Usually, I want my team to lose late in the season if I know they aren't making the playoffs. I want the better draft pick, and I can deal with the three-hour pain knowing that its a long-term aid.
On Sunday, barring a complete miracle, the Kansas City Chiefs are playing their final game of the season against the San Diego Chargers. Still, this time around, my feeling is different. It means something to have a winning record, to continue building this promising program. I'd rather lose the two or three draft slots to see a nine in the win column instead of an eight. I also want a respectable record in the AFC West, something this team never has.
With that in mind, the final regular season picks of the 2014 season:
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
Matt Verderame: Chiefs 27, Chargers 23
Kansas City (8-7) matches up well with San Diego (9-6). I think the Chiefs will come out hard and run the ball effectively while Albert Wilson puts up another promising effort. The Chargers are going to fight like hell for the playoffs, but I see Kansas City putting an end to their hopes at Arrowhead.
Matt Conner: Chiefs 21, Chargers 20
A close game with two teams gasping for air, but I like the Chiefs to put together at least some momentum here simply because it's hard to believe Dorsey/Reid are ready to face the amount of questions after the season if they completely and totally tank at another season's end. Also the Chargers injury list seems suited for KC to take advantage on defense.
Seth Keysor: Chiefs 35, Chargers 21
The Chiefs finally show some life in the offense and passing game (last week didn't count, because red zone failure). Albert Wilson scores a pair of touchdowns. And it's just enough to give us hope for next year as either the Browns or the Jaguars blow it at the last second. It is inevitable. Just accept it an enjoy the last game of the year.
Joel Thorman: Chiefs 28, Chargers 27
I made this prediction before the Alex Smith news but I'll stick with it. Chiefs win in the season finale.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-10)
This will be the end of Kansas City's playoff hopes. Does anybody really believe Cleveland (7-8) can beat Baltimore (9-6) with Connor Shaw? No shot.
Pick: Ravens 24, Browns 6
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-10.5)
This line is way too high. Jacksonville (3-12) stinks but has a great pass rush and Houston (8-7) is mediocre at best and starting Case Keenum. This game will come down to the fourth quarter.
Pick: Texans 20, Jaguars 17
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-7)
New York (3-12) is going to play hard in Rex Ryan's swan song. Still, Miami (8-7) is a much better team and will swallow Geno Smith alive with the defensive front.
Pick: Dolphins 23, Jets 13
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-7)
Chicago (5-10) has completely given up, while Minnesota (6-9) is fighting hard every week. Look for Teddy Bridgewater and the boys to go out in 2014 on a high note.
Pick: Vikings 30, Bears 10
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-5)
This game means nothing to New England (12-3), which clinched home-field advantage last week. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely see ample action against Buffalo (8-7), and I still think he beats Kyle Orton.
Pick: Patriots 20, Bills 17
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (-2.5)
Philadelphia (9-6) has to be crushed it isn't making the postseason after being in first place of the NFC East two weeks ago. Meanwhile, New York (6-9) is fighting to save Tom Coughlin's job (firing him is a major mistake) and Odell Beckham Jr. has energized the entire city.
Pick: Giants 27, Eagles 20
New Orleans Saints (-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who cares. I'm glad New Orleans (6-9) isn't going to the playoffs, it's a disgrace. So is Tampa Bay (3-12).
Pick: Saints 23, Buccaneers 21
Indianapolis Colts (-7.5) at Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis (10-5) will rest players, already locked into the fourth seed. Tennessee (2-13) is terrible, and will still lose with a disastrous offense and defense on the field.
Pick: Colts 20, Titans 16
Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) at Washington
Dallas (11-4) likely has nothing to gain with the NFC East already wrapped up, but it won;t get swept by Washington (4-11). Look for the Cowboys to explode for a bevy of points early before bringing in backups.
Pick: Cowboys 26, Washington 17
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)
This has to be the most depressing "win-and-in" game ever. Carolina (6-8-1) is rolling and will beat sad-sack Atlanta (6-9) even though the game is in the Georgia Dome.
Pick: Panthers 24, Falcons 20
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-9)
Man, this line gives Detroit (11-4) NO RESPECT. Green Bay (11-4) is technically behind the Lions in the standings, but everybody expects the Packers to roll at Lambeau Field. Count me among everybody.
Pick: Packers 34, Lions 21
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-14.5)
Denver (11-4) will clinch a first-round bye with a massacre of Oakland (3-12). The Raiders have shown improvement down the stretch but have no shot in this game.
Pick: Broncos 38, Raiders 10
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-7)
Ryan Lindley. Arizona (11-4) is going to play Carolina in the Wild Card round in the most unfortunate playoff game ever. San Francisco (7-8) is about to undergo a facelift, so enjoy the last 60 minutes fellas.
Pick: 49ers 20, Cardinals 10
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-14)
Seattle (11-4) is not blowing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. St. Louis (6-9) is a solid, up-and-coming team but won't be any match for the Seahawks with Shaun Hill at the controls.
Pick: Seahawks 23, Rams 3
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)
Pittsburgh (10-5) is not blowing the AFC North at home under the lights. Cincinnati (10-4-1) won some respect last week by beating Peyton Manning and Denver in primetime, but the Steelers are not going to be denied.
Pick: Steelers 27, Bengals 20
Last Week: 9-7