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Rams should win the West

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is a win away from an NFC West title and playoff berth.
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For the final Sunday of the regular season, the NFL reserves the right to wait to flex a game to prime time. The league waited for this: St. Louis (7-8) at Seattle (6-9).

Don’t cringe — it’s the most significant game on the schedule.

The victor takes the NFC Worst, uh, West title, and if it is the Seahawks, they become the first division winner with a losing record in, well, forever.

None of the Seahawks is embarrassed by that prospect.

"So this is something that we’ve aimed for," first-year Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It’s come in kind of an unusual manner, but the fact that we’re there, we’re going to go for it and be excited about it and see if we can put together a great game."

That would be unique. Seattle has lost seven of its last nine, and even its mastery at Qwest Field has faded. That’s why the Rams, who finished 1-15 a year ago, are a 1-point favorite over a team that is 4-3 at home, with wins over weaklings Arizona, San Francisco and Carolina.

We can see the Rams finishing off one of the most impressive turnarounds in league annals by capturing the division — even if they will get creamed in the playoffs.

RAMS, 22-13

Many games are off the board as teams are expected to rest starters. That means lots of straight winners in the final picks for the regular season.

Tennessee (plus 8 1/2 ) at Indianapolis
Colts will storm into the playoffs against one of the league’s most disappointing teams. Could be Jeff Fisher’s last game as Titans coach.

BEST BET: COLTS, 30-16

Oakland (plus 4) at Kansas City
Too bad this version of the NFL’s nastiest rivalry doesn’t mean much. Chiefs are in the playoffs, want to stay healthy. Raiders are shooting for a .500 season.

UPSET SPECIAL: Raiders 27-24

N.Y. Giants (minus 3 1/2 ) at Washington
Even with a victory, Giants might be on outside of playoff picture. Redskins rarely are in that picture.

GIANTS, 27-21

Carolina (plus 14 1/2 ) at Atlanta
The end of the John Fox era will be celebration time in the ATL. Falcons clinch best NFC record.

FALCONS, 24-9

Miami (plus 2) at New England
Patriots are cruising, having clinched everything they can for postseason. Even with little incentive …

PATRIOTS, 23-10

San Diego (minus 3 1/2 ) at Denver
Tim Tebow’s education continues. So does the Chargers’ fall into mediocrity.

BRONCOS, 24-20

Pittsburgh (minus 6) at Cleveland
Do Browns players want to save Eric Mangini’s coaching job? If so, they will test the Steelers, who clinch the AFC North with a victory.

STEELERS, 20-10

Arizona (plus 7) at San Francisco
How hard are each of these teams kicking themselves? Even a decent season would have won the NFC West.

49ERS, 14-13

Tampa Bay (plus 8) at New Orleans
Buccaneers have shot at wild card if things break right. But they have to beat the Saints.

They won’t.

SAINTS, 24-17

Jacksonville (minus 2 1/2 ) at Houston
Jaguars blew their shot at a division title with successive defeats. Houston blew its chance months ago. But with no David Garrard, Jags will struggle.

TEXANS, 20-17

Cincinnati (plus 9 1/2 ) at Baltimore
Carson Palmer looks better without Ochocinco and T.O. At least he did against San Diego; the Ravens are a different animal.

RAVENS, 24-13

Minnesota (OFF) at Detroit
A rare second visit to the Motor City for the Vikings. Don’t be fooled by their win Tuesday over flat Eagles.

LIONS, 17-13

Chicago (OFF) at Green Bay
Dilemma for Bears: play the starters and try to keep arch rivals out of the playoffs? Or play it safe, keep key guys healthy?

Packers need this much more.

PACKERS, 21-17

Dallas (OFF) at Philadelphia
Eagles are stuck at No. 3 seed, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson are somewhat hobbled. Cowboys solidify Jason Garrett’s job security.

COWBOYS, 24-17

Buffalo (OFF) at N.Y. Jets
Barring something strange, Jets will be sixth seed in AFC. Time to get healthy for playoffs.

BILLS, 16-13

Record: vs. spread, 7-7-2 (overall 122-96-15); Straight up, 6-10 (overall 153-86).
Best bet: 8-8 against spread, 10-6 straight up.
Upset special: 8-8 against spread, 8-8 straight up.

 

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