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Litwin's Locks: College Football Playoffs and NFL Week 17

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat

An Arizona player holds a football prior to the UA-ASU rivalry game on Nov. 25, at Sun Devil Stadium.

This is a bittersweet Litwin’s Locks. On one hand, this is a great football weekend with a ton of bowl games and meaningful NFL games. On the other hand, the NFL regular season is over. We still have the NFL playoffs, but the days of all-day football are done until September. 

The 2020 season was one I'm sure fans will never forget and I’m still a little shocked there was any season at all. As a football guy, this part of the season is tough because I know we’re at the end. I don’t want to think about the day after the Super Bowl when I flip on ESPN and it’s nothing but the NBA. So, enjoy it while we still have some games left. As a Bengals fan, I’m accustomed to saying, “I can’t wait for next year.”      

CFP Semifinals (Lines According to ESPN Daily Lines Pulled on 12/31/2020 @ 11:02 a.m. EST) 

Rose Bowl 

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No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+700) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-1100)

Line: Alabama -20, Total: 66

Notre Dame should not be in the CFP. They had an inflated schedule and the win against Clemson should have an asterisk since Trevor Lawrence didn’t play. Clemson blew Notre Dame out in the ACC Championship game when Lawrence was on the field. This would be a much better game with Texas A&M or University of Cincinnati. Notre Dame does not have the athletes on defense to run with Alabama’s explosive offense. Notre Dame, however, does do a nice job of controlling the clock on offense and has a couple of running backs that can churn out yards. Notre Dame has zero shot of winning this game but should keep it inside of 20. Pick: Notre Dame +20

“Lock of the Century” 

Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (+250) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (-300)

Line: Clemson -7.5, Total: 66  

Ohio State looked sluggish against Northwestern so I can’t imagine what it will look like against an elite team. OSU quarterback Justin Fields may not be as great as people thought. Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is somehow even better than what people thought and he will surgically carve up this Ohio State defense. I may have to take a loan out for this game. Pick: Clemson -7.5

NFL (Lines According to ESPN Daily Lines Pulled on 12/31/2020 @ 11:02 a.m. EST) 

Minnesota Vikings (-280) at Detroit Lions (+240) 

Line: Vikings -6.5, Total: 54.5

Picking games between teams that are playing for nothing is tricky. Guys don’t care anymore, and they’re ready to get back home to their families. The Lions are having a huge issue with coaches being on the COVID-19 list. When you don’t have a coaching staff, it’s hard to win a game. The Vikings were embarrassed on Christmas Day by the Saints, and Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer may need a win here to save his job. Pick: Vikings -6.5

RELATED: Arizona football looks to be moving in the right direction under Jedd Fisch

Dallas Cowboys (-130) at New York Giants (+110) 

Line: Cowboys -1.5, Total: 45

The Dallas Cowboys might be the hottest team in the NFL; it helps when your quarterback is literally red-hot. It’s crazy but with a win and a Washington Football Team loss, the Dallas Cowboys will be in the playoffs. The Cowboys have a history of stinking it up Week 17 in must-win games, but not this season — not with the “Red Rifle” behind center. Pick: Cowboys -1.5

Green Bay Packers (-250) at Chicago Bears (+210) 

Line: Packers -5.5, Total: 51.5

Chicago has had a resurgence in the last three to four games and should find itself in the playoffs. With its defense, Chicago might even make a little run – if its offense keeps playing at a high level. That said, the Packers with a win get the very important first-round bye. This Packers’ team is a legitimate Super Bowl threat. Pick: Packers -5.5

Los Angeles Chargers (-190) at Kansas City Chiefs (+170) 

Line: Chargers -3.5, Total: 44

The Chiefs are resting starters since they have already clinched everything. The Chargers are playing for pride and quarterback Justin Herbert is having a nice rookie season and his future is promising. The Chargers’ starters should beat the Chiefs’ backups. Pick: Chargers -3.5

Washington Football Team (-125) at Philadelphia Eagles (+105) 

Line: Football Team -1.5, Total: 43.5

With a win, the Washington Football Team would clinch the NFC East, even with a pathetic record of 7-9. A 10, maybe 11, win AFC team will miss the playoffs, but a 7-9 team will make it. I was wrong last week betting on the Football Team because I didn’t do my research about quarterback Alex Smith’s status. I do believe he is playing this week, which gives me the greenlight I need to once again roll with the Football Team. Pick: Washington Football Team -1.5  


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