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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|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.
|01-13-18||Falcons v. Eagles OVER 41||Top||10-15||Loss||-115||137 h 51 m||Show|
The set-up: Surely no one reading this would be 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 a 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. However, Falcons began their quest to return to the Super Bowl as the NFC's representative last Saturday with a wire-to-wire 26-13 win over the Rams in Los Angeles. The Philadelphia Eagles boasted the NFL's top mark throughout much of the season and tied a franchise record with 13 wins but as everyone knows, the team was 11-2 when Carson Wentz was lost for the season due to injury. Nick Foles finished off that game against the Giants in style but looked very 'shaky' as the Eagles went 1-1 with him as as a starter (more in a bit). So, the Eagles find themselves as the first No. 1 seed to enter its opening playoff game as an underdog in league history.
Atlanta: QB Matt Ryan (personal reasons) and WR Julio Jones (ankle, ribs) both missed practice Tuesday but are expected to start on Saturday. Ryan was 21 of 30 for 218 yards and a touchdown in the 13-point win over the Rams., giving him his first road playoff win in three starts. Jones reeled in nine receptions for 94 yards and a TD grab last week. The Falcons also possess a potent RB tandem in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (combined for 1,493 rushing yards and 12 TDs this season). PK Matt Bryant nailed four FGs against the Rams and the Atlanta defense held the Rams (the league's highest-scoring team in the regular season at 29.9 PPG, to just one TD and 13 points. Speaking of that Atlanta defense, it has stepped up its game by allowing just 16.3 PPG over its last six games.
Philadelphia" Without Wentz, it's difficult to note Philly's offensive numbers during the regular season. Foles was outstanding in relief of Wentz vs. the Giants (24 of 38 with four TD passes) but was a combined 23 of 49 for 202 yards (one TD / two INTs) in Weeks 16 & 17. He hasn't given Philly's fickle fans much to cheer by leading the Eagles to just 16 points in their last nine quarters. Philly does have a solid running game though, averaging 132.3 YPG on the ground (3rd-best). The Philly defense has been terrific all season and comes in ranked 4th in scoring (18.4 PPG) and total D (306.5 YPG). Philly's No. 1 rush D (79.2 YPG) will be a real test for Atlanta's running game.
The pick: The Eagles can silence the critics on Saturday when they host the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field, where they went 7-1 SU As alluded to above, the Eagles are the first top seed to be a home dog in the Division Round since the seeding system was introduced in 1975. However, last season's NFL MVP, Matt Ryan told reporters after the win over the Rams, "We're not here just to get here. We want to make noise while we're here." Ryan had just recorded his fifth consecutive playoff game with at least a 100.0 passer rating in Atlanta's 26-13 win over the Los Angeles Rams Motivation abounds on both sides and while Foles is no Ryan, he did have that 'magical' 2013 season for Philly back in 2013 when he threw 27 TDs and just two INTs (119.2 QB rating) in 13 games. Make the Over a 10* play.
|01-07-18||Panthers v. Saints OVER 48||Top||26-31||Win||100||120 h 30 m||Show|
The set-up: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be the site of the last of four NFL wild card games this weekend. The Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints both finished 11-5 in 2017 but New Orleans won both regular season meetings, earning the Saints home field advantage for this contest. After opening 0-2, the Saints won 34-13 at Carolina in Week 3, jump-starting an eight game winning streak. The Panthers were just 4-3 after seven games but won seven of their final nine but the team's 31-21 Week 13 loss at New Orleans plus a 22-10 Week 17 loss in Atlanta, cost Carolina a chance to host this wild card contest. Conventional wisdom states that "it's hard to beat the same team three times in one season." However, teams that swept the regular-season series also won the playoff rematch 13 out of 20 times since 1970. So here we are.
Carolina: Cam Newton threw for for just 180 yards with one TD and three interceptions on 14-of-34 passing in the Week 17 loss in Atlanta. Newton clearly needs to bring his "A game" to this contest as he's basically a one-man show. He's far off his MVP numbers of 2015 (59.1% with a 22-16 ratio and an 80.7 QB rating) but Newton 's 754 rushing yards (5.4 YPC and six TDs) is a team high and his effectiveness is the main reason why Carolina ranks 4th in rushing on the season at 131.4 YPG. Stewart is the leading RB with 680 yards but he averages only 3.4 YPG. Rookie McCaffrey has added 435 yards (3 TDs) but his biggest contribution is his team-leading 80 catches (5 TDs). Devin Funchess is the team's best (only?) WR, with 63 catches and a team high 8 TD grabs. Carolina's D is allowing 20.4 PPG (11th) on 317.1 YPG (7th).
New Orleans: Discussions surrounding the Saints always start (and mostly end) with Drew Brees. However, things have changed in 2017. It's not that Brees has not been terrific but rather that the Saints' ground game and much-maligned defense, have made major improvements. The seemingly ageless Brees will turn 39 on Jan. 15 and had another 4,000-plus passing season (4,334 yards) and completed 72.0% of his passes. His TDs were down (23) but he threw just eight INTs and his QB rating checks in at 103.9. Anyone hear lately how the Saints made a mistake in sending A.P. to the Cards? Ingram ran for 1,234 yards (4.9 YPC & 12 TDs), while rookie RN Kamara ran for 728 yards (6.1 YPC & 8 TDs) plus caught 81 passes for another five TDs. Then there is the New Orleans' D, which after allowing 29.8 and 28.4 PPG the last two seasons, allowed just 20.4 PPG (10th) in 2017.
The pick: The Panthers haven't been able to slow the Saints in either of the two regular season meetings (allowed 34 and 31 points) and why should the Saints struggle to score here? After all, the Saints are 7-1 SU at home, averaging 31.0 PPG. That said, I expect Newton to be effective in this, his first postseason game since he and his team was dominated by the Broncos' D in the Super Bowl after the 2015 season. I'll stay away from the side but will make the Over 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||Panthers v. Falcons OVER 45||Top||10-22||Loss||-110||115 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-6 Atlanta Falcons may never get over having a 28-3 lead in last year's Super Bowl, before losing in OT. However, the team can take a "first step" towards doing just that by winning here at home in its showdown with NFC South rival Carolina. It's hardly been smooth sailing for the Falcons this season but the scenario is quite simple, beat the Panthers and no matter what happens in Seattle, the Falcons will advance to the playoffs as the NFC's No. 6 seed. The 11-4 Panthers have rebounded nicely from last season 6-10 'disaster,' but with a win here and a loss by the Saints (home to the Bucs), Carolina would win the NFC South. Even better, if the Rams lose on Sunday too, the Panthers would wind up with the NFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye! Carolina: Cam Newton didn't match his MVP numbers of 2015 but without much offensive help, he's led the Panthers back into the postseason. Newton has 3,122 passing yards with 21 TDs and 13 INTs. He's also the team's leading rusher with 695 yards (5.4 YPC) and six TDs. Stewart has 680 yards rushing but averages just 3.4 YPC. Rookie McCaffrey added 421 yards (2 TDs) but also leads the team with 75 receptions (5 TDs). Carolina ranks 11th with 23.5 PPG and its defense has been very good, allowing just 313.5 YPG (7th) and 20.3 PPG (12th). Atlanta: Despite all the teams ups and downs this season, the Falcons could have captured the NFC South by beating the Saints last Sunday in New Orleans and then beating the Panthers here in Atlanta in Week 17. However, Atlanta was knocked out of contention for the division title with a 23-13 loss at New Orleans last week.That means Atlanta must beat the Panthers here, as they can hardly expect Seattle to lose at home vs. the Cardinals. Matt Ryan has a modest 19 TD passes (with 12 INTs), giving him a QB rating of 91.4. That's quite a drop-off from his MVP numbers of 2016, when he had 38 TDs (17 INTs) and a 117.1 QB rating. Atlanta was the NFL's highest scoring team last season (33.8 PPG) but enters Week 17 averaging just 22.1 PPG (15th). The Atlanta defense has held its own, ranking 11th in allowing 20.3 PPG on 323.1 YPG (10th). The pick: No one is quite sure how Carolina will play this one, as if the Saints win at Tampa Bay, the Panthers can't do much about their playoff seed. However, both of these games start at 4:25 ET. I'm betting the Panthers go "all out" and that's exactly what I expect from the Falcons, as well. Make the Over 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||Jaguars v. 49ers UNDER 42.5||Top||33-44||Loss||-110||122 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The Jacksonville Jaguars have won three in a row and seven of their last eight. Last week's 45-7 rout of Houston moved the Jags to 10-4 and clinched the team's first playoff appearance since 2007. The Jags will visit Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon to take on the suddenly rejuvenated San Francisco 49ers, who with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, have won three in a row to sit at 4-10. The Jaguars have made a remarkable turnaround from a three-win season to earn a postseason berth and can clinch their first division title since 1999 with a victory. Jacksonville owns a two-game lead over Tennessee and will secure the division crown with a win or tie against the 49ers, or if the Titans tie or lose to the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers will be home for the postseason but optimism is running high in the Bay Area after wins over the Bears, Texans and Titans. Fans can see a light at the end of tunnel.
Jacksonville. QB Blake Bortles was almost run out of town during the preseason but the Jags didn't have a "Plan B," so Bortles was "their man." Bortles continued his torrid play last week, throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns for a 143.8 passer rating. He is the now the first QB in franchise history to register a 100-plus passer rating, multiple TD passes and no interceptions in three consecutive games. He's completing 61.0% on the season with 19 TDs and just eight INTs. Rookie Leonard Fournette, who missed last week's game with a quadriceps injury, ranks third among NFL rookies with 1,136 scrimmage yards and is tied for second in TDs by a rookie with nine. He leads the team with 923 rushing yards and the Jags are the league's top rushing unit at 149.1 YPG. The there's that Jags' D which made great strides last year but gave up too many points because of all the Jags' TOs (see Bortles). However, Jacksonville comes into this game allowing a league-low 14.9 PPG on 284.1 YPG (3rd), while leading the NFL with 51 sacks.
San Francisco. From the start of the 2016 season through their 11th game of this season, the 49ers managed three wins. However, last Sunday’s 25-23 victory over the Titans means they’ve now won three games in the last three weeks and it isn’t hard to find the guy getting the credit for that change of fortunes. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has started all three of those wins and he’s leading an offense that’s gone over 400 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2011. All three wins have come after the 49ers trailed in the second half and Sunday’s win saw Garoppolo complete three quick passes to move the team in position for Robbie Gould‘s field goal as time expired. “I knew he was a great player; we all did,” right guard Brandon Fusco said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “We didn’t know he was this special.”
The pick: Garoppolo's been great but the Bears, Texans and Titans (his three 'victims') are NOT the Jags. Then again, the 49ers do catch the Jags off last week's rout of Houston, which clinched the franchise's first playoff berth since 2007. Can you say "let down?".Garoppolo’s getting most (all?) of the credit but let me note that 49er defense has yielded only 19.6 PPG over its last six games. Make the Under an 8* 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||Cowboys v. Raiders OVER 45.5||Top||20-17||Loss||-115||100 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: NBC's Sunday Night Football edition in Week 15 features the 7-6 Dallas Cowboys visiting the 6-7 Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys have rebounded from three straight loses to beat the Redskins and Giants in their last two, keeping the team's slim wild card hopes alive. The Raiders lost their Week 14 game at KC and at 6-7, sit one game back of the Chargers and Chiefs in the AFC West. Those two play Saturday night, so the Raiders can stay one game behind the winner of that contest and into a tie with the loser. Clearly, the loser of this game will be all but eliminated from postseason consideration.
Dallas: The Cowboys had scored a combined 22 points in losing three in a row, following the six-game suspension to RB Ezekiel Elliott. However, Dallas has scored 38 and 30 points in its back-to-back wins, with QB Dak Prescott breaking out for a career-high 332 yards against the Giants, along with three touchdown passes. RB Alfred Morris ran for 127 yards in the win over the 'Skins and RB Rod Smith had 160 yards from scrimmage with both a rushing and receiving touchdown vs. the Giants (47 rush yards / 113 receiving yards). That said, Dallas can't wait for Elliott to return, after this game.
Oakland: The Raiders' offense pretty much came up empty at KC last Sunday, with QB Derek Carr passing for a modest 211 yards (one TD and two INTs) and Marshawn Lynch gaining only 61 yards on the ground. Carr has 2,942 yards on the season with 18 TDs and 10 INTs (QB rating of 88.8), while Lynch has a disappointing 619 yards rushing on 4.2 YPC with seven TDs. The Raiders rank 15th in passing yards and only 26th in rushing, at 91.5 YPG. That all adds up to just 20.3 PPG, which ranks 21st.
The pick: "I think the two of us probably expected to have a few more wins at this point in the year," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said of his team and the Cowboys. "We are where we are and we’re looking forward to playing.” The winning team will have a daunting challenge ahead of them. Dallas has the Seahawks and Eagles remaining on its schedule, while Oakland still has to play the Eagles and Chargers. Not interested in "picking a winner" but considering Prescott has a 114.4 QB rating with eight TDs and zero interceptions in his last five road games and Carr has 21 TD passes versus just five interceptions in his last 10 home games, an 8* on the Over makes sense.
|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.
|12-16-17||Chargers v. Chiefs OVER 46||Top||13-30||Loss||-105||76 h 32 m||Show|
The set-up: The Los Angeles Chargers opened 0-4, before winning their Week 5 game against the winless Giants. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs began 5-0. Who could have possibly predicted back then that this Week 15 Saturday night game between the visiting Chargers and the homestanding Chiefs would be for sole possession of first-place in the AFC West. However, that's exactly the case, as both team's come in 7-6. KC's slide began with a 19-13 home loss to the Steelers in Week 6 and last Sunday;s 26-15 win over the Raiders ended a four-game slide, as well as a stretch in which the Chiefs had lost six of seven. The Chargers followed their win over the Giants with two more victories but back-to-back losses left them 3-6 entering Week 11. Eleven was a lucky number for the Chargers, as their 54-24 rout of the Bills has sparked a four-game winning streak.
LA Chargers: QB Philip Rivers is completing 62.8 percent of his passes for 3,611 yards, and is headed for another 4,000 yard passing season (that would make nine of 10!). He has 23 TDs and just seven interceptions for a QB rating of 97.2. WR Keenan Allen has stayed healthy and checks in with 83 catches for 1,143 yards and five TDs. TE Hunter has 42 catches (4 TDs), WR Williams 32 catches (3 TDs) and RB Gordon 43 catches (4 TDs). Gordon leads the team with 853 rushing yards (just 3.7 YPC) but also has six TDs. The Chargers' running game ranks just 24th (99.5 YPG) but Gordon has become a solid dual-purpose RB. The defense has been excellent, allowing just 17.3 YPG (2nd) .
Kansas City; The Chiefs finally saw the return of rookie RB Kareen Hunt in last Sunday's win over the Raiders. He rand for 116 yards, his first 100-yard games since Week 5 (had 100-plus yards four times in his first five games). QB Alex Smith was near-perfect through five games and while he's come back to earth, it's hard to argue with his 67.2% completions on the season (23-5 ratio) and his 104.4 QB rating. The Chiefs defense has been a weakness all season, ranking 30th against the run (124.8 YPG) and 28th versus the pass (248.5 YPG). However, they've been able to "limit the damage," allowing 22.2 PPG (15th). In last Sunday's win, they held the Raiders to 268 total yards and15 points, while forcing three turnovers .
The pick: KC dominated the first meeting, winning 24-10 in LA back in Week 3. However, both teams look very different now. Philip Rivers has led a resurgent offense, averaging 337.0 YPG through the air with eight TDs and not a single interception during the team's four-game winnings streak, LA is averaging 32.8 PPG in that span and I see little reason to expect the KC defense to "keep a lid" on this Rivers-led offense. As for KC, Smith continues his career season and Hunt, who ran for 172 yards against the Chargers in that first meeting, may just have "found his second wind" last Sunday. KC has won seven in this series, so don't expect them to "roll over." Make the Over is a 10* 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||Ravens v. Steelers OVER 43.5||Top||38-39||Win||100||121 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: The AFC North rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has quickly developed as one of the biggest, best and most-bitter in the entire NFL. The 7-5 Ravens will be hard-pressed to catch the Steelers for the division title but as Baltimore visits Heinz Field for Sunday Night Football, the Ravens currently own the AFC's No. 6 seed (final playoff spot). The 10-2 Steelers come into this matchup looking to build on their seven-game winning streak which currently has them tied with the Pats for the AFC's best record but as the owners of the tie-breaker (I'm sure the world knows the Pats and Steelers meet next Sunday in Pittsburgh).
Baltimore:The Ravens have a winning streak of their own but it's a modest three-gamer. Flacco has struggled all season at QB, as Baltimore ranks 31st in passing YPG at 171.0 per). He's completing 65.1% but has as many INTs as TD passes (11 each), giving him a QB rating of 77.1. WRs Mike Wallace (34) and Jeremy Maclin (36) have combined for 878 receiving yards and six TD reception (three each), while TE Benjamin Watson leads the team with 45 catches (just 7.7 YPC). RB Alex Collins leads the way with 705 yards rushing (4.9 YPC) but Baltimore ranks 12th overall on the ground, averaging 115.5 YPG. and four touchdowns. The defense is not comparable to the Ray Lewis-era units but the Ravens rank third in allowing 17.2 PPG (3rd) on 311.2 YPG (7th).
Pittsburgh: The Steelers fell behind the Bengals 17-0 last Monday but came back to win 23-20, keeping their No. 1 seed status intact. The "Killers Bs" are just that. Big Ben has thrown for 3,238 yards with 22 TDs and 13 INTs on the season but note that in the team's seven-game winning streak since losing 30-9 at home to the Jaguars (Roethlisberger threw five picks in that one!), he has a 16-6 TD-to-INT ratio. RB Le'Veon Bell got a slow start but now leads the NFL in rushing with 1,057 yards (also has 66 catches) plus WR Antonio Brown has 88 catches and an NFL-high 1,296 yards (nine TDs). Pittsburgh's D is comparable to Baltimore's, allowing 17.8 PPG (5th) on 294.7 YPG (4th).
The pick: When these teams met back in Week 4 (at Baltimore), it was not a typical Ba/Pit game, as the Steelers won handily, 26-9. This game figures to much more intense but note that the Ravens' OL is in much better health these days and Flacco has led the team to an average of 30.0 PPG in its three-game winning streak. Could the Steelers be caught looking ahead to their showdown in Week 15 with the Pats? I can't see that and Big Ben has thrived in his last five SNF home games, throwing 21 TDs and just three INTs with a 127.8 QB rating. How about an 8* on the Over.
|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.
|12-07-17||Saints v. Falcons OVER 53||Top||17-20||Loss||-110||49 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-3 New Orleans Saints lead the NFC South at 9-3 with the 8-4 Carolina Panthers sitting one game back. The Panthers are tied with the 8-4 Seahawks, with Seattle winning the tie-breaker to give them the NFC's No. 1 wild card spot. The Panthers on the No. 6 seed but a third member the the division is the 7-5 Atlanta Falcons (the defending NFC champs), who are lurking just one game back of the Seahawks and Panthers. Week 14's Thursday Night Football features the Saints and Falcons from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
New Orleans: The Saints saw their eight-game winning streak snapped in a Week 12 loss at the LA Rams but bounced back last Sunday with a 31-21 home win over the Panthers. Drew Brees is still a potent force (71.5% with 17 TDs and just 5 INTs / 104.2 QB rating) but the performances of RBs Mark Ingram Alvin Kamara have somewhat re-defined the Saints' offense. The New Orleans rushing game is averaging 142.6 YPG (3rd), with Ingram gaining 922 yards (5.1 YPC / 9 TDs) and Kamara adding 606 yards (7.0 YPC / 5 TDs). Kamara has four more TDs on 59 catches, while Ingram has 42 catches but no TDs. Then there is the New Orleans' D, which has been a (the?) major reason the Saints have missed the playoffs three straight seasons going 8-8, 8-8 and 7-9. Starting from that 7-9 season, New Orleans' had allowed 26.5 PPG on 384.0 YPG, then 29.8 PPG on 413.8 YPG and finally 28.4 PPG on 375.4 YPG. This year's unit is allowing 20.2 PPG on 330.1 YPG, with both figures ranking 12th-best!
Atlanta: The Falcons welcomed the Vikings to Atlanta last Sunday on a three-game winning streak. However, QB Matt Ryan passed for just 173 yards on 16-of-29 with 0 TDS and INTs, while Atlanta was not able to score a TD (had three 38 FGs in a 14-9 loss). Ryan (3,057 yards with 16 TDs and eight INTs / 95.4 QB rating) has not played like he did last year when he was league MVP (he threw for 4,944 yards with TDs, 7 INTs and had a QB rating of 117.1). Atlanta boasts a potent pair of RBs in its own right in Devonta Freeman (589 yards / 4.6 YPC / 3 TDs and Tevin Coleman (569 yards / 4.3 YPC / 6 TDs. Freeman returned from a concussion in a 14-9 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, gaining 74 yards on just 12 carries. However, the Atlanta rushing attack averages a more modest 115.6 YPG to rank 11th. WR Julio Jones owns an NFC-best 1,063 receiving yards (68 catches) but was limited to two catches for 24 yards versus the Vikings. Atlanta led the NFL in averaging 33.8 PPG last season but comes in averaging only 22.8 PPG in 2017, which ranks 14th. The defense has been solid, allowing 20.3 PPG (13th) on 321.0 YPG (8th).
The pick: The Saints have already beaten the Panthers twice in 2017 and now play the Falcons tonight and then again in Week 16 (two times in three weeks). A win here would put New Orleans in a great spot and put Atlanta's playoff chances on 'life support.' Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian seemed to have finally gotten on the same page in Atlanta's three-game winnings (had averaged 31.7 PPG) but it all collapsed against the Minnesota D. Yes, New Orleans' D is greatly improved but shutting down Atlanta a second straight week will be tough, especially considering how badly Atlanta needs this game. These teams played a pair of shootouts in 2016, with Atlanta winning both by scores of 45-32 and 38-32. I'll stay away from calling for an Atlanta win but will say make the Over 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||Browns v. Chargers OVER 41.5||Top||10-19||Loss||-108||119 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The 0-11 Cleveland Browns, the NFL's lone win-less team, travels to Los Angeles and StubHub Center to take on the rejuvenated LA Chargers. The Chargers opened 0-4, just like the Browns, but unlike Cleveland which has continued to lose, Los Angeles has won five of its last seven. LA will take the field just 5-6 on the season but thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs' collapse (KC has lost five of six after a 5-0 start), the Chargers are just one game out of first in the AFC West. Getting back to Cleveland, the Browns are desperately seeking their first win of 2017, as the team's two-year 'nightmare' continues (Browns are 1-26 under head coach Hue Jackson).
Cleveland: The Browns are still looking for their first victory since Christmas Eve of last year and Cleveland hasn't won a road game since October of 2015. Other than that, things are great! QB DeShone Kizer hardly looks ready for prime time, completing 53.0 percent with five TDs and 14 INTs (QB rating of 57.2). He gets little help from his running (107.4 YPG ranks 17th) and Cleveland 'brings up the rear" in averaging an NFL-low 15.1 PPG. However, the team has to be excited that WR Josh Gordon returning to action for the first time since Dec. 21, 2014 due to his substance-abuse issues. "I'm just excited," Gordon, the NFL's top receiver in 2013, said during a press conference. "I'm having the most fun that I have ever had doing this, just playing ball, the love of it. That is the only thing that is giving me any type of - not really pressure - but kind of just boost, more than anything." Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013, when he caught 87 passes (nine for TDs) in 14 games while earning Pro Bowl honors. The Cleveland defense has not played all that badly (318.0 YPG ranks 9th) but the NFL's worst TO margin (minus-17) has contributed to them allowing 26.3 PPG, which ranks 30th.
LA Chargers: The Chargers look for a third straight victory to get back to a .500 record, after a 54-24 home win over the Bills and a 28-6 win at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Rivers completed 72.3% in those two wins, throwing for 685 yards with five TDs and no INTs. He's completing 62.1 percent for 2,948 yards with 20 TDs and seven INTs (95.2 rating). The Chargers rank 4th in passing YPG, putting Rivers on pace for his ninth 4,000-yard season in his last 10 years. RB Gordon is only averaging 3.7 YPC but has been a good all-purpose back. He's run for 698 yards (5 TDs) and caught 38 passes for four more TDs. WR Keenan Allen has stayed healthy and has 67 catches (13.8 YPC) with four TDs. The Chargers' D has also played well, allowing just 18.4 PPG (6th).
The pick: I noted at the top that the Browns last won back on Christmas Eve 2016. The Chargers won't need to be reminded of that here, considering they were the team the Browns beat last Christmas Eve, 20-17. The charged-up Bolts are eager to not only avenge last year's loss to Cleveland but to keep the pressure on KC, which plays at the Jets earlier in the day. Philip Rivers will make his 188th consecutive start and that is now the longest active streak in the league after the New York Giants demoted Eli Manning (210). Rivers looks great and it's hard to imagine Cleveland slowing him and the Chargers down (the Browns have allowed 30 or more points on six occasions in 2017). As for Cleveland, the return of Gordon can be nothing but good news and as Hue Jackson commented, "I have big plans for him. I plan for him to play, and play as much as he can handle. I think he is a very talented player. He needs to play, needs to get out there and play, but we have to see where he is and make sure how much can he handle, how much can he do." Make the Over an 8* play
|12-03-17||Colts v. Jaguars OVER 40.5||Top||10-30||Loss||-110||115 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: For a long time, the Indianapolis Colts dominated the AFC South, first led by Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck. However, the Colts entered the 2017 season off back-to-back seasons and with Andrew Luck never getting on the field, find themselves at 3-8 entering Week 13. The Colts would need to "win out" to reach 8-8 this season and we can be pretty sure that won't happen. Indy visits Jacksonville on Sunday and the 7-4 Jaguars are attempting to end a nine-season playoff drought. Jacksonville is tied with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South as it opens a three-game homestand on Sunday against the Colts.The Titans currently own the tie-breaker but the good news is the Jags currently own the AFC's No. 1 wild card spot.
Indianapolis: The Colts' season unraveled early as Luck has been unavailable due to a shoulder injury. The team's next loss will clinch its first losing campaign since 2011. "It's tough, but I know what type of guys we've got in this locker room - great group of guys who will come to work every day," veteran RB Frank Gore told reporters. "I know things haven't been going our way, and I think if we just handle the small things, I think that can change." Gore needs just 49 rushing yards against the Jaguars to pass Jerome Bettis (13,662) and LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) and move into fifth place on the all-time list but "he's dreaming" about this team turning things around. Jacoby Brissett is limited at QB (9 TDs / 5 INTs / QB rating of 86.0), as the Colts rank 26th in averaging 201.3 YPG (26th). Gore and the team's rushing 'attack' ranks 24th, averaging 95.3 YPG. That adds up to the team averaging only 17.2 PPG (27th). On the defensive side of the ball, Indy is allowing an NFL-worst 27.3 PPG on 375.8 YPG (29th). Go back and re-visit Gore's quote and try NOT to laugh!
Jacksonville: The Jags considered replacing QB Blake Bortles in the preseason but they didn't have a "plan B." Bortles has made fewer mistakes this season but he's is a liability. He's completing a modest 58.3% with just 12 TDs (albeit, just 8 INTs). The Jags rank just 28th with 194.8 YPG passing but have been bailed out offensively by the NFL's No. 1-ranked running game. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette has been up-and-down this season but his 765 yards (4.1 YPC / 6 TDs) is a team-high for a Jacksonville team averaging 154.3 YPG! Jacksonville's D played hard last season but the turnover-plagued offense kept many people from noticing. However, the Jags enter this Week 13 game ranked first in points allowed (15.3 per game) and yards allowed (281.8 per game).
The pick: Jacksonville is 3-0 ATS following a SU loss in 2017, with those victories coming by 37, 21 & 27 points. Maybe I should just "lay it" but this low total has me more interested. The Colts are allowing 33.2 PPG on the road and after getting shut out at home by the Jags, I think the Colts are more than capable of at least putting up their season average on offense (just shy of 18 points). Make the Over an 8* 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||Packers v. Steelers OVER 43.5||Top||28-31||Win||100||56 h 26 m||Show|
The set-up: The 5-5 Green Bay Packers' wild card hopes are quickly slipping away and they could sure use a win Sunday night at Heinz Field, after losing four of their last five games. The problem being, their opponents will be the 8-2 Pittsburgh Steelers, who have as won five straight games to tie the Patriots for the AFC's best record (Pittsburgh currently owns the tie-breaker for the No. 1 seed). This could have been a matchup of Super Bowl-winning QBs, Rodgers (one) vs. Roethlisberger (two) but instead Brett Hundley
Green Bay: The Packers are 1-3 with Hundley starting and he was awful in last Sunday's 23-0 home loss to the Ravens. He had four (three INTs and one fumble) of Green Bay's five TOs and comes into this game averaging 136.8 YPG passing with two TDs and seven INTs (QB rating of 63.3). The team's leading rusher (Aaron Jones) has just 370 yards and the Packers average only 102.4 rushing YPG (19th). Green Bay's depth at WR hasn't meant much with Hundley under center,,as the Packers are averaging 14.3 PPG in his four starts. The defense checks in averaging 18th in both points allowed (23.0 per) and yards allowed (340.1 per).
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger is not having one of his better years but he's off an excellent game in Week 11 (Thursday night at home vs. Tenn.), as he threw for 299 yards and four TDs. In guiding Pittsburgh to five straight wins, Big Ben has thrown for 1,328 yards with 10 TDs and a 102.7 passer rating. WR Antonio Brown leads the league in catches (70) and receiving yards (1,026) after hauling in 10 receptions and three scoring passes in the romp over Tennessee (six TDs on the season). Le'Veon Bell has had an uneven year (after a holdout) but is still the NFL's leading rusher with 886 yards. He also has 49 catches for another 308 yards. The Pittsburgh defense has not permitted more than 17 points during its five-game winning streak and currently ranks 2nd in points allowed (16.9 per) and 4th in total D (287.6 YPG).
The pick: The Steelers are not just 8-2 but four of their final six games are at home. Except for that inexplicable home loss to the Jags (30-9), Pittsburgh has averaged 31.7 PPG in its other three games at Heinz Field (all wins). The total remains low because of Pittsburgh's strong defense and Hundley's struggles at QB but I'm calling for this game to go OVER and will make that an 8* play.
|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.
|11-26-17||Dolphins v. Patriots OVER 47||Top||17-35||Win||100||49 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: AFC foes (hardly rivals, anymore) meet Sunday afternoon in NFL Week 12 NFL play at Foxborough, as the 8-2 New England Patriots host the 4-6 Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were once 4-2 but last Sunday's 30-20 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaners was Miami's fourth in a row. The two AFC wild card teams are currently both 5-5, so the Dolphins only enter one game back but they are tied with four other teams plus the Chargers just moved to 5-6 with their Thanksgiving Day win at Dallas. The Pats raised some eyebrows with their 2-2 start, particularly with a defense which couldn't stop anyone, especially through the air. However, all is right in "New England Land" these days, as the Pats' 33-8 beatdown of the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City last Sunday was the team's sixth straight win. The Pats and Steelers are tied for the AFC's best record at 8-2 (Pittsburgh currently owns the tie-breaker).
Miami: Jay Cutler was back under center last Sunday for the Dolphins but he threw for just 83 yards, one TD touchdown and three INTs before leaving with a concussion. Matt Moore stepped in and completed 17 of 28 for 282 yards and a TD but to no avail (Miami lost by 10!). You tell me why Miami traded away Jay Ajayi, because he still owns 58 percent of Miami's current 804 rushing yards on the season? Moore will be under center for this one and surely won't get too much help from a running game averaging 80.4 YPG (28th) and is now without a quality RB. Miami's offense is averaging just 15.7 PPG (30th) on the season, while its defense is allowing 25.4 PPG (27th).
New England: Brady was just "being Brady" against the Raiders, completing 30 of 37 for 340 yards and three TDs touchdowns. He's completing 68.7 percent on the season with 22 TDs and just two INTs (in attempts), for a QB rating of 110.09. The Pats lead the NFL in passing yards (304.6 per game) and now rank fourth in scoring at 29.0 PPG. The defense has made huge strides in keeping teams out on the end zone, as after allowing 32.0 PPG through the team's first four contests, the Pats are down to allowing 20.3 PPG on the season, to rank 12th (12.5 PPG allowed during the six-game winning streak!).
The pick: The Dolphins come to Foxborough having lost eight in a row to the Pats in this venue (2-6 ATS) and there is no reason to believe Brady and Co. will have much trouble scoring here. However, while the Pats' D has cut down on its PPG, the team's defense is still giving up big chunks of yards and still ranks last in total yards allowed at 401.9 per. That can "catch up" to a defense and may just here, after Brady and Co. have established a 'cushion.' Make the Over an 8* 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||Chargers v. Cowboys UNDER 48||Top||28-6||Win||100||52 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The Los Angeles Chargers are off a 54-24 beatdown of the Buffalo Bills last Sunday but the win got them to just 4-6. The Dallas Cowboys are off a humiliating 37-9 loss to their division rival the Philadelphia Eagles, which came right after Dallas lost 27-7 in Atlanta. The Cowboys are now 5-5 and with star RB Ezekiel Elliott set to miss four more games, Dallas' playoff hopes are rapidly disappearing.The Chargers visit AT&T Stadium for the middle contest of the NFL's three-game Thanksgiving Thursday card. While this will be the Cowboys' 50th Thanksgiving contest, the Chargers will be participating in their first game on the holiday sinc) e 1969!
LA Chargers: The Chargers benefited from Buffalo's "ridiculous" (editorial comment) decision to give last Sunday's start to a QB so "unready for prime time" that Nathan Peterman threw five INTs in just 14 pass attempts, with the first of his five picks being returned for a TD. The Chargers' D later returned a fumble for a score, as the 54 points represented the Chargers' highest-scoring performance in Philip Rivers' 195 consecutive starts since 2006. Speaking of Rivers, he passed for 251 yards (on 20 of 32 passing) and two TDs, both to Keenan Allen who caught 12 passes for 159 yards. RB Melvin Gordon added 80 rushing yards and a TD. Los Angeles has recovered from its 0-4 start and views this contest as crucial as its deficit in the AFC West is just two games thanks to Kansas City dropping four of its last five games. "We're not way out of the division and not way out of the hunt," Rivers said. "That's exciting and encouraging. It shouldn't be hard to keep us focused on the task at hand. ... Just be fired up that we still have everything in front of us."
Dallas: The loss of "Zeke" is huge but the absence of LT Tyron Smith (Dak has been sacked 12 times the last two games!) plus LB Sean Lee sidelined have been no small factor in the in Cowboys getting outscored 64-16 in back-to-back losses. Prescott's solid start is beginning to unravel and the Cowboys are now tasked with scraping for a wild card spot with an injury-depleted team.
The pick: All of the above noted, remember the Cowboys were actually ahead 9-7 at the half vs. the Eagles, before succumbing 30-0 in the second half. The Chargers will not have the 'cake-walk' of last week and I expect to see the Dallas team we saw in the first half last Sunday vs. the Eagles, not the second half. The Cowboys have scored just 16 points without Elliott, scoring just one TD (on a 21-yard drive). The play here is an 8* on the Under.
|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.
|11-20-17||Falcons v. Seahawks OVER 45.5||Top||34-31||Win||100||13 h 48 m||Show|
The set-up: The Atlanta Falcons an are defending NFC champions but at 5-4 while playing in the NFC South with the 8-2 Saints and 7-3 Panthers, this MNF game at CenturyLink Field. in Seattle against the Seahawks is starting to look like a "must-win" contest. The Seahawks come in 6-3 and with the Rams losing at Minnesota on Sunday to fall to 7-3, Seattle can move back into a tie with LA for first-place in the NFC West. A Seattle loss would leave them at 6-4, tied with the Falcons and Lions for the NFC's final wild card spot (tie-breakers would decide 'the winner!'). Boston line is, this is an important game for all involved.
Atlanta: The Falcons hope to build off their 27-7 Week 10 win over the Cowboys. Matt Ryan was the league's MVP in 2016 (69.9% / 4,944 yards / 38-7 ratio / 117.1 QB Rating) but has been nowhere-near that good in 2017. He's completing 66.5% with a 13-8 ratio and a QB rating of 93.9. WR Julio Jones is also off his production of the last few seasons (has one TD catch!) and is battling ankle injuries. RB Devonta Freeman (515 YR / 4.4 YPC / 5 TDs) sustained a concussion against the Cowboys and is expected to miss here. However, backup Tevin Coleman rushed for a season-high 83 yards after Freeman was injured early last week (399 YR / 4.8 YPC on the season). Atlanta (21.9 PPG ranks 16th) is averaging a dozen points fewer than last season's league-leading average of 33.8 and had failed to score more than 17 in its last four losses before posting its highest point total since Week 3. Rayn and the passing offense ranks 11th overall with 251.6 YPG through the air. the defense checks in allowing 19.9 PPG (11th) on 311.9 YPG (8th).
Seattle: The Seahawks come in winners of five of their last six and surely will be seeking some revenge for last year's. Russell Wilson is completing 62.7 percent of his passes for 2,543 yards with 19 TDs and just six INTs. Wilson has two or more TD passes in six of his last seven games and has carried the offense, which is averaging 23.4 PPG (12th. Doug Baldwin has a team-high 54 catches while TE Jimmy Graham (39 catches) has six TDs in the past five games. RB Eddie Lacy is expected to return after sitting out one week with a groin injury but the ground game has been ineffective since rookie Chris Carson was lost for the season. Seattle enters averaging 100.7 YPG (23rd). On defense, Seattle lost Richard Sherman for the rest of the 2017 season in the team's last game vs. Arizona. This is the second time in back-to-back seasons the Seahawks have lost a member of the Legion of Boom for the year with an injury. Last year, safety Earl Thomas was shelved after breaking a leg in December. The defense never recovered. The 2017 version of the Legion of Boom allows 18.3 PPG (6th) on 318.9 YPG (10th).
the pick: The Seahawks lost last year in Atlanta 36-20 in the Divisional Round and with the team's D less than 100%, will likely need to score to win this all-important game tonight. Ryan has become the fastest quarterback to 40,000 yards passing in league history and as noted above, Russell Wilson has been carrying the Seattle offense for most of the season. Expect a shoot-out between these two QBs. Make the Over a 10* play.
|11-19-17||Eagles v. Cowboys OVER 48||Top||37-9||Loss||-110||119 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: In the midst of Jerry Jones' feud with Roger Goodell, Week 11's SNF game will be played at AT&T Stadium ("Jerry's House") between the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles and the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys. Philly's lone loss came back in Week 2 (at KC), so coming off a bye week, the Eagles enter on a seven-game winning streak (6-1 ATS). The Eagles have essentially 'put away' all teams in the NFC East except the Cowboys but a win here in Dallas would all but eliminate any chance the Cowboys would have of challenging Philly for the division title.
Philadelphia: Second-year QB Carson Wentz has quickly developed into "the real deal" in his sophomore season. He's completing 60.5 percent for 2,262 yards with 23 TDs and just five INTs, giving him a 104.1 QB rating. LeGarrette Blount is the leading Eagles rusher with 504 yards but the Eagles made a trade deadline deal with the Dolphins to acquire Jay Ajayi. He ran for 77 yards (on just eight carries) in his first game with Philly and note that he ran for 1,272 yards on 4.9 YPC and eight TDs in 2016 for Miami. Philly's ground game is averaging 136.8 YPG (4th) but it will be better with the addition of Ajayi, if for no other reason than the Eagles now have two No. 1-quality RBs in case of injury. TE Zach Ertz aims to return from a two-game absence due to an ailing hamstring and pick up where he left off. Ertz leads all NFC tight ends in receptions (43), yards (528) and TDs (six) this season. Off-season acquisition WR Jeffrey is also coming into his own with 34 catches (14.7 YPC) and five TD grabs. Philly's offense ranks second in scoring (31.4 PPG) and the defense has more than held its own, allowing 19.9 PPG (11th) on 315.9 YPG (10th).
Dallas: The irreplaceable Ezekiel Elliott finally began serving his 6-game suspension (five games left) last week in Atlanta. However, Elliott's absence was not the reason Dak Prescott was sacked eight times by Atlanta's D, including an amazing six solo sacks by DE Adrian Clayborn. The Cowboys ran for 107 yards (5.1 YPC) but Dak threw for just 176 yards. Throw in the lost yardage from all the sacks, and the Cowboys had just 233 yards for the game, while scoring seven points. Prescott has thrown for 1,994 yards with 16 TDs and just four INTs (no "sophomore jinx" here) but the team can't replace Elliott's 783 rushing yards and seven scores. Dez Bryant is tops in receiving for the Cowboys with 478 yards and four TDs on 42 catches. However, he's been slowed by an ailing knee which has limited him to just 39 yards receiving in two of his last three games. The Dallas D is middle-of-the-pack, allowing 22.8 PPG (17th) on 325.9 YPG (15th).
The pick: I just don't see Dallas slowing Wentz and Co, as the Cowboys' pass D allows 66.6% completions and has only five INTs (on 323 pass attempts), while allowing 16 TD passes. Philly's running was among the best in the NFL and it's now added Ajayi. These are desperate times for Dallas' playoff hopes and the Cowboys won't go down without a fight. However, they'll have to score to win this one. Make the Over an 8* play.
|11-19-17||Patriots -6.5 v. Raiders||Top||33-8||Win||100||115 h 43 m||Show|
The set-up: The Raiders were 12-4 last season and after opening 2-0 in 2017, were being touted as "the real deal," a genuine AFC title contender. In contrast the defending champs stumbled to a 2-2 start and alarmingly, had allowed an average of 32.0 PPG. That's on the heels of New England allowing an NFL-low 15.6 PPG in 2016. However, as the two teams get set to meet in this Week 11 game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Raiders check in at just 4-5, while the Pats are 7-2, having once-again reminded all just why the Brady and Belichick combo has won five Super Bowl titles together.
New England: Brady has been dominant ever since a poor Week 1 effort, entering this contest having completed 67.3 percent of his passes with 19 TDs, just two INTs (in 343 pass attempts) to earn a QB rating of 108.3 (the Pats rank first with 301.6 YPG through the air and 4th in scoring at 28.6 PPG). Brady would like more help from a running game that averages just 109.7 YPG (16th) but as always, he seems to "make do." However, what Brady really appreciates is the defense's return to form. The naysayers were out in full force saying that while Belichick may be a genius, he could not get the team's awful defense turned around with just a snap of his fingers. Well, I'm not sure what he did but numbers don't lie. During the Pats' five-game winning streak, the team's D has held opponents to 13.4 PPG!
Oakland: The Raiders promptly lost four in a row after that 2-0 start and while they enter this game having won two of three, the wins have come by one point over KC (winning TD on the game's final play) and by three points over a Miami team which is on a three-game slide getting outscored 112-to-45! Carr's injured back cost him one full game but after a three-game stretch in which he averaged 144 yards passing, he has aired it out over the past three games, throwing for 1,030 yards with five TDs and three INTs. Marshawn Lynch, whose last game against New England ended with a rush to the one-yard line in Super Bowl XLIX, returned from a one-game suspension to rush for 57 yards and two TDs in a 27-24 win at Miami. However, he's been a bust, with just 323 yards on the season (3.8 YPC), including three games in which he hasn't run for as much as 20 yards! Defensively, the Raiders are allowing 23.8 PPG (22nd) and not only are they tied for last in sacks (13), they have yet to record an interception in 288 pass attempts against them. Are you kidding?
The pick: Sometimes, we can over-think things. I will try NOT to make that mistake here. Brady is playing like he's 30-years-old and in 343 pass attempts, he's been picked off twice. He will face an Oakland pass D in this game which is allowing a league-high 71.2% completion, while allowing 14 TDs without a single INT in 288 pass attempts. Opposing QBs have a 110.5 rating against Oakland, the highest in the NFL. Add in that Oakland's pass rush has an NFL-low 13 sacks and just how does anyone expect the Raiders to stop Brady? Can they outscore him? Why? After all, New England is allowing 13.4 PPG during its five-game winning streak. One last thing. This is a neutral-site game but how does it hurt that the Pats went 8-0 SU on the road last season and are 4-0 this season, outscoring opponents 30.0-to-16.8 PPG! Lay the points and make the Pats a 10* play.
|11-19-17||Bucs +1.5 v. Dolphins||Top||30-20||Win||100||111 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins were supposed to open the 2017 season in Week 1 but Hurricane Irma had other ideas. Ironically enough, both teams were scheduled for a Week 11 bye week, so here we are. The Bucs and Dolphins will meet Sunday in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, although both teams' seasons are just about 'toast.' The Bucs opened 2-1 but then lost five in a row, before finally ending their slide with 15-10 win over the Jets last Sunday (Bucs are currently just 3-6 in the 'tougher than nails' NFC South). As for the Dolphins, a 4-2 start now seems 'light-years' away after Miami has not just lost three straight (falling to 4-5 in a division with the 7-2 Pats), but the Dolphins have been dominated in all three losses, getting outscored 112-45!
Tampa Bay: QB Jameis Winston sat out last week's win with shoulder issues, replaced by veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who passed for 187 yards with one TD and one interception. RB Martin is back from his suspension but has averaged only 50.8 YPG rushing in his six games. Tampa Bay averages only 82.8 YPG on the ground (28th) on the season. The Bucs are averaging only 19.2 PPG on the season, ranking 22nd. The defense is also worse than average, allowing 23.1 PPG (20th) on 376.3 YPG (27th).
Miami: The Dolphins' defense has been ripped for 112 points in the team's three-game slide (37.3 PPG) but through the team's nine games, Miami's offense ranks dead-last (32nd) in scoring at 15.2 PPG. Cutler has not been the answer at QB, as Miami ranks 29th in passing YPG at 194.9 YPG. With the trade of RB Ajayi at the end of October, 64 percent on Miami's rushing offense is now in Philadelphia. Kenyan Drake has run for 176 yards the last two weeks (taking over for Ajayi) but Miami enters averaging 80.1 YPG on the ground, which ranks 30th. Is it good or bad news that Drake accounted for Miami' first rushing TD of the 2017 season last Sunday? Hard to believe but true.
The pick: Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a full-time starter but "in relief," he's more than serviceable. Currently, he is not a drop-off from Winston, whose confidence had eroded even before his shoulder injury. Miami's defense is now as bad as it's defense. Make Tampa Bay an 8* play.
|11-19-17||Chiefs v. Giants UNDER 44||Top||9-12||Win||100||111 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants were both playoff teams in 2016 but when the Chiefs visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs come in with an AFC West-leading record of 6-3, while the Giants take the field an abysmal 1-8. However, let's also note that the Chiefs come into this contest just 1-3 after opening 2017 at 5-0. Then again, most feel as if the Giants hit rock bottom last Sunday, falling to the then 0-9 Niners by the score of 31-21!
Kansas City: Alex Smith's "career season" continues, as he enters having completed 69.6 percent with 18 TDs and just one INT in 293 pass attempts (QB rating is 113.9). Rookie RB Hunt has cooled off but he comes into the team's 10th game with 800 yards rushing (5.2 YPC) and four TDs, along with 32 catches for another two TDs. TE Kelce (51 catches / 5 TDs) and WR Hill (40 catches / 4 TDs), are also quality contributors. Maybe KC would have a win or two more if the team's defense wasn't giving up 3903.YPG, which ranks 30th. That said, KC does rank better in points allowed, at 23.1 PPG which ranks 19th.
NY Giants: The Giants season began poorly and it's never gotten better. Eli may be making his 209th consecutive start at QB in this one but it sure feels like his time as the Giants' No. 1 QB is coming to end. Losing OBJ and Marshall to injury surely didn't help, nor has the fact that the Giants have almost no running game, averaging 89.8 YPG (25th). Eli's numbers aren't awful (64.6% with 14 TDs and 6 INTs), especially considering the circumstances but the bottom line is the bottom line. The Giants are scoring only 16.7 PPG, which ranks 29th. Defensively, after allowing an NFC-best 17.6 PPG, the Giants have allowed 26.4 PPG to rank 28th in the NFL.
The pick: The Chiefs should play well coming out of their bye week (Reid-coached teams are 16-2 in games following a week off!) but KC has looked like a different team since that 5-0 start. Smith is still not turning the ball over but Hunt seems to have "hit a wall,' averaging only 47.8 YPG rushing in the team's 1-3 run. The Giants have yet to score more than 24 points in any game in 2017 and after last week's loss to the 49ers, seem like a 'lost' team. Make the Under an 8* play.
|11-16-17||Titans +7 v. Steelers||Top||17-40||Loss||-110||47 h 43 m||Show|
The set-up: Two first-place teams meet Thursday night at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, as the 6-3 Tennessee Titans (tied atop the AFC South with the Jacksonville Jags) visit the 7-2 Pittsburgh Steelers (alone atop the NFC North and owners of a three-game lead). The Titans had high expectations entering 2017 but opened just 2-3. However, Tennessee enters Thursday's game on a four-game winning streak, beating the Colts, Browns, Ravens and Bengals (not exactly a "murderer's row"). The Steelers opened 3-1 but were then shocked at home by the Jags, losing 30-9. Big Ben was awful in that game (five INTs!) and prompted him to question "if he still had it?" Question answered, as the Steelers have won four in a row and currently hold down the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Tennessee: QB Marcus Mariota (1,783 passing yard with just seven TDs and six INTs /QB rating of 83.1) is battling ankle and shoulder injuries but expects to play through the pain. The team's two-pronged rushing attack features DeMarco Murray (433 yards, four TDs) and Derrick Henry (409 yards, three TDs), ranking 8th at 124.8 YPG. The offense comes in averaging only 22.8 PPG (13th) on the season and pretty much needs to find a way to get its offense on track on the road after scoring a combined 36 points in its last three games away from home. Defensively, Tennessee allows 23.7 PPG (22nd) on 328.3 YPG (16th).
Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger has thrown for 2,298 yards with 12 TDs and INTs (83.8 QB rating), hardly 'career' numbers. However, he has the best WR in the NFL on his side in Antonio Brown (60 catches / 882 yards / 3 TDs). He also may play with the NFL's best RB as well, in Le’Veon Bell (840 YR with 5 TDs / 40 catches). It will come as no surprise that Pittsburgh's D ranks second in points allowed (16.4) and total yards allowed (284.4).
The pick: I noted earlier that Big Ben is not exactly having a career season but that's actually an understatement. Truth is, his completion percentage of 61.1 and QB rating of 83.8 represent his lowest marks since 2008. That's led to three of Pittsburgh’s last four wins coming by six points or less, with the Steelers having scored 20 points or less in four of their last five. The Titans know a lot about "close games" as well (five of last seven have been decided by six points or less) and come in 3-0 against AFC North opponents in 2017. Take the points and make the Titans an 8* play.
|11-13-17||Dolphins +10 v. Panthers||Top||21-45||Loss||-135||34 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: The 4-4 Miami Dolphins will visit Bank of America Stadium.in Charlotte to take on the 6-3 Carolina Panthers as Week 10 concludes with the latest MNF clash. The Dolphins have lost back-to-back games and a third straight loss would pretty much end any 'dream' of the team staying within shouting range of the Pats (now 7-2) in the AFC East. In contrast, the Panthers are seeking a third straight win in hopes of keeping pace with the red-hot Saints who won their seventh in a row to move to 7-2 in the NFC South. The Panthers are in for a 'dog fight' in their division in 2017, as the Atlanta Falcons are also lurking at 5-4.
Miami: QB Jay Cutler returned last weekend after missing a game with cracked ribs. He had his best game of the season last Sunday, despite the Dolphins falling at home 27-24 to the Raiders. Cutler completed 34 of 42 for 311 yards with three TDs and zero INTs. However, he's averaging only 170.0 YPG through the air and has 10 TDs and five INTs on the season, for a QB rating of 87.4. Miami 'traded away" its running game when it shipped Pro Bowl selection Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia. He owns 75% of the team's rushing yards in 2017 and even including Ajayi's contributions, Miami ranks 30th in rushing at 77,6 YPG. With Ajayi gone, Kenyan Drake is the team's leading rusher with just 94 yards on the season. The Dolphins ranks last in both scoring (14.5 PPG) and total offense (270.2 YPG). Miami's defense is middle-of-the-pack, allowing 22.4 PPG (17th).
Carolina: Cam Newton is pretty much a "one-man show" in Carolina when it comes to the team's offense. However, he's way off his MVP-like performance of the 2015 season. He's averaging only 202.1 YPG with 10 TDs and 11 INTs, giving him even a lower QB rating (78.4) than Cutler. Newton ran or 86 yards in Carolina's 20-17 win over Atlanta last Sunday but the Panthers were likely happier that rookie RB Christian McCaffrey picked up a season-high 66 rushing yards plus his first rushing score last week. "A lot had to do with the blocking up front," head coach Ron Rivera said. "I thought we got our hands on them and we were able to push and Christian was able to make some cuts." McCaffrey leads the team with 54 catches out of the backfield, although WR Devin Funchess also has stepped up as the team's top wide-out since Kelvin Benjamin was traded to Buffalo (Funchess had five catches vs. Atlanta and now has 38 on the season). The Carolina D is playing at a high level and is the reason the Panthers are 6-3. The Panthers are allowing a league-low 274.1 YPG overall, while allowing a modest 17.7 PPG (3rd-best).
The pick: McCaffrey's performance was encouraging last Sunday but where has he been all year? Cam Newton continues to carry too heavy of a burden for this offense and it can't go unnoticed that the Panthers may have won two straight but they enter this contest having averaged just 13.3 PPG in their last three games (not a team one wants to lay big points with!). The Dolphins are coming off their best offensive performance by far and let me also point out that Miami has had five games decided by six points or less, with three of its last four games featuring three-point margins. Does it matter that Miami is 4-1 SU all-time vs. Carolina, going 5-0 ATS? It doesn't hurt! Make Miami a 10* play.
|11-12-17||Patriots v. Broncos OVER 45.5||Top||41-16||Win||100||71 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: The New England Patriots opened the current season 2-2 and some were questioning whether the team's long stretch of dominance was nearing an end. However, the Pats come off a bye week having won four in a row (3-1 ATS) to assume their typical spot atop the AFC East. Meanwhile, the Denver Bronocs opened 3-1 before taking an early bye (Week 5). No reason to blame that bye week but the fact is, the Broncos returned to lose at home in Week 6 to the then win-less Giants, with things going from bad to worse, since. Denver welcomes New England to Mile High on the Sunday night on a four-game slide (0-4 ATS), having hit rock bottom in last Sunday's 51-23 loss at Philadelphia. Wentz threw four TD passes and the Philly running attack gashed the Broncos for 199 yards on the ground.New England: Brady continues to maze, entering this contest completing 66.7 percent of his passes with 16 TDs and just two INTs for a 106.5 QB rating (Pats are No. 1 in the NFL, averaging 302.1 YPG passing). New England's running game remains average (109.0 YPG ranks 16th) but along with Brady's excellence, the key to the team's four-game winning streak has been a return to playing defense as the team has done in the past. New England allowed 32.0 PPG in its 2-2 start but in its four-game winnings streak, the Pats are allowing only 12.8 PPG!Denver: The Broncos head into Sunday night's game against the Patriots having switched QBs (Osweiler's in for Siemian), an OL struggling with injuries, a running game showing little consistently and the result has been the team has averaged 13.0 PPG during its four-game losing streak. "Definitely sick and tired of losing," Broncos running back C.J. Anderson said. "There's a sense of urgency. We know what time it is. We have a chance to do something really special that only us in that locker room believe we can do. That's where it starts. If everyone can change their minds ... to believe that we can do it, we can definitely make it happen." Brock Osweiler threw for 208 yards with one TD and two interceptions on 19 of 38 passing in his first start of 2017 at Philly. The blowout loss was hardly his fault, as the Denver running game produced just 35 yards on 19 carries. as for Denver's once-proud defense, it was ripped for 419 yards and of course, those 5 1 points!
The pick: These two teams have played each other pretty tight, splitting the last six games with three wins apiece. One has to expect Denver, especially here at home, to bring its "A game" off that Philly embarrassment. The problem is, the Pats are 3-0 on the road in 2017, extending their road winning streak to 11-0! Then again, Sports Authority/Invesco Field has been a house of horrors in the past for Tom Brady, who is 0-3 SU & ATS in playoff games at Denver. However, those past problems at Mile High came vs. very good Broncos teams, which doesn’t seem to apply here in 2017. Expect Denver to "give its all" in this one but not to contain Brady and the Pats "O." Make the Over an 8* play.
|11-12-17||Texans +12 v. Rams||Top||7-33||Loss||-110||87 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: The surprising LA Rams sit top the NFC West at 6-2, coming off a 4-12 season in 2016. The Texans won the AFC North with a 9-7 record in 2016 and after six weeks of the 2017 season, stood at 3-3. However, the emergence of rookie QB of Deshaun Watson had the Texans thinking playoffs again this year. Coming off a Week 7 bye, the Texans lost a 41-38 shootout to the Seahawks and then disaster struck in the days leading up to their Week 9 game with the Colts. Watson was lost for the season to a non-contact injury at practice. The Texans visit the LA Memorial Coliseum at just 3-5 and hardly look like a playoff contender, now.
Houston: Tom Savage, who was given the Week 1 start over Watson, was back under center against the Colts and once again proved he's not ready for primetime. He completed 19 of 44 for 219 yards with one TD and no INTs but with a QB rating of 66.1. He's completed a poor 45.6% of his 57 pass attempts in 2017 and while he has not thrown an interception, he has just one TD pass (QB rating is 66.5). DeAndre Hopkins is a top-flight WR (51 catches for 692 yards with 8 TDs) but he needs a QB to get him the ball. Lamar Miller is the team's leading rusher with 483 yards but while Houston averages 132.8 YPG on the ground to rank 4th, Watson's 269 yards (on 7.2 YPC) were a big part of that. With J.J. Watt also out for the season, the once-proud Houston defense is now allowing 26.0 PPG, to rank 30th of 32 teams.
LA Rams: Sean McVay has become a coaching prodigy in just a half-season and is being given most of the credit for Jared Goff's re-birth. The league's No. 1 draft choice in 2016, came off a rookie year in which he was 0-7 as a starter. However, Goff has led the Rams to a 6-2 record, completing 60.2 percent for an average of 245.3 YPG with 13 TDs and just 4 four INTs (QB Rating of 97.9). RB Gurley has sure been a huge help, rushing for 686 yards and seven TDs while catching 29 passes with three more TDs (his10 TDs are tops in the NFL). In all, the Rams top the NFL by scoring 32.9 PPG on 382.1 YPG, which ranks 3rd. The defense has sure not disappointed under DC Wade Phillips, holding opponents to 19.4 PPG (9th), after allowing 24.6 PPG in 2016.
The pick: Clearly, the Rams are a team on the rise and one to be reckoned with in 2017. Meanwhile, the Texans need to find a QB quickly and they have signed Matt McGloin, T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson over the past two weeks. Johnson has not seen action in the NFL since appearing in two games with Cincinnati in 2013. but remains on the roster, McGloin, who played for Oakland from 2013-16, has since been released while Yates, who made seven starts in two previous stints with the club, is likely the best option. Here's the rub. The Rams are just 2-2 SU & ATS at home in 2017 plus they are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 home games and 1-5 ATS versus a team with a losing record. Surprise, make Houston a 10* play.
|11-12-17||Saints -2.5 v. Bills||Top||47-10||Win||100||64 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: Few would have predicted that the Saints would be 6-2 mid-way through the 2017 season, considering New Orleans entered the season off three consecutive 7-9 seasons. What's more, the Saints opened 2017 at 0-2 but visit the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY on Sunday afternoon for this Week 10 game having gone 6-0 SU & ATS to surge to the top of the NFC South (Panthers are 6-3 and the Falcons 4-4). The Bills have also been a surprise in 2017 but are coming off a poor effort in Week 9's Thursday night game, losing 34-21 to the Jets. The loss doped Buffalo to 5-3 in the AFC East, one game back of teh 6-2 Pats. I doubt anyone, even teh Bills themselves, believe they out-last the Pats for the division crown but the Bills do currently own the final wild card spot in the AFC.
New Orleans: Drew Brees completed 22 of his 27 pass attempts for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the team's 30-10 win last Sunday over the Bucs. So what else is new for the ageless wonder? He enters the second half of the the 2017 completing 71.6% of his passes with 13 TDs and just four INTs (105.0 QB rating). Ingram quietly leads a running game averaging 122.8 YPG (7th), helping Brees lead the Saints to an average of 27.6 PPG (6th). The defense has been a mess the last few seasons but the team's stop unit continues to surprise, allowing just 19.4 PPG, which ranks 10th.
Buffalo: No one quite seems sold on QB Tyrod Taylor but he threw for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 of 40 passing, while also leading the Bills on the ground with 35 rushing yards and a rushing TD on six carries against the Jets. The Bills led the NFL in rushing in 2016 (164.4 YPG) but LeSean McCoy has had an up-and-down season so far, with a case in point being his 25-yard effort against the Jets, For the season, Buffalo is averaging 116.9 YPG on the ground, almost 50 yards per games less than last season (that's no small deal!). However, the defense has improved from allowing 23.6 PPG to just 18.6 PPG in 2017.
The pick: I'm well aware that Buffalo is 4-0 SU at home but the Bills just can't establish a consistent running game like last season. Meanwhile, the Saints' "under the radar" running game, led by Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara, has given Brees a balance on offense that he hasn't had in years. I should also note that the swarming Saint “D,” has also made this team a real NFC title-game contender. Here's something most don't know. The Saints are 11-2 ATS their last 13 road games! Make New Orleans an 8* play.
|11-12-17||Browns +11 v. Lions||Top||24-38||Loss||-110||64 h 32 m||Show|
The set-up: The Lions picked up a rare win in Lambeau Field this past Monday when they beat the Rodgers-less Packers, 30-17. QB Matthew Stafford connected on 26 of 33 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns (both to Marvin Jones) in the win at Green Bay. The victory got the Lions to 4-4, two games back of the 6-2 Vikings in the NFC North.
Cleveland: WR Josh Gordon returned to the team during the week but isn't eligible to play until Dec. 3. Other quality players are fighting injuries. All-purpose RB Duke Johnson left the last game with a concussion and is listed as questionable but DE Myles Garrett (the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft) has cleared concussion protocol and is expected to play. Defensive back Jabrill Peppers is uncertain to play after missing the past two games with a toe injury. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer was benched early in the second half the previous week after throwing two interceptions against Tennessee but played the entire Week 8 against Minnesota (a 33-16 loss). He completed 18 of 34 passes for only 179 yards but didn't commit any turnovers. Kizer was second-round pick out of Notre Dame but is completing just 52.1 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions, giving him an awful 51.1 QB rating. He has to realize that he needs to improve quickly or become just another failed Browns signal caller. Cleveland is scoring just 14.9 PPG (31st), while allowing 25.2 PPG (28th). This just in...that's not a good combo.
Detroit: Stafford is a quality QB and is having another good seson. He's completing 62.4% for 2,212 yards with 14 TDs and just four INTs (94.4 QB ratings). The running game stinks (79.9 YPG ranks 29th) but Stafford leads an offense that averages 25.8 PPG (8th). Stafford's first scoring pass to Jones in last week's MNF contest was the 200th TD pass in his 117th career game (sixth-quickest in NFL history). Jones has 33 catches and a team-high five TD receptions, while Golden Tate has shrugged off shoulder issues to lead all receivers with 562 yards on 50 catches.
The pick: As noted, the Lions are not in bad shape for a playoff push but Detroit's defense is in the bottom half of the league in points allowed (23.2 PPG arnks 20th) and yards allowed (341.8 YPG ranks 21st). Sure, the Browns are 0-8 but they haven't 'rolled over!' Four of their losses have come by just three points and they very well could have won a few of those. The Lions actually come into this contest having lost theri last three home games and that's been due in large part due to the team's red-zone woes. Detroit ranks 27th at 45.8 percent scoring TDs in the red zone, just one spot ahead of the Browns (45.0). No upset but take the huge points and make Cleveland an 8* play.
|11-09-17||Seahawks v. Cardinals OVER 41||Top||22-16||Loss||-105||30 h 15 m||Show|
The setup: The Seattle Seahawks are 5-3, after their four-game win streak was brought to a halt on Sunday at home, when the Redskins beat them 17-14. The loss hurt, as the Rams romped 51-17 over the NY Giants in Week 9, moving one game ahead of Seattle in the NFC West at 6-2. Seattle now comes to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, to take on NFC West rival Arizona. The Cardinals come in 4-4, sandwiching a loss to the Rams between wins over Tampa Bay and San Francisco.
Seattle: QB Russell Wilson threw 297 yards with two TDs against Washington but also threw two picks. Wilson has completed 62.0 percent for 2,305 yards with 17 TDs and six INTs (95.9 QB rating). He also leads Seattle in rushing with 271 yards and a TD on 46 attempts, which is not good news, as Seattle ranks 19th with 103.9 YPG. Seattle has always prided itself on defense under Pete Carroll (ever hear of the Legion of Boom?) but the Seahawks are allowing 332.5 YPG to rank 13th (not typical). However, Seattle is allowing a modest 18.6 PPG, which ranks 6th.
Arizona: The Cardinals' 33-0 loss to the Rams in London dropped them to 3-4 and they also lost Carson Palmer for the season. Drew Stanton has stepped up in the past and after a Week 8 bye, Stanton stepped in against San Francisco last Sunday to help the Cards win 20-10, moving to 4-4. Stanton completed 15 of 30 for 201 yards with two TDs and one INT vs. the 49ers. Drew Stanton extended his regular-season winning streak to four starts, albeit spread over nearly three years. "When Drew steps in the huddle, there is total confidence in the other 10 guys," head coach Bruce Arians told reporters. "They know he knows this offense inside and out, and when he gets a hot hand, he can really light you up." However, Adrian Peterson was "the difference" for the second time in his three games since coming to Arizona. A.P. ran for 134 yards and two TDs in the Cards' 38-33 win over Tampa Bay in Week 6 and then had 159 yards on the ground last Sunday against the 49ers, after running for only 21 yards in the London loss (Week 7)..
The pick: The Seahawks' offense has been pretty unpredictable, as they’ve scored at least 41 points twice in the last five games and 17 points or fewer twice in that span as well. However, the Seahawks were fit to be tied after seeing their four-game winning streak come to a halt last week following three missed FG attempts (of 44, 39 and 49 yards) plus committing a season-high 16 penalties! Seattle is 7-0 ATS in their last seven Thursday games and while Arians is 3-1 against the Seahawks in Seattle, he's 0-3-1 against them at home since becoming the Cardinals' coach in 2013. This total is low enough to make the Over a 10* play.
|11-06-17||Lions v. Packers OVER 43.5||Top||30-17||Win||100||34 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: The Packers and Bears are the NFL's oldest rivalry but the Lions/Packers are not exactly unfamiliar with each other (this will be the series' 115th meeting, with the Packers owing a 60-40-4 edge). The Lions are 3-4 on the season but limp into Lambeau Field having lost four of their last five for tonight's Week 9 MNF matchup with the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers. The Packers lost their Week 6 game at Minnesota and more devastatingly, lost Rodgers to a season-ending injury. In the team's first game without Rodgers (a Week 7 game at home vs. the Saints), Green Bay lost 26-19 with backup QB Brett Hundley proving he was nowhere near ready for primetime (12 of 25 for 87 yards without a TD and with one INT). The Packers had a much-needed bye in Week 8 and at 4-3, will now host the Lions. Both teams (surely the loser of this game) are in danger of losing touch with the NFC North's leader, the 6-2 Vikings (enjoying their bye week).
Detroit: The Lions opened 2-0 but enter on a three-game losing streak (four losses in their last five), after losing 20-15 at home against the Steelers a week ago Sunday night. QB Stafford threw for 423 yards on 27 of 45 passing as Golden Tate didn't let an ailing shoulder slow him down as he recorded seven receptions for the second straight game. However, Detroit was only able to rush for 71 yards on 22 carries and failing to run the ball effectively is something that's been a recurring problem for Detroit, as the Lions come into this contest averaging 82.1 YPG (3.5 YPC) on the ground (28th). In fact, it has been 59 games since the Lions have had a 100-yard rusher (Reggie Bush versus Green Bay in 2013).
Green Bay: The Packers are off a bye but also off back-to-back losses (falling from 4-1 to 4-3) and while Hundley looked overwhelmed by the challenge in his role as a starter, he was hardly the only problem the Packers had in their Week 7 game with the Saints. The Pack's defense would allow 485 yards of total offense to New Orleans while letting the Saints rack up almost 37 minutes of possession in the game. Hundley will face a Detroit defense tonight which owns 10 interceptions and 16 overall takeaways, ranking third-best in the league.
The pick; To say that Detroit has had trouble winning at Green Bay is a huge understatement. Yes, the Lions won in Lambeau in 2015 but the team's last previous win there was back in 1991!. The Lions never got into the end zone vs. the Steelers, settling for five FGs (going 0-for-5 in scoring a TD in the red zone for that game, dropped Detroit to 28th in red zone TD efficiency). However, against an always excellent Pittsburgh D, the Lions were able to gain 485 yards. Stafford is used to carrying the Detroit offense and it's unlikely that Detroit's red zone issues will haunt them again in this one. As for Green Bay, Hundley can't possibly be as bad as he showed vs. the Saints and the bye week should have been a big help. "Me and Aaron talk a lot," Hundley told reporters on Thursday. "Even when he was playing, we still talked a lot. It's the same - now it's a different type of talk. He's telling me stuff, and it's good for me. Aaron's always been a brother to me. Whenever you have people like that around, you always feel better." Make the Over a 10* play.
|11-05-17||Raiders -3 v. Dolphins||Top||27-24||Push||0||98 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: The 4-3 Miami Dolphins are 'licking their wounds' from a 40-0 loss at Baltimore in Week 8's Thursday night game, as they get set to welcome the Oakland Raiders to Miami Gardens and Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday evening. The Oakland Raiders know all about disappointment, as after opening the 2017 season at 2-0, the Raiders have lost five of six, with the team's lone win coming when Oakland scored on the game's final play of a 31-30 victory over the Chiefs in Week 7 (also, a Thursday night game).
Oakland: Derek Carrr (64.6% with 12 TDs and 6 INTs / 90.9 QB rating) has only missed one game but he's clearly not 100 percent.Carr followed up his 417-yard explosion versus Kansas City with a 313-yard effort against Buffalo but he also tossed two interceptions for the third time in five contests. He'd love some help from his running game but Lynch has been a bust and Oakland ranks 26th with 88.0 YPG on the ground. The Raiders scored 26 at Tennessee and 42 at home vs. the Jets in opening 2-0 but are averaging a modest 21.1 PPG on the season (20th). Oakland did score 31 in the team's lone win (KC) in its last six games but the Oakland offense has averaged a woeful 13.4 PPG in its five losses. The defense has also been an issue, allowing 27 points or more in four of its last six games (1-5 stretch).
Miami: The Dolphins lost two of their first three games (Week 1 contest was postponed due to Hurricane Irma) but then beat the Titans, Falcons and Jets, before falling to Baltimore 40-0 in their last appearance. Jay Cutler sat out vs. Baltimore due to multiple cracked ribs, with Matt Moore going 25 of 44 for only 176 yards with two picks! There is plenty to criticize regarding Cutler but it's good news for Miami fans that he's expected to play in this one. However, not only does Miami rank 31st in rushing yards at 76.3 YPG (just 3.2 YPC), but the Dolphins just traded away RB Ajayi (465 yards), who had accounted for 87 percent of the team's rushing yards in 2017 (you explain that to me?).
The pick: Clearly, the Raiders are not the "up and coming team ready to break out" that many thought they would be but even though Oakland is 3-5 and Miami 4-3, I still see the Raiders as a better team than the Dolphins. Miami rans dead-last (32nd) in both scoring (13.1 PPG) and total offense (252.4 YPG). Cutler is back under center (an improvement but not by much) and the running game (a disaster) now doesn't even have a featured back. What's more, the defense comes in having allowed 68 points over its last two games. Miami's had very little of a home field edge (7-11-1 ATS the last two-plus seasons), while the Raiders entered 2017 on a 12-4 TS run on the road the previous two seasons, before going 1-3 ATS away from home to open this season. I'm sticking with my belief that Oakland is the better team and I'll make the Raiders an 8* play.
|11-05-17||Chiefs v. Cowboys||Top||17-28||Loss||-110||94 h 45 m||Show|
Update: Elliott will play, but I'm still on the Chiefs!
The set-up: The Chiefs opened the 2017 season at 5-0 but then lost 19-13 at home to the Steelers, before losing a Thursday night Week 7 game at Oakland 31-30, when the Raiders scored on the game's final play. However, KC got back on the winning track this past Monday with a 29-19 home win over the Broncos. KC used a combo of five FGs and five turnovers (a fumble was returned 45 yards for a TD) in moving to 6-2 at the season's mid-point. KC is 'sitting pretty" in the AFC West, as no other team owns a .500 record. The Dallas Cowboys won 33-19 at Washington last Sunday and the win gets them to 4-3, although the Cowboys are in the same division (NFC East) as the Eagles, who own the NFL's best record at 7-1. The even bigger news may be that just when Dallas appeared to be gaining momentum, the drawn-out Ezekiel Elliott suspension saga seems to have ended with the Elliott expected to begin his six-game suspension for violation of the NFL's personal-conduct policy with this Week 9 contest.
Kansas City: QB Alex Smith had an off game last Monday (14 of 31) but he still hasn't thrown an interception in 259 attempts in 2017. He comes into this game completing 69.1 percent for 2,181 yards with 16 TDs and a QB rating of 115.4 (best in the NFL). Rookie RB Hunt was held to 46 yards rushing (2.1 YPC) but he has an NFL-best 763 (5.2 YPC & 4 TDs) on the season, while adding 28 catches (2 TDs). TE Kelce had a big game on Monday, catching seven passes for 133 yards and a TD, giving him a team-high 44 catches and four TDs on the season. The offense is third in the NFL in scoring (29.5 PPG) and total yards (377.9 per), which has made up for a defense not playing nearly as well as past KC stop units. KC ranks 30th in allowing 392.2 YPG and 19th in allowing 22.5 PPG.
Dallas; Ezekiel Elliott has 690 yards (4.2 YPC) and six TDs for a running game averaging 150.6 YPG (2nd-best). However, with Elliott out, Dallas will turn to Alfred Morris as the starter with Darren McFadden and Rod Smith serving as backups.Can those guys give Dak Prescott 'the cover' Elliott has? There has been no "sophomore jinx" for Prescott, who is completing 62.8 percent for 1,569 yards with 14 TDs and just four INTs (96.6 QB rating). He's also has 168 rushing yards (7.3 YPC & 3 TDs), while leading an offense that's averaged 28.3 PPG (5th). The defense is nothing special, allowing 23.0 PPG (20th).
The pick: My bet says it will make a HUGE difference that Elliott is not around and while Dallas has won eight of its last 10 home games, those two losses have come in the Cowboys' last TWO home games, falling 35-30 to the Rams (Week 4) and 35-31 to the Packers (Week 5). The Chiefs had their nine-game road winning streak snapped when they lost 31-30 at Oakland (in Week 7), on the game's final play. KC enters 14-3 ATS over the team's last 17 road games which is good enough for me to make the Chiefs a 10* play.
|11-05-17||Bucs +7 v. Saints||Top||10-30||Loss||-104||90 h 10 m||Show|
|11-05-17||Ravens v. Titans -4.5||Top||20-23||Loss||-110||90 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: The Baltimore Ravens have had an extra few days to enjoy the team's 40-0 win over the Dolphins in a Thursday night Week 8 game. QB Flacco did not play well and left with a concussion on a vicious hit by Miami's Kiko Alonso. However, Flacco returned to the team the next day vastly improved and is on the path to make the start, according to head coach John Harbaugh. The Tennessee Titans come into this contest off their bye week and will look to maintain their spot atop the AFC South standings with a win. The Titans are 4-3 (tied with the Jags), after an unimpressive 12-9 overtime victory at Cleveland in Week 7.
Baltimore: Flacco has failed to throw for more than 235 yards in any game this season (Baltimore ranks 32nd with 152.9 YPG passing) plus the veteran has thrown just six TDs against eight INTs on the season, giving him a poor 72.3 QB rating. Flacco was held out of practice for most of the week but he's the team's No. 1 QB and Harbaugh said he would start if he was cleared by the medical department. RB Alex Collins ran for a career-high 113 yards vs. Miami and the Ravens rank seventh with 126.9 YPG on the ground. The Ravens' defense was terrific vs. the Dolphins, returning two interceptions for TDs in the most lopsided shutout in franchise history (Miami had just 196 yards of total offense and was 4 for 15 on 3rd downs). On the season, Baltimore is allowing 18.5 PPG (5th) on 317.2 YPG (10th).
Tennessee: Speaking of defense, the Titans totally dominated the Browns back in Week 7, holding the Browns to 284 yards of total offense in the win. Offensively, Mariota was 21 of 34 for 203 yards but DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined to rush for only 72 yards on 31 carries. That effort was not typical, as Tennessee comes in averaging 124.6 YPG (8th). The Titans' defense is allowing 24.7 PPG (26th) on the season but over the last three games, Tennessee has held its opponents to 15.7 PPG.
The pick: Currently, Mariota owns a huge edge over Flacco and he is expected to get a boost with the return of WR Corey Davis, who was the fifth pick in last year's draft. He had six catches in Week 1 but has missed most of the season with a significant hamstring injury. He returned to practice on Monday and looks ready to jump right into the team's No. 1 receiver role. Davis set an FBS record with 5,285 career receiving yards at Western Michigan. Another edge for the Titans is PK Ryan Succop, who has made 55 straight FGs inside 50-yards! The Titans have covered six of their last seven in Nashville. Make Tennessee an 8* play.
|11-05-17||Bucs v. Saints OVER 50||Top||10-30||Loss||-110||90 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: The Tampa Bay Bucs saw their Week 1 game postponed by Hurricane Irma but they opened 2-1. However, they have then fallen in succession to the Patriots, Cardinals, Bills and Panthers, leaving them at 2-5. In stark contrast, the Saints lost their first two games of the 2017 season but have followed with five straight wins over the Panthers, Dolphins, Lions, Packers and Bears. The Saints entered 2017 off three consecutive 7-9 seasons but have now won five in a row for the first time since 2013. New Orleans is atop the NFC South but leads the Panthers by just a half-game and the Falcons by one game. It's early but a Tampa Bay loss here in New Orleans, all but ends any real division hopes for the Bucs in 2017.
Tampa Bay: QB Jameis Winston is dealing with a shoulder injury but practiced on Wednesday, the first time he joined the mid-week practice since suffering the injury on Oct. 15. Winston completed 21-of-38 passes for 210 yards and two interceptions in the loss to the Panthers last week, marking the fourth time in the last five games that he failed to complete at least 60 percent of his passes. However, he is completing 61.8 percent on the season (10 TDs and six INTs) plus Tampa Bay ranks second in passing yards at 295.4 per game. The running game doesn't offer enough help though, averaging just 81.1 YPG (29th), one of the reasons the Bucs are averaging only 21.1 PPG (19th). Defensively, Tampa Bay is allowing 386.4 YPG (29th) and 24.0 PPG (24th).
New Orleans: The age-less Drew Brees is completing 70.6 percent of his passes, averaging 271.7 YPG through the air and has 11 TDs with just four INTs (101.7 QB rating). He leads an offense which ranks second in the league with 390.4 YPG and ranks 6th in scoring at 27.3 PPG. RB Mark Ingram became the undisputed starter again when New Orleans traded away Adrian Peterson last month and he's averaged 98 yards in the last three weeks but fumbled on two straight fourth-quarter drives against Chicago last week. "I sucked. I sucked," Ingram told reporters. "Two possessions we're about to ice the game. Let the ball go, hurt my team, hurt my coaches. That's the thing about a family, that's the thing about a team: They lift you up, they had my back, and we were able to get the W." A major improvement has been shown by the defense, which allowed 28.4 PPG in 2016 but has allowed 20.7 PPG in 2017 (12th).
The pick: The Buccaneers were expected to be the darlings of the NFC South in the preseason, while the New Orleans Saints were expected to just play out the end of Drew Brees' career near the bottom of the division. However, the teams have reversed that narrative so far this season, and the first-place Saints will go for their sixth consecutive win when they host the last-place Buccaneers on Sunday, who come in on that four-game skid. However, Tampa hasn’t exactly been lying down during its losing streak. The Bucs lost by five to the Patriots, five to the Cardinals and three to the Bills before 'laying an egg' in last week's 17-3 loss to the Panthers. If Ingram continues to run the ball well (while holding on to it!), he makes Brees even more effective. A Tampa Bay rush D which has only seven sacks on the year, also makes Brees' job easier in this matchup. That said, the Bucs know they really need a win here and are unlikely to bottle up Brees and Co, so the way to win is to match New Orleans score for score. Make the Over an 8* play.
|11-02-17||Bills v. Jets +3.5||Top||21-34||Win||100||25 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: It's “Thursday Night Football” on the NFL Network from MetLife Stadium when the 5-2 Buffalo Bills square off against AFC East rival, the 3-5 NY Jets. The Bills are a huge surprise in 2017, as if the playoffs were to begin this weekend, Buffalo would be the AFC's No. 1 wild card team. The Jets opened 0-2 but then ripped off three straight wins but while playing very competitively the last three weeks, have fallen 24-17 at home to the Pats, 31-28 at Miami and 25-20 at home to the Falcons.
Buffalo: The Bills come in having won four of their last five, beating the Broncos, Falcons, Buccaneers and Raiders. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing last year at 164.4 YPG but it's running game wasn't doing much early and QB Tyrod Taylor is not good enough to carry this team. However, Buffalo's defense has been superb all season, holding opponents to just 16.4 PPG, third-best in the NFL. It's also noteworthy that the Buffalo owns a league-best plus-14 turnover margin. However, the key the last two weeks is the re-birth of Buffalo's running game, as the Bills have run for 173 and 165 yards in wins over Tampa Bay and Oakland since returning from a bye week. It's not a small deal, as after averaging 17.8 PPG through its first five games, Buffalo has scored 30 points in beating the Bucs and 34 points in beating the Raiders.
NY Jets: Hard-fought losses are starting to pile up and the optimism of the team's three-game winning streak is starting to fade. Veteran Matt RB Forte openly question the play-calling of offensive coordinator John Morton as the team appeared to abandon the run in the rainy and sloppy conditions versus the Falcons but QB Josh McCown recorded his highest completion percentage of the season in that contest (26-of-33, 78.8 percent). What's more, the journeyman has nine TD passes over his last four games, three times posting QB ratings of 100-plus. In stark contrast to the Bills who have just three giveaways, the Jets have been rather generous with the ball this season, committing 14 turnovers (seven interceptions, seven fumbles), including Jeremy Kerley's costly muffed punt in Sunday's 25-20 s
The pick: The Bills have not won the division since 1995 and would move into a tie with the idle New England Patriots for first place in the division with a win. Let's also note that the Bills gave notice that are serious about ending the team's 17-year playoff drought (NFL's longest current) by acquiring WR Kelvin Benjamin (32 receptions, 475 yards, two touchdowns) from Carolina for two draft choices prior to Tuesday's trading deadline. However, I don't trust Buffalo away from home. The Jets have blown 14-point leads to the Patriots and the Dolphins plus led the Falcons going into the fourth quarter before losing these last three weeks. "Fourth time" is the charm! The Jets are 5-0-1 ATS the last six weeks and 4-0 ATS at home in 2017. Make the Jets an 10* play.
|10-30-17||Broncos +7.5 v. Chiefs||Top||19-29||Loss||-115||123 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: NFL Week 8 concludes with a MNF matchup featuring an AFC West showdown between the 3-3 Denver Broncos and the 5-2 KC Chiefs. Both teams limp in off back-to-back losses, with the Broncos coming off having been shut out last Sunday 21-0 by the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs opened the 2017 season at 5-0 but then lost 19-13 at home to the Steelers, before losing a Thursday night Week 7 game at Oakland 31-30, when the Raiders scored on the game's final play.
Denver: Trevor Siemian has taken a lot of the 'heat' for the Broncos' 21-0 loss to the Chargers but he sure hasn't been helped by the fact that C.J. Anderson, after rushing for at least 81 yards in three of the team's first four games, has totaled just 61 yards on the ground over the team's last two games (both losses). Anderson had just 44 yards vs. the Chargers, with Siemian going 25 of 35 passing with an interception (only 207 yards). The Broncos are averaging only 18.0 PPG (24th) but the team's defense is holding opponents to an NFL-low 258.5 YPG! That said, Denver's allowing 19.7 PPG, which is only 11th-best.
Kansas City: The Chiefs have dropped two straight but don't look for their QB to be at fault. Alex Smith has continued to carve out a career-best season," completing 72.4 percent with 15 TD passes and zero INTs (in 228 pass attempts) for a QB rating of 120.5. TE Kelce (37 catches and & TDs) and WR Hill (36 catches & 5 TDs) have been terrific, as has rookie RB Hunt. He's run for 717 yards (5.8 YPC & 4 TDs) plus caught 25 passes for three TDs. What 'killed' KC in the last-second loss at Oakland was an 'ugly' outing from the Chiefs’ defense, which allowed 505 yards and 32 FDs. KC's defense has slacked off in 2017 (while the offense has surged), allowing 23.0 PPG (21st) on 396.3 YPG, which ranks 30th out of 32 teams (unusual for an Andy Reid-coached team).
The pick: No doubt that Denver catches KC in a bad mood after back-to-back losses plus Chiefs have had three extra days to stew about taht bitter Thursday loss at Oakland.It's also true taht Trevor Siemian's confidence could be somewhat shaken and Denver's only other option at QB is Brock Osweiler (OUCH!). However, Denver is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these two teams in Kansas City.and this is a lot points for this bitter rivalry, especially considering Denver is allowing about 140 YPG less than KC on the season! Take those points and make Denver a 10* play.
|10-29-17||Steelers v. Lions OVER 45||Top||20-15||Loss||-110||99 h 16 m||Show|
The set-up: Sunday Night football travels to Ford Field as the 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers visit the 3-3 Detroit Lions. It seems like a 'lifetime ago' that the Steelers lost 30-9 at home against the Jags, with Big Ben throwing five INTs, including two 'pick-sixes!' He famously told reporters after the game, "Maybe I don't have it anymore?" However, the Steelers won at KC in their next game (KC's first loss of the season) and followed with a 28-14 home win over the Bengals last Sunday. All of a sudden, the Steelers look as good as any team in the AFC (NFL?). The Lions were a controversial call against the Falcons away from a 4-0 start but with back-to-back losses prior to last week's bye, Detroit welcomes the Steelers to Detroit at just 3-3.
Pittsburgh: RB LeVeon Bell had just 47 rushing yards in that loss to the Jags but he's carried the ball 32 and 35 times the last two weeks, gaining 313 yards. Big Ben has been good, not great, completing 63.2% with three TDs and just one INT in attempts. WR Brown has 12 catches for 210 yards with two TDs in the team's back-to-back wins (what a trio!); As always, Pittsburgh is one of the NFL's best defensive teams, allowing 16.6 PPG (3rd) on 258.7 YPG (2nd)
Detroit: The Lions likely appreciated the bye week, especially QB Matthew Stafford. He took last week's bye to work his way past hamstring and ankle injuries. Detroit will need to come up big here, as the 5-2 Vikings are playing the 0-7 Browns in London. Stafford threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns in the Lions' last game (a 52-38 loss at New Orleans) but also had three picks (has 12 TDs and four INTs on the season).
The pick: The good news for Detroit is that the Lions are 5-0 ATS in their last five games following a bye week but the Steelers are back to playing at an elite level. Big Ben is "far from done" and WR Antonio Brown is basically un-coverable. Play-action seems sure to work with Bell running for 134 yards or more in three of his last four games. Expect Pittsburgh to score, meaning Detroit's only chance to win is to match Pittsburgh, score for score. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-29-17||Cowboys -1 v. Redskins||Top||33-19||Win||100||95 h 11 m||Show|
The set: One of the NFL's best rivalries is set for Week 8 at FedEx Field on Sunday, with an NFC East matchup between the 3-3 Dallas Cowboys and the 3-3 Washington Redskins. The Cowboys are coming off a 40-10 win at San Francisco, rebounding after losing back-to-back games versus the Rams and Packers. Meanwhile, the Redskins are off a 34-24 MNF loss in Philly against the Eagles, which left both Dallas and Washington 2 1/2 games back of the first-place 6-1 Eagles in the NFC East.
Dallas: Ezekiel Elliott has been fighting a six-game suspension in court and that drama will last at least one more week with another hearing scheduled for Monday. He's coming off his best game of the season last week at San Francisco, when he rushed for 147 yards and two TDs, while also adding a 72-yard receiving score. Elliott has 540 rushing yards (4.1 YPC) and four TDs. QB Dak Prescott is having another excellent season, passing for 234 yards and three TDs last Sunday. He's now thrown for 1,426 yards with 14 TDs and only four INTs (98.2 QB rating). He's run for 152 yards (7.6 YPC) with four TDs, as part of a Dallas ground game averaging 147.5 YPG (2nd).
Washington: Kirk Cousins played well Monday night (303 yards with three TDs) but he couldn't match Philly's Wentz (4 TDs). He enters this game completing 68.3 percent with 12 TDs and three INTs for a 107.2 QB rating. Washington's running game isn't much and the Redskins rank 11th in scoring 23.5 PPG. The defense ranks near the bottom of the league, allowing 24.5 PPG (26th).
The pick: Washington saw three offensive linemen injured against the Eagles. Left tackle Trent Williams aggravated his right knee, right tackle Morgan Moses sprained both ankles and right guard Brandon Scherff suffered a knee sprain. Center Spencer Long (knee) is also hurting. With 13 players limited or worse, the Redskins didn't even practice Wednesday, opting instead for a walk-through. That can't be good news, playing on a short week. Keeping Elliott on the field for this game is huge for Dallas, as he and Prescott continue to give the Cowboys quite a 1-2 punch. Note that Prescott's 14 TD passes through six games has only been bettered in franchise history by Don Meredith (1966) and Tony Romo (2009), who each had 15 TD passes. The Dallas D is still a little suspect but the offense, averaging 33.7 PPG the last three games, 'covers' the day. Make Dallas an 8* play.
|10-29-17||Raiders v. Bills -2.5||Top||14-34||Win||100||92 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The 3-4 Oakland Raiders will travel to Buffalo's NewEra Field on Sunday afternoon to take on the 4-2 Bills. The Raiders were a 'sexy' pick to strongly compete for the AFC title in 2017 and after opening with a 26-16 win at Tennessee and then routing the Jets 45-10 at home, expectations were "off the chart." However, the Raiders lost four in a row, before snapping their slide with a last-second victory in a Week 7 Thursday game, 31-30 at home against the hated-Chiefs. Meanwhile, new Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has his team at 4-2, one of NFL 2017's true surprises. The Bills edged the Bucs 30-27 last Sunday, improving to 3-0 SU at home and on the season, have gone 4-1-1 ATS in all games.
Oakland: QB Derek Carr got off to a great start but a fractured bone in his back slowed him. He returned to the lineup after missing one game but he had a mediocre game in the Raiders' 17-16 home loss to the Rams in Week 6 (171 YP / one TD / 2 INTs / 67.5 QB rating). However, he returned to form against the Chiefs, passing for 417 yards and three TDs. The vertical passing game has been a staple in Oakland since the franchise's inception but deep threat Amari Cooper had just 18 catches while averaging only 8.1 YPC on the season going into that game with KC, when he broke out with 11 catches for 210 yards and two TDs. TE Jared Cook joined the 100-yard club himself, with six catches for 107 yards. However, Oakland's running game continues to be bust (Lynch is no 'beast,' rather just a pain in the ass), as Oakland will enter this game averaging 92.9 YPG on the ground (24th). The Oakland D ranks 26th in yards allowed (360.6 per) and 18th in scoring at 22.3 PPG.
Buffalo: QB Tyrod Taylor threw for 268 yards and a TD on 20 of 33 passing, against the Bucs but Buffalo will come into this game ranking 29th (of 32 teams) with only 181.0 YPG through the air. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing last year (164.4 YPG on 5.3 YPC), led by LeSean McCoy 's 1,267 yards (5.4 YPC and 13 rushing TDs). However, the Bills were averaging only 106.6 YPG on 3.4 YPC heading into last Sunday. There was good news though, as McCoy ran for 91 yards and a pair of rushing scores plus led the team with five receptions. As a team, Buffalo ran for 173 yards, which is "much more like it!" Buffalo's D has also held its own so far in 2017, allowing 16.8 PPG to rank 4th.
The pick: Isn't it interesting that new Bills hed coach Sean McDermott has been coaxing a lot more out of the Buffalo “D” than Rex Ryan ("the defensive genius") did the past two years! Buffalo's revamped 2ndary has nine INTs, which in concert with a mistake-free offense (only three giveaways), leaves Buffalo with an NFL-best plus-10 TO margin. Make the Bills a 10* play.
|10-29-17||Vikings v. Browns OVER 37.5||Top||33-16||Win||100||88 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: The NFL's latest London game kicks off Sunday's Week 8 schedule of games at Twickenham Stadium. The 5-2 Minnesota Vikings and the 0-7 Cleveland Browns wil lstart at 9:30 ET, as the Browns will play a regular-season game in London for the first time in franchise history. The Vikings enter on a three-game winning streak and sit atop the NFC North and with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers likely out for the season, are 'sniffing' a division title. For the Browns, they are off an 'ugly' 1-15 season and there has been no indication so far, that too much will be different here in 2017. The Browns have led in a game only once this season, 7-3 over the Jets in the fifth game, and that advantage lasted only 5:06 before New York moved ahead for good.
Minnesota: The Vikings have topped 30 points just once all season, averaging a modest 20.9 PPG (19th). However, Minnesota's defense has compensated, allowing 17.0 PPG (5th) on 283.0 YPG (4th). Minnesota's offense has seen QB Sam Bradford (knee) in and out of the lineup and excellent rookie RB Dalvin Cook (354 YR on 4.8 YPC) was lost for the season with a torn ACL in Week 4. However, Case Keenum is 3-2 as a starter and relieved Bradford in a comeback 20-17 win over the Bears in Week 5. RBs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have stepped up since Cook was lost for the season. Again, the Vikings’ defense has been terrific, holding four straight opponents under 275 total yards, after allowing a season-low 208 yards in a 24-16 win over Baltimore last week.
Cleveland:The QB history of the Browns (for quite awhile now) has been a complete disaster. Rookie DeShone Kizer has just three TD passes and 11 INTs (awful 47.8 QB rating), while Kevin Hogan is no better. He has five INTs in way fewer attempts and owns a higher interception percentage than Kizer. The Browns don't own much of a running game (92.3 YPG ranks 25th) and the team's 14.7 PPG is the second-lowest in the NFL. The defense allows 304.7 YPG (9th) but with all the turnovers putting the defense in tough spots, Cleveland is allowing 24.1 PPG, which ranks 24th.
The pick: The Vikings have not scored much and neither have the Browns. However, these London games always create a different atmosphere, and with a low total, the Over is an 8* play
|10-26-17||Dolphins v. Ravens -3||Top||0-40||Win||100||27 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: Miami's 2017 season began with the Dolphins having to postpone their Week 1 game with Tampa Bay due to Hurricane Irma. It was rescheduled for Week 11 when both the Dolphins and Bucs had a bye week. That means both Miami and Tampa Bay will play 16 consecutive weeks, not the best of circumstances. However, winning their last three games, after a 1-2 start, sure has the Dolphins in a much better mood. While Miami is streaking, the Ravens' season has gone 'south.' Baltimore opened 2-0 but enters this contest having lost four of their last five, leaving them 3-4 (already two games back of the Steelers in the AFC North)..
Miami: The Dolphins enter off wins over the Titans, Falcons and Jets. In that 31-28 win over New York in Week 7, Miami Matt Moore replaced an injured Jay Cutler and aided the comeback going 13 of 21 for 188 yards with two TDs and one INT (102.9 QB rating). That's much better than what Miami has seen from Cutler, who has averaged a woeful 150.3 YPG passing with seven TDs and five INTs, posting a 78.8 QB rating (approaching Flacco range!). Jay Ajayi is the leading rusher with 442 yards but the team averages only 81.7 YPG on 3.3 YPC. Defensively, Miami has been good, allowing 308.2 YPG (10th) and 18.7 PPG (7th).
Baltimore: QB Joe Flacco missed Baltimore's entire preseason but the Ravens went 4-0. In retrospect, maybe that was a bad sign? I noted that Baltimore started the 2017 season 2-0 but Flacco sure wasn't the reason, as he passed for only 338 yards with three TDs and two INTs. Baltimore's defense allowed just 10 points those first two games and let's also note that the wins came over the Bengals and Browns (now a combined 2-11). Baltimore's defense has allowed 27.6 PPG in losing four of five and Flacco has been awful, with two TDs and six INTs. On the season, he has five TD passes and eight INTs, as Baltimore ranks 32nd in passing yards (157.4 YPG), with Flacco's QB rating of 70.0 ranking 31st among 32 starting QBs. Baltimore's running game is middle-of-the-pack and its rushing D ranks dead last, allowing 145.3 YPG.
The pick: The Ravens season is surely at a 'tipping point,' as after this home game with the Dolphins, they'll play at Tennessee, have a bye week and then play at Green Bay. Lose here and any outside postseason hopes are all but dead, just halfway through the 2017 season. Matt Moore led Miami back from a 14-point deficit with a 17-point fourth quarter but John Elway, he isn't. He's a journeyman who is preparing to make his 29th career regular-season start. He's 15-13 as a starter and his career QB rating is 82.5. He'll take the field for a team unable to run the ball (see above), as the Dolphins still do not own a rushing TD. The Dolphins have been 'playing with fire' in their recent comeback wins but get 'burnt' here in Week. 8 Make Baltimore a 10* play.
|10-23-17||Redskins v. Eagles -4||Top||24-34||Win||100||24 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: Are the Eagles the NFC's best team? They just may be and a win tonight over NFC East rival Washington would only add more 'fuel' to that claim. Philadelphia is 5-1, losing only at KC, while owning wins over the Redskins, Giants, Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. The Eagles beat the Redskins back in Week 1, 30-17 at Washington and now get a return match with them here at Lincoln Financial Field on “Monday Night Football.” Washington comes in 3-2 and a victory would leave the Redskins just a half-game out of first place in the NFC East but a loss would mean both Washington and Dallas would be 3-3, while Philadelphia would own a commanding 6-1 record, 2 1/2 games clear of its division rivals.
Washington: QB Kirk Cousins is having another fine season completing 66.5% for 1,334 yards with nine TDs and just two INTs (106.4 QB rating). However, his worst game of the 2017 season came in Washington's Week 1 home loss to the Eagles, when Cousins completed only 57.5% with one TD and one INT, earning a QB rating of only 72.9. The running game does not have a player with more than 175 yards on the season but still ranks 10th, averaging 122.8 YPG on the ground. RB Rob Kelley is dealing with an ankle injury, which could mean the bulk of playing time will go to rookie Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, who already has recorded two 100-yard receiving performances and made four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Cousins does come in off a strong three-game stretch and now leads the NFC with that 106.4 QB rating. WRs Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder continue to struggle but the TE tandem of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis has combined for 29 catches. Defensively, the Eagles rank 12th in total yards (316.0 per) but not as high in points allowed (22.6 PPG ranks 19th).
Philadelphia: Wentz is off to a strong start in his sophomore season, with 13 TDs and just three INTs (99.6 QB rating). RB LeGarrette Blount (390 yards on 5.6 YPC) is starting to make his presence felt while a a very good OL helps the running game check in at 132.5 YPG (4th-best in the NFL). TE Ertz has 34 catches and WR Agholor has 20, with both owning four TD grabs apiece. Philly's rush D will surely test Washington's running game, as the Eagles are allowing an NFL-low 65.7 YPG on the ground.
The pick: Recent series history favors Washington, as Jay Gruden had beaten Philly five in a row prior to losing in Week 1 (Washington self-destructed with four giveaways). Also, the Redskins come in on an 8-3 ATS run as a road dog and that includes that fluke non-cover at KC in Week 4's MNF game! However, I believe the Eagles are "for real." They have won four straight (covered the last three) since losing at KC, while averaging 28.8 PPG, as Philadelphia has now scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games, the league's longest active streak. Wentz is proving to be a cool, calm and collected leader. Make the Eagles a 10* play.
|10-22-17||Falcons +3.5 v. Patriots||Top||7-23||Loss||-115||128 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: It's a Super Bowl rematch at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night (NBC), as the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots. The Falcons led 21-3 at the half of last year's Super Bowl and 28-3 in the third quarter of last season's game. However, the Patriots engineered the greatest comeback in the history of the NFL's 'ultimate game,' leaving the Falcons and their fans stunned with a 34-28 OT final which produced the fifth championship of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era (or should that read, the Brady/Belichick era?). The 2017 versions of the teams meet Sunday night and each team has reason to "not be confident!' Atlanta opened 3-0 but back-to-back losses to the Bills and Dolphins leaves them just 3-2 (blew a 17-0 halftime lead at home to Miami last Sunday). The Pats are 4-2 but easily could have lost at home to Houston and last Sunday, were the beneficiaries of a highly-controversial fumble/touchback call in their 24-17 win at the Jets.
Atlanta: Matt Ryan was deservedly the MVP of the 2016 season, throwing for 4,944 yards with 38 TDs and seven INTs for a 117.1 QB rating. However, after five games, he's got a 6-6 ratio and a QB rating of just 87.3. The RB tandem of Freeman (353 YR on 4.5 YPC with 5 TDs plus 11 catches) and Coleman (213 YR on 5.6 YPC with 1 TD plus 14 catches) is still potent but the Falcons' offense has looked 'off!' Atlanta led the NFL in scoring (33.8 PPG) in 2016, while finishing second in total yards (415.8 YPG). Here in 2017, those numbers are 24.2 PPG (12th) on 378.4 YPG (5th). The defense has allowed about 60 YPG more than in 2016 and 25,4 PPG, after allowing 21.8 PPG last season.
New England. What to make of the Pats in 2017? Brady is still awesome, with 13 TDs and just two INTs (106.9 QB rating), leading an offense averaging 28.7 PPG (5th-best). The Pats lead the nFL in passing (309.8 YPG), which is the reason the team also owns the most YPG (412.0 per), in the entire NFL. However, no team has allowed more overall yards (440.7 per) or passing yards (324,8 per) than New England. All six opposing QBs have thrown for 300-plus yards against New England (never happened before), as the Pats' pass D has allowed 14 TDs and has just five INTs (104.4 opposing QB rating is third-worst in the NFL).
The pick: No way Atlanta can be brimming with confidence after it incredibly blew a 17-0 halftime lead in its 20-17 home upset loss to previously-struggling Miami last Sunday. Add to that, the fact that the Pats lost their most recent home game (33-30 in Week in Week 4 to that Panthers) and that New England hasn’t dropped consecutive home games since 2008. The poinstspread is surely not much of an impost but this New England team is just "not right" here in 2017. The Falcons own a much-better balanced offense and neither team's defense seems capable of stopping the opposing team's offense. I WANT the points. Make Atlanta an 8* play.
|10-22-17||Bengals v. Steelers OVER 41||Top||14-29||Win||100||124 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: Two bitter AFC North rivals square off Sunday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals opened the 2017 season losing two games at home (scored only nine points) but a Week 3 OT loss at Green Bay (just 27-24), helped turn their season around. The Bengals have won at Cincy 31-7 and then back home against Buffalo (20-16) since, so they'll have a chance to get back to .500 with a win here against the hated-Steelers. Pittsburgh will be looking to maintain its place atop the AFC North (curently 4-20, after handing KC its first loos of the 2017 season last Sunday on the road. Pittsburgh won 19-13 at Arrowhead, holding the Chiefs to just 251 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, RB Le’Veon Bell had his best game of 2017, rushing for 179 yards and a TD, while Antonio Brown led Pittsburgh with 8 catches for 155 yards and the team’s lone receiving TD (now there's a shocker!). As for Big Ben, he bounced back from a four-INT game in Week 5, by completing 17 of 25 for 252 yards (one TD and one INT).
Cincinnati: The Bengals started slowly offensively in 2017 (see above) and remain low in most offensive categories. Cincy ranks 30th with 16.8 YPG on 311.0 YPG, which ranks 24th. QB Andy Dalton had a 'nightmare' of a first game (four INTs and a lost fumble) but competed 80.7% against Creen Bay and Cleveland (6 TDs / 0 INTs), before throwing two INTs in the win over Buffalo in Week 5. He will eventually need help from a running game averaging just 84.0 YPG (28th). Keeping Cincy 'alive' is a defense which ranks second in scoring (16.2 PPG) and total yards (262.8 YPG).
Pittsburgh: No one really bought Big Ben's "Maybe I don't have it anymore" lament and looking around the AFC, isn't Pittsburgh as likely as any team to be playing in a second straight AFC championship game. Big Ben's a proven winner and in Bell and Brown, the Steelers may just have the best RB and WR in all of the NFL (name a better set of teammates!). Pittsburgh's offense will be just fine by year's end and as always, the defense is near the top in most categories. How about 4th in points allowed (17.0 PPG) and 3rd in yards allowed (272.0 YPG)
The pick: Big Ben is in his 14th year (hard to believe) and while it's been slow-sledding, expect him to be just fine, working with Bell and Brown. As for the Bengals, the team's 'ugly' 0-2 start is behind them and a Week 6 bye may have been "just what the doctor ordered." Two defenses usually spell 'under' but "not so fast!" You have two QBs more than capable of putting up points and in Brown and A.J. Green, two of the NFL's very best WRs, as well. Also, there is talk that the bye week has allowed WR John Ross (Cincy's No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft out of Washington) enough time to get over a knee injury that bothered him all season. Surprise, this game is headed over. Make it an 8* play.
|10-22-17||Panthers -3 v. Bears||Top||3-17||Loss||-120||120 h 13 m||Show|
Carolina: Newton was Carolina's lone offensive producer against the Eagles, as ran for 71 yards (on 11 attempts), while the rest of the team had just nine rushing yards on 14 carries. That won't work! Newton was forced to throw 52 times, completing 28 for 239 yards with one TD, three INTs and a QB rating of 48.5. That was quite a drop off from him completing 77.4 percent for 671 yards with six TDs and just one INT in back-to-back road wins at New England and Detroit. The good news so far is that Carolina's D ranks 4th in total yards (280.0 YPG) and 9th in points allowed, at 20.3 PPG (down from 25.1 PPG in 2016).
Chicago: Mitch Trubisky will make his third career start in this one. He earned his first victory last week but has passed for only 241 yards in his two starts, with two TDs and an interception (owns a 73.3 QB rating). He has averaged only 20.5 passes per game, as the Bears continue to rely heavily on the ground game, which is No. 1 in the NFC and No. 3 in the NFL at 136.0 YPG. RB Jordan Howard has amassed 495 rushing yards (167 yards in Week 6) and four TDs through his his first six games. The Bears are averaging just 17.5 PPG (28th) and that won't get the job done with the defense allowing 24.7 PPG (25th).
The pick: The Bears come into this contest 0-7 SU and just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a SU win (beat the Ravens in Week 6), while the Panthers are 3-0 SU & ATS on the road in 2017 (one of five NFL teams that are unbeaten away from home in 2017). Cam Newton vs. Mitch Trubisky seems like a total mismatch plus Chicago's rushing attack will get a severe test against Carolina's rush D, which comes in allowing only 83.3 YPG to rank 5th-best in the NFL. Carolina has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. Make the Panthers a 10* play.
|10-22-17||Jets +3.5 v. Dolphins||Top||28-31||Win||100||120 h 11 m||Show|
The set-up: Long-time AFC East rivals the NY Jets and Miami Dolphins meet Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. The 3-3 Jets are coming off a controversial 24-17 home loss to the Pats in Week 6, while the Dolphins improved to 3-2 with their best effort of the season, a 20-17 comeback win on the road over the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. The Jets squandered a 14-0 lead but were hurt when an apparent TD was ruled a fumble and a touchback on a still-controversial call, eventually losing 24-17. The Dolphins fell behind the Falcons 17-0 at halftime last Sunday but somehow came back to win 2017.
NY Jets: "I think the whole stadium felt (the call) was wrong," Jets safety Jamal Adams told the media in New York. However, the Jets know they have to move on. Journeyman QB Josh McCown completed 75.0% of his throws in the Jets' three-game winning streak and then passed for 354 yards in the loss to the Pats. McCown is going to need more help from New York's "no-name" RBs, as New York ranks a modest 18th in averaging 105.2 YPG on the ground. Overall, the Jets average just 318.7 YPG (21st) and ranks 26th in scoring at 18.2 PPG. The Jets' D is allowing 358.0 YPG (24th) but only 21.7 PPG, which ranks 12th
Miami: The Dolphins took the field for the second half of last week's game in Atlanta, down 17-0. It continued a sad trend for Miami, as the team's offense had scored just one non-garbage-time TD over the past 15 quarters. However, Miami scored two TDs in the third quarter, before Cody Parkey added two FGs in the fourth quarter to get Miami the "W." Miami’s offense had been dismal until its third-quarter revival against the Falcons, although it was good news that RB Jay Ajayi broke out of a slump with 130 rushing yards last week. QB Jay Cutler's "un-retirement" has not gone well, as he has just five TD passes and four INTs with Miami ranking 32nd in passing offense with 155.4 YPG (Cutler's QB rating is a poor 75.2). Defensively, the Dolphins have been very good, allowing just 16.8 PPG to rank 3rd.
The pick: It's just Week 7 but this is the second meeting of 2017 for these division rivals. The teams met at MetLife Stadium in Week 3, when the Dolphins were a six-point road favorite and the Jets won handily, 20-6. Both teams have greatly surpassed preseason expectations, with both defenses showing well. However, despite Miami's remarkable second-half comeback last week, they come into this game ranked last in scoring (12.2 PPG), last in total offense (242.8 YPG), last in passing yards (155.4 YPG) and 27th in rushing offense (87.4 YPG). How does one lay points with this team? In fact, Miami is a money-burning 4-12 ATS the last 16 times when favored, going back to the latter part of 2014. Make the Jets an 8* play.
|10-19-17||Chiefs v. Raiders UNDER 47.5||Top||30-31||Loss||-110||56 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The Chiefs welcomed the Steelers to Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday as the NFL's lone unbeaten team at 5-0 (also 5-0 ATS). Kansas City entered last week's game averaging nearly 33 points through its first five victories but its offense was bottled up (held to 13 points on 251 yards) while its 27th-ranked run defense (130.7 YPG) was stampeded for 194 yards.The Raiders were a 'sexy' pick to strongly compete for the AFC title in 2017 and after opening with a 26-16 win at Tennessee and then routing the Jets 45-10 at home, expectations were "off the chart." However, as the Raiders get set to host one of their most-hated rivals (from the days of the original AFL), Oakland will be trying to snap a four-game losing streak.
Kansas City: QB Alex Smith did not have his best game of 2017 in KC's 19-13 loss to the Steelers but he does enter this contest having completed 72.9 percent of his passes
Oakland: QB Derek Carr got off to a great start but a fractured bone in his back has slowed him. He returned to the lineup after missing one game last Sunday but he had another mediocre game in the Raiders' 17-16 home loss to the Rams (171 YP / one TD / 2 INTs / 67.5 QB rating) and now has four interceptions in his past three contests, after tossing only six picks in the entire 2016 season.
The pick: The Chiefs travel to Oakland Thursday night, looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since October of 2015. What's more, the Chiefs have won nine straight road games. The Chiefs are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 road games and 11-3 ATS in their last 14 meetings in Oakland. That said, I think we'll get an "all-out" effort from the Raiders in this one. However, in the team's four-game skid, Oakland has scored 10, 10, 17 and 16 points (that's just 13.3 PPG). That brings in this stat..."the under" is 18-6 in the last 24 meeting between these hated rivals. Make the under a 10* play in this one.
|10-16-17||Colts v. Titans -7.5||Top||22-36||Win||100||34 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: Preseason expectations were running high in Tennessee, after the Titans went 9-7 in 2016, losing the AFC South to the Texans on a tie-breaker. The Titans 'laid an egg' in Week 1 in a 26-16 home loss to the Raiders but rebounded with wins at Jacksonville and home to Seattle, to get back on track. However, the Titans were pulverized 57-14 in Week 4 at Houston and followed with a 16-10 loss in Miami last week, while seeing starting QB Marcus Mariota go down with a hamstring injury. The Colts know all to well about an injury to their starting QB, as Andrew Luck has yet to see action in 2017 and does not have an exact timetable to return from his shoulder woes. However, Indy has seen its offense take significant strides as Jacoby Brissett has gotten acclimated under center in place, with the Colts splitting his four games as the team's starting QB (Colts are 2-3, overall).
Indianapolis: Brissett threw for a career-high 314 yards and rushed for a TD last week as the Colts collected their second victory against a win-less team with a 26-23 overtime triumph over San Francisco (also beat the now 0-6 Browns at home in Week 2). T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 177 yards last week. Rookie RB Marlon Mack has given the Colts' running game a boost, with a 22-yard TD plus his 35-yard run set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 51-yard FGl in overtime. Veteran Frank Gore moved into seventh place in NFL history with 13,304 yards rushing. Still, the Colts average only 100.0 YPG on the ground (20th) and their 19.4 PPG ranks only 22nd. The defense is a big problem, as the Colts rank last by allowing 31.8 PPG and 30th (of 32 teams) in total D (393.4 YPG), as well as passing yards (294.0 YPG).
Tennessee: The Titans may be staring at another game without Marcus Mariota (hamstring) in its lineup. Mariota is hopeful that he can play. Matt Cassel came in after he got hurt last Sunday at Miami and was 21 of 32 for 141 yards (no completion longer than 17 yards) and was sacked six times! Tennessee's bread and butter has been its rushing attack but DeMarco Murray has just 89 yards on the ground in his last two contests, as Miami limited the team to only 69 yards on 20 carries last week. The Titans still rank 7th in rushing on the season, at 124.8 YPG. The defense (not helped by allowing Houtson 57 points in Week 4), is one spot behind the Colts in points allowed, at 28.4 per game (31st).
The pick: It's fairly likely that ESPN would not have picked this as a Monday night game if it knew that Matt Cassel and Jacoby Brissett could be the opposing QBs. However, it seems as if Mariota will be able to play and there should be plenty of motivation on the Tennessee side, to get its season headed back in the right direction plus to end what has to be a wildly frustrating 11-game losing streak against the Colts (mostly at the hands of Andrew Luck). Brissett has surely been an excellent pickup (savior?) for Indy but let's not forget his only two wins have come over the Browns and 49ers, who check in a combined 0-12 in 2017. Make Tennessee a 10* play.
|10-15-17||Giants v. Broncos UNDER 40||Top||23-10||Win||100||128 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: The NY Giants are playing in prime time for the third time in six weeks, when they welcome the Broncos to MetLife Stadium on NBC's Sunday night football. The Giants, who went 11-5 last season, have opened 0-5 and are practically guaranteed to miss the postseason for the fifth time in six years since the team won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. The Broncos are off a bye week and check in at 3-1, with all three wins coming at home (2-0-1 ATS).
Denver: The Broncos are hardly a dominant team, losing 26-16 at Buffalo in Week 3 and needing a last-second interception to beat Oakland prior to the bye. However, Denver played its beat game of the season here at home in Week 2, dominating the Cowboys 42-17. QB Trevor Siemian is completing 62.7% with seven TDs and four INTs (89.0 QB rating). C.J. Anderson has run for 330 yard, leading a running game averaging 143.0 YPG (3rd). There is nothing wrong with the Broncos' defense, which is allowing a league-low 260.8 YPG, including ranking No. 1 against the run (50.8 YPG). Denver is allowing 18.5 PPG to rank 7th.
NY Giants: Eli Manning receives most of the 'heat' but the Giants have virtually no running game, averaging 77.8 YPG (30th). RB Paul Perkins was unable to practice Wednesday, leaving Orleans Darkwa and rookie Wayne Gallman to lead a backfield that has done little. Eli is completing 67.8% but with eight TDs and five INTs (89.1 QB rating). Week 5 was not good to him, as he lost his three top WRs to ankle injuries, including Odell Beckham Jr, possibly for the year. Manning himself was examined for neck issues after the game.
The pick: Eli's receiving corps is devastated and he has no running game, as he looks to take on an outstanding Denver defense, coming off a bye week. As for Denver's offense, excluding the team's 42-point outburst against Dallas, Denver is averaging 18.7 PPG. This game has "under, written all over it!" Make the Under an 8* play.
|10-15-17||Bucs -2 v. Cardinals||Top||33-38||Loss||-113||124 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is the site of this Week 6 game between the 2-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2-3 Arizona Cardinals. The Bucs played a Week 5 home game vs. the Pats on Thursday night but lost 19-14, partly because PK Nick Folk missed three FGs. The Cardinals are hoping to climb back to .500, after a 34-7 loss last Sunday at Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay: First things first. Folk's first season with Tampa Bay is over as he was placed on injured reserve with a "minor injury" classification, meaning the team must release him once he becomes healthy. Replacing Folk will be Patrick Murray, who appeared in two games for Cleveland last season after converting 20-of-24 field-goal attempts for the Buccaneers in 2014 (Heeee's back!). The Bucs need more consistency from QB Winston. He's got four TDs and zero INTs with a 103.6 QB rating in Tampa Bay's two wins but has three TDs and three INTs with an 83.6 QB rating in the team's two losses. The Bucs average just 86.0 YPG on the ground (27th) but it's good news that RB Doug Martin returned from his suspension vs. the Pats and gained 74 yards on 13 carries
Arizona: The Cards allowed 419 yards of total offense at Philadelphia and checks in allowing 25.0 PPG (27th) on the season. QB Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense ranks second in passing yards (289.0 YPG) but the team is averaging only 16.2 PPG (29th). One of the issues is the NFL's werst rushing attack, as Arizona has averaged 51.8 YPG to rank dead-last, as does the team's 2.6 YPC average! Arizona obtained 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson from New Orleans on Tuesday with hopes that the 32-year-old will resemble his former self after enduring a miserable four-game tenure with the Saints (ran for 81 yards on 27 carries, averaging 3.0 YPC).
The pick: Arizona is 2-3 with its two wins coming in OT victories at Indy and at home vs. San Francisco. Those two teams are a combined 2-8 SU and Arizona failed to cover either win. That means the Cards enter this game 0-5 ATS on the season. Adding insult to injury, the Cardinals had 13 players listed on their injury report earlier in the week and nine of them were starters, including All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson with a sore quadriceps. This marks only Tampa Bay's second road game of 2017 but it should be noted that the Bucs were 6-2 ATS on the road in 2016. The Cards have a 'washed-up' QB in Palmer and have now added a 'washed-up' RB in Adrian Peterson. That's hardly a good 'daily double!' Make the Bucs are 8* play.
|10-15-17||Patriots v. Jets OVER 47.5||Top||24-17||Loss||-110||121 h 49 m||Show|
The set-up: It's a Week 6 game featuring AFC East rivals at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, as the New England Patriots visit the New York Jets. Who could have ever predicted in Week 1 that both teams would be 3-2 heading into this contest, meaning the winner will take the early AFC East lead. this contest. After all, the Pats are defending Super Bowl champs and the Jets, after a summer 'fire sale,' seemed destined to be one of a handful of teams that woiuld be in teh mix for teh NFL 2018 Daraft's No. 1 overall pick. However, the Pats were upended in the 2017 season-opener at home by the Chiefs and need to eke out an 'ugly' 189-14 win in Week 5 at Tampa Bay just to reach 3-2. Meanwhile, after opening 0-2, the Jets have gone 3-0 SU & ATS the last three weeks, with the team's defense holding those three opponents to just 40 combined points (13.3 PPG).
New England: There's nothing wrong with Tom Brady, as he's completing 68.2% with 11 TDs and just one interception, giving him a QB rating of 112.0. The Pats rank first in passing (320.4 YPG), the main reason New England ranks first overall in total yards (419.4 YPG), while checking in at third in scoring at 29.6 PPG. Brady's accomplished all this with injuries to some of his key receivers plus playing behind an OL that's allowed him to be sacked 16 times. Brady has also has to make up for a defense, which has been unable to stop anyone, particularly through the air, allowing an NFL-worst 323.4 YPG (12 TDs allowed with just three INTs for a an opposing QB rating of 109.2). The Pats allow 28.4 PPG to rank 30th.
NY Jets: There was talk the Jets would threaten the Browns and that the loser of their Week 5 meeting could go 0-16, after two weeks. However, after losing 45-10 in Oakland in Week 2, the Jets have managed to win and cover three straight. Granted, their 'victims' have been the Dolphins, Jags and Browns (Cleveland will make a strong run at 0-16!) but still, allowing just 13.3 PPG in their winning streak is impressive. Josh McCown, a journeyman who toiled for the Browns last season, has completed 63 of 84 passes in the winning streak (that's 75.0%), twice recording QB ratings of better than 100.0. The Jets don't have a big-name RB but still have maneged to average 111.4 YPG to rank 13th.
The pick: The Pats will take the field looking for their 11th win in 13 regular-season meetings against Jets. OK, Brady is arguably the best QB in NFL history, winning five Super Bowls while playing for only the New England Patriots since he was drafted in the sixth round. He has a 186-54 career regular-season record and 25-9 mark in the playoffs. Meanwhile, McCown has been on 10 different NFL rosters since he was drafted in the third round in 2002. His career record as a starter is 21-44 career record and he has never sniffed the playoffs. No contest, right? Well, New England has allowed at least 33 points in three of five games this year and even in last weeks' 19-14 win, Winston threw for 334 yards against the Pats' defense-less secondary, plus needed Buc PK Nick Folk to miss three FGs to avoid another loss. McCown will do damage to New England's secondary, just like every QB has so far this season. However, Brady will 'light up' the Jets' D, as well. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-15-17||Lions v. Saints -4.5||Top||38-52||Win||100||121 h 49 m||Show|
The set-up: The Lions opened the 2017 season 2-0 but have lost two of their last three and head to New Orleans at 3-2 to take on the rejuvenated Saints. New Orleans opened its season with double-digit losses at Minnesota and home to New England but then shocked the Panthers 34-13 in Carolina in Week 3, before beating the Dolphins 20-0 in a Week 4 London game. The first bye week was in Week 5 and the Saints were one of four teams getting an early rest. The Saints return to the playing field on Sunday and welcome a Lions team to the Superdome but the Lions have beaten the Saints in each of the last three seasons, 24-23 in Detroit in 2014, then 35-27 and 28-13 the last two years here in New Orleans.
Detroit: The Lions' plus-9 turnover margin had been a key to the team's 3-1 start but they couldn't force a TO against the Panthers last Sunday, as Cam Newton ripped Detroit's pass D for 355 yards and three TDs. QB Matthew Stafford is completing 64.6% with nine TDs and just one INT but the Lions rank just 23rd in passing (200.6 YPG). RB Ameer Abdullah had a career-high 94 yards in the Week 4 win at Minnesota but has done little in the team's other four games, averaging less than 50 yards per. As a team, Detroit is averaging just 87.6 YPG on the ground to rank 26th. Detroit has allowed a modest 19.4 PPG (11th) but a concern, after Newton ripped open the team's secondary, is that the Lions are starting to look like the pass D which allowed a historic (not in a good way) 72.7% completion rate in 2016, with 33 TD passes allowed, just 10 INTs and an opposing QB rating of 106.5 (NFL-worst in 2016).
New Orleans. Drew Brees has watched the game film of Newton picking apart that Detroit pass D and he must be salivating. Brees hasn't thrown an interception in 152 attempts so far in 2017, while tossing eight TDs passes and earning a QB rating of 108.3. The "unhappy" Adrian Peterson was traded to Arizona this week, which should make things more pleasant on the sidelines, give Mark Ingram a jolt of confidence plus get more "PT" for impressive rookie QB Alvin Kamara. Let's also note the incredible turnaround of New Orleans' pass D. New Orleans allowed a league-worst 777 passing yards (along with six TD passes) in opening 0-2 but in holding the Panthers and Dolphins to a combined 13 points in Week 3 & 4 wins, the Saints shut down Newton (167 yards with no TD passes and three INTs for a QB rating of 43.8) and Cutler (164 yards and one INT for a QB rating of 71.1).
The pick. It's just not Brees who has been mistake-free, as the Saints are the only team to have no yet committed a turnover in 2017. In the process, they have become just the third NFL team since 1935 to open the season without a TO through its first four games (pretty heady stuff). Sure, the Saints are only 11-14 at the Superdome since 2014 but with a younger, more talented defense, there are signs the team is beginning to rise above mediocrity on that side of the ball. As for the Brees-led offense, there is nothing mediocre about them! Make New Orleans a 10* play.
|10-12-17||Eagles +3.5 v. Panthers||Top||28-23||Win||100||56 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: The Philadelphia Eagles opened the 2016 season 3-0 in September, behind rookie QB Carson Wentz. However, Wentz and his team cooled off fairly quickly, losing nine of their next 11 games, before ending the season with back-to-back wins in Weeks 16 and 17 to finish 7-9. The Eagles are at it again in 2017, opening 4-1 and the question is, is this real or is it Memorex? We may get our answer Thursday night, when the Eagles travel to Bank of America Stadium to take on the 4-1 Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were 15-1 in 2015 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl but fell from first to last in the NFC South in 2016, going 6-10. However, this year's team and particularly QB Cam Newton, are beginning to look much more like the 2015 team than last year's sad-sack unit. Again, we may just learn something about the Panthers here on Thursday night, as well.
Philadelphia: Wentz continues to make converts of the non-believers, as he's leading an offense averaging 27.4 PPG (7th). He's completing 62.1% with 10 TDs and just three INTs (97.7 QB rating), while the Eagles rank 8th in passing (259.0 YPG). RB LeGarrette Blount is starting to make an impact (323 yards rushing) and the Eagles' 138.8 YPG on the ground ranks 5th. The defense is allowing 19.8 PPG (13th) and excels in stopping opponents' ground game, allowing just 62.8 YPG (2nd-best). The problem against Carolina and Newton may be, that Philly's pass D allows 283.2 YPG, which ranks 29th of 32 teams.
Carolina: The Panthers opened 2-0 but were hardly impressive in doing so, beating the sad-sack 49ers 23-3 and the Bills 9-3. When Carolina lost 34-13 at home to the then 0-2 Saints 34-13 in Week 3, with Newton passing for just 167 yards and throwing three INTs (QB rating of 43.8), critics were everywhere. However, what a difference a couple of weeks can make. Newton led the Panthers to a 33-30 win at New England in Week 5 and then at Detroit last Sunday, 27-24. He's earned QB ratings of 130.8 and 141.8, while throwing for 671 yards and six TDs (just one INT in 61 attempts). He has a trio of quality receivers in Kelvin Benjamin, Ed Dickson and Devin Funchess (not to mention rookie RB Christian McCaffrey's 27 catches) but Carolina's ground game needs to improve (its 98.6 YPG ranks only 19th). Defensively, Carolina is allowing only 274.0 YPG (3rd) and just 18.8 PPG (9th), down from 25.1 PPG in 2016.
The pick: All but four of last week's 14 games were decided by six points or fewer but Philadelphia was one of the exceptions, routing the Cardinals 34-7. Philly fans are clearly riding high but while the Eagles' bandwagon is becoming crowded let's insert here that Philly's current three-game win streak has come over the Giants, Chargers and Cardinals, who are a combined 2-13 SU. Then again, here's the other side of that. The Eagles only loss of the 2017 season is 27-20 at the Chiefs, who are 5-0 SU and ATS. Love what Newton's done the last two weeks but the Panthers are 0-2 ATS at home in 2017 (averaging just 11.0 PPG), after going 3-5 ATS at home in 2016. I'm taking the points and making the Eagles an 8* play.
|10-09-17||Vikings -3 v. Bears||Top||20-17||Push||0||31 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: It's a MNF game featuring two teams from what was once the NFL's "Black and Blue Division," now the NFC North. The 2-2 Minnesota Vikings will visit Chicago's Soldier Field on ESPN to take on the 1-3 Bears. The Vikings are hoping that Sam Bradford is ready to return as the team's starting QB for this one (after sustaining a knee injury in Minnesota's season opener), while the Bears will hand the starting QB job over to Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick of the 2017 draft out of North Carolina. He'll make his NFL debut after off-season acquisition Mike Glennon committed four turnovers in Chicago's 35-14 loss to Green Bay on Sep. 28.
Minnesota: The Vikings' two wins this season have come at home (29-19 over the Saints and 34-17 over the Bucs), while Minnesota has lost 26-9 at Pittsburgh and last week at home to the Lions, 14-7. Keenum has completed 61.0% for 755 yards with three TDs and zero INTs (94.4 QB rating) but he's not Bradford. The former Heisman-winner and No. 1 overall draft pick set an NFL single-season record by completing 71.6% of his passes in 2016 and against New Orlean in Week 1, connected on 27 of 32 (that's 84.0%) for 346 yards with three TDs and did not throw a pick (143.0 QB rating). The Vikings not only fell to Detroit last week but also lost rookie RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State) to a torn left ACL that will cost him the remainder of the season. Cook had rushed for 354 yards in three-plus contests and will be replaced by Latavius Murray (signed a three-year, $15 million deal in the off-season). He will inherit the bulk of the workload but note he's coming off ankle surgery during the off-season that still has him feeling less than 100 percent (has just 38 yards rushing this season). Defensively, the Vikings rank T-8th in points allowed (19.0 per) and 12th in total yards (318.0 YPG).
Chicago: It didn't take long for Chicago to sour on Glennon (anyone know what the team liked about him in the first place?) and Trubisky will have an opportunity to showcase his abilities in front of millions of viewers, as he makes his debut on MNF. "Ifeel like I'm ready," Trubisky said to reporters this week. "I'm excited. I'm just going to take it day by day and prepare as hard as I possibly can for every single look and situation we can get on Monday. I'm going to be dependent on my teammates a lot. My job is to get the ball to the playmakers and just be a distributor and manage the offense and do the best I can." He doesn't figure to get too much help from Chiacgo's average at-best running game plus while the Chicago defense has allowed 306.2 YPG (9th), the Bears have allowed 26.0 PPG, which ranks 27th.
The pick: The return of Bradford would be HUGE news for Minnesota (he's listed as questionable) but the Vikings will also be buoyed by the fact that WR Michael Floyd has also been reinstated after a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Floyd joins a talented group of WRs that includes Stefon Diggs (22 catches / 17.8 YPC and Adam Thielen (24 catches / 14.9 YPC). Whether it's Bradford (hopefully) or Kennum, I'll take the Vikings against Trubuiskty, who had just one season of note at North Carolina. Trubisky had his moments in the preseason but playing against disinterested starters and backups is quite different than playing a division rival on MNF in one's first-ever NFL start. Make Minnesota a 10* play.
|10-08-17||Chiefs v. Texans UNDER 47||Top||42-34||Loss||-110||142 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: Through the season's first four weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs stand alone as the NFL's lone unbeaten team at 4-0. The Chiefs are also a perfect 4-0 ATS after their 'miracle' finish last Monday night against the Redskins. The Chiefs are back on in primetime again in Week 5, this time in Houston against the 2-2 Texans for a SNF game at NRG Stadium on NBC. Houston's 19-12 win last season over KC ended a three-game losing streak in the series, including a 33-0 playoff rout in January 2016.
Kansas City: QB Alex Smith has played superbly for the Chiefs, who have scored at least 21 second-half points in three of their four victories. He's been stuck with the label of "game manager" for years but has eight TD passes without an interceptions (121 attempts) plus leads the NFL in both QB rating (124.2) and completing percentage (76.0%). Nothing "game-manager-like" in those numbers! Smith is not alone in being a major contributor to KC's offense in 2017. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt (Toledo) has rushed for more than 100 yards three times and has 502 yards on the season, averaging 7.4 YPC with four TDs. Throw in 13 catches with two more TDs and he's been the league's best back 25 percent of the way through NFL 2017. TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill each have a team-high 21 catches, with two TD receptions apiece. Kansas City's offense ranks 2nd in both points scored (30.5 per) and total yards (405,2 per). The defense allows 359.5 YPG to rank 26th but only allows 19.2 PPG, which ranks 10th.
Houston: Bill O'Brien may never live down his decision to open the season with Tom Savage at QB over Deshaun Watson but now that he's "seen the light," the Texans are only looking forward. The Texans have been a different team since handing the keys of the offense to Watson, who accounted for five TDs in last week's 57-14 demolition of visiting Tennessee. Watson guided Clemson to back-to-back national championship showdowns with Alabama, shredding the Tide's defense in both games, while claiming the title in last January's rematch. Watson threw for 283 yards and four TDs plus ran for another score last Sunday, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. DeAndre Hopkins is Watson's favorite target with 31 receptions but fellow WR Will Fuller returned from injury to make a splashy debut against the Titans with a pair of TDs among his four catches. RB Lamar Miller scored his first two TDs of the season last week, piling up 131 yards from scrimmage, while Watson's running ability and rookie RB D'Onta Foreman provide solid complements (Texans average 139.8 YPG rushing to rank fifth). Houston's defense led the NFL in total yards allowed in 2016 (301.3 YPG) and while the Texans are allowing fewer yards in 2017 (291.5 YPG), that figure ranks only fifth-best.
The pick: Yes, the Smith and Hunt duo plus the play of Deshaun Watson make this look like an attractive over play. However, these are two outstanding defensive teams (KC's YPG stats so far, not withstanding), so the play here is an 8* on the Under.
|10-08-17||Seahawks +2.5 v. Rams||Top||16-10||Win||100||138 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The Seattle Seahawks needed a breakout game (win) last Sunday night and the sad-sack Colts played the perfect foil, as the Seattle romped to a 46-18 victory. That evened the team's record at 2-2 and now in Week 5, the Seahawks will travel to Los Angeles to take on one of 2017's surprise NFL teams, the Rams. The Rams were 4-12 in 2016, the team's first season back in LA (had moved to St Louis for the start of the season), finishing as the NFL's most-impotent offense (14.0 PPG on 262.7 YPG). However, QB Jared Goff (0-7 as a starter as a rookie), has led a turnaround that has the Rams 3-1 and looking for a third straight win in this contest with Seattle.
Seattle:The Seahawks didn't score a TD in either of its first two games (21 points on seven FGs) and while the Seahawks put up 27 points at Tennessee, the defense allowed 33 points on 420 yards. Russell Wilson had a breakout" game against the Titans, completing 29 of 49 for 373 yards with four TDs and had 295 yards plus two more TDs against the Colts. The Seattle offense which has scored just 21 points in Weeks 1 and 2, has scored 73 points the last two games. Maybe more importantly, after allowing Tennessee to roll up 420 yards in Week 3, Seattle's defense looked more like the one we've seen in recent years, allowing the Colts to gain only 237 total yards.
LA Rams: Jared Goff has played like a No. 1 overall pick through four games, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,072 yards with seven TDs and just one interception in 117 attempts (QB rating of 112.2). RB Todd Gurley has 362 rushing yards with four TDs plus leads the team with 20 catches. Goff also has developing 'go-to' WRs in Sammy Watkins (14 catches) and Robert Woods (12). After averaging woeful totals on offense in 2016 (see above), the 2017 Rams are the NFL's top-scoring team (35.5 PPG) on 386.5 YPG (5th). However, the defense adds little 'cover,' ranking 28th in points allowed (26.2 per) on 2367.8 YPG (ranks 27th).
The pick: Seattle's offense found its groove in the second half against the Titans and 'poured it on' in the second half of last Sunday night's against the Colts. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 194 rushing yards last Sunday night, while QB Wilson had the most accurate game of his career in connecting on 21 of 26 passes. The defense isn't as elite as its been in the past but it was much better in Week 4. Sure, the Rams' offense will be a tougher test but Seattle's offense shouldn't have much trouble against a Rams defense which ranks among the worst in the NFL. Let's not forget that Seattle has won at least 10 games in each of the past five seasons, while the Rams haven't had a winning season since 2003! Make Seattle a 10* play.
|10-08-17||Bills v. Bengals OVER 38.5||Top||16-20||Loss||-110||134 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: The Buffalo Bills last made the playoffs back in 1999, the longest postseason drought of any NFL team. However, they visit Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday with a surprising 3-1 record. The Bengals opened 0-3 in 2017 but were able to win their first game of the season last Sunday 31-7, although it came over the hapless (helpless?) Browns.
Buffalo: New head coach Sean McDermott is riding high but is also savvy enough not to take the 1-3 Bengals lightly."This is a team that has been in the playoffs the last 'X' amount of years," McDermott told reporters. ”Anyone who looks at a record at this point in the season is making a huge mistake. This is a good football team." Buffalo's Week 3 home win over Denver was nice but its 23-17 in Atlanta over the previously unbeaten Falcons got everyone's attention. The Bills led the NFL in rushing last year at 164.4 YPG but this year Buffalo has struggled, averaging only 112.8 YPG (26th). McCoy had 110 yards in Week 1 but over the last three games, which included impressive wins over the Broncos and Falcons, he has only 106 yards, while averaging just 2.3 YPC! I'm not sure what to make of QB Tyrod Taylor but the bottom line is, he leads an offense averaging just 18.2 PPG (23rd) on 284.2 YPG (29th). Buffalo's defense has been the key so far, allowing a league-low 13.5 PPG on 306.0 YPG (8th).
Cincinnati: Bengal fans were calling for Andy Dalton to be benched after Cincy opened with back-to-back home losses to the Ravens and Texans, while failing to reach the end zone (had scored just nine points). However, after throwing four INTs in Week 1, Dalton hasn't had one since, plus he's completed 80.8 percent of his throws the last two games, passing for 498 yards and six TDs! The Bengals took the Packers to OT at Greem Bay (lost 27-24) but then won 31-7 at Cleveland. Dalton is not getting much help from his running game, as rookie Joe Mixon has been a major disappointment (2.6 YPC) and the ground game averages only 88.8 YPG on 3.3 YPC. Like Buffalo, the Cincy defense has been excellent, ranking third in both points scored (16.8 PPG) and 273.2 YPG.
The pick: Does a matchup between two top defenses spell an under? Let me first say that I'm not so sure Cincy's defense is all that good. The Bengals have faced Joe Flacco (on the downside of his career), Deshaun Watson (in his first NFL start) and DeShone Kizer, who is not an NFL QB. When facing Rodgers, he lit them up for 313 yards and three TDs. Taylor is no Rodgers but I look for the Bills to score more than expected. As for the Bengals, since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator these last two weeks, Andy Dalton has looked more comfortable, with the Bengals averaging 27.5 PPG (Dalton has six TDS without an INT). This low number means the 8* play is on the Over.
|10-08-17||Panthers +3 v. Lions||Top||27-24||Win||100||134 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: Ford Field in Detroit is the site of a Week 5 game between a pair of 3-1 teams. The Panthers went from a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl loss to the Broncos in 2015, to a 6-10 record in 2016, which left them in last-place in the NFC South. The Detroit Lions were 9-7 last year (lost in the wild card round), the team's third postseason appearance in the last six years. That said, expectations were pretty low entering 2017, so the team's 3-1 start is a surprise, especially since its lone loss (30-26 to the Falcons), was to say the least, highly controversial.
Carolina: The Panthers won 33-30 last Sunday at New England, with QB Cam Newton reminding all of his MVP-like talent. He completed 22 of 29 for 316 yards and three TDs plus ran for 44 yards and another score. Jonathan Stewart had his best game of 2017 so far, gaining 68 yards on 14 carries. However, Newton's positive mojo has been interrupted
Detroit: QB Matthew Stafford has shown a newfound maturity (signed a 'monster' deal prior to the season), throwing seven TD passes with only one interception in 138 attempts. RB Ameer Abdullah appears headed for a breakout season, after rushing for a career-high 94 yards and a TD in last week’s 14-7 triumph at Minnesota.The third-year RB from Nebraska had 597 yards as a rookie but played in just two games last season. He has 257 yards after four games in 2017, putting him on pace for a 1,00-yard season. The Lions are just a half-yard shy of being the only undefeated team in the NFC. Detroit lost its last home game when, upon an officials' review, Golden Tate was ruled just short of the goal line in the closing seconds against Atlanta. The game ended on that play, because a 10-second runoff was required after the review because the Lions didn't have any timeouts left.
The pick: Noting all of the above, I'm still skeptical about this Detroit team. The Lions have been extremely opportunistic on both sides of the ball, ranking 10th in scoring offense (24.8 PPG) and fourth in scoring defense (17.5 PPG) despite being 24th in total offense (just 299.8 YPG) and 15th in total defense. Their plus-9 turnover margin has played a huge role in that and the question I have is, can they keep it up? Throw in that PK Matt Prater has made an NFL-record four FGs of 55 yards or longer this season, after just four games. It's called "regression to the mean." Make Carolina an 8* play.
|10-05-17||Patriots -5 v. Bucs||Top||19-14||Push||0||70 h 54 m||Show|
The set-up: It's Thursday Night football on CBS to open NFL Week 5 of the 2017 season. The 2-2 New England Patriots will visit Raymond James Stadium to take on the 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There was talk prior to the season that the Pats just could go 16-0 in 2017 but not only are the Pats just 2-2, they are a last-second Brady TD pass against Houston in Week 3 from being 1-3! Tampa Bay saw its Week 1 games vs. the Dolphins postponed to later in the season due to Hurricane Irma and enters 2-1 after edging the Giants 25-23 last Sunday at home, on 34-yard FG with no time left on the clock. There is not a lot of history between the two clubs, with the Pats leading the all-time series 6-2.
New England: Tom Brady may be 40 years-old but he is NOT the problem for New England. He's completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,399 yards (Pats rank 1st with 328.3 YPG through the air) with 10 TDs and not a single interception in 155 attempts (QB rating is 116.6). New featured runner Mike Gillislee is sitting on 57 carries for 194 yards with four TDs but hasn't topped 70 yards in a game (Pats average 95.5 rushing YPG to rank 20th). TE Rob Gronkowski is New England’s top receiver with 20 receptions for 318 yards and two TDs. New England is averaging 32.2 PPG (2nd), so again, that's not the problem. The issue is, the Patriots are off to their worst defensive start under coach Bill Belichick, having allowed 128 points and 1,827 total yards, an average of 32.0 PPG (31st) and 456.8 yards YPG (32nd). According to STATS, since the 1970 NFL merger, it's the most points allowed in the first four games by a team that had the best scoring defense in the previous season (Pats allowed just 15.6 PPG in 2016).
Tampa Bay: Expectations were high for the Bucs entering 2017.QB Jameis Winston came up big in Sunday's 25-23 home win against the Giants, going 5-for-5 on the final drive that led to the game-winning FG as time expired. He was 22-for-38 with 332 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants but in the team's 34-17 loss in Week 3 at Minnesota, he threw three INTs and fumbled twice (did not lose one, though). Still, consistency is Winston's problem (safe to say he's no Brady). Tampa Bay has had no running game, averaging 84.7 YPG to rank 26th but the good news is, Doug Martin returns after a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs (he sat out the final week of 2016). Martin's had a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his previous five years. The defense ranks 30th in yards allowed (394.3 per game) but is a middle-of-the-pack 16th in points allowed (21.3 PPG).
The pick: The Bucs need to run the ball better and while Martin is back with the team, it's unclear how much of a role he will play in his season debut. I noted Tampa Bay's overall defensive stats above but will add that most of the damage against the Bucs has come through the air, as they rank 31st in allowing 315.7 YPG. How can that be good news against Brady, who was 9-0 on Thursday nights until New England lost to Kansas City in its season opener? The Pats were a perfect 8-0 SU on the road in 2016 and won their lone road game of 2017 against New Orleans, 36-20. Like in this contest, the Pats were coming off a loss vs. the Saints and after taking down New Orleans, the Pats improved to an impressive 43-6 SU off a loss! How does one buck that trend? With a victory on Thursday night, Brady (185-54) will tie Brett Favre (186-112) and Peyton Manning (186-79) for the most regular-season wins in NFL history. Expect Brady to chalk up another 'notch' on his ever-growing NFL legacy. Lay the points and make the Pats a 10* play.
|10-02-17||Redskins v. Chiefs OVER 49||Top||20-29||Push||0||45 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs come into Week 4 as one of just two unbeaten teams in the NFL (defending champion Atlanta is the other, pending its Sunday game home game with the Bills). KC will welcome the 2-1 Redskins to Arrowhead Stadium for MNF, with Washington coming off an impressive 27-10 win over KC's AFC West rival Oakland in Week 3's SNF contest. This series dates back to 1971, when Hank Stram's last great Chiefs team beat George Allen's first Washington team at old Municipal Stadium in an exciting 27-20 final. KC owns the series, winning eight of nine, with the last meeting coming in 2013, when KC routed Washington 45-10 in Arrowhead.
Washington: The Redskins lost their opener, at home to the Eagles but then won 27-20 out in LA over the Rams, before shutting down David Carr and the Oakland offense (Raiders were held to 128 yards and seven FDs!) in a 27-10 home win in Week 3. QB Kirk Cousins was 25-of-30 for 365 yards and three TDs against the Raiders and has completed 68.0 percent for 784 yards with five TDs and just one INT on the season (105.3 QB rating). The running game does not have an established star but ranks sixth in averaging 136.3 YPG. The defense is allowing 20.0 PPG (10th) on 276.0 YPG (5th).
Kansas City: QB Alex Smith has always been best-known as a "game manager" but he's completing 77.4 percent for 774 yards with seven TDs and zero INTs (132.7 QB rating leads the NFL!). He has more 'weapons' that ever-before, with WR Hill (16 catches for two TDs), TE Kelce (14 catches) plus rookie RB Kareem Hunt has been 2017's "breakout star." The former Toledo Rocket has 401 yards rushing (8.5 YPC) and four TDs plus nine catches, including two TDs! KC is averaging 31.0 PPG on 397.3 YPG, ranking third in both categories. The defense has allowed a modest 19.0 PPG (7th) but also 369.0 YPG (27th), including 257.3 YPG through the air (23rd).
The pick: Andy Reid-coached teams have always been known for their defense and special teams play but with a somewhat conservative offense. However, the Chiefs are averaging 31.0 PPG so far in 2017 and suddenly, have become a "big-play" team. The Chiefs enter this contest having recorded at least one TD of more than 50 yards in an NFL-record nine straight regular-season games. "We've got big-play guys that can go, when given the opportunity. (They) can take it the distance," an elated Alex Smith was quoted as saying. He's right but also, expect Washington's Kirk Cousins to "show up" for this MNF showdown. Both teams have balanced offenses (see above for a reminder) and the play here is a 10* on the over.
|10-01-17||Colts v. Seahawks -13||Top||18-46||Win||100||144 h 20 m||Show|
Indianapolis: With Luck still on the shelf, the Colts made a trade with the Pats to get QB Jacoby Brissett after they were routed 46-9 by the Rams in Week 1. Brissett was a noticeable improvement over Scott Tolzein and the Colts took the Cards to OT before losing in Week 2. Then last Sunday, Brissett led the Colts with 259 passing yards and a TD on 17 of 24 passing, while also notching a pair of rushing TDs. He became the first QB in franchise history to rush for two TDs, pass for another and throw for at least 250 yards! T.Y. Hilton had a huge game with seven catches for 153 yards with one TD. The running game still needs to improve, as the Colts are averaging 81.0 YPG (25th). After getting shredded by the Rams for 46 points, Indy's D held the Cardinals to 16 points in an OT, then had a sack and three interceptions against the Browns.
Seattle: The Seahawks didn't score a TD in either of its first two games (21 points on seven FGs) and while the Seahawks put up 27 points at Tennessee, the defense allowed 33 points on 420 yards. Russell Wilson had a breakout" game last Sunday, completing 29 of 49 for 373 yards with four TDs but to no avail with Seattle's defense going 'south!' Like th Colts, Seattele needs to get its running going, averaging only 96.7 YPG (19th) through the first three games. Getting back to Seattle's defense, it has long prided itself on not allowing a 100-yard rusher but it has now allowed one in back-to-back weeks and was gashed for 195 yards on the ground by DeMarco Murray (115) and the Titans last Sunday.
The pick: Sure, Brissett gives the Colts a better shot but note the team's two competitive games were at home, while Indy was crushed in its lone road game (see above). The Seahawks are in unfamiliar territory at 1-2 and have hardly resembled the team that has won at least 10 games in each of the past five seasons. However, Seattle's offense finally came to life after two ugly efforts to open the season and should have few problems scoring here against the Colts D. Seattle's D is off an embarrassing effort and will rebound in this one. Look out Mr. Brissett. Make Seattle an 8* play.
|10-01-17||Eagles +1 v. Chargers||Top||26-24||Win||100||140 h 55 m||Show|
The set-up: The Philadelphia Eagles are off to a solid 2-1 start in 2017 (QB Carson Wentz is now 5-1 in September games) but Sunday is October 1st and the Eagles are traveling cross-country for their Week 4 game. However, the good news is, Philly's opponent is the now-Los Angeles Chargers (at StubHub Center in Carson, Ca.), who have opened 0-3 in 2017, after ending the 2016 season 0-5 (combined run of 0-8 SU and 0-7-1 ATS).
Philadelphia: Wentz has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 816 yards with five TDs and two INTs (90.3 QB rating). He's led the Eagles to 25.7 PPG (10th), somewhat helped by a running game averaging 119.3 YPG (9th) but on a solid 4.5 YPC. LeGarrette Blount has underachieved so far, with only 113 yards in three games (we'll see?). Philly's secondary noticeably wore down in last Sunday's narrow 27-24 win over N.Y. Giants (New York scored all 24 of its points in the fourth quarter) and on the season, Philly has allowed 22.7 PPG (20th) on 321.0 YPG (21st).
LA Chargers: The Chargers opened with two close losses (24-21 at Denver & 19-7 at home vs. Miami). They then lost 24-10 at home to KC last week, although they held KC to a modest 311 yards (three Rivers INTS led to 17 points!). LA has allowed 22.3 PPG (a little worse than average (ranks 19th) on 322.7 YPG, which is a little better than average (ranks 13th). QB Philip Rivers went 20-of-40 for 237 yards and three picks against KC and comes in completing 65.2% for 760 yards with four TDs and four INTs. The running game is once again proving to be a liability. Gordon is averaging 48.7 YPG on 3.3 YPC and the team checks in at 70.7 YPG rushing, ranking 27th. The Chargers will be in for a very long season if they can't average more than the 16.0 points they have through three games (ranks 26th)!
The pick: This marks the Chargers' third straight home game and while two of the team's three losses this year have been closely contested (lost by three and two points), the Chargers are making a habit of losing "the close ones." The team has seemingly mastered the art of losing close games. It lost an NFL-high eight games last year by seven points less and has already lost two more in that range in 2017. With just nine wins since the beginning of the 2015 season (two-plus seasons), I want no part of the Chargers against a Philly team which just may be 'sneaky good!' Make the Eagles a 10* play.
|10-01-17||Jaguars v. Jets OVER 39||Top||20-23||Win||100||137 h 51 m||Show|
The set-up: The Jacksonville Jaguars return from London after pounding the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 last Sunday, one of the more surprising Week 3 outcomes. The 37-point win represents the Jaguars' largest margin of victory in 10 years and they'll try to ride that positive mojo into their Week encounter at MetLife Stadium this Sunday against the NY Jets. How about the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets? They nearly earned their first shutout in eight seasons, dominating the Dolphins by teh score of 20-6, with Miami not getting on the board until the game's final play!
Jacksonville: The Jags sit 2-1 for the first time since 2007. Blake Bortles nearly lost his starting job during the preseason, coming off a poor 2016. He's only completing 59.6 percent (no big deal) and the Jags rank 23rd in passing YPG (193.3) but he's got six TDs passes (had four vs. the Ravens) and only TWO interceptions. "The biggest thing with Blake is probably psychological. I think mentally, him understanding that we're only going as far as he takes us," said TE Marcedes Lewis. BTW...Lewis caught three of Bortles' four touchdown passes against the Ravens. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette has 199 rushing yards this season and while that may not seem like a big deal to many, it's the most by any Jacksonville player through their first three career games plus he has scored one TD in all three games. The D has been terrific, ranking second in total yards (259.7 per) and 4th in points (17.0 per).
NY Jets: Speaking of a good defensive effort, the Jets, after some were waxing on about the team having a win-less season, completely shut down the Dolphins, holding them out of the end zone until the game's final play, while allowing just 225 yards for the entire contest. Much-maligned QB Josh McCown had another efficient game (18 of 23 for 249 yards), including a 69-yard TD pass to Robby Anderson. There hasn't been much offense from New York, with the Jets averaging 280.7 YPG (27th) on 17.3 PPG (22nd). The D will be tested by the Jags' offense, as New York ranks 23rd in scoring (24.0 PPG) and 24th in yards allowed (347.7 per).
The pick: Seeing the Jags as a road favorite is disconcerting. They are favored on the road for the first time since they played the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 with Curtis Painter filling in for the injured Peyton Manning. When Jacksonville won 29-7 at Houston in Week 1, it was only the third time Bortles had won the road in 23 tries! The key here is this very low over/under number. Scoring was low in Weeks 1 & 2 but Week 3 games averaging just a tick under 50 PPG. Jags playing with confidence plus McCown may just surprise again. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-01-17||Saints -2.5 v. Dolphins||Top||20-0||Win||100||134 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: The NFL will play a second straight game in London and the fans at Wembley Stadium are hoping to see a more competitive game than the Jags' surprising 44-7 rout of the Ravens last Sunday. The Saints opened their 2017 season by losing 29-19 at Minnesota in Week 1 and 36-20 at home vs. the Pats in Week 2. The Saints earned their first win of the season 34-13 in Carolina this past Sunday against the Panthers. The Dolphins make the trek "across the pond" at 1-1. The team's Week 1 game vs. Tampa Bay was postponed due to Hurricane Irma and after a 19-17 Week 2 win over the Chargers in LA and a 20-6 loss on the road to the NY Jets last Sunday, the Dolphins will be on the road (and how!) for a third consecutive contest.
New Orleans: The age-less Drew Brees was 22-of-29 for 220 yards and three TDs in last Sunday's win and enters this contest completing 68.5 percent for 867 yards (Saints rank 5th in passing YPG) with six TDs and not a single INT in 111 attempts! Adrian Peterson has been a non-factor (77 yards on 3.3 YPC), as the running game has not been much of a help, averaging 96.7 YPG (18th). Defense has been a major concern in recent years for New Orleans and that's true again so far in 2017, as the Saints are allowing 26.0 PPG (30th) on 437.7 YPG (31st).
Miami: The jury is still out on Jay Cutler, who is completing 64.9 percent but for only 450 yards (Miami ranks 21st in passing YPG) with two TDs and one INT. Cutler has gotten no help from a running game averaging 70.5 YPG (29th) and Miami enters averaging only 12.5 PPG (30th) on 280.5 YPG (28th). The defense has allowed 351.5 YPG (25th) but only 18.5 PPG (6th). The team will have to cut down on those yards, or that scoring average will almost surely rise.
The pick: Brees is still on top of his game and Miami is allowing 8.6 yards per pass play, the worst mark in the NFL. The London folks may be in for quite a display from the veteran. Miami's offense is coming off an embarrassing performance in last week's 20-6 loss to the Jets, avoiding a shutout by scoring in garbage time on the game's final play. That last game was a disaster," Miami head coach Gase said. "That's obvious, and it's embarrassing." He may have seen nothing yet. 2017 could be a long year for the Dolphins. Yes, New Orleans has its defensive problems but does Miami have the players to take advantage? I think not! Meanwhile, the Saints have lost to two quality teams (Vikings and Pats) and the team has yet to commit a turnover. I'll throw in that the Saints are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 October games and while maybe it means nothing, it's not a bad thing. Make New Orleans an 8* play.
|09-28-17||Bears v. Packers UNDER 45.5||Top||14-35||Loss||-110||72 h 26 m||Show|
The set-up: The NFL's longest rivalry resumes in Week 4's Thursday night game on CBS. The 1-2 Chicago Bears and 2-1 Green Bay Packers meet at Lambeau Field. Back on Sep. 25, 1960, the Chicago Bears, who were coached by the legendary George Halas, beat the Green Bay Packers, who were coached by the future legend Vince Lombardi, 17-14. That victory gave the Bears he Bears a commanding 50-26-6 edge in the series. However, after the Packers swept last year's two games, the series is knotted at 94-94-6. That means that with a victory tonight, the Packers could take the series lead for the first time since 1932!
Chicago: Many are not sold on Chicago's current starting QB Mike Glennon. He is completing 67.3 percent of his passes but for a modest 615 yards (Chicago ranks 27th in passing yards), while tossing three TDs and three INTs, giving him a QB rating of only 79.8. However, in fairness, Chicago's wide receiver corps have been ravaged by injury, The running game has been a nice surprise, averaging 121.7 YPG (8th) on 5.0 YPC, led by Howard (197 yards on 4.4 YPC with 3 TDs) and Cohen (157 yards on 6.5 YPC). Chicago will need to find a way to score more, as it is averaging only 15.7 PPG (28th). The defense has been average, allowing 23.0 PPG (21st) on 321.7 YPG (12th). The strength is its rush D, holding opponents to 83.7 YPG to rank 8th.
Green Bay: Rodgers is second in the league with 967 yards passing, exceeding 300 in each of the first three games. Although most teams would be just fine with their starting QB owning a passer rating of 93.1, it marks just the third time Rodgers' QB rating is below 100 in the 10 seasons since he took over as Green Bay's starter. Rodgers has attempted at least 42 passes in each game behind a banged-up offensive line, among the reasons he has been sacked a league-high 13 times. Running back Ty Montgomery, despite leading the team with 18 receptions, has rushed for only 124 yards in three games (3.0 YPC). Green Bay comes in averaging only 69.0 YPG on the ground, ranking 29th in the league. The defense has allowed a modest 296.7 YPG (8th-best) but also 22.3 PPG, just 18th-best.
The pick: Rodgers has 17 TD passes versus just one interception in his last six meetings with Chicago and he's 15-4 against Chicago with a QB rating of 105.7. I'm not about to go against "the Pack," especially since Chicago comes in on a nine-game road losing streak (last road win was Week 16 of the 2015 season at Tampa Bay). However, the Bears have been quietly playing better than expected. Chicago lost to the defending NFC champion Falcons by just six points in Week 1 and are coming off a shocking home upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers. in OT last Sunday. Meanwhile, the Packers are still dealing with offensive line issues to the point they’re signing players off of other teams practice squads in hopes of patching things up. Both teams are off OT wins and playing on a short week. The play here is a 10* on the Under.
|09-25-17||Cowboys -2.5 v. Cardinals||Top||28-17||Win||100||20 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: University of Phoenix Stadium will be the site of Week 3's Monday Night Football game on ESPN, as the 1-1 Cowboys travel to meet the 1-1 Cardinals. Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott has been mired in controversy as he awaits word on the stay of his six-game suspension stemming from domestic-abuse allegations, plus his effort (or lack thereof) was questioned inside his own locker room after the team's humbling 42-17 loss last Sunday in Denver. As for Arizona, the Cards escaped with a three-point OT win at Indy last Sunday and will play a game in their own stadium for the first time since August 19(preseason Week 2). These teams opened the 2017 preseason schedule in Canton, with the Cowboys winning 20-18. Dallas: Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett wasn't pleased with Elliott's hustle or competitiveness when the RB showed zero-to-little interest in turning into a defensive player following two Dak Prescott interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD and one during which Elliott turned away from the play with his hand on his hips. Elliott had just rushing nine attempts against Denver (eight yards!) and that played a significant role in Dak Prescott attempting a career-high 50 passes last week. Only Aaron Rodgers (92) has more pass attempts after Week 2 than Prescott, who has 89. The Cowboys are averaging 245.5 YPG through the air and just 84.5 YPG rushing. That's a far cry from the excellent balance the team had in 2016, going 13-3 SU & 10-6 ATS (226.9 YPG passing and 149.8 YPG rushing, which ranked second in the NFL). Arizona: The Cards are also worried about their running game. The Cardinals lost star RB David Johnson to a left wrist injury in Week 1, then Kerwynn Williams was the starter against the Colts last week. However, after averaging just 64.0 YPG rushing in the first two weeks (to rank 30th of 32 teams), it appears Bruce Arians will turn to veteran Chris Johnson against the Cowboys. Carson Palmer was 19-of-36 passing with 332 yards, one TD and one INT last week, after throwing three INTs with a 53.1 QB rating in the loss at Detroit. The pick: The Cowboys are dealing with some injuries but it was their pride and ego that were wounded the most during the rout at the hands of the Broncos. However, Dallas looked pretty darn good against the Giants and I'm not about to 'cry Uncle,' just yet. That's especially true here against the Cards, who look like a shell of the team that went all the way to the NFC championship game just two seasons ago (2015). The Cards are very fortunate to be 1-1 and I'm not convinced they are any better than the 7-8-1 team of 2016. Arizona heads into this game just 4-11 ATS in its last 15 home games, including the postseason. Make Dallas a 10* play.
|09-24-17||Raiders v. Redskins UNDER 54||Top||10-27||Win||100||129 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: It's Sunday night NFL action on NBC from FedEx Field, as the 2-0 Oakland Raiders visit the 1-1 Washington Redskins. The Raiders have quickly established that last year's 12-4 season was no fluke, beating the Titans 26-16 in Tennessee (impressive win) and then routing the Jets back in Oakland, 45-20. The Redskins were upset at home in Week 1 by the Eagles (30-17) but the team's 27-20 Week 2 win in LA over the Rams is starting to look better, after the Rams have scored 46 and 41 points in their other two games to open the 2017 season.
Oakland: Derek Carr is completing 75.0 percent of his passes for 492 yards with five TDs and zero INTs (126.5 QB rating) five touchdowns and zero interceptions. WRs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper have combined for 258 receiving yards and four TDs while TE Jared Cook has nine receptions. Crabtree has 20 TD catches since the start of the 2015 season, tying him for fourth in the NFL in that span (pretty sweet FA pick-up!). The running game is chipping in 144.5 YPG (5th), while averaging a healthy 5.2 YPC. With the offense averaging 35.5 PPG (2nd-best), the defense is doing just fine in allowing 18.0 PPG (10th).
Washington: QB Kirk Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season but is off to a slow start (only 419 passing yards) after losing his starting WRs in free agency. He is trying to establish a rapport with Terrelle Pryor (eight catches for just 97 yards without a TD catch) and it sure won't help if TE Jordan Reed plus starting RB Rob Kelley both miss (each is listed as questionable due to injuries). However, third-down back Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine filled in nicely for a ground game that produced 229 yards against the Rams. Washington's defense ranks 26th in both points allowed (25.0 per) and total yards (350.0 per), although the team's rush D is allowing just 77.5 YPG. However, Carson Wentz riddled the Washington secondary for 307 yards in the air in Week 1 and stopping Carr may be a 'bridge too far.'
The pick: The Raiders enter this contest on an impressive 11-2 ATS run over their last 13 road game (most as an underdog, though) plus QB Carr, who began his career with 10 consecutive defeats, comes in 14-3 over his last 17 starts! However, Washington head coach Jay Gruden has his own spread success lately as well, as he's 15-7 ATS his last 22 regular season games. Tough call on the side but this is Week 3's highest total (could climb even higher by game time) and like in Week 1 at Tennessee, expect an Under for the Raiders on the road. Make it an 8* play.
|09-24-17||Seahawks +3 v. Titans||Top||27-33||Loss||-110||124 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: The Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans square off in Week 3 NFL action from Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Both teams are 1-1 and the loser will not be a "happy camper." The Seahawks' offense has been "missing in action" after two weeks, averaging 10.5 PPG to rank 29th of 32 teams on 268.5 YPG (27th). Tennessee appeared to find its offense in the second half of last week's 37-16 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars but now will be severely tested by on of the NFL's best defenses these last five-plus years in Seattle.
Seattle: The Seahawks were held without a TD in Week 1 at Green Bay and then were able to generate just 13 points (one TD) against a San Francisco defense which just allowed 41 point to the Rams on Thursday night. Russell Wilson passed for 198 yards and a TD on 23 of 39 passing, against the 49ers and rookie RB Chris Carson led Seattle’s ground game with 93 yards on 20 carries. As it has for some time now, Seattle's defense is off to a typically strong start, allowing 13.0 PPG (5th) on 309.0 YPG (13th).
Tennessee: The Titans lost 26-16 at home to the Raiders in Week 1 but I think most are now aware that the Raiders are a quality team. The Titans found their offense in the second half of last week's win at Jacksonville, scoring 31 points. QB Mariota finished with 215 yards (one TD / one INT). RB Derrick Henry led with 92 yards rushing (on just 14 carries) with one TD. The Titans defense recorded two sacks, two interceptions and forced two fumbles, while holding the Jags to just 310 yards of total offense.
The pick: I like the Titans quite a bit but Tennessee is 7-22-2 ATS in its last 31 home games (5-9-1 as a home favorite since 2013). The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings between these two teams and Seattle is11-5-3 as a road underdog since 2011, including 2-0 in 2016. Make Seattle a 10* play.
|09-24-17||Texans v. Patriots OVER 43.5||Top||33-36||Win||100||121 h 4 m||Show|
The set-up: The Houston Texans and the New England Patriots square off in Week 3 NFL action from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, a rematch of the Patriots' 34-16 win in last season's Divisional Round of the playoffs when Houston was without injured star J.J. Watt. He is back and healthy (although he's sack-less) plus Houston is a banged-up football team. Both teams are 1-1, losing their openers before winning in Week 2. Houston won 13-9 at Cincinnati with Deshaun Watson making his first NFL start, while Brady rebounded from his awful Week 1 performance by ripping the Saints for 447 yards and three TDs on 30 of 39 passing in the Pats' 36-20 win.
Houston: No one can say a 13-9 win over the struggling Bengals is a big deal. Deshaun Watson completed 15 of 24 passing for only 125 yards (no TDs or INTs) but led Houston in rushing with 67 yards, including a spectacular 49-yard TD scamper. RB Lamar Miller added 61 yards on the ground with his team-leading 18 carries, while DeAndre Hopkins was one of just four Texans’ receivers to catch a pass in the win, leading the team with seven receptions for 73 yards. The Texans, who finished No. 1 total defense last season (301.3 YPG) even without Watt for most of the year, recovered a fumble, made three sacks and held Cincy to just 295 yards and without a TD (three FGs). Then again, it was against the Bengals, not Brady and the Pats.
New England: There was more than a little 'chatter' after Brady was held without a TD pass in New England's opener against the Chiefs (Brady had the league's lowest passer rating after that humbling 42-27 setback to Kansas City). However, the doubters have all been quieted, after his Week 2 effort at New Orleans (see above). The Pats head into this contest averaging 31.5 PPG (5th) on 341.5 YPG through the air (No. 1 in the NFL). There could be some concern with the defense though, as after allowing an NFL-low 15.6 PPG in 2016, on 326.4 YPG (6th), the Pats are allowing 31.0 PPG (30th) on 483.0 YPG (31st).
The pick: The Patriots took it to the Texans last season, winning both meetings, including a 27-0 shutout win in Week 3 (Brady was still serving his suspension) and then that 34-16 win in the playoffs. Deshaun Watson had a solid first start but beating the sad-sack Bengals is one thing, beating the Pats of Brady and Belichick, is another. Rookie QBs are 5-15 (in the first or only meeting of a rookie season) against Belichick through his time in New England. The Foxboro numbers are even scarier, 0-8 with five TDs, 16 INTs and a 50.7 passer rating. Add to that, the fact that the Texans have never won in Foxboro (0-5) and are 1-8 overall against the Patriots, with six straight losses. I'd say lay it with the Pats but I'm troubled by New England's D so far and I like what I see from Watson. Make the Over an 8* play.
|09-24-17||Ravens -4 v. Jaguars||Top||7-44||Loss||-105||118 h 34 m||Show|
The set-up: The NFL's first "London game" of the 2017 season features the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens taking on the 1-1 Jacksonville Jaguars "across the pond" at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday morning. This will be Jacksonville's fifth straight year playing a game in London but it is a first for Baltimore. The Ravens played the entire preseason without starting QB Joe Flacco but went 4-0, anyway. As Baltimore had insisted, Flacco was ready for Week 1 and while he's been mediocre at best, the Ravens are off to a 2-0 start with a 20-0 win at Cincy and 24-10 home win over the Browns. The Jags opened their 2017 season by upsetting the Texans 29-7 in Houston but then severely disappointed their home crowd by losing 37-16 to the Titans, last Sunday in Jacksonville.
Baltimore: Flacco has passed for just 338 yards (Ravens rank 31st of 32 teams in passing yards), as the team's deep threats (Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman) have been non-existent thus far, combining for three catches for just 20 yards receiving. However, the running game is averaging 146.5 YPG (3rd). Once again, Baltimore is relying on its defense, as the Ravens have allowed just 5.0 PPG (2nd) on 303.5 YPG (10th). The Baltimore D has four INTs in each of of its first two games, along with two recovered fumbles plus eight sacks!
Jacksonville: Rookie RB Leonard Fournettehad 100 yards rushing in his debut but was held to just 40 yards by the Titans. The Jags are counting on him, as his success is paramount to Doug Marrone's offensive designs as the Jaguars try to rein in the turnover-plagued Bortles. The much-maligned Bortles is completing only 56.4% for 348 yards (Jags rank 28th in passing yards) with two TDs and two INTs (QB rating of 72.4). In the Jags' Week 1 win, Bortles attempted a career-low 21 passes. "However, we can find ways to win, if it's throwing it 50 times or five times, I'm more than willing to do that and fine with it," Bortles said after that game. "It's not, 'I'm mad because we're not throwing the ball enough.' It's not that. I couldn't care less. Anyone believe him? Think that anyone in the organization has much faith in Bortles?
The pick: This is the 21st regular-season meeting between the teams and the Jaguars surprisingly lead the series, 11-9 (note: the Ravens and Jaguars were former division rivals in the AFC Central until 2001). Series history means little in this one but as we saw in Week 2, but the fact Bortles reverted to a familiar form with two ill-timed picks and general ineffectiveness in that lopsided loss to the Titans, does. Anyone expect him to deal effectively with this 'nasty' Baltimore D (see above to be reminded)? Not I. Make Baltimore an 8* play.
|09-21-17||Rams v. 49ers +3||Top||41-39||Win||100||56 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: The 0-2 San Francisco 49ers will host the 1-1 LA Rams Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Thursday. The Rams routed the Colts 46-9 in Week 1 but then lost 27-20 to Washington in Week 2. The team will play its first road game of the season here, traveling on a short week, although the trip to Santa Clara is not much of a travel issue. As for the 49ers, they are 0-2 after a 23-3 home loss to the Panthers in Week 1 and a 12-9 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 2. The Rams are coming off a 4-12 season and the 49ers off a 2-14 one, so it's fair to say both teams have this one 'circled' as a rare "winning opportunity."
LA Rams: Jared Goff struggled when he played in 2016, after being the NFL's No. 1 overall pick in April. Goff completed just 54.6% in his seven games with five TDs, seven INTs and five lost fumbles (he was 0-5 as a starter). He had a breakout game in Week 1 by completing 21 of 29 for 306 yards with one TD, no INTs and a 117.9 QB rating. However, he was more average against Washington, going 15 of 25 for 224 yards with one TD, one INT and an 86.1 rating. RB Todd Gurley had just 41 yards in Week 1 in the win but looked better with 88 yards (5.5 YPC) in the loss, plus he's caught eight passes for 104 yards. Goff's improved play certainly makes the Ram's a much superior offensive team, averaging 33.0 PPG (LA averaged NFL lows of 14.0 PPG and 262.7 YPG in 2016). The Rams D has allowed 18.0 PPG (11th) on 305.3 YPG (13th) through two games, after allowing 24.6 PPG on 337.0 YPG in 2016.
San Francisco: The 49ers have a new head coach (Kyle Shanahan) and a new starting QB (Brian Hoyer) and so far, the offense has been pathetic. Hoyer has completed 62.9% and thrown for only 292 yards without a a TD pass (two INTs) and currently owns a 60.7 QB rating. RB Carlos Hyde has 169 yards rushing on 7.0 YPC but the team has averaged 6.0 PPG, amazingly ranking 31st of 32 teams (talk about a lack of scoring!). SF does rank dead-last (32nd) in total yards, at 232.5 YPG. Considering the team's woeful offensive performance, the defense has played well. San Francisco ranks 10th in both points allowed (17.5 per) on 299.5 YPG.
The pick: I noted at the top that both teams have to feel like this is a winnable one. However, the 49ers have to realize just how important winning here, is. The 49ers play their next three games on the road, return home to play the Cowboys and then travel cross-country to play the Eagles. Lose here and an 0-8 start looks pretty feasible. San Francisco just dominated the Rams at this venue last year, winning 28-0 and then upset the Rams later in the Coliseum, 22-21. Make San Francisco an 8* play.
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