Giants-Falcons one of six super matchups this Sunday; Take underdog Giants, Jets

David Wilson celebrates his second touchdown of the

David Wilson celebrates his second touchdown of the game against the New Orleans Saints with teammate Henry Hynoski at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 9, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

John Boell

Newsday sports writer John Boell John Boell

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Gridiron fans get an early holiday treat with by far the best slate of games this season.

The six must-see matchups are Giants-Falcons, Packers-Bears, Broncos-Ravens, Colts-Texans, Steelers-Cowboys and 49ers-Patriots.

Atlanta wants to avenge last season's 24-2 wild-card loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. Green Bay and Chicago have been trash-talking, so the rivalry promises to add another strong chapter.

In the AFC, the young Colts face their strongest test yet in Houston, which is coming off an embarrassing loss in New England. If the Colts win, the AFC South race is on! Denver-Baltimore pits a pair of division leaders against each other.

Pittsburgh and Dallas need a win to stay in the playoff picture. Capping it all off may be the best game of all as San Francisco tries to slow down the high-powered Patriots offense. Is it Sunday yet?

SUNDAY'S SUPER SIX-PACK

GIANTS (8-5) at FALCONS (11-2)

LINE: Falcons by 1 1/2; O/U: 51

TV: FOX; Radio: WFAN (660/101.9), 1 p.m.

I'm starting to get the hang of Tom Coughlin's Giants. When they play a mediocre team: worry, worry, worry. When they play a talented team: look out opposition, you're in for a pounding! Coughlin's G-Men certainly seem to play to the level of their opponent. Another Giants' trait is key young players stepping up big late in the season. This year, it's David "Flip" Wilson's turn. The rookie back had a team-record 327 total yards of offense last week. He might be the man if Ahmad Bradshaw can't play. The Giants are 38-17-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 56 road games, and 11-3 ATS in their 14 road games in December. THE PICK: Giants

 

PACKERS (9-4) at BEARS (8-5)

LINE: Packers by 3; O/U: 43, 1 p.m.

Packers TE Jermichael Finley suggested the Bears were better off without injured LB Brian Urlacher, since he's older and slowing down. That prompted Bears LB Lance Briggs to call Finley an "idiot." Let the fireworks begin! The Packers have won seven of eight overall, and are 6-2 ATS in that span. They clinch the NFC North with a win. The Bears are in free-fall mode, having lost four of five, and Jay Cutler & Co. need to turn it around in a hurry. THE PICK: Packers

 

COLTS (9-4) at TEXANS (11-2), 1 p.m.

LINE: Texans by 8 1/2; O/U: 48, 1 p.m.

The Colts have won and covered seven of their last eight games. I think the public will bet Indy strong here in this key AFC South game. thinking the spread is too high. But I think the Texans (off 42-point pasting from the Pats last week) bounce back here in a big way and win by double-digits at home. THE PICK: Texans

 

BRONCOS (10-3) at RAVENS (9-4)

LINE: Broncos by 2 1/2; O/U: 48

TV: CBS, 1 p.m.

The Ravens made the uncharacteristic move of a divisional-leading team of firing a coordinator (offensive coordinator Cam Cameron) late in the season. No one has been hotter than the Broncos (eight straight wins, including five covers), but something has to give. I think Ravens offense steps up big here. THE PICK: Ravens

 

STEELERS (7-6) at COWBOYS (7-6)

LINE: Steelers by 1 1/2; O/U: 44

TV: Fox, 4:25 p.m.

This is basically a playoff game: the winner still has a shot, while the loser is all but out. Pittsburgh is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 following a loss. Dallas is 0-6 ATS at home in 2012. THE PICK: Steelers

 

49ERS (9-3-1) at PATRIOTS (10-3)

LINE: Patriots by 5 1/2; O/U: 47

TV: NBC; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9), 8:20 p.m.

The Pats are hot, having won seven straight. But the Niners' 'D' won't make the same mistakes the Texans did. San Fran is 9-2-3 in last 14 games as underdogs of six or less points. THE PICK: 49ers

1 P.M. GAMES

 

VIKINGS (7-6) at RAMS (6-6-1)

LINE: Rams by 3; O/U: 38 1/2

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson gets my vote for Comeback Player of the Year, but it's the Rams who have come back lately, winning three straight. St. Louis is an impressive 9-4 ATS this season. THE PICK: Rams

 

REDSKINS (7-6) at BROWNS (5-8)

LINE: OFF (Wash. QB questionable); O/U: OFF.

Will RG3 play or won't he? Whether it's him or fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, I like Washington to keep their playoff hopes alive. THE PICK: Redskins

 

BUCS (6-7) at SAINTS (5-8)

LINE: Saints by 3 1/2; O/U: 54

Here's my final thought on the Saints' "Bountygate": The rest of the NFL can thank commish Roger Goodell for hijacking the Saints' season. Dat wasn't right. The Bucs, whose playoff hopes took a big hit with a last-second loss last week, are 7-2 ATS in their last nine at New Orleans. Worth a shot. THE PICK: Bucs

 

JAGUARS (2-11) at DOLPHINS (5-8)

LINE: Dolphins by 7; O/U: 37 1/2

Miami has struggled in December in years past, and Jacksonville is 5-1 ATS on the road this season. THE PICK: Jaguars

 

4 P.M. GAMES

LIONS (4-9) at CARDINALS (4-9)

LINE: Lions by 6; O/U: 44

Did the Cardinals just give up another touchdown? Geez! In my three seasons doing this column, my Arizona pick last week was my all-time worst selection. Won't make that mistake twice. Or will I? Just a gut feeling Arizona plays well at home after last week's 58-0 loss. THE PICK: Cardinals

 

PANTHERS (4-9) at CHARGERS (5-8)

LINE: Chargers by 3; O/U: 45 1/2

These two pulled the surprise wins of Week 14: Panthers upset the Falcons and Chargers KO'd the Steelers. San Diego is 1-4 ATS this season as a favorite of four or fewer points. THE PICK: Panthers

 

SEAHAWKS (8-5) vs. BILLS (5-8), at Toronto

LINE: Seahawks by 5 1/2; O/U: 43

The Seahawks have too much to play for. It won't be 58-0, but I don't see a letdown either. THE PICK: Seahawks

 

CHIEFS (2-11) at RAIDERS (3-10)

LINE: Raiders by 3; O/U: 43 1/2, 4:25 p.m.

Chiefs are 8-1 ATS in their last nine meetings in Oakland, which is an NFL-worst 3-10 ATS and has six straight losses and non-covers. Fade the trends. THE PICK: Raiders

 

MONDAY NIGHT

JETS (6-7) at TITANS (4-9)

LINE: Titans by 1 1/2; O/U: 41 1/2

TV: ESPN, MY 9; Radio: ESPN (98.7), 8:30 p.m.

Let me get this straight: One day a person (see: Braylon Edwards) can send out a tweet calling his former higher-ups (see: Jets) "idiots." A week later, said team signs said person and picks up said person's $825,000 contract? (Man, I better get busy tweeting about my former bosses!) Somehow, the Jets are still in the playoff hunt. The Jets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven vs. the AFC. Tennessee is 2-6 ATS in its last eight home games. Lastly, a Happy Birthday wish to Rex Ryan, who turned 50 yesterday. Hope he enjoyed a "gosh-darn" snack! THE PICK: Jets

JOHN BOELL 93-108-6 (7-7 Best Bets)

Giants Jets Packers Texans

Ravens Steelers 49ers Rams

Redskins Bucs Jaguars Cardinals

Panthers Seahawks Raiders

TOM ROCK 103-98-6 (9-5)

Giants Jets Packers Colts

Broncos Cowboys Patriots Vikings

Redskins Saints Jaguars Lions

Chargers Seahawks Raiders

BOB GLAUBER 87-114-6 (3-10-1)

Giants Jets Packers Texans

Broncos Steelers Patriots Rams

Redskins Saints Dolphins Lions

Chargers Seahawks Raiders

KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN 109-92-6 (9-5)

Falcons Jets Packers Texans

Ravens Steelers 49ers Vikings

Browns Saints Dolphins Lions

Panthers Seahawks Raiders