding. Can the Eagles secure the number one spot? How many teams will actually care about this final week? There are intriguing games like the Lions traveling to Lambeau to take on a Packers team that many, including myself, left for dead. Now, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers could be right back in the playoffs with a win. The Steelers are another team that is knocking on the door after being left for dead. It’s a week to punch your ticket and should be a fun one to watch. We make our picks, give the forecast, and have a blast talking about all the stories from the last two weeks as we catch up from the holidays.

Titans @ Jaguars, Saturday @ 8:15pm, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, Jaguars -6.5, O/U 40

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that I would care about the Titans and Jaguars game on the final week of the season, I would have scoffed. Not only do these two franchises lack historical significance, at least for me, but I personally just don’t care about either one. However, with Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, I have started paying attention. Same with Mike Vrabel and Derrick Henry in Tennessee. The Titans are on a skid at the end of the season while the Jags are on the rise. Jacksonville being favored at home by almost a touchdown isn’t that surprising given the last month, but it still seems like a big number against a team that should be playing better. The Titans are 7-3 against the spread in this game over the past 10. It’s trends like that that get me to pay attention. Jacksonville is the probably the right pick here, and I think they will win the game. But I just think too much of Vrabel and the Titans, despite everything, to think they lay down here. They can still make the playoffs. Titans +6.5.

Jets @ Dolphins, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, PICK, O/U 38.5

Two teams limping to the finish. Not a surprise when we are talking about the Jets and Dolphins. What is surprising though is that there were points during the season it looked like both teams would firmly be in the postseason. Now, only Miami remains in contention, and they are dealing with injury issues, especially at QB. Skylar Thompson is the likely starter this week and will take on a decent Jets defense. Will the Dolphins be able to squeak out a victory and try to make it into the playoffs? They would need New England to lose to Buffalo too…which feels like a fait accompli. So it’s possible that if Miami wins, they are in. I think because the Jets know they are out, it’s an easier path. Plus, the game is at Hard Rock. I’ll take the Dolphins to win straight up here. Dolphins ML.

Browns @ Steelers, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, Steelers -3, O/U 40.5

The Steelers have played better down the stretch and if there is one thing you can count on, it’s Mike Tomlin and the Steelers being in the playoffs. I wouldn’t want to have to face them either. They aren’t a great team this year, obviously, but they have figured some things out down the stretch and their defense remains tough. The Browns will want to spoil their chances though as they did with the Commanders last week. I’m not sure it will be easy as they have to travel to Pittsburgh and take on a team that is playing better offensively under Kenny Pickett and has been 5-1 against the spread during this latest surge. That’s pretty friendly if you like the Steelers, and to me, what’s not to like? Are the Browns really going to come into Pittsburgh and beat Mike Tomlin to give him a losing record for the first time and keep the Steelers out? Highly doubtful. Pittsburgh gets it down and awaits their fate. I’ll lay the points with the surging Steelers at home. Steelers -3.

Giants @ Eagles, Sunday @ 4:25pm, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA, Eagles -14, O/U 43

There isn’t much to say here. The Giants are in at the 6th seed no matter what happens here. Brian Daboll would be nuts to play his starters in this situation, but stranger things have happened. The Eagles have so much on the line for a season that felt wrapped up weeks ago. Getting that #1 seed is crucial and this team knows it. I think Hurts will play and the Eagles lock this up at home against a Giants squad that won’t really need to lay anything out on the field. 14 is a big number, but I think the Eagles want to put one final period on their season. Stomping the Giants at home would certainly be a memorable way to clinch the top seed. I think everybody on the Eagles knows it too, including head coach Nick Sirianni. Let’s get it done Birds. Eagles -14.

Lions @ Packers, Sunday @ 8:20pm, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI, Packers -4.5, O/U 49

This could end up being the most intriguing game of the weekend. The Lions, hot and cold at times this season, travel to Lambeau to take on their old foe, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Despite also being hot and cold this season, the Packers find themselves with a shot to get into the dance and make some noise in the playoffs. After starting 1-6, Detroit turned the back half of the season into a 7-2 run. That’s pretty impressive. I like Dan Campbell and think he could build something in Detroit within the next few years. But, you have to be nuts to bet against Rodgers in a big primetime game in the confines of Lambeau. You just don’t do it. Despite the lack of any real playmakers other than Rodgers, at least in my opinion, you don’t have another play here. I’ll lay the points with Green Bay. Packers -4.5.

CFP National Championship: TCU vs. Georgia, Monday @ 7:30pm, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA, Georgia -12.5, O/U 62.5

It may not be the national championship game most people predicated, and it may not be the game a lot of people want, but I’m certainly going to enjoy it. The conventional wisdom here is that Kirby Smart and the dawgs will have themselves a field day. But I’m not so sure about that. TCU has been counted out time after time after time this season. They lost one game on a last second field goal. That’s it. And they just beat the #2 team in the country and looked pretty good doing it. TCU will be amped for this game and to prove they are nobody’s little brother or some second rate squad. Ask yourself this…if there was a Longhorn on the helmet instead of a Horned Frog, would this team be two touchdown underdogs? I doubt it. That’s why, despite everything, including Stetson Bennett and his remarkable story, I think TCU keeps it close and maybe even pulls off the upset. It’s hard to win back-to-back championships. Kirby Smart and Georgia can absolutely do it, but it won’t be a cake walk. Give me the Horned Frogs and Hypnotoad to cover here. I’m hoping this will be a good game. TCU +12.5.

Cowboys @ Commanders, Sunday @ 4:25pm, FedEx Field, Landover, MD, Cowboys -5.5, O/U 41

This is another game where it means everything to one team and not the other. The Commanders are no longer in playoff contention and the Cowboys are playing for potential seeding. I don’t see any way the Cowboys let themselves lose here. Their defense is always tough with Micah Parsons leading the charge and offensively they should be able to put together a solid running game against a mediocre rush defense for Washington. Dak should be hungry to put this one last game away and move on to the playoffs for the ‘boys. Give me Dallas on the road and the points. Cowboys -5.5.

Here’s a summary of my picks for the week:

Games of the Week

Titans +6.5

Dolphins ML

Steelers -3

Eagles -14

Packers -4.5

TCU +12.5

Brett’s Best Bets

Cowboys -5.5

The NFL is always tricky to pick straight up, let alone against the spread, let alone when you just don’t know how some teams will handle their business on the final week of the season. But we will continue to try and shed some light on our thoughts and hope for the best. Both Tomaso and I need to dig ourselves out of a hole as we head into the playoffs. It’s a fun time of year. The doldrums of winter can be cured with some NFL playoffs. Enjoy the games!

-Brett Thackara 

I continue to bask in the glow of the Rose Bowl win, while being brought back down to earth by the recent play of Eagles sans Jalen Hurts. We are heading right into NFL playoff time, and there are races and seeding still needing to be determined. Let’s go!!

Titans @ Jaguars, Saturday @ 8:15pm, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, Jaguars -6.5, O/U 40

The Jaguars have been trending up in the last few weeks, and to me the Titans continue to disappoint. Doug Pederson has a way of putting together seasons just strong enough to make a playoff run. I think the script is playing out the same way for the home team Jags. I think it is likely the Jaguars make this look easy. As an Eagles fan I have seen Doug pull things together just at the right time! Jaguars -6.5.

Jets @ Dolphins, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, PICK, O/U 38.5

The Jets are out of the playoffs and the Dolphins have to win and have some help to get in. The Dolphins are Jets started so well this season, especially the fast Dolphins offense before the Tua injuries. Tua is now out for this game in a must win situation. The Jets have quarterback problems of their own and really struggle to produce on offense. I give the home team the slight advantage to at least give themselves a chance to play deep into January- Dolphins ML.

Browns @ Steelers, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA, Steelers -3, O/U 40.5

I have mentioned in the podcast that I am a fan of Mike Tomlin, who seems to be the source of a lot of negativity from the Steelers faithful. But here we are the end of the season with the Steelers trending upward in a rebuilding season. Kenny Pickett has slowly come along too, and the defense remains the strength of the team. The Browns do not have anything to play for other than pride, while a Steelers victory gives them at least a pathway to the playoffs with help from other teams. Conditions should be dry and seasonable during the game even though precipitation starts to approach from the south. Steelers -3 for me!

Giants @ Eagles, Sunday @ 4:25pm, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA, Eagles -14, O/U 43

The Eagles seem to be mad after last week’s debacle against the Saints. The Saints simply wanted the game more it seemed and Minshew was a disaster at quarterback. All reports indicated Jalen Hurts returns, and there is no way in my mind they lose this game with him under center. The Giants have no movement possible in their playoff seeding, so the smart move for their coaching staff is to rest the starters. With the Giants backups in and the Eagles at least playing their starters for the first half this should be an easy way for the Birds to lock up the top seed. Weather should hold off during the game with rain and snow approaching well after the final whistle. Eagles -14!

Lions @ Packers, Sunday @ 8:20pm, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI, Packers -4.5, O/U 49

This game represents the fear I have had as an Eagles fan- Aaron Rodgers will find a way into the playoffs. The only thing standing in the way now is Dan Campbell’s Lions. And if you watch enough NFC North football you know that Green Bay typically has their way with any Lions team. The Lions have won 7 of their last 9 games, but Green Bay has turned around their season in the last 6 weeks too. The game could be close, but there is no way I see Aaron Rodgers on the losing side of this at home. It could be the best game of the weekend! Packers -4.5.

CFP National Championship: TCU vs. Georgia, Monday @ 7:30pm, SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA, Georgia -12.5, O/U 62.5

TCU has been a nice story this season, but they narrowly got past a Michigan team that gifted them a slew of points on turnovers. I was not impressed with Max Duggan’s play in the game either. Georgia started slow, but I wonder if they took Ohio State seriously after a long layoff. Georgia’s defense especially did not look like itself. Kirby Smart’s team is 4 quarters away from a repeat champion, and I think they easily take care of business in this one. Again TCU should be celebrated for this run bouncing back from a losing season last year. But I will take Georgia to win with TCU keeping it close into the second half- Georgia ML.

Rams @ Seahawks, Sunday @ 4:25pm, Lumen Field, Seattle, WA, Seahawks -5.5, O/U 41.5

The Rams are a team this year that I can’t figure out. Matthew Stafford had a horrendous season even before injuries and now there are rumors that Sean McVey may be on his way out. How does that happen after successful playoff runs? Pete Carroll on the other side though is Mr. Steady. You have to respect the Seahawks staying in the playoff hunt after trading Russell Wilson. They may not be impressive on offense, but it should be just enough to beat the hapless Rams. The constant barrage of west coast storms continue, so damp weather in Seattle is likely. To me that favors the home team even more. Let’s see if this middling team does indeed win and find a way into the playoffs. Seahawks -5.5.

Games of the Week

Titans +6.5

Dolphins ML

Steelers -3

Eagles -14

Packers -4.5

Georgia ML

Seahawks -6.5

By the time we talk next week hopefully we have all the seeding figured out! And selfishly I hope that means the Eagles are on top of the NFC with a bye week to regroup and get healthy.

-Dan Tomaso

**All odds from Caesars Sportsbook as 1/4/23**