GIANTS (-6) over Cowboys: With Dallas tightly-secured on the fourth shelf of the NFC postseason hierarchy, the Cowboys have nothing to play for, and it wouldn’t make them sorry to allow the Giants to degrade next season’s draft positioning while preserving the health of their stars.
Jets (+13½) over PATRIOTS: Bill Belichick is one of the great coaching game managers the league has ever showcased, and given the site, the New England maven figures to be able to keep this under confident control unless Sam Darnold takes a giant step forward. Still, don’t expect a blowout.
SAINTS (-7) over Panthers: Houston product Kyle Allen now “next man up” to quarterback Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater (rusty, but no slouch) steps in at QB for hosts, with ex-Lion Dwayne Washington seeing ball-carrying duty.
PACKERS (-8) over Lions: The expressed willingness Aaron Rodgers shared earlier this week to finish this season on the field rather than on the bench makes it tough to go any other way here — given the state of the Lion defense, and the worse-for-wear condition of Lions’ Matthew Stafford.
Jaguars (+6½) over TEXANS: Blake Bortles, who has failed to consistently satisfy either Jacksonville management or the fan faithful, makes probable farewell appearance against likely division champs. Houston first-round bye’s a reach, but simple win’s the direct path to the No. 3 seed.
BUCCANEERS (+1) over Falcons: Ace Atlanta receiver Julio Jones is trying to nail down the league’s receiving crown for the second time. Still, give edge to Buccaneers, who have reflected improved recent road form and have shown ability to function against lesser secondaries in what could be coach Dirk Koetter’s goodbye.
BILLS (-4) over Dolphins: It’s tough to swing with Miami here, given projected temps in the low 30s and prevailing winds intensifying the effects of the cold. Buffalo pass defense should maximize Ryan Tannehill’s miseries.
Raiders (+13½) over CHIEFS: Kansas City’s defense appears to be flagging in terms of keeping up its end of the bargain, without support from genuine running game. Raiders happy to swap touchdowns with this sizable favorite, and Andy Reid will need to be alert to hold traditional foe safe.
REDSKINS (+6½) over Eagles: No question, Iggles are in stroke for this second episode of the Nick Foles Revival Hour, but if QB Josh Johnson can cope with the Eagle defense for three hours, this under-pressure road favorite is anything but a cinch to surpass this level of road favoritism.
Browns (+6) over RAVENS: Baltimore, Houston and New England wins secure the Ravens the fourth seed. Better (or worse) outcomes are possible, though infinitely more exotic. Ravens could back in with a loss if Pittsburgh also loses (not likely!). Still, don’t want to hold the renewed Browns’ history against them.
Bengals (+14½) over STEELERS: The easiest Pittsburgh playoff path is the “beat the Bengals and see Baltimore lose to the Browns” scenario. With scoreboard-watching in vogue, there will be distractions aplenty. Cincy’s covered three straight against foes taking them lightly.
VIKINGS (-4½) over Bears: Chicagoans can gain a first-round bye with a win (and aid Philly’s postseason quest in the process) — but also would need the Rams to lose to the 49ers. If Minnesota wins, it visits Chicago for an instant wild-card rematch nest week — and the Eagles get shut out. Latter scenario’s more attractive to visitors.
BRONCOS (+6½) over Chargers: Essentially, the SuperChargers need the Chiefs to open access to the AFC top rung by losing to the Raiders. Not bloody likely, thus the No. 5 conference seed beckons. Final upset opportunity open to Bronco coach Vance Joseph, in what could be his Denver swan song.Cardinals (+13½) over SEAHAWKS: Seattle’s mentally readying itself for next week’s 4 vs. 5 wild-card matchup, once it expands minimal possible energy on this opponent, who it should overwhelm with potent ground game.
49ers (+10) over RAMS: Rams have something to play for. An opening-round bye’s theirs, if they win, and/or if the Bears don’t beat the Vikings. Still, hosts must overcome certain strategic offensive vulnerabilities, high expectations for Jared Goff, and the exotic pressures generated by the Hollywood spotlight.
Colts (-3¹/₂) over TITANS: Not thrilled to embrace Indianapolis away from Lucas Oil, but if Marcus Mariota is markedly short of 100 percent, his latest “stinger” issues resulting from the Washington game compel us to go with the revitalized road chalk in this win-or-go-homer.
Last week: 6-7-1. Season: 106-110-3.
Follow Richard Witt on Twitter: @rich_witt1