Were running faster arms pumping, chest heaving, legs a pistoning blur but the finish line keeps seeming farther and farther away. That is the feeling when one has made up ground gradually but remains nine games under .500 against the spread with a mere two weeks to play. Still possible? Sure. Id take my odds over the Dolphins playoff chances. But likely? Lets change the subject. Hit a pair of outright upsets last week with Vikings and Cowboys winning; also had Niners with points over Pats. But too many teams (Ravens, Giants, Lions, Chargers) let us down with shameful efforts. I smite them. Coal in their stockings!
Line: MIA by 4 1/2.
Cotes pick: MIA 24-17.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
A serpentining conga line of dominoes all must fall for Miami to still make the playoffs, starting this week with the Dolphins winning here and with Cincinnati losing at Pittsburgh. I like Miamis chances in this game if not for the postseason. The Bills defense has turned abysmal. It has gotten so embarrassing that guys named Bill have filed a class-action suit to demand Buffalo change its nickname. The Buffs are the first team since 1986 to allow 45-plus points four times in a season. Miami somehow lost to this squad 19-14 in November, but Bison havent swept the season series since 2007. Why start now? This is Bills eighth consecutive losing season and 12th year in a row watching the playoffs from the couch. By that I mean this game like last weeks vs. Jacksonville is a soft home date no self-respecting Dolphins team would dare lose. The club is calling this home finale Fan Appreciation Day. Hmm. Given the anticipated one-third empty stadium, I wonder if the club means that sarcastically or with irony?
Line: PIT by 4.
Cotes pick: PIT 23-20.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS.
Plenty of other high-stakes games this week (Giants Ravens, 49ers-Seahawks), but the GOTW committee was smitten by the winner-take-all feel of this AFC North battle. A Bengals win clinches a playoff spot and eliminates the Steelers (and Dolphins) from contention. A Steelers win muddies the whole thing and leaves it for next week to decide. A real statement game for Cincy, which can never seem to get over that Steelers/Ravens division hump. See this one closer than the line Steelers injuries in secondary worry me but give us the more-desperate home team to win its sixth in a row in this series.
Line: NYG by 2.
Cotes pick: BAL 27-24.
TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.
AAAWWWK! carols the Upset Bird, tipsy from rum-laden holiday egg nog. Baltimaawwk! This easily could have been the Game of the Week as well, with the defending champion Giants needing this win to keep playoff hopes alive and the Ravens clinching the AFC North title with a win after backing into the playoffs despite three consecutive losses. Both teams laid down like drunk elves last week, and I dont trust either. But Biggies havent been a strong road team, and I just cant see Crows dropping third in a row at home. Was about to say something, but lost my train of thought, adds U-Bird. Was distracted by the reference to drunk elves. Merry Christmaaawwwk!