Be afraid

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

Many teams will be taking it easy in Week 17 but your guess as to which ones is as good as mine. Do yourself a favour and bet only on games where both teams have something to play for -- or no hope of reaching the playoffs.

Good luck ... you'll need it.

SAN FRANCISCO +14 AT NEW ENGLAND: Whether they rest their stars or not, the Pats should dominate the Niners, who should clinch the first pick in next year's draft. Patriots 30, 49ers 14.

PITTSBURGH +9 AT BUFFALO: Pittsburgh probably won't win in Buffalo -- the Bills are desparate for a win -- but unless the Steelers rest their entire defence, they should keep it close. Bills 24, Steelers 20.

MIAMI +10 AT BALTIMORE: Baltimore can wedge its way into the post-season with a win if Buffalo, Jacksonville and Denver all lose. Ravens 21, Dolphins 10.

MINNESOTA -3 1/2 AT WASHINGTON: Will the Vikings suffer another season-ending upset or will they make amends for last year's debacle with a win on the road? Vikings 27, Redskins 23.

CINCINNATI -3 AT PHILADELPHIA: The Bengals will play for pride, while the Eagles will play it safe. Bengals 28, Eagles 24.

GREEN BAY +3 AT CHICAGO: It's regular-season finales like this one that ruin pundits' records against the spread. Bears 17, Packers 13.

NEW ORLEANS +8 AT CAROLINA: A month ago, who'd have thought this game would have any playoff repercussions for either team? Panthers 27, Saints 26.

DETROIT -1 AT TENNESSEE: Running back Kevin Jones has had a few great games as a rookie but this may be his best. Lions 31, Titans 17.

N.Y. JETS -3 AT ST. LOUIS: One of the few games that will impact the post-season fate of both participants. Jets 28, Rams 20.

CLEVELAND +10 1/2 AT HOUSTON: The Texans will make a run at the playoffs next season but an 8-8 finish for this campaign would be respectable. Texans 35, Browns 23.

TAMPA BAY +3 AT ARIZONA: With matching 5-10 records, the Bucs and Cards will do their best to top each other in the standings. Cardinals 22, Buccaneers 17.

ATLANTA +5 1/2 AT SEATTLE: Seattle can clinch its division with a win. The fans have been known to turn on the team before halftime so the Seahawks better score early. Seahawks 26, Falcons 20.

INDIANAPOLIS +9 AT DENVER: Indy coach Tony Dungy has had poor playoff experiences after resting stars late in the regular season. I'm guessing he'll keep his key players sharp for at least a half. Broncos 30, Colts 24.

JACKSONVILLE -1 1/2 AT OAKLAND: The Jaguars need a win paired with Denver and Buffalo losses to earn a partner in the post-season party. One out of three ain't bad. Jaguars 21, Raiders 17.

KANSAS CITY -3 AT SAN DIEGO: Early spreads had the Bolts favoured by three. That tells you how unpredictable this weekend is. Chiefs 31, Chargers 26.

DALLAS +2 1/2 AT NEW YORK GIANTS: If there was a Best Bet to be found this week, rookie quarterback Eli Manning's first win would be it. Giants 27, Cowboys 23.

LAST WEEK: 8-8 ATS; 11-5 straight up. Season: 150-90 straight up, 116-113-7 ATS. Best Bet is 11-5 after Buffalo hammered the Niners. Upset of the Week is 7-9 after the Giants sputtered in the dying minutes against the Bengals. Best Bet and Upset picks are straight up.

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CHECK THE RECORD

Last week: 8-8 ATS; 11-5 straight up. Season: 150-90 straight up, 116-113-7 ATS. Best Bet is 11-5 after Buffalo hammered the Niners. Upset of the Week is 7-9 after the Giants sputtered in the dying minutes against the Bengals. Best Bet and Upset picks are straight up.


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