By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
As we head toward the home stretch of the NFL’s 2021 regular season, the Las Vegas oddsmakers are starting to solidify their picks to reach the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay is the favorite (+525), followed by Kansas City (+650), Green Bay (+750), and then New England and Arizona (+800). The top teams are jockeying for home-field advantage while a whole bunch of other teams are still scrambling for playoff spots. Sit back and enjoy the show, friends. These last several weeks are gonna be good!
On to this week’s picks:
♦ BALTIMORE @ CLEVELAND: At 8-4, the Ravens remain on top of the AFC North, but the 6-6 Browns are just two games behind them. If Cleveland can upset Baltimore (the Ravens three-point favorites), the team would just be one game out of first place with four games to go. The Browns have proven they can hang with their division brethren and, as star defensive end Myles Garrett recently noted, now is the time for the team to play with urgency. I’m going with Cleveland here, as Lamar Jackson has been up and down lately. Pick: BROWNS
♦ LAS VEGAS @ KANSAS CITY: As a Raiders fan, the black I’m wearing nowadays is because I’m in mourning. What has happened to our season? This week doesn’t get any easier, with the Raiders visiting a surging KC team. Worse, TE Darren Waller is looking like he’ll miss his second game in a row. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have won five straight and have regained their footing after a shaky start to the season. Pick: CHIEFS
♦ DALLAS @ WASHINGTON: The Cowboys are 8-4, but Washington has won four straight games and are suddenly just two games behind their top rivals. Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy recently added fuel to their rivalry by basically guaranteeing a Cowboys win on Sunday. I just think the Cowboys have too much firepower, and their defensive is coming around as well. I’m really loving rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, although he’s currently dealing with a hip issue. Pick: COWBOYS
♦ N.Y. GIANTS @ L.A. CHARGERS: If the season ended today, the 7-5 Chargers would be in the playoffs. The Giants, meanwhile, would be examining their NFL Draft options and trying to figure out whether to move on from QB Daniel Jones. Jones, by the way, has again been ruled out on Sunday due to “structural damage” to his neck. Expect a huge game from L.A. QB Justin Herbert. Pick: CHARGERS
♦ BUFFALO @ TAMPA BAY: Tom Brady continues to amaze. The seven-time Super Bowl champion, at age 44, leads the NFL in passing (3,771 yards). He’s on pace to finish the season with more than 5,300 yards (which would be a career high) and 48 TDs. The Bucs are firmly in control of their division – four games ahead of the Carolina Panthers – and are looking like favorites to defend their Super Bowl crown. The Bills, sad to say, are fading fast. Pick: BUCCANEERS
♦ CHICAGO @ GREEN BAY: So, does Aaron Rodgers really “own” the Chicago Bears? Sue sms that way. Rodgers is 22-5 against the Bears in his career. His dominance should continue on Sunday, with the Bears struggling both on offense (scoring just 16.8 points per game) and defense (surrendering 23.9 ppg). It will be a miracle if Matt Nagy is retained as head coach after the season. PACKERS
Last Week: 4-2 | 2021 Record: 41-37 (.526)