|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|09-16-19||Browns -6.5 v. Jets||Top||23-3||Win||100||34 h 0 m||Show|
The set-up: The Browns were their own worst enemy in Week 1, as several dumb/costly penalties led to an early deficit and they were never mentally able to recover. But Cleveland hasn’t played on Monday night since 2010 and it’ll be out to correct those mistakes and take advantage of this situation (18 penalties for 182 yards.) New York looked poor in Week 1 too though, blowing a 16-0 lead to the Bills at home. But injuries played a big part in New York’s second half collapse, as CJ Moseley and Quinnen Williams both sidelined.
The pick: And now to make matters worse for New York, QB Sam Darnold has been diagnosed with mononucleosis, meaning that backup Trevor Siemian is being thrust into the spotlight. Baker Mayfield threw three INT’s last week, but that was more out of a sense of desperation with the game already out of reach. I think the Browns defense is the biggest difference maker today. It looked bad last week, but the aforementioned penalties played a big part in that. I think the visitors feast on the Jets’ instability. Lay the points.
10* MONDAY NIGHT MASSACRE on the Cleveland Browns.
|09-15-19||Bills v. Giants +2||Top||28-14||Loss||-110||74 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s difficult to win and cover on the road, but the Bills did just that at MetLife Stadium last weekend, staging a come from behind win over the Jets. To do it on back-to-back weeks is extremely difficult and only the better teams usually accomplish that. Clearly the Bills aren’t a great team. It’s almost “do or die” now for Eli Manning and com pay after their loss in Week 1. Expect to see a heavy dose of Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley as well, as he looks to ease the pressure off New York’s veteran pivot.
The pick: The numbers are on our side as well, as note that Buffalo is a poor 3-4 ATS in its last seven off an upset win as an underdog and only 2-4 ATS in its last six non-conference games. Conversely, the Giants are 4-1 ATS in their last five off a road loss vs. a division rival and 3-1 ATS in their last four off a loss by ten points or more to a division rival. Grab the points.
10* VERY EARLY COACH’S CORNER the New York Giants.
|09-08-19||Rams v. Panthers||Top||30-27||Win||100||28 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: The Rams finally get a chance to take out their frustrations on someone after losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Last year LA was 13-3. Carolina was 6-2 after the first eight weeks of action last season, but it then finished with a 7-9 overall record. A big difference for LA though to open the season is the health of RB Todd Gurley, who had to play through injury over the final month and a half. Receiver Cooper Kupp is back and healthy as well for LA after his season was cut short with an ACL tear.
The pick: Panthers’ QB Cam Newton suffered a shoulder injury with two games left last year and he underwent surgery for the second time in three years this offseason. Newton was used sparingly in the preseason and sprained his ankle in Week 3 vs. the Patriots. Newton’s health is a concern for me and it makes the hungry and healthy the Rams the correct call in this one. Lay the short points.
LA Rams 10* play
|09-05-19||Packers +4 v. Bears||Top||10-3||Win||100||1420 h 23 m||Show|
The set-up: While the outright win is clearly not out of the question in my opinion, I’m going to ultimately recommend that you grab as many points as you can in a contest which I envision coming down to whichever of these two talented teams has its hands on the ball last. This is the league’s 100th anniversary season and this is in fact the oldest rivalry in the league. Chicago comes in off an impressive 12-4 campaign in 2018, but with the starters having seen extreme limited time in the pre-season, I believe the home side does indeed come out flat on Opening night.
The pick: A 1-5 stretch during Nov-Dec. would de-rail the Packers last year and they’d go on to finish 6-9-1. Green Bay though is looking to jump-start its offense with Aaron Rodgers under center once again and it welcomes in new head coach Matt LaFleur, who was the offensive coordinator for the Rams and Titans the last two years. Last year these teams split out and everything once again points to a competitive battle this season. The Packers went out and completely re-vamped their defense as well this year and I believe the moves they made in the off-season pay early dividends. Grab the points.
Green Bay Packers 10* play
|02-03-19||Patriots v. Rams +3||Top||13-3||Loss||-115||197 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: The story lines are well known. The Rams are the up and coming West Coast team that’s backed by a high-powered offense, while the Patriots are one of the most storied franchises in history. I’ve just never been fully convinced by this year’s version of the Patriots. Tom Brady and company beat the Chiefs at home earlier in the year, so the fact that they won last week doesn’t come as a huge surprise despite being the underdog. LA got blasted for 45 points in a loss to New Orleans earlier in the year, but the Rams’ defense came up huge in the 26-23 OT NFC Conference Championship victory. I simply feel that the Rams’ suddenly improving defense, combined with the “one, two” punch of Goff and Gurley will prove to be too much for Bill Belichick.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but New England 2-3 ATS this year already after two or more straight victories ATS, while LA is 3-1 ATS this year after two or more straight wins vs. the spread. Grab the points, expect a nail-biter.
|01-20-19||Patriots v. Chiefs -3||Top||37-31||Loss||-100||151 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: If you’re betting this game, then you probably don’t need the “overview” of this game. These teams and their strengths/weaknesses are well known by even the most casual NFL fan. The Patriots of course are the most storied team in the league and QB Tom Brady is a lock for the hall of fame. The Patriots rolled to a 41-28 win over the Chargers at home last weekend, but I think they’ll have their hands full in this difficult road venue. The Chiefs smashed the Colts 31-13 at home and after falling 43-40 in New England back on October 18th, I believe they’ll get their revenge here. I’ve never been fully convinced of the Patriots this year and overall from a “situational” stand point, I absolutely feel that this one sets up great for Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes (50 passing TD’s in the regular season!) and the hungry home side.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but New England is just 3-5 ATS on the road this year, while KC is 12-8 ATS in its last 20 as a home favorite of seven points or less. Lay the points, expect a blowout.
|01-13-19||Eagles +10.5 v. Saints||Top||14-20||Win||100||153 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: I got down early and have a favorable line, but regardless, I love the surging Eagles to catch the Saints a little “flat footed” after their week off. Philadelphia once again defied the odds last weekend with a win in Chicago, as the Bears banged a FG off the cross bar as time expired for the victory. New Orleans went 13-3 in the regular season, but I think that “rest” will lead to “rust” here. The Eagles have been in must win mode for weeks now and that mentality, along with the experience from actually winning the Super Bowl last season, will once again keep this game extremely competitive in my opinion. While the Eagles’ offense dealt with plenty of issues this year, the defense was once again a strength and I think the unit is an overlooked factor here. Note as well that this is an in-season “revenge” game, as Philly was destroyed 48-7 in New Orleans back in Week 11.
The pick: Nick Foles is under center this time for the Eagles though and I think the experience and momentum that he brings to the table is big as well. Take it for what you will as well, but Philly is interestingly 5-1 ATS in its last six after four or more SU victories, while New Orleans is just 3-4 ATS as a home favorite this season and and just 1-4 ATS following a divisional contest. I won’t call for the outright, but look for this one to come down to the wire. Grab the points.
|01-12-19||Colts v. Chiefs -5.5||Top||13-31||Win||100||143 h 41 m||Show|
The set-up: Andrew Luck and the Colts have sure looked impressive over the last month, but I believe their story comes to and tonight. The Chiefs can’t play a lick of defense, but they haven’t had to with their dynamic offense, led by Patrick Mahomes, who set offensive records this year. With a week off to focus and game-plan though, I absolutely expect the Chiefs’ to also “step up” their game defensively as well. Indianapolis averaged 27.1 PPG, while allowing 21.5. The Chiefs averaged 35.3 PPG though and allowed 26.3.
The pick: Mahomes though is the difference maker in my opinion. He finished with 5,097 passing yards with a sharp 50/12 TD/INT. Take it for what you will as well, but despite the Colts recent “up-tick” in play, they’re still only 14-17 ATS in their last 31 as an underdog, while Kansas City is 13-5 ATS in its last 18 after scoring 30 points or more in its last game. In my estimation, everything points to the Colts running out gas this weekend. I’m laying they points.
|12-30-18||Browns +7 v. Ravens||Top||24-26||Win||100||96 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: The Browns are looking to play spoiler and they come in with plenty of momentum. Outright victory?! It’s not out of the question! In fact, Cleveland already upset the Ravens at home 12-9 in OT earlier in the year. Browns’ rookie QB Baker Mayfield had 284 passing yards and three TD’s vs. the Bengals last week. Cleveland’s defense dominated as well, giving up just 209 total yards. Note that Cleveland has in fact won five of six overall. The Ravens are the better team on paper, but I think they get pushed to the brink here after upset win over the Chargers in LA last weekend.
The pick: The Ravens have struggled against the division as well, going just 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. the AFC North. Note that Baltimore is just 1-4 ATS in its last five at home as well. The Browns on the other hand are 5-1 ATS in the last six after an ATS win. Grab the points.
|12-24-18||Broncos -2.5 v. Raiders||Top||14-27||Loss||-125||57 h 20 m||Show|
The set-up: Two teams playing out their respective seasons collide on Monday night. If these clubs could have a “do over,” they’d clearly both jump on it. Regardless, I think the Broncos will do just enough to gut out the win and cover. The Raiders have nothing to play for here and another loss will only help them in the draft next year. Raiders’ hired Jon Gruden on the off-season last year and his first season has been a disaster. Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph is expected to be fired after his Week 17 matchup with the Chargers, but he’s not going down without a fight: “Absolutely. We want to win,” Joseph said on Monday. “These next two games are important for us to finish the right way. That part is very important to me. It’s about winning. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about losing, it’s about winning. That’s very important to our football team and our coaches.”
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Denver is already 2-0 ATS this year after a loss by 3 points or less, while Oakland is a terrible 4-8 ATS as an underdog. For all the reasons listed above, play on the Broncos.
|12-22-18||Redskins v. Titans -10||Top||16-25||Loss||-115||9 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: Washington is still in the playoff hunt after holding on for a win against the Jaguars in Week 15, but the Redskins’ chances are still slim, especially considering the significant injuries. The Titans have won three straight over the Jets, Jags and Giants and I think it’ll keep the foot on the gas from start to finish here as well. Not only are the Skins down to their third string QB, but CB Joshua Holsey was lost for the season in last week’s narrow victory. Tennessee on the other hand is getting steady play from QB Marcus Mariota, while getting superb play from RB Derrick Henry. The Titans though are now No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense after allowing just one TD over their past 12 quarters of play.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Washington is just 2-6 ATS in its last eight after allowing 14 points or less in its last game, while Tennessee is 4-2 ATS at home this year and 8-5 ATS in its last 13 as a home favorite. Lay the points, expect a rout.
|12-16-18||Eagles +13 v. Rams||Top||30-23||Win||100||36 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: Nick Foles is back under center for the Eagles and with nothing to lose except another game, I like the defending champs to give the Rams everything they can handle this weekend. Philly lost 29-23 in OT to Dallas last weekend, while the Rams look very susceptible after their poor 15-6 road loss in Chicago. The Eagles only average 21.6 PPG, but they make up for it on the other end by allowing 22.7. The Rams average 32.7 PPG, but they allow 24.1.
The pick: After their red hot start, the Rams appear to be running out of gas. Especially RB Todd Gurley. With the offense becoming more one-dimensional than ever, LA could struggle to post the same offensive efficiency down the stretch. Take it for what you will as well, but the Eagles are still 4-2 ATS in their last six on the road. I’m grabbing all those points!
|12-16-18||Packers v. Bears -5||Top||17-24||Win||100||42 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: I like the Bears to take care of business at home today. The Packers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 34-20 win over hapless Atlanta last weekend, while Chicago enters off a hard-fought and impressive 15-6 home win over the high-flying Rams. If LA couldn’t move the ball last week, I have a hard time seeing Aaron Rodgers and his patchwork unit posting much production either. Overall the Packers average 24.2 PPG and they allow 23.6. The Bears are averaging 27.6 PPG and they’re allowing just 19. That ranks third in the league. The Packers are simply too one-dimensional to fool this talented Bears defense.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Green Bay is already only 1-3 ATS this year as a road underdog, while Chicago is a perfect 5-0 ATS at home as a favorite. With a chance to end the Packers’ season, look for the home side to lay the hammer down. Lay the points.
|12-09-18||Colts +5 v. Texans||Top||24-21||Win||100||97 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: The Colts play with revenge here after falling 37-34 in OT at home to the Texans in Week 4. Houston’s been almost unbeatable since that game, but Andrew Luck and Indianapolis has made great strides this year on both sides of the ball. The Colts were stymied 6-0 last week vs. Jacksonville, but there’s no reason not to think that Luck and company can’t bounce back and return to their normal form. The Texans continue to find ways to win, but I think they’ll have their hands full today vs. a Colts team that will be desperate for an upset and to avenge the earlier setback. These teams are very evenly matched.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Indianapolis is 4-1 ATS in its last five in revenging a home loss vs. an opponent, while Houston is just 1-2 ATS in its last three after two straight SU home victories. Grab the points.
|12-06-18||Jaguars +4.5 v. Titans||Top||9-30||Loss||-115||32 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: Jacksonville plays with revenge. It’s also looking to put a nail in the coffin to the Titans season with a victory here. The Jags slowed won the Colts in last week’s 6-0 win. They came up short at home in September vs. the Titans, falling 9-6, but with nothing to lose, I think the visitors will once again keep it competitive this week. The Titans could barely get past the Jets last week at home (26-22) and I think they’ll have their hands full today against this revenge minded and much improved Jags’ defensive unit.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Jacksonville is interestingly 5-1 ATS in its last six in revenging an extremely close loss of three points or less, while Tennessee is just 9-11 ATS in its last 20 as a favorite (including 0-2 ATS this season.) Grab the points.
|12-02-18||Chargers +3.5 v. Steelers||Top||33-30||Win||100||34 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: These teams are very evenly matched. The Steelers missed RB LeVeon Bell last week and they’re going to again today as well. After winning three straight, the Steelers came up short in Denver last weekend. LA though enters off a blowout win over the Cardinals and I don’t think there’s any reason not to think that veteran pivot Phillip Rivers can’t carry that momentum over here facing this Steelers unit which struggled last weekend.
The pick: Note as well that LA is 4-1 ATS in its last five on the road and 3-1 ATS in its last four following a two game home stand, while Pittsburgh is just 3-4 ATS as a favorite this season. Grab the points and expect a “nail biter.”
|11-26-18||Titans +7 v. Texans||Top||17-34||Loss||-140||55 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: After an 0-3 start, Houston comes out of its bye week having won six straight. I think the time off will ultimately throw a “monkey wrench” into the chemistry and I look for the hungry Titans to keep this one competitive until the final moments. Houston holds a two game lead over both Tennessee and Indianapolis, so this is a crucial game for the visitors. Tennessee destroyed the Patriots, but it couldn’t keep that momentum going in a 28-10 loss to the Colts last weekend. But with their season essentially on the line, I think the Titans bounce back this week.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Tennessee is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 vs. teams with winning records, while Houston is just 3-6 ATS in its last nine after two or more consecutive victories. Grab the points.
|11-18-18||Vikings +3 v. Bears||Top||20-25||Loss||-120||150 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: Outright upset? Clearly not out of the question. Minnesota most recently won 24-9 at home over Detroit two weeks ago and I think it has a legitimate shot at taking this one outright. Chicago looks primed for a letdown here as well after its 34-22 win over Detroit last weekend. Overall the Vikes are averaging 24.6 PPG and they’re allowing 22.7. The Bears are averaging 29.9 PPG and they’re allowing 19.4.
The pick: Take it for what you will though, but Chicago is just 8-18-1 ATS in its last 27 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, while Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last six coming off a win in which it held its opponent under ten points and following its bye. Grab the points.
|11-18-18||Broncos +7.5 v. Chargers||Top||23-22||Win||100||147 h 20 m||Show|
The set-up: The Broncos come in out of their bye hungry as they’ve lost two straight. The Chargers though could be a bit complacent here after their big win over the Raiders last week.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well but Denver is 3-1 ATS in its last four after two or more SU/ATS losses, while LA is just 8-11 ATS in its last 19 at home and only 9-10 ATS in its last 19 as a favorite. I think LA has a letdown here after last weeks win, while Denver comes in focused after its bye. Grab the points.
|11-11-18||Cowboys +7 v. Eagles||Top||27-20||Win||100||149 h 0 m||Show|
The set-up: Eagles are winning and the Cowboys are losing. Dak Prescott and Dallas won’t go down without a fight here though. The Eagles have won three straight, while the Cowboys have dropped tow in a row. In last week’s 28-14 loss to Tennessee, newly acquired WR Amari Cooper had 58 yards and a TD. He’ll bring some depth to the passing game, which will in turn help out Ezekiel Elliot and the ground game. QB Dak Prescott had 248 yards and two TD passes in last week’s loss. The Eagles come in “rusty” here out of their bye in my opinion.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Philly is just 6-8 ATS in its last 14 as a favorite in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range and only 6-7 ATS in its last 13 vs. division opponents, while Dallas is 3-1 ATS in its last four after two or more consecutive SU losses. Grab the points and expect a “nail biter.”
|11-08-18||Panthers v. Steelers -3.5||Top||21-52||Win||100||79 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in rolling. Carolina enters off three straight wins, most recently a 42-28 victory over Tampa Bay, while Pittsburgh has won four straight, most recently a 23-16 win over Baltimore. These teams are very similar, with dynamic and capable QB’s who each have plenty of weapons to utilize. But Newton has struggled against the elite defenses throughout his career and I think that trend carries over here at Heinz Field.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well the Panthers are a terrible 3-8 ATS in their last 11 after two or more consecutive SU victories, while Pittsburgh is a perfect 2-0 ATS in its last two Thursday night contests. Lay the points and expect a rout.
|11-04-18||Packers +6 v. Patriots||Top||17-31||Loss||-115||96 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: I think Aaron Rodgers and the stumbling Green Bay Packers can keep this one respectable on Sunday night. Green Bay came up just short in a massive upset in LA last weekend and with their backs against the wall, I think the Packers bring that same intensity here on Sunday night. The Pats have won three straight and are off a short week after hammering the Bills in Buffalo on Monday night.
The teams: Packers’ QB Aaron Jones had 86 yards and a TD last week. Rodgers was his usual dominant self and the defense was decent considering the opponent, posting five sacks and eight QB hits.
New England wasn’t challenged last week. It didn’t need starting RB Sony Michale last weekend, but I think his absence this Sunday will be more significant against this desperate visiting side.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well but Green Bay is 5-2 ATS in its last seven as a road dog in the 3.5 to seven points range, while New England is just already just 2-3 ATS this year as a favorite in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range. Grab the points.
|11-04-18||Chargers +2 v. Seahawks||Top||25-17||Win||100||92 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in playing well, but I think the extra week off to rest and prepare for this one will be the difference for Philip Rives and the visiting Chargers.
The teams: LA comes in on top form having won four straight, most recently a 20-19 win over the Titans in London. Rivers has 2,009 passing yards and an elite 17/3 TD:INT
Seattle has won four of five after an 0-2 start. But after sweeping a two game road trip, including a 28-14 victory in Detroit last Sunday, I think the Hawks suffer a predictable letdown here on the return to friendly soil.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but LA is a perfect 3-0 ATS as a road favorite of three points or less and a perfect 3-0 ATS in its last three following its bye, while Seattle is just 4-7 ATS in its last 11 after two or more consecutive SU wins. Play on LA.
|11-04-18||Falcons +2 v. Redskins||Top||38-14||Win||100||89 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: Washington comes in dog tired here after three straight victories, while the Falcons return to action fresh off their bye week and two straight victories. I expect the visitors to sneak away with an outright victory today.
The teams: The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the hurting Falcons. Atlanta still has plenty of injury issues to deal with, but Matt Ryan and his WR core remains in tact and I think the unit will be a difference maker this afternoon.
The Redskins comes in off a 20-13 win over the lowly Giants, with aging RB Adrian Peterson going for a season-high 149 yards. Suffice it to say, I don’t think AP is going to match that pace again in back-to-back weeks.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well but ATL is 3-1 ATS in its last four following its bye week and 8-5 ATS in its last 13 after two or more consecutive SU victories, while Washington is just 2-3 ATS in its last five off a win against a conference rival. I like a rested Ryan to pull off the upset Sunday afternoon.
|11-04-18||Lions +5 v. Vikings||Top||9-24||Loss||-113||89 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: Detroit enters off a 28-14 home loss to Seattle, while Minnesota comes in off a 30-20 home loss to the Saints.
The teams: The Lions last road game ended in a 32-21 Week 6 victory in Miami. While it struggled against the Seahawks last week, I think Detroit will have its opportunities today against Vikes’ defense which has been exposed. Overall the Lions are averaging 24.4 points and allowing 26.6.
Minnesota is averaging 24.6 PPG and allowing 24.4. Kirk Cousins remains a bright spot on the team with a 16/4 TD/INT, but the once vaunted league leading defense is now firmly planted in the middle of the pack.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but the Vikes are just 1-4 ATS the last five in this series, while the Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last five on the road. Detroit has played well on the road this year, averaging 27.7 PPG away from friendly confines. Grab the points.
|11-04-18||Steelers v. Ravens -2.5||Top||23-16||Loss||-125||89 h 40 m||Show|
The set-up: Pittsburgh lost 26-14 in this matchup at home earlier in the year and I think it’ll have its hands full in this hostile environment Sunday as well. The Steelers are poised for a letdown here in my opinion after three straight wins. Conversely, it’s all hands on deck this week for Baltimore after losing three of its last four, including a 36-21 setback at Carolina last weekend.
The teams: The Steelers are averaging 418.1 YPG on offense, while allowing 359.7 YPG. Note there’s a major concern about QB Ben Roethlisberger who fractured his index finger on his left hand.
Baltimore is only allowing 293.8 YPG. The offense is averaging 379.3 YPG. Last week the defense struggled against Cam Newton, but the unit catches a break this week facing the lumbering (and now injured) Roethlisberger.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Pittsburgh is just 2-6 ATS in its last eight trying to revenge a loss against an opponent, while Baltimore is 4-2 ATS in its last six after two or more SU losses. I’m banking on the more desperate team getting the job done today. Lay the points.
|10-29-18||Patriots -13 v. Bills||Top||25-6||Win||100||12 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: Tom Brady is 28-3 all time against Buffalo and while he won’t have offensive star TE Rob Gronkowski in the line-up, I still believe the all star will have more than enough to take care of the lowly (and injured) Bills.
The teams: After a 1-2 start the Pats come in having won four straight. Last week Brady threw for 277 yards and three TD’s in the victory over the Bears. WR Josh Gordon had four catches for 100 yards. Sony Michel is also expected to sit this one out, so expect to see a heavy dose of James White.
The Bills are dealing with several injuries, including at QB. Buffalo is already planning ahead to next year and I believe it’ll simply go through the motions tonight.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well but the Pats are 20-7 ATS in their last 27 after two or more consecutive victories, while Buffalo is just 10-13 ATS in its last 13 as an underdog. Lay the points and expect a rout.
|10-28-18||Colts -3 v. Raiders||Top||42-28||Win||100||25 h 49 m||Show|
The set-up: Oakland only has one victory on the season and I think it’ll struggle containing Andrew Luck, who continues to gain confidence each week, despite being undermanned on both sides of the ball.
The teams: Luck had 156 yards and four TD’s in last week’s blowout win at home over the hapless Bills. Marlon Mack ran for 126 yards and a TD. Luck is getting improved play from his offensive line and I think that progression continues this week in what sets up as another favorable matchup.
Oakland coach Jon Gruden was signed to a ten year contract, so he’s gutting the team and rebuilding it the way he sees fit. Gruden’s indecision across the board has hurt the team in the short-term and probably in the long-term as well.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but note that Oakland is just 1-3-1 ATS in its last five at home, while Indianapolis is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games on the road against teams with a losing home record. I like Luck to lay the hammer down and further expose Gruden’s complete ineptitude. Lay the points.
|10-28-18||Broncos +11 v. Chiefs||Top||23-30||Win||100||116 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: Denver enters off a 45-10 win over Arizona and I think it’ll have its chances today against the Chiefs vanilla defense. Kansas City enters off a 45-10 win over Cincinnati, one week after coming up short in New England. Note that this is a revenge game for Denver after the Chiefs posted a 27-23 road win in Week 4.
The teams: Denver is averaging 23.6 PPG and it’s allowing 23.4. QB Case Keenum has 1,848 passing yards and an 8/9 TD:INT. The defense dominated last week, limiting the Cards to just 223 total yards.
KC is averaging 37.1 PPG and allowing 26. Patrick Mahomes has been unbelievable with 2,223 passing yards and a 22/5 TD:INT, but I think he’ll have his hands full today with this veteran Broncos defense.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but KC is still just 4-6 ATS in its last ten against teams with losing records. Denver took the Chiefs best shot they had and almost prevailed. I’m expecting a similar “war” here as well. Grab the points.
|10-28-18||Jets v. Bears -7.5||Top||10-24||Win||100||22 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Chicago is 3-3 and in desperate need of a victory this week to keep pace in the competitive NFC North. Thankfully the Jets are coming to town, as New York continues to deal with a number of injuries on both sides of the ball. This one has “blowout” written all over it in my opinion.
The teams: The Bears enter off a 38-31 loss to the Pats, as QB Mitch Trubisky continued his fine season with 333 passing yards and two TD’s. Chicago remains one of the best on the defensive side of the ball and Khalil Mack and company look poised for a big night against the Jets patchwork front.
Jets’ QB Sam Darnold was just 17 of 42 for 206 yards, one TD and three INT’s in last week’s blowout loss to the Vikes. The Jets also lost the services of RB Bilal Powell to injury.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but New York is 0-4-1 ATS in its last five games played on “grass,” while Chicago is 11-4-1 ATS in its last 15 at home and 11-5-1 ATS in its last 17 after allowing more than 350 total yards in its previous game. Lay the points.
|10-28-18||Browns +8 v. Steelers||Top||18-33||Loss||-105||22 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Pittsburgh has won two straight, but I think it’ll have enough of a “letdown” here to let the hungry Browns sneak in through the back door down the stretch. Cleveland comes in off a tight 26-23 OT loss to Tampa Bay, while Pittsburgh scored the difficult 28-21 road win over the Bengals. Note that these teams played to a 21-21 tie in Week 1.
The teams: Cleveland is averaging 21.6 PPG and it’s allowing 25.3. QB Baker Mayfield has 1,291 passing yards and a 6/5 TD:INT. The Browns looked sharp defensively, posting four sacks and two INT’s against the high-flying Bucs.
Pittsburgh is averaging 28.5 PPG, but it’s allowing 25.7. QB Ben Roethlisberger has 2,033 passing yards and a mediocre 12:6 TD/INT on the season.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Pittsburgh is just 1-8 ATS in its last nine following a SU win, while Cleveland is 3-0-1 ATS the last four in this series. No outright, but expect a battle until the end. Grab the points.
|10-22-18||Giants v. Falcons -3.5||Top||20-23||Loss||-110||12 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: The winner of this game will keep its slim playoff hopes alive, while the loser will officially be eliminated from contention. I think home field advantage will prove to be a big difference maker in this one. Atlanta is just 2-3, but it held on for a 34-29 win over Tampa last weekend, while New York comes in with a 1-5 record.
The teams: The Giants most recently fell 34-13 at home to the Eagles. RB Saquon Barkley was a bright spot with 100 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving. But the tension between WR Odell Beckham Jr. and QB Eli Manning is real, as the coaching staff continues to move away from having their all star pivot from throwing down the field.
The Falcons continue to look horrible defensively, but the offense continues to put up decent numbers and I have a hard time seeing the Giants keeping pace down the stretch. Last week Matt Ryan had 354 yards passing with three TD’s. Overall he has 1,432 passing with 12 TD’s and an INT.
The pick: The good news for the Falcons? They’re only 2.5 games behind the Saints in the NFC South and this is the start of four very “winnable” games for them as well, with three contests against the NFC East and also the Cleveland Browns. Take it for what you will as well, but New York is just 3-6 ATS in its last nine as a road dog in the 3.5 to 7 points range, while ATL is 5-2 ATS in its last seven as a home favorite in the 3.5 to 7 points range. Lay the points.
|10-21-18||Cowboys v. Redskins||Top||17-20||Win||100||48 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: These division rivals are very evenly matched, but I think the Cowboys will stumble in this difficult road venue. Both teams enter with identical 3-3 records.
The teams: Dallas comes in off a 40-7 win over a road-weary Jacksonville team. I’m not going to read too much into the victory though and I do believe regression is imminent here as the team has shown a propensity to struggle away from friendly confines already this season. Overall the Cowboys are averaging 20.5 PPG and allowing 17.2.
Washington is averaging 21.2 PPG and it’s allowing 20.9. Last week Alex Smith had 163 yards with two TD’s and no INT’s. I think the veteran pivot will have some opportunities today in front of the home town crowd as well.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Dallas is just 2-8 ATS in its last ten after scoring 40 points or more in its previous contest. Divisional battles are always the most important and they always mean more to the home side. Lay the points.
|10-21-18||Patriots v. Bears +3||Top||38-31||Loss||-115||45 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: The Patriots look poised for a letdown here in my opinion after their epic shootout victory at home over the Chiefs last Sunday night. The Bears recent momentum was stopped in a humbling loss to Miami last week and I believe they’ll bounce back and find a way to defend Soldier Field.
The teams: Tom Brady faced the league’s worst pass defense last week and he shredded it. It was a dream match-up and the legend delivered the goods. But we’ve already seen Brady struggle this year in difficult road venues against capable defenses.
And Khalil Mack and the Bears’ defense at home is an entirely different “animal” than KC. Brady may have looked great last weekend, but what looked horrible for New England was its defense. The unit is lucky that Brady played as well as he did, otherwise the Chiefs would still be undefeated. Suffice it to say, I think that Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky will have his opportunities today.
The pick: The Bears have yet to lose at home this year and I believe that trend continues. And take it for what you will as well, but note that Chicago is 4-1 ATS in its last five as a home dog of three points or less. Play on the Bears.
|10-21-18||Vikings -3.5 v. Jets||Top||37-17||Win||100||45 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: The Vikes come in off a 27-12 home win over the Cardinals and I look for the team to carry that momentum over here. New York enters off a 42-34 home victory over Indianapolis, but it now faces one of its most challenging defenses of the season. In my opinion, this one has “blowout” written all over it.
The teams: Vikes’ QB Kirk Cousins had 233 passing yards with one TD and one INT last week. So far he has 1,921 passing yards with a sharp 12/3 TD:INT. RB LaTavius Murray had 155 rushing yards in the victory. The defense was tremendous, holding the Cards to just 269 total yards, including only 61 rushing yards.
Jets’ QB Sam Darnold has a 9/7 TD:INT after going for 280 yards and two TD’s last weekend. While the offense looked decent though, note that the defense allowed 428 total yards.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but the Jets are just 1-5 ATS in their last six after scoring 30 or more points in their previous game, while the Vikes are 7-3 ATS in their last ten on the road. The Vikes come in with momentum, taking out the Eagles on the road and then the Cards at home. Look for New York to take a predicable step back this week and lay the points.
|10-21-18||Titans +7 v. Chargers||Top||19-20||Win||100||41 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: I think a trip across the pond does the Titans good after their worst offensive performance in a decade. Conversely, I believe this trip will be detrimental to the Chargers’ recent chemistry. I’m not calling for an outright victory, but Marcus Mariota and the Titans definitely have something to prove this weekend after last Sunday’s performance.
The teams: Despite last week’s 21-0 loss to Baltimore (the Ravens own the leagues’ No. 1 defense), Tennessee is still tied atop the AFC South.
LA comes in complacent in my opinion after winning three straight, most recently a 38-14 victory at Cleveland. Melvin Gordon was a standout with 132 yards rushing and three TD’s.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but Tennessee is 6-3 ATS in its last nine as an underdog in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range and 4-0 ATS in its last four after two or more consecutive SU losses, while LA is just 3-4 ATS in its last seven after two or more consecutive SU victories and only 7-9 ATS in its last 16 as a favorite. Grab the points.
|10-14-18||Bucs v. Falcons -3||Top||29-34||Win||100||120 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: The Falcons have lost three in a row. This has essentially become a “must win” game for the Falcons, as another loss to a divisional foe and a 1-5 record would be too much of a hole for them to climb out of. Tampa started the year on fire, but it went into its “bye week” off two straight losses. And now the Bucs welcome back Jameis Winston under center, a situation which will surely need some time to develop property chemistry. In my opinion, the stage is set for a lop-sided home blowout victory.
The teams: Tampa’s defense though is the main reason why I believe that Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan and company can bounce back today. Last year the Bucs were last in the league in the pass rush, and this season they’re ranked 30th.
Despite the 1-4 record, Ryan continues to put up impressive numbers with 1,601 passing yards so far, ranked 7th overall.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but the Bucs are a terrible 1-4 ATS in their last five road games against teams with losing home records, while the Falcons are 7-2 ATS in their last nine after two or more SU losses, including a loss to a divisional foe in their most recent. As mentioned off the top, this one has “rout” written all over it. Lay the points.
|10-14-18||Cardinals v. Vikings -10||Top||17-27||Push||0||120 h 0 m||Show|
The set-up: Arizona comes in off a 28-18 divisional road win over San Francisco and I think it’ll stumble in this difficult venue. Minnesota enters off a much-needed and confidence building 23-21 over Philadelphia and I look for it carry that momentum over here. The teams: Despite last weeks victory the Cardinals are still averaging only 13 PPG. The defense has been decent in allowing 22.4. Rookie QB Josh Rosen so far has 386 passing yards and a 2/1 TD/INT. The Vikes are averaging 22.6 PPG and they’re allowing 26.5. QB Kirk Cousins had 301 yards and a TD in last week’s victory and he so far has 1,688 passing yards, along with an 11/2 TD/INT. The pick: The Vikes’ defense looked a lot better last week, giving up just two TD passes. Take it for what you will as well, but Minnesota is 17-6 ATS in its last 23 home games against teams with losing road records and 8-2 ATS in its last ten games after posting 250 passing yards in its previous game, while Arizona is only 3-12-1 ATS in its last 16 following a SU victory. I’m banking on a blowout from start to finish. Lay the points.
|10-14-18||Seahawks v. Raiders +3||Top||27-3||Loss||-115||120 h 60 m||Show|
The set-up: I like the Raiders to find a way to get the job done in London Sunday. Oakland is 1-4 and it’s playing for its playoff life today. Seattle is the perfect opponent to get untracked against in my opinion though, as it had won two in a row before a crushing home loss to the division rival Rams last weekend. The teams: The Seahawks opened up their offense last week, but it still wasn’t enough to get the job done against the Rams. As good as Seattle’s offense looked against a shaky Rams’ defense, is as poor as the Hawks defense performed. And I think that’s a major issue heading into this matchup against this hungry non-conference foe. Marshawn Lynch gets to face his old team for the first time. Raiders’ QB Derek Carr has been above average this season and I believe he’ll have plenty of opportunities today against this clearly struggling Seattle secondary. The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Seattle is just 9-14 ATS in its last 23 as a favorite and only 3-4 ATS in its last seven non-conference games, while Oakland is 12-6 ATS in its last 18 games when the line in the game is between +3 and -3 and 3-1 ATS in its last four off a loss against a division rival. Grab the points and expect a “nail biter.”
|10-11-18||Eagles v. Giants +3||Top||34-13||Loss||-105||55 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: The Giants lost 33-31 last week on a last second 61 FG by Graham Gano in Carolina last weekend. I’m expecting New York to bounce back here and take out its frustrations on a clearly struggling Eagles team. New York is only 1-4, but the Eagles are just 2-3 and they also come in with more questions than answers. An outright win? Of course it’s not out of the question. In the end though, I’m grabbing the points. The teams: New York is still only 1.5 games behind Washington which sits at 2-2, so it’s still very much in the race in the NFC “L”East. Philadelphia is 29th in the NFL with 395 penalty yards and its turnover margin is a horrible minus-four. The Eagles red zone offense is just 38.5 percent in three games since Carson Wentz returned: “I’m concerned,” lamented Eagles tight end Zach Ertz after Sunday’s contest. “It’s not where we thought we would be.” The pick: To add insult to injury, Philadelphia RBY Jay Ajayi, the one standout each week, tore his ACL on Sunday. Take it for what you will as well, but Philadelphia is just 7-11 ATS in its last 18 on the road and just 5-7 ATS in its last 12 against the division. The defending champs are ripe for the picking (but grab the points!)
|10-08-18||Redskins +6 v. Saints||Top||19-43||Loss||-108||21 h 37 m||Show|
|10-07-18||Cowboys v. Texans -3||Top||16-19||Push||0||28 h 4 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams won last week, but I think the Texans will find a way to defend their home field. Dallas held on for a 26-24 home win over Detroit, while Houston prevailed 37-34 in OT over the Colts.
The teams: Despite last week’s decent effort, the Cowboys are still averaging only 16.8 PPG. The team’s strength is clearly on the defensive side of the ball as it’s allow only 19.2 PPG. Dak Prescott had 255 yards and two TD’s last week, while Ezekiel Elliot had 152 rushing yards.
Houston QB DeShaun Watson had 375 yards, two TD’s and an INT last week. Like their counterparts today though, the Texans’ have struggled at times on both sides of the ball.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Houston is 5-2 ATS in its last seven after scoring 37 or more points in its previous contest, while Dallas is just 12-26-1 ATS in its last 39 on field turf. Lay the points.
|10-07-18||Titans v. Bills +5.5||Top||12-13||Win||100||21 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Tennessee comes in tired in my opinion after its 26-23 OT win over Philadelphia, while the Bills come in focused and hungry after their humbling 22-0 road loss in Green Bay. Clearly the “outright” isn’t out of the question, but I’m grabbing the points in a game which I envision coming right down to the wire.
The teams: The Titans are averaging only 18.8 PPG, but they’re allowing just 18.2. Last week they had to rally from a 17-3 deficit to knock off the defending champs. QB Marcus Marriota was a stand out with 344 passing yards, two TD’s and an INT. The defense is the strength of the team, but it looked pretty pedestrian last week in allowing 315 passing yards.
The Bills are averaging only 12.5 PPG while allowing 26.5. So far rookie QB Josh Allen has 666 passing yards and a 2/4 TD:INT.
The pick: Take it for what you will though, but Tennessee is just 2-6 ATS in its last eight as a favorite in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range and only 6-11 ATS when playing against a team with a losing record, while Buffalo is 7-2 ATS in its last nine home games after getting shutout in its previous outing. I think the more “desperate” team takes this one down to the wire. Grab the points.
|10-07-18||Giants +7 v. Panthers||Top||31-33||Win||100||21 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Carolina enters off its bye week and I think it’ll get caught flat-footed here, just enough to allow the desperate Giants to sneak in through the back door.
The teams: New York is averaging 18.2 PPG and it’s struggled on the defensive side of the ball as well. Hence the 1-3 record. RB Saquon Barkley has been a bright spot though, he so far has 453 yards from scrimmage.
Fortunately for the Giants they face a Carolina offense which is averaging just 203.7 yards passing per game. The defense is weak against the run as well, allowing 110 yards per game on 4.93 yards per carry.
The pick: And that doesn’t bode well facing Barkley and this underachieving Giants offense. Take it for what you will as well, but Carolina is 0-4 ATS in its last four home games as a favorite in the 3.5 to seven points range. Expect a battle to the end and grab the points.
|10-04-18||Colts +10.5 v. Patriots||Top||24-38||Loss||-110||22 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: The Pats broke a two-game slide with a 38-7 win over Miami last Sunday, while the Colts came up on the short end of the stick in a 37-34 OT setback at Houston last Sunday. These teams haven’t played since 2015.
The teams: Indianapolis had a 478-466 edge in offense last week, but it just wasn’t to be in the end. QB Andrew Luck so far has 1,126 yards, nine TD’s and three INT’s. Adam Vinatieri continues to be a steady source of production as well, hitting all eight extra points and eight nine field goals with a long of 51.
The Pats smashed the Dolphins last week with a 449-172 yardage advantage. So far QB Tom Brady has an unremarkable 918 yards with nine TD’s and four INT’s. RB Sony Michels has 196 yards and a TD.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but Indianapolis is 7-5 ATS in its last 12 as an underdog in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range (including 2-0 ATS this season) and 9-7 ATS in its last 16 on the road (including 2-0 ATS this year), while New England is a horrible 0-4 ATS in its last four as a home favorite in the 7.5 to ten points range. I think Luck will match Brady. Grab the points.
|10-01-18||Chiefs -3.5 v. Broncos||Top||27-23||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
The set-up: The Chiefs are 3-0 and feature the most explosive offense in the league. While the defense has been a weak point, KC catches a break this week facing the inconsistent Broncos. I think the Chiefs keep the foot on the gas in Week 4 and pull away down the stretch for a comfortable cover.
The teams: KC is seventh in total offense with 398.3 YPG.Denver is 21st in the league in pass defense, allowing 262.7 YPG through the air. The Chiefs already have 15 pass plays that covered at least 20 yards this season. Broncos’ QB Case Keenum has three TD’s and five INT’s and his passing yards have declined each week (last week he was 22 of 34 for 173 yards and an INT in the loss to the Ravens.)
The pick: The Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last five MNF contests, while Denver is just 2-7-2 ATS in its last 11 MNF appearances. Lay the points and expect a rout, play on Kansas City.
|09-30-18||Ravens v. Steelers -3||Top||26-14||Loss||-115||80 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: Pittsburgh comes in off a big win over the Bucs last week, but it’ll still be desperate to avoid a 1-3 start. Baltimore though has struggled on the road over the last few years and after beating the Broncos at home last week, I think it’ll predictably stumble here.
The teams: Ravens’ RB Alex Collins has yet to post a 100 yard game and Baltimore ranks among the worst rushing offenses in the league. QB Joe Flacco continues to look decent one game and horrible the next. Pittsburgh has struggled against the run, but Baltimore’s one-dimensional offense isn’t going to fool the home side I don’t think tonight.
Pittsburgh had/has plenty of off-field drama to contend with with player hold-outs, but it took a big step in the right direction in last weeks convincing victory over Tampa Bay. Big Ben looked sharp under center and I think the pivot carries that momentum over here.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Baltimore is just 1-4 ATS in its last five against teams with losing records. I think Flacco struggles in this difficult venue and I look for Roethlisberger and company to step up on the National stage. Lay the points.
|09-30-18||49ers v. Chargers -10||Top||27-29||Loss||-110||76 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in at 1-2 and each will be hungry for a victory here. The only difference is, the 49ers lost the services of starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the remainder of the season to injury last week. I think veteran QB Phillip Rivers takes full advantage and puts the pressure on the visitors from start to finish.
The teams: San Fran enters off a 38-27 loss to KC. Not only is Garoppolo out, but so too is defensive specialist Richard Sherman with a quad injury.
LA comes in off a 12 point loss to the Rams. Rivers already has 906 yards, eight TD’s and one INT, while Melvin Gordon has 172 yards and two scores on the ground. WR Keenan Allen has 219 receiving yards and a TD as well.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but LA is 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine after allowing more than 30 points in its previous game, while San Fran is interestingly just 1-8 ATS in its last nine after posting more than 150 yards rushing in its previous outing. Look for the Chargers to go straight for the jugular. Lay the points.
|09-30-18||Dolphins +7.5 v. Patriots||Top||7-38||Loss||-140||72 h 20 m||Show|
The set-up: Miami is 3-0 to open the season and it’ll be looking to kick New England when its down. The Pats enter off a horrible 26-10 road loss to Detroit and I think they’re ripe for the picking here. The outright isn’t out of the question. Note that New England took the first game last season 35-17, before the Fish countered with a 27-20 home win in the second.
The teams: Miami’ QB Ryan Tannehill had 289 passing yards and three TD’s in a victory over the Raiders. He now has 687 passing yards and a 7:2 TD/INT. WR Kenny Still had 61 receiving yards last week and overall he has 184. Miami is averaging 25 PPG and it’s allowing 17.3 (good for sixth.)
New England’s season will essentially be over if it falls to 1-3. Miami can smell the blood in the water and will look to take advantage of a Patriots team which is averaging 19 PPG and allowing 25.7 (21st overall).
The pick: Take it for what you will, but the Pats are just 1-4 ATS in their last five after posting less than 150 passing yards in their previous game, while the Fish are 4-1 ATS in their last five following a SU victory. “The Changing Of The Guard” is happening right before our eyes. Get ready for it. But grab the points just in case!
|09-30-18||Texans v. Colts -1||Top||37-34||Loss||-120||72 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: Houston enters off a 27-22 home loss to the Giants, while Indianapolis returns home after a 20-16 loss to the Eagles. Note that the Colts took both meetings from the Texans last year. And that was without Andrew Luck. The teams: While the Texans rank eighth in the NFL in YPG with an average of 396.3, that production has not translated into much scoring so far. Houston is essentially already out of playoff contention after starting the year 0-3. QB DeShaun Watson has a 5:3 TD/INT. Last week the defense surrendered 379 total yards. The Texans average 19.7 points and they allow 24.7. Indianapolis is averaging 20 PPG and it’s allowing 21. Luck has 662 passing yards and a 5:3 TD/INT. TY Hilton so far has 179 receiving yards. The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Houston is just 4-7 ATS in its last 11 against teams with losing records, while Indianapolis is 6-3 ATS in its last nine against clubs with losing records. With a chance to stick a final nail in the Texans coffin, I look for Luck and the home side to find a way to get the job done here.
|09-30-18||Bills +10.5 v. Packers||Top||0-22||Loss||-120||72 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: Buffalo comes in off a commanding 27-6 road win over Minnesota last week and I think it’ll carry that confidence and momentum over here. Green Bay comes in dejected after it’s 31-17 road loss to Washington.
The teams: Buffalo is averaging 16.7 PPG and it’s allowing 28. Those numbers are a bit skewed though I think after two really horrible games to open the season. With QB Josh Allen finally getting comfortable, clearly the Bills looked a lot better last week. Allen was 15 of 22 for 196 yards, one TD and he also added two more rushing TD’s. The defense also rebounded in a big way and it’ll have some opportunities to make some plays today too I think.
Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers had 265 passing yards with two TD’s. He played with a brace on his knee and he was seen many times hobbling around. The run game mustered a paltry 87 yards. overall the Pack is averaging 23.3 PPG and it’s allowing 27.7.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Green Bay is just 4-9 ATS in its last 13 following a SU loss, while Buffalo is 8-2 ATS in its last ten after allowing less than 15 points in its previous contest. I’ll even recommend “sprinkling a little” on the money line. That said, grab the points!
|09-23-18||Patriots -6 v. Lions||Top||10-26||Loss||-110||125 h 27 m||Show|
The set-up: Detroit is desperate for a win at 0-2, but the Patriots are coming off a humbling 31-20 road loss in Jacksonville and they’ll be eager to deliver the knock-out blow to the Lions here. The teams: NE QB Tom Brady had 234 passing yards and two TD’s last week, but it wasn’t enough as his defense would uncharacteristically struggle. Brady has 511 yards and a 5/1 TD:INT after two weeks. So far the Pats are averaging 23.5 PPG and allowing 25.5. Detroit is averaging 22 PPG and it’s allowing 39 PPG. That’s dead last in the NFL. Last week it allowed 190 rushing to Matt Breida of the 49ers. The pass defense was decent, but No. 1 CB Darius Slay went down with a concussion last week. The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but NE is 6-0 ATS in its last six as a road favorite in the 3.5 to seven points range, while Detroit is just 3-6 ATS in its last nine non-conference games. The Lions’ terrible defensive play is just what the doctor ordered for Brady to get back on track. Lay the points.
|09-23-18||Chargers v. Rams -6.5||Top||23-35||Win||100||121 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: The Chargers rallied for a 31-20 road win in Buffalo last Sunday, while the Rams smashed the Cardinals 34-0. The teams: The Chargers got back on track defensively and into the win column against an inept Bills team, but in Week 1 against the Chiefs they looked horrible. On both sides of the ball. And now the Bolts face last year’s No. 1 offense. So far the Chargers are averaging 29.5 PPG and allowing 29. The Rams are averaging 33.5 PPG and allowing 6.5. That’s No. 1 in the league. Jared Goff and Gurley form a difficult “one, two-punch.” LA was able to rest many of its starters in last week’s blowout victory. The pick: This game features a couple of great running backs and two dynamic QB’s. But the Rams have the far superior defense and special teams. They also have the home field advantage. This is a statement game for the Rams and I look for them put on a show. Lay the points.
|09-23-18||Colts +7 v. Eagles||Top||16-20||Win||100||118 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: Indianapolis comes in off a 21-9 road win over Washington and I think it’ll be able to keep this one competitive as well against an Eagles team which comes in off a 27-21 loss to Tampa Bay. The teams: Colts’ QB Andrew Luck had 179 passing yards, two TD’s and two INT’s last week. TY Hilton had seven catches for 83 yards. So far the Colts are averaging 22 PPG, while allowing 21.5. Last week the defense was especially sharp in not allowing a TD. The Eagles are averaging 19.5 PPG and they’re also allowing 19.5. QB Carson Wentz makes his debut (finally), but clearly the pivot is going to have to go through some “growing pains” before obtaining his previous form. Philadelphia looked horrible against the pass last week, giving up 402 yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Indianapolis is 6-3 ATS in its last nine non-conference games, while Philadelphia is just 2-3 ATS in its last five as a favorite in the 3.5 to 9.5 points range. I think Luck keeps this one close. Grab the points.
|09-23-18||Broncos +5.5 v. Ravens||Top||14-27||Loss||-110||118 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: Baltimore comes in deflated off a road loss in Cincinnati, while the Broncos come in “under the radar” at 2-0. Denver plays its first road game of the season and I think the defensive minded Broncos will keep this one interesting. The teams: Broncos’ RB Phillip Lindsay has posted back-to-back 100 yards games, becoming the first undrafted player in league history to do so. He had a 53 yard run in his team’s 20-19 victory over the Raiders last week. Look for QB Case Keenum to take advantage of a Ravens’ secondary which will be without CB Jimmy Smith (suspension.) Baltimore is allowing almost 170 yards through the air. The Broncos held Oakland to just 92 rushing yards, but gave up 288 passing yards and a TD through the air. Baltimore gave up four sacks in the loss to the Bengals last week. The Ravens are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on offense, which is third-worst in the NFL. Joe Flacco has been serviceable, but the QB match-up today is definitely a “wash” in my opinion. The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Baltimore is 0-3 ATS in its last three as a home favorite in the 3.5 to 7 points range. I think Denver’s defense is a difference maker in this one. Grab the points and expect a “nail biter.”
|09-23-18||Giants v. Texans -6||Top||27-22||Loss||-102||118 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: This is going to be a war. New York is 0-2 and Houston is 0-2. The Giants fell 20-13 to the Cowboys last week, while the Texans lost 20-17 to Tennessee. The teams: Giants’ QB Eli Manning had 279 passing yards, but he was also sacked six times. So far Manning has 503 passing yards with one TD and one INT. RB Saquon Barkley was shut down, finishing with just 28 yards on 11 carries last week. Overall the Giants are averaging just 14 PPG. The defense has been a bright spot, allowing 20 PPG so far. Texans’ QB DeShaun Watson has looked a lot better than his counterpart in the early going, last week he had 310 passing yards with two TD’s and an INT. Overall he has 486 passing yards and a 3/2 TD:INT. Lamar Miller was a bright spot last week as well with 68 yards on 14 carries. The Texans only scored 17 points last week, but the unit did produce 437 total yards. The pick: Houston’s offensive yardage production so far hasn’t led to a lot of points, but I expect that trend to start normalizing itself here. The Giants have been decent defensively, but I think the unit takes a step back this week in this difficult road venue. Look for Watson to finally have his break out game and lay the points.
|09-17-18||Seahawks v. Bears -3||Top||17-24||Win||100||34 h 59 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams come in at 0-1 and only one will leave this contest with a victory. I think that home field will prove to be the difference for Chicago.
The teams: Seattle threw everything it had on the line in Week 1, but it still came up short in a 27-24 setback in Denver. The offense lost star WR Doug Baldwin to injury and his return in unknown at this point. RB Chris Carson had 51 yards, but no receiver caught more than four passes. QB Russell Wilson had 298 yards, three TD’s and two INT’s, but he was just 19 of 33 overall.
The Bears lost 24-23 in Green Bay. The defense looked great until the final moments when it gave up a 75 yard TD strike to Randall Cobb. QB Mitch Trubisky had 171 passing yards and 32 yards and a TD on the ground. RB Jordan Howard at 85 yards on 15 carries. Khalil Mack put on a show defensively and I think he’s going to have a big night here as well against the Seahawks’ suspect O-line.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Chicago is 9-3-1 ATS in its last 13 at home (also 6-2 ATS in its last eight MNF contests), while Seattle is interestingly 0-4 ATS in its last four Week 2 contests. The Hawks were a terrible 2 for 12 on third down against the Broncos and now they face a similar swarming defensive unit. I like Trubisky to find a way to get the job done at home. Lay the points.
|09-16-18||Giants +3 v. Cowboys||Top||13-20||Loss||-104||34 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: Both teams looked terrible last week. This one has the feel of a “chess match,” one which is going to be decided by whichever side has its hands on the ball last. In a scenario like that, I’m going to grab the points every time.
The teams: New York lost 20-15 at home to Jacksonville. RB Saquon Barkley was a stand out with 106 yards and a TD. Eli Manning had 223 yards, no TD’s and an INT. The veteran should make significant progression as the season wears on though. The defense was sharp overall, allowing just 305 yards.
Dallas looked horrible offensively in Week 1 and it all falls onto QB Dak Prescott’s shoulders. He was 19 of 29 for 17 yards. He also lost a fumble. He was also sacked six times. The beleaguered Cowboys’ QB is getting progressively worse with each outing as he’s now thrown for 200 yards or less in seven of his past nine games.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Dallas is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven at home, while New York is interestingly 4-1 ATS in its last five Week 2 contests. The Jags have one of the best defensive units in the league, but New York faces a much more manageable opponent this week. The outright isn’t out of the question, but I’m going to grab the points.
|09-16-18||Lions +7 v. 49ers||Top||27-30||Win||100||30 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: I like the Lions to bounce back on the road here after a tough setback in Week 1. The 49ers also lost in Week 1 and I think they’re ripe for the picking.
The teams: Detroit was humbled 48-17 last week and new head coach Pat Patricia is already on the hot seat. The Lions would give up 31 third-quarter points: “It came to a point there in the third quarter where we just didn’t have control anymore in all three phases,” Patricia assessed. “We just have to do a better job. Obviously, we have to coach this a lot better than what we did tonight and we have to go out and execute a lot better on the field. We have to do a better job altogether. It starts with me.” QB Matt Stafford had 286 yards, while the defense allowed 169 rushing yards.
San Francisco didn’t look too much better in its 24-16 loss at Minnesota. QB Jimmy Garoppolo looked poor, going 15 of 33 for 261 yards, one TD and three INT’s. Is there any QB more over-rated than this guy? The 49ers finished with just 13 points on four trips inside the Red Zone. The team lost the services of WR Marquise Goodwin to injury also.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but San Francisco is just 5-11 ATS in its last 16 at home and only 1-4 ATS in its last five as a favorite. I expect a hard-fought battle, one which will likely be decided by whichever of these hungry sides has its hands on the ball last. Grab the points.
|09-16-18||Panthers +7 v. Falcons||Top||24-31||Push||0||27 h 60 m||Show|
The set-up: The Falcons have been over-rated for quite some time in my estimation. Atlanta had several chances to deliver the knock out blow to Eagles in Week 1, but the offense stalled in the Red Zone on three different occasions, with the visitors coming up completely empty. With that loss still on their minds, I think the Falcons are ripe for the picking here. The Panthers will be happy to oblige as they look to move to 2-0 and gain an early critical victory over a divisional foe.
The teams: Carolina prevailed 16-8 against Dallas last week, holding the Cowboys to 0 for 5 on third down in the first half. Cam Newton had his hands full for the most of the game, but he made some big plays when he needed too. And now he faces a much more suspect defensive unit in the Falcons.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan had 251 yards, no TD’s and an INT in last week’s 18-12 loss at Philadelphia. The defense looked decent, but the book is still out on the Eagles offense at this point, so it’s hard to read too much into what the Falcons’ unit did in Week 1.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Carolina is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 on the road, while Atlanta is just 12-13 ATS in its last 25 as a favorite. Grab the points, play on Carolina.
|09-10-18||Jets v. Lions -6.5||Top||48-17||Loss||-110||32 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: The Jets turn to rookie QB Sam Darnold in Week 1 and while the sky could in fact be the limit for the red-headed pivot, I think he’ll stumble trying to match pace with Lions’ veteran Matt Stafford. The teams: In three exhibition games Darnold went 29 of 45 for 244 yards and two TD’s with an INT. The Jets have talent, but no big names. Jermaine Kearse had 65 catches for 810 yards last year, but note that he could be unable to play in Week 1 due to an injury he suffered in the preseason. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell lead a decent ground game. The defense was a strength for New York last year and the unit should be again this season as well. Matt Patricia takes over as head coach for the Lions, as he looks to get the team over the hump. Stafford finished with 4,449 yards, 29 TD’s and ten INT’s last season. LeGarrette Blount was signed in the offseason and he’s expected to bolster a run game which was severely lacking last year. Also note that both of Stafford’s 1,000 yard receivers return in Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate. The pick: Take it for what you will as well but Detroit is 5-1 ATS in its last six Monday Night Football games, while New York is 0-4-1 ATS in its last five road games as an underdog in the 3.5 to ten points range. Lay the points and expect a rout. Play on Detroit.
|09-09-18||Chiefs v. Chargers -3||Top||38-28||Loss||-122||149 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: KC won the AFC West last year with a 10-6 record, but then it fell 22-21 at home to Tennessee in the Wild Card round. LA went 9-7 last year, but missed the playoffs. Note that this a “double revenge” game for the Chargers though after the Chiefs took both games last season. The teams: Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes was 22 of 35 for 284 yards, no TD’s and an INT in his limited time last year. KC’s ground game looks strong though with Kareem Hunt, who had 1,327 rushing yards and eight scores, along with 53 catches for 455 yards and three more TD’s. Travis Kelce will also be leaned upon heavily after finishing with 1,038 yards and eight TD’s last season. The Chargers go with veteran QB Philip Rivers, who had 4,515 yards, 28 TD’s and ten INT’s last year. RB Melvin Gordon had 1,105 rushing yards and eight TD’s, along with 476 receiving yards and another four TD’s. WR Keenan Allen had 1,393 yards receiving and six TD’s. The pick: Take it for what you will, but the Chargers are 5-0-1 ATS in their last six Week 1 games and 4-1 ATS in their last five home games overall, while KC is just 1-4 ATS in its last five on the road. I’m banking on Rivers easily out duelling Mahomes. Lay the points.
|09-09-18||49ers v. Vikings -4.5||Top||16-24||Win||100||1369 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: Kick Cousins makes his Vikings debut against the 49ers and QB Jimmy Garappolo. The 49ers blew up their team after ten games last year and they never looked back with Garappolo under center. That said, I think he’ll be in for a rude awakening at what will undoubtedly be a rowdy atmosphere at the US Bank Stadium.
The teams: Garoppolo was 5-0 as a starter for San Francisco last year. It was an unbelievable run, but regression seems imminent in my opinion.
The Vikings possessed the best defensive unit in the league last year, one which was even better in front of the home town crowd.
The pick: This is an “early,” release, so I plan on updating my analysis as we get closer to game time. However, over the time of this release and when this one kicks off, I do indeed expect this line to climb. Normally at this time of year the defensive units are many steps ahead of the offensive side and that’s exactly what I’m expecting in this one. Combined with the competent Cousins and a Vikings team looking to take out its frustrations after the loss in the NFC Championship Game last year, this one has “blowout” written all over it in my opinion. Lay the points, play on the Vikes.
|09-09-18||Steelers v. Browns +6||Top||21-21||Win||100||146 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: Many will be on Pittsburgh here I think. But the Browns looked sharp in the preseason with their “new look” line-up and I think they’ll keep this one interesting late. The Steelers were 13-3 last year, while Cleveland was 0-16. Not surprisingly this is indeed a “revenge” game for the Browns, who lost both games last season.
The teams: The Steelers averaged 25.4 PPG last year and allowed 19.3. Ben Roethlisberger is back under center, and Le’Veon Bell is back as RB. Note Bell did not play in a single preseason game, the same as last year.
The Browns have plenty of new weapons on both sides of the ball and up and down the lines. Tyrod Taylor had 2,799 passing yards with a 14:4 TD/INT ratio last year for the Bills, as well as adding 427 rushing yards. Taylor, along with RB Carlos Hyde and WR Josh Gordon present a difficult challenge for anyone. In 11 games last year Myles Garrett made seven sacks, but the talented defender now comes into this season at 100% health finally.
The pick: While they did lose both games to the Steelers last year, the Browns would make it competitive each time, falling 28-24 and 21-18. When the smoke clears at the end of this one I think we’ll see similarly hard-fought battle. Grab the points.
|09-09-18||Titans v. Dolphins||Top||20-27||Loss||-125||146 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: The Titans finished 9-7 last year and they beat the Chiefs 22-21 in the Wild card round of the playoffs, before then falling 35-14 to New England in the Divisional round. The Fish were just 6-10 last year, but with the return of QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami is hoping for a return to the postseason. Tannehill though lacks talent around him and I think the “deeper” Titans will pull away down the stretch.
The teams: Tennessee’ QB Marcus Mariota had 3,232 yards with 13 TDs and 15 INTs last season. He also had 312 yards and five scores on the ground. RB Derrick Henry leads the ground attack after DeMarco Murray retired and he had 744 yards and five TD’s last year.
Tannehill makes his first appearance since 2016, when he went for 2,995 yards 19 TD’s and 12 INT’s. Kenyan Drake had 644 yards and three TD’s rushing last year, while WR Danny Amendola had 659 yards and two TD’s.
The pick: For this pick I’m going to focus on the starting QB’s and while Tannehill could be the saviour once again for Miami, I think Marriota is the correct call here. The Titans’ pivot comes off a very successful season and he should only be better again this year under the same system. This one has blowout written all over it, play on Tennessee.
|02-04-18||Eagles +5.5 v. Patriots||Top||41-33||Win||100||314 h 58 m||Show|
The set-up: The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles meet Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52. It's common knowledge that the Patriots have a chance to win the sixth Super Bowl title in franchise history, all of which have come since the 2001 NFL season, during the Belichick and Brady era. Meanwhile, the Eagles are looking for the first Super Bowl title in franchise history (lost to the Raiders in Super Bowl and the Pats in Super Bowl), as well as the franchise's first NFL championship since the 1960 season. That team beat Lombardi's Packers, handing the coaching legend his only postseason loss (9-1). Both teams went 13-3 SU, with the Pats going 11-5 ATS and the Eagles, 10-6.
Philadelphia: Carson Wentz was a MVP candidate before getting hurt in Week 15. Nick Foles has endured an uneven ride as his replacement. while filling in for the injured Carson Wentz. He replaced an injured Wentz against the Giants and completed 24 of 38 with four TD passes but then was a combined 23 of 49 for 202 yards (one TD / two INTs) in Weeks 16 & 17. However, he completed 23-of-30 passes for 246 yards in the 15-10 win over the Falcons and then 'exploded' in the NFC championship game romp over the Vikings. Foles completed 26 of 33 for 352 yards with three TDs and zero INTs, giving him a 141.4 QB rating. He's backed by a solid running game that averaged 132.3 YPG on the ground during the regular season, 3rd-best in the NFL. Jay Ajayi stumbled out of the blocks with a fumble on his first carry against Atlanta, before finishing with 54 yards rushing and 44 receiving on three catches. He then ran for 73 yards vs. the Vikings and caught three more passes for 26 yards. He has become Philadelphia's top option out of the backfield following an in-season trade with Miami, although LeGarrette Blount (team-high 776 yards in the regular season) had a rushing TD in each of Philly's two playoff wins. Philly owns an excellent defense. It ranked 4th in scoring (18.4 PPG) and total D (306.5 YPG) during the regular season and held Matt Ryan and the Falcons scoreless in the second half of that divisional round win and to just 10 points for the game on just 281 yards. It then followed by allowing the game's first TD against the Vikings, before shutting them out the remainder of the game.
New England: Brady had another remarkable season (4,577 passing yards with 32 TDs and just eight INTs for a 102.8 QB rating), as the Pats led the NFL in total offense (394.2 YPG) and scored the second-most points at 28.6 PPG. Brady owns the most postseason wins in history and added to his playoff legacy vs the Titans by passing for more than 300 yards (337) for the 13th time and surpassing Joe Montana with his 10th three-touchdown performance. Brady and his "injured" right hand then led the Pats to two 4th-quarter TDs in coming back from 20-10 down against the Jags, to win 24-20. He was 26 of 38 for 290 yards with two TDs, zero INTs and a 108.4 QB against Jacksonville's dominant defense, giving him his 27th postseason win. Four New England players had at least 56 catches in the regular season with TE Rob Gronkowski topping the list with 69 receptions (15.7 YPC) and eight TDs. Gronk was KO'd against heh Jags but is expected to be back. However, in Gronk's absence, Cooks had six catches for 100 yards and Amendola had seven catches fo 84 yards, including both TDs in the fourth quarter. RB Dion Lewis had rushed for at least 60 yards in seven of his last eight games but was held to 34 yards. However, he caught seven passes against the Jags, after catching nine against the Titans. New England finished the season allowing 18.5 PPG but it allowed 32.0 PPG through its first four games, before allowing only just 14.0 PPG over its last 12. In two playoff wins, the Pats then held the Titans to just 14 points and 267 yards and the Jags to 20 points (just two FGs in the second half).
The pick: Physical play still matters in this league and the Eagles have the edge in that department. The Patriots famously use a committee in the backfield (although Lewis has been the "main man" lately) and it's hard to ignore that the Eagles led the NFL against the run, allowing just 79.2 YPG. They then held Atlanta and Minnesota to a combined 156 yards in the two playoff wins. Philly can lean on Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount against a New England rush D that allowed 4.71 yards per rush, second most in the NFL. Ajayi, who ran for more than 1,000 yards with the Dolphins last year, was traded to Philly in October and had an impressive 5.8 yards per carry while sharing the workload with Blount, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Pats last year and is an excellent short-yardage (goal-line) runner. Of course, no one is comparing Foles with Brady but he has completed 77.8 percent of his passes in two playoff wins, without an INT in 63 attempts. Also, just how does one ignore that the first five Belichick/Brady Super Bowls were decided by four points or less, before last year's game ended in OT, with the Pats winning by six. Take the points and make Philly a 10* play.
|01-21-18||Vikings v. Eagles +3.5||Top||7-38||Win||100||165 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Vikings were 8-8 in 2016 and the Philadelphia Eagles went 7-9. However, each went 13-3 during the 2017 season and after both escaped with wins last weekend, the two will meet in the NFC championship game this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field (note: The Eagles won the tie break over the Vikings based on best win percentage in common games). Minnesota earned a stunning last-second comeback 29-24 victory over the Saints to reach this game (do I really need to recap it?), while the Eagles benefited from a late defensive stand to fend off Atlanta, 15-10. From the "you can't make this stuff up" department, we have the following. Nick Foles was traded from Philly to the Rams for Sam Bradford, who was later traded to Minnesota, where he started in ahead of Case Keenum before he got hurt. Now Foles is back in Philly and will lead the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, where he will face the Vikings, whose two QBs are Keenum (now the starter) and Bradford (injured).
Minnesota: Case Keenum entered this season with a 9-15 record as a starting QB but has thrived as Minnesota's starter in 2017, after Bradford was lost to an injury. He threw for career-high 3,547 yards 22 touchdowns and seven INTs for a 98.3 QB rating. He then threw for 318 yards against the Saints with his only TD pass coming on that game's final play. It will be forever known as the "Minneapolis Miracle," a 61-yard scoring pass to Stefon Diggs which gave the Vikings a 29-24 triumph over the Saints. Diggs overcame a slow start to finish with six catches for 137 yards and a TD against the Saints, giving him 28 receptions and four scores in his last five games. Fellow WR Adam Thielen (team-leading 91 catches for 1,276 yards) finished with six receptions versus New Orleans. The Vikings running game was solid this season (122.3 YPG ranked 7th) but was held to just 95 yards vs. the Saints. However, Latavius Murray rushed for a touchdown last week to increase his total to 22 since 2016 (including playoff games). Minnesota's defense could not stop the Saints in the second half (after shutting them out in the first half) but on the season ranked No. 1 in the NFL in both scoring D (15.8 PPG) and total D (275.9 YPG).
Philadelphia; Nick Foles has endured an uneven ride while filling in for the injured Carson Wentz. He repalced an injured Wentz against teh Giants and completed 24 of 38 with four TD passes but then was a combined 23 of 49 for 202 yards (one TD / two INTs) in Weeks 16 & 17). He hadn't given Philly's fickle fans much to cheer about in leading the Eagles to just 16 points in their last nine quarters of the regular season. However, he completed 23-of-30 passes for 246 yards in the 15-10 win over the Falcons. He's backed by a solid running game that averaged 132.3 YPG on the ground during the regular season, 3rd-best in the NFL. Jay Ajayi stumbled out of the blocks with a fumble on his first carry last week before finishing with 54 yards rushing and 44 receiving on three catches. He has become Philadelphia's top option out of the backfield following an in-season trade with Miami, although LeGarrette Blount (team-high 776 yards in the regular season) scored the only Philly TD vs. the Falcons. Like Minnesota, Philly owns an excellent defense. It ranked 4th in scoring (18.4 PPG) and total D (306.5 YPG) during the regular season and held Matt Ryan and the Falcons scoreless in the second half of last weekend's win and to just 10 points for the game on just 281 yards.
The pick: Minnesota is hoping to snap a string of five straight losses in the NFC championship game and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl XI (note: The Vikings are 0-4 all-time in Super Bowls). Philadelphia lost its last NFC title game appearance against Arizona in the 2008 season but it did win the last time it hosted the contest (27-10 win over Atlanta, in the 2004 season). Philly fans should be buoyed by the fact that home team has won the last EIGHT conference championship games (AFC and NFC the last four years!). One last thing I picked up from ESPN Stats. The last five NFL teams that won playoff games with a walk-off TD lost their next game, by an average of 23 points! Make Philly an 8* play.
|01-21-18||Jaguars +9.5 v. Patriots||Top||20-24||Win||100||161 h 14 m||Show|
The set-up: No one is surprised that the Pats are once again in the AFC championship game or that they are the AFC's No. 1 seed. After all, this mark the 12th AFC title game in the Belichick/Brady era (seventh at home), including the team's SEVENTH straight appearance in an AFC title game. The Pats are 7-4 SU but just 6-5 ATS in this duos previous 11 appearances, including 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS the six played here in Foxboro. The same thing can't be said for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who when from last (3-13) in the AFC South in 2016 to first (10-6) in 2017 and then has beaten the Bills (10-3) and Steelers (45-42) to advance to the franchise's third-ever AFC title game (previous appearances came in 1996 and 1999). However, Bill Belichick dismissed the idea that the been-there-won-that factor gives his team a huge edge. "I don’t think experience has anything to do with that," Belichick, who has guided New England to seven Super Bowls - winning five - since 2001, told reporters. "It is what happens Sunday, not what happened last year, two years ago, five years ago, 15 years ago, 1996 or whatever it is. Those games don’t make any difference, with all due respect."
Jacksonville: The Jags played what many people called an "unwatchable" game in edging the Bills 10-3 in the wild card round but are brimming with confidence in the wake of last week's 45-42 win at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh. Jacksonville featured the league's top-ranked rushing attack in the regular season (159.5 YPG on 4.6 YPC) led by rookie Leonard Fournette (1,40 yards and nine rushing TDs), who ran for 109 yards and three TDs last week. QB Blake Bortles was close to being benched in the preseason but with no other real options, the Jags stuck with him. He was nothing special this season but did cut down on his mistakes in leading the team to a 10-4 record but he then rasied concerns by throwing five INTs in the season's final two games. However, while he's completed just 53.1 percent of his passes in the two playoff wins, he has not committed a turnover. The Jaguars' D has been excellent all season, surrendering a league-low 169.9 YPG passing while ranking second in sacks (55) and interceptions (21). Overall, the defense ranked second in total D (286.1 YPG) and scoring D (16.8 PPG).
New England: That Jacksonville D will be tested by Brady, who had another remarkable season (4,577 passing yards with 32 TDs and just eight INTs for a 102.8 QB rating). The Pats led the NFL in total offense (394.2 YPG) and scored the second-most points at 28.6 PPG. Brady owns the most postseason wins (26) in history and added to his playoff legacy last week, passing for more than 300 yards (337) for the 13th time and surpassing Joe Montana with his 10th three-touchdown performance. RB Dion Lewis (896 yards on 5.0 YPC in the regular season) has rushed for at least 60 yards in seven of his last eight games and added a season-high nine catches last week. Four New England players have at least 56 catches with TE Rob Gronkowski toppomh the list with 69 receptions (15.7 YPC) and eight TDs. He has 34 receptions and four TDs over his last four contests. The New England finsihed teh season allowing 18.5 PPG but it allwed 32.0 PPG through its first four games, before allowing only just 14.0 PPG over ist last 12. The Pats then held the Titans to just 14 points and 267 yards last weekend.
The pick: The Patriots are 6-1 in AFC title games at home(5-1 under Belichick/Brady) and have won 10 of their 11 all-time meetings with Jacksonville.However, as everyone knows, the status of Brady's right hand is an unknown factor. He may be just fine but then again...Either way, this Jacksonville defense gives the Jags a "punchers chance," as the three teams that beat the Pats this season were able to rush Brady, force mistakes and prevent the offense from getting in a groove. The Jags are certainly capable of doing just that. Jacksonville led the NFL with seven defensive TDs during the regular season and added another score versus Pittsburgh. The Jags' pass D held opposing QBs to a league-low 56.8 completion percentage and a league-low QB rating of 68.5. I'm taking the big points and making the Jags a 10* play.
|01-14-18||Saints +4 v. Vikings||Top||24-29||Loss||-110||161 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: The Saints visited Minnesota in Week 1 of the 2017 season and the Vikings came away with a 29-19 victory. The two teams meet again Sunday in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs, after both teams captured their respective divisions. The Saints won the NFC South and then edged the Carolina Panters 31-26 in last weekend's wild card round, setting up this re-match with the 13-3 Minnesota Vikings, winners of the NFC North and owners of the No. 2 seed. In most cases, the Saints and Vikings would take a strong look at their Week 1 matchup as they prepare for Sunday's NFC playoff game but taht won't be the case here. Both teams have undergone significant changes since that Sep. 11th meeting. Minnesota QB Sam Bradford completed 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards and three TDs that one, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. However, Bradford played only a single half the rest of the season, as Case Keenum has replaced injured Bradford and put himself in MVP consideration.
As for New Orleans, the Saints jettisoned former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson after a miserable four-game run and have thrived with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara, becoming one of the league's most dangerous running back duos.
New Orleans: Drew Brees completed 23 of 33 last Sunday for 376 yards with two TDs and one INT. He made up for a Minnesota running game which struggled, as Kamara led the team in rushing with 23 yards on 10 carries with Mark Ingram adding just 22 yards on nine carries. That's not indicative of that duo's play during the regular season, as Ingram ran for a career-high 1,124 yards (12 TDs) and Kamara added 728 yards (8 TDs) plus had 81 catches for another five scores. Michael Thomas was the team's leading receiver on the season (104 catches) and led the team with eight catches for 131 yards, while Ted Ginn Jr. (53 catches) added four catches and a TD. The Saints made great strides defensively this season but couldn't stop Cam Newton (349 yards and two TD passes), as the Panthers rolled up 413 total yards.
Minnesota: Case Keenum came into this season 9-15 as an NFL starter but became a dark-horse MVP candidate after recording career highs in completions (325), attempts (481), yards (3,547), touchdowns (22) and passer rating (98.3) while posting an 11-3 mark as a starter. The QB position wasn't Minnesota's only notable change from the season opener ,as Latavius Murray's workload was nondescript before impressive rookie Dalvin Cook saw his season end due to an ACL injury. Murray recorded eight TDs in his last 10 games of the season (finished with 842 yards rushing), while fellow RB Jerick McKinnon (570 yards rushing) caught 43 of his 51 receptions over the last 12 games. Minnesota ended the regular season averaging 122.3 YPG on the ground, ranking 7th. WR Stefon Diggs overcame injury issues to catch 64 passes and matched TE Rudolph (57 catches) for a team-high eight TD receptions. Thielen led all Viking receivers with 91 catches and 1,276 receiving yards. Minnesota had a better than expected offense but it was the defense which was he "star of the show," ranking first in the NFL in points allowed (15.8 per) and total defense (275.9 YPG) on the season.
|01-14-18||Jaguars v. Steelers -7||Top||45-42||Loss||-110||158 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: The Jacksonville Jaguars made their first playoff appearance since 2007 last weekend vs. the Buffalo Bills, after winning the franchise's first division title since 1999 by winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record. That Jags were a huge surprise in 2017, as the team entered the season with a pathetic 22-74 (.229) record the previous six seasons. The Jags' 10-3 victory over the Bills was generally said to be "unwatchable" at times but so be it, the Jags will head to Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Sunday with a chance to advance to the AFC championship game. The postseason is nothing new to the Steelers, as Pittsburgh is in the playoffs for the 8th time in Mike Tomlin's 11 years as the team's head coach. A highly controversial 27-24 home loss to the Patriots in Week 15, is the only thing keeping the 13-3 Steelers from being the AFC's no. 1 seed (that loss cost them the tie-breaker with the 13-3 Pats). However, Pittsburgh could just as easily blame its 30-9 Week 5 home loss to Jacksonville as the culprit for failing to earn the No. 1 seed.
Jacksonville: Blake Bortles was almost replaced as the team's starting QB in the preseason but the Jags really had no "Plan B." The former UCF star had a solid season, keeping his TOs to a minimum (21-13 ratio) and benefiting from the NFL's No. 1 ground game. The Jags averaged 141.4 YPG in the regular, led by rookie Leonard Fournette (1,040 yards and 9 TDs but just 3.9 YPC). The Jacksonville offense kept putting its defense in trouble last season but that all changed in 2017. The Jags' D is the reason this team went 10-4 to clinch its playoff berth. The Jags did lose their final two games but the defense still ended the regular season second in both scoring D (16.8 PPG) and total D (286.1 YPG). The defense showed up last week vs. Buffalo, holding the Bills to 263 yards and only a mere FG. However, the Jags' offense was awful, Leonard Fournette had just 57 rushing yards on 21 carries in his playoff debut and Blake Bortle's passing numbers were just plain 'ugly!' He was 12 of 23 for a pathetic 87 yards (76.8 QB rating, although he did pass for the game's lone TD (did not throw a pick) and added a game-high 88 yards rushing. Still, one wonders how the Jags will fare against Pittsburgh's defense?
Pittsburgh. The 2017 Steelers' D is not the dominant "Steel Curtain" of years past but it's a quality stop-unit allowing 19.2 PPG (7th) on 306.9 YPG (5th), while leading the NFL with 56 sacks. After that 30-9 loss to the Jags, Pittsburgh won 10 of its last 11 games down the stretch to finish 13-3. Ben Roethlisberger completed 64.2% for 4,251 yards with 28 TDs and 14 interceptions. RB Le’Veon Bell led the team with 1,291 rushing yards (9 TDs) plus caught 85 balls for two TDs. WR Antonio Brown led Pittsburgh’s receiving corps with 101 catches for 1,533 yards and 9 TDs, despite sitting out Weeks 16 & 17. JuJu Smith-Schuster chipped in 917 receiving yards and seven TDs in his 58 catches. He had 15 receptions and two TDs in the final two weeks with Brown sidelined.
The pick: Roethlisberger wondered aloud "if he still had it" when meeting with reporters after that 30-9 Week 5 loss to the Jags. He had thrown five interceptions in that contest, two of which were returned for TDs by the Jags. However, Big Ben would throw 22 TDs and just seven INTs over his final 10- games, then sat out Week 17. He's still "got it" plus owns arguably the NFL's best all-around RB in Bell and its best WR in Brown. That's not to mention an always excellent defense to "have his back." Pittsburgh owns the most playoff victories in league-history at 36, while Jacksonville's 10-3 win over Buffalo was just the team's second playoff win in the new millennium. It's Big Ben vs. Blake Bortles! You make the call? Then again, let me. Make Pittsburgh an 8* play.
|01-07-18||Bills +9 v. Jaguars||Top||3-10||Win||100||117 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-7 Buffalo Bills visit the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC Wild Card matchup in Sunday's first game. I doubt there is anyone not aware that the Bills will be making their first postseason appearance since 1999, ending the longest playoff drought in the NFL, as well as in all four major sports. The last time the Bills made the playoffs the team became victim of "The Music City Miracle." Google this if you need a refresher. Buffalo ended its playoff drought by benefiting from a minor miracle of its own, when the Bengals beat the Ravens by connecting on a 49-yard TD pass with 44 seconds remaining, on a 4th-and-12 play last Sunday! The 10-6 Jacksonville Jaguars will be making their first playoff appearance since 2007, with their first AFC South championship and speaking of 1999, the team's first division title since that 1999 season. The Jags' playoff drought was just nine seasons but entered this season without a single winning season in the span. In fact, the Jags opened the 2017 season with a pathetic 22-74 (.229) record the previous six seasons.
Buffalo: It's safe to say the Bills are hardly "all in" on QB Tyrod Taylor (see the Nathan Petrerman 'experiment') but h'es completing 62.6% with 14 TDs and just four INTs (in 420 attempts). He can extend plays with his mobility and has run for 427 yards (5.1 YPC) but Buffalo ranks 31st in passing yards at 176.6 per game. LeSean McCoy rushed for 1,138 yards and a team-high six rushing touchdowns plus was also the team's leading pass-catcher with 59 receptions. Buffalo ranks sixth in rushing yards at 126.14 YPG but that's down almost 40 YPG from 2016, when the team led the NFL with 164.4 YPG on the ground. Buffalo's D is no better than average, allowing 22.4 PPG (18th).
Jacksonville: Blake Bortles was almost replaced as the team's starting QB in the preseason but the Jags really had no "Plan B." The former UCF star had a solid season, keeping his TOs to a minimum (21-13 ratio) and benefiting from the NFL's No. 1 ground game. The Jags average 141.4 YPG, led by rookie Leonard Fournette (1,040 yards and 9 TDs but just 3.9 YPC). Marqise Lee led the team with 56 catches but he has an ankle issue and no other player has as many as 45 catches. The Jacksonville offense kept putting its defense in trouble last season but that all changed ion 2017. The Jags' D is the reason this team went 10-4 to clinch its playoff berth. The Jags did lose their final two games but the defense still ended the regular season second in both scoring D (16.8 PPG) and total D (286.1 YPG).
The pick: The Jacksonville Pass D has been terrific, holding opposing QBs to 56.8% completions and a QB rating of just 68.5 (No. 1 in both categories). The Jags' 55 sacks rank second to only Pittsburgh's 56. Taylor will surely be tested but his counterpart, the Jags' Bortles, is coming off back-to-back games (both losses) in which he threw five INTs, after throwing just eight in the team's 10-4 start. Then there is RB Leonard Fournette, who has only 300 yards rushing on 3.2 YPC over his last four games. Getting back to Buffalo QB Taylor, I may like him more than Buffalo's management does. Expect him to be able improvise and extend plays vs. the Jacksonville pass rushers. Taylor is playing the best football of his career right now, having completed 57 of 94 for 709 yards & two TD passes and no interceptions over the last three games. As for the Buffalo D, it has been strong the last six weeks, except in two games against the Pats and Tom Brady. In the four games against teams NOT led by Brady, Buffalo has allowed just 12.3 PPG. Anyone think Bortles resembles Brady in any way shape or form. Make Buffalo a 10* play.
|01-06-18||Falcons +6.5 v. Rams||Top||26-13||Win||100||100 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: Not many are unaware that the Atlanta Falcons led the New Patriots 28-3 in last year's Super Bowl before a monumental collapse led to the Patriots winning 34-28 in OT. No one knew quite what to expect from the Falcons in 2017 but it was hardly surprise that the team struggled throughout the entire regular season.. In fact, the Falcons were forced into a "must win" situation in Week 17 of this year in order to qualify for the NFC's final playoff berth as the No. 6 seed. The 10-6 Falcons will begin their quest to return to the Super Bowl as the NFC's representative this Saturday night in Los Angeles, when they face the 11-5 Rams, who won the NFC West. The Rams have been one of NFL 2017's biggest surprises, going from 4-12 in 2016 to 11-5 in 2017. The Rams are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, after winning their first NFC West crown since 2003. Atlanta: The Falcons reached the playoffs in the last week of the season with a 22-10 home win over Carolina (actually, Atlanta didn't actually need to win, as Seattle lost at home to Arizona). Matt Ryan threw for 317 yards and a TD on 28 of 45 passing but for the year, came nowhere his MVP numbers of 2016. Ryan threw for 4,095 yards with 20 TDs and 12 INTs, compiling a 91.4 QB rating this season. However, he just missed throwing for 5,000 yards in 2016 (4,944), while throwing 38 TDs against just seven INTs (117.1 QB rating). Freeman and Coleman were once again a very good RB tandem plus Julio Jones (88 catches on 16.4 YPC but just three TDs) remains among the very best WRs in the NFL but after leading the NFL with 33.8 PPG in 2016, the Falcons are a middle-of-the-pack 15th (in a 32-team league) in scoring here in 2017 at 22.1 PPG. Defensively, the Falcons have held their own, allowing 19.7 PPG (8th) on 318.4 YPG (9th). LA Rams: First-year head coach Sean McVay has transformed the Rams, as after LA averaged NFL lows in points (14.0 PPG) and total offense (262.7 YPG) in 2016, this year's team was the NFL's highest scoring team at 29.9 PPG. The Rams are the second team in history to lead the league in scoring, after ranking last the previous season. Jared Goff became an accomplished QB over night (3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a QB rating of 100.5) and RB Todd Gurley could possibly be the 2017 MVP. He has 1,305 yards rushing and 13 rushing TD, sin addition to finishing 2nd on the team in receiving yards with 788 yards with a team-high 64 receptions (plus six more TDs). WR Cooper Kupp led the team with 869 receiving yards on 62 catches (5 TDs), while Robert Woods added 781 yards and 5 TDs on 56 catches. Sammy Watkins caught just 39 passes but leads the team with eight TDs. The offense got most of the glory but LA's defense has allowed 20.6 PPG to rank a respectable 12th. The pick: It’s been a while since the Rams played a postseason game at the venerable Coliseum. The answer to that trivia question would be, the 1978 NFC title games in a 28-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach. Are the 31-year-old MvVay and his second-year QB (Goff) really up to this kind of pressure? Let's not forget that Atlanta's entire season has been about redemption after blowing that 28-3 Super Bowl lead and the Falcons come in having won six of their last eight, with the only two losses coming against division winners Minnesota and New Orleans. 'Matty Ice" is no MVP in 2017 but he's thrown 12 TD passes and just one interception over his last four playoff games. Take the points and make the Falcons an 10* play.
|01-06-18||Titans +9 v. Chiefs||Top||22-21||Win||100||96 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-7 Tennessee Titans are in the postseason for the first time since 2008, earning a wild card bid as the AFC's No. 5 seed. The Titans will head to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday for a game against the 10-6 KC Chiefs, who won the AFC West after a season of streaks (more in a bit). Tennessee has not won a playoff game since 2003 but it's also worth noting that the Chiefs haven't won a home playoff game since Jan. 8, 1994, having lost five straight postseason home contests (OUCH!).
Tennessee: The Titans' offense has shown flashes of brilliance but has been inconsistent. QB Marcus Mariota leads a passing offense that ranks just 23rd in the NFL (199.4 YPG), throwing more interceptions (15) than TD passes (13). His QB rating is awful, at 79.3. Tennessee relies on its running game but after Murray (1,287 yards on 4.4 YPC) led the way in 2016, with the team ranking ranking third with 136.7 YPG (4.6 YPC) on the ground in 2016, things have not gone as well in 2017. Murray has just 659 yards (3.6 YPC!) and while fellow RB Henry (744 yards) has had his moments, the Titans rank just 15th in rushing this season (114.6 YPG), with the team's average falling from 4.6 YPC to 4.1 (that's big!). The Titans are scoring a modest 20.9 PPG (19th) and the defense ranks 17th, allowing 22,2 PPG.
Kansas City: The Chiefs opened the 2017 season by beating the Patriots up in New England in the NFL's Thursday night season opener. Led by veteran QB Alex Smith and rookie RB Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs opened 5-0 SU & ATS. The team then "hit a wall," going 1-6 SU & ATS, before going 4-0 SU &ATS down the stretch. Smith's had a career-season, completing 67.5% for 4,042 yards with 26 TDs and just five INTs (104.7 QB rating). Hunt had a mid-season slump but ran for a league-high 1,327 yards (4.9 YPC with 8 TDs) and caught 53 passes with three more TDs. TE Kelce led the team with 83 catches and 8 TDs, while WR Hill added 75 catches and 7 TDs. Defensively, the Chiefs are allowing 365.1 YPG (28th) but some better news is that they rank higher in the most important defensive category, points allowed (21.2 PPG ranks 15th).
The pick: KC has the better offensive weapons and the defense played much better down the stretch, allowing just 13.7 PPG in the first three of the team's four-game season-ending winning streak (allowed 24 points n a meaningless Week 17 win). However, I can't ignore the fact that the Chiefs have lost FIVE consecutive home playoff games and here, they have a significant pointspread to cover (note: it seems to be rising by the day!). Four of the Titans' seven losses came by six points or less and over Tennessee's last 10 games, the Titans' allowed more than 20 points just three times. Take the big points and make Tennessee an 8* play.
|12-31-17||Bills -3 v. Dolphins||Top||22-16||Win||100||115 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: AFC East rivals the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins meet Sunday in Week 17 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The 6-9 Dolphins will finish with a non-winning season for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. It's particularly disappointing because the Dolphins lone winning season in that span was last year's 10-6 mark. Miami limps in with losses in seven of its last nine games and the team will miss the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons. As for the 8-7 Bills, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they remain in contention for a playoff berth entering the final week of the regular season. However, in order for that to happen, the Bills would not only have to win in Miami, they need help. The most direct way to earn a playoff spot, which would end a 17-year drought, would be a Baltimore home loss to Cincinnati. They other path would require Tennessee and the LA Chargers to lose to Jacksonville and Oakland, respectively. "It's exciting, I've got to believe, for this city," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said. "(This organization is) in a position that we haven't been in, this city hasn't been in, for a number of years."
Buffalo:The Bills rank dead last in passing at 175.9 YPG and the running game has fallen off from last year as well, averaging 126.1 YPG (6th), which is down from 164.4 YPG in 2016, which ranked first in the entire NFL. The QB situation is strange, as the team is not sold on Tyrod Taylor but there is no current "Plan B." Taylor completes 62.1% but as noted, the team ranks last in passing yards. He's thrown just 13 TDs but also has just four INTs in 393 attempts. Also, he can make plays with his feet (392 rushing yards on 5.0 YPC) and is also capable of extending plays with his mobility. The defense has not had its best season, allowing 22.9 PPG (18th) on 355.1 YPG (25th).
Miami" Once upon a time, the Dolphins were 4-2 but a 40-0 Thursday night loss at Baltimore sent the team's season on a downward spiral from which it never recovered. Jay Cutler was never the answer at QB and in Miami's first game against the Bills in Buffalo, he was done in by three interceptions. Miami traded away its best (only?) RB before the trade deadline in Ajayi and enters this game 28th with 86.3 YPG on the ground. The Dolphins offense scores a modest 17.7 PPG, which ranks 27th. The defense is Buffalo-like, allowing 24.7 PPG (28th) on 337.3 YPG (18th).
The pick: As noted above, there a few scenarios that could qualify Buffalo for its first playoff berth since 1999 and while none are "all that likely," ALL scenarios involve Buffalo winning here. Miami has 14 players on injured reserve, including six projected Opening Day starters. Two key players listed as questionable for Sunday are running back Damien Williams and rookie CB Cordrea Tankersley. With only 1 TD pass the last two weeks, the Jay Cutler era is ending quietly for the Dolphins and Adam Gase might be tempted to go with Matt Moore, if his foot has healed. The problem there is, he also stinks! The Dolphins are minus-13 in turnover differential, while their 28 turnovers are tied for second most in the league. Throw in that Miami is 5-14 ATS in its last 19 December games and why not take the Bills? Make Buffalo an 8* play.
|12-31-17||Cardinals v. Seahawks -9||Top||26-24||Loss||-101||115 h 14 m||Show|
The set-up: Arizona's 13-3 regular season and appearance in the NFC championship game seems a lot further away than 2015. The Cardinals beat the Giants 23-0 last Sunday and end their season with a Week 17 viist to CenturyLink Field in Seattle with a chance to finish the year at .500, after climbing to 7-8 with that victory over the NY Giants. Seattle won 21-12 last Sunday in Dallas, despite accumulating just 136 yards of total offense. The victory gave Seattle a 9-6 record but a win here does not ensure a playoff berth. The only way Seattle can make the 2017 playoff field, extending its streak of consecutive playoff appeaarnces to six (assuming the Seahawks win here), is if the Falcons lose to the Panthers in Atlanta (or of course, tie). is if
Arizona: The Cards are relying on Drew Stanton these days at QB and he completed 20 of 34 for 209 yards with two TDs but also two INTs in the 23-0 win over the Giants. A.P. made a big splash when he first arrived but has been on IR since late November. The Arizona rushing game ranks 30th, averaging just 84.7 YPG. Despite a revolving door of QBs due to injury (Palmer, Gabbert and Stanton), WR Larry Fitzgerald checks in with 101 catches and six TDs (he's a remarkable player). Fitzgerald signed a contract for next year but hasn't yet committed to playing despite another standout campaign. The 34-year-old is the fifth player in NFL history to record five straight 100-catch seasons and his first against the Seahawks - provided he doesn't get shut out - will stretch his streak to 211 games with a reception, which would tie Tony Gonzalez for the second-longest in league history. Athe Cards are also allowing 22.5 PPG (17th).
Seattle: The injury-plagued Seattle defense came through last Sunday in Dallas with three sacks, a forced fumble that they also recovered and a pair of INTs, including a 30-yard pick-six from Justin Coleman. QB Russell Wilson has carried this team all season with 3,762 passing yards, 32 TDs and just 11 INTs (94.7 QB rating). He's also the team's leading rusher with 550 yards (6.1 YPC) and three TDs. However, over the last two weeks, he's thrown for just 142 and 93 yards! Seattle's "Legion of Boom" defense has been plagued by injuries but still checks in 13th in both points allowed (20.4 per) and total defense (327.5 YPG).
The pick:Seattle has to win and then hope things turn out well for them in Atlanta but the team has to be concerned that the Cardinals are 3-1 in Seattle during Bruce Arians' tenure.Then again, isn't forewarned, forearmed? Make Seattle an 8* play.
|12-31-17||Browns +14 v. Steelers||Top||24-28||Win||100||112 h 2 m||Show|
The set-up: The Cleveland Browns will meet the Pittsburgh Steelers for this Week 17 game at Heinz Field. Can we actually call it an AFC North rivalry game? At one time it was and there is still likely no love lost between the two teams but with the Browns sitting at 0-15 an d the Steelers at 12-3 (need a win and a New England loss at home to the Jets to earn the AFC's No. 1 seed), the two teams operate in separate 'universes' in NFL 2017. The Browns are down to their last chance to get a win this season, after falling 20-3 at the Chicago Bears last Sunday, while the Steelers come in off clinching a first round bye with a 34-6 win over Houston on Christmas Day.
Cleveland: The Browns have lost five in a row to Pittsburgh, including a 21-18 setback at home in the season opener. Cleveland enters having been limited to 10 points or less in four of its last six games, as QB DeShone Kizer's rocky rookie season continues and will come to an end with this contest. Kizer is completing 53.6% for 171.1 YPG with 9 TDs and 21 INTs (QB rating of 57.9). Running back Isaiah Crowell rushed for a career-best 152 yards in the 2016 regular-season finale against Pittsburgh and has had a decent 2017 season, with 832 yards (4.4). Fellow RB Johnson has just 328 yards (4.3 YPC) but is the team's leading receiver with 68 catches. Speaking of receivers, WR Josh Gordon has been back on the field for the last four games and has 14 catches, while averaging 15.7 YPC. Still, the bottom line is that the Browns rank dead-last in scoring (14.0 PPG) and despite allowing a modest 326.8 YPG (12th), allow 25.5 PPG (30th). A league-high 39 giveaways, including a league-worst minus-28 TO margin, has a way of doing that!
Pittsburgh: Here's the rub. Pittsburgh's only chance at wresting the top overall seed from New England is to have the Patriots lose at home to the New York Jets. Tomlin said it will likely be an "11th-hour decision" as to how much playing time to give his starters but insisted there will be no "empathy" toward the plight of the Browns factoring into his thoughts. "More important than anything is we lay a foundation of our plan and get going in terms of things we need to do to play well. That's always been our mentality," Tomlin insisted. "Those are things (playing) we'll decide later in the week." WR Antonio Brown, who has 101 receptions and NFL-best 1,533 yards, has already been ruled out for the second straight game with a calf injury. Despite his absence, Pittsburgh rolled over Houston 34-6 last week as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 226 yards and two scores, including one to promising rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has 32 of his 49 receptions over his past six games. RB Le'Veon Bell, the NFL's third-leading rusher with 1,291 yards, managed only 32 in the season opener and could be a candidate to sit out or see limited time. It's expected he will and that Big Ben will sit as well. Pittsburgh's defense ranks second in the league with 50 sacks. The defense ranks 4th in yards allowed (302.4 per) and unlike with the Browns, the Steelers allow just 18.9 PPG (5th).
The pick: The Steelers expect the Pats to beat the Jets (both games start at 1;00 ET) but who knows? Still, Tomlin is unlikely to take too many chances. Taht said, the Browns did play teh Steelers close in Week 1 and Pittsburgh has more that its fair share of 'close shaves' against poor team sin 2017. I was able to take 14 points with the Browns and even though that line is long gone, I'm recommending taking the Browns. Remember Crowell's success vs. them l in last season's finale and also note that Josh Gordon has 21 catches in his last two versus the Steelers. Make Cleveland a 10* play.
|12-31-17||Cowboys -2.5 v. Eagles||Top||6-0||Win||100||112 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: Cowboys/Giants and Cowboys/Redskins may be more intense rivalries but Cowboys/Eagles has always been a traditionally heated rivalry in the NFC East, as well/ However, this Week 17 meeting between the two clubs will conclude the 2017 season on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field as almost an afterthought. The 13-2 Eagles have already clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason following their 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Christmas night. As for the 8-7 Cowboys, they were eliminated from playoff contention last Sunday after a disappointing 21-12 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Dallas: The Cowboys just couldn't make the key plays against Seattle last Sunday. Dak Prescott threw for 182 yards and two interceptions, while Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 97 yards on 24 carries in his first game back from his six game suspension. It's frustrating to lose a game by nine points, when Dallas held Seattle to just 136 yards of total offense! Elliott's return from his suspension helped but in the end, turnovers hurt the Cowboys and ultimately ended their hope of a playoff berth. Dak Prescott was intercepted twice and the offense was unable to produce a touchdown. Prescott has tossed 13 interceptions this season against just four a season ago."It's really disappointing," tight end Jason Witten told reporters. "We had a chance and fought there at the end. It's not overly complicated. Opportunities in this league are fleeting. You have to take advantage of them when you can. We just weren't able to do that well enough."
Philadelphia:Nick Foles was brilliant taking over for an injured Wentz against the Giants (237 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs for 115.8 QB rating) but that was not the case last Monday night vs. the Raiders. He completed just 19 of 38 passes for 163 yards with one TD and one INT, giving him a QB rating of 59.4. The Eagles gained just 78 yards on the ground, way below the team's average of 136.2 YPG (2nd). In fact, Philly had just 216 yards of total offense (average 375.5 YPG on the season to rank 4th) and team's 19 points were well below the team's average of 30.5 PPG, the second-best total in the NFL. While Philly's offense struggled, the defense rose to the occasion. he Eagles had three INTs interceptions and three forced fumbles. All three were recovered, including a fumble return for a TD for Derek Barnett as time expired. All while holding Oakland to just 274 yards of total offense and a 3 for 13 mark on 3rd down in the win. Philly's defense heads into its final game allowing 19.3 PPG (6th) on 306.9 YPG (5th).
The pick: It's unclear how many snaps the Cowboys' starters will receive given that Sunday's game solely is about pride or for that matter, how the Eagles will handle things with the NFC's No. 1 seed already clinched. However, I'm siding with Dallas, which is playing for nothing but pride. "Zeke" is within 120 yards of joining Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett as the only RBs in Dallas history to begin their careers with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. As for Dak, the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, his worst game of the season came in Philly's 37-9 blowout win over the Cowboys in Dallas, when he threw for 145 yards without a TD and three INTs, 'earning' a QB rating of 30.4. Make Dallas an 8* play.
|12-25-17||Raiders +10 v. Eagles||Top||10-19||Win||100||27 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: The second-half of Week 16's MNF doubleheader features the 6-8 Oakland Raiders visiting the 12-2 Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Raiders' slim postseason hopes were dashed following back-to-back losses to Kansas City and Dallas. "We're just going to play to win," coach Jack Del Rio said of his team's mindset. "We're going to do everything we can to get over this 'close but no cigar' finish we had." As for the Philadelphia Eagle, they are looking for their 13th victory of the season and to secure a top seed in the NFC. The Raiders will making their first appearance in Philadelphia since 2005
Oakland: The Raiders are coming off a tough 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. QB Derek Carr was 21 of 38 for just 171 yards but with two TD passes to WR Michael Crabtree. Carr has completed 63.1 percent for 3,113 yards with 20 TDs and 10 INTs (88.4 QB rating). Crabtree has had seven receptions in back-to-back contests since serving a one-game suspension for his actions in the early going against Denver on Nov. 26. Amari Cooper (42 catches and five TDs in 12 games) was limited in Friday's practice with an ankle injury, leaving questions as to whether he'd take the field against the Eagles. Oakland ran for 122 yards, including 76 from running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch has been a disappointment with 695 yards rushing, as Carr hasn't gotten much help from a ground game producing just 93.7 YPG (25th). The Raiders' offense has underachieved in 2017, scoring 20.1 PPG (22nd), while the defense is allowing 23.1 PPG (19th).
Philadelphia: Carson Wentz (33 TDs / 7 INTs / 101.9 QB rating) is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered against the Rams in Week 14 but backup Nick Foles proved he is ready for the challenge that awaits the rest of the way. He started against the Giants last Sunday and finished 24 of 38 for 237 yards with four TD passes and no interceptions. The four scores, which went to four different receivers, were the most he tossed since he had seven against the Raiders during the 2013 season. "I just think his poise and his play-making," Philadelphia offensive coordinator Frank Reich said when asked what stood out about Foles. "Obviously, you could tell right away, he's been there before. Then he did what we needed him to do. He played good, sound football, but also be ready to make big plays. He provided that as well." Blount (717 yards on 4.5 YPC) and the addition of Jay Ajayi (356 yards on 6.4 YPC in his six games with Philly), give Philly the NFL's second-best running game, averaging 140.5 YPG. WR Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor have combined for 1,503 receiving yards and 17 TDs while TE Zach Ertz has 63 receptions (eight TDs). The Philadelphia Eagles average 31.3 PPG (2nd) and the defense is allowing 19.9 PPG (8th) on 309.2 PPG (6th).
The pick: Sure, a win and teh Eagles clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed plus Philly is 6-0 (5-1 ATS) at home in 2017, outscoring opponents 35.0-to-15.2 PPG. However, the Raiders should relish the role of playing spoiler plus have ave nothing to lose. Hard to imagine Foles playing as well as he did last Sunday, as I believe the Eagles are not quite he same team minus Wentz. Take the big points and make Oakland a 10* play!
|12-24-17||Seahawks +5 v. Cowboys||Top||21-12||Win||100||122 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: NBC's Week 16 Sunday Night Football features the 8-6 Seattle Seahawks visiting the 8-6 Dallas Cowboys in "Jerry's House." The playoff implications are massive for both teams. When Seattle beat the Eagles 24-10 back in Week 14, the 8-4 Seahawks were "right there" with the 9-3 Rams' for the NFC West crown and looked to have a decent chance of claiming a wild card playoff spot even if the division title didn't pan out. However, a tough 30-24 loss at Jacksonville was followed by a 42-7 humbling loss at home against the Rams. "It was just a couple of weeks ago that we played one of the best games we've ever played," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We've got to turn it and make sure that we get right and get back, ready to go to Dallas." Seattle would need to finish 2-0 and the Rams 0-2 for the Seahawks to win the NFC West and the team's path to a wild card spot is not any easier. As for Dallas, yes the Cowboys have won three straight and "Zeke" is back for this game but if Dallas loses here, a victory by Atlanta would seal the Cowboys' fate.
Seattle: The Seahawks' defense has allowed 72 points while losing its last two games, and the team's horrific showing against the Rams placed the team in a must-win situation and as noted above, winning only means something if other teams lose. QB Russell Wilson has been a "one-man" show on offense in 2017 but he was just 14 of 30 for for 142 yards (one TD / 0 INTs) against the Rams and one knows it's bad news when his 39 rushing yards represented a team high. Seattle's defense has been devastated by injuries for weeks now but the unit had held it together, before imploding these last two weeks.
Dallas The Cowboys not only missed Elliott for six game but LT Smith plus LB Lee missed key time while the Cowboys lost three in a row, scoring a total of just 22 points along the way. However, Smith and Lee have gotten back on the field, with Dallas winning three in a row over Washington (38-10), the NY Giants (30-10) and Oakland (20-17). Now, Elliott returns. Elliott had 26 or more carries in each of his final four games prior to the suspension and his presence should help second-year QB Dak Prescott (2,964 yards, 21 TDs), who has thrown 11 interceptions this season after being picked off just four times last year.
The pick: Yes, Elliott is back but LT Tyron Smith (knee) could sit out after being injured in last Sunday's victory over Oakland. Seattle's defense has been ravaged by injuries but the hope is that Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion) will be close to full strength. "The money" seems to be all on the Cowboys but I like Seattle in a desperate situation plus coming off that humiliating loss to the Rams (at home, no less). Dallas is just 3-4 ATS at home in 2017 and even last year's 13-3 division-winning team finished just 5-4 ATS at home after losing to the Packers in the postseason. Make Seattle a 10* play.
|12-24-17||Broncos v. Redskins -3.5||Top||11-27||Win||100||119 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The Denver Broncos opened the 2017 season 3-1 but then lost eight consecutive games, failing to cover each and every one. However, the Broncos "stopped the bleeding" with a 23-0 home shut out of the Jets in Week 14 and then won 25-13 at the Indianapolis Colts in the Week 15 edition of Thursday night football. The Broncos look to build on those back-to-back wins when they visit from FedEx Field.ton on Christmas Eve Day for a meeting with the 6-8 Washington Redskins. The Redskins were eliminated from postseason contention despite a 20-15 win over Arizona in their last outing but
Denver: Trevor Siemian passed for 67 yards and an interception before leaving due to injury (suffered a partially dislocated shoulder ) against Indianapolis and was placed on injured reserve..Brock Osweiler completed 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two TDs in the win. With Siemian on IR, head coach Vance Joseph will choose between Osweiler and Paxton Lynch as possible starters this week. Lynch has been considered the team's quarterback of the future but suffered an ankle injury at Oakland on Nov. 26 in his only start of the year and is trying to get back before the season ends. "My concern is making sure he's healthy enough to play at a high level," Joseph told the team's website. "He's a quarterback that can use his legs when he's in danger, so I want to make sure that he's right." C.J. Anderson rushed for 158 yards on 30 carries against theg Colts but he hasn't done much all season, coming in awith a 'quiet' 858 yards rushing. The Broncos are averaging a modest 113.1 YPG on the ground (14th). Denver still owns a playoff-caliber defense, as no team has allowed fewer yards per game (276.8) However, Denver's allowed 23.4 PPG (20th), which dosen't quite add up.
Washington: The Redskins beat the Cardinals 31-19 last Sunday with QB Kirk Cousins going 18 of 26 for 196 yards and two TDs. Cousins has put together another excellent season (66.1% for 3,636 yards with 24 TDs and 9 INTs / 98.9 QB rating) but his status for next season (free agent) is still up in the air. The Washintong D had four sacks, an interception and a recovered fumble while holding the Cardinals to 286 yards of total offense last week (also Arizona was just 4 of 19 on third down) but that kind of effort hasn't been typical. In fact, Washington ranks 29th (of 32 teams) in points allowed, giving up 25.6 per game.
The pick: A win here by Washington would mean the team would have recorded consecutive wins for just the second time this season. Still, the Denver QB situation is a mess (Osweiler or Lynch) and in what could be Cousns last home game for the Redskins, he just could be auditioning for the team in desperate need of a QB. Make Washington an 8* play.
|12-24-17||Rams -6.5 v. Titans||Top||27-23||Loss||-115||119 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The Los Angeles Rams finished in 2016 at just , as the NFL's overall No. 1 pick, Jared Goff of Cal, hardly looked like a franchise QB. However, the NFL's youngest head coach I(Sean McVay) has worked wonders with Goff in his sophomore season, while DC Wade Phillips has worked his magic with LA's defense. The result is a 10-4 record and with a win here, the Rams can clinch the NFC West (would also clinch if Seattle loses at Dallas on Sunday night). The 8-6 Tennessee Titans are off back-to-back losses and enter as one of three 8-6 teams tied for the final two wild cards in the AFC. Tennessee still has an outside shot at winning the AFC South but a wild card berth is easily the easiest path to the postseason. The Titans currently own the No. 5 seed (due to tie-breakers) and can actually clinch a playoff spot this week with a win over the Rams plus losses by the Ravens and Bills..
LA Rams: Goff was 0-7 as a starter last season, completing 54.6% with five TDs and seven INTs (QB rating of 63.6). He's been a "new man" in 2017, entering the final two weeks of the season completing 62.4% for 3,503 yards with 24 TDs and just seven INTs (98.9 QB rating). RB Todd Gurley has developed into one of the NFL's elite RBs, rushing fo 1,187 yards (4.6 YPC) with 13 TDs plus adding 54 catches for 630 yards with four more TDs. After averaging an NFL-low in points (14.0 PPG) and total offense (262.7 YPG) in 2016, the Rams are averaging a league-best 31.3 PPG on 366.5 YPG (10th). Wade Phillips' D checks in allowing 19.4 PPG (5th), ranking second in sacks (47) to only the Jags' 51.
Tennessee: The Titans have hurt themselves with consecutive losses, 12-7 at Arizona in Week 14 and 25-23 at San Francisco last Sunday. After being held to just one score against the Cardinals, the Titans did get their offense going against the 49ers, as QB Marcus Mariota threw for 241 yards and two TD passes with no interceptions, after having been held under 200 yards passing in three consecutive games.
The pick: The Rams haven’t had any success ATS against the Titans over the year but it's a "New Day" this season in LA. Sure, the Titans are 5-1 SU at home but the Rams are 6-1 SU (5-2 ATS) on the road. Goff and Gurley (1,817 yards from scrimmage with 17 TDs) rate a big edge over Mariota plus Tenessee RB duo of Henry and Murray. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams' D rates the edge as well. Speaking about his team's playoff chances, Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said of his players. "They know we have a great opportunity sitting right in front of us that is very reachable if we come in here the way we've come in here, with the mindset of putting in a good week's worth of preparation. We need to put 60 minutes of good football together, one game at a time." However, one could argue (and I will)
|12-23-17||Vikings v. Packers +9||Top||16-0||Loss||-107||52 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers will meet at Lambeau Field.on Saturday night. The all-time series is tied 51-51-2, so this will be the 105th meeting. However, in the 104th meeting (back on Oct. 15. in Minneapolis on), the NFC landscape underwent a seismic shift. Vikings LB Anthony Barr took Rodgers to the turf after a e first quarter pass with Rodgers suffering a broken right collarbone. Minnesota would go on to win 23-10, its second victory in what would become an eight-game winning streak.Meanwhile, the Packers would go on to lose four of Brett Hundley's first five starts at QB. Aaron Rodgers returned at Carolina last Sunday and threw for 290 yards and three TDs but that was cancelled out by his three INTs in Green Bay's 31-24 loss.Minnesota: The Vikings dismantled Cincinnati 34-7 last Sunday, improving to 11-3. They are focused here on clinching a bye and possibly earning home field advantage for teh entire NFC postseason (would need more than just a little help from the 12-2 Eagles). Case Keenum continued his "career season" last Sunday by completing 20 of 23 for 236 yards and two TDs.Keenum (67.9% with 20 TDs and 7 INTs / QB rating of 98.9) has five games this season with a passer rating of at least 115 and a completion percentage of 70-plus, tying Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper's franchise record. Now how is that possible? Keenum is 9-3 as a starter but he's had help, as RBs Latavius Murray (662 yards) and Jerick McKinnon (484 yards) have stepped up nicely after rookie RB Dalvin Cook went down for the season. Minnesota's ground game averages 121.3 YPG (9th), helping the offense average 24.5 PPG on the season (10th). That's been more than enough with Minnesota's defense ranking second in both points allowed (17.3 per) and total defense (283.9 YPG).Green Bay: Rodgers gave it his best at Carolina but the defense couldn''t stop the Panthers, as Newton threw four TD passes and the Carolina ground game ran for 151 yards. When the Falcons held on for a 24-21 win on Monday at Tampa, the Packers slim playoff hopes were dashed.I don't see the Packers risking Rodgers here and let's note that in the first meeting, when the Vikings KO'd Rodgers, Brett Hundley stepped in and threw three interceptions while being sacked four times int hat 23-10 loss. Green Bay's defense relies on big plays but they have been too infrequent. The Packers kept their season alive by scoring a defensive touchdown in the overtime win vs. Tampa Bay and forcing an interception in overtime to win at Cleveland. However, at Carolina, the Packers failed to force any turnovers and gave up four TD passes to Cam Newton and a season-worst 29 FDs. Bottom line is that the Packers are allowing an average of 23.8 PPG (21st) and have held only once team (Chicago, twice) under 20 points since Week 1.
The pick: At first blush, this looks like the Vikings are a 'lock.' However, this is still a bitter rivalry and the Packers won't forget that the Vikings KO'd Rodgers AND Green Bay's season in the first meeting. Assuming Hundley starts, he did get better after his "emergency appearance" on Oct. 15, going 3-4 as a starter. He took a seat on the bench last week but had completed 69.1% in his previous three starts, throwing six TD passes and just one INT. Sure, the Packers won't be part of the postseason for the first time since 2008 but doesn't that make them a 'dangerous dog.' We know it's expected to be "Green Bay weather," as the predicted low for Saturday night is 1!! Home dog barks here. Make Green Bay a 10* play.
|12-18-17||Falcons -6 v. Bucs||Top||24-21||Loss||-110||34 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: The Falcons edged the Saints 20-17 a week ago Thursday night, giving them four wins in their last five to reach 8-5. The Saints (10-4) and Panthers (10-4) both won on Sunday, so the Falcons can ill afford a loss in Week 15's MNF matchup at Raymond James Stadium with the 4-9 Tampa Bay Bucs. The Bucs come in off three straight losses (to the Falcons, Packers and Lions).and are likely just looking for this highly disappointing season to come to an end. These teams met in Week 12 at Atlanta with the Falcons winning 34-20. Matt Ryan threw for 317 yards but had just one TD pass (zero INTs). WR Julio Jones had 253 receiving yards and caught a TD pas from Ryan and WR Sanu. Atlanta's running game rolled up 148 yards (5.3 YPC) with two rushing TDs. Tampa's Winston was out with an injury in that contest, with Fitzpatrick throwing for 283 yards but no scores.
Atlanta: Julio Jones was having a relatively quiet season by his lofty standards until torching Tampa Bay for 12 catches for 253 yards and a pair of TDs in that Week 12 meeting. It's also good news that Devonta Freeman has rushed for 165 yards in two games since returning from a concussion and could be in line for a heavy workload with backup Tevin Coleman in the concussion protocol. Atlanta's running game is solid, averaging 116.8 YPG (12th) but Ryan is way off his 2016 MVP numbers. The Falcons led the NFL by averaging 33.8 PPG last season but head into this Week 15 game averaging only 22.6 PPG (15th). The defense has played well though, allowing 20.1 PPG (9th) on 319.8 YPG (7th).
Tampa Bay: Winston's been back for the last two games (555 passing yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs) but the Bucs have lost both. Tampa Bay's running game has struggled all season (91.5 YPG ranks 22nd) and is surely a good part of the reason the Bucs are averaging only 20.3 PPG (22nd). Winston enjoyed plenty of success last season against Atlanta, throwing for 542 yards with seven TDs against one interception. but one wonders how much 'fight' there still is in Tampa Bay. The defense is allowing 389.3 YPG (31st) and 24.0 PPG (23rd).
The pick: Atlanta entered the week one game behind the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers but both won, so a win is a must. The good news for the Falcons is that they still have to play the Saints and Panthers, giving them a chance to claim the division title by winning their final three games. “Focusing on the next team could be a little bit distracting,” Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said. “We have to focus on (Tampa Bay) because every game at this point is a must-win.” It's also good news that Atlanta is 5-0 ATS in its last five Monday games, while the Bucs are 13-28-1 ATS in their last 42 games in December, as well as 23-49-1 ATS in their last 73 home games. Raymond James is not exactly a tough place for visiting teams to play! After pulling out recent must-win games vs. the Seahawks and Saints, I doubt the Falcons (with the Saints and Panthers looming) will 'stub their toes' against that sad-sack Bucs. Make the Falcons a 10* play.
|12-17-17||Titans +2 v. 49ers||Top||23-25||Push||0||95 h 28 m||Show|
Tennessee: The defense had eight sacks against Arizona and held the Cardinals to just 261 yards and 12 points (four FGs) but Tennessee's offense was awful. The Titans accumulated only 204 yards, as Marcus Mariota completed 16 of 31 for only 159 yards without a TD pass and one INT. The running game had only 65 yards on 22 attempts. The Titans rank 27th in passing (197.5 YPG) with Mariota throwing only 10 TD passes against 14 INTs (76.9 QB rating). The ground game was third-best in the NFL last year (136.7 YPG) but it's down to 117.7 YPG in 2017, ranking 10th. The defense ranks 9th in yards allowed (323.3 YPG) but in the more important category of points allowed, Tennessee is allowing 22.6 PPG (18th).
San Francisco: Have the 49ers found their answer at QB? C.J. Beathard got hurt at the end of the 49ers' Week 12 loss at Seattle, as San Francisco fell to 1-10. That opened the door for Jimmy Garoppolo's long-anticipated 'test drive.' He's led San Francisco to back-to-back wins, 15-14 at Chicago and 26-16 Houston. He threw for 334 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 20 of 33 passing against Houston and enters this contest completing 66.7 percent for 645 yards with two TDs and two INTs (92.6 QB rating). RB Carlos Hyde has 771 yards but the etam averaghes a modest 100.8 YPG (22nd).
The pick: I can see why some are leaning to San Francisco. The 49ers may nave been 1-10 but five of those losses had come by three points or less. Garoppolo is seen as a 'savior' and the fact that he has now won all four of his career starts, including his first two for San Francisco, makes San Fran a 'sexy' pick. That said, it's hard to see a 3-10 team being favored over a team fighting for a division title or wild card spot. The 49ers haven't won three in a row since the 2014 season and I say it won't happen here, either. Beating the sad-sack Bears and the Watson-less Texans is one thing, beating a playoff-contending team is another. Make Tennessee a 10* play.
|12-17-17||Bengals +11 v. Vikings||Top||7-34||Loss||-110||92 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Vikings finally proved human last Sunday, as their eight-game winning streak came to an end in a 31-24 loss at the Carolina Panthers. Minnesota returns home off a three-game road trip and will be "dropping down in class" to face the 5-8 Cincinnati Bengals. Minnesota can clinch the NFC North Division title with a win, while Cincinnati will miss the playoffs for the second straight season, after making five straight (and six of seven) appearances.
Cincinnati: The Bengals come in off back-to-back losses, including an 'ugly' 33-7 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears in their last outing. Andy Dalton completed just 14 of 29 while throwing for only 141 yards with one TD and one INT. AJ McCarron threw for 47 yards in relief of Dalton. The Cincy running game has been a problem all season (79.4 RPG ranks 31st) but the Bengals could get back the services of rookie RB Joe Mixon (concussion). Mixon leads the team with 518 YR but averages only 3.3 YPC. Cincinnati averages only 197.8 YPG through the air, leaving them dead-last in total offense at 277.2 YPG and not much better in scoring, at 28th with 17.4 PPG. The defense has hung in there, considering, allowing a modest 20.8 PPG (13th).
Minnesota: Case Keenum has been a huge surprise at QB and enters 9-3 as a starter. However, he did show some vulnerability last week, committing three turnovers (two INTs / one fumble) in the 31-24 setback at Carolina. The Vikings only ran for 100 yards vs. Carolina but overall, RBs Murray (586 YR / 5 TDs) and McKinnon (460 YR / 3 TDs) have done a nice job since the loss of star rookie RB Cook. The Vikings come in averaging 121.8 YPG on the ground, which ranks 8th. Despite allowing 31 points at Carolina last Sunday, Minnesota's defense ranks third in points allowed on the season (18.1 per), as well as also ranking third in total defense at 293.4 YPG.
The pick: The Vikings are fighting for home field advantage in the NFC and can ill afford a slip here but this is a lot of points and the Bengals are 4-2 ATS on the road in 2017. Was Keenum's TO problem last week a sign of things to come? Also note that while Dalton played poorly last Sunday, he had thrown 11 TDs without an interception in his previous six games! Take those points and make Cincy an 8* play.
|12-17-17||Cardinals v. Redskins -4||Top||15-20||Win||100||92 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: This Week 15 matchup is between two playoff also-rans. It's true that the 6-7 Cardinals, who have two of their last three, have microscopic playoff chances but but they are 11th in the NFC, two games out of the second wild-card spot with only three games remaining. As for Washington, the Redskins have dropped four of their last five to fall to 5-8 and now realize even attaining a .500 record would take a three-game sweep of the team's final games. The Redskins' lone victory in that stretch came at home, a 20-10 triumph over the New York Giants (Week 12). However, Washington has allowed at least 30 points in each of its four defeats in that same span.
Arizona: The Cards enter off a 12-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans and hope to build off that excellent defensive effort. The Cardinals had three 3 sacks and a pair of interceptions, while holding the Titans to just 204 yards of total offense and just 26 minutes of possession in the win. However, while Arizona ranks 8th in total defense (320.6 YPG), it is allowing 24.4 PPG, which ranks 25th. The offense has to rely on backup QB Blaine Gabbert, who threw for only 189 yards against the Titans and wasn't able to get the Cardinals into the end zone (team settled for four FGs). The running game averages a woeful 81.2 YPG (30th) and on the season, Arizona ranks 26th in scoring at 17.8 PPG.
Washington: Kirk Cousins had a poor game last Sunday vs. the Chargers (a 30-13 loss), throwing for only 151 yards with one a touchdown and one interception. However, he is wrapping up another solid season (65.9% for an average of 240.7 YPG through the air with a 22-9 ratio and a QB rating of 97.7) but once again, the Redskins are headed 'nowhere!' I wonder where Cousins will be headed next season? Defensively, the ‘Skins had an interception that turned into a 96-yard pick-six from Beshaud Breeland but that was about all they could hang their hats on, as they allowed 488 yards of total offense and over 35 minutes of possession to the Chargers in the loss.
The pick: However, the Cardinals hardly resemble the red-hot Chargers. In fact, Arizona comes in 1-5 ATS on the road in 2017, winning onty at Indy in OT (Colts are 3-11) and at San Francisco, as part of the 49ers' 0-9 start to the season. I realize the Redskins have their fair share of injuries and are not exactly the most harmonious team in the NFL at the moment but Cousins over Gabbert (198 YPG passing with 6 TDs and 5 INTs for an 80.8 QB rating), is a bargain. Make Washington an 8* play.
|12-14-17||Broncos -2.5 v. Colts||Top||25-13||Win||100||28 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The NFL has seen TV ratings dip in 2017 and Thursday's matchup between the 4-9 Denver Broncos and the 3-10 Indianapolis Colts won't be able to help those ratings. The Broncos snapped their longest losing streak since joining the NFL in 1970 with a 23-0 shutout of the New York Jets last Sunday and the team was able to avoid tying its franchise futility record of nine consecutive losses set way back in 1967. As for the Colts, they have lost their last four games, including Sunday in that "very snowy" game in Buffalo13-7.
Denver: The Broncos have tried three QBs this season and the trio has combined for 15 TDs and 18 INTs, while sporting a QB rating of 71.1. Trevor Siemian is back as the team's starter and he didn't do much vs. the Jets, going 19 of 31 for 200 yards one TD and no INTs. The Broncos only had 273 yards and that's not new, as they enter this game averaging only 17.6 PPG (24th). However, the Denver defense was spectacular, holding the Jets to six FDs and a total of just 100 yards. Denver now leads the NFL in total defense, allowing only 280.5 YPG. However, despite shutting out the Jets, Denver ranks just 24th in points allowed, at 24.2 PPG. A big reason for that is that Denver's TO ratio of minus-14 ranks 31st in the league.
Indianapolis: QB Jacoby Brissett was only able to pass for 69 yards in the snow at Buffalo and enters with just 11 TDs and seven INTs on the season (2,611 passing yards with a QB rating of 82.5). Indy's offense is averaging only 16.3 PPG (30th) and its defense ranks 31st in points allowed (26.4 per) and 30th in yards allowed (375.3 YPG). Frank Gore had a career-high 36 rushing attempts vs. the Bills, while gaining 130 yards. Yes, the 34-year-old needs just 59 scrimmage yards to join Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as the only players in NFL history with at least 12-plus consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards. However, the Colts' running game averages only 104.0 YPG (20th).
The pick: The Broncos not only broke an eight-game losing streak by beating the Jets last Sunday but they also snapped an 0-8 ATS run, as well. The Broncos are not as bad as their record but the Colts are. Make Denver an 8* play.
|12-11-17||Patriots v. Dolphins +11.5||Top||20-27||Win||100||35 h 0 m||Show|
The set-up: The Steelers won a 39-38 thriller Sunday night over the Ravens for the team's eighth straight win. Pittsburgh has now matched New England's eight-winning streak (longest-active in the NFL) and its 11-2 record ensures that the Steelers will be no worse than tied the with Pats when the teams meet next Sunday at Heinz Field. It's the showdown all NFL fans have been waiting for and the Pats need to "keep up their end'" by earning a ninth consecutive win in Week 14's MNF contest at Hard Rock Stadium againts the Miami Dolphins. A win will also give the Pats an 11-2 mark but while the Dolphins are just 5-7, winning in Miami has not come easy for the Pats in recent years. In fact, the Pats had lost three straight trips to Miami from 2013-2015 (the 2015 loss cost them the home-field playoff edge & the Pats would lose in Denver for the AFC title!), before routing the Dolphins 35-14 last season. The Dolphins halted a five-game losing skid with a 35-9 drubbing of the Denver Broncos last weekend and while it was the team's best effort of the season, it did come over a Broncos team which had lost eight in a row before yesterday's 23-0 shutout over the Jets.
New England: The ageless Tom Brady is completing 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,632 yards with 26 TDs and just four INTs, giving hima 109.7 QB rating. The Pats lead the NFL in passing (297.6 YPG) and three receivers have 50-plus catches. TE Rob Gronkowski has a team-high 55 with a team-high 7 TDs, WR Brandin Cooks has 53 with a team-high 16.7 YPC and RB James White has 51 catches (WR Danny Amendola just misses with 46 receptions). The New England Patriots ground game is averaging 120.6 YPG (9th), as Dion Lewis has run fro 204 yards (6.8 YPC) the least two weeks, with the Pats rushing for 191 and 196 yards, respectively. As good as the Pats' offense has been, it's defense is back to being one of the league's best. After getting ripped for 32.0 PPG during the team's 2-2 start, that same unit has not allowed more than 17 points in any of its eight straight wins, allowing an average of just 11.9 PPG. The defense now ranks 4th on the season at 18.6 PPG.
Miami: The Dolphins were gouged for a 177 points (35.4 per) during their five-game losing streak before sending the Broncos to their eighth straight defeat. Miami got a pair of safeties and a TD from its defense and special teams, which was a much-needed effort. QB Jay Cutler passed for 235 yards with two TDs and two INTs, giving him 15 TDs and 11 INTs on the season (QB rating of 82.1). Miami's passing offense averages only 207.9 YPG (20th), almost 100 YPG less than New England's and Miami is averaging just 17.4 PPG (27th), just shy of 12 PPG less than the Pats. With Ajayi traded away to Philly (you explain why?), the Dolphins now rank 29th in rushing, averaging only 84.7 YPG. The Miami defense had been getting gouged prior to last Sunday's win (see above) and was ripped for 35 points on 417 yards up in New England back in Week 12.
The pick: Hard to see the Pats losing here, with so much on the line next week in Pittsburgh. What's more, the Pats haven't lost a regular season road game since Week 17 of the 2015 season (1/3/16). Then again, that loss did come in Miami, the Dolphins' third straight home win over the Pats at the time (Dolphins did lose at home to the Pats last season, 35-14). The Pats are far from healthy coming into this game plus Gronk is suspended, Dion Lewis is sick, Chris Hogan is just coming off a shoulder injury and Tom Brady has missed practice due to a banged up Achilles. Brady always plays and Lewis is expected to go but this is a huge number to lay on the road. The following stat clinches things, as the home team is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings between these two AFC East rivals. Make Miami a 10* play.
|12-10-17||Jets v. Broncos||Top||0-23||Loss||-110||117 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: It's NFL Week 14 and the New York Jets are in Denver to take on the Broncos. There were many who thought that the Jets would be battling the Browns and maybe the 49ers for the overall No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft as the 2017 season opened and there were more than a few who thought that the Broncos could rebound from a record in 2016, to challenge the Chiefs and Raiders in the AFC West. The Jets opened 0-2 and the refrain, "Here we go again" was prominent in the New York area. However, the Jets rebounded to win three in a row after that and while the team comes into this contest a modest 5-7, the Jets have been way more competitive than almost anyone would have believed (Jets are 7-4-1 ATS). As for Denver, a 3-1 start to the 2017 season has quickly turned into a 'nightmare,' as the Broncos get set to host the Jets looking to break an eight-game losing streak in which the team has also gone 0-8 ATS (now that's bad football!).
|12-10-17||Vikings -2.5 v. Panthers||Top||24-31||Loss||-120||113 h 26 m||Show|
The set-up: The 10-2 Minnesota Vikings are riding an eight-game winning streak (tied with the Pats for the NFL's longest-active one) into Sunday's game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, where they will face the 8-4 Carolina Panthers. The Vikings have all but clinched the NFC North (four up with four to play) but are still battling the 10-2 Eagles for the NFC's top seed (Minnesota currently owns the tie-breaker). The Panthers have lost twice to the Saints in 2017 which is bad news but with New Orleans losing Thursday night in Atlanta, Carolina has a chance to move into a first-place tie with the Saints by beating the Vikings in this one. Also of importance is winning to stay ahead of the 8-5 Falcons, as the Panthers would fall back into a tie with Atlanta if they lose here.
Minnesota: Case Keenum was expected be a stop-gap measure at QB, hoping that either Bradford or even Bridgewater would be able to get back on the field. However, he's turned in one of 2017's most surprising performances, as he's 8-2 as Minnesota's starting QB this season. He's completing 67.5% for 2,703 yards with 16 TDs and just five INTs for a 98.6 QB rating. He's also gotten better than expected help from Minnesota's "no-name" RBs, as after rookie Dalvin Cook was lost for the season, Murray (572 yards) and McKinnon (414 yards) have filled in admirably. The Vikings rank 6th with 122.8 YPG on the ground. The offense averages 23.8 PPG (11th) but it's the defense which has made the bigger difference, ranking second in both points allowed (17.0 per) and total defense (289.1 YPG).
Carolina: The Panthers have been tough to figure in 2017. They have looked very good at times, like in their 33-30 win at New England but then just helpless like in a 17-3 loss in Chicago to the Bears. Cam Newton has to carry the team and sometimes he's just asked to do too much. He's nowhere near the numbers of his 2015 MVP season but his 515 yards rushing helps Carolina average 127.8 YPG on the ground (5th-best). The offense is scoring slightly less than Minnesota's at 22.4 PPG (16th) and while the Carolina D is solid (10th in allowing 19.8 PPG and 6th with 297.6 YPG), it's not quite in Minnesota's league.
The pick: Both teams have plenty to play for and at first blush, one could have to give the edge to the home-standing Panthers, as the Vikings are playing a third straight tough game on the road (at Detroit on Thanksgiving and at Atlanta last Sunday). However, Minnesota is just not 'backing off,' as the Vikings are looking for not only a ninth straight win but also an eighth straight cover. No way Newton is looking forward to facing that Minnesota D, as in last year's meeting, he was picked off three times and sacked eight times in a 22-10 home loss. Speaking of home, the Panthers are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. Make Minnesota an 8* play.
|12-10-17||Bears +6 v. Bengals||Top||33-7||Win||100||113 h 26 m||Show|
The set-up: The 3-9 Chicago Bears will visit Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday to take on the 5-7 Cincinnati Bengals. The Bears average 275.8 YPG on offense (ranking 32nd of 32 teams) and the Bengals average 280.8 YPG, ranking 31st. The Bears limp in on a five-game losing streak (well out of the playoff 'picture') while the Bengals had won two in a row before a 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Monday night (Cincy led 17-0 in the very late second quarter).
Chicago: The Bears have given up on Mike Glennon (66.4% completions but just 188.8 YPG with 4 TDs & 5 INTs for a 76.9 QB rating) but first round draft pick Mitch Trubisky hasn't been much better, completing only 54.9 percent for 138.6 YPG with 5 TDs & 4 INTs (QB rating of 74.6). Jordan Howard is the Bears’ top rusher with 885 yards (4.2 YPC & 5 TDs) but rookie RB Tarik Cohen (267 RY / 3.9 YPC) is the team's leading receiver with 39 catches and averages only 7.8 YPC. As for Da Bears' defense, it's middle-of-the-road ranking 14th in both points allowed (22.2 PPG) and yards allowed (333.2 YPG).
Cincinnati: QB Andy Dalton threw for 234 yards and two TDs (zero INTs) on 21-of-36 passing Monday night. He's now thrown 11 TD passes without an INT (over 171 attempts) over Cincy's last six games, although the Bengals are just 3-3 SU in that span. Giovani Bernard was the Bengals’ top rusher with 77 yards on 13 carries but he still doesn't have 200 yards rushing on the season, as the Bengals rank 30th in rushing, averaging only 80.2 YPG. The Cincy D has been fine, allowing 19.8 PPG (11th) on 334.1 YPG (16th).
The pick: Cincy is still alive in the AFC wild card race mostly because the Bengals have been able to beat DeShone Kizer (twice), Jacoby Brissett, and Brock Osweiler. Can Cincy best Mitch Trubisky, as well? That's fair but the Bengals not only dropped a brutal 23-20 decision to the Steelers on Monday but they but may have also lost RB Joe Mixon (leading rusher at 518 yards) and linebacker Vontaze Burfict to concussions in the hard-hitting affair. Both players missed practice during the week while in concussion protocol. Note that Chicago kept Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers out of the end zone the entire way last week, losing only when former Bear Robbie Gould booted five FGs in his return to the Windy City, including a game-winner with just four seconds to play. The Bears have been within one score (except at Philly) in all losses with Trubisky, while the Bengals have only covered 11 of their last 30 regular season games. Make Chicago a 10* play.
|12-04-17||Steelers -4.5 v. Bengals||Top||23-20||Loss||-107||35 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The Steelers and Bengals have developed a big rivalry over the years but in fairness, it's been pretty much one-sided (Pittsburgh leads the series 61-35). The Steelers will visit Paul Brown Stadium for MNF on a six-game winning streak and looking to match New England's 10-2 record (with a win) for the AFC';s top mark. The Bengals enter on a modest two-game winning streak, after wins over the sad-sack Broncos (eight straight losses) and Browns (0-12 on the season). Cincinnati checks in at 5-6 and an upset would keep them alive in what's becoming a very crowded AFC wild card field.
Pittsburgh: The latest version of the "Killer Bs" lead the Pittsburgh offense. QB Ben Roethlisberger is rounding into form after a shaky start to the year and has 2,948 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 INTs, "Big Ben" threw five iNTs in that Oct. 8 home loss to the Jags but in the team' six-game winning streak, has 14 TDs and just five total INTs. Le’Veon Bell held out in the preseason and started slowly but he's re-established himself as the NFL's most dominant RB with 981 rushing yards (5 TDs) plus 61 receptions for 396 yards. Only Atlanta's Julio Jones can make an argument against Antonio Brown being the NFL's best WR and I'm not buying Jones. Brown has 80 catches for 1,195 yards and eight TDs. The Pittsburgh defense (as always) is among the NFL's best units. The Steelers allow 289.4 YPG (3rd) and 17.5 PPG (4th).
Cincinnati: The Bengals are off a 30-16 win in Week 12 over the Browns but enter averaging just 18.1 PPG (25th) on an NFL-low 274.3 YPG (note; Cincy has scored 30 points just twice in 2017, both times against the still win-less Browns!). Good news last week was rookie RB Joe Mixon finally showing some sizzle by rushing for a season-high 114 yards and a TD and catching three passes for 51 yards. However, it did come against Cleveland and the Bengals' rushing attack averages only 75.6 YPG (ranks dead-last at 32nd). QB Andy Dalton has nine TDs and zero INTs since the team's Week 7 loss to the Steelers but he will likely remember that he was sacked four times, picked off twice and the Bengals managed a meager 19 total yards in the second half in that 29-14 loss. Wideout A.J. Green has a team-high 809 receiving yards (52 catches / 6 TDs), which is more than double any other Bengals player (2nd-best has 373 yards receiving). As noted. the offense ranks 32nd overall and in rushing, so Dalton's job is not an easy one. However, the Cincy D has been solid, allowing 19.5 PPG (10th) on 330.5 YPG (14th).
The pick: The Bengals have won two in a row to stay within striking distance of the final playoff berth in the AFC but they will be taking a major step up in class against this bitter rival. Cincinnati's last three wins have come over the Browns, Broncos and Colts! The Bengals were dominated by the Steelers 29-14 in Pittsburgh in Week 7 (see above) and will it change much here, even in Cincy? I can't see why it should. The Steelers have beaten the Bengals five straight and have not lost at Paul Brown Stadium since 2013. Make Pittsburgh a 10* play.
|12-03-17||Eagles v. Seahawks +6||Top||10-24||Win||100||123 h 58 m||Show|
The set-up: NBC Sunday Night Football gets Week 13's marquee NFL matchup as the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles, owners of a nine-game winning streak and the NFL's best record, visits CenturyLink Field to take on the the 7-4 Seattle Seahawks. This could be a battle of QBs. Philly's Carson Wentz leads the NFL's top-ranked scoring unit (31.9 PPG) per game). He tossed three TD passes in the Eagles' 31-3 Week 12 win over the Bears and has thrown 22 of his NFL-best 28 TD passes in the last seven games to put his name firmly in the mix for MVP honors. Wentz' counterpart is Seattle's Russell Wilson, who is third in the league in passing TDs (23), is tied for fourth in passing yards per game (275) and is responsible for nearly 86 percent of his team's scrimmage yards (talk about a "one-man gang!").
Philadelphia: Wentz has had a terrific sophomore season with 20 TDs and zero interceptions in the red zone. He's got a developing corps of receivers led by TE Ertz (55 catches / 7 TDs) plus WRs Jeffrey (43 catches / 7 TDs) and Agholor (33 catches / 6 TDs). The running game is strong, averaging 147.5 YPG (2nd). LeGarrette Blount led the team with 97 yards vs. the Bears and has 658 yards on the season (4.8 YPC). Philly traded for Miami' Ajayi and while he seems to be just a 'spot' player, let's note that in three games, he has 194 rushing yards while averaging 9.7 YPC! Let's not move on until mentioning the Philly D, which allows just 17.4 PPG (3rd) on 291.6 YPG (6th).
Seattle: The Seahawks are currently one game behind the 8-3 Rams in the NFC West plus find themselves losing a tie-breaker to the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC's final wild card spot. The Seahawks stayed one game back of the Rams with last Sunday's 24-13 win at San Francisco. Russell Wilson was 20 of 34 for 228 yards with two TDs and one INT. He has 23 TDs and just eight INTs on the season plus is Seattle's leading rusher with 401 yards (6.2 YPC / 3 TDs). WR Baldwin leads with 58 catches but TE Graham is coming on strong with 49 receptions and a team-high eight TD catches (all in the last seven games). Seattle's "Legion of Boom" defense has suffered key injuries but Seattle remains a solid defensive team, allowing 19.3 PPG (9th) on 311.7 YPG (8th)
The pick: The Eagles have been terrific but they have played just two teams which currently own a winning record, Kansas City (a Week 2 loss) and Carolina (a Week 6 win). A check of the record book reveals that Russell is an impressive 37-7 SU (.841) at home as a starting QB in the regular season. Seattle as a home dog? I can't pass on that! Make Seattle a 10* play.
|12-03-17||Lions v. Ravens -2.5||Top||20-44||Win||100||115 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: Two 6-5 teams will meet at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sunday and the loser's playoff hopes will clearly be damaged. The Lions took a three-game winning streak into their Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Vikings but the 30-23 loss all but ended Detroit's division hopes. A second straight loss here could be a 'killer' for the Lions' wild card chances. As for the Ravens, they come in having won three of their last four and currently the team's 6-5 record is good enough for the AFC's final playoff spot (No. 6 seed).
Detroit: QB Matthew Stafford signed a five-year, $135 million deal in the summer to become the highest-paid player in the NFL. He's NOT the league's best player or QB but he's completed 62.5 percent for 3,010 yards with 21 TDs and six INTs (QB rating of 97.3). He's had multiple TD passes in the four straight games and in eight of 11 this season. Detroit's much-maligned rushing game takes plenty of hits (78.3 YPG ranks 30th) but Ameer Abdullah (505 YR / 3.4 YPC / 3 TDs) had been a positive factor of late with three TDs (two rushing, one receiving) during the team's three-game winning streak, before being shut down by the Vikings. Golden Tate leads with 63 catches but Jones averages 16.6 YPC on his 44 catches with eight TDs. The defense has been below average all season and enters allowing 24.0 PPG (22nd) on 359.4 YPG (26th).
Baltimore: While Detroit has received excellent QB play, the Ravens' Flacco has struggled all season. He's thrown just nine TD passes with 11 INTs, giving him a QB rating of 74.2. Baltimore's average of 164.3 YPG passing ranks dead-last (32) in the NFL. The lack of explosiveness is reflected in the fact that veteran TE Ben Watson (42) and RB Javorius Allen (41) are 1-2 on the team in receptions. The running game is no better than average (116.8 YPG ranks 16th) and the Ravens' are fortunate to be averaging 21.5 PPG (18th). However, the team's D has forced a league-high 26 takeaways (18 INTs is also an NFL-high), giving Baltimore a turnover ratio of plus-11 (again, best in the NFL).
The pick: The Baltimore D has three shutouts this season but truthfully, it's not what it was in the Ray Lewis era. Then again, Baltimore's stop unit is doing just that. It allows 305.7 YPG (7th) but along with a league-best 26 takeaways, allows just 17.0 PPG, which ranks second. For all of Stafford's nice numbers, he's 0-3 in the playoffs and has never been known as a 'finisher.' Neither have the Lions, as they are just 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games in December. Make Baltimore an 8* play.
|11-30-17||Redskins +1.5 v. Cowboys||Top||14-38||Loss||-112||51 h 54 m||Show|
The set-up: The Dallas Cowboys welcome the Washington Redskins to AT&T Stadium for Thursday Night Football. This has traditionally been one of the league's great rivalries but this Week 13 meeting features two 5-6 teams with all but zero chance to win the NFC East plus neither team is really 'alive' in the wild card hunt, either. That said, the Redskins at least have a glimmer of hope, as none of their final five opponents currently own a winning record. That includes the Cowboys, who are now 0-3 SU & ATS since "Zeke" began serving his suspension, getting out-scored 92-to-22!
Washington: The Redskins only put up 20 points in their Week 12 win over the Giants but QB Kirk Cousins did throw for 242 yards with two TDs (one INT). He's having another strong season (66.2% for 3,038 yards with 19 TDs and six INTs, giving him a QB rating of 101.3) and it seems as only Washington management is not high on this guy." Rookie RB Samaje Perine has given the running game a huge lift with 217 rushing yards in his last two contests and with Elliott sidelined, he's the best RB on the field. Perine, second-year Redskins receiver Josh Doctson (21 catches / 15.6 YPC / 4 TDs) and kicker Nick Rose (10 if 11 on FG attempt) are likely looking forward to returning to their home state to face a Cowboys defense that has given up more than its share of points, yards and big plays of late. That Washington defense should also be looking forward to taking advantage of a struggling Dallas offense (see above & below).
Dallas: Many wondered who was more important to Dallas last year, "Zeke" or Dak. Right now, it's hard to argue against Elliott being the more important 'piece,' as Dallas has scored just one TD in three games without him (averaging 7.3 PPG), while Prescott has looked lost. His protection has been awful (14 sacks) and that has contributed to his woes but he's averaged just 166.7 YPG passing (high of 179) with five INTs and not a single TD pass (88 attempts) in the Cowboys' three-game slide. FYI...Zak threw just four INTs in his rookie season of 2016, in 459 pass attempts!
The pick: The Redskins lost 33-19 to the Cowboys in Week 8 at FedEx Field but in that one, Elliott rushed for a season-high 150 yards and two TDs, fueling the Dallas offense in the win over Washington the way he did for much of the 2016 season. That was then and this is now. Not only has the Dallas offense 'hit a brick wall' (the Cowboys have failed to score at least 10 points in three straight games for the first time in franchise history) but its defense has allowed an average of 30.7 PPG in the team's 0-3 SU & ATS slide. QBs Ryan, Wentz and Rivers have thrown for 817 yards (272.3 per) with seven TDs and just one INT (in 89 pass attempts). Past history means little right now. Cousins is next up to rip the Dallas D and the Zeke-less Dallas offense can't keep up. Make Washington an 8* play.
|11-27-17||Texans +7.5 v. Ravens||Top||16-23||Win||100||22 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: There weren't many bigger individually stories in NFL 2017 than the play of the Texans' DeShaun Watson. Just some of his highlights were his 4 TD passes and one rush TD in Week 4's 57–14 win over the Titans. He followed that performance on SNF vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. He had five TD passes in that 42-34 loss and in a Week 8 loss in Seattle (41-38), he posted his first career game with over 400 passing yards (also threw 4 TD passes). Watson threw 16 TDs in the month of October, setting the NFL record for most TD passes by a rookie in a calendar month. However, he suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact play during practice, which prematurely ended his rookie season on Nov. 2. The Texans are now 4-6 as they prepare to visit Baltimore to face the 5-5 Ravens with backup Tom Savage making his fifth start of the season. A win would give Baltimore a 6-5 record, tying them with the Bills and I'm pretty sure the Ravens would own the tie-breaker for the AFC's final wild card spot. A win would hardly be a surprise, as since head coach John Harbaugh took over the team in 2008, Baltimore has gone 11-1 in night games, the best mark in the NFL. The Ravens have also won nine consecutive prime-time matchups, also the longest streak in the NFL.
|11-26-17||Broncos v. Raiders -4||Top||14-21||Win||100||53 h 33 m||Show|
The setup: The KC Chiefs were initially on pace to "run away" with the AFC West title, opening 5-0. However, KC has brought teams like the Chargers and Raiders back into the division hunt by dropping four of its last five games. The Chargers, who opened 0-4, have won five of six after their Thanksgiving Day win in Dallas and are now 5-6. The 4-6 Oakland Raiders now have a chance to get to 5-6 themselves, when they host the 3-7 Denver Broncos in Week 12. Neither the Chargers nor the Raiders can control what KC does but the Chiefs sure look vulnerable these days.
Denver: The Broncos hardly look like a team ready to break their six-game slide, after dropping a 20-17 home decision to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. After giving up on Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler was handed the starting job and last week he was 23 of 42 for 254 yards with on TD and one INT. To no one's real surprise, he's been no better than Siemian, completing 53.0% of his 117 attempts for 164.8 YPG passing with three TDs and four INTs (65.5 QB rating). The job is now being handed to Paxton Lynch, the team's first round draft pick from 2016 (26th overall). He won't get much help from a running game that averages only 112.9 YPG (15th). Denver's "O' is now averaging a pathetic 18.3 PPG (24th) and while its once-feared defense is allowing an impressive 283.2 YPG (3rd) and the Broncos are allowing 25.9 PPG, which ranks 29th!
Oakland: The Raiders were a 'sexy' preseason pick to win the AFC but after 2-0 start, Oakland has won just two of eight games. Last Sunday's game in Mexico City against the Patriots was 'ugly,' as they fell 33-8. QB Derek Carr completed 28 of his 49 pass attempts for 237 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Marshawn Lynch led Oakland’s ground attack with 67 yards. Carr has struggled with back issues (64.0% / 14-8 ratio / 88.2 QB rating) and Lynch has been a huge bust (390 YR), as Oakland ranks 27th with 89.7 YPG on the ground. The defense has sure not be an asset, allowing 24.7 PPG (22nd) on 367.1 YPG (21st).
The pick: Denver is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these two teams in Oakland. However, those were much different Bronco teams and the Raiders, although not as good as advertised in 2017, are still a team with some 'life!' Denver's last win came back on Oct. 1, 16-10 at home against these Raiders. However, the Broncos are 0-4 SU and ATS on the road in 2017, getting outscored 31.8-to-14.5 PPG! Make Oakland an 8* play.
|11-26-17||Browns +8 v. Bengals||Top||16-30||Loss||-105||60 h 14 m||Show|
The set-up: The Cleveland Browns remain the NFL's lone win-less team at 0-10 (lost last Sunday at home to the Jags 19-7) and will be on the road to face AFC North rival the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Bengals are 4-6, after snapping a three-game skid last week by edging the Broncos last Sunday 20-17 in Denver. The Bengals crushed the Browns 31-7 at Cleveland back in Week 4 (Cincy's first win after an 0-3 start) and despite the team's 4-6 mark, a wild card berth is not yet "out of the question."
Cleveland. The Browns are now 1-25 under head coach Hue Jackson and while the team's problems go much deeper than its head coach, one still has to wonder just how much losing will it take for the team to make a head coaching change? The Browns held the Jags to 19 points last Sunday but gained only 184 yards themselves, as QB Kizer threw two INTs and coughed up two fumbles (team had five giveaways). Kizer is completing just 52.5% with five TDs, 14 INTs (QB rating of 54.0) and six lost fumbles. Kizer's 22 rushing yards was a team-high, as the Browns offer their passing game little 'cover,' averaging 101.2 YPG on the ground (23rd). The Browns enter as the NFL's lowest scoring team (15.0 PPG). Their defense allows 313.7 YPG (ranks 8th) but the team also allows 25.9 PPG, which ranks 27th. That's indicative of the team owning the worst TO margin (minus-17) of any NFL team.
Cincinnati: The Bengals only scored 20 points and won by just three points at Denver but QB Andy Dalton, despite throwing for a modest 154 yards, had three TD passes. Dalton has re-invigorated the deep passing game with four TD passes of 18 yards or more over the past two games, after having just three through the first eight outings. A.J. Green has scored in consecutive weeks and ranks eighth in the NFL with 743 yards receiving and is tied for third with six TDs The Bengals' running game averages only 68.0 YPG (32nd!) and is a big reason Cincy ranks 32nd in total yards (265.6 per game), as well as 29th in scoring at 16.9 PPG. The defense is pretty solid, allowing 19.9 PPG (10th) on 323.0 YPG (12th).
The pick; Cleveland is just the third team in NFL history to start consecutive seasons at 0-10 but just like last year, there figures to be one week in which the Browns "break through." Maybe I'm "spitting into the wind" or "pulling on Superman's cape" but I;m taking the points and making the Browns a 10* play.
|11-23-17||Giants v. Redskins -7||Top||10-20||Win||100||56 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: The Giants had seemingly hit "rock bottom" with their 31-21 Week 10 loss at San Francisco (49ers entered that game 0-9) but lo and behold, the Giants won last Sunday 12-9 over the Chiefs in OT, as a double-digit home dog! The 2-8 Giants and NFC East rival Washington will face off in the nightcap of Thanksgiving's three-game NFL card. The Redskins come into the game having blew a 15-point lead in the final six minutes of an eventual 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans last Sunday. The defeat dropped them to 11th place in the NFC playoff standings, two games out of the final playoff spot.
NY Giants: Can New York build off its upset of the Chiefs? Eli and the offense did little but the defense was a revelation. The Giants allowed an NFC-best 17.6 PPG in 2016 but entered last week's game having allowed 26.4 PPG to rank 28th in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs came in averaging 28.1 PPG but the Giants held them to just three FGs and QB Alex Smith, who came in with 18 TD passes and just one INT (in 293 pass attempts), was picked off three times! Eli Manning completed just 19 of 35 passes (54.3 percent) and failed to throw a TD pass for the first time since the season opener.
Washington: The Redskins no longer have any margin for error plus will need to get some help to make the playoffs. Last Sunday's loss to the Saints was the second in a row but it would be hard to blame QB Kirk Cousins. He threw for 322 yards and three TDs against New Orleans. It was his second-straight 300-plus-yard effort through the air (the fourth in his last six games) and he has 17 TDs and just five INTs on the season witha 101.8 QB rating. RB Samaje Perine added 117 rushing yards and a TD on 23 carries. It was Washington's defense which has cost the Redskins the last two weeks, allowing 38 points to the Vikings and 34 to the Saints.
The pick: Congrats to the Giants for the upset of the Chiefs but that New York offense looks inept. Sure, the defense was great last Sunday but it has struggled almost all season. Cousins is playing great (see above for a reminder) and let's not forget that Washington's back-to-back loses have come against the Vikings and Saints, two 8-2 teams. This just in...the 2-8 Giants are NOT in that class. Beginning with the Giants, none of the teams left on Washington's remaining schedule currently own a winning record. Just maybe, the postseason is not a pipe dream? Lay it here and make Washington a 10* play.
|11-23-17||Vikings v. Lions +3||Top||30-23||Loss||-105||48 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Vikings have won six in a row and now own a two-game lead in the NFC North as they head to Ford Field early Thursday afternoon to take on the Detroit Lions. The Lions have won three straight, beating the Packers, Browns and Bears to reach 6-4. That means the Lions need to win here or fall three games back of the Vikings, with just five games remaining. Detroit is tied with the Falcons and Seahawks (Atlanta would win the tie-breaker as of now, giving them the NFC's No. 6 seed) plus the Packers and Cowboys are lurking at 5-5..
Minnesota: The Vikings will sure remember the last time these teams met, as the Lions won 14-7 at Minnesota, with the Vikings losing three fumbles. However, the Vikes haven't lost since. Case Keenum has 'rescued' the offense, entering this contest completing 65.7% for 2,194 yards with 12 TDs and five INTs (he's 6-2 as a starter in 2017). The loss of rookie RB Dalvin Cook was supposed to all but 'kill' the running game but Murray (412 yards) and McKinnon (367 yards) have filled in well, with Minnesota entering this game averaging 123.3 YPG on the ground (8th). WR Adam Thielen has an NFC-best 916 receiving yards while his 16 catches of at least 20 yards has the 27-year-old tied with Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown for the league lead. However, the Vikings' defense has led the way in 2017, allowing 17.2 PPG (4th) on 290.5 YPG (5th).
Detroit: QB Matthew Stafford signed a five-year, $135 million deal in the summer to become the highest-paid player in the NFL. He's NOT the league's best player or QB but he's completed 63.1 percent for 2,760 yards with 19 TDs and five INTs (QB rating of 98.4). He's had multiple TD passes in the three straight wins and in seven of 10 this season. Detroit's much-maligned rushing game takes plenty of hits (80.8 YPG ranks 28th) but Ameer Abdullah (491 YR / 3.4 YPC / 3 TDs) has been a positive factor of late with three TDs (two rushing, one receiving) during the team's three-game winning streak. The Lions have averaged 31.7 points during their three-game winning streak and now rank 5th in the league, at 27.1 PPG.
The pick: Thi game is YUGE for the Lions (see above for implications) and as of late (like the team's 14-7 win at Minny in Week 4), the Lions have ground out numerous low-scoring wins over the Vikings these last four seasons. Detroit has won five of the last seven meetings, including three straight despite scoring a combined four TDs. The Lions have won four straight Thanksgiving Day games at Ford Field, helping them to make the playoffs in two of those seasons (had lost nine straight games on Thanksgiving prior to the streak). Stafford's been brilliant the past five Thanksgiving games, with 13 TD passes against just two interceptions. Make the Lions an 8* play.