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Jets (6-9) @ Bills (5-10)-- Gang Green (-3.5) hammered Buffalo 48-28 in season opener, back in happier days for Jets; Bills turned ball four times (-3), gave up an average of 9.9 ypa to NJ offense that is now dysfunctional at best, turning ball over 18 times in last five games (-14, were +1 in first 10 games). McElroy makes first road start here. Buffalo lost three in row, seven of last nine games; they gave up 18 or less points in all five wins (5-1) but are 0-9 allowing more than 18. Can the Jets score 19? They've now beaten Bills six games in row, winning last three here, by 9-24-16 points. Five of seven Buffalo road games went over total; three of last four Jet games stayed under.
Dolphins (7-8) @ Patriots (11-4)-- New England has to play to win, just in case Denver were to get upset by Browns; Patriots (-7.5) beat Dolphins 23-16 back in Week 13, when Miami kicked late FG to cover spread. Patriots won last five series games and nine of last 11, winning last three played here, by 10-31-3; they are 3-4 as home faves this year, winning at home by 10-3-6-35-28 points. 11 of last 13 Patriot games went over the total; five of last seven Miami games stayed under. Miami is 3-3 as road underdog this year, losing away games by 20-3-3-5-14 points- five of its eight losses are by 7 or less points. Favorites are 6-4 vs the spread in AFC East divisional games, 3-3 at home.
Ravens (10-5) @ Bengals (9-6)-- Both teams will play a playoff game next week, would expect banged-up guys to sit out; Ravens (-6) crushed Cincy 44-13 back in season opener, averaging 8.8 ypa, but they've lost five of last seven visits to Queen City (won 24-16 here LY). Bengals won/covered six of last seven games; they won at Pittsburgh LW despite three turnovers, only 14 rushing yards, and allowing Dalton to be sacked six times. Ravens snapped 3-game skid by routing Giants; they're 4-3 on road, with five of seven games decided by three points or less. Home favorites are 1-3-1 vs spread in AFC North divisional games. Six of last seven Bengal games stayed under; three of last four Raven games went over.
Texans (12-3) @ Colts (10-5)-- Indy coach Pagano's entrance to field will be an emotional moment, coming back from leukemia, but fact of matter is that Indy's spot in playoffs is set, while Texans need this win to clinch home field in AFC playoffs. Houston (-9) beat Colts 29-17 at home two weeks ago, blocking punt for a score- they had only one offensive TD, and didn't have any vs Vikings LW, in awful 23-6 home loss. Star RB Foster has heart issue, not sure if he plays in this game. AFC South home teams are 3-7 vs spread in divisional games, home dogs are 1-3. Houston is 6-1 on road, with five wins by 6+ points. Three of last four Houston games stayed under; under is 6-3-1 in last ten Indy games. Hard to overlook 352 rushing yards Colts allowed in win at Kansas City last week.
Jaguars (2-13) @ Titans (5-10)—Jax lost 11 of last 12 games, with only win 24-19 (+3) over Tennessee at home five weeks ago; they’re 5-7 in last 12 series games, with series splitting five of last six years; Jaguars lost three of last four visits here, with losses by 7-17-6 points. Titans lost at Jacksonville despite having seven sacks. Three of last five series totals were 33 or less. Jaguars outgained New England 436-349 last week, threw an INT in end zone on last play trying to tie game; they’re 5-2 as road underdogs this year, but lost 34-18/24-3 in last two away games. Tennessee lost 55-7 at Lambeau last week, after winning ugly Monday night games week before; they’re 1-2 vs spread as a favorite this year, 3-4 SU at home, with wins by 3-3-4 points. Home teams are 3-7 vs spread in AFC South divisional games, 2-4 if home favorite. Four of last five Jaguar games, three of last four Titan home games stayed under the total.
Eagles (4-11) @ Giants (8-7)—Giants were putrid last two weeks, getting outgained 927-442, outscored 67-14 in pair of lopsided road losses; they need this win and help to make playoffs. Philly was 3-1 after nipping Giants 19-17 (-2.5) in Week 4, outrushing Big Blue 191-57; they had 10-yard advantage in field position, but had just one TD, three FGs in four red zone drives. Roof has fallen in on Eagles since; they’ve lost 10 of last 11 games, still have no wins by more than two points, with seven of last eight losses by 7+ points. With Foles breaking hand, Vick expected to start, which amounts to audition for whatever team sings him next spring. Iggles have now won eight of last nine games with Giants—they won last five visits here, winning by 6-19-7-7-7 points. Five of last seven series totals were 44+. NFC East home teams are 2-8 vs spread in divisional games, 1-5 if favored. Giants won five of last six home games, scoring 90 points in winning last two (Packers/Saints).
Bears (9-6) @ Lions (4-11)—Chicago scored two defensive TDs in easy win at Arizona last week, week after Lions gave up two defensive scores in 38-10 loss in desert, Cardinals’ only win in their last 11 games. It was just second win in last seven games for Bears, who held off Detroit 13-7 (-6.5) back in Week 7, outrushing Lions 171-99; they were saved by four takeaways (+4), as Lions scored only seven points in four trips to Chicago red zone. Series has been swept seven of last eight year, with Chicago 5-2 in last seven visits here. Bears are 4-3 on road, with all four wins by 16+ points; they’re 2-1 as road favorites this year, 8-3-1 since 2008. Detroit lost its last seven games (0-6-1 vs spread) despite Johnson setting single season record for receiving yards; they’ve lost last four home games, with three of four losses by 4 or less points. NFC North home underdogs are 2-2 vs spread in divisional games; NFL-wide, divisional home dogs are 16-19-1 vs spread. Five of Bears’ last six road games went over the total, as did six of last nine Detroit games.
Buccaneers (6-9) @ Falcons (13-2)—Atlanta has #1 seed in NFC wrapped up, would expect banged-up guys to be held out; Bucs lost last five games (0-4-1 vs spread), as friction between players/coaches has been reported. First of those five straight losses was Falcons’ 24-23 win (-1) in Tampa in Week 12, when Ryan passed for 345 yards (10.5 ypa) and Atlanta survived -2 turnover ratio. Falcons are 7-0 at home this year, 4-3 as favorites, with wins by 6-2-3-6-4-10-34 points. Bucs are 4-2 as road underdogs, losing away games by 7-6-8-41 points (3-4 SU on road, but lost last two). Tampa Bay has one offensive TD, 10 turnovers on 23 drives in last two games, as Freeman was picked eight times- they were outscored 48-6 in first half of last three games. NFC South home teams are 6-3-1 vs spread in divisional games, with home favorites 2-1. Five of last six games for both teams stayed under the total.
Panthers (6-9) @ Saints (7-8)—Carolina won four of last five games after 2-8 start; Saints have shot at finishing 8-8 after 0-4 start, which included a 35-27 loss (-2.5) in Charlotte in Week 2, in wild game (Saints outgained Carolina 486-463) that was Panthers’ first win in last five series games- they lost last three visits here, by 10-2-28 points. After going 0-12 on third down in 36-14 loss to Denver in Week 10, Panthers have converted 43-83 (51.8%) over last six games, as Newton’s mobility allows them to move chains. Carolina is 6-3 vs spread as an underdog this year, 4-0 on road; dogs are 10-5 vs spread overall in their ’12 games. Saints scored 41-34 points in winning last two games; they won four of last five home games after losing first two, scoring 30.4 ppg in last five- they’re 3-2 as home favorite this year. NFC South home teams are 6-3-1 vs spread in divisional games, 2-1 if favored. Four of last six Carolina road games, five of Saints’ last seven games went over the total.
Browns (5-10) @ Steelers (7-8)—Pittsburgh in rare spot as also-ran here; they’ve lost three in row and five of last six games- seven of their last eight games were decided by six or less points (3-5). Steelers (-1.5) turned ball over eight times with Batch at QB in hideous 20-14 loss on Lake Erie in Week 12, just their 2nd loss in last 18 games vs Cleveland; Browns outrushed them 108-49, started five drives (scored 17 points) in Steeler territory. Cleveland lost its last eight visits here, with seven of the eight by 11+ points. Browns are 2-4 as road underdogs this year, losing away games by 7-7-14-4-3-22 points, with a win at Oakland. Steelers lost last three home games; they’ve been held under 100 rushing yards in last five games. Pitt has six sacks, three takeaways last week, still lost tough game to Bengals. Home teams are 3-5-2 vs spread in AFC North divisional games, 1-3-1 if favored. Under is 6-2-1 in last nine Cleveland games, 1-3 in last four Steeler games.
Packers (11-4) @ Vikings (9-6)—Both teams need this win; Pack for home field/bye in playoffs, Vikings just to get in tournament. Green Bay (-8) beat Vikings 23-14 at home four weeks ago at Lambeau, despite Minnesota running ball for 240 yards- they’ve now won last five series games, and 10 of last 13. Series has been swept in seven of last eight years; Pack won four of last six visits here, winning 31-3/33-27 last two years. Green Bay won nine of last 10 games overall, four of last five on road since losing to emotional Colts in Week 6, when they blew 21-3 halftime lead; they’ve covered last six games when favored. Vikings won/covered all three games since Lambeau loss, running ball for 558 yards, as Peterson chases Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark; they’re 6-1 at home this year, losing only to Bucs in Thursday night game, 6-3 as underdogs. NFC North underdogs are 5-3-2 in divisional play, 2-2-1 if at home. Five of last six Green Bay games, four of last five Viking games stayed under the total.
Chiefs (2-13) @ Broncos (12-3)— Broncos need win for first round bye in playoffs, which is huge; Denver (-10) had only TD/FG in four red zone drives in 17-9 win at Arrowhead in Week 12- Chiefs outrushed them 148-95, but passed for only 116 yards. Broncos won last five home games, by 31-20-7-8-22 points; they’ve covered seven of last nine games overall, all as favorites. Nightmare of season ends here for Chiefs, with housecleaning likely to follow; KC is 2-5 vs spread on road this year- they’ve lost last three weeks by 23-15-7 points, outscored 32-10 in first half of those three games. Chiefs’ only two TDs on last 33 drives both came on 80+-yard runs by Charles, on the first play of a half. AFC West favorites are 6-4 vs spread in divisional play, 3-3 at home. Six of last seven KC games stayed under total; six of last eight Bronco games went over. This guy Mike McCoy, Denver’s OC? He has easiest job in America, because #18 does it for him.
Raiders (4-11) @ Chargers (6-9)—Carson Palmer is out here; either Leinart or Pryor (or both) get nod here, vs underachieving Charger team likely playing last game for Norv Turner. San Diego (-1.5) opened season with 22-14 win at Oakland, in game where Bolts had a ridiculous 25-yard edge in field position, but only scored one TD (and four FGs) in five red zone drives- it was fourth straight series win for the road team, with San Diego winning 12 of last 15 overall. Oakland won last two visits here, 28-13/24-17, after losing previous seven trips in. Raiders lost seven of last eight games, with only win vs dreadful Chiefs; they’re 2-5 vs spread on road, losing last three away games by average score of 35-12. San Diego lost five of last seven games, with both wins in eastern time zone; they lost last three home games, scoring total of 33 points. Favorites are 6-4 vs spread in AFC West divisional games, 3-3 at home. Last five Raider games, last three San Diego home games stayed under the total.
Cardinals (5-10) @ 49ers (10-4-1)—Things could get ugly at Candlestick, where 49ers need to win in case Minnesota upsets the Packers; Niners (-7) waxed Redbirds 24-3 in Glendale in Week 8, holding Arizona to 7 yards rushing and 4.6 ypa. Series has been swept seven of last eight years; Cardinals lost last three visits here, by combined score of 85-23. Cardinals lost 11 of last 12 games; they gained total of 196 yards in the only win; they’re 3-3 as road underdog, losing away games by 14-7-14-4-1-58 points (they won at Foxboro in Week 2)- none of their QBs are capable of moving ball here. SF is off pair of tough road games- they allowed 31 points in second half at Foxboro, then 28 in first half at Seattle last week- underdogs are 5-2 vs spread when 49ers allow 20+ points, 2-6 when they don’t. Home teams are 6-3-1 vs spread in NFC West divisional games, 2-2-1 if favored. Four of last five Arizona games, six of last seven 49ers games went over the total.
Rams (7-7-1) @ Seahawks (10-5)—Seattle is 7-0 at home this year, 4-0 as home favorite; they were underdog in first three home games this year- Hawks won last three at home by combined score of 128-20 (43-7 average). That said, Seahawks lost 19-13 (-2.5) at St Louis in Week 4, when Rams had three picks (+2), held Seahawks to 2-9 on 3rd down conversions and a TD/two FG on three red zone drives. That was just Rams’ second win in last 15 series games; they’ve lost last seven visits here, with six of seven losses by 10+ points. St Louis is 7-0 this season when they don’t lose turnover battle; they’re 4-0-1 SU in divisional games, tying Niners in Candlestick as 12-point dogs in Week 10- they’re 6-1 vs spread in true road games, losing away games by 4-17-3 points (won last three on road SU). Three of last four Ram games stayed under total; Seattle’s last five games went over. Rams covered last six games that stayed under, are 4-4 vs spread if game goes over.
Cowboys (8-7) @ Redskins (9-6)—Winner here takes NFC East title, which Washington hasn’t won since ’99; Skins won/covered last six games, including 38-31 (+3) at Dallas on Thanksgiving, when they outrushed Pokes 142-35, had three takeaways to offset Dallas’ 423 passing yards. Dallas won six of last eight series games, with five of last six series wins by 4 or less points- they’ve won three of last four played here, with average total in last five, 29. Last four Dallas games were all decided by 5 or less points; they’ve scored average of 21.6 points just in second half of their last seven games, as Romo-Bryant combo has clicked often. Cowboys are 5-2 vs spread on road, winning three of last four SU. Redskins won/covered last six games; they’re 3-3 as home favorites. Despite playing with two rookie QBs, Washington has had only two games this year where they’ve been minus in turnovers (+14). Four of last five games for both teams went over the total.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) I enjoy watching the bowl games, which is quite obvious, but they don't mean anything; could you imagine how huge a 16-team college football tournament would be? I'm thinking it would fantastic, an enormous money maker.
12) Rough day for service academies, with Navy/Air Force getting crushed by combined score of 95-42 to Arizona State/Rice.
11) What a season Michigan State had; they beat TCU 17-16 in the Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, ninth game out of Spartans' 13 this year that were decided by 4 or less points. Too bad they lost five of those nine games.
10) UConn did the right thing and signed up hoop coach Kevin Ollie to a 5-year deal to replace the legendary Jim Calhoun; that is necessary now so the Huskies can recruit at their normal pace. Longer Ollie remained with the interim label, the worse UConn's recruiting was going to go. .
9) Louisville 80, Kentucky 77-- Cardinals were up 17 at one point, but the Wildcats fought back, thanks to 10-21 shooting from the arc. Kentucky was just 11-23 from the foul line in its first loss to Louisville in last five games.
8) Charlotte Bobcats led New Orleans by 17 at the half, as they tried to end their 17-game losing skid, but they snatched defeat from jaws of victory, losing 98-95 at home to the Hornets. Tough times for Mike Dunlap, who is an excellent tactician, but lacks talent, obviously.
7) Nice of Nets to fire Avery Johnson right before they played Charlotte, Cleveland, virtually guaranteeing the interim coach a 2-0 start; if Johnson had won those two games and was 16-14, he'd be a lot harder to fire. .
6) Loyola 69, DePaul 61-- Very bad loss for the Blue Demons/Catholic 7, who won't get much of a new TV contract with losses like this one.
5) Rough day for Oregon State athletic department; Beavers' hoop team lost at home in OT to Towson State, which was 1-31 LY; football team blew a 10-point second half lead, lost 31-27 to Texas in the Alamo Bowl, in game where Mike Riley actually got outcoached by Mack Brown? Awful loss.
4) Milwaukee Bucks beat the Heat by 19 at home; quick, without looking it up, name the Bucks' starting lineup. Other than Lebron/Wade, Miami was 12-37 from the floor for the game.
3) Not sure I've seen this in the shotclock era, but Cal-Irvine beat Cal-Davis 69-58 in OT, with Davis outscored 11-0 in the overtime period. Don't think I can remember a game where a team lost in OT without scoring.
2) Does anyone out there think a major college football player gets excited about going to a bowl game in the south Bronx? Other teams go to Florida or Hawai'i or Arizona or California, West Virginia-Syracuse played in the snow. After dark. One thing was similar to baseball season; there still weren't too many fans sitting in those expensive seats near the baseball dugouts.
1) Word is out that the Cleveland Browns have already decided to fire coach Pat Shurmur and their GM; whenever a new owner comes in, and he doesn't have a winning team, he's going to want to hire his own people to try and turn things around. Browns improved some this year, its too bad.