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jimmythegreek
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NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 16

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On 12/22/2013 08:08 AM in NFL
Denver -9.5 over Houston (bought half):
After suffering a defeat last Thursday which totally took Denver (11-3) out of their game plan, the Broncos can move one step closer to clinching the AFC West this afternoon when they visit horrible Houston (2-12). If Denver can knock off Houston and Indianapolis can somehow upset Kansas City, the Broncos will take the division since they swept the season series over the Chiefs. Denver entered last Thursday's home game with San Diego averaging league highs of 39.6 points and 465.6 yards, but was held to a season-low 295 while scoring its fewest points of 2013 in a 27-20 loss. However New England couldn't overtake them for the top spot in the AFC as it lost to Miami.

MVP favorite Peyton Manning (393/580 4811 47 TD 10 INT) saw San Diego adapt to a scheme that grinded out long sustaining drives with methodical success on the ground and through the air. Holding a distinct advantage in time of possession, it abandoned the quick strike intentions of Manning and company averting a shootout. The Chargers also executed a successful pass rush and loaded the box up front limiting Denver to just 18 rushing yards. Denver's defense allowed Ryan Matthews to gain 127 yards rushing, the first time this season they allowed an opposing back to eclipse 100 yards. Yielding 372 yards per contest which ranks 23rd in the NFL, Houston could be a good tuneup for the postseason to improve in that category.

While Houston allows nearly 29 points per game, Manning will look to take advantage of getting their offense back on track. Demaryius Thomas (78-1194 11 TD) fell victim to several cover 2 patterns and caught only 4 passes for 45 yards in week 15. Eric Decker (73-1130 8 TD) will also have to adjust against a Houston secondary that boasts the second ranked pass defense in the league yielding only 184 yards per contest. Denver will once again be without Wes Welker (73-778 10 TD) due to a concussion, so Julius Thomas (54-674 11 TD) will have to step up despite playing through a knee injury. Knowshon Moreno (224-939 4.2 10 TD) and Montee Ball (106-455 4.3 4 TD) need to give the ground game a boost after virtually no impact last week.

Houston is mired in a 12-game skid that is the league's longest single-season slide since the Colts started 0-13 in 2011. Case Keenum (137/253 1760 9 TD 6 INT) won't play due to a sprained right thumb, with Matt Schaub (179/287 1905 9 TD 10 INT) getting the nod for an offense that's been held without TD four times this season. Top target Andre Johnson (99-1295 5 TD) missed practice this week with a wrist injury but is listed as probable. Indianapolis held Johnson to just 18 yards receiving in their win during week 15. DeAndre Hopkins (47-759 2 TD) will look to take advantage of a Denver pass defense that ranks 27th in the league giving up 266 yards per game. Garret Graham (49-545 5 TD) is listed as questionable dealing with a hamstring injury. There's not much security in the running game to protect Schaub especially if he is off his game. Ben Tate (181-771 4.3 4 TD) is out for the season due to a rib injury leaving Dennis Johnson (37-154 4.2) with the brunt of the touches.

With Denver having 10 days to prepare, Houston is an absolute mess on both sides of the ball. Denver will revert back to their winning ways by establishing the run early leaving Manning to effectively throw the ball down the field. Few teams in the league have been able to keep pace with the outstanding offensive attack from Denver this season. They are averaging 38.2 points per game, and the offense has barely been slowed down when playing on the road. While Houston has a knack for stepping up to the level of their competition, the Broncos have a lot more to play for than just pride. Denver pulls away in the second half to a convincing triumph sending Houston to their unlucky 13th straight defeat.
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12/22/2013 08:50 AM
San Francisco -13.5 over Atlanta (Monday night, bought half):
In the final regular season game at Candlestick Park and virtually assured a postseason berth, San Francisco (10-4) can have one wrapped up if Arizona loses to Seattle or if they can ambush abysmal Atlanta (4-10). After some concern built in just after the halfway point, the 49ers have won 4 straight and have an outside shot of winning the NFC West. The team will be moving to the new Levi's Stadium in nearby Santa Clara‚ Calif. for the start of the 2014 season.

Colin Kaepernick (209/361 2690 18 TD 8 INT) has thrown 7 TD and only one turnover in his last 4 games. In week 15's 33-14 win at Tampa Bay he threw for 203 yards and 2 scores while gaining 42 yards on 4 carries (10.5). Anquan Boldin (70-958 5 TD) hasn't found the end zone in a month, but is still targeted often and is a threat to make big catches downfield. Vernon Davis (49-805 12 TD) has scored a TD in 5 straight games, and could be in for another big day against Atlanta's porous secondary. Frank Gore (242-1017 4.2 8 TD) has just one TD over his last 6 games, but his 86 yards on 22 carries (3.9) last week gave him 7 career 1,00 yard seasons. Kaepernick (82-449 5.5 3 TD) is dangerous scrambling out of the pocket if pass coverage is tight which gives SF another weapon in the ground game if Gore is subpar. The 49ers rank fifth in the NFL with 137.1 rushing yards per game and are tied for second with 16 touchdowns on the ground. Atlanta's run defense ranks among the bottom five in the league with 131.4 yards allowed per game and 4.6 per carry.

Atlanta (4-10) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009. While winning 2 of their last 3, their defense has forced 11 turnovers in that span after causing eight through the first 11 games. Atlanta forced seven last Sunday and held of Washington 27-26. Matt Ryan (374/563 3887 22 TD 14 INT) has been erratic over his last 5 games throwing just 6 TD and 7 INT. Under a suspect offensive line, Ryan must elude pressure from the aggressive Niners pass rush. Harry Douglas (73-963 2 TD) needs to get back on track after successive quiet weeks. Roddy White (43-479 1 TD) has clearly become the top option with 23 catches an 270 yards over his last 3 games. Tony Gonzalez (71-710 7 TD) was limited in practice this week due to a toe injury but is listed as probable. The Falcons are dead last in the league running the ball averaging just under 80 yards per contest. Steven Jackson (128-449 3.5) has rushed for all 5 of his TD's on the season over the last 4 weeks. San Francisco ranks 6th against the run, so Atlanta will look to gain yardage in bunches relying on Ryan and company.

The 49ers have plenty to play for here. They want to give Candlestick a proper sendoff and they also want to hit the postseason running. The Atlanta Falcons have gone from a team favored to contend for the Super Bowl to a discredited fraud that has been awful on both sides of the line and one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. I don't give Matt Ryan much of a chance to shoulder the brunt of the offense in this spot. The 49ers should roll easily this afternoon.

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12/22/2013 09:19 AM
Tennessee -4.5 over Jacksonville:
Seeking its first division win, Tennessee (5-9) tries to avenge last month's loss to the injury-plagued Jacksonville Jaguars, who are set to honor veteran center Brad Meester in his final home game Sunday. Jacksonville (4-10) could come out with added emotion as the team recognizes Meester, who on Wednesday announced he will retire at season's end. The blue-collar lineman played his entire career in Jacksonville and is one of only five active players to spend at least 14 seasons with the same team.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (185/300 2107 13 TD 10 INT) is coming off a 402 yard 4 TD performance in a 37-34 shootout loss to Arizona in week 15. He may duplicate his success against the 19th ranked Jaguars pass defense who give up 250 yards per contest. Kendall Wright (85-1007 2 TD) is coming off a 12 catch 150 yard performance against the Cardinals last week. Nate Washington (50-763 2 TD) reeled in 7 catches for 92 yards, and Delanie Walker (53-507 6 TD) finished with 8 grabs for 53 and a score. Tennessee has proven competitive on the field as 5 of their 9 losses have come within a TD or less. However it has been a disappointing season for Chris Johnson (230-860 3.7 5 TD) who has averaged only 57 yards per game over the last few months.

Jacksonville has won 4 of their last 6 games despite losing to Buffalo 27-20 in week 15. Chad Henne (251/418 2673 10 TD 12 INT) is coming off rare back-to-back-to-back games with two touchdown passes. He looks to avert another dismal performance dating back to week 10 when he managed just 180 yards and 2 INT's against these same Titans in week 10. Cecil Shorts (66-777 3 TD) was one of the team;s few bright spots but underwent hernia surgery this week. Ace Sanders (41-414 1 TD) now becomes the primary target with Shorts and Justin Blackmon done for the season. Maurice Jones Drew (208-719 3.5 5 TD) does become a viable second option out of the flat in the receiving core, but overall Jacksonville is rather thin on both sides of the ball due to a laundry list of injuries.

While both teams have been suspect on defense all season, Tennessee boasts too many weapons for injury plagued Jacksonville to overcome. Both teams are far out of the playoff picture thanks with Indianapolis controlling separation of the division thanks to their good start. Titans get the nod here.
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12/22/2013 10:17 AM
Pittsburgh/Green Bay over 45:
Back-to-back come-from-behind victories have the Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) in control of their postseason chances, but they'll have to make do without Aaron Rodgers for at least one more week. Rodgers will miss his seventh straight game due to a fractured left collarbone Sunday against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8), leaving Matt Flynn under center again as the Packers try to keep pace in the NFC North.

The Packers trailed visiting Atlanta by 11 at halftime before pulling out a 22-21 win Dec. 8, then stormed back from a 26-3 halftime deficit to stun Dallas 37-36 win last week. Flynn (81/127 914 6 TD 3 INT) led GB to 5 straight touchdown drives to open the second half as Green Bay matched the greatest comeback victory in its 93-year history. The Packers can claim their third straight NFC North title by beating Pittsburgh and division-leading Chicago at Soldier Field.

Fortunately for Flynn the Packer receiving core is about as balanced as you can get. Jordy Nelson (72-1107 8 TD) will face the Steelers Week 16 for the first time since his performance in the Super Bowl a few years ago, looking for another big game against the AFC North opponent.Nelson wound up with 5 catches for 61 yards in the win over the Cowboys catching his first TD pass in 7 games. James Jones (44-692 3 TD) made a few big plays and helped GB get within 36-31 by scoring with just 4:00 remaining last week. Jarrett Boykin (42-619 2 TD) averted a slow start and caught 6 passes for 83 yards and could see a lot more action against Pittsburgh. Eddie Lacy (248-1028 4.1 8 TD) ran for 141 yards on just 21 carries (6.7) and a score last week. He is dealing with an ankle injury but is listed as probable.

Ben Roethlisberger (340/525 3915 25 TD 11 INT) has thrown for 12 TD's and committed only 2 turnovers in his last 5 games. Pittsburgh continues to play some of their best football winning 4 of their last 6 games, however they do need to win their final 2 along with help if they plan to grab one of the wildcard spots. Antonio Brown (95-1307 8 TD) caught 5 passes for 66 yards in the win over Cincinnati and has 5 TD receptions in as many games. Emmanuel Sanders (63-707 5 TD) could be in for a big day against Green Bay's secondary as could Jerricho Cotchery (42-568 9 TD) who is listed as probable dealing with a shoulder injury. Le'Veon Bell (198-646 3.3 6 TD) is looking for a breakout performance against a Green Bay run defense that is giving up nearly 112 yards per game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a disappointing year and while they had a far better second half of the season than they did in the first half they look like they will fall short of the playoffs once again. The Steelers have chances to play spoiler to the Packers and they already played spoiler last week in their win over the Bengals. Defensively, Pittsburgh has been unpredictable and will be tested by the Packers. I see a high scoring close fought battle with the game to be decided by a field goal or whomever team has the ball last.

Best of luck to all in week 16
YTD 37-23 .617
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