Good Morning, Bolts From the Blue!
The Chargers will be finishing their wretched 2023 season in fitting style in a meaningless game against a Kansas City Chiefs’ side that has already won their eighth division title in a row. It seems like Andy Reid will be rolling out the backups led by Blaine Gabbert and with the Chargers’ injury list piling up, let’s just say there is a good chance that this game will only be shown on redzone when there is nothing else available to Scott Hansen and his crew in the late afternoon window.
Before the Chargers’ game gets started we have a couple of early window games with huge playoff implications to end the season. We’ll start in the NFC South where a mad dash to the finish for three teams means a number of scenarios are on the cards but it mostly comes down to whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can get a win over the abysmal Carolina Panthers. If they fail in that endeavor then this game, happening at the same time, will be a straight shoot out for the division title. Even if the Bucs do win with ease, the winner of this game could still make the playoffs with results elsewhere going in their favor making this one of the more interesting games of the slate. I will say that I underestimated where the Saints’ defense was at this point in the season, they won the game for Dennis Allen by creating four turnovers and putting their middling, tepid offense in position to get easy points on the board.
The Falcons got blown out by the Chicago Bears last week and this meant they have now lost three of their last four games to slip from a wildcard spot to a likely staying at home. Their offense is nothing short of an experiment to prove just how much having a semi competent quarterback is to success, and their defense isn’t much better. The Saints humbled them last time they met back in Week 12 and I see no logical reason as to why that result should be reversed, so let’s take the Saints moneyline at -170 on DraftKings Sportsbook and the under the total of 42 at -110 and forget the NFC South’s 2023 season even existed, we will all be better off for it.
The Minnesota Vikings can theoretically get into the playoffs but it is a very small 4% chance according to the Next Gen Stats’ model. In order to get in they need to win their Week 18 game against the NFC North division champion Detroit Lions, and rely on another three losses from teams trying to get into postseason contention. This game, against a team that only have a small opportunity to change from the three to the two seed, may seem like one that shouldn’t receive much attention in Week 18 however Dan Campbell’s team will be fighting to win every snap after Brad Allen’s officiating crew robbed them of a chance to finish at the number one seed. The Lions have been an inspired team all season so to add anger to that list of motivations is going to make this game competitive from the start. The last time these division rivals met two weeks ago, Nick Mullens threw for a huge 411 yards and four interceptions in a mixed game that gave Kevin O’Connell enough reason to bench him for rookie Jaren Hall. This did not go so well as he reversed that decision a mere one half of football later in the blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers last week. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Lions as 3-point favorites and I’m happy to take that spread at -110 in favor of a pissed off Lions team that is playing for momentum to take them into their first playoff game since 2016, on a high. The over the total of 45 is a must here at -110 due to the Lions’ defense recent history of allowing basically anyone who lines up against them to pick apart their secondary.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Are any of you placing bets on Sunday’s slate?