Washington (7-6-1) at Chicago (3-11)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Redskins -3, 47
Matt Youmans’ analysis: After losing three of their past four, the Redskins need help to reach the playoffs and sit on the edge of elimination. In a must-win spot Monday night, they flopped in a loss to Carolina. Chicago has been far more competitive since Matt Barkley replaced clown quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears went all-in against Green Bay last week, only to lose in the last minute, so producing another big effort will be difficult. The Bears figure to be a little flat and lack motivation, so I’ll pick Washington to win, but I’m not laying points or betting this game.
By the numbers: The Bears are 5-0 against the spread but 1-4 straight up in their past five games. … Chicago’s defense, which held Detroit and San Francisco to a total of 26 points the previous two weeks, surrendered a season-high 451 yards in a 30-27 loss to the Packers. … Barkley passed for a career-high 362 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions against Green Bay. … The Redskins’ Kirk Cousins ranks second in the NFL with 4,360 yards passing.
Youmans’ pick: Redskins, 24-23
Miami (9-5) at Buffalo (7-7)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Bills -4½, 42
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Bills coach Rex Ryan is fighting for his job, if his battle is not already lost. Ryan is a blowhard with some deficiencies, but he has built a strong run-blocking offensive line, and the Buffalo defensive front is solid. Sharp money is showing on the home favorite. The Dolphins are off a blowout victory over the Jets, but the Jets have disintegrated into a bad joke. The Bills will play hard and likely win for Ryan.
By the numbers: The Buffalo defense has 38 sacks — way up from 21 last season — to rank third in the league. … The Bills’ Tyrod Taylor can be a dynamic playmaker, but he has been sacked a league-high 40 times. … Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy ranks fifth in rushing yards (1,129), and Miami’s Jay Ajayi ranks ninth (1,007). … McCoy and Taylor fuel the league’s No. 1 rushing attack (163.6 yards per game). … In his first start since Jan. 1, 2012, Matt Moore passed for four touchdowns in Miami’s 34-13 win at New York. … The Dolphins are four games over .500 despite outscoring their opponents by one point (315-314).
Youmans’ pick: Bills, 23-17
Atlanta (9-5) at Carolina (6-8)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Falcons -3, 52
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Just when the betting public buried Cam Newton and the Panthers, they rose from the grave and upset Washington on Monday. Carolina’s defense will have more problems to deal with this week, however. It appears middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is done for the season because of a concussion. Atlanta, meanwhile, will get a boost with wide receiver Julio Jones’ return from a toe injury. The Falcons can clinch the NFC South title if they win and if Tampa Bay loses at New Orleans. There are more reasons to like the road favorite.
By the numbers: Despite missing the past two games, Jones is No. 2 in the league with 1,253 receiving yards. … Jones had 12 receptions for 300 yards in a 48-33 win over Carolina, a 3-point favorite, in Week 4. … The Falcons’ Matt Ryan ranks second in touchdown passes (32) and third in passing yards (4,336). … Atlanta is 12-2 over the total.
Youmans’ pick: Falcons, 30-24
Minnesota (7-7) at Green Bay (8-6)
Time/TV: 10 a.m., KVVU (5)
Line/Total: Packers -6½, 43
Matt Youmans’ analysis: The Vikings are an ugly side right now, and the public is all over the Packers again, so that probably makes the underdog dangerous. Running back Adrian Peterson has been ruled out, but he has not mattered to Minnesota all season. Green Bay has won four in a row since Aaron Rodgers said the team could run the table. It sounded ridiculous at the time, but Rodgers is close to becoming prophetic. If betting the Vikings, take plus-7. Plenty of books are still at 6½ for those who prefer the Packers.
By the numbers: Rodgers has 32 touchdown passes with seven interceptions this season, including 10 touchdowns and no picks in the past five games. … Minnesota ranks No. 3 in total defense (311.9 yards per game) and No. 6 in scoring defense (18.5 points per game). … The Vikings were 5-0 straight up and ATS going into their bye, and they are 2-7 straight up and 3-6 ATS since.
Youmans’ pick: Packers, 25-16
New York Jets (4-10) at New England (12-2)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Patriots -17, 44
Matt Youmans’ analysis: This is the largest line on an NFL game this season, and it’s warranted. The Jets are poorly coached, falling apart defensively and getting awful quarterback play. In other words, they are the opposite of the Patriots. New England is chasing the AFC’s No. 1 seed and is in no danger of dropping this game. Bill Belichick could name the score, but expect him to ease off the gas and burn clock in the second half, so be careful laying the points. This is not a game I’m interested in betting.
By the numbers: New England ranks No. 1 in scoring defense by allowing 16.6 points per game. … New York is 30th in scoring offense (17.3). … The Jets covered the first meeting, losing 22-17 as 9½-point home underdogs on Nov. 27. … Tom Brady has 22 touchdown passes with two interceptions. … Three Jets quarterbacks (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Geno Smith) have combined to throw 22 interceptions.
Youmans’ pick: Patriots, 27-12
Tennessee (8-6) at Jacksonville (2-12)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Titans -5, 44
Matt Youmans’ analysis: This matchup is typically as sexy as a pig wearing lipstick. At least the Titans are doing their part by winning three straight and adding playoff implications. There is a slightly interesting angle on the Jacksonville side. Will the firing of coach Gus Bradley spark the Jaguars to play hard for interim coach Doug Marrone? That’s as suspenseful as it gets in this AFC rivalry. I anticipate Jacksonville will play well for a change, but I’ll pass.
By the numbers: The Jaguars are 0-9 straight up and 3-6 ATS since their 17-16 win at Chicago on Oct. 16. … Jacksonville’s struggles have a lot to do with a slumping Blake Bortles, who has thrown 16 interceptions. … Tennessee’s rise has a lot to do with an improving Marcus Mariota, who has 25 touchdown passes with nine interceptions. … The Titans’ DeMarco Murray is the NFL’s No. 2 rusher with 1,224 yards.
Youmans’ pick: Titans, 24-20
San Diego (5-9) at Cleveland (0-14)
Time: 10 a.m.
Line/Total: Chargers -4½, 44
Matt Youmans’ analysis: The so-called sharps are betting the Browns again this week. Cleveland has failed to cover eight straight, and I have not bet on the Browns once during that stretch. But I did consider it in this spot, before the line dropped from 6. Running back Melvin Gordon has been ruled out for San Diego. Still, Cleveland is chasing the No. 1 pick in the draft, and the embarrassment of losing to an 0-14 team is a motivating factor for the Chargers. It’s not a bad idea to take a shot with the Browns, so I’ll pick them to cover while not backing up that talk with a bet.
By the numbers: The Chargers’ Philip Rivers has been intercepted a league-high 18 times. … Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III has 82 pass attempts and no touchdowns. … Cleveland (2-12) and San Francisco are a combined 4-23-1 ATS.
Youmans’ pick: Chargers, 20-17
Indianapolis (7-7) at Oakland (11-3)
Time/TV: 1:05 p.m., KLAS (8)
Line/Total: Raiders -3½, 53
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Las Vegas bookmakers have seen a flood of money come in on the Colts to win the Super Bowl. That’s mysterious. The Raiders have been wildly popular with the betting public all season. But a week after Oakland clinched its first playoff spot in 14 years, several professional handicappers are all over Indianapolis in this game. The Colts are playing with desperation, and Andrew Luck is in better current form than Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Oakland’s play seems to have plateaued, so I lean to the underdog.
By the numbers: Carr has 25 touchdown passes, but only one in the past two games. … Luck, who has passed for 27 touchdowns, threw for two scores in a 34-6 win at Minnesota last week. … The Raiders are 10-4 over the total
Youmans’ pick: Colts, 29-27
Tampa Bay (8-6) at New Orleans (6-8)
Time: 1:25 p.m.
Line/Total: Saints -3½, 52½
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Tampa Bay remains in the hunt to win the NFC South, yet money is showing on the Saints to push the line over a field goal at most books. I could not lay more than 3 with New Orleans against a Buccaneers team that has played its best on the road. It’s a revenge game for Drew Brees and the Saints, but the game means more to Tampa Bay.
By the numbers: New Orleans is 1-4 straight up and ATS as a home favorite this season. … Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers are 6-1 ATS on the road. … Brees is the league leader in passing yards (4,559) and touchdowns (34). … Brees was held without a touchdown pass and was intercepted three times in a 16-11 loss at Tampa Bay on Dec. 11.
Youmans’ pick: Saints, 31-30
San Francisco (1-13) at Los Angeles (4-10)
Time: 1:25 p.m.
Line/Total: Rams -4½, 40
Matt Youmans’ analysis: When two terrible teams get together, anything can happen. In this case, a slew of mistakes could lead to a surprisingly wild, high-scoring game. A plump Chip Kelly has shown off more chins (two) than wins (one) as 49ers coach. His offense is stagnant, and his defense is pathetic. The money is on the Rams, who might care enough to want revenge for a season-opening 28-0 loss at San Francisco.
By the numbers: The 49ers, who have lost nine games by double digits, rank 25th in scoring offense (18.9) and last in scoring defense (31.0). … Los Angeles rookie Jared Goff is 0-5 as a starter with four touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Youmans’ pick: Rams, 27-23
Arizona (5-8-1) at Seattle (9-4-1)
Time/TV: 1:25 p.m., KVVU (5)
Line/Total: Seahawks -8, 43
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Most signs point to the Seahawks, who can clinch the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Arizona’s season is obviously a lost cause. But the Cardinals are one of the few teams that have had success in Seattle, winning in two of their past four trips there. The Seahawks are dealing with Richard Sherman’s outspoken distractions, and their defense misses injured safety Earl Thomas. I rarely bet big favorites. Look for Seattle to win a close game. The Cardinals are led by veterans, so they should show up.
By the numbers: Seattle is 7-0 straight up and 4-2-1 ATS at home. … Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has only one rushing touchdown this season. … The Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald leads the league with 98 receptions. … Arizona ranks No. 4 in total defense, but allowed 48 points in a loss to the Saints last week. … Seattle ranks second in scoring defense by allowing 16.8 points per game.
Youmans’ pick: Seahawks, 24-18
Cincinnati (5-8-1) at Houston (8-6)
Time/TV: 5:25 p.m., NFLN
Line/Total: Texans -1, 41½
Matt Youmans’ analysis: At first glance, this line is curiously low considering Cincinnati’s status as a dead team. But the Bengals will get a boost from wideout A.J. Green’s return. The quarterback switch from Brock Osweiler to Tom Savage figures to give more life to the Texans. But Houston might be without running back Lamar Miller. I’m in no rush to back either side. Houston coach Bill O’Brien is a game-management mistake waiting to happen, and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton is a below-average quarterback.
By the numbers: Savage completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards in relief last week, leading a comeback victory over Jacksonville. … Houston is 6-1 straight up and 4-2-1 ATS at home. … The Texans are tied atop the AFC South despite a minus-44 point differential.
Youmans’ pick: Texans, 20-16
Baltimore (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5)
Time/TV: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, NFLN
Line/Total: Steelers -6, 44½
Matt Youmans’ analysis: It’s never easy to support the Ravens, mostly because of quarterback Joe Flacco’s inconsistency and lack of fire. The Baltimore defense has had some recent breakdowns, too. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has won and covered its past five games, and I consider the Steelers the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. The division title is on the line in this blood feud on Christmas, and these games are almost always close.
By the numbers: Of the past 45 meetings between these AFC North rivals, 27 were decided by one score, and 19 were decided by three points or fewer. … The Ravens won the first meeting 21-14 on Nov. 6, when Ben Roethlisberger returned too soon from an injury and Le’Veon Bell was held to 32 yards on 14 carries. … Flacco ranks second in the NFL with 579 pass attempts, but he has only 19 touchdowns.
Youmans’ pick: Steelers, 23-20
Denver (8-6) at Kansas City (10-4)
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, KSNV (3)
Line/Total: Chiefs -3½, 37½
Matt Youmans’ analysis: Denver is a beat-up team minus linebacker Brandon Marshall, safety T.J. Ward and tight end Virgil Green. But the Broncos can find ways to compensate for those injuries. If not, their playoff hopes are shot. It’s a revenge game for Denver, which collapsed late in a 30-27 loss to the Chiefs on Nov. 27. The Broncos have won five straight times at Kansas City, and that trend is tough to overlook.
By the numbers: Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian has 16 touchdown passes, four more than the Chiefs’ Alex Smith … Denver ranks No. 2 in total defense (310.9 yards per game) and No. 4 in scoring defense (18.4). … Broncos linebacker Von Miller is second in the league with 13½ sacks. … Kansas City is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 home games.
Youmans’ pick: Broncos, 18-17
Detroit (9-5) at Dallas (12-2)
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Line/Total: Cowboys -6½, 44½
Matt Youmans’ analysis: After clinching the top seed in the NFC, what does this game mean to Dallas? The Cowboys need to stay sharp because their first playoff game is not until mid-January, so expect coach Jason Garrett to play his starters at least three quarters. The Lions can clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday night, and they have a home date with Green Bay on deck. Detroit has more incentive to win, but quarterback Matthew Stafford’s injured passing hand obviously bothered him last week.
By the numbers: Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s rushing leader with 1,551 yards. Elliott has carried the ball at least 20 times in six straight games. … Dallas linebacker Sean Lee is second in the league with 140 tackles. … Detroit, which ranks 10th in scoring defense, has allowed 20 points or fewer in eight consecutive games.
Youmans’ pick: Cowboys, 24-20