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NFL best bets: Titans, Colts, Redskins can keep their playoff hopes alive this week

The Redskins are set to face a Panthers squad with nothing to play for.

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Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)

One has to wonder how the Chiefs have emerged with a 10-3 record. They’re 24th in offense by YPG and 27th in defense by the same measure. Perhaps it’s their opportunistic (and lucky) defense that’s registered a league-high four pick sixes and recovered 11 of the 12 fumbles they’ve forced this season. Fortunately for the Titans, they are very careful with the football (league-low seven fumbles on offense) and Marcus Mariota has been cool under pressure even on the road this year (four INTs in 195 pass attempts away from home).

Despite a down game in a win over Denver and their vaunted defense, Tennessee is rated eighth in total offense and third in rushing, so Kansas City’s 27th-rated run-stopping unit should see plenty of DeMarco Murray in this one. The Chiefs’ less-than-explosive offense led by Alex Smith won’t have the time they need to wear down the Titans’ stoppers, let alone cover the spread (something they’ve failed to do as five-point-or-higher favorites in their last six attempts), so take the points with Tennessee on the road.

The pick: Titans +5.5

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Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

This is a must-win game for both the Colts and Vikings, who are fighting to get back into the playoff picture. The Colts have a leg-up in this tilt despite being the road team, as they’ve tallied an average of 32.6 PPG away from home this season and have won their last three on road (3-0 ATS). Even Minnesota’s stout stoppers should have trouble keeping Andrew Luck and company out of the end zone. The Vikings have been hard-pressed to match scores with just about everyone this year, as they’re next to last in YPG and 24th in PPG (19.8).

Furthermore, Indy comes into this contest off a loss, which is actually bad news for the Vikings; the Colts are 5-0 straight-up and ATS in their past five following a loss. Indy is the best bet of the week.

The pick: Colts +4.5

Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (-6.5)

The Redskins look like a good bet on Monday night as they return home off a difficult three-game road trip (at Dallas, Arizona and Philadelphia). Washington is 4-1 ATS in their last five at home while Carolina has covered in only one of its last 10 games on the road.

But that is not the only mismatch on paper heading into this contest. The Redskins are second in passing offense by YPG, while the Panthers are 30th at stopping the pass. With the Panthers having little to play for aside from pride, it’s safe to expect Kirk Cousins to shred Carolina through the air. Cam Newton has failed to top 200 passing yards in three of his last five games, so it seems unlikely he’ll be able to keep up with his opposite number.

The pick: Redskins -6.5

Best of the rest (picks in bold)

Miami Dolphins (-2.5) @ New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles @ Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)

Detroit Lions @ New York Giants (-4)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (-6)

Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills (-10)

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) @ Chicago Bears

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals

New Orleans Saints @ Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)

San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons (-14)

Oakland Raiders (-3) @ San Diego Chargers

New England Patriots (-3) @ Denver Broncos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys (-7)

 
 
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