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NFL 'Week 17' • Previews, Articles, Info. • Sunday 1/3/16

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    Preview: Tennessee at Indianapolis
    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Nine things have to go their way for the Indianapolis Colts to make the playoffs, and that’s not even counting their major issues at quarterback. With its top three signal-callers all unlikely to play, Indianapolis hosts the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

    The Colts lost both Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst to injuries in their win at Miami last week. And, with Andrew Luck still not cleared from a lacerated kidney, Indianapolis was forced to sign Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley during the week as they chase an unlikely playoff berth. Tennessee looks to snap a three-game slide as it limps into the offseason. The Titans, who dropped a 35-33 decision to the visiting Colts earlier in the season, probably won’t have their top quarterback either as Marcus Mariota is still recovering from a knee injury.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: NL. O/U: NL.

    ABOUT THE TITANS (3-12): Zach Mettenberger, who was 24-for-51 for 234 yards in last week’s blowout loss to Houston, will most likely get the start again at quarterback for Tennessee, which has just one win since Nov. 8. Mettenberger, however, will be without his top target, Kendall Wright, who re-injured his MCL in last week’s loss. Running back Antonio Andrews was benched after losing a fumble early in last week’s game for the Titans, who can clinch the top pick in the NFL draft with a loss.

    ABOUT THE COLTS (7-8): Luck led a comeback in the first meeting of the season by throwing a pair of touchdown passes as the Colts rallied from 13 points down in the fourth quarter. Hasselbeck is doubtful with a shoulder injury and Whitehurst was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, leaving the Colts with Freeman, who most recently played for the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL) in 2015, and Lindley, who was waived from the Patriots’ training camp in September. Neither expect to add much to an offense that ranks 29th in total yards and 30th in rushing.


    1. The Colts have won eight straight in the series and 13 of the last 14 meetings.

    2. Indianapolis has to win and needs victories by Jacksonville, Buffalo, Miami, Baltimore, Atlanta, Oakland, Denver and Pittsburgh to earn a playoff berth.

    3. Titans tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion in last week’s game and is questionable.

    PREDICTION: Tennessee 23, Indianapolis 20.


    Preview: Detroit at Chicago
    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

    After experiencing plenty of overhaul during the season, the Detroit Lions can wrap up the disappointing campaign on a high note Sunday as they visit the Chicago Bears. A horrific start brought Jim Caldwell’s job security into question, but the Lions have won two in a row and five of seven to put themselves in position to escape the NFC North cellar should they record a sixth straight victory versus their division rivals.

    “Guys see that he’s a great person. He’s a great coach, and guys are going to fight for that, you know,” stud wideout Calvin Johnson said of Caldwell, who is on the hot seat during his second season at the helm. Johnson intends to back up his words by playing on Sunday despite nursing a nagging ankle injury. While Detroit is ascending, Chicago is trying to wrap up coach John Fox’s first season with back-to-back victories following a three-game skid. Matt Forte’s days in the Windy City could be dwindling, as the veteran running back saw Ka’Deem Carey record two touchdowns in last week’s 26-21 win over Tampa Bay while rookie Jeremy Langford has six on the season.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Bears -1. O/U: 46

    ABOUT THE LIONS (6-9): Matthew Stafford has fueled the team’s late charge, throwing for 14 touchdowns in his last six contests – including two in a 32-17 triumph over San Francisco last week. The former top overall pick threw for a season-high 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-34 triumph over the Bears on Oct. 18. Johnson, who had six receptions for a season-high 166 yards and a score in the first meeting, has reeled in 10 touchdown catches in 16 career meetings with Chicago.

    ABOUT THE BEARS (6-9): Alshon Jeffrey torched the Lions in the first encounter with eight catches for 147 yards and a touchdown, but his season officially ended on Wednesday as he was placed on injured reserve. The former Pro Bowler had been nursing an ailing hamstring among other injuries and only competed in nine contests this campaign. Jay Cutler threw for a season-best 353 yards in the first meeting with Detroit but was held to just 156 last week despite completing 20-of-27 passes.


    1. Detroit made wholesale changes earlier in the season, firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi on Oct. 26 before dismissing team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew one week later.

    2. The Bears have rushed 444 times this season, which is 111 more than the Lions.

    3. Detroit’s Theo Riddick has an NFL-best 76 receptions among RBs this season but only had three in the first meeting.

    PREDICTION: Lions 21, Bears 17


    Preview: Washington at Dallas
    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    The NFC East was up for grabs when the Washington Redskins suffered a three-point home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 7. Washington, however, rebounded from that setback with three consecutive victories to wrap up the division title and clinch the No. 4 seed in the NFC, rendering Sunday’s rematch against the Cowboys in Dallas meaningless for both teams.

    Despite having nothing on the line, Redskins coach Jay Gruden on Thursday said quarterback Kirk Cousins will get the start against the Cowboys. “All our guys are starting,” Gruden said. “How I substitute throughout the course of the game will be dependent on how we’re doing health-wise and the situation of the game.” Translation: Don’t expect to see much of Cousins and Washington’s key players against a Dallas squad that has dropped its last three games and scored a total of 29 points in the process. The Cowboys have won only once at home – versus the New York Giants in the season opener.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Cowboys -4. O/U: 39.5

    ABOUT THE REDSKINS (8-7): Cousins has posted a passer rating over 100 in his past five games while playing brilliantly during the three-game winning streak, throwing for 984 yards while tossing four touchdowns and zero interceptions in each of his last two contests. Tight end Jordan Reed was immense over the past three games with 25 receptions for 333 yards and five scoring passes to boost his season touchdown total to 11. Washington is vulnerable against the run, ranking 26th in the league by allowing an average of 124.1 yards per game.

    ABOUT THE COWBOYS (4-11): Dallas has had a revolving door at quarterback with Tony Romo twice fracturing his collarbone, and Kellen Moore will make his second straight start and try to rebound from a rocky debut in last week’s 16-6 loss to Buffalo. One of the few bright spots for the Cowboys has been the play of running back Darren McFadden, who has rushed for 100 yards in five of his last 10 starts and is three yards from reaching 1,000. Dallas ranks fifth in the league against the pass, yielding an average of 223 yards.


    1. Redskins WR DeSean Jackson has 14 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns in the last three meetings.

    2. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant was placed on injured reserve and will undergo surgery on his foot and ankle.

    3. Reed needs 93 yards to become the first tight end in franchise history with 1,000 yards.

    PREDICTION: Cowboys 20, Redskins 13


    Preview: Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants
    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

    The Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly earlier in the week and longtime New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin could be in line for a similar fate as these underachieving NFC East teams conclude their respective seasons at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Philadelphia has dropped two in a row and six of nine since breezing to a 27-7 victory over New York on Oct. 19.

    DeMarco Murray, who reportedly had his issues with Kelly, rushed for a season-high 112 yards against the Giants and looks for more carries under interim coach Pat Shurmur. Last season’s leading rusher in the NFL has been limited to just seven rushes for 30 yards in his last two outings, with 27 coming in a 38-24 setback last week as Washington wrapped up the division title. A second-place finish awaits the winner of Sunday’s contest, which is peculiar considering New York has lost six of its last eight. Eli Manning struggled mightily with Odell Beckham Jr. serving a one-game suspension last week, completing just five passes and tossing three interceptions while targeting wideouts in a 49-17 loss to Minnesota.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Giants -3.5. O/U: 51

    ABOUT THE EAGLES (6-9): Sam Bradford is finishing the season on a high note, following up his 361-yard, two-touchdown performance versus Arizona with 380 yards and a score against the Redskins. Although the free agent-to-be Bradford’s future is uncertain, Jordan Matthews hasn’t been quiet about wanting the veteran quarterback to return to Philadelphia for a second season. “I’m very adamant about that,” said Matthews, who has reeled in 14 receptions in the last two games. “Having a quarterback that you can build with, that you can grow with, is huge.”

    ABOUT THE GIANTS (6-9): Team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch have not publicly commented on the job security of Coughlin, while the 69-year-old coach himself dismissed that line of questioning Thursday in an effort to focus on the regular-season finale. “I won’t let myself go in those other directions because we have a job to do, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Coughlin told reporters. “All these other issues will clear up in time, but not before then.” Beckham leads the team in receptions (91) and yards (1,396) while his 13 touchdown receptions are tied for a club single-season record with Homer Jones (1967).


    1. Philadelphia TE Zach Ertz had 13 receptions for a career-high 122 yards last week.

    2. New York DE Jason Pierre-Paul missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday with an ankle injury.

    3. The Giants are yielding an NFL-worst 419.3 yards per contest, with 297.9 coming through the air.

    PREDICTION: Eagles 30, Giants 24


    Preview: St. Louis at San Francisco
    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

    With rookie Todd Gurley serving as the focal point, the St. Louis Rams have exhibited flashes of what they can do on offense during the team’s three-game winning streak. The surging Rams look to finish with a .500 record for the first time since 2006 when they visit the NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

    “I’m certainly by no means satisfied with it, but 8-8 is better than 7-9,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher told the team’s official website. Gurley has rushed for four touchdowns over the last three weeks and also found the end zone in the Rams’ 27-6 romp over the 49ers on Nov. 1. A sputtering offense has been an all-too-common occurrence for San Francisco, which has recorded a league-low 14.6 points per game and is at or near the bottom in the NFL in several offensive categories. The 49ers didn’t muster much in that regard last week as they dropped their third in a row and fifth in six outings with a 32-17 setback at Detroit.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Rams -3.5. O/U: 37

    ABOUT THE RAMS (7-8): Hardly considered flashy, Case Keenum’s efficient passing ways have enabled Fisher to move on from offseason acquisition Nick Foles and hand the keys to the 27-year-old. “We’re having fun,” said Keenum, who has completed just 14 passes in each contest of the team’s winning streak – including last week’s 23-17 victory over Seattle. “We’re playing football. We’ve got nothing to lose. … I think that’s the mindset our guys have got.” Wideout Kenny Britt reeled in a 28-yard touchdown reception last week for his second score in as many weeks.

    ABOUT THE 49ERS (4-11): Missouri native Blaine Gabbert isn’t placing any extra emphasis on facing the team he watched with his family as season ticket holders. “No, not at all,” the 26-year-old Gabbert told reporters. “It’s another division game. It’s a big game for both sides regardless of the situation that we put ourselves in up to this point.” Gabbert rebounded from a three-interception performance versus Cincinnati on Dec. 20 by tossing a pair of touchdown passes versus the Lions.


    1. San Francisco LB NaVorro Bowman leads the league with 145 tackles.

    2. St. Louis last won more than three consecutive games in a season in 2003.

    3. A victory would prevent the 49ers from matching their highest loss total since 2005.

    PREDICTION: Rams 23, 49ers 10


    Preview: Tampa Bay at Carolina
    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

    The Carolina Panthers no longer are playing to preserve a perfect season, but they still have plenty on the line. The Panthers can clinch the NFC’s top seed and home-field advantage through the conference championship game with a win Sunday over the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Carolina also can claim the top seed with an Arizona loss or tie versus Seattle, but with both games starting at the same time and the Cardinals holding the tiebreaker, the Panthers will have to play to win. They also want to avoid limping into the postseason with a two-game losing streak after having their undefeated run upended with a 20-13 loss last week at Atlanta. “You find out what you are made of,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera told reporters. “It’s really how you handle the adversity. … Our goal is to win the Super Bowl. That’s the vision. That’s the destination. But we still have to take the journey.” The Buccaneers maintained their playoff hopes late into the season but have lost three straight to ensure their fifth consecutive losing campaign.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Panthers -10.5. O/U: 46

    ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (6-9): It’s been far from a lost season for Tampa Bay, thanks to an encouraging rookie season by top pick Jameis Winston (3,717 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions) and a bounce-back campaign from Doug Martin (1,354 rushing yards, six TDs). The Buccaneers have had a tough time turning drives into points, though, and have committed five turnovers in their last two games and 24 this season – including a season-high five in a 37-23 loss to Carolina in Week 4. The defense that forced at least one turnover in each of the first 10 games has just one takeaway over the last five contests and gave up 174 rushing yards last week – its second-highest total of the season.

    ABOUT THE PANTHERS (14-1): Cam Newton has put together a season for the ages, becoming the first player in NFL history with 30 passing touchdowns (33) and eight rushing scores, but the offense sputtered to just 268 total yards last week as the MVP candidate failed to throw a touchdown pass after tossing 13 in the previous three contests. Newton might not get much help from the rest of Carolina’s ground game this week with Jonathan Stewart (foot) doubtful to return after missing the last two games and Fozzy Whittaker (leg) out. The Panthers might have to lean on a defense that leads the NFL in takeaways (36) and interceptions (22) and has forced at least one turnover in 10 straight games.


    1. Carolina WR Ted Ginn Jr. has six touchdown receptions in his last four games but was limited to one catch for nine yards before suffering a knee injury last week and is listed as questionable.

    2. Winston needs 283 passing yards to become the third rookie in NFL history with 4,000.

    3. Tampa Bay needs a win or a New Orleans loss at Atlanta to avoid becoming the first NFC team since the 1970 merger to finish last in its division five straight years.

    PREDICTION: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 19


    Preview: Seattle at Arizona
    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

    Riding their longest winning streak since 1948, the Arizona Cardinals are still in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC as they prepare for a rematch with the visiting Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The Cardinals have ripped off nine consecutive victories to set a franchise record for wins and already have wrapped up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

    Arizona coach Bruce Arians balked at the idea of holding out some of his key players. “(I) don’t think you get anything out of resting guys,” Arians said. “We’re playing so well right now, we don’t want to change.” The Seahawks, who had a five-game winning streak snapped by the St. Louis Rams last week, have locked up a playoff berth and will be on the road for the first round of the postseason. The Cardinals won the first matchup with a 39-32 victory in Seattle on Nov. 15.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Cardinals -6.5. O/U: 47

    ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (9-6): After averaging a shade over 34 points during a dominant five-game stretch, Seattle struggled against the Rams as fill-in running backs Christine Michael and Bryce Brown were limited to a combined 15 yards on 13 carries. Russell Wilson had thrown for 19 touchdowns and no interceptions in the winning streak, but he was sacked four times and committed a pair of turnovers against St. Louis. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin set a franchise mark with his 14th touchdown catch last week – 11 in the past five weeks – while Seattle’s defense held the Rams to 207 total yards.

    ABOUT THE CARDINALS (13-2): Arizona, which has not lost since a 25-13 setback in Pittsburgh on Oct. 18, is coming off a dominating pair of victories, following up a 40-17 romp in Philadelphia by demolishing Green Bay 38-8 a week ago. The Cardinals, who lead the league in scoring (32.2 points per game) and total offense (420.1 yards), collected nine sacks against the Packers, including three by veteran Dwight Freeney. Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the first matchup versus Seattle while rookie David Johnson is an emerging star since taking over as the starting running back.


    1. Palmer is 26-4 in his last 30 starts with Arizona.

    2. Seahawks CB Richard Sherman has seven interceptions in his past eight meetings versus Arizona.

    3. Johnson is averaging 149.8 yards from scimmage and has scored five TDs in his four starts.

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 27, Seahawks 23


    Preview: San Diego at Denver
    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado

    Peyton Manning will be back on the field but it will be in a backup role as the Denver Broncos attempt to clinch a first-round bye with a victory over the visiting San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Brock Osweiler has gone 4-2 since replacing an injured Manning, including Monday’s come-from-behind victory over Cincinnati that put the Broncos in position for the No. 2 seed.

    Denver needs a win and a loss by New England at Miami to snag the top overall seed in the conference, but it also can lose the AFC West title with a loss and a victory by Kansas City. Manning, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15 with a torn plantar fascia, has been dealing with another off-field issue after he was named in a report by Al-Jazeera as having obtained HGH through his wife. “It’s not true today and it won’t ever be true,” Manning said. “And I’m still angry about it.” San Diego has dropped nine of its last 11 games, including a 17-3 home loss to the Broncos on Dec. 6.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Broncos -9. O/U: 41

    ABOUT THE CHARGERS (4-11): Following its bye in Week 10, San Diego was limited to a field goal in three of its next four games and can match the franchise’s worst record since a 4-12 mark in 2003. Philip Rivers has managed to put up some big numbers amid the carnage and can eclipse the franchise single-season record of 4,802 yards (Dan Fouts, 1981) by throwing for 239 yards Sunday, but he was limited to 202 in the earlier meeting with the Broncos. Dontrelle Inman was Rivers’ favorite target in a 23-20 overtime loss to Oakland on Christmas Eve, hauling in eight receptions for 82 yards.

    ABOUT THE BRONCOS (11-4): Osweiler threw for 299 yards and a touchdown as Denver rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit and received some help in the running game from C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each have over 1,000 yards receiving, the fourth straight year in which the Broncos have had a pair of wideouts with at least 1,000 yards. Although Denver’s defense was torched by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in a 34-27 loss on Dec. 20, the unit ranks No. 1 in sacks (49), total yards (280.9) and rushing yards (199.1) allowed.


    1. Broncos LB Von Miller has 10 sacks in nine games versus the Chargers.

    2. San Diego’s Danny Woodhead leads NFL running backs with 704 receiving yards.

    3. Thomas (1,187) needs 13 receiving yards to become the first Denver player with four consecutive 1,200-yard seasons.

    PREDICTION: Broncos 27, Chargers 13


    Preview: Oakland at Kansas City
    When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

    The Kansas City Chiefs look to end their impressive season with a 10th consecutive victory – and a shot at the AFC West title – when they host the division-rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Kansas City clinched a playoff berth in remarkable fashion, following a season-opening triumph with five straight losses before registering a nine-game winning streak it carries into the final weekend.

    The Chiefs can claim their first division crown since 2010 with a win over Oakland and a San Diego victory over Denver. Oakland says goodbye to a legend while it aims for its first .500 season since 2011, as Sunday’s contest will be the final one of Charles Woodson’s career. The 39-year-old safety has recorded 65 interceptions over his 18 NFL campaigns – including five this year – and needs one to pass Ken Riley for fifth place on the all-time list. The Raiders attempt to finish with a winning record on the road, where they have won two straight to improve to 4-3.

    TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Chiefs -7.5. O/U: 43.5

    ABOUT THE RAIDERS (7-8): Latavius Murray leads the AFC in rushing with 1,035 yards but has reached triple digits only two times, with the most recent being a 113-yard performance against the New York Jets in Week 8. Murray won’t have Marcel Reece in the backfield with him Sunday, as the fullback begins serving his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Khalil Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks and needs 1 1/2 to eclipse the club’s single-season record set in 2005 by Derrick Burgess.

    ABOUT THE CHIEFS (10-5): Jeremy Maclin won’t surpass the career-best totals of 1,318 yards and 10 touchdown catches he recorded with Philadelphia last season, but he needs just two receptions to eclipse his personal-best of 85 – also notched in 2014. Alex Smith will be facing one of his favorite opponents Sunday, as he is 6-1 with 16 touchdowns and just one interception against Oakland. Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters is tied with Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson for the league lead with eight interceptions, returning an NFL-high two for touchdowns.


    1. Kansas City is the first team in 45 years to qualify for the postseason after beginning with a 1-5 record.

    2. Oakland QB Derek Carr needs four touchdown passes to break the team’s single-season mark of 34 set in 1969 by Daryle Lamonica and 207 passing yards to join Rich Gannon and Carson Palmer as the only players in club history with 4,000 in a campaign.

    3. The Chiefs have won four of their last five meetings with the Raiders, including a 34-20 victory at Oakland in Week 13.

    PREDICTION: Chiefs 31, Raiders 23


    Preview: Minnesota at Green Bay
    When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, January 3, 2016
    Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

    The NFC North division title and the No. 3 seed in the conference is on the line when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. While both teams have already secured berths in the postseason, the ramifications will be huge: The winner will host a wild card team in the first round of the playoffs while the loser will hit the road as either the fifth or sixth seed.

    The Packers stopped a three-game skid with a 30-13 victory at Minnesota on Nov. 22, but they were manhandled in a 38-8 beatdown at Arizona last week. “We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard and play better,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Everybody has to play better.” Following a stretch of three losses in four games, the Vikings moved back into contention for the division title with lopsided wins over Chicago and the New York Giants. Minnesota has won only once in its last 12 meetings at Lambeau Field.

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

    LINE: Packers -3. O/U: 45.5

    ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-5): While Green Bay was embarrassed by the Cardinals, Minnesota lost a narrow 23-20 decision at Arizona in Week 14 before destroying the Bears and Giants by a combined 53 points. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has thrown for six TD passes and zero interceptions over his last three games, but he was sacked six times and Adrian Peterson was held to 45 yards on 13 carries in the first meeting against the Packers. Minnesota ranks sixth in the league with an average of 19.3 points allowed, but it is vulnerable against the run and gave up 100 yards rushing to Eddie Lacy in November.

    ABOUT THE PACKERS (10-5): Green Bay appeared to be getting back on track after averaging 28.3 points during a three-game winning streak, but surrendered nine sacks and managed only 178 total yards in the crushing defeat at Arizona. Rodgers had two fumbles returned for touchdowns while posting his second-lowest totals in completions (15) and yards (151) while failing to connect on 60 percent of his passes for the seventh time in 10 games. Lacy has been held to 83 yards in his last two games while leading receiver Randall Cobb has eight receptions for only 55 yards in that same span.


    1. Rodgers has won 10 of his last 11 versus the Vikings, throwing for 28 touchdowns and three interceptions.

    2. Peterson has rushed for 455 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games at Green Bay, playoffs included.

    3. Minnesota’s last win at Green Bay came in 2009, with ex-Packer Brett Favre at QB.

    PREDICTION: Packers 23, Vikings 20


    Vegas Money Moves – Week 17
    By Micah Roberts

    Information is always the key to making a number in any sport, but probably none is more important than the NFL just because of the high limits and volume handled. The NFL lines are the most sound of any sport, but when Week 17 rolls around it puts bookmakers in an uncomfortable situation because they’re waiting for information on how long starters will play for popular teams that already have a date in the playoffs set. And then comes the dilemma of determining how much that information received is worth to the number.

    In most cases, it’s the bettors that do the deciding on what the proper number is when getting the information which is why it’s not unusual to see rapid line movements similar to the pre-season.

    A perfect example of how cautious the sports books are being this week is at Station Casinos where nine of the 16 games are circled — $2,000 limit instead of the normal $20,000. If you know you’re going to get beat to the punch or aren’t confident a sound number is being posted, there’s no need to give full limits.

    Below is a look at the Early Week 17 opening numbers posted last Wednesday at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and where the line has been moved to based on playoff situation, injuries, rating adjustment following Week 16 results, market adjustments on Sunday night and then of course actual cash wagered.

    NY Jets at Buffalo: The Bills opened -1.5 and then was re-opened with the Jets -1.5 on Sunday night because of the importance of the game for New York and Bills running back LeSean McCoy being listed as ‘doubtful.’ Bettors laid New York up to -3 because of ’having to win’ to make the playoffs, but Buffalo money has showed up pushing it back down to -2.5. From a power ratings perspective, N.Y. is only about 1.5-points better than Buffalo, and when factoring in McCoy, it’s about a 2-point differential. Buffalo’s home field is worth 2.5, so it would seem the Westgate’s early number is closer to what the proper line should be. Is the Jets playoff situation really worth 4-points? The betting public and their early parlay leans apparently think it is, so the Jets -2.5 is the proper number because most laid it. But larger money grabbed the value with +3 at home. The Jets have won their past five games (4-0-1 ATS) while the Bills have won and covered the past four meetings versus New York.

    Tampa Bay at Carolina: The Panthers opened -10 and were re-opened at -9.5 Sunday night before being bet up to -10.5 on Monday. Tampa Bay has failed to cover its past three games while Carolina is 1-3 ATS in its last four. Carolina needs to win this game to ensure home field advantage throughout, or have Arizona lose at home to Seattle.

    New England at Miami: The Patriots opened -3.5 and were re-opened -8 Sunday night and it’s currently -10. Last week it looked like this could be a game where New England rested players, but following the loss at the New York Jets and Denver’s MNF win, home field throughout the playoffs isn’t clinched yet. Miami has gone 0-8 ATS in its last eight against AFC East teams, including a 37-10 average loss to New England in its past two meetings.

    Baltimore at Cincinnati: The Bengals opened -10 and it’s now -9. Baltimore comes off a huge win over Pittsburgh last week behind newly signed QB Ryan Mallett. Cincinnati can become the No. 2 seed even with a loss if Denver loses and Kansas City wins because then the Chiefs would be AFC West champs and Cincy beat them head-to-head this season. The Bengals are an amazing 12-2-1 ATS this season.

    New Orleans at Atlanta: No early line posted due to QB Drew Brees status, but he‘s expected to play and Atlanta was opened -4 on Monday and the line shot up to -5.5 on Thursday. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.

    Jacksonville at Houston: No early line posted due to Houston’s QB situation, but Brian Hoyer is expected to start. Houston opened -6 and it’s currently -6.5. The Texans need to win this game to clinch NFC South to avoid all kinds of odd tie-breaking procedures issues should Indianapolis win against Tennessee.

    Pittsburgh at Cleveland: The Steelers opened -9.5 and it’s currently -10.5. Pittsburgh needs to win and hope Buffalo beats the N.Y. Jets to make playoffs. Austin Davis will start at QB for Cleveland.

    Oakland at Kansas City: Kansas City opened -7 and it’s now -7 (-120). KC can win the AFC West with a win and a loss by Denver. Oakland is looking for its first .500 season since 2011 while the Chiefs ride a nine game winning streak (7-2 ATS).

    Tennessee at Indianapolis: The Colts opened -3, but with QB Matt Hasselbeck likely out, no line has been posted. Indy has a slim chance of making playoffs with a Houston loss, but those chances appear to be even slimmer since QB duties will be in the hands of Ryan Lindley or Josh Freeman who were both signed early in the week with each getting first string reps in practice.

    Washington at Dallas: Opened Pick ‘em and it’s now DAL -4 due to WASH expecting to rest starters after clinching the NFC East following its season-high three game win streak. Kellen Moore will start at QB for Dallas and QBs not named Romo for Dallas have gone 1-10 this season. The Redskins are 7-1 ATS in last eight games at Dallas including last season behind QB Colt McCoy who is expected to get most of the snaps on Sunday.

    Detroit at Chicago: The Bears opened -1.5 and its currently -1. Detroit has won the past five meetings.

    Philadelphia at NY Giants: The Giants opened -2.5 (-120) and its currently -3.5 (EVEN) with none of the movement having to do with Chip Kelly being fired.

    Minnesota at Green Bay: The Packers opened -5.5 and was re-opened Sunday night at -3 following GB getting blasted 38-8 at Arizona and Minnesota blowing out its past two opponents by a 43-17 average score. On Friday morning Green Bay was moved to -3.5 (EVEN). Whoever wins this game will be NFC North champions and get the No. 3 seed. Minnesota has gone 12-3 ATS this season.

    San Diego at Denver: The Broncos opened -9.5 and it’s currently -9. If Denver wins they get the No. 2 seed and have an outside shot at being No. 1 if Miami can somehow pull off a miracle against New England. Although San Diego is only 1-6 on the road this season, they have covered its last three games overall and last five on the road.

    St. Louis at San Francisco: The Rams opened -2.5 and was re-opened -3.5 on Sunday and hasn’t moved all week. St. Louis has won and covered its last three games while San Francisco lost and failed to cover its last three.

    Seattle at Arizona: The Seahawks opened -2.5 and was re-adjusted to Arizona -3.5 on Sunday night following Week 16 results which included Carolina losing to Atlanta, making the No. 1 seed still a possibility for the Cardinals. On Monday the number was bet up to -4.5. On Tuesday, it was quickly moved past the dead numbers of -5 and -5.5 up to -6 and finally -6.5 where it still sits. It’s possible with nothing to gain that Seattle could rest some starters while Arizona coach Bruce Arians has said he’ll rest no one.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 11 years.


    Gridiron Angles – Week 17
    By Vince Akins


    — The Patriots are 13-0 ATS (15.27 ppg) since Nov 03, 2002 on the road after a loss where they allowed at least 22 first downs.


    — The Bears are 0-12-2 ATS (-9.36 ppg) since Dec 18, 2011 at home after a game with a rushing touchdown.


    — The Seahawks are 6-0 ATS (11.17 ppg) since Sep 27, 2015 after a game in which Doug Baldwin had at least 5 receptions.


    — The Dolphins are 0-13 ATS (-16.50 ppg) since Jan 03, 2010 off a game as a favorite where they threw for at least 250 yards.

    — The Eagles are 11-0 OU (10.27 ppg) since Sep 29, 2013 after a loss where they allowed more points than expected.


    — Teams are 0-7 OU since October 2011 coming off a home game where Darren Sproles had at least 40 receiving yards.


    — The Bears are 10-0 OU (9.55 ppg) since Nov 20, 2011 after a win in which they were outgained by their opponent.


    — The Panthers are 0-10 OU (-7.65 ppg) since October 2006 as a home favorite off a game as a favorite where they allowed more points than expected.


    — Teams that have thrown at least 3 TD passes in back-to-back games are 149-116-5 OU. Active on Washington and New Orleans.


    — The Lions are 0-11 ATS on grass when the line is within 3 of pick and they are off a multiple-point win.


    — The Rams are 0-8 OU when one game under 500 after Week 8.


    NFL’s biggest betting mismatches: Week 17
    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 17:

    New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-4, 53)

    Saints’ explosive starts vs. Falcons’ flat first-quarters

    New Orleans has no trouble getting out of the gate, averaging an NFL-best 7.6 points per first quarter this season. It’s just everything after that first 15 minutes that’s burned the Saints. They’ve averaged more than a touchdown per opening frame and have turned that up in recent contests, averaging eight points over the last three first quarters, including 14 first-quarter points versus Jacksonville last week.

    The Falcons have been flat in first quarters in recent weeks and may be especially deflated with a possible letdown spot following their perfect-season spoiling win over Carolina in Week 16. Atlanta has given up an average of more than nine points in the opening frame over the last three weeks – handing over a total of 28 points early. When these NFC South rivals met back in Week 6, Atlanta was down 14-0 in the first quarter and eventually lost to New Orleans 31-21 as a 3-point road favorite.

    Daily fantasy watch: Brandin Cooks WR

    Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (Pick, 45.5)

    Lions’ sneaky run game vs. Bears’ bad rush defense

    Only one team in the NFL runs the ball less than the Lions. Detroit hands it off just over 34 percent of the time but is starting to spread the football around the playbook in recent weeks. After picking up only 84.5 yards per game – another second-rank statistic – the Lions have averaged 116 yards on the ground in their last three games, running the ball almost 38 percent of the time in that span, including 28 attempts in the win over San Francisco last week. Detroit is rushing for nearly five yards per carry in that span, but you wouldn’t know it by the way QB Matt Stafford is slinging the rock, with 14 touchdowns and only one INT in his last five games.

    Chicago sits 27th in rushing defense, allowing opponents plow their way to 124.5 yards per game. The Bears did a good job against Bucs rusher Doug Martin in the win over Tampa Bay last week, but after giving up more than 400 yards and four touchdowns to Stafford last time out, Chicago could get roughed up on the ground if they drop linebackers into coverage. The Bears have allowed 4.5 yards per carry and have watched foes pick up nearly 35 percent of their first downs on the ground. Against the Lions in Week 6, Da Bears were steamrolled for 155 yards on 32 runs.

    Daily fantasy watch: Ameer Abdullah RB

    Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (-7, 47.5)

    Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. Cardinals’ trouble with dual threats

    We looked at this exact mismatch back in Week 10, when Wilson added a team-high 52 rushing yards on to his 240 yards through the air in a 39-32 loss to Arizona. The Cardinals have had issues with dual-threat quarterbacks, giving up 255 yards (fourth most in the NFL) on 50 rush attempts to QBs this season, even though it’s been a while since they’ve seen one. It’s not a trend reserved to this season either, with Arizona allowing 350 yards on the ground to QBs in 2014 (third most). The Cardinals are a quick and aggressive team, but that means leaving themselves open to some big gains if the quarterback can find clean air to run in.

    Wilson has amassed 541 yards rushing with surprisingly only one rushing score in 2015, making him the second-best running QB in the NFL behind Cam Newton. He’s been doing the heavy lifting with his arm the past month or so, but with a questionable offensive line, Wilson has found himself running for his life more often. He was sacked four times and hit an unlucky 13 times in the loss to St. Louis last week, turning out 39 bonus yards on the ground. He totaled 51 rushing yards versus Minnesota at the beginning of the month and 46 against the Browns in Week 15.

    Daily fantasy watch: Russell Wilson QB

    Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3, 46)

    Vikings’ relentless run vs. Packers’ porous run defense

    The less time Aaron Rodgers has with the football, the better chance the Vikings have of coming away with the NFC North crown. And in order to do so, Minnesota will have to ground-and-pound the Packers defense into submission. The Vikes run the ball more than 48 percent of the time, which has jumped to 53 percent in the past three weeks. That relentless smashing is an investment, with defenses crumbling in the second half. Minnesota averages 5.2 yards per carry in the final two frames – over a yard more than in the first half – according to

    Green Bay was able to jump out to a quick lead against the Vikings when they met in November, forcing Minnesota to pass the ball in a game of catch-up. The Vikes rushed only 18 times for 94 yards – a stark comparison to their 33 average attempts the last three games. However, when you break it down, that’s still more than five yards a carry. Green Bay has been beat up on the ground in recent weeks, allowing a NFL-worst 5.8 yards per run in the past three games while foes average more than 137 yards on the ground in that span.

    Daily fantasy watch: Adrian Peterson RB


    The Muffed Punt: Looking back at our biggest NFL betting trends
    By Jason Logan

    It’s fitting that the NFL comes to a close around the holidays. Both are highly anticipated seasons and – poof – are over before you know it. And while the NFL regular season stretches from September to December (January in this case), it seems to finish quicker than a 16-year-old kid in the back seat of a Honda Prelude on prom night. I guess time does fly when you’re having fun.

    And that’s what this weekly soap box has always been about: F-U-N. We’ve tried to dig up some interesting – and hopefully profitable – NFL trends and statistics while also entertaining football bettors like myself. We may not have pulled the bookies’ pockets inside out, but if we at least made you audibly laugh once or twice: mission accomplished.

    So with the calendar turning to 2016 and the NFL schedule flipping to the postseason, now’s the time we look back and reflect on the past year. For football bettors, that means wagers won and lost, bad beats and stinky sweats, tough totals and torturous teasers.

    And for “The Muffed Punt” it’s time to check in on how all those NFL betting angles panned out throughout the season. Did they come through for our loyal readers or fall victim to the dreaded “Covers Curse” people love to spin yarn about so much. Here goes…

    Week 1: In the opening week of NFL action, we were treated to nine home underdogs. That had us digging up numbers on home pups in Week 1, which were 81-67-4 ATS (55%) over the past 30 seasons entering 2015 and 42-23-1 ATS (65%) in the 10 seasons with six or more Week 1 home teams getting the points.

    What happened: Home underdogs had very little bite in season openers, going a combined 4-5 ATS in Week 1. Goo.

    Week 2: A trend that’s been buzzing around the Covers office for some time is playing against defending Super Bowl champs in their first road game of the season. Heading into 2015, that situation led to a 9-21 ATS (15-15 SU) record for Super Bowl winners in their first game away from home since 1985 – a 70 percent go-against clip.

    What happened: The Patriots beat the Bills 40-32 as 2-point road underdogs – the only time New England would get the points this season.

    Week 3: We had two doozies in Week 3, looking at the ATS success of double-digit favorites and the impact of the growing 2-point conversion rate on NFL total betting. Heading into Week 3, game with at least one 2-point conversion scored were 223-93-3 Over/Under going back to 2003 – a 70.5 percent Over rate.

    What happened: Double-digit faves are 10-12 ATS on the season, entering Week 17, but have proved profitable for Under bettors. Games involving a spread of 10 or more points posting a collective 5-17 Over/Under mark – 77 percent Under winners. There are five Double-D favorites in Week 17: New England, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Denver.

    As for games including a successful 2-point conversion, they are 26-14-1 O/U this season – 65 percent Overs. Teams going for the extra-extra points the most: Pittsburgh has tried for two 10 times (scoring seven), Green Bay tried six times (scoring four), and Tennessee tried five times (scoring three).

    Week 4: There were a number of 3-0 SU NFL teams playing (four to be exact) their fourth game at home – a situation that had provided a 35-17 ATS (67%) return going back to 1985.

    What happened: The four 3-0 home teams playing in Week 4 went just 2-2 ATS. Yuck, like kissing your sister.

    Week 5: Trigger-happy referees were the big story in Week 5, with more laundry on the ground through the first four weeks than a college dorm room. We dug into the NFL games with the most penalties to see how it impacted totals, discovering that games with 20 or more whistles finished 64-52-2 Over/Under (55% Over) and contests with 25 or more flags produced a 9-4 O/U count – 69 percent Overs – from 2007 to Week 4 of the 2015 season.

    What happened: Games in which there have been 20 or more penalties called are 14-12-1 O/U (54% Overs) and the ones with 25-plus infractions are 2-4 O/U. The “Covers Curse” strikes again!

    Week 6: Football bettors were presented with a rare beast in Week 6, a perfect 5-0 SU and ATS team: the Green Bay Packers. That had only happened 12 times in going back to the 1985 season. Those dozen teams posted a 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS record in their sixth game.

    What happened: Green Bay beat San Diego 27-20 but failed to cover as a 10.5-point home favorite. Curse eh? Maybe we need to get a voodoo priest up in here…

    Week 7: We looked at the true impact of home-field advantage on the NFL spreads, with home favorites posting a 26-34-1 ATS record (43%) at the time, including a 6-12-1 ATS skid the two weeks prior.

    What happened: This one stayed pretty true to form, with home favorites currently just 69-84-6 ATS (45%). That means you could have blindly bet against home chalk each and every week and be in the black this NFL season.

    Week 8: With more teams going for 2-point conversions and the new extra point rules making the job of NFL kicker about as dangerous as fishing for Alaskan snow crabs, so-called “dead numbers” were starting to surface more, making bookmakers nervous. Often times, books will move a spread right over these numbers, like taking a line from -4 straight to -6, making them vulnerable to a middle if the game lands on five.

    What happened: With nearly an entire season behind us, dead numbers didn’t rise from the grave at biblical proportions. Finishes of 5-point differences on the scoreboard showed up 3.33 percent of the time, while eight (3.33%) and nine (1.25%) point discrepancies remained as dormant as ever.

    Week 9: There was an increase in upsets – at least what we would qualify as upsets (underdog of +6 or more winning outright) – at this point in the NFL season, and those pups of 6-plus points were 21-16-1 ATS (55%) heading into Week 9. However, road underdogs of +6 or higher were the real breadwinners, at 18-12-1 ATS (60%).

    What happened: As of Week 17, road underdogs of six or more points are 36-27-2 ATS (57%) while games involving road dogs of 6-plus have finished 27-38 O/U – 58 percent Under. There are six road teams getting six or more points from the bookmakers in Week 17.

    Week 10: We used our awesome BetGraph tool to see which teams covered the spread for the longest percentage of those games, and which ones made you sweat out your wagers. As of Week 9, the Panthers spent the most amount of game time actually covering the spread, exceeding the oddsmakers’ expectations 62 percent of the time.

    What happened: Carolina continued to cover in the second half of the season but as spreads got larger, due to its push for an undefeated season, the amount of game time the Panthers were actually covering in dipped. From Week 9 to Week 16, Carolina has covered the spread in almost 55 percent of total time on the field.

    Week 11: Divisional battles can return interesting results and one trend we discovered was how well underdogs were doing against the spread in AFC South play. At the time, the AFC South team getting the points was 4-1 ATS against a divisional foe.

    What happened: The AFC South, which has two divisional showdowns on the Week 17 slate, has produced a 7-3 ATS mark for divisional underdogs this season. As for Sunday, Tennessee is at Indianapolis (that line is off the board) and Jacksonville is a 6-point pup at Houston.

    Week 12: With the season hitting the home stretch, we shared that often times the best season-ending bets are often bad teams, and that most of the time the good bets go sour in the final two months of the schedule.

    What happened: Well, the most profitable bets since Week 12 haven’t been the most obvious of sources but only one has a losing record. The Jets (4-0-1 ATS), Redskins (4-1 ATS), and Vikings (4-1 ATS) are all above .500 but the Chargers – at 4-11 SU – have covered in four of their last five games heading into Week 17, getting 10 points in Denver Sunday.

    Week 13: December was tagged as the “month good bets go to die”, looking at the best ATS teams from the past and how their profits dried up in the final month of the schedule. The Top 19 bets, going back to 1985, through the first three months of the season were covering at an 85 percent rate from September-November, but posted a 53 percent ATS success rate in December. That put the spotlight on Minnesota, Cincinnati and Carolina.

    What happened: The Vikings and Bengals kept the cash coming in December, each taking a 3-1 ATS mark this month into the season finale. The Panthers, on the other hand, are just 1-3 ATS in December and giving 10.5 points to Tampa Bay at home in Week 17.

    Week 14: Instead of looking at full-game ATS results, we did some digging into the best and worst first and second half bets. One glaring trend that surfaced was how good the NFC East was against the first-half spread – save for the Eagles. As of Week 13, Dallas, Washington and the N.Y. Giants were a combined 23-13 ATS versus first-half lines – 64 percent. Philadelphia, on the other hand, was a dismal 3-9 ATS in the opening two quarters.

    What happened: Those three profitable first-half NFC East bets are now a collective 28-16-1 ATS versus first-half spreads – still 64 percent. And what do you know: Philadelphia still stinks in the opening 30 minutes, at 4-11 ATS versus first-half lines.

    Week 15: The final weeks of the NFL season are known for their big spreads, when playoff-bound teams take on an opponent that’s out of the postseason picture. We looked at teams getting 14 or more points, with those big pups posting a 25-13 ATS mark in December (66%) since 2005. They were hitting at 73 percent with an 11-4-1 ATS record between 2012 and 2014. We did, however, also note that NFL underdogs of two touchdowns or more were 0-3 ATS in 2015.

    What happened: One trend paid off, the other didn’t. Seattle and New England were both giving 14.5 points in Week 15 and both favorites easily covered those mountains of chalk. That improved favorites of 14 or more points to 5-0 ATS on the season.

    Week 16: The weather forecast was calling for rain across the board, with nine NFL games expected to see some wet and wild weather in Week 16. We looked into how poor conditions impact the total and discovered that there is a slight lean toward the Under for games in rain or snow, and this season had produced a 6-9-1 O/U tally in such games – 60 percent Unders.

    What happened: Mother Nature made me look like an ass, and only two of those nine venues actually got rained on: Buffalo and Seattle. However, while we didn’t have a buffet of soggy selections to bet from, those two games did stay Under the total with only 22 points scored in Buffalo and 40 on the scoreboard in Seattle. This weekend, it looks like Buffalo and Cleveland could see some of the white stuff, and Miami and San Francisco could get rained on.

    (Before we go forward, I just wanted to thank our talented and patient stats wizards who helped me cook up these unique trends. Without you this column would just be a bunch of dick and fart jokes loosely connected to football. So, thank you Pete, Mike, Ray, Satish, Ryan and anyone else that crunched the numbers for each Sunday. Appreciate it very much.)

    Pants-pooping Trend of the Week

    The Packers got jacked up by the Cardinals last Sunday, losing 38-8 for one of the most embarrassing losses in the franchise’s recent history. As prideful as Green Bay is, it hasn’t been great at picking itself off the mat following a knockout blow or 10 or more points.

    Since 2008, when Aaron Rodgers took over under center, the Packers are 6-6 SU but just 4-7-1 ATS (36%) in games following a loss of 10 or more points. The Cheeseheads have also gone 7-5 O/U in those contests. Green Bay is a 3-point home favorite hosting Minnesota Sunday night – a NFC North divisional championship game.

    Primetime profits

    All season, we’ve been tracking the results of NFL primetime games. And with no Thursday nighter or Monday nighter, Sunday Night Football between the Vikings and Packers is the lone night game on the Week 17 sked.

    Heading into that NFC North matchup, 2015 NFL primetime games have produced a 29-19-3 ATS record for betting underdogs (60%) and a 21-29-1 Over/Under count (58% Unders). Minnesota is getting a field goal at Lambeau Field Sunday night with the total set at 45.5 points.

    The Madden Project

    My son has been begging us for Xbox Live since the summer, and we constantly shut him down each time the topic came up. However, we caved at Christmas and now he’s testing his Madden might against people all over the globe. I’m just glad he has people to share his “Madden Speak” with it. It was getting tough to feign excitement over his 29th Draft Champions haul in the past three days. Just pick a damn team and play’em.

    Here are this week’s Madden 16 sims:

    N.Y. Jets at Buffalo: 28-27/21-10/14-28
    Bills win 21.3-21

    Seattle at Arizona: 23-10/10-13/35-31
    Seahawks win 22.7-18

    Minnesota at Green Bay: 21-26/33-45/24-21
    Packers win 30.7-26

    Last week: 1-2 ATS
    Madden 16 season: 25-26-1 ATS (49%)

    Sharps like…

    Kansas City. The wiseguys like the Chiefs as home favorites hosting the Raiders. Kansas City opened at a touchdown and that sharp action has hung a half-point hook on this game, with KC going for the AFC West crown. Crazy to think the Chiefs were 60/1 to win the division after starting the year 1-5 SU.

    Biggest line move…

    Seattle at Arizona. The Cardinals opened at -3.5 and were bet up as high as a touchdown before buyback came in on the Seahawks and trimmed the line to -6.5 as of Thursday afternoon. According to CG Technology in Las Vegas, this move is based on the assumption that Seattle will rest players – with little riding on its postseason position – and that Arizona will go all out, trying to lockup home field for the playoffs.

    “There was a sharp lean early in the week, on Arizona -3.5,” says Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology sportsbooks. “They had that idea before anyone else did, and got that number before it went up.”

    Biggest sweat…

    Oakland at Kansas City. “I think everyone is going to have Kansas City in this one,” says Simbal. “They’re going for the division at home. I think the Raiders could have a letdown after a big divisional win at home last week.”

    Banker game…

    Cleveland at Pittsburgh. The Steelers are still holding out hope for the postseason (need a Jets loss) after blowing a huge opportunity as 11-point favorites against Baltimore, losing 20-17. And with Browns QB Johnny Manziel out due to a concussion, the public will pound Pittsburgh, which has already jumped from -10 to -11.

    “Everyone will be like, ‘They can’t lose two games as double-digit favorites, right?’,” says Simbal. “And with Manziel out, the public will be drawn to the Steelers even more. This one will be on every parlay come Sunday.”

    Daily fantasy Player of the Week

    It’s been a rough year for daily fantasy: for me and the industry. Bright spots have been few and far between when it comes to my weekly DFS submission. But, like most things in life, it’s not how you start but how you finish. So let’s close out the regular season with a bang.

    DFS Player of the Week: Owen Daniels, TE Denver Broncos

    I’m going back to the beginning. Daniels was my first DFS PoY selection of the season back in Week 1 (and what I thought was going to be the sleeper fantasy TE of the season). It didn’t pan out that way, but Daniels has improved on that terrible 1.5-point Week 1 performance. Last week, he led Denver with 70 yards on five catches and I can see more of that against the Chargers Sunday.

    Injury to note

    B.J. Raji, NT Green Bay Packers (concussion)

    Raji left last week’s disaster of a game against Arizona with a concussion and hasn’t practiced this week, still waiting to pass tests. The Packers nose tackle is a huge cog in that defense and plays an even bigger role with Adrian Peterson on the other side of the line. Keep an eye on his status the closer the Sunday nighter gets.

    We know how to pick’em

    Each week, we take the game with the pick’em spread (or closest to it), put away the spread sheets and computer models, and turn it over to each team’s cheerleaders, wagering on which squad is the hottest. The Lions-Bears game is actually a pick’em, but neither team has cheerleaders (what is wrong with these franchises?!), so instead of cheerleaders we’ll grade these teams on their QB’s wives: Mrs. Matt Stafford, Kelly Hall vs. Mrs. Jay Cutler, Kristin Cavallari.


    Best bang for your NFL Week 17 daily fantasy buck
    By Scott Rickenbach

    Scott Rickenbach breaks down the best bang for your NFL daily fantasy buck in Week 17, comparing two similarly price DFS options and why you should go with one rather than the other.


    Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets ($7,800) vs. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($8,300)

    Say what you want about Fitzpatrick, the guy has the Jets in the playoff hunt and is one of the best bang-for-your-buck DFS buys in recent weeks, averaging almost 24 DFS points over the previous five games. He’s money in the red zone with targets like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and is producing at a much more consistent rate than some higher priced passers.

    Speaking of high-price QBs, Rodgers has spoiled plenty of DFS weeks with his underwhelming 2015 campaign. The Packers pivot has topped 20 or more DFS points just once in the last six games and was limited to only 8.94 points against Arizona last week. We don’t expect A-Rod to repeat that rotten performance but his offensive line is banged up and Minnesota will be playing ball control football, trying to keep it out of Rodgers’ hands.

    Buy: Fitzpatrick

    Wide receivers

    Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants ($8,900) vs. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($9,300)

    Beckham returns from his one-game ban after throwing a fit versus Carolina two weeks ago. The Giants receiver was on an incredible pace before running into Josh Norman, averaging nearly 25 DFS points in the four games prior. He won’t have that resistance against the Eagles secondary, who have given up the most fantasy points to receivers this season. Beckham had only 61 yards and a touchdown versus Philly in Week 6, but with nothing to lose and the Eagles under new management, we see him topping that total.

    Jones returned to form with a pair of performances the last two weeks, posting 22.3 and 28.3 DFS points after a lengthy drought. While Atlanta is playing a Saints team that has given up the sixth most fantasy points to WRs, Jones didn’t have a big day the last time these divisional mates matched up, with just 12.3 DFS points. Teams are throwing double and triple coverage on Jones, and forcing Atlanta’s other receivers to beat them. The Saints are a prideful franchise and won’t pack it in in the season finale.

    Buy: Beckham Jr.

    Tight ends

    Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals ($6,200) vs. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs ($6,200)

    Eifert had his bell rung in a Week 14 matchup with the Steelers, sitting out the last two weeks with a concussion. He’s expected to return in the regular season closer against Baltimore, but with the Bengals protecting their assets, Eifert could see limited snaps if the game opens up. The Ravens haven’t done too many things right this year but covering TEs is one of them, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to tight ends in the NFL.

    Kelce had just 5.2 DFS points the last time Kansas City played Oakland, which is the fourth worst team versus tight ends, giving up an average of 9.6 fantasy points to TEs per game. The Chiefs’ big man is coming off a busy Week 16 in which he caught six balls for 43 yards and a touchdown. Kelce has averaged more than 11 DFS points over his last five games inside Arrowhead Stadium and it doesn’t look like that groin injury is slowing down his production.

    Buy: Kelce

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