jimmythegreek Posts:10690 Followers:377
On 12/22/2011 06:14 PM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 16

Houston -6 over Indianapolis (bought half):
After dominating the AFC South over the previous eight seasons, the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts have given way to the Houston Texans. Even though these teams' most recent efforts more resembled previous seasons than the current one, this may be Houston's best chance to finally win in Indianapolis. Looking to regroup from their first defeat in more than two months, the division champion Texans visit a Colts team looking to build on its first win of the season Thursday night. With Manning under center, Indianapolis had won seven of the past eight South titles and made the playoffs in all nine years since the division was created in 2002 - Houston's inaugural season.

The Colts had been 15-1 in this series before losing two of the last three meetings, including a season-opening 34-7 defeat at Houston on Sept. 11. However, the Texans are 0-9 all-time at Indianapolis, giving up an average of 32.6 points, but this is the first time they've played there without having to face Manning. The Texans secured their first postseason berth and division title in Week 14. They entered Sunday having won a franchise-record seven straight and coming off a last-second 20-19 victory over Cincinnati, but they lost 28-13 at home to a sub-.500 Carolina team. Houston had been tied for the conference's best record but fell one game behind New England and is now one of three AFC teams at 10-4.

The Texans find themselves in a similar situation Thursday and likely know better than to overlook a Colts team that has plenty to celebrate following an 0-13 start. Making his third consecutive start, Dan Orlovsky was just 11 of 17 for 82 yards but threw for the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, and no Colts passes were intercepted for the first time since Week 5. Donald Brown carried 16 times for a career-high 161 yards, including an 80-yard TD run late in the fourth.

A big reason Indianapolis dominated this series was the Texans weren't very good defensively, but they've made major strides this year, ranking second in total yards allowed at 277.9 per game and fifth against the run (96.8 ypg). However, they gave up a season-worst 166 yards on the ground Sunday and two rushing TDs, one more than they surrendered during the seven-game win streak. Rookie T.J. Yates, thrown under center with season-ending injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, also had a forgettable performance as he went 19 of 30 for 212 yards and two interceptions. With Yates still getting accustomed to his new role, the offense continues to lean on Arian Foster. The Pro Bowler had his fifth 100-yard rushing effort and eighth touchdown in eight games Sunday, running for 109 yards and catching five passes for 58.

In two career meetings with Indianapolis, Foster has totaled 405 yards from scrimmage and four TDs. He rushed for a career-high 231 yards and three scores during a 34-24 win Sept. 12, 2010. WIth Yates continuing to become more familiar in the Texans offensive scheme and Foster in the backield, expect Houston to be methodical while successfully stopping the Colts behind Orlovsky with numerous packages enjoying a distinct advantage up front and in the backfield.


















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jimmythegreek Posts:10690 Followers:377
12/24/2011 12:27 AM

Baltimore -12.5 over Cincinnati:
The Baltimore Ravens are in control of their destiny in the AFC North and the race for a first-round bye. Maintaining that edge, though, will likely be difficult if they turn in another lackluster performance. A matchup with the ailing Cleveland Browns on Saturday would appear to give the Ravens a good chance to stay on track for the division crown and the No. 2 seed, with Baltimore having dominated the series of late. The Ravens (10-4) have put themselves in control with a sweep of division rival Pittsburgh and a victory over Houston on Oct. 16, giving them a leg up on those 10-4 teams. Baltimore, though, missed out last week on a chance to move ahead of the Steelers and Texans, both of whom lost. With a playoff berth already wrapped up, the Ravens were blown out 34-14 in San Diego.

Pittsburgh fell 20-3 to San Francisco on Monday night, and Houston was upset 28-13 at home by Carolina. Baltimore, winner of nine in a row at home dating to last December, appears to have a good chance to take care of business with Cleveland (4-10) visiting M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens have won seven straight over the Browns, tied for the longest win streak against an opponent in team history. They've also won seven consecutive games over the New York Jets. Baltimore's latest victory in the series came Dec. 4 as Ray Rice ran for a career-high 204 yards in a 24-10 win. Ricky Williams added 76 yards rushing as the Ravens piled up 290 on the ground. Cleveland has made adjustments as it looks to slow down Rice. The Browns allowed 147 rushing yards in a 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 8, but limited Arizona to 74 in a 20-17 overtime defeat last week.

At 3-4 on the road, winning this game might prove vital to Baltimore's chances of accomplishing its regular-season goals. The Ravens close out their schedule at Cincinnati on Jan. 1. Suggs, who has a career-high 13 sacks, chased down Colt McCoy for one of those, but the Browns quarterback likely won't play this week. McCoy has been out since taking a hit to the head against Pittsburgh earlier this month. The controversy surrounding Cleveland's failure to check McCoy for a concussion has led the NFL to put certified trainer in every press box. McCoy still had symptoms of a concussion Wednesday and has yet to be cleared to return to the field.

With McCoy out, Seneca Wallace is expected to start again after he threw for 226 yards and a touchdown versus the Cardinals. His 76-yard scoring pass to Greg Little gave the Browns a 17-7 third-quarter lead, but they couldn't hold it and suffered a season-high fourth consecutive defeat and sixth in a row on the road. Wallace's one start against the Ravens came in the team's most recent trip to Baltimore on Sept. 26, 2010. He threw for 141 yards and a TD in a 24-17 defeat, while counterpart Joe Flacco passed for three touchdowns. Flacco has eight TDs and one interception over his last six matchups with the Browns, who might need a strong performance from Peyton Hillis to help snap their losing streak. In his fourth game since returning from an injured hamstring, Hillis ran for a season-high 99 yards and a touchdown last week. He rushed for a then-career high 144 yards in Baltimore last September but has been held to a combined 80 over the past two matchups. The Ravens will have a new kicker for this game as Billy Cundiff is dealing with a sore left calf. On Wednesday, the team signed Shayne Graham, an 11-year veteran who has played for six other teams, and Harbaugh said Graham is expected to handle the kicking duties Saturday.

Seems like Flacco responds with a big game coming home as does Rice, who will once again get his share of the carries as well as the opportunity to catch a few passes in the flat. Baltimore's defense is a lot more motivated at home these days, and with a first round bye and AFC North division tite at stake, it should be expected that they continue their regular season dominance over the Browns, who have struggled all season putting up points.























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jimmythegreek Posts:10690 Followers:377
12/24/2011 12:35 AM

Green Bay -12.5 over Chicago (Sunday night):
With the possibility of a perfect season now over for the Green Bay Packers, and the Chicago Bears in the midst of a free fall from playoff contention, the NFL's lone Christmas game has lost most of its luster. The Packers look to bounce back from their first defeat in almost exactly one year and hand the injury-riddled Bears a fifth consecutive loss Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Five weeks ago this contest appeared ready to live up to the expected hype with Green Bay (13-1) flirting with a perfect season and Chicago (7-7) riding a five-game winning streak. Little more than a month later, much less drama surrounds the NFL's Christmas showcase.

Chicago has dropped four in a row since its five-game run and will be starting recently-signed journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback. While the Bears playoff hopes might be slim, they remain focused on trying to snap both their overall losing streak and a three-game skid against Green Bay. That includes a 21-14 loss in last season's NFC championship game at Soldier Field. The Bears have averaged 11.8 points over the last four games with Jay Cutler sidelined by a broken thumb suffered during a 31-20 win over San Diego on Nov. 20. They're still alive for a wild-card spot, but must win both their remaining games, hope either Detroit or Atlanta loses twice and get some additional help. Trying desperately for that win, Smith will replace struggling Caleb Hanie with McCown. Hanie recorded a 41.8 passer rating with nine interceptions and three touchdowns while starting throughout the four-game skid.

An assistant high school football coach until the Bears signed him Nov. 23, McCown saw his first action in two years last Sunday after Hanie was pulled for throwing three interceptions - two of which were returned for touchdowns - during an embarrassing 38-14 home loss to Seattle. McCown, who last started in 2007 for Oakland, threw 35 TDs and 41 interceptions for Arizona, Detroit, the Raiders and Carolina from 2002-09. McCown won't have the opportunity to hand off to Matt Forte, who will miss a third straight game with a knee injury. Receiver Johnny Knox is done for the season after he suffered a back injury against the Seahawks.

Aaron Rodgers, who might not have to play a full game Sunday, is 6-2 lifetime against the Bears, completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,937 yards with 10 TDs and seven interceptions in the series. He was 28 of 38 for 297 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's 27-17 win at Chicago on Sept. 25. Rodgers recorded season lows with a 48.6 completion percentage, 235 passing yards, one touchdown and an 80.1 passer rating in last week's loss to the Chiefs. Rodgers also was sacked four times as the Packers scored their fewest points since a 10-3 win over the Bears in last year's regular season finale - a victory that got them into the playoffs.

With all of Chicago's problems offensively putting up points coupled with all of the injuries, the Packers will look to get back to their winning ways. While Rodgers may sit out the 4th quarter if the game is out of hand, don't expect much from the Bears, whose defense has suffered due to its lack of offense. There is no margin for error, and Cutler's injury has taken plenty of effect due to a lack of execution.











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jimmythegreek Posts:10690 Followers:377
12/24/2011 12:41 AM

Denver/Buffalo over 41:
Leading the AFC West by one game with two weeks left in the regular season, the Denver Broncos hope to avoid another collapse and finally return to the playoffs for the first time in six years. That challenge might be a little easier with the reeling Buffalo Bills awaiting. The Broncos look to bounce back from their first loss in more than a month when they try to hand the Bills an eighth straight defeat Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. For the third time in four years, Denver took an 8-5 record into the final three weeks. In 2008 and 2009, the Broncos dropped their final three games and failed to make the playoffs. Memories of those collapses might have resurfaced after Denver's six-game winning streak ended with a 41-23 home loss to New England on Sunday.

At 8-6, Denver has a one-game division lead over Oakland and San Diego, and is two ahead of Kansas City. If the Broncos beat Buffalo (5-9) and the Chiefs at home on New Year's Day, they will reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season. Denver also could clinch the division this weekend with a win and a Raiders loss at Kansas City. The Broncos can clinch a playoff spot with a victory and losses by the New York Jets, Cincinnati and Tennessee on Saturday. Though the Broncos control their own destiny, they must improve after blowing a 16-7 first-half lead by committing three turnovers and allowing the Patriots to score 34 points in the final 39 minutes.

Though Tim Tebow lost for the second time in nine starts, he threw for 194 yards and rushed for a team-high 93 and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Tebow, who has thrown 11 TDs with two interceptions and rushed for 610 yards and five scores, is 5-0 as a starter on the road. He's the only quarterback with at least five starts who is currently undefeated away from home in 2011. Willis McGahee rushed just seven times for 70 yards against New England, leaving him 10 yards shy of reaching 1,000 for the first time since gaining 1,207 with Baltimore in 2007. Once a playoff contender at 5-2, the Bills are in the midst of their longest skid since dropping their first eight games of 2010. Buffalo guaranteed a 12th straight season without a playoff appearance after falling 30-23 at Miami on Sunday. Though injuries to key players like running back Fred Jackson have plagued the Bills, those who are healthy have been unable to keep the team afloat.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken most of the heat while going 1-7 with 10 touchdowns and 13 of his league-high 19 interceptions since signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension. Fitzpatrick threw for 316 yards with two touchdowns but was intercepted three times against the Dolphins. Buffalo's defense remains ripe for criticism while giving up 32.0 points per game during the losing stretch. The Bills allowed a season-high 254 rushing yards against the Dolphins last weekend. Buffalo snapped a five-game overall losing streak to the Broncos with a 30-23 win at Denver in their most recent meeting in 2008. The Bills have not beaten the Broncos at home since a 27-20 victory in 1994.

Best of luck to all in week 16
YTD: 32-28

















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