jimmythegreek Posts:11208 Followers:382
On 12/30/2012 10:51 AM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 17

Well the good news is that we are 6-2 over the past 2 weeks, so we have one last regular season campaign to end it with a bang. The bad news is that it has been one of the worst unpredictable NFL seasons to handicap personally in about 12 years. Play cautiously today, especially since most postseason spots have been already established and certain clubs will not be playing their regulars all game.

Denver -16.5 over Kansas City:
By earning an 11th straight victory in Sunday's regular-season finale, the Broncos can wrap up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs and ensure the visiting Kansas City Chiefs land the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. After passing New England for the No. 2 seed on Dec. 16, Denver (12-3) beat Cleveland 34-12 last week to put itself in position to earn a week off during the league's wild-card weekend. While a win against the Chiefs will be enough to do that, a victory plus a Houston loss at Indianapolis would give the Broncos home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Broncos' 10-game winning streak is tied for the second-longest in team history, behind only a 13-game run during their 1998 Super Bowl season. Six of Denver's wins during its current run have been by double digits - including the last three by a combined 52 points - but it didn't have an easy time last month at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs held a second-half lead on Nov. 25 before Peyton Manning led a pair of long second-half scoring drives to give the Broncos a 17-9 victory.

Denver ranks second in the NFL in scoring at 29.5 points per game. Manning hasn't had it very tough in his career versus Kansas City. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 285 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the first meeting to improve to 8-1 against the Chiefs. The four-time MVP had a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland to tie Brett Favre's NFL record with 72 games with at least three touchdown passes. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker combined for 15 catches, 167 yards and three TDs against the Browns. Decker needs 12 yards to join Thomas with 1,000 and give the Broncos their first duo to hit that mark since Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie in 2004.

Despite outgaining playoff-bound Indianapolis 507-288 last week, the Chiefs fell 20-13 and moved within one loss of their second 2-14 campaign in five seasons. They'll also be guaranteed the top pick in the 2013 NFL draft should they fall in Denver. Jamaal Charles will try to build on his big day after rushing for 226 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against the Colts. Peyton Hills added 101 on 15 carries as Kansas City rushed for 352 yards - its most since 1966. Charles leads the AFC in rushing with 1,456 yards and needs just 12 to surpass his career high set in 2010, the year before he tore his left ACL.

Charles, who rushed for 107 yards on 23 carries in the first meeting, will try to join Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes as the only Chiefs to hit the 1,500-yard mark, but he'll have to do it against the NFL's third-best rush defense (91.0 yards per game). Charles also has to hope he's feeling better. He was one of three Chiefs, along with linebacker Tamba Hali and left tackle Donald Stephenson, to be sent home from Wednesday's practice due to illness.

It's not like Kansas City has an effective passing game to fall back on. Brady Quinn has averaged 156.8 yards in his last five starts, and committed two turnovers in the red zone against the Colts to give him a 40.2 passer rating inside the opponents' 20 - the worst mark of the 38 QBs with more than 10 attempts. The Chiefs have totaled three offensive touchdowns and 43 points during a five-game road skid, and Quinn has been sacked a total of nine times in his last two starts away from Arrowhead. That's bad news against Denver linebacker Von Miller, whose two sacks last week gave him the single-season franchise record with 17 1/2.

Difficult to see if the Chiefs have any pride left in a season that has gone totally south for Romeo Crennel and company. Meanwhile while Denver wrapped up the West several weeks back, they will look to keep up the momentum knowing they can improve their postseason standing right through the end of the regular season. Pick your score here, as this one will get downright ugly early.



For the latest sports news, capper picks and tracker results, turn to JTG, the leader in BTB information

  • All Time Record: 13269-13586-497
  • Last 7 Days Record: 253-245-7
  • Last 30 Days Record: 717-684-26
jimmythegreek Posts:11208 Followers:382
12/30/2012 11:01 AM

San Francisco -16.5 over Arizona:
The 49ers will try to bounce back from their worst loss under Jim Harbaugh in their second chance to clinch the division Sunday at home against an Arizona Cardinals team plagued by season-long quarterback problems. San Francisco (10-4-1) fell 42-13 at Seattle last Sunday. The 49ers' lead over the Seahawks in the West was cut to one-half game, meaning that a victory over Arizona (5-10) or a Seattle loss to St. Louis is still needed for playoff-bound San Francisco to earn a second straight West crown.

Perhaps more importantly, San Francisco fell one-half game behind NFC North champion Green Bay in the race for the No. 2 seed and a bye. The 49ers now must win and hope the Packers lose in Minnesota in order to gain that slot. The 49ers are heavily favored to hand the Cardinals a seventh straight road loss. Arizona's 1-10 slide since a 4-0 start has raised questions about the status of sixth-year coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt will give Brian Hoyer his first NFL start Sunday, making him the fourth quarterback to start for Arizona this season. Kevin Kolb remains out with a rib injury, and Ryan Lindley and John Skelton have been ineffective.

Hoyer, acquired off waivers Dec. 10, went 11 of 19 for 105 yards and an interception after replacing Lindley during last week's 28-13 loss to Chicago, the Cardinals' sixth straight game without a touchdown pass. Hoyer was cut by New England before this season and signed by Pittsburgh on Nov. 20. He never played for the Steelers, who cut him two days before the Cardinals picked him up.

The expectations don't seem to be too high at that position for Whisenhunt, whose team has the league's fifth-highest turnover total with 32. Opponents have scored 49 points directly off Cardinals' offensive turnovers to tie them with Philadelphia for the highest total in that category. The Cardinals have been outscored 85-23 in losing three straight at San Francisco, and fell 24-3 at home to the 49ers on Oct. 29 when Skelton was the starter.

Alex Smith was the Niners' starter then and went 18 of 19 for 232 yards, three scores and a near-perfect passer rating of 157.1. Colin Kaepernick has taken over since, and he turned in his worst effort as a starter last week by completing 19 of 36 passes for 244 yards, one TD and one interception. For the 49ers, Kaepernick and the offense need to get back to basics, namely handing the ball off to Frank Gore. San Francisco got far too cute early against the Seahawks, and it cost the team. Head coach and play-caller Jim Harbaugh needs to get back to what made this team so successful in 2011 and earlier this year by feeding the running game, especially Gore.

Arizona has been miserable offensively this season and now they will line up against the #2 NFL defense to close out their season. The Cardinals own the 30th ranked passing game with an average of 186 yards per game, they are dead last in rushing with an average of 76.60 yards per game and they are at the bottom of the league in scoring at15.8 points per game. It's not like the Niners need to come out with a flawless effort to win this game, though the tuneup would be beneficial considering they want to ensure wrapping up the NFC West under their own control which might provide some momentum ridiing into the postseason.


For the latest sports news, capper picks and tracker results, turn to JTG, the leader in BTB information

  • All Time Record: 13269-13586-497
  • Last 7 Days Record: 253-245-7
  • Last 30 Days Record: 717-684-26
jimmythegreek Posts:11208 Followers:382
12/30/2012 11:14 AM

Seattle -12 over St. Louis:
Seattle will look to extend its longest winning streak in five seasons to five games on Sunday when the Rams try to finish undefeated in the West and above .500 for the first time since 2003. The Seattle Seahawks need to defeat the St. Louis Rams to have any shot of winning their second NFC West title in three seasons. Even if they don't finish atop the division, the Seahawks could still be riding a wave of momentum into the postseason.

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw a season-high four touchdowns in last Sunday's 42-13 victory over San Francisco, but the Seahawks (10-5) still trail the 49ers for the West lead. Seattle has clinched a wild-card spot, but the only way it will win the division is to record its eighth consecutive home win over the Rams, and for Arizona, loser of 10 of 11, to defeat San Francisco on Sunday. The Seahawks will face a Rams defense that's limited four of its last five opponents to 17 points or fewer, but Seattle has scored 150 over its last three contests. It's the most points scored by an NFL team during a three-game span since the Los Angeles Rams tallied 163 from Oct. 22-Nov. 5, 1950.

Wilson has thrown for eight scores and rushed for three more during the winning streak. He needs one TD pass to tie Peyton Manning's rookie record of 26. Wilson and the Seahawks will try to complete their first undefeated home season since 2005, when they finished 13-3 en route to their lone Super Bowl appearance. St. Louis, winner of four of five following last Sunday's 28-13 victory at Tampa Bay, will miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season, but the team arrives at CenturyLink Field with a chance for its first four-game road winning streak since going 8-0 in 2001.

The Rams (7-7-1) can also post their first winning record since going 12-4 nine years ago. St. Louis, 4-0-1 against West rivals, defeated Seattle 19-13 on Sept. 30. It's uncertain if running back Steven Jackson will return to St. Louis - he has a player option to get out of his contract at season's end. If it is his last game in a Rams uniform, he could end it in style with an eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. He is 10 yards shy of that mark. Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 118 yards and a score in the Sept. 30 defeat, needs 10 yards to become the third Seattle back - and first since Shaun Alexander set a franchise-high with 1,880 in 2005 - to reach 1,500.

The Rams will also have to keep an eye on Wilson, who is third among NFL quarterbacks with 431 rushing yards. St. Louis, though, could put plenty of pressure on Wilson as it tied for third in the league with 46 sacks after recording five last Sunday. The Rams also had four INTs in that victory. That effort was highlighted by Janoris Jenkins' third returned pick for a TD, which tied him for the NFL rookie record and leaves him one shy of equaling the league's single-season mark. Wilson was intercepted a season-high three times in St. Louis earlier this season, with Rocky McIntosh, Bradley Fletcher and Trumaine Johnson each recording one.

Richard Sherman picked off a pass by Sam Bradford in that game, and the cornerback is expected to play after winning his appeal of a four-game league-imposed suspension for performance-enhancing substances on Thursday. Sherman had an INT and returned a block field goal 90 yards for a score last Sunday. Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant is practicing after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury, but he's still questionable, as is Walter Thurmond (hamstring) after missing the last two games.

As well as St. Louis has played in the division this season, it's still a very limited team offensively and it's hard to imagine this being the team to finally solve the Seahawks' dominance in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is one of those clubs playing with dauntless confidence right now, and they won't look ahead with an opportunity to still win the NFC West.

For the latest sports news, capper picks and tracker results, turn to JTG, the leader in BTB information

  • All Time Record: 13269-13586-497
  • Last 7 Days Record: 253-245-7
  • Last 30 Days Record: 717-684-26
jimmythegreek Posts:11208 Followers:382
12/30/2012 11:24 AM

Cleveland/Pittsburgh over 34.5:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in unfamiliar territory under coach Mike Tomlin: eliminated from postseason contention. The Cleveland Browns have become too accustomed to missing out on the playoffs, and mass changes in the organization could be on the way as a result. On Sunday the Steelers will host the Browns, with Cleveland turning to inexperienced quarterback Thad Lewis as it looks for its first season sweep of the series since 1988.

Pittsburgh (7-8) will miss the playoffs for the fourth time since 2001 after Sunday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati marked its third straight defeat. It's the second time the Steelers won't be in the postseason since Tomlin took over in 2007. Tomlin said he won't coach any differently this week. The only changes to Pittsburgh's lineup will be by way of injury, not to get a look at younger players with the future in mind.

One Steeler with a particularly sour taste in his mouth is Ben Roethlisberger, who threw interceptions that led to the opponents' game-winning field goals in each of the last two games. Often considered one of the league's most clutch quarterbacks, Roethlisberger shouldered much of the blame for Pittsburgh's struggles in close games this season. The Steelers are 3-5 in games decided by three points or less.

Roethlisberger's eight interceptions are the second fewest of his career, but four have come in the last three games since he returned from shoulder and rib injuries sustained against Kansas City on Nov. 12, leading some to believe he still shouldn't be playing.

The Browns (5-10) can't avoid their 11th 10-plus loss season in the last 14 years after Sunday's 34-12 loss at Denver. A victory on Sunday would be Cleveland's first in Pittsburgh since a 33-13 win on Oct. 5, 2003, and would give coach Pat Shurmur a two-win improvement in his second season with the team. It might not be enough to give Shurmur another year, as new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have promised to revamp the organization, which has reached the playoffs twice since 1990.

The Browns may need a major boost from Josh Cribbs. Lewis, who has never taken an NFL snap, will start at quarterback with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy both nursing sprained right shoulders. However as inconsistently as Pittsburgh's defense has looked all season, anything is possible especially in a game that has no postseason implications.

Best of luck to all in week 17

For the latest sports news, capper picks and tracker results, turn to JTG, the leader in BTB information

  • All Time Record: 13269-13586-497
  • Last 7 Days Record: 253-245-7
  • Last 30 Days Record: 717-684-26