NFL PICKS — WEEK 17 Black and Blue Classic: Vikes-Pack to decide NFC North
AH, t he Black and Blue Division. We remember it well. So do the Vikings and Packers, who meet at Lambeau Field Sunday night to determine the champion of the latest incarnation of the Black and Blue, the NFC North.
The visitors enter the game with a lot more positives than the hosts. Minnesota (No. 9 in AP Pro32) comes off routs of the Bears and Giants to get to 10-5. Green Bay (No. 10, AP Pro32), also is 10-5, but began the year 6-0 and comes off being annihilated by Arizona last week.
The Vikings are three-point underdogs in a place where they haven’t won since 2009.
“This is what it’s all about this time of the year. It’s time to buckle up and keep grinding. We know the opportunity is there in front of us,” said linebacker Chad Greenway, one of three players on the active roster who were around for the last Vikings division title in 2009.
It’s also time for the Packers to wake up, particularly an offence that has stagnated despite having Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
“I have faith in the football team regardless of what happened (in Arizona),” coach Mike McCarthy said. So do we. PACKERS, 23-17
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP: Anyone who has survived in a knockout league to this point is a genius. Pro Picks is not and fell again last week with PIT TSBURGH. We’ll finish off the season with DENVER.
No. 21 New Orleans (plus 3½) at No. 14 Atlanta. Falcons are primed to end season the way they began it. BEST BET: FALCONS, 30-23
Detroit (plus 1) at Chicago The other NFC Nor th game, a who-cares af fair.
UPSET SPECIAL: LIONS, 29-26
Philadelphia (plus 3) at New York Giants Have a feeling the Giants will play harder for Tom Coughlin than the Eagles will for interim coach.
New York Jets (minus 3) at Buffalo Have a feeling the Jets will play harder for Todd than the Bills will for Rex.
Pittsburgh (minus 10) at Cleveland Last place the Steelers want to end their season is in Cleveland. Sorr y.
Seattle (plus 3½) at Arizona Simply put, the Cardinals are the bet ter and healthier team.
San Diego (plus 9) at Denver The Broncos desperately need a bye in the playof fs and will grab it.
Oakland (plus 7) at Kansas Cit y Can’t see the Chiefs slowing down against archrival, but it will be tight.
Tampa Bay (plus 10) at Carolina The Panthers made things tough on themselves with first loss, must play regulars now.
New England (minus 9) at Miami The Patriots made things tough on themselves with loss to the Jets, must play regulars now — if they have enough of them.
Baltimore (plus 7) at Cincinnati The Bengals still kicking themselves af ter blowing 14-point lead in Denver.
Jacksonville (plus 6) at Houston Texans could stumble here and blow the division, but we see them squeezing in.
TEX ANS, 23-21
Tennessee (plus 6) at Indianapolis The Colts need too much to happen to get the AFC South crown. Losing here ends any hopes.
St. Louis (minus 3) at San Francisco We like how the Rams have looked the last three weeks, especially on defence.
Washington (plus 3) at Dallas The Redskins have lit tle motivation other than momentum.
2015 RECORD: Against spread: Week 7-7, Season (113-110-6). Straight up: Week 9-7, Season (147-93) Best Bet: 7-8-1 against spread, 9-7 straight up. Upset special: 8-8 against spread, 5-11 straight up.