You think this handicapping stuff is easy?
Okay, you handicap a league where the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals carry two game winning streaks into the final day of the regular season.
The Jets win today dented the Cleveland Browns chances of ending a playoffless streak that dates back to 2002. The Bengals win assures that interim head coach Romeo Crennel, who replaced Bill O’Brien mid-season in Houston, will not be invited back to take the position on a full time basis.
From the book of good picks don’t always win, but bad picks always lose, the Pittsburgh Steelers recovered from a two touchdown first half deficit to beat the Indianapolis Colts today.
Okay, that is what happened earlier, but now what?
Well. the Green Bay Packers are looking to ice the top seed in the National Football Conference with a home win over the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee is looking to take advantage of the Colts loss in Pittsburgh to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South Division.
I just love this stuff.
I also like it when the matchup offers a clear choice.
This game does not.
I had the Titans projected for a down year this season based on their furious surge from the middle of the pack to the AFC Championship Game last season. Most often, when a team experiences that sort of surge, their expectations exceed their actual talent level the following season.
But, turns out, the Titans talent level and the coaching of Mike Vrabel is pretty darn good, and runningback Derrick Henry brings back memories of Earl Campbell, who led the Oilers attack 40 years ago. Tackling him carries with it the same kind of warning one would find on a pack of cigarettes, it could be hazardous to your health.
Truth is, our projection of the Titans having an off year this season started on track by the only measurement that matters to me … point spread results. They won their first three games, but failed to cover the point spread against the Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings.
By my numbers, this is where this team should have taken a dip.
Tennessee followed up those opening three games with seven wins in their next eleven games, which also produced seven point spread triumphs.
So much for the Titans having an off year.
Tonight, they take that 10-4 record into Lambeau Field to meet both snow and the Packers, who have the best record in the NFC at 11-3.
Normally, I would expect a quality team one back in the win/loss column to have an advantage over their opponent. I also like the idea of having the best runner in the game in a contest played in winter conditions.
But, turns out I don’t have any empirical evidence to support that supposition.
So, the Packers and Titans offer a great Sunday night matchup for viewing quality teams, but no wager edge from my desk.