jimmythegreek Posts:11425 Followers:383
On 11/27/2011 02:04 AM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 12

Houston -6 over Jacksonville (bought half):
With Matt Schaub out for the season, it will likely fall on Matt Leinart to lead the Houston Texans to their first playoff berth. Leinart might have some help in his first start for the team, as All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson is expected to return from injury for Sunday's road meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Leinart didn't take a snap in 2010 after signing with Houston and hasn't started consecutive games since 2007 while with Arizona, which drafted him No. 10 overall the previous year. That will likely change for the former Heisman Trophy winner after Schaub was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and the Texans signed Kellen Clemens.

Leinart takes over with Houston (7-3) leading the AFC South by two games over Tennessee and seeking the first five-game win streak in team history. Houston and its new quarterback will likely get some help in that quest with Johnson expected to play for the first time since Oct. 2. Johnson, who missed the past six games because of an injured hamstring, had nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his previous matchup with Jacksonville last November. Houston, seeking its first three-game win streak in this series and first victory in Jacksonville since 2006, will face a Jaguars team that's coming off a bitter defeat. Instead of handing the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars chose to let rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert try two passes from the 1-yard line in the final seconds of a 14-10 loss in Cleveland last Sunday. They also let 28 seconds elapse after Jones-Drew picked up a first down inside the 5-yard line on that same drive.

Gabbert topped 200 yards for the second time last week but didn't fare nearly as well last month in Houston. He connected on a career-worst 33.3 percent of his passes (10 of 30) for 97 yards and was picked off twice. Gabbert might have another tough game this weekend, as the Texans are giving up a league-low 269.7 yards per game and are second in the NFL with averages of 16.6 points and 178.4 passing yards allowed. In addition to its strong performance against Gabbert, Houston held Jones-Drew - the NFL's second-leading rusher with 941 yards - to a season-low 63 on 18 carries.

Jones-Drew averaged 98.3 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns while leading Jacksonville to three straight victories over the Texans before the consecutive losses in the series. Foster, averaging a league-best 148.1 yards from scrimmage, has run for 292 yards and scored three TDs in those back-to-back wins for Houston. However, he was held to 56 yards on 15 carries during the previous visit to Jacksonville.

With Leinart replacing the injured Schaub, don't expect the Texans to throw more than they have to. Gary Kubiak is going to call safe passes and rely heavily on the NFL's second-ranked running game. The Texans average 158.1 yards a game. Foster should touch the ball 25 times as a runner and receiver. Ben Tate will come off the bench and get in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 carries if all goes according to plan. Kubiak wants Leinart to manage the game and protect the ball. Throw it away or take the sack rather than risk an interception.



















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jimmythegreek Posts:11425 Followers:383
11/27/2011 02:12 AM

Pittsburgh -10 over Kansas City (bought half):
Part of a tight race in the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a week off to rest and hope a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger - among others is ready for a crucial stretch run. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs are going to need an entire offseason to get healthy. The Steelers don't expect Roethlisberger's broken thumb to hinder him in Sunday night's visit to Arrowhead Stadium, where the bumbling Chiefs hope Tyler Palko's first home start since taking over for the injured Matt Cassel goes much smoother than his road debut. Pittsburgh (7-3) bounced back from the disappointment of a 23-20 loss to fellow North heavyweight Baltimore on Nov. 6 with a 24-17 win at Cincinnati on Nov. 13, putting a game's distance between itself and the division's third playoff contender.

Roethlisberger didn't miss a snap against the Bengals and coach Mike Tomlin expects his franchise signal-caller to be ready to go Sunday night even if he has to wear a splint under his glove. The Chiefs (4-6), meanwhile, found out after a 17-10 loss to Denver on Nov. 13 that they likely lost Cassel for the season to a significant hand injury, a fear that came to fruition Monday when they placed him on injured reserve. That left Palko to make his NFL starting debut later that evening in New England, and despite Kansas City carrying a 3-0 lead late into the second quarter, everything fell apart. The Patriots scored 10 points in the final 4:18 of the first half and didn't let up after the intermission en route to a 34-3 win, the Chiefs' third straight loss. Though Kansas City's defense certainly had its struggles, Palko's three interceptions didn't help.

While Pittsburgh has had trouble creating turnovers, Kansas City's had issues getting to the quarterback despite the presence of Tamba Hali. The Chiefs have a league-low 12 sacks, even with three of Tom Brady on Monday night. To have a chance at knocking off the Steelers, they'll likely need to pressure Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh is 12-8 since 2008 when it allows four sacks or more but 28-10 when it surrenders three or fewer. The Steelers may prefer to make Rashard Mendenhall the focus of the offense. The Chiefs have allowed an average of 153.0 yards rushing in their past five games, fourth-worst in the NFL.

Pittsburgh will look to get after Tyler Palko and force him into some early throws, as the New England Patriots did on Monday night. They likely will play a cover 2 in order to keep some dangerous receivers contained. On offense, Pittsburgh will throw. There no longer is the illusion that this is a running team. As an alterantive Pittsburgh could alter their plans a tad and a shorter passing game might be in order utilizing a balanced running game. Might not matter much either way as KC may ned to grind it out early and rely on their defense to keep Pittsburgh off the field. KC is 25th in the league in total offense and any type of mistakes may prove costly for Pittsburgh who can take advantage with quick strikes.



















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jimmythegreek Posts:11425 Followers:383
11/27/2011 02:18 AM

Carolina -3 over Indianapolis (bought half):
Despite getting pulled in the fourth quarter of the team's last two games, Curtis Painter will make his eighth consecutive start for the Indianapolis Colts. However, the team's best long-term solution to replace injured quarterback Peyton Manning may be the top pick in next year's draft. The Carolina Panthers were just in that position, but the addition of rookie quarterback Cam Newton hasn't solved all their problems. Coming off their bye, the Colts will try to avoid their first 0-11 start in 25 years Sunday when they face a Panthers team looking to end a franchise-record 12-game road losing streak.

Painter, who served as Manning's back-up in each of the last two seasons, has been the Colts' starter since former Panther Kerry Collins suffered a season-ending concussion against Pittsburgh on Sept. 25. Painter has been far from impressive in the starting role, completing just 55.2 percent of his passes with five TDs - none in the last four games - and seven INTs. The Colts have 398 total yards, 10 points and run only one play inside the red zone in the last two contests. While coach Jim Caldwell announced Wednesday that Painter will start instead of Dan Orlovsky as the team tries to avoid its worst start since opening 0-13 in 1986, the Colts already have an eye on the April draft. Indianapolis has a two-game "lead" for the league's worst record and the No. 1 pick, which likely will be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

The Panthers couldn't have been more pleased to choose Newton No. 1 overall in 2011 after ranking last in offense last season with 258.4 yards per game. However, simply putting last season's Heisman Trophy winner under center has not been enough for the team to make major strides. In fact, Carolina is just one game ahead of last season's pace when it finished 2-14.

Indianapolis' inexperienced offensive line has already allowed 21 sacks - five more than in 2010 - but Carolina's ability to pressure Painter could be severely impacted if Charles Johnson (shoulder) can't go. The defensive end has seven of the team's 19 sacks. The Colts, meanwhile, are tied with Tampa Bay for the second-fewest sacks in the league with 15. Getting pressure on Newton could help limit the effectiveness of wide receiver Steve Smith, who is 124 yards shy of 10,000, but the Panthers quarterback has proven effective when he gets out of the pocket. Newton ran for two scores Sunday and has a rookie-record nine rushing TDs.

The Panthers shouldn't have much problem moving the ball against the Colts, who rank 32nd in the league in the league in points allowed and 31st against the run. That means DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could be more involved in the game plan than in previous weeks. Defensively, the Panthers could look to blitz Painter a little more than they would a more experienced quarterback. As a measure of respectability regarding their subpar mark, winless Indy could be what the underacheiving Panthers need to get back on the winning track.

















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jimmythegreek Posts:11425 Followers:383
11/27/2011 02:23 AM

Chicago/Oakland over 41.5:
The Chicago Bears have been playing as well as just about any team in the league over the past month, but it now appears a thumb injury will keep Jay Cutler sidelined for the next several weeks. The Oakland Raiders experienced a similar setback last month when Jason Campbell suffered a broken collarbone. But while the Bears are turning to an unproven quarterback to lead them down the stretch, the Raiders perhaps upgraded, handing the offense to a two-time Pro Bowler. Caleb Hanie will make his first NFL start for surging Chicago on Sunday when they visit Carson Palmer and AFC West-leading Oakland.

A five-game winning streak has helped the Bears (7-3) move into possession of one of the NFC's wild-card spots, but making the playoffs could be tough. Cutler fractured the thumb on his right throwing hand while trying to make a tackle on an interception return in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 31-20 victory over San Diego. Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said team doctors believe Cutler, who had totaled eight touchdowns and three interceptions during the winning streak, has a chance of getting back on the field before Chicago's regular-season finale in Minnesota on New Year's Day. In the meantime, the Bears, who haven't won six straight games since opening the 2006 season 7-0, will turn to Hanie.

Although Hanie has yet to attempt a pass this year, he came up with an inspiring performance in last season's 21-14 loss to Green Bay in the NFC championship game. Playing for an injured Cutler, Hanie led the Bears to two touchdowns and finished 13 for 20 for 153 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Two days after Campbell's injury, Oakland (6-4) acquired Palmer from Cincinnati. He appeared in the Raiders' very next game and threw three interceptions. With time, Palmer has become much more proficient in the offense, averaging 265.0 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions in the last three games for a 102.2 passer rating, helping lead the Raiders to sole possession of first place in their division.

Oakland is also unsure if star running back Darren McFadden will play after missing the last three games with a right foot sprain, but backup Michael Bush has proven to be an adequate replacement. Bush has rushed for 461 yards in the last four games but will be facing a Chicago defense that is allowing an NFL-low 66.8 rushing yards over the last six weeks. This defense, which is tied for second in the NFL with 23 turnovers, is one of several reasons the Bears feel they can still reach the postseason despite Cutler's injury. A return game featuring the dangerous Devin Hester and an offense revolving around running back Matt Forte, who leads the league with 1,391 yards from scrimmage, has Chicago believing the playoffs are still very realistic. Forte is tied for the league lead with 11 runs of at least 20 yards, while Oakland has allowed an NFL-worst 15 such runs. The Bears might also be able to move the ball simply by Oakland's mistakes. The Raiders have already committed 17 defensive personal fouls this season - more than double the total of 29 teams and most in the league since the Chiefs had 19 in 1998.

Defensively the Bears have been a major disappointment as a pass-rushing team with just four in the last four games. The defense is predicated upon getting a pass rush from the linemen, but that has happened only occasionally, so LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs might help out with blitzes. But they will settle for containing the Raiders' excellent run game, which has flourished even with Bush filling in for injured McFadden.

Best of luck to all on Sunday:
YTD 23-21


















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jimmythegreek Posts:11425 Followers:383
11/28/2011 12:23 AM

Didn't expect the Steelers to look so rusty even after a bye and against one of the league's inept offenses. Cost me a sweep but I'll take 2 straight 3-1 weekends on the best bets.

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