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The end of the football season is usually a depressing time…but this year, I can’t say I’m too upset.
My Arizona Wildcats lost their final seven games, my NFL picks have been dreadful, and my fantasy football teams…well, that’s another story. Sure I’m excited about my favorite NFL team, the Packers and their playoff chances.
But the most exciting thing for me come mid-to-late December every year is the college bowl games. I don’t care that they’re exhibition games and I don’t care which players play and which don’t. When your school wins a bowl game and ends their season with a victory, it’s a pretty damn joyous experience.
I’m bringing back the ‘Expert Picks’ for one last go at picking the 15 most significant games of the 41 played. Thanks to Daily Blender Super Fan Gregg ‘Downtown’ Brown for joining. JB, Bear Down Steve, Producer Wes, and me for the final picks of 2019!
*JB isn’t one to pick scores in bowl games except the championship.
In lieu of bold predictions, here’s a quick thought from me on each of the 15 games we’re picking:
Las Vegas Bowl: I don’t care that it’s Chris Peterson’s last game at Washington, I believe his former school, Boise State is the better coached team and will be motivated to finish 13-1 and knock off another Power 5 opponent.
Holiday Bowl: This is a game Clay Helton must win in order to appease the angry USC boosters and not be on an even hotter seat to start 2020. The Trojans open with Alabama next season in Arlington which likely won’t produce a good result. Plus, if memory serves me correctly, Iowa teams under Kirk Ferentz don’t do well in bowl games west of the Mississippi.
Cheez-It Bowl: Should be a fun shootout between a great passing team and a great rushing team. A true toss-up and while I’ve usually learned to fade Mike Leach in bowl games, I have a hard time seeing WSU end up with a losing record (6-7).
Cotton Bowl: If Penn State is motivated, they should blow the doors off of a Mike Norvell-less Memphis team in the first New Year’s Six bowl game of the season.
Peach Bowl: There are rumors at the time of this writing about Oklahoma suspensions in advance of the bowl game. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both lost their Final Four bowl games the last two seasons…I’d be stunned if Jalen Hurts had a different result. If LSU isn’t looking ahead, they should score at will and blow out OU.
Fiesta Bowl: Who knows what to make of Clemson as they haven’t played anyone of substance all season. Ohio State might be the more talented team but it’s so hard to pick against Dabo Swinney in a big game. The only shocking result in this game would be a one-sided blowout by either side.
Redbox Bowl: Cal essentially is playing a home game against an Illinois team who isn’t all that great and is happy to have made it this far. I believe the Bears will make a statement led by their stingy defense.
Orange Bowl: What a dumb rule that an ACC team MUST occupy one slot in this game; Virginia most certainly does not belong here. The Gators should dominate throughout even if they aren’t entirely motivated.
Sun Bowl: It seems like all of the notable playmakers are sitting out in this one…so it comes down to which team will be more motivated. I expect Herm Edwards to have his guys ready to play against an FSU team that’s been in disarray for much of the season.
Alamo Bowl: Fascinating matchup between a team that should’ve been in the CFB Playoff (Utah) and a team that underachieved badly throughout the season (Texas). If the Utes show up, they should win handily. But will the motivation be there? For that reason, I think this game will be closer than most think…
Citrus Bowl: Saban vs. Harbaugh is must see TV! I know a bunch of players will sit out on both sides and this game also has motivation questions for the Crimson Tide. Alabama wins and covers but I’d be very surprised if it was a major blowout.
Outback Bowl: Fascinating matchup but I still don’t believe that Minnesota is as good as its top-20 ranking. Auburn, if they care, should roll and shut down the Gophers offense.
Rose Bowl: While the offenses get the credit with these two teams, both defenses are really good. Look for a lower-scoring game won by the team with the vastly better QB and more talent on both sides of the ball.
Sugar Bowl: The big question is – does Georgia want to be in this game or will they lay an egg like they did against Texas last year? If so, Baylor will in outright. If not, the Dawgs may rout the Bears.
National Championship Game: I have a hard time seeing LSU beating Clemson or Ohio State. It will be fun to likely see two matchups of undefeateds in the postseason…but the Fiesta Bowl winner will be more battle tested and likely brings with it the best defense the Tigers will have seen all season. In this case, I’ll say Clemson repeats as National Champions.
Last Week: 11-5 Straight Up (SU), 10-6 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 144-95-1 SU, 117-123 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
BUFFALO BILLS 20, New York Jets 13 (ATS: Bills -1.5)
Chicago Bears 23, MINNESOTA VIKINGS 16 (ATS: Bears +1.5)
CINCINNATI BENGALS 27, Cleveland Browns 23 (ATS: Bengals +2.5)
Atlanta Falcons 26, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 21 (ATS: Falcons Pick’em)
New Orleans Saints 30, CAROLINA PANTHERS 20 (ATS: Panthers +13.5)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 27, Los Angeles Chargers 22 (ATS: Chargers +8.5)
Green Bay Packers 24, DETROIT LIONS 17 (ATS: Lions +13.5)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 27, Miami Dolphins 16 (ATS: Dolphins +15.5)
LOS ANGELES RAMS 23, Arizona Cardinals 17 (ATS: Cardinals +7.5)
Philadelphia Eagles 26, NEW YORK GIANTS 20 (ATS: Eagles -4.5)
BALTIMORE RAVENS 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (ATS: Ravens +2.5)
DALLAS COWBOYS 31, Washington Redskins 17 (ATS: Cowboys -10.5)
DENVER BRONCOS 24, Oakland Raiders 20 (ATS: Broncos -3.5)
Tennessee Titans 27, HOUSTON TEXANS 20 (ATS: Titans -4.5)
Indianapolis Colts 24, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 19 (ATS: Colts -3.5)
San Francisco 49ers 26, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 21 (ATS: 49ers -3.5)
Projected Playoff Order (based on these results):
2. New England
3. Kansas City
1. San Francisco
2. Green Bay
3. New Orleans
Week 17 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 6-10): Bills -1.5 vs. Jets
Underdog (WIN, 8-8): Bears +1.5 at Vikings
Bet the Over (LOSS 5-10-1): Cowboys / Redskins Over 44.5
Bet the Under (WIN, 7-9): Cardinals / Rams Under 49
Week 17 Fantasy Football Guidance
(15+ PPR fantasy points from a non top-10 player)
Last Week: 2-1
QB: Andy Dalton (Bengals)
RB: Derrick Henry (Titans)
WR: Amari Cooper (Cowboys)
(12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 0-3
QB: Deshaun Watson (Texans)
RB: Melvin Gordon (Chargers)
WR: Devante Parker (Dolphins)