NFL fans get a nice Christmas present from the league this year with Christmas being on a Monday, as the NFL has scheduled a double-header for our consumption, but they probably hoped that these games would have been a bit more competitive then the oddsmakers currently suggest.
Both Monday games currently have lines of -9 for the favorite, with Pittsburgh laying that chalk on the road in Houston, and Philadelphia laying that chalk at home against Oakland.
It’s the latter of the two games that I want to focus on as Oakland is still clinging to their slim playoff hopes entering Week 16 at 6-8 SU, but depending on how Saturday and Sunday’s action goes, they could be eliminated before they even kickoff.
But with two of the three teams ahead of them at 8-6 SU (Buffalo, Baltimore, Tennessee) entering Week 16 as touchdown or more underdogs, if everything holds to form, the Raiders will still have a chance.
It won’t be easy though as the Eagles have already clinched a first round bye and are one win away from the #1 seed in the NFC.
[B]Bookmaker.eu Odds: Philadelphia (-9); Total set at 47.5[/B]
Many of the concerns Eagles fans had about going back to QB Nick Foles last week after Carson Wentz was lost for the season were squashed – for one week at least – when Foles played wonderfully against the Giants. Foles threw for 237 yards and 4 TD’s (no INT’s) in that game as this Eagles offense remains dynamic and will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. But it’s been this Eagles defense that is starting to cause some concern as one good game by Foles doesn’t mean he can continually put 30+ up on the board each week and the 64 points Philly’s D has allowed the past two weeks is a little alarming.
The Eagles defense became so accustomed to playing with huge leads all year that they were able to be aggressive and take risks in those scenarios. When you are constantly up 14+ points there is no fear about a guy beating you because even if it does happen, your team still has the lead and you’re confident the offense will go right back out their and pad that margin right back. But although Foles looked great a week ago, he’s still not Wentz back there, and it’s impossible for the Eagles D to play with that same type of reckless confidence not really knowing what to expect from Foles on a drive-by-drive basis.
As a team, Philly knows they’ve already clinched a top-two spot in the NFC too, so there is the possibility of a bit of a letdown here in regards to this big point spread. The Eagles just need a SU win by any margin to clinch the top seed and given what they’ve already dealt with regarding Wentz’s health, the goal simply has to be “stay healthy, get the W, and move on to next week.” That’s not exactly the best mindset for a team to have if you have a -9 ticket on them in your pocket, especially against a team that’s playing for their lives.
Granted, Oakland may know their 2017 campaign is done by the time this game starts, but I really don’t think that will be the case and they’ll be ready and willing to try and pull off this upset. They’ve seen the Eagles defensive struggles of late, and while it has been a disappointing season all around for this Raiders team, offensively they’ve still got plenty of playmakers over there and should be able to find some success. Oakland is 2-0-2 ATS after their last four outright losses, and with no room left for error, QB Derek Carr and company will look to pull out all the stops in this one.
When you boil it all down, this point spread is just much to high to not take the points with an extremely desperate Raiders team trying to hold onto the little hope they’ve got for 2017. Philly has everything basically locked up and will probably end up winning this game SU, but it will be a late score that puts them ahead for good, as Oakland keeps this one well within this inflated number.
[B]Merry Christmas to everyone; hope you have a great day!!![/B]
Top 6 picks in Week 16 in the Westgate Super Contest:
6) Cincinnati Bengals, +4.5 (558)- W
5) Tennessee Titans, +6.5 (559)- W
4) Dallas Cowboys, -4.5 (606)- L
3) New Orleans Saints, -5.5 (671)- W
2) Jacksonville Jaguars, -4.5 (694)- L
1) Los Angeles Rams, -6.5 (766)- L
Record of top 6 picks each week: 47-46–3
Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday[/B]
Rams 27, Titans 23— On opponents’ opening drives this season, Rams forced 8 turnovers on 15 drives, which is an amazing stat. Todd Gurley was a beast in this game; 118 rushing yards, 158 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Rams clinch their first divisional title since 2003.
Tennessee lost its 3rd game in row, is in danger of missing the playoffs for 10th year in a row. Seven of Titans’ last nine games were decided by five or less points. If Tennessee loses next week, they could still make it playoffs if Bills/Chargers also lose.
Bengals 26, Lions 17— This loss KO’s Detroit from playoff contention and likely ends the tenure of Jim Caldwell as head coach. Matthew Stafford makes $27M a year; he is now 59-65 as an NFL starter, 0-3 in playoff games. Lions last won a playoff game in 1991.
Chargers 14, Jets 7— Chargers won five of their last six games; they play Oakland next week in what should be a weird game, given how popular the Raiders remain in the LA area. Bolts need a win and also Titans to lose and then either Buffalo or the Ravens to lose to make the playoffs. Under is 9-1 in Chargers’ last ten games.
Jets are 11-42 on 3rd down in last three games; they’re 2-8 in their last ten games. Not sure why Christian Hackenberg hasn’t played yet; its similar to the Davis Webb/Giants quandary.
Bears 20, Browns 3— Cleveland is 1-30 the last two years, 3-12 vs spread this year. Browns are -15 in turnovers their last six games. Does this mean Sam Darnold stays at USC? Sounds like he doesn’t want to live near Lake Erie.
Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19— Carolina hadn’t scored an offensive TD all day until they drove 59 yards for the game-winning score with 0:35 left— they’re in the playoffs now, but they can win the division if they win next week and the Saints lose at Tampa Bay. Carolina is +10 in turnovers in its last six games.
Bucs’ GM and coach were talking big on Hard Knocks this past summer; but now they’re 4-11 and you wonder if Jon Gruden wants to coach the Bucs again, will they hire him?
Saints 23, Falcons 13— New Orleans is in the playoffs after starting season 0-2; Atlanta can still make playoffs by beating Carolina next week- they won 34-31 in Seattle Nov 20, the game that gives them the tie-breaker over the Seahawks.
This was first time in five years these two divisional rivals split their season series; New Orleans has won seven home games in a row- if they win next week, they’ll get another home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Weird thing about handicapping football; 10 of last 13 Atlanta games stayed under the total. Last year, 12 of 16 Falcon games went over the total. Each season is a separate entity.
Redskins 27, Broncos 11— Denver has to make a move for a franchise QB this winter; they were 1-7 on road this year, 0-4 as road underdogs, with six road losses by 10+ points- they’re -16 in turnovers. Thats a nice way of saying they’re terrible.
Washington is 3-2 in its last five games, can finish .500 if they beat the Giants next week. Going to be lot of QB-related issues this winter; will Redskins keep Cousins? Will Giants get rid of Eli Manning? Who will the Giants hire to be coach and GM? Will Washington keep Jay Gruden?
Chiefs 29, Dolphins 13— Do yourself a favor and find the video of Andy Reid’s post-game press conference; he did it in full Santa Claus garb. It is tremendous.
Chiefs win the AFC West, are 32-15 the last three years- they’re in playoffs for 4th time in last five years, but they also have questions— will they trade Alex Smith to the Browns?
As for Miami, they paid Jay Cutler $10M to come in and go 6-9- they lost six of last eight games, went 2-6 on the road. Dolphins can ruin Buffalo’s season by beating the Bills next week.
Patriots 37, Bills 16— NFL should go to FOX TV’s Mike Pereira, ask him how much he wants to take over the league’s instant replay system and put him in charge of it- that would fix a lot of the indecisiveness that seems to plague the current system.
As for Bills’ coach Sean McDermott and other AFC East coaches, their job security is tied to how long Tom Brady decides to play, because as soon as #12 walks, the AFC East becomes a free-for-all. But if the Titans, Bills and Chargers all win next week, then Buffalo misses the playoffs in a tie-breaker with the Chargers, who beat them 54-24 when Nathan Peterman threw five INTs in a half in his first NFL start. Decisions like that are bad for a coach’s job security.
Home teams are 8-1-1 vs spread in AFC East divisional games this season.
49ers 44, Jaguars 33— This was the first game in NFL history with a final score of 44-33; there are media members who already want Jimmy Garoppolo fitted for his gold Hall of Fame jacket. Garoppolo is 6-0 as an NFL starter and the 49ers will be a trendy pick to make the playoffs next year, but at this point, they’re passing tired horses.
Jacksonville clinched the AFC South when the Titans lost; Andrew Catalon on FOX was killing Blake Bortles in the third quarter of this game. Guy QB’s a 10-5 team and is getting crushed on TV. Four of last five Jacksonville games went over the total.
Cardinals 23, Giants 0— Arizona got its first shutout in 25 years, night after the Vikings got their first shutout in 24 years. If I was a Giants fan, I’d want to at least see Davis Webb play, to see if he has any ability, or any potential to at least bring back draft picks in a trade. Quarterbacks are valuable, I’m told.
Cardinals head to Seattle next week with a chance to finish .500; they’re an older team with an older coach— will Arians be back? Will Carson Palmer be back?
Seahawks 21, Cowboys 12— Dallas outgained Seattle 283-136, and lost by nine points. Brutal day for the Cowboys, which didn’t score a TD, then watched kicker Bailey miss two easy FG’s to get margin within a TD in 4th quarter. Last nine times Dallas had the ball, they turned ball over three times, kicked four FG’s, missed two other FG’s. Touchdowns win games.
Seattle needs the Falcons to lose at home to Carolina next week, and then to beat Arizona to make the playoffs. Seahawks have gained a TOTAL of 285 yards the last two weeks- their OL is terrible, but Russell Wilson’s big heart is keeping them alive.
If the playoffs started Christmas morning (they don’t), they would look like this:
AFC: Patriots-Steelers-Jaguars-Chiefs. Wild Cards: Ravens/Titans
NFC: Eagles-Vikings-Saints-Rams. Wild Cards: Panthers/Falcons
[B][I]Houston’s Yates struggles again in 34-6 loss to Steelers
December 25, 2017[/I][/B]
HOUSTON (AP) Houston’s quarterback woes continued on Monday, and it led to yet another loss.
T.J. Yates had two turnovers in the first half and managed just 83 yards passing in a 34-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that extended the Texans’ skid to five games.
The losing streak is Houston’s longest since the team dropped the final 14 games of the 2013 season. The Texans have dropped eight of their last nine games and are 1-7 since losing star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to a season-ending knee injury.
”It’s brutal,” coach Bill O’Brien said of Houston’s slide. ”It’s been a tough year.”
Yates completed 7 of 16, had an interception and lost one of his three fumbles. His performance came after he threw for 128 yards with an interception in a 45-7 loss to Jacksonville last week in his first start since 2015.
”It’s extremely frustrating … the pass game was pretty terrible,” Yates said. ”We’ve just got to figure it out. We’ve got one week left. Just got to go out there and try to find a way to get a win.”
Yates made his second straight start since Tom Savage sustained a concussion. Yates left the game briefly Monday to be evaluated for a concussion, and his replacement, Taylor Heinicke, sustained a concussion on his only full possession.
The Texans have had a revolving door at quarterback over the past few years, and when Heinicke entered the game he became the 11th player to appear at the position for the team since 2013. They’ll likely have to sign yet another quarterback this week to backup Yates in the season finale at Indianapolis with Heinicke in the concussion protocol.
The Steelers hurried and harassed Yates all day, with Mike Hilton leading the way with three sacks and three quarterback hits, Cameron Heyward adding two and forcing a fumble. Hilton became the first cornerback with three sacks in a game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
Despite Houston’s struggles at quarterback, receiver DeAndre Hopkins has continued to excel. Hopkins, second in the NFL with 1,378 yards receiving, had 65 yards receiving and the team’s only touchdown Monday.
His acrobatic 3-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter was one of the few highlights of Houston’s tough day. Hopkins deflected the ball with his right hand, reeled it in with his left and got both feet down before falling out of bounds for his NFL-best and franchise-record 13th touchdown reception.
”It was incredible,” O’Brien said. ”Great catch. He did an unbelievable job.”
Even cornerback Joe Haden, who was covering Hopkins on the play, lauded him for the catch.
”He was able to tap both feet in,” Haden said. ”It was just an amazing catch.
Hopkins may have been the only one who wasn’t impressed with the grab.
”I’m mad I didn’t catch it the first time,” he said. ”Like me, who I am, I was supposed to catch that one the first time with my right hand.”
The Texans also got a good game from backup running back Alfred Blue, who had 16 carries for 108 yards to give the team its first 100-yard rushing performance of the season.
The Texans trailed 10-0 when his 48-yard run on the first play of the second quarter got the Texans to the Pittsburgh 18-yard line. Houston got to the 1 on second down later in that drive, but couldn’t do anything on the next two plays before Yates was intercepted in the end zone.
Pittsburgh added a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Roosevelt Nix on the ensuing possession. Heyward sacked Yates three plays later and caused a fumble recovered by Bud Dupree to give the Steelers the ball right back.
”We probably should have run it almost every down,” O’Brien said. ”Probably should have, looking back on it. I don’t know how many times we ran it, but probably should have done it a lot more than we did.”
[B][I]Eagles clinch top seed, but Foles has tough time vs Raiders
December 26, 2017[/I][/B]
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles has three weeks to get in sync with his receivers.
Making his second start since MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his left ACL, Foles had a tough time in Philadelphia’s 19-10 victory over Oakland on Monday night. He was 19 of 38 for 163 yards with one touchdown and one interception, one week after he had four TD passes and no picks in a 34-29 win at the Giants.
The Eagles (13-2) clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed with the victory over the Raiders (6-9), so Foles and most of the starters may not play much or at all against Dallas in Week 17. Their next meaningful game is Jan. 13 or 14 in the playoffs.
Considering the offense’s poor performance Christmas night, coach Doug Pederson might want to let them work on it against the Cowboys.
”It’ll probably be Wednesday before I make a final decision on who plays,” Pederson said. ”Right now with only two (quarterbacks), I would assume (Foles) has to play some.”
The wind played a factor in the passing game for both teams. Oakland’s Derek Carr also struggled.
”It was gusty at times, made it a little more difficult,” Pederson said.
After Ronald Darby intercepted Carr’s pass with 54 seconds left, Foles came through. He completed four straight passes for 21 yards. Following an incomplete pass, Jake Elliott kicked a 48-yard field goal with 22 seconds left. Derek Barnett sealed it when he returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown after picking up a lateral on Oakland’s final play from scrimmage.
”I didn’t play good enough,” Foles said. ”I have to play cleaner, (need) pinpoint accuracy and good decisions on third downs.”
[B]Here’s some things we learned from Philadelphia’s win over Oakland:
BIG-PLAY D:[/B] The Eagles forced five turnovers in the second half, making one big play after another to bail out the offense. It was a dramatic turnaround for the defense, which struggled against Eli Manning and the Giants last week. They held the Raiders to 274 total yards, 63 coming on one play – Carr’s TD pass to Amari Cooper.
”Last week, our offense was carrying us and we were playing like trash and this week our offense was making little mistakes and we had to come out there and make some plays,” Darby said. ”That’s what football is all about, a team effort.”
[B]THIRD-DOWN WOES:[/B] The Eagles were 1 for 14 on third downs and somehow still won. They were 2 for 2 on fourth down, including a conversion on a TD drive in the first quarter.
”We just didn’t get into a rhythm,” tight end Zach Ertz said. ”Our defense bailed us out.”
[B]MACK ATTACK:[/B] Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack didn’t have any sacks for the first time in six weeks, but he caused Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson to commit two holding penalties and have a false start penalty.
”You can count on Khalil,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. ”You put it down and he’s going to play well. He’s a fiery football player and his attitude and effort every day is unbelievable. He’s very consistent that way.”
BEAST MODE:[/B] Marshawn Lynch had 95 yards rushing on a season-high 25 carries. He almost became the first running back to reach 100 yards against Philadelphia since October 2016. The Raiders finished with 134 yards on the ground against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense.
INVISIBLE MEN:[/B] Philadelphia’s Alshon Jeffery and Oakland’s Michael Crabtree had no catches. Jeffery was targeted twice and Crabtree three times.
[B][I]Betting Recap – Week 16
December 26, 2017[/I][/B]
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE WEEK 16 RESULTS[/B]
Straight Up 13-3
Against the Spread 8-7-1
Straight Up 11-5
Against the Spread 9-5-2
Wager Totals (O/U)
[B]HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!!![/B]
[B]The largest underdogs to win straight up[/B]
Seahawks (+4.5, ML +195) at Cowboys, 21-12
49ers (+4, ML +180) vs. Rams, 44-33
Bengals (+3, ML +155) vs. Lions, 26-17
[B]The largest favorite to cover[/B]
Chiefs (-11) vs. Dolphins, 29-13
Patriots (-11) vs. Bills, 37-16
Vikings (-9) at Packers, 16-0
Steelers (-9) at Texans, 34-6
Kansas City Barbeque[/B]
— The Kansas City Chiefs are finally back on track after taking a few weeks off in the middle of the season. The Chiefs opened 5-0 SU/ATS in the first five weeks, went 1-6 SU/ATS over the next seven weeks, and now are rolling again as they have clinched the AFC West Division and heading for the playoffs. Since Week 14 the Chiefs are 3-0 SU/ATS and they have found their defense again, too. The ‘under’ is a perfect 3-0 over the past three weeks, and 6-1 across the past seven as they look like the contender they were in the beginning of the season rather than the pretender we saw for half of October and most of November.
— The Minnesota Vikings are showing no signs of letting up as they march to the playoffs in hopes of becoming the first team in National Football League history to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. In fact, as this rate they might not have to leave their own building for the playoffs, either. The Vikings have allowed single-digit point totals in four of the past six games as their defense reigns supreme, and we all know defense wins championships. Minnesota has won 10 of their past 11 games and they’re an impressive 8-1 ATS over the past nine games, too.
— Vegas expected the Atlanta Falcons-New Orleans game (52) to be a shootout, but for the second time in three weeks this NFC South Division battle went ‘under’. They met on Dec. 7 and the Falcons won 20-17 with the same exact 52-point line, and the Saints won the rematch 23-13 in the Big Easy on Christmas Eve. Bettors should have known better, as the ‘under’ is a perfect 4-0 across the past four games for Atlanta and 9-3 over the past 12 outings. The ‘under’ has been a semi-frequent occurence for the Saints, too, going 7-4 across their past 11 outings.
— A shootout was expected in what was essentially an elimination game between the Seattle Seahawks-Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t close to happening, and it didn’t help that the first half was completely scoreless. The pace picked up in the middle quarters, but it safely went ‘under’ with the Seahawks winning 21-12. Tampa Bay-Carolina (47) was also expected to be rather high scoring, especially with the Bucs ranked last in pass defense. However, the NFC South battle turned into a field-goal fest, with just two offensive touchdowns, a special teams touchdown and seven field goals.
— Even with a line of 36.5, Cleveland-Chicago never threatened to go ‘over’ the total. The Bears led the game 6-3 at halftime in a battle which resembled a preseason contest. In fact, these teams meet frequently on the exhibition schedule. The ‘under’ is 4-0-1 for Chicago over the past five outings, with the ‘under’ going 3-1 over the past four as these two non-contenders limp to the finish line. The other two games with totals in the 30’s — Denver-Washington (39) and N.Y. Giants-Arizona (39.5) — both cashed the ‘under’. In fact, the Giants were blanked, one of two teams to get shut out in Week 16 to help ‘under’ bettors.
— The ‘Under’ went 1-0 from the lone primetime game Saturday, with no Sunday night contest due to the holiday. The ‘over’ is 25-22-1 (53.1%) through the first 48 primetime games of the 2017 season with Monday’s Oakland-Philadelphia (46) game still pending. Officially, the ‘over’ finished 27-24 (52.9%) through 51 games under the lights in 2016. In 2015, the over finished 20-28-1 (41.7%) in 49 primetime games. In 2014, the over went 33-17 (66.0%) in primetime games, and the over was 28-22 (56.0%) in 2013.
— Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (ankle) left with an ankle injury, and he was unable to return after the fourth-quarter injury. His status for the regular-season finale is up in the air.
— Titans RB DeMarco Murray (knee) suffered what is believed to be a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his knee, with an MRI pending.
— The Cowboys and Eagles meet in Week 17. Dallas was eliminated from playoff contention, while the Eagles continue to jockey for position in the NFC playoff picture. Philly went to Dallas and humbled the Cowboys 37-9 back on Nov. 19 on Sunday Night Football, but that also came with QB Carson Wentz under center before his season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. The Cowboys are struggling down the stretch, going 2-4-1 ATS over the past seven games with the ‘under’ going 7-1 over the past eight, including that first matchup with the Eagles.
— The Browns and Steelers met in Week 1, with Pittsburgh winning 21-18 in Cleveland as a 10-point favorite. It was a rare cover for the Browns, who are 1-7 ATS over their past eight and 2-12 ATS since that opening game loss. In fact, the three-point loss in the opener might have been Cleveland’s best performance of the season. Can they avoid NFL history and an 0-16 record by upsetting their rivals in the Steel City?
— The Falcons enter an important NFC South battle with the Panthers as a three-point favorite. These sides met in Charlotte back on Nov. 5, and it was the Panthers coming away with a 20-17 victory with the ‘under’ cashing. It will be the first meeting between these teams are Atlanta’s brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but Julio Jones went for 300 yards receiving in the most recent meeting in Atlanta, something Carolina will be working to avoid.
— Both the Packers and Lions will be home for the holidays, as both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Lions are looking to finish up strong, and they exorcised many demons with a 30-17 win in Green Bay back on Nov. 6. Detroit has covered two of their past three games and they’re playing much better, while the ‘under’ has hit in three straight. Green Bay has their backup quarterback taking them to the finish line, and they’re 4-6 ATS over the past 10 outings. Sunday’s ‘under’, a result of a shutout loss to Minnesota, was the first under after four consecutive ‘over’ results.
[B][I]NFL notebook: Titans RB Murray expected to miss season finale with knee injury
December 25, 2017[/I][/B]
The Tennessee Titans can clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but they probably will have to do it without running back DeMarco Murray.
Murray is not expected to play because of a knee injury, according to an NFL Network report Monday.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said after Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams that Murray’s prospects for playing the following week were not good. Now it seems the chances are close to zero.
Murray is the Titans’ No. 1 back and has rushed for 659 yards on 184 carries.
[B]– Jacksonville Jaguars[/B] wide receiver Jaelen Strong confirmed via Instagram that he suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The third-year receiver was injured during the fourth quarter of the 44-33 loss. He caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown in his first game with the Jaguars.
“My first reception goes for a TD. IM SO EXCITED to finally be out here w GANG grinding w my dogs and then I tear my ACL,” Strong said in a post Sunday night.
On Monday he added: “This lil setback setting me up for a greater comeback…”
[B]–Landon Collins'[/B] run of 47 consecutive starts will end next week, because the New York Giants’ safety suffered a broken forearm in Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Collins was still in the game when Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton took a knee to end the second quarter. Collins did not think the injury was serious until tests at halftime indicated he had a fracture.
He cried when he saw the result of the X-rays, the New York Daly News reported.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world, to not be able to play with my boys, that’s what hurt me the most,” Collins said, according to the Daily News. “I came in here crying. That’s what hurt me the most. It’s not the injury because I can try to fight through an injury. But to not be able to play because it’s broke(n).”
No decision has been made regarding whether surgery will be required.
[B]– The Seattle Seahawks'[/B] euphoria about their critical victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday may be tempered by the actions and words of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas after the game, when he suggested he might want to become a Cowboy.
Following Seattle’s 21-12 victory in Arlington, Texas, which kept the Seahawks’ playoff hopes alive while ending the Cowboys’ postseason chances, Thomas ran after Cowboys coach Jason Garrett as they approached the Cowboys’ locker room.
They spoke briefly, and Edward Egros of FOX 4 TV in Dallas reported Thomas was heard to say, “If you have a chance to get me, come get me.”
Surprisingly, Thomas expanded on his comments when questioned by reporters.
“I don’t literally mean, ‘Come get me now,'” he said. “I’m still in the prime of my career. I still want to be here. But when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get me. This is the only place I’d rather be if I get kicked to the curb.”
[B][I]Total Talk – Week 17
December 30, 2017[/I][/B]
The ‘under’ produced an eye-opening 13-3 record last week, which was the most lopsided total results we’ve seen this season. Only four teams were able to score 30 or more points while five were held to one score or less and that includes a pair of shutouts. Through 16 weeks, the ‘under’ holds a 124-112-4 (52.5%) record. Make a note that every game in Week 17 is a divisional matchup and the ‘under’ has produced a 47-24-1 (66%) mark in those contests this season.
Listed below are the largest line moves as of Saturday morning based off the Week 17 openers posted last Sunday and throughout the week at BookMaker.eu.
Carolina at Atlanta: 47 to 45
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: 50 to 48
N.Y. Jets at New England: 46 to 43 ½
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: 41 to 36 ½
Dallas at Philadelphia: 43 to 39
Oakland at L.A. Chargers: 44 to 42
Arizona at Seattle: 41 to 38 ½
Kansas City at Denver: 41 to 38
San Francisco at L.A. Rams: 46 to 43 1/2
Scott Cooley of BookMaker.eu. explained the stance of their shop entering the final week of the regular season. He said, “As with everything in Week 17, we try to keep limits lower than normal because of the unknown. A lot of these totals are starting to look like the last week of the preseason.”
While there have been a bunch of quick adjustments this week, BookMaker.eu is focused on a trio of totals headed into the weekend. Cooley noted, “We’ve got decent liability on that Cleveland-Pitt under. The most exposure at this point is the Chiefs-Broncos under as that’s been hit repeatedly by the pros. The Dallas-Philly total is one-sided as well, but we’ll get some over money from the public to offset some.”
[B]Handicapping Week 17[/B]
The last week of the regular season is often the most difficult to handicap for both sides and totals. With that being said, I’d urge you to tread lightly on the meaningless matchups.
WEEK 17 TOTAL RESULTS (2012-2016)
After watching the ‘under’ produce solid results in Week 17 from 2012 through 2015, we noticed a slight ‘over’ spike last season when you look at the above table.
Based on playoff implications, there are six meaningless matchups on Sunday. Hopefully you’ll be able to survive the first wave of action and still be alive for the meaningful matchups in Week 17. Lastly, keep an eye on weather as there are expected to be some frigid conditions in the Northern part of the country.
Green Bay at Detroit: The ‘over’ has hit in four straight five of the last six meetings between the pair. Packers quarterback Brett Hundley was moving the ball before Aaron Rodgers came back but was blanked last week at home to the Vikings. Detroit’s offense has been in a tailspin lately but I wouldn’t be surprised to see fireworks inside.
Houston at Indianapolis: The ‘under’ has connected in three of the last four between the pair. It’s a low total (40 ½) and I would expect a heavy dose of running back Frank Gore for the Colts. Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins (calf) is ‘out’ for the Texans.
Washington at N.Y. Giants: The pair have seen the ‘under’ go 3-1 in the last four meetings, which includes Washington’s 20-10 win over New York on Nov. 23. The Giants offense showed some life in a 34-29 versus the Eagles a couple weeks ago but followed it up with zero points versus Arizona last week. Washington is on a 3-0 ‘under’ run and its defense has allowed 15 and 11 points the last two weeks versus teams below .500, which is exaclty what New York is.
Dallas at Philadelphia: In Week 17 last season, Dallas rested its starters and Philadelphia earned a 27-13 win over their backups. The Eagles are expected to play their starters but nobody knows for how long. The ‘under’ has cashed in the last two meetings and the Cowboys have watched seven of their last eight go the low side.
Kansas City at Denver: The ‘over’ is on a 4-0-1 run in this series but early action is backing the ‘under’ in this matchup. Kansas City wills start rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes and he’ll be facing a quality defense on the road. Denver has watched the ‘under’ go 5-1 in its last six games.
San Francisco at L.A. Rams: Bettors continue to ride the 49ers behind QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who is now 6-0 as a NFL starter. I would expect the 49ers to score but the Rams are resting key starters and I can’t see that offense doing much in this spot. Los Angeles captured a wild 41-39 shootout in Week 3 on the road but it’s very doubtful to see a repeat performance. The ‘under’ is on a 4-2 run in this series, which includes the first match this season.
There are three other games at 1:00 p.m. ET where the game is only meaningful for one team and all of those clubs are expected to win with the oddsmakers listing them as healthy home favorites.
N.Y. Jets at New England (-15): The ‘under’ is on a 3-0 run in this series and this is the lowest total (43 ½) that this matchup has seen since 2013. It’s going to be cold and I would expect a calculated game-plan for New England to get the win and move toward the playoffs. The Jets could use two quarterbacks (Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg) on Sunday and that’s never a good situation.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-11): The Steelers were laying a heavy number but they’ve conceded the No. 1 seed in the AFC and will rest players. The books are hoping for points with one-sided ‘under’ action and it’s been series that has been dominated by the low side, going 8-2 in the last 10 encounters.
Chicago at Minnesota (-11): I thought the Vikings would rest players too knowing they need the Saints to win or the Panthers to lose to clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Minnesota has dropped 38 points in each of its last two home games versus Chicago. The Bears are off a win but they’ve averaged 13.3 PPG after a victory this season, which has helped the ‘under’ go 4-1.
Cincinnati at Baltimore: The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight, which includes Baltimore’s 20-0 win at Cincinnati in Week 1. The Ravens have done a great job of dominating teams not headed to the playoffs, only allowing 11.6 PPG.
Buffalo at Miami: The ‘over’ is on a 4-0-1 run in this series and that includes the ‘push’ (40) in their recent meeting in Week 15 when Buffalo stopped Miami 24-16. Both the Bills and Dolphins haven’t been great offensively of late and yet the total (42) has been pushed up for the rematch.
Carolina at Atlanta: The Panthers nipped the Falcons 20-17 at home on Nov. 5 and the ‘under’ (42) connected. Even though the ‘over’ went 2-0 last season, this series watched the ‘under’ cash in six straight prior to those results. The Falcons defense has been great at home (17.7 PPG) and that’s helped the ‘under’ go 5-2 in their new digs.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: This is the highest total (48) on the board yet this series has watched the ‘under’ connect in five of the last six meetings. New Orleans needs the win to clinch the division but could find itself in a dogfight at this venue. Tampa Bay has watched the ‘under’ go 6-1 at home.
Jacksonville at Tennessee: The ‘over’ has cashed in four straight between the pair and the Titans appear to be the only team to have figured out the defense of the Jaguars, averaging 33 points per game during this stretch. Jacksonville announced that its starters will play and a win would likely have them facing the Bills or Chargers next week, instead of the Titans again.
Oakland at L.A. Chargers: Three of the last four meetings have seen the ‘under’ connect and all of those games were decided by three points or less. The line on the Chargers (-7) is definitely inflated and I expect Oakland to keep this game competitive but neither offense is in great form. Oakland has seen the ‘under’ cash in its last six games and the Chargers bring a 5-0 ‘under’ run into this matchup.
Arizona at Seattle: The Seahawks need a win and some help to make the playoffs while the Cardinals will look to play spoilers. The visitor has dominated this series recently, winning five and earning a tie in the other outcome. Arizona has scored 34 and 39 in its last two trips up North but it’s hard to imagine this short-handed offense doing the same kind of damage. Seattle’s defense has looked better against losing clubs (18.3 PPG) and I would expect a similar effort in the home finale.
The holiday weekend ($220) didn’t go as planned and the goal of getting the overall bankroll into the black by the playoffs isn’t going to happen unfortunately. After 64 plays through 16 weeks, the juice has us in the red ($570). As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck and Happy New Year to you and yours!
Best Over: Jacksonville-Tennessee 42
Best Under: Washington-N.Y. Giants 39 ½
Best Team Total: Over Detroit Lions 24 ½
Three-Team Total Teaser (8.5-Point, +100)
Over 29 ½ Kansas City-Denver
Over 30 Chicago-Minnesota
Under 45 Cleveland-Pittsburgh
B][I]Vegas Money Moves – Week 17
December 30, 2017[/I][/B]
It’s the final weekend of the NFL regular season and six teams are still vying for one of the final three Wild Card spots. Some teams are trying to improve their positions and get as many home field games in the playoffs as possible, some teams have been eliminated and others are resting players with their playoff position set. It’s in those games with players being rested that poses the biggest headache for Nevada bookmakers.
“It’s a tricky week,” MGM Resorts race and sports VP Jay Rood said about the annual Week 17 dilemma. “Games with zero implications, we put a circle on the game (half limit), but for most of our house players, those limits dont mean anything.”
Rood says half of his NFL games posted this week have a circle attached.
“I think with everyone scoreboard watching, we’re going to have some interesting halftime lines,” he said.
Just because a team has to win, doesn’t mean they’re good enough to do it. And just because a team rests its players doesn’t mean the back-ups are going to tank. For the teams that have nothing to play for at all, don’t count them out, either. These guys are all pros and they have jobs to do. They need to look good on film for future job security so you would assume that they can’t afford to look bad on Sunday.
The game that takes center stage this week was the Rams opening as 6.5-point home favorites against the 49ers. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted the first number last Sunday night before the Eagles win against the Raiders on Monday night in Week 16. Bettors immediately jumped on the 49ers figuring the Rams would rest with not much to gain. The Westgate dropped the Rams to -3.5 on Christmas Day. It was pick ’em by Wednesday and by Friday it was the 49ers -4.
“Overall action so far has been light,” Rood said Saturday afternoon. “The only game moving real aggressively has been the 49ers. We’re going to need the Rams pretty good. It’s our biggest decision of the week.”
Rood had opened the Rams -4 on Monday morning with expectations that quarterback Jared Goof and running back Todd Gurley, two legitimate MVP candidates, would be playing. Both were officially declared ‘out’ on Wednesday. Let’s say Goff is worth six-points to the point-spread, relative to his back-up Sean Mannion, and let’s make Gurley worth two-points, the highest rating for a RB in the NFL, along with Dallas Cowboys back Ezekiel Elliott.
The 49ers have been red hot with QB Jimmy Garoppolo winning all four of his starts with San Francisco and they’re playing like they don’t want the season to end. They’ve also covered the last four meetings in this series, which includes a 41-39 loss to the Rams back in September. However, something to chew on come Sunday is that the 49ers have lost their last eight games when listed as favorites.
The Chiefs are also resting key personnel with nothing to gain in Week 17. That means QB Alex Smith and wide receiver Tyreek Hill are ‘out’ and tight end Travis Kelce is ‘doubtful’ to play. Rookie QB Patrick Mahomes gets the nod under center and this will be his first start as a quarterback in the NFL.
“We opened Denver -3.5 and have taken lots of parlay money on them, but our move up to -4 was just staying in line with the market,” Rood said.
The Broncos are starting QB Paxton Lynch, giving their former No. 1 draft pick one last look before making a decision on where he fits in, if at all in Denver’s future plans. If Trevor Siemian was starting at home for this one, a Broncos play would be wise but Lynch has been a disaster, so be careful here.
The Eagles have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have no reason to activate any players of major value when Dallas visits.
“We’ve seen lots of Cowboys action so far,” said Rood who has Dallas posted at -3 -120, “but mostly from non-sharp players.”
The Redskins go into MetLife Stadium to face the Giants with each team having nothing to prove. It’s been a disappointment for each team, but the public has a side they like here. “The Redskins (-3 -120) have taken one-sided action, both large and small money siding with them,” Rood said.
The Chargers are outside looking in the playoffs, but still alive. They need to win at home against the Raiders, get the Titans to lose and have the Ravens win.
“We’ve had good two-way action on the Chargers-Raiders game,” Rood said. “Nothing getting us over-extended; Raiders volume has been at 3-to-2 on parlays and 2-to-1 on straight bets.”
Raiders money took all the +8 and +7.5s leaving most sitting with the Chargers -7.
“Atlanta-Carolina is split, there’s been lots of (public) money on the Saints and the bridge-jumpers have been laying the Patriots money-line,” Rood said.
A bridge-jumper is someone who lays the big price of a “can’t lose situation” and the side loses. The term bridge-jumper first came about with bettors who place a wager to show on a massive horse-racing favorite and then the horse runs out of the money (1st, 2nd or 3rd). Dam-divers is another popular term here in Las Vegas thanks to our massive Hoover Dam in Boulder City.
Anyway, the Patriots are -1,600 (Bet $1,600 to win $100) on the money-line to win outright (no points) at the Mirage with the Jets (5-10) take-back at +900 (Bet $100 to win $900). All the Patriots have to do to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs is win or have the Steelers lose at home to the Browns. Two years ago the Patriots lost their final two regular season games in a similar situation, except both were on the road at the Jets, 26-20, and at Miami, 20-10. Denver got home field because of those losses and went on to beat the Patriots in Denver in the AFC title game, and they also won the Super Bowl over Carolina.
Something else for the bridge-jumpers to consider is that Tom Brady is in a funk his past four games where he’s tossed just four touchdowns while throwing five interceptions. This isn’t the same Brady from last season that won his final 10 games (9-1 ATS) and eventually ended with a Super Bowl win.
When they met at MetLife Stadium in Week 6, the Patriots won 24-17, but failed to cover the nine points. It was the third straight meeting between the pair that stayed ‘under’ and it also made the Jets 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine meetings with New England.
The Patriots were as high as -16, but most books around the state have dropped them down to -15 or -15.5. The Jets are starting Bryce Petty again at quarterback, but something that stands out the most with the Jets is going 9-5-1 ATS. They’ve been competitive most of the season which is why head coach Todd Bowles just got a contract extension.
[B]Here’s a look at some sharp and public plays at a few books in Nevada:[/B]
Jason McCormick, Station Casinos
Sharp: Buccaneers, Raiders, Dolphins
Public: Saints, Seahawks, Vikings
Jason Simbal, CG Technology
Record: 11-4 SU, 9-6 ATS, 9-6 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 14/1
The Panthers clinched their fourth playoff berth in the past five seasons by rallying past the Buccaneers, 22-19 to wrap up their home slate at 6-2. Carolina failed to cash as 10-point favorites, but quarterback Cam Newton scrambled for the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining to improve to 3-2 inside the NFC South. The Panthers need a victory and a New Orleans loss to wrap up the division title, as Carolina owns a solid 5-1 SU/ATS record in the role of an underdog this season.
Record: 9-6 SU, 6-9 ATS, 10-5 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 25/1
The Falcons control their destiny for a chance to defend their NFC crown with a win on Sunday. Atlanta was tripped up at New Orleans last Sunday, 23-13 as 5 ½-point underdogs, while cashing its fourth consecutive UNDER. The Falcons look to avenge a 20-17 loss at Carolina as three-point favorites in Week 9 as Atlanta squandered an early 10-0 lead and standout wide receiver Julio Jones dropped a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Jones hauled in 118 yards in the loss, while compiling a franchise-best 300 yards in a 48-33 home victory over Carolina last season.
Best Bet: Falcons -3 ½
Saints (-7, 50 ½) at Buccaneers – 4:25 PM EST[/B]
Record: 11-4 SU, 9-6 ATS, 8-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 10/1
The Saints are back in the postseason for the first time since 2013 as New Orleans is one victory away from hosting a first round playoff game. New Orleans is coming off a pair of home wins over Atlanta and New York, while holding four straight opponents to 21 points or fewer. Eight of the last nine meetings at Raymond James Stadium have finished UNDER the total, as the Saints have limited the Buccaneers to 20 points or less in each of the past four road matchups.
Record: 4-11 SU, 5-9-1 ATS, 8-7 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
The Buccaneers close out a disappointing season off five consecutive losses, including three straight defeats by three points or fewer. Tampa Bay cashed in losses to Atlanta and Carolina, but the Bucs are 0-5 in NFC South play this season after compiling a 4-2 division mark in 2016. The Bucs will look to close out their home schedule at 4-4 with a victory, while trying to avenge a 30-10 defeat at the Superdome in Week 9.
Record: 7-8 SU, 5-9-1 ATS, 10-5 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
The Cardinals attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this season on Sunday after destroying the Giants in Week 16 at home, 23-0 as three-point favorites. Arizona owns an 0-6 SU and 0-5-1 ATS record in 2017 off a victory, while scoring 17 points or less in all six games in this situation. The Cardinals have struggled away from University of Phoenix Stadium by going 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS, while posting an 0-4 SU/ATS mark as a road underdog.
Record: 9-6 SU, 6-8-1 ATS, 9-6 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 25/1
The Seahawks stayed alive in the NFC playoff race by knocking off the Cowboys as 4 ½-point road underdogs last week, 21-12 to snap a two-game skid. Seattle racked up only 136 yards of offense, but if the Seahawks win on Sunday coupled with a Falcons’ loss to Carolina, Pete Carroll’s team will return to the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Seahawks have slumped to a 1-3 ATS record as a home favorite this season, while losing in three of the past four home matchups with the Cardinals.
[B]Best Bet: Cardinals +9 ½
Jaguars at Titans (-3, 42) – 4:25 PM EST[/B]
Record: 10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS, 8-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 16/1
Unfortunately, the Jaguars have nothing to play for as they wrapped up the AFC South title last Sunday thanks to Tennessee’s home defeat to Los Angeles. Jacksonville was tripped up at surging San Francisco, 44-33 to snap a three-game winning streak. The defense hit a flat spot following a three-game stretch of allowing a total of 41 points, while falling to 1-3 against NFC West opponents. The home team had won six consecutive meetings in this series prior to Tennessee’s 37-16 blowout at Jacksonville in Week 2.
Record: 8-7 SU, 7-7-1 ATS, 9-6 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 125/1
The Titans saved their losing for the worst time after winning six of seven games, as Tennessee tries to snap a three-game skid on Sunday. Granted, the three defeats came by a total of 11 points a trio of NFC West squads (Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles), but the Titans control their destiny as a victory against Jacksonville gets them in the playoffs. The Titans own a solid 4-1 ATS record the last five games, while going 4-1 inside AFC South play this season.
[B]Best Bet: Jaguars +3
Bills (-2 ½, 42) at Dolphins – 4:25 PM EST[/B]
Record: 8-7 SU, 8-6-1 ATS, 8-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: 125/1
The Bills have gone through plenty of ups and downs this season as Buffalo sits on the doorstep of their first playoff berth since 1999. However, Buffalo needs a victory plus a Baltimore loss, or a win and losses by Tennessee and Los Angeles. The Bills cruised past the Dolphins in Week 15 at home, 24-16, but Buffalo has struggled on the road this season by compiling a 2-5 mark. Buffalo has lost two of its past three visits to Miami, while dropping four straight road games inside the AFC East.
Record: 6-9 SU, 5-8-2 ATS, 8-7 OVER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
A lost season for the Dolphins comes to a conclusion on Sunday as Miami tries to avoid a 10-loss campaign. Miami has won two straight home games, including a 27-20 triumph over New England as 10 ½-point underdogs. The Dolphins can finish 5-3 at Hard Rock Stadium with a victory over the Bills, but Miami has compiled a dreadful 2-6-1 ATS record in the final nine games. Miami has been one of the top OVER teams in the league down the stretch by hitting the OVER in eight of the final 10 games.
Record: 6-9 SU, 5-8-2 ATS, 10-5 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: OFF
The Raiders are stumbling to the finish line by losing their last three games, including a 19-10 setback at Philadelphia on Monday as 10-point underdogs. In all eight of Oakland’s defeats, the Raiders have been limited to 17 points or less, while cashing six consecutive UNDERS. In one of those low-scoring setbacks, the Raiders fell to the Chargers at the Coliseum, 17-16 in Week 6 as three-point favorites. Each of the past four meetings between the Raiders and Chargers have been decided by three points or less, while the Silver and Black will be playing in Los Angeles for the first time since moving away after the 1994 season.
Record: 8-7 SU, 7-7-1 ATS, 11-4 UNDER
Super Bowl Odds: 66/1
Even if the Chargers fall short of the playoffs, it has been a remarkable turnaround following an 0-4 start. L.A. has posted an 8-3 record the last 11 games, including four consecutive victories at the StubHub Center. The Chargers are riding a five-game UNDER streak after squeezing past the Jets last Sunday, 14-7, while the Lightning Bolts have scored 19 points or fewer in three of the previous four games.
Best Bet: Chargers -7 ½[/B]
[B][I]SuperContest Picks – Week 17
December 30, 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]NFL Game of the Day betting preview and odds: Panthers at Falcons[/B][/I][/size]
[B]Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5, 45)[/B]
The Atlanta Falcons can clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday, but they won’t face a pushover opponent because the Carolina Panthers need a road win to retain their hopes of an NFC South title. The Falcons need a win or a Seattle loss to claim the final playoff spot in the NFC.
Atlanta was knocked out of contention for the division title with a 23-13 loss at New Orleans last week, while Carolina kept alive its hopes of a division crown when Cam Newton’s rushing touchdown with 35 seconds left lifted the Panthers to a 22-19 win over Tampa Bay. The Panthers could still end up seeded anywhere from second to fifth in the NFC playoffs, though they need a win and some help from multiple other teams to improve upon the No. 5 seed they’re in line for with a loss or a New Orleans victory at Tampa Bay. Regardless, Carolina plans to play its starters and play to win, perhaps while keeping one eye on the scoreboard in case the result becomes irrelevant. The Panthers, who have won seven of their last eight, snapped a three-game losing streak against the Falcons with a 20-17 home win in Week 9.
TV:[/B] 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.
POWER RANKINGS:[/B] Panthers (-3) – Falcons (-1.5) + home field (-3) = Falcons -1.5.
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Falcons opened as 3.5-point home chalk at most shops, money coming in on Atlanta saw that line rise to -4 before returning to the opening number late in the week. The total hit the betting board at 47 and has been bet down at most shops to 45.
WEATHER REPORT:[/B] Dome
Panthers – LB Thomas Davis (Probable, Suspension), DE Charles Johnson (Eligible, Suspension), G Trai Turner (Questionable, Concussion), WR Russell Shepard (Questionable, Shoulder), CB Cole Luke (Questionable, Ankle), DE Demetrious Cox (Questionable, Ankle), LB Jared Norris (I-R, Calf), OT John Theus (I-R, Concussion).
Falcons – G Andy Levitre (Questionable, Tricep), LB Sean Weatherspoon (Questionable, Illness), LB Jordan Tripp (Questionable, Concussion), S Quincy Mauger (I-R, Knee).
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (11-4 SU, 9-6 ATS, 9-6 O/U):[/B] Carolina continues to get the job done in the trenches, ranking fourth in rushing offense and sixth in run defense. The guys who power that ground game – Newton and running backs Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey – will be among the first relegated to the bench if the Saints open a big lead against the Buccaneers. The defense that was dominant early in the season has given up bigger chunks of yardage of late but also has forced 10 turnovers in the past three games.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (9-6 SU, 6-9 ATS, 5-10 O/U):[/B] Atlanta has crept into the top 10 in the league in total offense after a slow start, but the Falcons managed only 331 total yards in last week’s loss at New Orleans. Matt Ryan is likely to surpass 4,000 passing yards for the seventh straight season, but his numbers represent a big dropoff from a year ago, and star receiver Julio Jones is battling ankle and thumb injuries. The defense has been excellent against the run most of the season but especially of late, holding three straight opponents and four of the last five under 100 rushing yards.
* Panthers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
* Falcons are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
* Under is 7-1 in Falcons last 8 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 7-1-1 in the last 9 meetings.
* Home team is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The public is siding with the road dog Panthers at a rate of 57 percent and the Over is getting 60 percent of the totals action.