Numbers tell us to take Eagles over Cowboys

Eagles (+3) over COWBOYS

Week 17 is always wild & wacky from the handicapping standpoint - not that every week of the NFL season ain't crazy - but with a couple of dozen scenarios waiting to be played out, we would advise a very cautious approach heading into the playoffs. With that in mind, we'll take a peek at the Birds. This game is for the NFC East, but more important, a first-round bye for the Eagles. All they need is a win, and since they're on a 6-0 straight-up run, a W looks very doable. By the time this game hits, Dallas will most likely not have a shot at the bye, since Minny already will have whipped the Giants, so that's another plus for the Green. The final pieces to this puzzle are the Eagles' 5-2 spread record against Dallas overall in the last seven games, and 4-1 ATS the last five at the Cowboys.

JETS (-10) over Bengals

This is one game that's very simple. Win and in for New York, which makes this a best bet. The Jets came up huge against the Colts Sunday, ending Indy's 23-game perfecto, and with a wild card on the line, they should be a few notches higher than sky high. The New Yorkers have won and covered four of the last five, which translates into "peaking at the right time."And if you look at the Bengals' last six games, covering only once ain't pretty. Cincy is also on an 0-5 run on the road against the Jets. Now, Chad OchoBigMouth says he's gonna go "Ocho" on the Jets' beloved fan, "Fireman Ed." Apparently, Ocho is gonna get a fire helmet with a Cincy logo, and ask the New York crowd to chant "O-C-H-O." Having lived in NYC for a few years, I'm guessing the crowd will most likely chant something else.

PANTHERS (-5) over Saints

From 13-0 to yuk is the latest story in New Orleans. Not only have the Saints dropped two in a row, they are on an 0-4 spread run. A totally different story is unfolding in Carolina. The Panthers have some kind of strange laser focus working to get to 8-8. They have won three of the last four, but are 4-0 against the spread and have covered seven of the last nine. These Southern Cats are obviously playing for John Fox' job . . . and he will survive.

49ers (-7) over RAMS

Still playing on the main stage . . . San Francisco. The Niners have won three of their last five, and the last time they met St. Louis, they fed the Rams a 35-0 bagel. Not playing on any stage . . . St. Louis. The Rams are 0-7 after the bye week, and have been outscored in that stretch, 187-92. The 49ers have a shot at 8-8, and they have not been at or above .500 since 2002, so they'll bring all the guns.

CHARGERS (-4) over Redskins

Wonder what the definition of quitting is? How about Washington getting outscored by 62-12 the last two times out? The Redskins, as we said last week, do not like Jim Zorn, and would rather golf and surf when they get to sunny Southern California than get ready for a game. And then there's always the Norv Turner angle. Norv was dumped by Washington after the 2000 season, and would love to lay a big, fat beatin' on the 'Skins.

Bears (-3) over LIONS

Talk about playing for a coach you like, Chicago loves Lovie. Rumors were flying around that Lovie Smith's job was in jeopardy, and the Bears came up huge against the Vikes on Monday. Look for more of the same from Jay Cutler & Co.

BUCCANEERS (+3) over Falcons

Going against the line move (Tampa opened -1 and is now +3) because the Bucs are closing out an ugly season in style. They beat Seattle (24-7) and New Orleans (20-17), both on the road. And Atlanta's goin' down, as well.

BILLS (-5) over Colts

Not quite sure how Indy is gonna play it, or who will play, so the thought is to stay away.

BROWNS (-1) over Jaguars

Cleveland - yes, Cleveland! - is on a 6-0 spread run. Likin' the Brownies in this spot.

Patriots (+8) over TEXANS

Don't believe that New England will lie down, but you never know what Bill Belichick has up his hoodie.

Steelers (-3) over DOLPHINS

No Ronnie Brown and maybe no Ricky Williams equals no running game. We'll buy Steel, but light.

VIKINGS (-9) over Giants

Minny doesn't wanna hit the playoffs on an 0-3 roll, so we'll color this one purple.

Packers (+3) over CARDINALS

Green Bay is rocking a 7-0 spread run, so we'll back the Pack.

Chiefs (+13) over BRONCOS

How about this stat: Denver is 0-9 as a favorite of nine points or more since 2006.

RAIDERS (+11) over Ravens

Baltimore is win and in, but Baltimore is also win and no cover against big, fat double-digit spread.

Titans (-4) over SEAHAWKS

After an 0-6 start, Tennessee can finish 8-8 with a win. Do you believe in miracles? Vic does.