TEAM TRUMP (-4) over LAC Winter is closer than ever for the Patriots: Brady really is entering what could be a pretty rapid decline phase, Gronk is even further along, the Pats haven’t had their usual great special teams play, and while the defense is improved over last year that means it’s ordinary rather than bad. The Chargers are a very good team helmed by an excellent QB who has deserved better than the 0-7 his team has put up against Brady, and LA has the pass rush that has been the best way of beating the Patriots in the postseason that doesn’t involve Nick Foles having a career game against an already shitty defense made worse out of spite. And yet I just can’t quite pick the Bolts. The greatest coach in the history of the league has two weeks to prepare, knowing that his best weapon doesn’t have a lot of bullets left, and he’ll be facing a team making its second cross-country trip to play a morning PT time in two weeks. And Rivers hasn’t quite been himself in the later weeks of the season. They can do it for sure — Lynn deserves a lot more credit than he’s gotten for transforming a team that has long been less than the sum of its parts and overcoming what is essentially no home field advantage. I’ll be rooting for ’em. But if I had to bet, I’d say football’s Glimmer Twins do it one more once.
NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Philadelphia You have to be very very impressed, yet, again, by what the Eagles were able to do in Chicago last week. Most surprising was how well an offensive line with some injury issues held off the Bears pass rush to help Foles make just enough plays again. I’m not wild about giving up 8 points against a team that’s won four straight playoff games in which they were underdogs outright. Still, it’s one thing for your shaky secondary to hold off Mitch Trubisky — who made some nice plays but also missed a lot of pretty open looks — and another to hold off even a 39-year-old Drew Brees. While I don’t think the Week 11 blowout means much beating a rested New Orelans team that is rested and at home and that is better offensively and defensively…that’s a lot to ask, and I think it’s likely the Saints pull away in the second half.