With two weeks left in the Westgate SuperContest, I’m as surprised as anyone else that my entry is tied for 47th place, which is in the money.
The VSiN entry is 7.5 points out of the lead, but let me be perfectly clear: I have no focus on catching the two teams tied for first with 55 points — a phenomenal 73 percent. My goal is to finish in the top 100. That’s where the money is this year. Those entries with designs on capturing the leaders will take big chances these final two weeks. I’m going to play it safe.
To be honest, the contest occupies too much time in my life. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of whether I should take this team or the other. I’ll be glad to get a good night’s sleep again after Dec. 30.
So here goes for Week 16. But before I give you my five teams, there is one thing I believe in down the stretch: Teams that have a chance to make the playoffs are far more attractive to me than teams that are jockeying for home-field advantage. In other words, organizations and the media obsess over which teams will host playoff games. But I’ve never believed the players are hung up on this. They’re comfortable knowing that they’re already in the playoffs.
So that leads us directly to the first pick: I’m taking the Baltimore Ravens plus 4½ Saturday at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens are not locked into the playoffs, and the Chargers are. So I’m willing to think that the Ravens’ terrific defense can keep them in the game.
Now we go to Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys have not locked up a playoff spot, and even though they are coming off a shutout loss at Indianapolis, I’m going to lay 7½ points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys have been good at home, and this is a case of a team focused on making the playoffs against a team that probably will undergo a coaching change next year.
My third pick takes me to the Minnesota Vikings laying 5½ points at the Detroit Lions. It’s clear that the change in offensive coordinators a week ago rejuvenated the Vikings. Longtime assistant Kevin Stefanski followed coach Mike Zimmer’s order and gave the ball to running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a win over Miami.
My fourth pick will be the Philadelphia Eagles catching 2½ points at home against the Houston Texans. I’ve seen this movie before: Nick Foles steps in at quarterback, the Eagles catch points at home, and the City of Brotherly Love celebrates all weekend. I also like to go against teams on the second leg of back-to-back trips. Houston traveled last weekend to New York, where they rallied to beat the Jets 29-22. They then returned to Texas, and now the long trip to Philadelphia.
My final pick will be the Seattle Seahawks catching 2½ points at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Seahawks still need a win to guarantee a wild-card spot, and the Chiefs are in the playoffs. The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson is one victory from becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to start his career with a winning record in seven straight seasons. The home of the 12th Man will be a madhouse Sunday night.
And here’s my Christmas present to you, a three-team, 7-point teaser using lines from the South Point: Cowboys pick, Vikings plus 1 and the Raiders plus 10. Make it a round robin that includes four bets — one three-teamer and three two-teamers.
Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His show on the Vegas Stats & Information Network can be heard on SiriusXM 204 and livestreamed at reviewjournal.com/vegas-stats-information-network.