[B][I]Vikings shut out Packers 16-0, chasing 1st-round bye
December 24, 2017[/I][/B]
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings shut out an opponent for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, beating the injury-depleted Green Bay Packers 16-0 on Saturday night to stay in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye.
Stefon Diggs caught a 4-yard pass from Case Keenum just inside the back line of the end zone in the first quarter for the only touchdown. The Vikings (12-3) have already clinched the NFC North and can secure a bye if Carolina loses or ties on Sunday against Tampa Bay.
The Vikings forced an incompletion into the end zone on fourth-and-4 from the 14 early in the fourth quarter to turn away the Packers’ last best effort to get into the end zone. Safety Harrison Smith ended another Green Bay drive with an interception at the Minnesota 5 late in the second quarter.
Minnesota left frigid Lambeau Field with its first shutout since a 13-0 win over Detroit on Dec. 5, 1993. It was the first shutout over the Packers (7-8) since Nov. 14, 1971.
The Packers managed to hold a 239-236 edge in total yards. They were still shut out twice in a season for the first time since 2006.
[B]RAVENS 23, COLTS 16[/B]
BALTIMORE (AP) – Joe Flacco threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Tucker kicked three field goals and Baltimore beat Indianapolis to move a step closer to securing a playoff berth.
The Ravens (9-6) scored on their first two possessions and held off the skidding Colts (3-12) in a windy, rain-soaked second half.
Baltimore will reach the playoffs as an AFC wild card by beating Cincinnati at home next Sunday. The Ravens have won five of six following a 4-5 start.
Indianapolis made it tough on Baltimore, closing to 16-13 in the third quarter before Flacco threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Maxx Williams with 8:40 remaining.
It was 23-16 when Anthony Walker blocked a Ravens punt, giving the Colts the ball at the Baltimore 27 with 2:36 left. Indianapolis moved to the 10 before a third-down sack and a fourth-down incompletion.
Flacco was 29 for 38. He has thrown for seven TDs with just one interception over his last four games.
Record: 7-7 SU, 7-6-1 ATS, 10-4 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 50/1
The Chargers squandered a golden opportunity to take over first place in the AFC West in last Saturday’s 30-13 setback at Kansas City. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak as quarterback Philip Rivers threw three interceptions for the second time this season against the Chiefs. Since the 0-4 SU and 0-3-1 ATS start to the season, Los Angeles has won and covered in seven of the past 10 games, while riding an 8-1 stretch to the UNDER the last nine contests.
Record: 5-9 SU, 8-5-1 ATS, 8-6 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
The Jets have dropped seven of nine games since a surprising 3-2 start, while coming off consecutive road losses at Denver and New Orleans. New York hung in last week’s loss at the Superdome, while cashing as 16 ½-point underdogs in a 31-19 defeat. The Jets turn to Bryce Petty once again at quarterback after Josh McCown suffered a season-ending hand injury at Denver. New York closes out its home slate looking to finish 7-1 ATS at Met Life Stadium, while already picking up home ‘dog wins over Miami, Jacksonville, Buffalo, and Kansas City.
[B]Best Bet: Chargers -6 ½
Rams (-6 ½, 46 ½) at Titans – 1:00 PM EST[/B]
Record: 10-4 SU, 9-5 ATS, 9-5 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 10/1
The Rams made a bold statement in last Sunday’s 42-7 rout of the Seahawks in Seattle that they are not only the team to beat in the NFC West, but also a threat to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Running back Todd Gurley racked up 152 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, including a 57-yard touchdown scamper on 3rd and 20 to give the Rams a 34-0 halftime edge. Los Angeles has done most of its damage on the road this season by posting a 6-1 record away from the Coliseum, including a 3-1 ATS mark as an away favorite.
Record: 8-6 SU, 6-7-1 ATS, 8-6 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 125/1
The Titans wrap up a three-game stretch against NFC West opponents as Tennessee tries to break through following close losses at Arizona and San Francisco. Tennessee still has an outside shot to clinch the AFC South title, but needs a victory on Sunday and a Jacksonville loss at San Francisco to set up the division championship next week against the Jaguars at home. The Titans have excelled at Nissan Stadium this season by winning five of six games, while being listed as a home underdog for the first time.
[B]Best Bet: Titans +6 ½
Falcons at Saints (-5 ½, 52 ½) – 1:00 PM EST[/B]
Record: 9-5 SU, 6-8 ATS, 9-5 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 16/1
The Falcons are playing their best football at the right time by winning five of their past six games. Atlanta held off Tampa Bay last Monday night, 24-21 as the Falcons failed to cash as seven-point road favorites, but improved to 5-2 away from Mercedes Benz Stadium. The defending NFC champions seek the season sweep of the Saints after beating New Orleans, 20-17 in Week 13 for their third consecutive win in the series.
Record: 10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS, 8-6 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 10/1
Since pulling off eight consecutive victories, the Saints have split their last four games as they sit in a tie atop the NFC South with Carolina (New Orleans holds the tiebreaker). However, the Saints have covered only once in their past five contests, including a pair of non-covers as heavy home favorites against the Jets and Redskins. New Orleans has topped the 30-point mark in each of its previous four home games, while scoring exactly 32 points in each of its two defeats to Atlanta last season.
[B]Best Bet: Falcons +5 ½
Bills at Patriots (-12, 47) – 1:00 PM EST[/B]
Record: 8-6 SU, 8-5-1 ATS, 7-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 80/1
Following a 30-point rout at the hands of the Chargers in mid-November, the Bills have suddenly won three of four games to stay alive for a Wild Card berth. The lone loss in this stretch came at home to the Patriots in Week 14 as 7 ½-point underdogs, 23-3, the 13th home defeat to New England in the past 14 seasons. However, the Bills have won in Foxboro in two of the past three seasons, including a 16-0 shutout in 2016, although Tom Brady didn’t play as he was serving a four-game suspension.
Record: 11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS, 8-6 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 11/5
The Patriots wrapped up their ninth consecutive AFC East title in a controversial finish in a 27-24 triumph at Pittsburgh. Dion Lewis scored the go-ahead touchdown with under a minute remaining in regulation, while the potential game-winning score by Pittsburgh was overturned on instant replay. New England improved to 15-1 in its past 16 road contests, while cashing the UNDER in eight of the previous 10 games overall. Since starting the season 0-3 at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots have covered in each of their past three home victories.
[B]Best Bet: Patriots -12
Jaguars (-4, 42) at 49ers – 4:05 PM EST[/B]
Record: 10-4 SU, 9-5 ATS, 7-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 12/1
The Jaguars clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 as Jacksonville finished off a three-game homestand a perfect 3-0 following a 45-7 blowout of Houston as 10 ½-point favorites. After scoring 30 points only twice in the first 11 games, Jacksonville eclipsed the 30-point mark in each of the past three contests. Two of Jacksonville’s four losses this season have come against NFC West opponents, losing to Los Angeles and Arizona, while allowing 27 points in each of those defeats.
Record: 4-10 SU, 7-7 ATS, 8-6 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
The 49ers have found their quarterback as Jimmy Garoppolo owns a perfect 3-0 record since taking over the starting spot. The most recent victory came against Tennessee last Sunday, 25-23, the second win in three weeks coming on a last-second field goal. San Francisco has cashed in three of the past four opportunities in the underdog role, as the Niners host the Jaguars for only the second time in franchise history (20-3 win in 2009).
Record: 8-6 SU, 5-8-1 ATS, 8-6 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 40/1
Seattle’s playoff chances took a major hit with losses the last two weeks to Jacksonville and Los Angeles. The Seahawks were run from the start in a 42-7 defeat to the Rams last Sunday, suffering their third home loss of the season. Seattle has struggled in the road underdog role this season, posting a 1-3 SU/ATS record with all three losses coming by eight points or less. The Seahawks are making their first trip to Dallas since edging the Cowboys, 13-12 in 2015 as 4 ½-point road favorites.
Record: 8-6 SU, 7-6-1 ATS, 8-6 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 50/1
Ezekiel Elliott returns for the Cowboys following a six-game suspension looking to boost Dallas’ offense. Following a three-game skid to begin Elliott’s ban, the Cowboys rebounded with three straight victories to get back into the playoff race. The key to this winning streak has been on the defensive side as Dallas has yielded 17 points or fewer in all three victories. The UNDER cashed in five of six games without Zeke, compared to a 5-3 OVER mark in the first eight contests of the season.
[B][I]Vegas Money Moves – Week 16
December 23, 2017
Wise guys have been betting the Browns (0-14) weekly just because their numbers didn’t add up with the sports books. they were taking advantage of the luxury tax placed on the Browns opponents getting luxury tax that often was higher than 25 percent of what the proper line should be. The masses playing small money and parlays would simply take who ever the Browns were playing. The public has won 11 of 14 games this season by simply betting against the Browns.
This week is a little different, though. The Bears (4-10) at -6.5 is the raw rating number. There is no edge for the sharps, although they did grab +7 early in the week. The Bears would appear to be the perfect team for the Browns to finally win against. The weather conditions in Chicago are also favorable for the Browns because it puts both teams at a disadvantage. It’s supposed to be 24 degrees with 10 mph winds and snow is a possibility.
Beyond the weather, the Bears have been awful lately and they’ve lost their last seven games when favored. They’ve lost six of their last seven and have covered the number only once in their last six. The total has dropped slightly from 38.5 to 38. Something to consider with the weather is that the Bears have stayed Under in 10 of 14 games this season, including their last four. The Browns average 14.8 ppg and the Bears average 16.7 ppg, and that’s with mostly good weather.
The other team in Ohio has looked like the worst team in football the past two weeks. After playing extremely well three weeks ago in a 23-20 loss to the Steelers, the Bengals (5-9) decided to pack it in and tank. It started with a 33-7 home loss to the Bears and then a 34-7 loss at Minnesota. Marvin Lewis is quitting after the season and Andy Dalton looks like the worst QB in football, but sharp money likes them this week at home against the Lions (8-6). Detroit opened -4 and it’s been bet down to -3.
“Yeah, we’ve been seeing sharp action on the Bengals and I can’t figure out why,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich, noting the Bengals terrible play lately. “It’s beyond me, I can’t figure the NFL out. These are the same guys that have been lining up to bet the Browns every week.”
Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick also said he’s seen sharp Bengals money comes through his bet windows. The Lions are fighting for a playoff berth.
The best game of the morning has the Falcons (8-6) visiting the Saints (10-4). New Orleans is a 6-point favorite with a few books like Station Casinos and CG Technology at -5.5. The Saints have gone 1-4 ATS in their last five while the Falcons have won five of their last six, including a 20-17 win at home against the Saints three weeks ago. The total is the highest of Week 16 at 52.5.
The Westgate SuperBook has odds to win the NFC South posted with the Saints -200, Falcons at 7/2 and Panthers at 9/2. The Panthers play at Atlanta next week while the Saints are at Tampa Bay. If thinking about the Bucs winning next week, consider that the Saints have beat everyone they were supposed to. Their only losses came as underdogs against the Vikings, Patriots, Rams and Falcons.
Broncos money has pushed the Westgate down from Redskins -3.5 down to -3 EVEN. The Broncos have won their last two games, including their first road win last week at Indianapolis. They are now 1-8 ATS in their last nine road games.
The Chiefs (8-6) are fighting for their playoffs lives and get a visit from the Dolphins (6-8). The Chiefs opened -10 and have been bet up to -10.5.
There’s no Sunday night game, but the feature afternoon game has the Seahawks (8-6) visiting Dallas (8-6) where there’s still a glimmer of playoff hope for each team. They each need to win their last two games and have the Lions and Falcons experience misfortune.
“We just took a big bet on the Seahawks,” Bogdanovich said Saturday afternoon. “I don’t get that move, either. Could you bet the Seahawks right now?”
The Seahawks wager moved William Hill books from the Cowboys being 5-point favorites down to -4.5. The Cowboys have won their last three (2-0-1 ATS) and get RB Ezekiel Elliott back from a six-game suspension. Seattle has lost its last two games, the worst coming last week in a 42-7 home loss against the Rams.
“We’re going to be buried on the Rams,” said Bogdanovich about the Rams (10-4) one sided parlay action as 6.5-point road favorites at Tennessee (8-6). The Rams are fighting for a first round bye and the Titans have lost two straight and are trying to hang to one of the wild cards.
An intriguing match-up this week has the Jaguars (10-4) as 4-point favorites at San Francisco (4-10) with the 49ers riding a three game win streak. McCormick said sharp money is on the 49ers while the public is all over the Jaguars. Bogdanovich has seen the same thing, but his action will end up being a little different.
“We’ve got all those books up north and those bettors are fired about their 49ers being good again,” said Bogdanovich who operates 107 sports books throughout Nevada.
The Jaguars have won seven of their last eight and have covered the spread in their last three. They’ve become a very public team lately.
The Patriots have dropped from 12.5-point home favorites down to -11.5 against the Bills who are attempting to hold on to the final wild card, but the large spread doesn’t have the masses jumping on them like they usually do. But if the day ends with the Rams, Jaguars and Patriots all covering it’s going to be a losing day for the house paying lots of 6-to-1 payouts on three-team parlays.
[B][I]SuperContest Picks – Week 16
December 23, 2017[/I][/B]
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest is the biggest, most prestigious, challenging pro football handicapping contest in the country. The fees are $1,500 per entry.
Contestants must pick 5 pro football games against the spread each week for the entire 17-week season. The individual that has the best record after the season will be deemed the winner.
The LVH Casino at Westgate Las Vegas Resort is a hotel, casino, and convention center, which is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. LVH SuperBook vice-president Jay Kornegay is in charge of the SuperContest.
This year’s contest has 2,748, which is an all-time record.
Each week throughout the season, we’ll post the Top 5 Consensus Picks in the SuperContest on Saturday afternoon and list all of the selections for each matchup.
[size=”3″][I][B]Sunday NFL Betting Preview and Odds: Falcons at Saints[/B][/I][/size]
[B]Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints (-6, 52.5)[/B]
The Atlanta Falcons control their own destiny in the race for the NFC South title after holding off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday for their fifth win in the last six games. The New Orleans Saints, who host the Falcons on Sunday, are a game up on Atlanta in the division and will clinch a playoff berth while moving one step closer to an NFC South title with a victory.
The NFC South could end up sending three teams to the playoffs along with the Carolina Panthers, and the Falcons brought themselves into this position by figuring out how to win tight games in the last two weeks, including a 20-17 triumph at home over New Orleans in Week 14. “We are right where we need to be at this time of the season,” Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan told reporters. “Two games to go in the regular season, and we have to find a way to get back to work this week, try to improve and make sure that we play the best we are capable of playing (Sunday) to try and get a win.” The Saints followed that loss to the Falcons with a 31-19 triumph over the New York Jets last week and are trying not to assign extra importance to this week’s meeting. “There is not really emotion,” wide receiver Michael Thomas told reporters. “There are going to be games that are probably more important than others, but at the end of the day they’re all pretty much important.”
TV:[/B] 1 p.m. ET, FOX.
POWER RANKINGS:[/B] Falcons (-2) – Saints (-4) + home field (-3) = Saints -5.
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Saints opened as 5.5-point home dogs at most shops, money coming in on New Orleans bumped up slightly to -6. The total hit the betting board at 52.5 and remains at that number heading into the weekend.
WEATHER REPORT:[/B] Dome
Falcons – RB Tevin Coleman (Probable, Concussion), WR Julio Jones (Probable, Ankle), WR Mohamed Sanu (Probable, Knee), G Andy Levitre (Questionable, Tricep), LB Sean Weatherspoon (Questionable, Illness).
Saints – G Larry Warford (Probable, Concussion), WR Ted Ginn (Probable, Ribs), TE Garrett Griffin (Questionable, Foot), DB Justin Harden (Questionable, Foot), TE Josh Hill (Questionable, Shoulder), C Senio Kelemete (Questionable, Knee), OT Andrus Peat (Questionable, Groin), DE Trey Hendrickson (Out, Ankle), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (Out, Concussion), S Kenny Vaccaro (I-R, Wrist), LB A.J. Klein (I-R, Groin).
ABOUT THE FALCONS (9-5 SU, 6-8 ATS, 5-9 O/U):[/B] Atlanta leaned on its rushing attack in a 24-21 win over the Buccaneers on Monday as Devonta Freeman ran for a season-high 126 yards and a touchdown. Freeman rushed for 91 yards and a score in the win over the Saints, helping to make up for a three-interception performance from Ryan. The reigning NFL MVP is up to 3,490 yards and 18 TDs on the season but is already at 11 interceptions – four more than his total from last season – and was left off the Pro Bowl rosters announced on Tuesday.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS, 8-6 O/U):[/B] New Orleans became the first team in 42 years to have two running backs make the Pro Bowl when Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were announced as two of the team’s six representatives. The two are on pace to become the first duo in NFL history to each go over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and are already at a combined 2,756 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns. Neither back managed 100 yards from scrimmage in the Week 14 loss to the Falcons, and Kamara totaled just 27 yards on four touches before leaving the contest with a concussion.
* Falcons are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games when playing on Sunday following a Monday night game.
* Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Falcons last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Over is 6-0-1 in Saints last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Underdog is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 meetings.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The public is siding with the home favorite Saints at a rate of 55 percent and the Over is getting 70 percent of the totals action.
[size=”3″][I][B]Sunday NFL Betting Preview and Odds: Seahawks at Cowboys[/B][/I][/size]
[B]Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-5, 47)[/B]
Ezekiel Elliott is back from a six-game suspension as the Dallas Cowboys look to remain in the playoff hunt when they host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The star running back was disciplined for an alleged domestic violence incident after racking up 783 rushing yards through the first eight contests of the season.
Elliott returns at a time when the Cowboys could be eliminated from the NFC wild-card race – a loss to Seattle and a victory by Atlanta would end the playoff pursuit. Elliott figures to provide a boost as he is well-rested and not experiencing the bumps and bruises most NFL running backs feel in late December. “He’s capable of doing anything we’d ask him to do at the running back position,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters. “We’ll work through this week and see what he’s able to do in this game plan.” The Seahawks are aiming to bounce back from the 42-7 beating they suffered against the Los Angeles Rams and are in the same predicament as the Cowboys – a loss on Sunday combined with a victory by Atlanta would seal their fate.
TV:[/B] 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.
POWER RANKINGS:[/B] Seahawks (-1) – Cowboys (-1) + home field (-3) = Cowboys -3.
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Saints opened as 5.5-point home dogs at most shops, money coming in on New Orleans bumped up slightly to -6. The total hit the betting board at 52.5 and remains at that number heading into the weekend.
WEATHER REPORT:[/B] Dome
Seahawks – DE Michael Bennett (Probable, Knee), TE Jimmy Graham (Probable, Knee), LB K.J. Wright (Probable, Concussion), LB Bobby Wagner (Probable, Hamstring), S Bradley McDougald (Questionable, Knee), DT Nazair Jones (Questionable, Ankle), CB Justin Coleman (Questionable, Chest), TE Nick Vannett (Questionable, Shoulder), LB D.J. Alexander (Questionable, Concussion), CB Deshawn Shead (Questionable, Knee), RB Chris Carson (Out, Knee), S Kam Chancellor (I-R, Neck), G Day Aboushi (I-R, Shoulder).
Cowboys – LB Justin Durant (Probable, Concussion), LB Anthony Hitchens (Probable, Knee), DE Demarcus Lawrence (Probable, Back), DT Richard Ash (Questionable, Shoulder), OT Le’El Collins (Questionable, Back), DE Benson Mayowa (Questionable, Back), DT Maliek Collins (Questionable, Foot), LB Sean Lee (Questionable, Hamstring), CB Orlando Scandrick (Questionable, Back), WR Brice Butler (Questionable, Foot), OT Tyron Smith (Doubtful, Knee), DL David Irving (Out, Concussion).
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (8-6 SU, 5-8-1 ATS, 6-8 O/U):[/B] Seattle has allowed 72 points while losing its last two games, and the horrific showing against the Rams placed the team in a rare must-win situation regarding both its NFC West and wild-card aspirations. “If anybody likes adversity, this football team does, in the sense that we can handle adversity,” quarterback Russell Wilson, who has thrown 30 touchdown passes, told reporters. “We can handle the circumstances that we are in. Reality is, we can’t determine what everybody else does. All we can do is what we can control, and that’s playing great football.” The defense has been ravaged by injuries and the hope is that Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion) will be close to full strength.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (8-6 SU, 7-6-1 ATS, 6-8 O/U):[/B] Elliott had 26 or more carries in each of his final four games prior to the suspension, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan indicated he plans another heavy load for the 22-year-old. Elliott’s presence should help second-year quarterback Dak Prescott (2,964 yards, 21 touchdowns), who has thrown 11 interceptions this season after being picked off just four times last year. Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is tied for third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks, while star linebacker Sean Lee has recorded 28 tackles and one interception over the last two games after returning from a hamstring injury.
* Cowboys are 1-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 4-1 in Seahawks last 5 road games.
* Under is 6-1 in Cowboys last 7 games overall.
* Underdog is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Dallas.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The public is siding with the road dog Seahawks at a rate of 53 percent and the Over is getting 52 percent of the totals action.
[B][I]NFL roundup: Gurley, Rams clinch NFC West title
December 24, 2017[/I][/B]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley became the first player in 31 years to rush for 100-plus yards and produce 150-plus receiving yards in a single game, scoring two touchdowns as Los Angeles clinched the NFC West title with a 27-23 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Gurley ran 21 times for 115 yards while catching 10 passes for 158 yards and touchdowns of 3 and 80 yards. The last player to pull off the 100-150 double was Herschel Walker of the Dallas Cowboys in 1986.
Los Angeles (11-4) clinched its first division title since 2003 and its first playoff berth since 2004. Tennessee (8-7) lost its third straight game, officially sealing the AFC South title for Jacksonville. The Titans can still wrap up a playoff spot next week by beating Jacksonville.
[B]Saints 23, Falcons 13[/B]
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr., and Mark Ingram II ran 26 yards for a score to power New Orleans to a playoff-clinching victory over Atlanta.
The Saints (11-4) earned the playoff berth after missing the postseason during the past three 7-9 seasons. The Falcons, who had won five of their previous six games by averaging 24.7 points a game, failed to score a touchdown in the first 57 minutes and fell to 9-6.
New Orleans can win the NFC South with a victory at Tampa Bay next week or a Carolina loss at Atlanta. The Panthers are also 11-4, but the Saints hold the tiebreaker based on their sweep of the regular-season series.
[B]Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19[/B]
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton picked up his own bobbled snap and ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left, lifting Carolina to a playoff-clinching victory against Tampa Bay.
Carolina converted a fourth down on the play prior to the touchdown, needing 1 yard after the Buccaneers (4-11) jumped offside. Jonathan Stewart got the yard, setting up Newton’s game-winning run. It was a 10-play, 59-yard drive.
The Panthers (11-4) remain tied with the Saints for first place in the NFC South. Carolina would hold a wild-card spot in the playoffs unless it wins next week at Atlanta while the Saints lose at Tampa Bay.
[B]Patriots 37, Bills 16
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England moved a step closer to wrapping up the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over Buffalo.
While the Patriots (12-3) won for the 10th time in 11 games, the Bills (8-7) were dealt a serious blow in their bid to end a 17-year playoff drought. Tom Brady finished 21 of 28 for 224 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception that was returned for a score.
Patriots running back Mike Gillislee snapped a 16-16 tie with a 1-yard run late in the third quarter, and Dion Lewis ran for a career-high 129 yards and a touchdown. Lewis also scored on a nifty 12-yard screen pass to help break the game open in the fourth.
Seahawks 21, Cowboys 12[/B]
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Seattle defense took the return of Dallas star running back Ezekiel Elliott in stride as the Seahawks clamped down and paved the way to victory.
Seattle scored 21 points off Dallas turnovers and kept the Cowboys out of the end zone, keeping the Seahawks’ playoff hopes alive as they are still in the hunt for an NFC wild-card berth.
The Cowboys (8-7) squandered Elliott’s return by losing the turnover battle 3-0, and they were eliminated from playoff contention. Elliott gained 97 yards on 24 carries.
[B]Chargers 14, Jets 7[/B]
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bidding to become only the second team since the 1970 merger to make the playoffs after an 0-4 start, Los Angeles beat New York Jets to stay alive in the postseason chase.
The Chargers (8-7) looked shaky against the Jets (5-10), but Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers made clutch passes, running back Melvin Gordon carved up New York’s front seven, and the defense, despite giving up long runs to Bilal Powell, bent but did not break.
Gordon’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, capping an eight-play, 75-yard drive, broke a 7-7 tie. Gordon gained 81 yards on 19 carries.
Bears 20, Browns 3[/B]
CHICAGO — Jordan Howard rushed for two touchdowns, rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ran for one, and Chicago kept Cleveland winless.
If the Browns (0-15) lose next week’s finale at Pittsburgh, they would join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to go 0-16. With the Sunday defeat to the Bears (5-10), Cleveland secured the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Howard’s touchdowns were his eighth and ninth this season, giving the second-year running back four in his past three games.
[B]Redskins 27, Broncos 11
LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes, and the Redskins’ defense turned in another stellar effort as Washington beat Denver.
Cousins completed 19 of 37 passes for 299 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked defense in terms of yardage allowed. He was intercepted once. Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks for Washington (7-8).
Quarterback Brock Osweiler got the start and was largely ineffective, completing 22 of 38 passes for 193 yards, with an interception and a lost fumble for Denver (5-10). He was sacked four times.
[B]Chiefs 29, Dolphins 13[/B]
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Smith surpassed the 4,000-yard passing mark for the first time in his 12-year career as Kansas City clinched back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history.
Smith delivered again for the Chief (9-6) in the best season of his career, completing 25 of 39 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. With the game tied at 3-all, Smith gave the Chiefs a lead they would not relinquish when he found wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a third-and-15 pass deep down the middle for a 52-yard gain. That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Travis Kelce for a 10-3 lead.
Jakeem Grant caught four passes for 107 yards and a touchdown for Miami (6-9).
[B]Bengals 26, Lions 17[/B]
CINCINNATI — Giovani Bernard rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown as Cincinnati eliminated Detroit playoff contention.
Detroit (8-7) needed a win and plenty of help to make the postseason, but fell flat against the struggling Bengals (6-9).
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who had a 27.3 passer rating last week, the second-lowest of his career, passed for 238 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
[B]49ers 44, Jaguars 33[/B]
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns, leading San Francisco to its fourth consecutive victory.
Jacksonville clinched its first-ever AFC South crown with around six minutes left in the first quarter when the Rams defeated Tennessee. The division title is the Jaguars’ first since 1999, when Jacksonville won the AFC Central.
The 49ers set a season high for points scored and the Jaguars a season high for points allowed. Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 32 of 50 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions, including a 50-yard pick-six by Dontae Johnson.
[B]Cardinals 23, Giants 0[/B]
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald was a one-man playmaking machine during Arizona’s shutout of New York.
Fitzgerald, who hasn’t determined if he will come back for a 15th season despite recently agreeing to a one-year contract extension through 2018, continued to show no signs of slowing down at age 34. In addition to catching a game-high nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, Fitzgerald also completed his first NFL pass on an end-around option, hitting Jaron Brown for a 21-yard gain.
Drew Stanton threw two touchdown passes and safety Antoine Bethea intercepted Giants quarterback Eli Manning twice as Arizona (7-8) helped send New York (2-13) to its fifth consecutive loss.
[B][I]NFL notebook: Titans RB Murray injures knee
December 24, 2017[/I][/B]
Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray injured his right knee during Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and could be done for the season.
Murray was hurt with 2:39 left in the contest. Initial reports indicate Murray sprained his lateral collateral ligament and will undergo an MRI exam on Monday.
Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey admitted after the game that the injury didn’t look good. That means second-year pro Derrick Henry appears to be the starter in Week 17 against Jacksonville, with David Fluellen backing him up.
“I’m sure Derrick will be ready if DeMarco is out,” Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said.
[B]–Several teams complained [/B]to the NFL last week that the Green Bay Packers violated the rules regarding injured reserve, and that the team should have to release two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers as a result, ESPN reported.
Rodgers was activated off injured reserve from a broken collarbone and played last week against the Carolina Panthers. The 34-year-old exited the contest because he was “sore,” according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
Green Bay announced its decision to place Rodgers back on injured reserve Tuesday, after the Packers had been eliminated from a potential postseason berth. Had the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, the Packers might have opted against shutting down Rodgers.
NFL rules stipulate that a player needs to have sustained a new injury that would sideline him at least six weeks to be placed on injured reserve. Should that not be the case, the team is obligated to release the player once he is healthy.
[B]–Quarterback Drew Brees[/B] became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to surpass 70,000 career passing yards in the New Orleans Saints’ victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
Brees joined Peyton Manning (71,940) and Brett Favre (71,838) as the lone quarterbacks to reach the milestone with a 12-yard screen pass to Mark Ingram during the first quarter of Sunday’s game. Brees finished Sunday’s victory with 70,200 yards and needs 1,741 yards to supplant Manning for the No. 1 spot.
The 38-year-old Brees, however, hit the mark in 248 career games. It took Manning 258 games and Favre 293 to reach 70,000.
Meanwhile, standout Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (hamstring) was active and caught four passes for 66 yards. Thomas has 98 receptions on the season.
[B]–Wide receiver Antonio Brown[/B] is not expected to be ready should the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the wild-card round of the playoffs, ESPN reported on Sunday.
Schefter said Brown likely will be in need of the extra week of healing as he deals with a partially torn calf muscle sustained last Sunday in a 27-24 loss against the New England Patriots.
Brown, who already has been ruled out of Monday’s game against the Houston Texans, wrote on Twitter earlier this week that the injury is a “minor setback.”
[B]–Josh Rosen[/B] would rather play for the New York Giants as opposed to the Cleveland Browns, and the UCLA quarterback would be hesitant to come out in the 2018 NFL draft if he knew that the latter would select him with the No. 1 overall pick, ESPN reported on Sunday.
The winless Browns (0-15) secured the top overall pick with a loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday
Rosen plans to talk with his parents after the Cactus Bowl for a “serious conversation” before making a final decision about his future. Cleveland owning the No. 1 overall pick could influence his decision, ESPN reported, citing a source familiar with the situation.
[B]–Former Los Angeles Rams coach[/B] Jeff Fisher feels a strong connection to the franchise he coached for five years.
In fact, Fisher told The Midday 180 radio show in Nashville (Tenn.) that his legacy lives on in the Rams.
“I’m a huge fan of the Ram players,” Fisher said. “They’re basically — I don’t want to say my players, but I had a lot to do with that roster. Left them in pretty good shape. And Sean (McVay), as he’s proven in this very short period of time, is an outstanding young coach. And he’s got the offense rolling, which they needed.”
Fisher, who was fired by the Rams with three games remaining in the 2016 season, also patted himself on the back with the team trading up to select Jared Goff with the first overall pick of the 2016 draft. Goff endured a difficult rookie season to bounce back with a strong 2017 campaign.
[B]–The NFL’s concussion[/B] protocol has been altered with late-season changes following recent incidents that have triggered investigations.
The changes were implemented last weekend, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told ESPN. Most notably, a central unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) was stationed at the command center that has been used primarily for game-replay review, Sills said.
“We are constantly looking at the protocol and how it’s applied and trying to get better,” Sills said. “The process happens through the season.”
An injury to Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage on Dec. 10 as well as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s concussion protocol misstep in Week 10 that resulted in a $100,000 fine for the franchise were two incidents that fueled the investigation.
[B]–New York Jets defensive end[/B] Muhammad Wilkerson was ruled inactive for the home loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, one week after being benched for showing up late to a team meeting.
Wilkerson may have played his last game in a Jets’ uniform. The Jets likely will release the former Pro Bowl selection before March due to lack of performance and because his $16.75 million salary becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster for the third day of the 2018 league year.
The 28-year-old Wilkerson’s contract is guaranteed for injury, thus the team would be responsible for the money if he were to sustain a serious injury, ESPN reported.
–Buffalo Bills running back[/B] Travaris Cadet was carted off the field late in the second quarter of the game against the New England Patriots with an apparent serious right ankle injury.
Cadet was tackled by New England Trey Flowers and was removed from the field minutes later, reportedly after an air cast was put on the ankle. Flowers walked away from the scene with his hands covering his helmet.
Also, Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (knee) played and caught five passes for 70 yards. Cornerback E.J. Gaines, however, was ruled inactive for the game with a knee injury.
New England running back James White (ankle) and wide receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) were ruled inactive.
[B]–New York Giants safety[/B] Landon Collins left the game against the Arizona Cardinals with a forearm injury.
The third-year pro from Alabama entered Sunday’s game as the Giants’ leading tackler with 98 total tackles. Collins missed most of last week’s practice schedule with an ankle injury.
Earlier in the game, the Giants also lost tight end Evan Engram to a rib injury.
[B][I]Books rebound in Week 16
December 24, 2017[/I][/B]
The Las Vegas sports books got back on track with a winning Sunday in Week 16 NFL action, one week after getting beat up by the betting public when every favorite won outright. Favorites would go 6-5-1 against-the-spread with three of the underdogs winning outright. The public would end of being wrong collectively with popular favorites like the Rams, Panthers, Jaguars and Cowboys, just enough to ruin most parlays.
“It was a good day,” said Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick. “Buccaneers cover was very good and also helped beat most teasers. The 49ers, Titans and Bears covering were also much needed. The Chargers was our biggest loss of the day.”
Stations moved Chargers from -6.5 to -7 on Friday for their game at the Jets, and it landed 7 with a 14-7 win to keep their playoff hopes still alive. Most books got sided on this game because it was -6.5 everywhere at one point before being forced up, but the big damage it did was keep both sides alive on parlays and reducing the payout down. Most bettors laid -7 with this one.
The Panthers (-10) were on the verge of a bad home loss to the Buccaneers, but saved their best drive for last with Cam Newton leading the way in 22-19 win. William Hill had 70 percent of the tickets written on this game laying the points with Carolina.
The Jaguars and Rams have been real trendy plays lately because they win and cover almost every week. The Rams (-5.5) had covered seven of their last nine before Sunday’s 27-23 win at Tennessee. The Jaguars (-4) had won seven of their last eight before losing 44-33 at red hot San Francisco. The 49ers have now won four straight with Jimmy Garopollo driving the ship. Sharps were on the 49ers, the public was on the Jags. Stations paid out +180 on the money-line.
Keep an eye on Jacksonville next week at Tennessee. They don’t have anything to play for and if they rest players coming off a loss like this, it’s bad for morale. This Jags squad led the NFL in scoring defense allowing just 14.9 points-per-game, and they just got 44 put on them by a team that started 1-10. Rest or rust?
“Decent day, but low handle,” said CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal. “We held just under a double-digit win percentage, but not surprisingly it’s our lowest handle of the NFL season. The strip properties are very slow.”
Apparently, bettors had some other priorities Sunday, which happened to be Christmas Eve. There was also no Sunday night game, so there was no third wave of action funneling through from those doubling up winnings or getting back the losses.
Simbal said their worst decision was the Cardinals and their best win turned out to be the 49ers. The Cardinals’ 23-0 home win against the Giants was the final of 12 NFL games posted posted on Sunday so just about everything live was waiting for it to be posted. But Simbal said most of his risk was incurred just because of everyone betting against the Giants.
Another team the public have been lining up to bet against weekly has been the Browns. And they’ve been correct; just three covers in 14 games. But in Week 16, the public thought this was the week the Browns win their first game, or at least more than usual. Sunday morning the Westgate SuperBook dropped the Bears from -6.5 down to -5.5. William Hill books saw 53 of the tickets written on the game taking the Browns and 85 percent of the cash on the Browns. Snow even made an appearance to muck things up, but the Bears would win 20-3.
The Browns last chance at winning this season comes Sunday at Pittsburgh. The Steelers won the season opener at Cleveland, 21-18, but failed to cover the 10-point spread. Cleveland has now secured the overall No. 1 draft pick.
The Seahawks’ 21-12 win at Dallas (-4.5) was a nice win for the house and the loss eliminated the Cowboys. Wynn Resorts paid closed the Seahawks money-line at +195. The other underdog to win outright was the Bengals stepping up at home to beat the Lions, 26-17. William Hill paid out on the Bengals money-line at +150. Sharps had pushed the Bengals from +4 to +3, but the public liked the Lions who were still in the playoff hunt.
[B][I]Monday’s Tip Sheet
December 24, 2017[/I][/B]
[B]Steelers (-9, 45) at Texans – 4:30 PM EST – NBC[/B]
In the overturned catch heard ‘round the world, the Steelers (11-3 SU, 6-8 ATS) went from potentially having home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs to potentially receiving only a first-round bye. Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with tight end Jesse James on a touchdown in the final minute against New England, but the ruling was reversed and called an incomplete pass. Roethlisberger would eventually get intercepted in the end zone as the Steelers fell to the Patriots for the fifth straight time, 27-24.
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak for Mike Tomlin’s club, who has already clinched the AFC North title. To make matters worse, the Steelers also lost star wide receiver Antonio Brown to a calf injury in the first half, as he will be sidelined until the playoffs. Running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown, marking his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 7 against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh failed to cover for the fourth consecutive game, while falling to 2-4 ATS in its past six home contests.
The Texans (4-10 SU, 7-7 ATS) were due to fall apart following the season-ending knee injury to rookie standout quarterback Deshaun Watson in late October. Houston has lost six of seven games since Watson’s injury, including a 45-7 rout at the hands of Jacksonville as 10 ½-point underdogs. In all six losses without Watson, the Texans have mustered 16 points or fewer, while posting seven points in a game for the third time this season.
Houston put up 186 yards of offense against a terrific Jacksonville team, who limited the Texans to 14 points in eight quarters. Quarterback T.J. Yates completed 12-of-31 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown, and an interception for Houston as he hooked up wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the lone Texans’ touchdown. Houston owns a 1-4 record inside the AFC South as the Texans scored 57 points against the Titans in Week 4, but compiled a total of 41 points in the four divisional defeats.
The Steelers and Texans are meeting for the sixth time ever as Pittsburgh owns a 3-2 edge. These clubs haven’t met since 2014 at Heinz Field as the Steelers rallied from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Texans, 30-23 to cash as three-point favorites. Roethlisberger threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, while Bell racked up 145 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Pittsburgh lost in its last visit to Houston in 2011 as four-point underdogs, 17-10.
Pittsburgh and New England barely finished UNDER the total of 52 ½ last week, snapping a four-game OVER streak for the Steelers. However, the Steelers have gone 6-1 to the UNDER away from Heinz Field as the lone OVER occurred in a 23-20 win at Cincinnati on a 42 ½ total. Houston was riding a three-game UNDER streak prior to the OVER against Jacksonville last Sunday. The UNDER is 5-2 the past seven weeks for the Texans, while going 2-1 to the UNDER against AFC North competition.
VegasInsider.com handicapper Vince Akins provides a solid UNDER trend on the visitors, “The Steelers are 0-9-1 OU since Jan 09, 2016 on the road in games with a total under 46.” Five of those UNDERS have hit this season, while holding four of those opponents to 20 points or fewer.
Scott Cooley of BookMaker.eu gives his thoughts on where the money is going, “We’re currently looking at 75 percent of the tickets on the Steelers, but the handle is almost 50-50. The public obviously loves Pittsburgh while the wiseguys are siding with Houston. We know that this team always plays down to the competition and with little to play for, Houston feels like a live dog.”
[B]Raiders at Eagles (-9 ½, 46 ½) – 8:30 PM EST – ESPN
Oakland (6-8 SU, 4-8-2 ATS) was eliminated from playoff contention following Kansas City’s victory over Miami on Sunday as the Raiders last made the postseason in consecutive years from 2000-02. The Raiders fell short against the Cowboys last Sunday, 20-17 as quarterback Derek Carr fumbled the ball in the final minutes when reaching out for the go-ahead touchdown, resulting in a touchback. When Oakland doesn’t score, they lose, as the Raiders dropped to 0-8 when scoring 17 points or fewer this season.
The Raiders pushed as three-point home underdogs, as Carr threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns to Michael Crabtree. However, Oakland suffered its first loss at the Coliseum since Week 6 against the Chargers, while dropping its fourth consecutive game in the underdog role. The Raiders lost for the second time in three tries against NFC East foes, one season after compiling a 3-1 record against teams from the NFC South.
The Eagles (12-2 SU, 10-4 ATS) picked up a victory in their first game without MVP candidate Carson Wentz as Nick Foles stepped in to toss four touchdown passes in a 34-29 triumph over the Giants. Philadelphia failed to cash as 7 ½-point road favorites, as Foles hooked up with four different receivers for scores, while improving to 6-2 on the highway in its final regular season road game.
Since a 1-2 ATS start, the Eagles have covered nine of their last 11 games, including five consecutive covers at Lincoln Financial Field. The victory over the Giants wrapped up a four-in-five game stretch of road contests, as Philadelphia has played only one home contest since the bye in Week 10.
These teams met in Super Bowl XV in New Orleans as the Raiders crushed the Eagles, 27-10 in January 1981. Fast-forwarding to present day, Philadelphia ripped Oakland in its previous matchup, 49-20 in 2013 at the Coliseum. Foles had his breakout game in his first stint with Philadelphia by tossing seven touchdown passes and 406 yards, while the only current Eagle to score a touchdown in that game was tight end Zach Ertz. The Raiders are making their first trip to Philadelphia since 2005 as Oakland covered as nine-point underdogs in a 23-20 defeat.
The Raiders are riding a five-game UNDER streak, although only one of those UNDERS came away from the Black Hole. The UNDER is 4-2 in Oakland’s six road games, while scoring 15 points or less in four of those contests. The Eagles hit three consecutive UNDERS following their bye, but are currently on a two-game OVER streak. There hasn’t been any solid trends for Philadelphia at home as they have hit the UNDER three times and the OVER three times at Lincoln Financial Field.
Akins supplies a trend that supports Philadelphia, “The Eagles are 13-0 ATS since Nov 23, 2014 when each of their last two games have gone over the total.” Two of those victories came this season by 27 and 23 points at home.
Cooley of BookMaker.eu checks in on the night action, “Both sides of the betting spectrum on Philadelphia in this one, which moved the number to double digits. The heavy smart money is on the UNDER, where we have nearly 80 percent of the action. We’re hoping the Raiders can find some sort of motivation to compete in this one.”