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NFL Week 13 • Previews, Articles, Info. • Sunday 12/6/15

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    Preview: San Francisco at Chicago

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

    The San Francisco 49ers seek their first road win of the season when they visit the home-challenged Chicago Bears on Sunday. San Francisco fell to 0-5 away from Levi’s Stadium in Week 11, when it suffered a 29-13 setback against Seattle.

    The 49ers’ offense hasn’t produced enough to earn victories anywhere lately, as the team is 1-4 in a stretch during which they have scored 17 points or fewer in each contest. San Francisco has to like its chances to pick up a road victory against Chicago, which dropped to 1-4 at Soldier Field with Week 11’s 17-15 loss to Denver. The Bears also have had trouble scoring recently, recording 15 and 17 points in their last two games, but are coming off a four-point win at Green Bay that put them in position to get to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 on Oct. 12, 2014. Chicago also hopes to remain in the thick of the playoff race as it begins Week 13 just one game out of the final NFC wild-card spot.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX.

    LINE: Bears -7.5. O/U: 43

    ABOUT THE 49ERS (3-8): Carlos Hyde is unlikely to help San Francisco’s struggling running game as it appears he will miss his fifth consecutive game with a stress fracture in his foot. The 49ers desperately need a strong effort on the ground from someone after being held to fewer than 70 yards in five of their last six contests. Anquan Boldin is 16 away from becoming the 11th player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions.

    ABOUT THE BEARS (5-6): Chicago has won three of its last four contests, with each victory coming on the road. It has allowed an average of 15 points over those four games, but it has been a tale of two defenses for the team, which ranks second against the pass but 29th versus the run. Zach Miller has become one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets, as the backup tight end has caught four touchdown passes in the last four games.


    1. The Bears have lost 11 of their last 14 at home.

    2. San Francisco is visiting Soldier Field for the first time since suffering a 41-10 loss on Oct. 29, 2006.

    3. Chicago TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) may return after missing last week’s victory but likely will surrender some playing time to Miller.

    PREDICTION: Bears 23, 49ers 17


    Preview: Denver at San Diego

    When: 4:05 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

    Brock Osweiler has stepped in for an ineffective and injured future Hall of Fame quarterback and has righted the ship for the Denver Broncos. Osweiler will look to lead the AFC West-leading Broncos to their third straight victory when they visit the division cellar-dwelling San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

    While Denver failed to commit to Osweiler beyond this week’s game, the fourth-year quarterback made a statement by throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown in a 30-24 overtime victory over previously unbeaten New England last week. Peyton Manning (foot) may have let the cat out of the bag on Wednesday by telling the Associated Press that he isn’t close to returning to game action. While Denver is making decisions with an eye on the postseason, San Diego simply was happy to snap a six-game skid with a 31-25 victory at Jacksonville last week. Philip Rivers threw for four touchdowns in that contest, but has tossed 10 interceptions while losing six of his last seven meetings with his AFC West rival.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS.

    LINE: Broncos -4. O/U: 43

    ABOUT THE BRONCOS (9-2): Denver’s much-maligned ground attack was set in motion versus the Patriots, with C.J. Anderson rushing for a season-high 113 yards and two touchdowns – including a 48-yard scamper to end the contest. Anderson was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts, but remains in the backup role to Ronnie Hillman, coach Gary Kubiak confirmed to reporters on Wednesday. Stud wideout Demaryius Thomas, who torched San Diego for 14 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown last season, was limited to just one catch for 36 yards last week despite being targeted 13 times.

    ABOUT THE CHARGERS (3-8): Melvin Gordon amassed just 80 total yards from scrimmage last week, but Rivers told ESPN that the rookie running back is showing signs of getting comfortable in the backfield. “He seemed like he had a little juice – a little pop to him,” Rivers said. “… This isn’t coming from him, but maybe he was just a little more relaxed – just running and not trying to be so perfect.” Gordon might have to be against Denver, which is allowing an NFL third-best 89 yards per contest.


    1. Denver veteran DE DeMarcus Ware (back) returned to practice on Wednesday and is in line to play for the first time since Oct. 8.

    2. San Diego fired special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer on Wednesday, with assistant Craig Aukerman expected to oversee the units for the remainder of the season.

    3. The Broncos re-signed Josh Bush on Tuesday in the wake of fellow S T.J. Ward’s ankle injury. Bush played in three games with the team before being waived on Oct. 1.

    PREDICTION: Broncos 23, Chargers 16


    Preview: Kansas City at Oakland

    When: 4:05 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Coliseum, Oakland, California

    The Kansas City Chiefs attempt to continue their unlikely surge toward a playoff berth when they visit the AFC West-rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday. After losing five of its first six contests this season, Kansas City has gone on a winning streak that reached five games with a 30-22 triumph over Buffalo in Week 12.

    The Chiefs, who are among a group of five AFC teams at 6-5, also posted five straight wins last season before having the run snapped with a loss at Oakland that began a slump that cost them a postseason appearance. The surprising Raiders remained in the playoff hunt with a 24-21 victory at Tennessee last week. The triumph halted Oakland’s three-game slide and put it one game behind the pack vying for the AFC wild cards. The Raiders, who are looking to reach the .500 mark in the month of December for the first time since 2011, have lost three of their last four meetings with the Chiefs.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS.

    LINE: Chiefs -3. O/U: 44

    ABOUT THE CHIEFS (6-5): Kansas City’s offensive line took a beating in the win over the Bills, as tackle Eric Fisher (neck) and center Mitch Morse (concussion) exited with injuries while guard Jeff Allen played through an ankle ailment. Fisher has been participating in practice on a limited basis, but Allen and Morse appear likely to miss Sunday’s game. Also injured was linebacker Justin Houston, who hyperextended his knee but has not yet been ruled out of the showdown in Oakland.

    ABOUT THE RAIDERS (5-6): Derek Carr is hoping to move closer to spots in the Raiders’ record books on Sunday. The second-year quarterback has thrown 24 touchdown passes this season, five shy of Jeff George (1997) for most in a campaign since Oakland joined the NFL and 10 fewer than the franchise single-season record held by Daryle Lamonica (1969). Center Rodney Hudson, who aggravated an ankle injury last week, practiced on a limited basis Thursday and is questionable for Sunday’s matchup.


    1. Chiefs QB Alex Smith enters with a streak of 283 consecutive passes without an interception, the fourth-longest run in league history.

    2. Oakland WR Amari Cooper recorded 115 receiving yards against the Titans, becoming the first rookie receiver in franchise history with four 100-yard performances.

    3. Kansas City RB Spencer Ware filled in for Charcandrick West last week and rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.

    PREDICTION: Raiders 34, Chiefs 31


    Preview: Carolina at New Orleans

    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

    The Carolina Panthers return to the site where their regular-season winning streak began nearly a year ago when they travel to New Orleans to face the struggling Saints on Sunday. The Panthers can clinch the NFC South title and remain the NFL’s only undefeated team with a 16th consecutive regular-season victory.

    The streak began with a 41-10 rout of New Orleans on Dec. 7, 2014, and the Panthers won their final four games to sneak into the playoffs. Their franchise-record 11-0 run to start this season included a closer call against the Saints – a 27-22 home victory in Week 3 in which New Orleans was without quarterback Drew Brees. The Panthers eked out several close wins early but have won their last three games by an average of 21.3 points – including a 33-14 triumph at Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Saints have lost three straight following a three-game winning streak and are coming off a 24-6 defeat at Houston.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.

    LINE: Panthers -7. O/U: 50

    ABOUT THE PANTHERS (11-0): Concerns about Carolina’s offense going into the season have proven to be unfounded thanks to a powerful running game led by Jonathan Stewart (832 rushing yards, four touchdowns) and quarterback Cam Newton (427 yards, seven TDs). Newton doesn’t air it out often but has been effective, passing for 2,466 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions despite a dearth of proven receivers. Carolina also has one of the league’s top defenses, ranking second against the run and fifth versus the pass while averaging three sacks per game – third-most in the league.

    ABOUT THE SAINTS (4-7): New Orleans registered a season-low 268 total yards against the Texans and was held to fewer than seven points for the first time since 2005. Brees had another lackluster game, and Mark Ingram was held to 52 rushing yards – his fourth straight game with 80 yards or fewer and no touchdowns. That’s not encouraging for a team whose defense has struggled to stop anyone, ranking last in the NFL in scoring defense and next-to-last in total defense.


    1. Newton has recorded passing and rushing touchdowns in each of his last two games against New Orleans and 30 times in his career – one shy of Steve Young’s NFL record.

    2. Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in an NFL-record 51 consecutive home games.

    3. Carolina DE Kony Ealy has recorded a sack in five straight contests.

    PREDICTION: Panthers 30, Saints 20


    Preview: Philadelphia at New England

    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

    After seeing one streak come to an end, the New England Patriots will attempt to keep a more impressive string alive when they host the sliding Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Patriots’ bid for a perfect season was derailed in an overtime defeat at Denver last week, but they have gone 56 consecutive regular-season games without suffering back-to-back defeats.

    New England absorbed a double whammy against the Broncos, not only squandering a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter but losing star tight end Rob Gronkowski to a sprained right knee. It was the latest blow to a receiving corps that lost Julian Edelman to a broken foot in Week 10, leaving Brady without his top two targets. The Eagles have dropped three in a row, including lopsided beatings at the hands of Tampa Bay and Detroit, but remain in the hunt in the watered-down NFC East. “The good news is we’re only a game back in our division,” said Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, who is expected to return after missing two games with a shoulder injury.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.

    LINE: Patriots -9-5. O/U: 49

    ABOUT THE EAGLES (4-7): While the absence of Bradford may partially explain the three-game skid, Philadelphia’s defense has been shredded for 45 points in each of the last two games by a pair of offenses that rank among the bottom half in the league. Not only have the Eagles surrendered five touchdown passes apiece to Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, but starting cornerback Nolan Carroll suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss. Running back DeMarco Murray has only one 100-yard game while second-year wideout Jordan Matthews has a team-high 58 catches.

    ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (10-1): New England remains in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC and can clinch its seventh consecutive AFC East title with a victory and a loss by the New York Jets. Brady, who has thrown for 28 scoring passes against only four interceptions, is missing 138 catches and 16 TDs with the absences of Gronkowski and Edelman. The veteran quarterback hopes third-leading receiver Danny Amendola (49 receptions) can return after sitting out last weekend’s loss. Starting linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins were limited in practice Thursday for a defense yielding 19.3 points.


    1. Philadelphia has lost consecutive games by at least 28 points for the first time since 1971.

    2. Brady, who is 4-0 versus the Eagles, needs one TD pass to move pass Dan Marino (420) for sole possession of third place on the all-time list.

    3. Bradford has eight TD passes and zero interceptions in his last four games against AFC foes.

    PREDICTION: Patriots 26, Eagles 24


    Preview: Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Matt Hasselbeck faces a tough challenge in trying to remain unbeaten as a starter when he leads the resurgent Indianapolis Colts into a prime-time matchup at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The Colts have won three in a row following a three-game skid to move into a tie with the Houston Texans atop the AFC South.

    The 40-year-old Hasselbeck has been a savior while subbing for an injured Andrew Luck, improving to 4-0 after guiding Indianapolis to a 25-12 win over Tampa Bay last week. “Obviously, at his age, being 4-0 as a backup quarterback it’s great for us,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’re very, very fortunate and I just hope he keeps it going.” The Steelers got a scare of their own at quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of last weekend’s loss at Seattle with a concussion, but he received medical clearance this week. Pittsburgh is among four AFC teams tied with 6-5 records battling for the final two postseason slots.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

    LINE: Steelers -7. O/U: 48

    ABOUT THE COLTS (6-5): Hasselbeck capped a 315-yard performance by tossing a pair of second-half touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton as Indianapolis rallied to remain in contention for the division title. Donte Moncrief snagged eight catches for 114 yards to help the Colts overcome a dreadful running game – Frank Gore managed only 24 yards on 19 carries while backup Ahmad Bradshaw was lost for the season with a wrist injury. Indianapolis is among the league leaders with 14 interceptions but it also ranks 27th overall with an average of 272.8 passing yards allowed.

    ABOUT THE STEELERS (6-5): Pittsburgh’s pass defense is even worse than that of the Colts, surrendering 283.6 yards per game, and it was one of decisive factors a week ago in allowing three fourth-quarter scoring passes to Seattle. That negated a huge performance by Roethlisberger, who threw for a season-high 456 yards but also was intercepted twice for the Steelers, who are playing the first of three straight games against division leaders. While Markus Wheaton had nine catches for 201 yards and a TD last week, Antonio Brown has 33 receptions in the last three games.


    1. Roethlisberger set franchise records with 522 yards and six TD passes in a 51-34 win over Indianapolis last season.

    2. Hasselbeck joined Brett Favre and Warren Moon as the only QBs to win four straight starts at age 40.

    3. Pittsburgh is the first team with three players – Brown, Wheaton and Martavis Bryant – to have a 175-yard receiving game in the same season.

    PREDICTION: Steelers 27, Colts 23


    NFL’s biggest betting mismatches: Week 13
    By Jason Logan

    Each week, Jason Logan breaks down some of the underlying mismatches in the NFL, hoping to give you an inside edge when handicapping the schedule and setting your daily fantasy lineup. Here are four of the biggest betting mismatches from Week 13:

    Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 43)

    Jaguars’ rotten red-zone defense vs. Titans’ red-zone offense

    The last time these AFC South rivals met, they nearly lulled a nation of football bettors to sleep with a 19-13 Jacksonville win on Thursday Night Football. We may get more action out of this one, considering how bad the Jaguars’ red-zone defense is and how much Tennessee has improved with the ball inside the opposition’s 20-yard line.

    The Titans actually rank among the top teams in red-zone efficiency when it comes to scoring touchdowns rather than settling for field goals. Tennessee has hit pay dirt on over 62 percent of its red-zone tries – seventh in the NFL – and has upped that to nearly 67 percent in the last three games. Against Jacksonville, the Titans didn’t sniff the red zone once but last week, they scored six in two of their three shots inside the 20-yard line against Oakland.

    Jacksonville has given up touchdowns on almost 68 percent of their opponents’ drives inside the 20-yard line – the worst percentage in the NFL. The Jaguars have been even more generous in the red zone the last three games, allowing teams to put six on the board in almost 86 percent of their red-zone attempts. Last week, in a loss to San Diego, the Chargers scored a touchdown on four of their five ventures inside the twenty.

    Daily fantasy watch: TE Delanie Walker

    Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings (Pick, 41.5)

    Seahawks’ defensive schemes vs. Vikings’ second look

    The Vikings just aced their exam on the Seahawks defense in Week 12, taking apart the Atlanta Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn’s unit to the tune of a 20-10 win in which Adrian Peterson steamrolled the Falcons’ run stoppers for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Quinn, Atlanta’s big hire this offseason, was the architect of Seattle’s vaunted stop unit serving as defensive coordinator for those NFC championship teams.

    Now it’s time to apply those lessons learned to the real world. The Seahawks pose a much tougher threat, in terms of defensive depth and playmakers, but Minnesota can’t help but recognize certain formations, schemes and situations when comparing film of last week’s win and Seattle’s body of work this season.

    The Seahawks rank fifth against the run, giving up just under 93 yards per game. However, opponents have run the ball just 40 percent of the time against them and that number has plummeted even lower in recent weeks, with the last three opponents – Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Arizona – handing the ball off less than 30 percent of the time in that span. The Steelers actually got 4.1 yards per carry against Seattle last week but attempted just 14 runs.

    Daily fantasy watch: RB Adrian Peterson

    Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (+7, 50)

    Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen vs. Saints’ trouble with tight ends

    Olsen has put his name among the top tight ends in the league since joining Carolina in 2011 and is celebrating a career year with six touchdowns and nearly 15 yards per reception heading into Week 13. He’s not only been Cam Newton’s safety blanket but also his top option, since WR Kelvin Benjamin was lost to injury in training camp.

    Olsen had another big day against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, roping in five balls for 70 yards, including a 31-yard gain. He’s broken big plays all season long, including a 52-yard gain against the Saints in Week 3 – a game in which Olsen totaled eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.That set the wheels in motion for a bad year versus tight ends for the Saints.

    New Orleans has given up 860 yards to tight ends as well as 10 touchdowns – both stats rank second worst in the NFL. Last week, Houston TE Ryan Griffin posted 72 yards and a score on four catches – and that’s a guy who just came off the IR with a knee injury. The game before, Washington TE Jordan Reed tallied two touchdowns versus New Orleans, and in Week 9 Tennessee TE Delanie Walker had a circus day with 95 yards and two scores against the Saints.

    Daily fantasy watch: TE Greg Olsen

    Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 47)

    Colts’ big play problems vs. Steelers’ explosive attack

    The Colts secondary got the willies Wednesday afternoon – like someone had just walked on their grave. But it wasn’t anything supernatural, it was just Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger clearing concussion protocol and returning to practice, making him probable for Sunday night’s game in the Steel City.

    Roethlisberger is the conductor of one of the most explosive passing attacks in the NFL, one that is putting up 278.9 yards through the air per game. Pittsburgh has a bevy of weapons downfield, with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton all able to hit the home run. That’s helped the Steelers connect for a NFL-best 31 passing plays of 25 yards or more this season.

    The reason Indianapolis is dreading Big Ben’s return is because the team has watched opponents go for 29 passes of 25 yards or more against – also the most in the NFL. The Colts have given up 272.8 yards passing per game this season – 27th in the league – and almost 12 yards per completion. And with backup Matt Hasselbeck under center, Indianapolis may not have the fire power to keep up if Roethlisberger exploits the secondary for chunks of yardage.

    Daily fantasy watch: QB Ben Roethlisberger


    Public Fades – Week 13
    By Kevin Rogers

    Only one undefeated team remains in the NFL heading into December, as the Panthers waxed the Cowboys on Thanksgiving to improve to 11-0. New England fell apart late at Denver, blowing a 21-7 lead in an overtime loss to the Broncos to suffer its first defeat following a 10-0 start. Both the Panthers and Patriots are in line for home-field advantage in their respective conferences, as each team is listed as a touchdown-plus favorite in Week 13.

    In this week’s edition of “Public Fades,” we’ll look to go 2-0 for the first time since Week 8, even though the last four weeks have produced a 1-1 split each time. The Saints and Eagles had playoff aspirations but each team is currently below .500 with five weeks to go. Can either team pull off an upset against the best from the AFC and NFC on Sunday?

    Panthers (-7, 50) at Saints – 4:25 PM EST

    It’s been a season to remember in Carolina for its pro football team, looking to make its second Super Bowl in franchise history. The Panthers still have plenty of work to do, trying to remain undefeated while trying to hold off Arizona for the top seed in the NFC. Carolina dominated Dallas on Thanksgiving, 33-14 to improve to 5-0 SU/ATS away from Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers beat the Saints back in Week 3 by a 27-22 count, but failed to cash as 10-point favorites, while Drew Brees sat out that game due to injury.

    New Orleans has seen plenty of ups and downs this season, starting 1-4, followed by a three-game winning streak to even their mark at 4-4. The Saints have fallen backwards again thanks to a three-game skid, capped off by a 24-6 setback at Houston last Sunday as 3 ½-point underdogs. New Orleans was held to single-digits for the third time since Brees took over at quarterback in 2006, as Sean Payton’s team is listed at their highest home underdog number in the past 10 years.

    So why back the Saints?

    Handicapper Joe Nelson says New Orleans’ offense will try to get on track at home, “With three straight losses, the playoff hopes for the Saints are slim sitting at 4-7, but the home results for New Orleans have been good with a 3-2 record with wins over the Cowboys, Falcons, and Giants and narrow losses to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. New Orleans is the third-most productive offensive team in the league posting 401 yards per game, more than 52 yards more per game than the 11-0 Panthers produce. The Saints do have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but they are particularly vulnerable against the pass and Carolina is the fourth least productive passing team in the league.”

    Nelson believes the Panthers peaked with their Thanksgiving rout of the Cowboys, “With extra time off this week having played on a big stage on Thanksgiving in Dallas, the Panthers will have a hard time bringing the same energy to a second straight road game knowing a bigger game with the season’s first meeting with Atlanta is up next. Last week’s lopsided result featured two defensive touchdowns for the Panthers, who also have the league’s best turnover margin at +16, breaks that may not continue all season and the Panthers are starting to reach their peak valuation.”

    Eagles at Patriots (-9 ½, 49) – 4:25 PM EST

    Philadelphia suffered an embarrassing defeat on national television on Thanksgiving, falling at Detroit, 45-14 as three-point underdogs. The Eagles allowed 45 points for the second straight week, as Mark Sanchez threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Sam Bradford. This week, Bradford is expected back in the lineup, as the Eagles’ offense needs a jolt after being held to 19 points or less in four of the past five games. Philadelphia has received more than four points under Chip Kelly once only since 2013, getting blown out at Denver that season, 52-20 as 10-point underdogs.

    The Patriots were on their way to an eleventh straight win to start the season, but New England squandered a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter of a 30-24 overtime loss at Denver. The rushing defense of the Patriots was shredded by the Broncos’ ground game, allowing 179 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning 48-yard touchdown scamper by C.J. Anderson. Tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a knee sprain and will miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles, adding to the laundry list of offensive weapons sidelined for New England.

    So why back the Eagles?

    Nelson says fading New England in this spot is a good idea, “The defensive yardage numbers are similar for these teams despite the contrasting scoring and records and the possibility of Bradford returning could provide a boost for the Eagles. The injuries are adding up for the Patriots on the receiving corps as well as on defense and while the Patriots have a great track record off a loss they are on a 21-36 ATS run when favored by more than seven points.”

    NFL handicapper Antony Dinero breaks down all the changes of personnel the Eagles have to endure in order to compete in Foxboro, “Bradford is progressing to play, so his return would be an upgrade given how Sanchez has played. Jason Peters and Zach Ertz look like they’re returning and Ryan Mathews might make it back too. If nothing else, the Eagles may take a fairly fresh, talented squad into New England to see Tom Brady and the walking wounded. If Danny Amendola is out, the Pats will be down their top four reception leaders. It sounds like a massacre waiting to happen given how bad the Eagles have been, but they might find some unexpected fight simply to avoid being embarrassed.”

    NFL expert Vince Akins provides an interesting betting angle regarding undefeated teams coming off losses late in the season, “There is a lot of pressure on a team to keep that undefeated record going, and when they lost their first game of the season as New England did in Denver last week, there is a bit of letdown the next game as a team re-adjusts to their new reality. In fact, teams in Week 6 of the season and beyond that just lost their first game of the season last game have covered just 40% of the time after that first loss and just 1-3 SU and ATS this season. There is plenty of room of New England to still win this game without playing to their full potential this week.”


    Trends to Watch – December
    By Marc Lawrence

    With Thanksgiving now in the rear view mirror and Santa charting his annual course, it’s onto the stretch-run of the 2015 NFL season.

    Before backing teams on the blind it might serve you well to read up on the trends and tendencies of teams from December past. With that being said, here is this year’s list of good and bad teams to keep an eye n this month,


    Good: Seattle will be making its playoff push and nobody is better the last month of the season than the Seahawks at home. They are sensational 34-16 ATS and have Cleveland (12/20) and St. Louis (12/27).

    Keep an eye on (Good): Pittsburgh comes in 36-22 ATS and as per usual they will also be on the playoff hunt. The Steelers will be facing two clubs that are same situation in Indianapolis (12/6) and Denver (12/20), who are a trying to repeat as division champions.

    Green Bay is 31-19 ATS and often against inflated numbers at the frozen tundra by this time of year. Dallas pays a visit on the 13th. Houston chimes in at 17-9 ATS, but has a toughie with New England (12/13).

    Keep an eye on (Bad): You would think the Bills would have an edge in the Buffalo winter, but they are just 20-30 ATS at home. The Bills home slate is not easy either with games against Houston (12/6) and Dallas (12/27).

    St. Louis has three home games in 11 days starting Dec. 6th against Arizona, Detroit and Tampa Bay on a Thursday night (17th). Unfortunately for the Rams they are 18-28 ATS this month at the Edward Jones Dome.


    Keep an eye on (Good): As crazy as it seems Buffalo has no edge at home, they are 32-21 ATS on the road in December. Maybe the players want to get out the cold also, but trips to Philadelphia and Washington in Weeks 14/15 are hardly warm weather destinations.

    Bad: Long time football bettors who look at whole schedules to formulate opinions annually mark Chicago as ‘play against’ teams, knowing their 13-34 ATS road record. Trip to Minnesota (12/20) and Tampa Bay (12/27) do not figure to be pleasant.

    The Oakland Raiders are nearly as bad as the Bears at 17-34 ATS and a division game at Denver (12/13) could add to their woes.

    Keep an eye on (Bad): We all realize San Francisco is a bad football team, we knew that in August. What everyone might not know is they are lousy against the spread on the road at 18-33 ATS and have trips in the Midwest to take on Chicago (12/6), Cleveland (12/13) and Detroit (12/27).

    Last season was a rare no fold job by Dallas this month but one year does not correct 22-34 ATS mark. The Cowboys have a Monday nighter in Washington on the 7th, six days later they are in Green Bay and Week 16 in Buffalo, all without Tony Romo.

    As good as the Texans are at home, that is just about how bad they are on the road at 12-19 ATS. To win AFC South they will have to do much better at Buffalo (12/6), at Indianapolis (12/20) and at Tennessee (12/27).


    Keep an eye on (Good): The Packers had the dreadful looking three-game losing streak but they have been excellent front-runners in December at 47-26 ATS. Green Bay will be favored in every game except for trip to Arizona (12/27).

    Bad: Miami ended being overrated this season, but nobody will do that to them this month at 22-46 ATS. For sure they will be handing out points against Baltimore (12/6) and possibly the next three weeks depending on circumstances against N.Y. Giants, at San Diego and Indianapolis.

    Cleveland will also leave some coal in stocking as favorites at 5-10 ATS and will have the 49ers on the shores of Lake Erie on the 13th. What an ugly mess that game looks to be.

    Keep an eye on (Bad): With the Cowboys shabby record this month, it makes sense they would not be to hot as favorites and are not at 21-35 ATS. The ‘Boys chances of being favorites might have eclipsed with Mr. Romo.

    The Raiders are bankroll-burners in this role at 16-26 ATS and will favored for sure on Christmas Eve versus San Diego.


    Good: With the kind of season Carolina is having, hard to imagine them as underdog, but it’s been something that helped football bettors have better gifts to hand out at incredible 30-14 ATS run. The only possible time this will happen in the 20th in New Jersey against the Giants.

    Last year’s NFC champs the Seahawks are not far behind at 40-20 ATS and could be catching points at Minnesota (12/6).

    Keep an eye on (Good): New England is 21-12 ATS, but who will they be an underdog too?

    Keep an eye on (Bad): Chicago is miserable 20-39 ATS in this spot and will be receiving points at Minnesota (12/20) and the following week at Tampa Bay.

    Oakland will be pooches at Denver (12/13) and when Green Bay visits them the following week and seems unlikely they will improve on 22-41 ATS mark.

    Like an employee the night after the company Christmas party, the Rams have been sluggish at 20-37 ATS.


    Good: The Panthers know how to close and are 27-11 ATS facing divisional foes the last month of the year. They will have three chances to improve on this playing at New Orleans (12/6) and having home and home with Atlanta on Dec. 13th and 27th.

    Keep an eye on (Good): Normally this time of year New England has big spread numbers to overcome, yet is still 30-17 ATS against the AFC East. Just one matchup and that is versus the Jets on the 27th. Seattle is also quite strong at 30-16 ATS and has a revenge game with St. Louis on Week 16.

    Keep an eye on (Bad): As just mentioned, St. Louis has to face Seattle in late December and they are hardly dangerous in division at 19-29 ATS. Before that contest, on the sixth of the month Arizona will be seeking payback.

    Oakland only has one game remaining out of the AFC West, which is not good when sporting 20-31 ATS record. They will have Kansas City (12/6) and San Diego (12/24) at home, plus a trip to the Mile High City (13th).

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


    Essential Week 13 Betting Notes for NFL Sunday

    Looking for some quick-hitting betting info for Week 13 of the NFL slate? We break down all the need-to-know facts and figures for Sunday’s NFL matchups.

    New York Jets at New York Giants (+2, 46.5)

    * Cornerback Darrelle Revis is expected to miss his second straight game due to a concussion. “Just got to move on,” Odell Beckham Jr. said of missing out on the matchup. “We’ve still got to play the Jets. It would have been fun to go against a guy like that, and it’s unfortunate that he’s not playing, but maybe we’ll get that matchup down the road. We’re still focused on playing the Jets. This is a game we need to win.”

    * Chris Ivory recorded his third score in four weeks with a 31-yard scamper to seal the win last week and faces a Giants’ rushing defense that is yielding 100.5 yards per contest (4.1 yards per carry). On the other side of the ball, the top-ranked Jets’ rush defense set a franchise record by limiting the Dolphins to just 12 yards on the ground last week and faces a Giants’ rushing attack that is 28th in the league.

    Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (+4, 43)

    * Impressive victories over Arizona and Seattle were part of a 4-3 (4-3 ATS) start for the St. Louis Rams, who then fell off with a four-game losing streak (0-3-1 ATS).

    * Rookie running back David Johnson is expected to take over for Chris Johnson and Ellington as the team’s top option in the backfield, and the team doesn’t expect much drop off. “I think running back is one of the easier ones (to replace),” coach Bruce Arians told reporters.

    Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick, 46)

    * The Falcons kept pace with Carolina in the NFC South for a month, winning their first five games and six of their first seven (4-3 ATS) before enduring a four-game skid (0-4 ATS) that prompted a players-only meeting on Monday. “I think that’s a good part of a team, to have good, solid leadership, guys that voice stuff to get it all going in the same direction,” quarterback Matt Ryan told reporters.

    * Atlanta’s losing streak began with a 23-20 overtime loss at home against Tampa Bay in Week 8, starting a string of three wins in five games (3-2 ATS) for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay had its two-game winning streak snapped with a 25-12 loss at Indianapolis last week but is just one game behind Atlanta and Seattle for the second wild card.

    Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings (+2, 42)

    * The Seahawks, usually known for their defense, have been riding their offense to victories as of late, averaging 33.33 points per game over their last three contests, cashing the over in each.

    * After having their streak of eight consecutive covers in a row snapped, the Vikings cashed once again for bettors last week, topping the Atlanta Falcons 20-10 as 2-point road dogs. They are the second best bet in the NFL this season at 9-2 ATS.

    Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills (-3.5, 41.5)

    * The resurgent Texans defense has allowed just 7.25 points per game during their four game winning streak, covering the spread in each.

    * Time is running out for Buffalo, which may be further short-handed against the Texans, as defensive end Mario Williams remains questionable with a foot injury and Kyle Williams was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

    Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (-3.5, 42)

    * “December football is when football matters, and we’re relevant in December,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who owns a perfect 5-0 (5-0 ATS) record versus the Dolphins. “That’s what we needed to be.”

    * Although it shares the same 4-7 mark as Baltimore, Miami hasn’t shown much fight lately with losses in two straight and four of its last five. Ryan Tannehill threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 38-20 setback to the AFC East-rival New York Jets last Sunday, with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor being relieved of his duties the following day.

    Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+8.5, 43.5)

    * After a short two-game losing streak, the Bengals got back on track last Sunday, thumping the Rams 31-7. Even despite the loses the Bengals remained the league’s best bet at 9-1-1 ATS this season.

    * The quarterback carousel made yet another turn this week as Pettine announced that Austin Davis will be the 24th starter for the club since 1999. “He deserves this opportunity,” Pettine said of the 26-year-old Davis, who gets the nod after Josh McCown broke his right collarbone on Monday while former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel tries to escape the doghouse.

    Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 43.5)

    * The Jaguars, just 1-4 (3-2 ATS) on the road, are paced by quarterback Blake Bortles, who has thrown 22 touchdowns but 13 often-costly interceptions.

    * Tennessee is 0-6 (2-4 ATS) at home on the season and has lost 11 straight at the not-so-friendly confines in Nashville. The Titans’ last home win was a 16-13 decision over the Jaguars in Week 6 of last season.

    San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears (-7.5, 43)

    * The San Francisco 49ers seek their first road win of the season when they visit the home-challenged Chicago Bears on Sunday. San Francisco fell to 0-5 (1-4 ATS) away from Levi’s Stadium in Week 11, when it suffered a 29-13 setback against Seattle.

    * Chicago dropped to 1-4 (2-3 ATS) at Soldier Field with Week 11’s 17-15 loss to Denver. The Bears also have had trouble scoring recently, recording 15 and 17 points in their last two games, but are coming off a four-point win at Green Bay that put them in position to get to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 on Oct. 12, 2014.

    Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (+3.5, 43)

    * Brock Osweiler has stepped in for an ineffective and injured future Hall of Fame quarterback and has righted the ship for the Denver Broncos. Osweiler will look to lead the AFC West-leading Broncos to their third straight victory when they visit the division cellar-dwelling San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

    * While Denver is making decisions with an eye on the postseason, San Diego simply was happy to snap a six-game skid with a 31-25 victory at Jacksonville last week. Philip Rivers threw for four touchdowns in that contest, but has tossed 10 interceptions while losing six of his last seven meetings with his AFC West rival.

    Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (+3, 44.5)

    * After losing five of its first six contests this season, Kansas City has gone on a winning streak that reached five games with a 30-22 triumph over Buffalo in Week 12, covering the spread in each of those games.

    * The Raiders, who are looking to reach the .500 mark in the month of December for the first time since 2011, have lost three of their last four meetings with the Chiefs.

    Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (+6.5, 50)

    * The Carolina Panthers have won 15 consecutive regular season games dating back to Dec. 7, 2014, going 11-4 ATS in that stretch. They are 5-0 SU/ATS on the road this season.

    * The Saints have lost three straight, failing to cover in each of those games, following a three-game winning streak and are coming off a 24-6 defeat at Houston.

    Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots (-8.5, 49)

    * While the absence of Sam Bradford may partially explain the three-game skid (0-3 ATS), Philadelphia’s defense has been shredded for 45 points in each of the last two games by a pair of offenses that rank among the bottom half in the league.

    * The Patriots’ bid for a perfect season was derailed in an overtime defeat at Denver last week, but they have gone 56 consecutive regular-season games without suffering back-to-back defeats.

    Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5, 49)

    * The 40-year-old Hasselbeck has been a savior while subbing for an injured Andrew Luck, improving to 4-0 after guiding Indianapolis to a 25-12 win over Tampa Bay last week.

    * The Steelers got a scare of their own at quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of last weekend’s loss at Seattle with a concussion, but he received medical clearance this week. Pittsburgh is among four AFC teams tied with 6-5 records battling for the final two postseason slots.


    Nover’s View

    NFL Underrated Injury Report

    Do the names Seantrel Henderson and John Miller mean anything to you? They should if you care to get involved in the Texans-Bills game.

    Miller is Buffalo’s starting right guard. Henderson is the starting right tackle. Neither offensive lineman is expected to play against the Texans. So pass rushing leader J.J. Watt likely gets to go against a brand new right side of the Bills offensive line. Miller has an ankle injury and Henderson is ill.

    Miller was starting ahead of veteran Kraig Urbik while Jordan Mills, a castoff from the Lions, would replace Henderson. Watt has 9.5 sacks in his last five games.

    There are some underrated injuries, too, on the defensive side. They reside in Tampa where the Buccaneers are probably going to be without their two best pass rushers, Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith. They have a combined 13 sacks ranking first and second on the team. Smith is out with a hamstring injury while McCoy is doubtful with a hand injury.

    The Buccaneers host Atlanta. Matt Ryan has looked – and played – older than Matt Hasselbeck. But he would get a huge boost with extra time in the pocket and a return of the Falcons’ top running back, Devonta Freeman.

    Two key defensive players are back this week – New England linebacker Jamie Collins and Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne.

    Collins was the Patriots’ leading tackler before missing the last four games with an illness. He also has 4.5 sacks. Claiborne’s return from a hamstring injury has a multiple affect on the Cowboys secondary allowing Brandon Carr to move back to cornerback and for Byron Jones to go from corner to his natural safety spot.

    The timing is good because the Cowboys play the Redskins on Monday night. Washington has one of the more underrated tight ends, Jordan Reed. Jones had trouble staying with speedy wide receivers, but is a much better fit matched up against tight ends. When the Patriots played the Cowboys, Rob Gronkowski only caught four passes for 67 yards and no touchdowns against Jones.

    The Dolphins are expected to run the ball more under new offensive coordinator Zac Taylor. The former quarterbacks coach replaces Bill Lazor. Another reason why Miami could be running more against Baltimore is it has a cluster injury problem at wide receiver. Rishard Matthews is out with sore ribs and Kenny Stills may miss the game, too, because of an ankle injury. This means rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker, ready or not, assumes a large role in the offense.


    The Muffed Punt: December is where good NFL bets go to die
    By Jason Logan

    The 1985 Chicago Bears, headlined by folk heroes such as Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Mike Singletary, William “Refrigerator” Perry and coached by “Iron” Mike Ditka, entered Week 13 of that season with a perfect 12-0 record SU and were an incredible 10-1-1 against the spread.

    While the Bears would go 3-1 SU in their final four games of the regular season, en route to the Super Bowl, football bettors would break even at 2-2 ATS. Chicago’s spreads grew from an average of six points in the first dozen games to almost 8.5 points in the home stretch of the season.

    Another incredibly profitable bet, the 1989 Denver Broncos with John Elway at the wheel, were 10-2 SU and ATS heading into a Week 13 matchup in Oakland. Denver would stumble down the stretch, going 1-3 SU and 1-3 ATS to finish the regular season and eventually lost to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIV, going just 1-2 ATS in the postseason.

    December is where good bets go to die. The final four weeks of the NFL season have constantly crushed the bankrolls of football bettors looking to ride the hottest ATS teams in the league. Be it the postseason crunch, mounting pressure, or just over-inflated spreads, the best bets in the NFL have been frozen in their tracks in the final month of the season, like Jack Nicholson navigating a hedge maze.

    That has 2015 clubs like Cincinnati (9-1-1 ATS), Minnesota (9-2 ATS), and especially the undefeated Carolina Panthers (9-2 ATS) feeling the arctic breezes of December as the schedule creeps into the final month of the year. And for good reason.

    Looking back at the Top 19 NFL bets since the 1985 season, those teams entered Week 13 with a 182-33 SU record (.846) and were a combined 171-36-8 ATS – covering the spread 85 percent of the time in the opening 12 weeks of football.

    But, once the calendar flipped to December, those bountiful bets went ice cold, like your wife’s feet come bed time (I swear, are your slippers made from frozen peas?!). Those 19 teams finished the year 61-27 SU (.693) and were a measly 46-41-1 ATS, covering at just under 53 percent of the time – just enough to turn a profit.

    As mentioned above, plenty of factors can play into that drastic downfall, but the biggest culprit is the always-adapting betting market. Through the first 12 weeks, those 19 franchises took on an average pointspread of -3.5. Those spreads ballooned to -6 in the final four weeks – a jump of 2.5 points.

    Take a look at those three aforementioned 2015 teams this week:

    The Vikings, at 8-3 SU, are teetering on a pick’em against the two-time NFC champion Seahawks at home – not a spread that isn’t warranted but may be asking a lot of a Minnesota team that has played one of the softest schedules. Minnesota has faced an average spread of just -0.2 this season.

    The Bengals opened at -7.5 visiting rival Cleveland and has been bet up as high as -10.5, the third time in the last four weeks Cincinnati has been giving double digits. The Bengals have been up against an average spread of just under -4 this year.

    The Panthers are 7-point chalk in New Orleans Sunday, which surprisingly is just the second time Carolina has given more than five points, with an average spread of -2.7 on the year.

    And when it comes to the Panthers, three other teams have entered Week 13 unblemished with an ATS record of 9-2 or better. Those undefeated teams – 1985 Chicago, 1991 Washington, 2007 New England – closed out the schedule with a combined 11-3 SU mark, going just 5-9 ATS in those remaining games.

    Thing about December to remember

    Last December, NFL games finished with a 22-43 Over/Under record – playing Under the total 66 percent of the time. There was a major drop in offensive production, with teams combining for an average of just over 46 points per game through the first three month of the season, then putting up only 42.4 points in the final month of the schedule.

    That’s been a trend in recent years, especially with the NFL hitting new scoring heights. Since 2012, NFL games have watched scoring slim up from 46.3 points in the opening three months to 44.7 in December.

    That doesn’t seem like a major difference – and it’s not. But considering games played in September, October, and November have a combined 285-258-4 Over/Under count (52.4 percent Over) against an average total of 45.3 points in that span, and December games have finished 95-125-1 Over/Under (57 percent Under) with an average total of 45.2 (essentially the same sized totals), you can see how much impact that slight down shift in point production has made.

    This season, NFL games have gone 85-86-5 Over/Under, featuring an average of 46 points scored against an average betting total of 45.2 from the oddsmakers. The average total for Week 13, as of Friday afternoon, is 44.6 points including the closing 46-point total for Green Bay-Detroit Thursday.

    Pants-pooping Trend of the Week

    The New England Patriots, who tasted defeated for the first time in 2015 against the Broncos last week, are 10-1 SU and ATS coming off their first loss of the season since 2003. The Patriots are also 8-3 Over/Under in those contests. New England is giving 9.5 points to the visiting Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, with the total set at 49 points.

    Back to bacon

    After a break during the holiday weekend, myself and Rob Cressy of rekindled our bromance for the Week 13 NFL games, featuring my Christmas tree in the background – which has actually been up for a couple weeks now. I feel like an offensive lineman keeping my two-year-old daughter away from the ornaments. I’m not falling for her swim move again.

    The Madden Project

    Last year, Santa Claus brought our oldest son an Xbox One for Christmas, which is great because for the next few Xmases and birthdays – or at least until the next-gen system hits the market – he’s easy to buy for: games, controllers, Xbox cards.

    It’s a bit of an investment at first, but saves you time and pain down the road, like a slow cooker or flossing your teeth. Here are this week’s Madden 16 sim results:

    Seattle at Minnesota: 27-21/48-34/17-10
    Seattle wins 30.6-21.6

    Philadelphia at New England: 24-21/28-41/28-31
    New England wins 31-26.6

    Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: 24-20/21-31/24-42
    Pittsburgh wins 31-23

    Last week: 0-3 ATS
    Madden 16 season: 19-20-1 ATS (49%)

    Biggest line move…

    Cincinnati at Cleveland. As discussed above, this game opened with the Bengals as 7.5-point favorites before the Browns loss to Baltimore on Monday and has since climbed as high as -10.5 with most books dealing Cincy -10.

    Sharps like…

    St. Louis and San Diego. Even bookmakers are a bit surprised by the early sharp money this week, especially the smart money on the Rams. St. Louis opened as a 6-point home dog to Arizona and has been trimmed to +5.5. According to Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas, he doesn’t believe this action has an ulterior motive – like buying back the Cardinals at the lower spread.

    “I don’t believe so, because you usually see that with spreads like 7.5 or 10.5 – not spread between five and six,” Simbal says.

    As for the Bolts, the smart money has cut that line from +4 to +3.5 on the home underdog. The Broncos travel for a possible letdown spot after stunning the Patriots last Sunday.

    Biggest sweat…

    Carolina at New Orleans. The undefeated Panthers are touchdown favorites in the Big Easy. According to Simbal, there was only one bet placed on New Orleans midway through the week and 98 percent of the action on this game is on Carolina.

    Banker game…

    Cincinnati at Cleveland. Every parlay will have the Bengals tied into it, going against their state rivals who march out backup QB Austin Davis instead of Johnny Manziel. We had a fun discussion in the office this week, asking to set the odds on if “Jonny Football” will actually take a snap this week. I said it would be about YES +450. What’d ya got?

    Daily Fantasy Player of the Week

    Hey, I’m starting to get the hang of this whole DFS thing. After totaling about 50 DFS points with picks from Week 1 to Week 9, I’ve done OK for myself in the past three weeks.

    In Week 10, I had RB Matt Jones for 26.2 points. In Week 11, I got just 8.2 from RB C.J. Anderson. And last week my selection of WR Eric Decker produced 14.7 DFS goodies with 62 yards and a touchdown. Not bad, considering my previous selections were about as shaky as a coaching position with the Dolphins.

    DFS Player of the Week: Vernon Davis, TE Denver Broncos ($5,200)

    Davis has been slowly working his way into the Broncos’ system and had a nice day in his first game with Brock Osweiler under center, catching six passes for 68 yards. Last week against the Patriots, he took a step back to fellow TE Owen Daniels, who caught five balls for 48 yards but injured his leg and is questionable for Week 13. The Chargers have allowed the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends this season and Davis is a good talent for a great price.

    Injury to note

    Willie Snead, WR New Orleans Saints (calf)

    Snead has made a name for himself as the Saints’ slot receiver, with 45 receptions for 676 yards and three touchdowns. He has picked up most of his yards on short passes, allowing him to make plays with his feet and has become somewhat of a safety blanket for Drew Brees when the pressure mounts. If Snead is unable to go, Brees won’t have that check down against a dangerous Carolina defense, which has 33 sacks on the season.

    We know how to pick’em

    The Seahawks and Vikings have been hovering around a pick all week, sitting on the fence for a while before action on Seattle moved the spread to Minnesota +1. As we do every week in this spot, we encourage you to put away those spread sheets and power ratings when it comes to this line and just go with the team you think has the hottest cheerleaders.


    Week 13 Tip Sheet
    By Kevin Rogers

    Texans at Bills (-3 ½, 41 ½) – 1:00 PM EST

    These two AFC squads are going in different directions of late, as Houston (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) has won four straight games to pull into a tie atop the AFC South with Indianapolis. The Texans’ defense continues to shine by allowing six points in three of their past four victories, while coming off a dominating 24-6 effort against the Saints last Sunday as 3 ½-point favorites. Houston looks to improve on a 2-3 SU/ATS record away from NRG Stadium, as the Texans beat the Bills last season at home, 23-17.

    Two weeks ago, Buffalo (5-6 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) sat above the .500 mark and in a prime position to grab a Wild Card spot. The Bills are still in the hunt, but consecutive losses to the Patriots and Chiefs on the road the last two weeks has derailed things. Buffalo jumped out to a 16-7 advantage at Kansas City last Sunday before the Chiefs rallied for a 30-22 victory as 4 ½-point favorites. Rex Ryan’s club hasn’t been great at home since whipping the Colts in the opener, losing three of their past four games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills are 1-3 SU/ATS in the favorite role with the lone victory coming in their last home game against the Dolphins in Week 9.

    Seahawks (-1 ½, 42) at Vikings – 1:00 PM EST

    A game involving major tiebreaking implications in the NFC playoff race takes place in Minnesota, as the Vikings (8-3 SU, 9-2 ATS) try to capitalize on last week’s 20-10 victory at Atlanta. Adrian Peterson rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time in the past five games for the Vikings, racking up 158 yards and two touchdowns to give Minnesota its fourth straight road victory. The Vikings won their first four games at TCF Bank Stadium before getting blown out by the Packers two weeks ago, as Mike Zimmer’s team owns a fantastic 8-2 SU/ATS record the last 10 home games since last November.

    The Seahawks (6-5 SU, 4-6-1 ATS) have bounced back from a 2-4 start to win four of the past five games and creep back above the .500 mark. Seattle outlasted Pittsburgh in a shootout last Sunday, 39-30 to cash late as three-point favorites, the third straight ‘over’ for Pete Carroll’s squad. The Seahawks have overcome an 0-3 road start to win each of their last two away from CenturyLink Field, beating the 49ers and Cowboys in low-scoring affairs. Seattle is making its first visit to Minnesota since 2009, as the Seahawks beat the Vikings in their previous meeting two seasons ago, 30-20, even though Peterson rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

    Falcons at Buccaneers (-1, 46) – 1:00 PM EST

    A 5-0 start is a distant memory for Atlanta (6-5 SU, 4-7 ATS), who is in danger of missing the postseason. The Falcons lost their fourth straight game last Sunday in a 20-10 home defeat to the Vikings, the sixth consecutive contest that Dan Quinn’s team has scored 21 points or less. Atlanta is the coldest ATS team in the league by failing to cover its last seven games, including a 23-20 home overtime loss to Tampa Bay last month as eight-point favorites.

    Last season, the Buccaneers (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) selected first in the NFL Draft, but are far from that slot this season. Tampa Bay’s two-game winning streak came to a halt in a 25-12 setback at Indianapolis as three-point underdogs, as Jameis Winston was held to one passing touchdown or less for the fourth time in five games. The Bucs have cashed in five of the past seven games overall, while sailing ‘over’ the total in four of five home contests.

    Jets (-2, 46 ½) at Giants – 1:00 PM EST

    The battle of New Jersey pits two clubs that are fighting playoff spots in different situations. The Giants (5-6 SU, 6-4-1 ATS) are somehow tied for the top spot in the NFC East with the Redskins in spite of sitting below .500, as New York fell short at Washington last Sunday, 20-14 to suffer their second consecutive loss. Tom Coughlin’s squad fell to 2-3 inside the division, while splitting a pair of game against AFC competition, which includes a last-second home loss to the Patriots.

    The Jets (6-5 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) have gone through a roller-coaster ride in Todd Bowles’ first season as head coach. New York began the campaign at 4-1, but fell backwards the last six games by dropping four of six to fall into the AFC Wild Card logjam alongside Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Houston, and Indianapolis. The Jets snapped a two-game skid in last Sunday’s 38-20 rout of the Dolphins, the highest-scoring output for New York this season. This rivalry has been all Giants over the years with Big Blue beating Gang Green five straight times since 1996, including a 29-14 triumph by the Giants in the final month of the 2011 season.

    Chiefs (-3, 44 ½) at Raiders – 4:05 PM EST

    No team in the AFC is hotter than Kansas City (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) over the last five games, as the Chiefs haven’t lost since a 1-5 start. Kansas City goes for its third road win over a division foe in the past month after beating Denver and San Diego in November. The Chiefs rallied past the Bills, 30-22 to cash as 4 ½-point favorites last Sunday, as Andy Reid’s club has covered each of the last four times when laying points. Kansas City has struggled in its last few visits to the Black Hole, losing two of the past three meetings to Oakland, including a 24-20 setback as seven-point road favorites last season.

    Following a promising start, the Raiders (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) dropped three in a row prior to a 24-21 triumph at Tennessee last Sunday. Derek Carr threw for 330 yards and three touchdown passes, including the game-winning score with less than 90 seconds remaining. Oakland has endured several ups and downs at home, losing three of five times at the Black Hole, as Jack Del Rio’s squad has split four games in the role of a home underdog.


    Gridiron Angles – Week 13
    By Vince Akins


    — The Bills are 12-0 ATS (12.50 ppg) since September 16, 2012 after a road loss where they allowed at least 100 yards rushing.


    — The 49ers are 0-10 ATS (-11.65 ppg) since November 2000 as a dog of more than three points after allowing at least 22 first downs in a home game.


    — The Vikings are 0-7 OU since December 21, 2008 after a road win where Adrian Peterson ran for at least 100 yards.


    — The Bears are 12-0 OU (11.25 ppg) since November 28, 2010 after a win where they had less than 300 total yards.


    — The Cardinals are 0-12-1 OU (-8.38 ppg) since September 21, 2008 on the road after a win in which passing for three times as many yards as they rushed for.


    — The Jaguars are 8-0 ATS vs a divisional opponent when they host a divisional opponent next.


    Total Talk – Week 13
    By Chris David

    Week 12 Recap

    The ‘over’ produced an 8-7-1 record over the holiday weekend and bettors saw not one but two primetime games cash to the high side. A couple of those ‘over’ tickets were helped with late fourth quarter surges, in particular the Dolphins-Jets and Patriots-Broncos games.

    This year’s total market in the NFL has had a great amount of give and take and after 12 weeks, the ‘over’ holds a slight edge (87-85-4) this season. We only have 90 regular season games left and at this points, I’d expect those numbers to hold steady.

    Trending Under

    The non-conference ‘under’ angle connected again last week with a 3-1 mark and is now 11-3 the past three weeks and 37-17-1 (67%) through 12 weeks.

    In the 2013 regular season, we saw the ‘over’ go 49-15 (76.5%) in AFC-NFC matchups and the Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Broncos also went to the high side. We only have nine matchups left and two take place this Sunday.

    N.Y. Jets at N.Y. Giants: Somewhat of a high total (46.5) for this game and certainly doable. The Jets have seen the ‘over’ cash in six of their last seven and their defense (24.7 points per game) hasn’t played great during this stretch. The secondary is banged up and they face a Giants attack that has averaged 27 PPG at home this season, which has helped the ‘over’ go 4-1. Quarterback Eli Manning has faced his cross-town rival twice in his career and has led the Giants to a pair of double-digit victories while scoring 35 and 29 points.

    Philadelphia at New England: If the Patriots had a full roster, this total would easily be in the fifties. Quarterback Sam Bradford returns for Philadelphia and that does improve the offense. Due to the key offensive injuries (Edelman, Gronkowski) I’m not sure what Bill Belichick will do in this game but Tom Brady and the offense will get plenty of possession against the Eagles. Philadelphia has allowed a combined 90 points in its last two games and the Patriots have scored 30, 27 and 27 in their first three games versus the NFC East this season. However, New England is off a bad overtime loss to Denver last Sunday night and you might see a hangover effect for this late afternoon game against an Eagles squad that has had extra days to prepare.

    Divisional Battles

    As the NFL heads into December, the schedule is loaded with divisional affairs and that’s the case this weekend.

    Cincinnati at Cleveland: The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight and four of the last five meetings. The QB situation for the Browns is a mess but the Bengals have been a great ‘over’ bet on the road (4-1) and the Browns have gone 8-3 to the high side this season, which includes a 5-0 mark at home.

    Jacksonville at Tennessee: This total is sitting at 43 ½ and seems a little high based on the recent history. The ‘under’ is 7-3 the last 10 and has cashed in four straight which includes their first meeting (19-13) between the pair in November which saw the Jaguars capture an ugly win at home.

    Arizona at St. Louis: The past four seasons, these teams have seen the ‘over/under’ go 1-1 in their regular season encounters. If you believe that trend to continue, you go ‘under’ here with the first game going ‘over’ (43.5) in October as the Rams defeated the Cardinals 24-22 in the desert. Arizona is 8-3 to the ‘over’ but St. Louis owns the same record to the ‘under’ this season.

    Atlanta at Tampa Bay: The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in the last four meetings between the pair at Raymond James Stadium. Atlanta enters this game on a 7-0 run to the ‘under’ and the once potent offense looks lethargic right now. Plus, the Falcons defense has been very solid under head coach Dan Quinn and that’s helped the cause to the low side. Tampa has been next to impossible to gauge when it comes to totals this season but they’ve always rebounded after being held to 14 or less points and they scored 12 last week in a loss at the Colts.

    Denver at San Diego: Four of the last five have gone ‘under’ and that was with Peyton Manning under center. Even though the Broncos went ‘over’ last week with Brock Osweiler, he was helped with a great running effort and penalties. The Chargers defense hasn’t held an opponent under 20 PPG all season, so a good effort from Denver wouldn’t be a surprise with its backup.

    Kansas City at Oakland: Three straight ‘over’ winners in this series and this week’s number (45) is a tad higher despite the current form of the Chiefs defense (12.2 PPG) during their current five-game winning streak. Oakland (24 PPG) has improved immensely on offense this season but its defense (25.5 PPG) is still shaky. The Raiders have seen the ‘over’ go 3-1-1 this season at home.

    Carolina at New Orleans: The Panthers beat the Saints 27-22 in Week 3 and the ‘over’ (43) cashed. Ten weeks later, the total has been jacked up nearly seven points (49 ½) and that number seems fair based on the inept defense of the Saints and the vast improvement from Carolina’s offense. If you’re leaning to the high side, you’re going to need something from Drew Brees and company, which seems like a toss-up these days.

    Dallas at Washington: (See Below)

    Under the Lights

    I made a subtle suggestion in Week 11 to start chasing the ‘over’ in primetime games only because I didn’t believe the crazy ‘under’ pace would keep up. At that point, the ‘under’ was 22-10 (69%) in night games and since then, the ‘over’ has gone 4-2 and that includes Thursday’s ridiculous finish in the Packers-Lions game. Heading into this weekend, the ‘under’ still holds a 24-14 (63%) edge.

    Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: This game opened 47 ½ and has been bumped up to 49 and that shouldn’t be surprising. In games Big Ben has started and finished, the Steelers have averaged 28.6 PPG. The Colts have allowed 26 PPG in five road games and they only have 19 sacks in 12 games, which is ranked 27th in the league. Matt Hasselbeck has looked good (7 TDs, 2 INTS) for Indy but playing on the road at Pittsburgh in the elements is much tougher than four games in controlled climates. The Steelers ripped the Colts 54-34 last season and the ‘over’ (48) was never in doubt.

    Dallas at Washington: Four of the last five in this series has gone ‘under’ and hard to expect an ‘over’ with Tony Romo ‘out’ for the Cowboys. Dallas has gone 4-3 to the ‘under’ in games he didn’t start and the offense only averaged 17 PPG during this span. Washington needs a win and going from hunter to hunted isn’t easy. Make a note that the ‘Skins have only been favored one other time this season and they barely won as QB Kirk Cousins asked us, “You like that?” The defense is off a good effort and they rarely have great production in back-to-back weeks.

    Fearless Predictions

    We almost pulled off the sweep but an overtime touchdown in the Broncos-Patriots game cost us the teaser wager. For those keeping track, we’ve produced three straight weeks of profit ($570) but we’re still down on the season ($560). As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!

    Best Over: Atlanta-Tampa Bay 46

    Best Under: Cincinnati-Cleveland 43 ½

    Best Team Total: Over 23 ½ Miami

    Three-Team Total Teaser (9-Point, +100)
    Over 37 Atlanta-Tampa Bay
    Over 39 ½ Philadelphia-New England
    Over 40 Indianapolis-Pittsburgh

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