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Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots: Full Team Stats, Odds, More

John Morgan
January 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm ET

Sunday’s American Football Conference Championship Game pits the two teams that have ruled the AFC this millennium. Including next month’s game in Houston, either the Steelers or Patriots will have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl ten times since 2001.

In the 1994 season Bobby Ross and Stan Humphries ended the Buffalo Bills’ reign of four straight AFC championships, with their San Diego Chargers blown out by San Francisco in the 49ers’ last Super Bowl victory. Since then the Pats (7) and Steelers (4) have combined for eleven conference championships, laying waste to the NFL’s vision of parity and every team taking a turn as the best in the league.

The Patriots have had sixteen consecutive winning seasons; Pittsburgh has had only one losing season since 2000, back in 2003. New England has won ten or more games 15 times since 2001, including 14 straight times. The Steelers have eleven double-digit winning years in that time span, including the last three in a row. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls this century to Pittsburgh’s two. Any and every Steeler fan will quickly respond to that fact by pointing out that the Black and Gold still lead the Patriots by the count of six Vince Lombardi Trophies to four overall – even though in most cases they are not old enough to remember four of those victories.


The Basics: Who, What, When, Where and Why

Who: 13-5 Pittsburgh Steelers (#3 seed, AFC North champs) at 15-2 New England Patriots (#1 seed, AFC East champs)

What: 2016-17 American Football Conference Championship Game

When: Sunday January 22 at 6:40 pm ET on CBS

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA

Why: Winner represents the AFC in Super Bowl 51 at Houston on February 5


Weather, Odds and More

Weather: Cloudy with 30% chance of light rain in the late afternoon. Chance of precipitation increases to 70% later in the evening. Winds from the northeast at about 15 mph. Game time temperature of about 33° F.

Keep in mind that this is New England, so the forecast could very well change between now and kickoff.

Coaches: Mike Tomlin is in his tenth year as head coach of the Steelers, having taken over for Bill Cowher in 2007. He has a 103-57 (.644) regular season record, finishing no worse than 8-8 in 2012 and 2013. Tomlin’s teams have made the playoffs seven out of ten times, compiling an 8-5 (.615) post-season record. Under Tomlin the Steelers lost in the wild card game three times and the division round once. Tomlin is 2-0 in the AFCCG and 1-1 in the Super Bowl.

Bill Belichick has compiled a 261-125 overall record in 22 seasons as an NFL head coach. In 17 years with the Patriots Belichick has amassed a 237-115 (.673) regular season record and 24-10 (.706) post season record. Under his guidance the Patriots have won four Super Bowls, six conference championships and fourteen division titles. This will be a post-merger record sixth consecutive time the Patriots have advanced to the AFCCG, and eleventh time they have done so under the Hoodie’s watch. The Pats are 5-5 in those games but only 1-3 in their last four conference championships.

Odds: This game opened up with the Patriots a six-point favorite, and that line has remained relatively steady thus far. Most outlets publish the over/under at 50½, with a handful of venues still listing the total at the original 51 points. New England has covered better than any other team in league this year, going 14-3 against the spread. The Pats 7-2 home ATS record is also the best in the NFL. After last week’s game at Kansas City Pittsburgh is 10-7 ATS, 6-3 on the road. Both clubs went over six times and under ten times in the 2016 season.



Head-to-Head Series Record: In franchise history the Patriots are 14-15 versus Pittsburgh, but the Pats have owned the Steelers in the Belichick-Brady era. The Patriots are 9-3 dating back to the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field fifteen years ago. Brady is 9-2 versus Pittsburgh and 4-0 against the Steelers in games in Foxborough. The Patriots defeated Pittsburgh 41-27 on January 23 2005 en route to their third Super Bowl victory. That came three years after upsetting Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl plans, sandwiched between the Snow Bowl (aka Tuck Rule) game and knocking off the supposed Greatest Show On Turf.


There is also this full game for your viewing pleasure. The NFL is very proactive about keeping these gems out of the public’s hands, so be forewarned; I don’t think it will be available for very long.


These two clubs met twice prior to Belichick’s arrival in the post-season. On January 3, 1998 the Steelers nipped the Pats 7-6 in the division round; the only touchdown came in the first quarter on a 40-yard scramble by Kordell Stewart. One year earlier Curtis Martin rushed for three touchdowns and 166 yards, as the Patriots cruised to a foggy 28-3 victory. The next week The Pats defeated Jacksonville, more probable than not bringing Mark Brunell to tears. Unfortunately Bill Parcells was too busy making contract plans with Leon Hess to notice that kicking to Desmond Howard was a bad idea.


Team Stats and Rankings

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game.

Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five. Please note that the information below includes post-season games, so it will likely differ from official stats found elsewhere which are only for the regular season.

Pittsburgh is a well balanced team with legitimate championship aspirations. On offense the Steelers have explosive quick-strike weapons as well as the capability of methodically controlling the ball to drive the length of the field.


New England Patriot Offense versus Pittsburgh Steeler Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 27.9 (4th); Steelers 19.7 (8th)

Points per Play: Patriots .423 (4th); Steelers .320 (9th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.2 (4th); Steelers 2.2 (8th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.4 (4th); Steelers (12th)

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage: Patriots 64.1 (8th); Steelers 47.5 (5th)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 386 (4th); Steelers 334 (9th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 21.8 (7th); Steelers 19.3 (10th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.8 (7th); Steelers 5.4 (13th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 6.66 (1st); Steelers 32.2 (15th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.53 (5th); Steelers 1.87 (11th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .742 (5th); Steelers .694 (13th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 6.4 (2nd); Steelers 5.3 (24th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Patriots 45.2 (4th); Steelers 40.5 (23rd)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.9 (10th); Steelers 1.1 (12th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 66.1 (7th); Steelers 61.6 (4th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Patriots 116 (9th); Steelers 95 (9th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.9 (25th); Steelers 4.2 (18th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 270 (4th); Steelers 239 (11th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.8 (3rd); Steelers 6.5 (11th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 65.7 (8th); Steelers 65.2 (28th)

Passer Rating: Patriots 106.8 (2nd); Steelers 87.1 (14th)

TD Passes-Interception Differential: Patriots +30, 34-4 (3rd); Steelers -7, 22-15 (8th)

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 22.7 (16th); Steelers 23.9 (26th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 11.9 (7th); Steelers 12.8 (20th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 1.5 (5th); Steelers 2.4 (7th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 9.3 (2nd); Steelers 16.2 (7th)


Pittsburgh Steeler Offense versus New England Patriot Defense

Scoring per Game: Steelers 24.8 (11th); Patriots 15.6 (1st)

Points per Play: Steelers .390 (10th); Patriots .250 (1st)

Touchdowns per Game: Steelers 2.8 (12th); Patriots 1.6 (1st)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Steelers 1.7 (17th); Patriots 1.4 (2nd)

Red Zone TD Percentage per Game: Steelers 55.4 (14th); Patriots 51.1 (8th)

Yardage per Game: Steelers 373 (7th); Patriots 325 (8th)

First Downs per Game: Steelers 20.8 (12th); Patriots 18.1 (2nd)

Yards per Play: Steelers 5.9 (6th); Patriots 5.2 (9th)

Yards per Drive: Steelers 33.8 (10th); Patriots 28.8 (8th)

Points per Drive: Steelers 2.26 (8th); Patriots 1.42 (1st)

Drive Success Rate: Steelers .724 (9th); Patriots .662 (5th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Steelers 5.2 (13th); Patriots 4.6 (2nd)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Steelers 41.6 (11th); Patriots 35.6 (4th)

Punts per Score: Steelers 0.9 (9th); Patriots 1.7 (1st)

Plays per Game: Steelers 63.7 (15th); Patriots 62.6 (10th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Steelers 117 (6th); Patriots 89 (5th)

Yards per Carry: Steelers 4.4 (9th); Patriots 3.9 (8th)

Passing Yards: Steelers 256 (10th); Patriots 235 (11th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Steelers 7.1 (10th); Patriots 6.3 (6th)

Completion Percentage: Steelers 64.2 (14th); Patriots 61.5 (10th)

Passer Rating: Steelers 93.0 (12th); Patriots 82.2 (5th)

TD Passes-Interception Differential: Steelers +17, 35-18 (8th); Patriots -6, 22-16 (7th)

Complete Passes per Game: Steelers 23.0 (14th); Patriots 23.0 (18th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Steelers 12.8 (14th); Patriots 14.4 (6th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Steelers 1.3 (2nd); Patriots 2.2 (16th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Steelers 10.9 (7th); Patriots 14.2 (16th)



Turnover Differential: Patriots +12 (3rd); Steelers +7 (7th)

Patriot Takeaways: 1.5 per game (14th); 26 total

Steeler Giveaways: 1.2 per game (13th); 21 total

Steeler Takeaways: 1.6 per game (13th); 28 total

Patriot Giveaways: 0.8 per game (2nd); 14 total




Penalties per Game: Patriots 5.8 (5th); Steelers 6.8 (19th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 51.1 (6th); Steelers 65.6 (27th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.9 (11th); Steelers 6.7 (15th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 59.1 (13th); Steelers 58.0 (17th)


Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average

Efficiency: Total Weighted DVOA: Patriots 34.0% (1st); Steelers 20.0% (3rd)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 21.1% (2nd); Steelers 11.1% (8th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -1.5% (16th); Steelers -4.7% (11th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 2.7% (7th); Steelers 0.0% (16th)


If you are still reading at this point, congratulations. Apologies for the lack of brevity. Pittsburgh has a very good team and deserves to be in this championship game. That being said the Patriots are just a bit better in all phases. Between the better coaches, better quarterback, and home field advantage the Pats should win. Enjoy the game, it should be a classic.

Prediction: Patriots 30, Steelers 20

NFL Week 6 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
October 16, 2016 at 8:15 am ET

After an impressive 33-13 victory at Cleveland, the Patriots return to Foxboro to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Gillette Stadium will be rocking for the 2016 home debut of Tom Brady after his four game Article 46 exile. With clear skies and only a slight breeze perhaps the wine and cheese crowd might even remain in their red seats and brave the 67° forecasted temperature to view TB12 live, rather than retreating to the Putnam Club lounge.

The game kicks off at 1:00 pm eastern time with fairly extensive nationwide coverage by CBS. Ian Eagle will handle the play-by-play duties, with Dan Fouts adding in the commentary. Why these two are considered by CBS to be the number two broadcast team while the Greg Gumbel-Trent Green duo is third is baffling.

In the late time slot there are two interesting NFC contests. Green Bay hosts a much improved Dallas team seeking its fifth straight win. The Packers need a win to stay close to undefeated Minnesota in the NFC North. At the same time the Falcons take their Space Invaders Offense to the CLink against Seattle. Atlanta owns the best offense in the NFL while the Seahawks rank third, averaging just 13.5 points allowed per game. To see what is being broadcast where you live, check out Pats fan JP Kirby’s NFL Maps.


New England Patriots Game of the Week


★★★★★ 2-3 Cincinnati Bengals at 4-1 New England Patriots
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn
Patriots -7½ . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . NWE -360, CIN +300

Any defense with Geno Atkins, Vontaze Burfict, Domato Peko, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson – complimented with AJ Green at wide receiver – cannot be taken lightly. More disconcerting to me is that teams tend to rebound after a poor performance, and Cincy looked awful last week. Even though the Bengals are a desperate team on the ropes, the Patriots should win this game easily. Considering the stinker against Buffalo is still fresh in their memory, there is no reason for the Patriots to be looking ahead to next week’s game at Pittsburgh.

Once again an Ohio team is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The scorched earth tour continues.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Bengals 17
Patriots -7½ (one unit) . . . . . over 47½ . . . . . New England -360

Final Score: Patriots 35, Bengals 17 ✓
Patriots -7½ . . . . over 47½ ✓ . . . . Patriots -360 ✓


NFL Week 6 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread


★★ 3-2 Baltimore Ravens at 2-3 New York Giants
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Jamie Erdahl
Giants -3½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . NYG -175, BAL +155

I am not buying the ‘Ravens could be 5-0’ line after losing two close games. Baltimore’s three wins were against bad teams, while the Giants had to go on the road to play Minnesota and Green Bay. The Giants should dominate the Baltimore offensive line, but New York’s 29th ranked minus-7 turnover differential is disconcerting.

Prediction: Giants 23, Ravens 21
Ravens +3½ . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . Baltimore +155

Final Score: Giants 27, Ravens 23 ✓
Ravens +3½ x . . . . under 44½ x . . . . Ravens +155 x


★★★★ 1-3 Carolina Panthers at 1-3 New Orleans Saints
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin
Panthers -3 . . . . over/under 53½ . . . . CAR -150, NOR +130

This is a big game for the two NFC South rivals. Neither team has lived up to preseason expectations and one of these two clubs will drop to 1-4. While the Super Bowl hangover is a real thing for teams that have less time to rest and rehabilitate their bodies after playing until February, it seems unfathomable that the Panthers are on the precipice of tumbling from 15-1 to 1-5. The New Orleans running game has improved, taking some pressure off of Drew Brees to do it all. Even so I will take Cam Newton’s return to give Carolina enough of a lift to overcome a raucous partisan N’awlins dome crowd.

Prediction: Panthers 31, Saints 27
Panthers -3 . . . . . over 53½ . . . . . Carolina -150

Final Score: Saints 41, Panthers 38 x
Panthers -3 x . . . . over 53½ ✓ . . . . Panthers -150 x


★★★ 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers at 1-4 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots
Steelers -7 . . . . over/under 49 . . . . PIT -330, MIA +270

Miami’s off-season game plan was to shore up their defensive front line, but that investment has yet to show any dividends. The Dolphins are giving up an incredible league-worst 151 rushing yards per game. The offensive line is equally chaotic, with three o-linemen just released even though there were no apparent improvements available. Normally I would consider this to be a trap game for Pittsburgh with the Patriots on the schedule next week. That is not going to be the case after the 34-3 loss to the Eagles in their most recent road game.

Prediction: Steelers 31, Dolphins 13
Steelers -7 (two units) . . . . . under 49 . . . . . Pittsburgh -330

Final Score: Dolphins 30, Steelers 15 x
Steelers -7 xx . . . . under 49 ✓ . . . . Steelers -330 x


★★ 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 1-4 Chicago Bears
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon and Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein
Bears -1½ . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . CHI -125, JAC +105

Make no mistake, the Bears are not good. That being said, the Chicago offense is improving. Jordan Howard is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has compiled 295 yards from scrimmage in the last two games since assuming his role as the starting running back. On the other hand the Bear defense may be just what the doctor ordered for Blake Bortles and the Jaguars for back-to-back victories.

Prediction: Jaguars 27, Bears 24
Jaguars +1½ . . . . over 45½ . . . . Jacksonville +105

Final Score: Jaguars 17, Bears 16 ✓
Jaguars +1½ ✓ . . . . over 45½ x . . . . Jaguars +105 ✓


★★ 1-4 San Francisco 49ers at 3-2 Buffalo Bills
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman and Kristina Pink
Bills -8½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . BUF -360, SFO +300

Blaine Gabbert has been awful at quarterback, and Colin Kaepernick is a better fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. Buffalo’s defense is improved over last year, particularly on third down and in the red zone. San Francisco’s defense is in shambles, allowing an average of 35 points over the last four games. If the Niners were incapable of slowing down David Johnson at home, how can they be expected to slow down LeSean McCoy on the road?

Prediction: Bills 34, Niners 17
Bills -8½ (one unit) . . . . over 44½ . . . . Buffalo -360

Final Score: Bills 45, Niners 16 ✓
Bills -8½ . . . . over 44½ ✓ . . . . Bills -360 ✓


★★★ 3-2 Los Angeles Rams at 2-3 Detroit Lions
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Justin Kutcher, Charles Davis and Peter Schrager
Lions -2½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . DET -160, LAR +140

Detroit is not the same defense without DE Ziggy Ansah, but the LA offensive line has been ineffective. The Rams depend on RB Todd Gurley, but opponents are selling out to stop the run, resulting in Gurley repeatedly being hit in the backfield prior to having a chance to go anywhere. Jeff Fisher’s annual quest for 7-9 continues as planned.

Prediction: Lions 20, Rams 16
Lions -2½ . . . . under 44½ . . . . Detroit -160

Final Score: Lions 31, Rams 28 ✓
Lions -2½ ✓ . . . . under 44½ x . . . . Lions -160 ✓


0-5 Cleveland Browns at 2-3 Tennessee Titans
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Tom McCarthy and Adam Archuleta
Titans -7½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . TEN -330, CLE +270

Tennessee won last week’s game at Miami by playing keep away. The Titans rushed for 235 yards and ran 29 more plays (70-41) than the Dolphins, en route more than a 13 minute advantage in time of possession. If the Browns let anything close to that happen then they have no chance. Cleveland does have a much better running game than Miami does, and the Tennessee offense is not built to come from behind to win. Do the Titans know how to handle success? If not, this could be Cleveland’s best chance for a win this season.

Prediction: Titans 23, Browns 17
Browns +7½ (one unit) . . . . under 43½ . . . . Cleveland +270

Final Score: Titans 28, Browns 26 ✓
Browns +7½ . . . . under 43½ x . . . . Browns +270 x


★★★★ 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles at 3-2 Washington Redskins
Sunday, October 16 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, John Lynch and Pam Oliver
Eagles -3½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . PHI -150, WAS +130

The reason that Philadelphia has looked so much better than last year is their defense. The Eagles rank second in scoring (12.8 points per game), second in yardage (267 per game) and are eighth at 5.0 yards per play. The Washington defense will surely target RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The rookie will be making his first start thanks to the ten-game suspension of Lane Johnson. I’ll take a hot Washington team at home over a Philly club on the road that is cooling off.

Prediction: Redskins 24, Eagles 20
Redskins +3½ (one unit) . . . . over 44½ . . . . Washington +130

Final Score: Redskins 27, Eagles 20 ✓
Redskins +3½ . . . . over 44½ ✓ . . . . Redskins +130 ✓


Late NFL Week 6 Games


★★★★ 2-2 Kansas City Chiefs at 4-1 Oakland Raiders
Sunday, October 16 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
Chiefs -2½ . . . . over/under 46 . . . . KAN -130, OAK +110

This game started out with Oakland favored by one, but has swung 3½ points the other way. Jamaal Charles is reportedly ready for a full workload, which is bad news for an Oakland defense that has allowed 28 or more points in four out of five games. Raider RB Latavius Murray is out with a toe injury, which means that this game will likely come down to the KC pass defense versus Derek Carr throwing to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Prediction: Raiders 31, Chiefs 28
Raiders +2½ . . . . over 46 (two units) . . . . Oakland +110

Final Score: Chiefs 26, Raiders 10 x
Raiders +2½ x . . . . over 46 xx . . . . Raiders +110 x


★★★★★ 4-1 Atlanta Falcons at 3-1 Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, October 16 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber and Jennifer Hale
Seahawks -6½ . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . SEA -260, ATL +220

Matt Ryan has been spectacular in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, spreading the ball around and keeping opposing defenses on their heels. Seattle’s defense – and their loud home field advantage – is suited to take advantage of a very average Atlanta offensive line though. The Falcons were able to take advantage of mismatches against Denver with their linebackers unable to keep up with running backs Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Seattle is solid at the second level with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, but that is still a matchup that favors the Falcons. This should be an exciting game and it is unfortunate that so many will not see it. As well as Atlanta has been playing, it is extremely rare for a team to win back-to-back road games against quality opponents.

Prediction: Seahawks 27, Falcons 24
Falcons +6½ (one unit) . . . . over 45½ (one unit) . . . . Seattle -260

Final Score: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24 ✓
Falcons +6½ . . . . over 45½ . . . . Seahawks -260 ✓


★★★★ 4-1 Dallas Cowboys at 3-1 Green Bay Packers
Sunday, October 16 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews
Packers -4½ . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . GNB -220, DAL +180

Jerry Jones quietly ceded some decision making to his son Stephen a few years ago, and it has paid off. Rather than fixate on name stars, Dallas invested early draft picks on their offensive line – and it has paid off. This game will be determined in the trenches even if this isn’t the Ice Bowl. The Cowboys are averaging an NFL-best 155 yards per game rushing, while Green Bay is allowing a league-best 43 yards rushing per game and a minuscule 2.0 yards per carry. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott has lived up to the hype for Dallas. The former Buckeye leads the league in rushing (109 yards per game) and first downs (31), and already has five rushes for 20+ yards and twelve carries for 10+ yards.

Prediction: Packers 20, Cowboys 17
Cowboys +4½ (one unit) . . . . under 47½ . . . . Green Bay -220

Final Score: Cowboys 30, Packers 16 x
Cowboys +4½ . . . . under 47½ ✓ . . . . Packers -220 x


★★★ 2-3 Indianapolis Colts at 3-2 Houston Texans
Sunday, October 16 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Texans -3 . . . . over/under 48 . . . . HOU -150, IND +130

On one hand I want Indianapolis to win enough games to just barely miss the playoffs, and at the same time miss out on having an early draft pick. On the other hand it won’t really matter because Ryan Grigson has proven that he cannot build a decent roster. In case you wonder why Grigson succumbed to the temptation to attempt to frame the Patriots, consider his work history. In 2001 Grigson was with the Rams when the Patriots beat them in the Super Bowl. Three years later he was with the Eagles when Philly lost to New England in the big game. Then he is hired by Indianapolis, a franchise that has nightmares for all the would-be glory that dissipated with losses to New England. Nothing like a football Sunday to be capped off with Grigson and Irsay having to suffer another loss by the Colts.

Prediction: Texans 31, Colts 24
Texans -3 (one unit) . . . . over 48 . . . . Houston -150

Final Score: Texans 26, Colts 23 (OT) ✓
Texans -3 push . . . . over 48 ✓ . . . . Texans -150 ✓


★★ 1-4 New York Jets at 2-3 Arizona Cardinals
Monday, October 17 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters
Cardinals -7½ . . . . over/under 46 . . . . ARI -335, NYJ +275

Back-to-back prime time schadenfreude. Gang Green’s superb front line cannot mask their deficiencies in the secondary. Going on the road to face a team that thrives on the vertical passing game is a recipe for more embarrassment, turmoil and finger pointing from the Jet locker room.

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Jets 17
Cardinals -7½ . . . . under 46 . . . . Arizona -335

Final Score: Cardinals 28, Jets 3 ✓
Cardinals -7½ ✓ . . . . under 46 ✓ . . . . Cardinals -335 ✓


★★ 4-1 Denver Broncos at 1-4 San Diego Chargers
Thursday October 13 at 8:30 pm ET on NFLN; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson

Did you notice the absolute lack of poise by San Diego head coach Mike McCoy in the final minute of Thursday’s game? With the outcome on the line after Denver recovered an onside kick McCoy was kneeling on the headline with his eyes closed and head down for an interminable amount of time. What kind of leadership is that? San Diego won in spite of McCoy’s chokefest and complete lack of aplomb. Fortunately for San Diego they were facing a road team on a short week with questions at quarterback.

Prediction: Chargers 20, Broncos 17
Chargers +3½ (one unit). . . . under 45 . . . . San Diego +155

Final Score: Chargers 21, Broncos 13 ✓
Chargers +3½ …. under 45 ✓ …. Chargers +155 ✓


3-Team Parlay (one unit): x
Falcons +6½ at Seahawks ✓
Steelers -7½ at Dolphins x
Raiders at Chiefs over 46 x

4-Team 6-Point Teaser (three units): ✓✓✓
Patriots -1½ vs Bengals ✓
Cowboys +10½ at Packers ✓
Falcons +12½ at Seahawks ✓
Bills -2½ vs Rams ✓


Tale of the Tape

Week 5 was so-so, with a teaser bailing me out of what would have been a losing week. Best calls were Vikings -6½ at Houston, Titans +3½ at Miami and Falcons +5½ at Denver. As bad as taking the Rams at home against the Bills and Baltimore over Washington, the worst prediction by far was Cincinnati over Dallas. 37-23-1 and plus $2470 is something I will take any time after five weeks.

Week 5 Results:
7-7 Straight Up
7-7 Against the Spread
5-9 Over/Under
2-unit plays: 3-4, -280
1-unit plays: 3-2, +80
3-Game Parlay: 1u, 0-1, -110
3-Game Teaser: 2u, 1-0, +360
22 units invested
7-7, +50 on $2420 risk
2.1% ROI

Year to Date Results:
39-38 Straight Up
42-34-1 Against the Spread
39-38 Over/Under
3-unit plays: 2-5-1, -1080
2-unit plays: 16-7, +1660
1-unit plays: 16-8, +720
Parlays: 1-2, +380
Teasers: 2-1, +790
37-23-1, +2470 on original $2310 risk.
106.9% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
21.8% ROI on $11,330 (103 units) of total weekly investments.

7-7, +50 on 22 units (+2.1%) in Week 5.
9-2, +1910 on 18 units (+96.5%) in Week 4.
3-9-1, -1280 on 22 units (-58.2%) in Week 3.
9-3, +950 on 20 units (+43.2%) in Week 2.
9-2, +840 on 21 units (+36.4%) in Week 1.


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NFL Week 11 Previews, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
November 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm ET

For the second straight week a game involving the Patriots shapes up to be one of, if not the most compelling matchup of the week. As an unintended side effect of the NFL’s quest for parity, for the second week in a row there are just three games between two teams with winning records. Following Thursday’s dud between the two-win Titans and three-win Jaguars, not a single one of the eight early games features a pair of winning teams, and overall for the week eleven of the fourteen games do not match up two winning teams. Only the last three games consist of two teams with records over .500: Green Bay at Minnesota in the late afternoon game on FOX, Cincinnati at Arizona Sunday night, and Buffalo at New England on Monday night. That game will also be a time where New England fans can “welcome” ESPN to Gillette Stadium and let the self-proclaimed world wide leader know exactly how they feel about their “integrity” and “unbiased” reporting.


Week 11 is also the first time that the NFL and their broadcast partners were able utilize flex scheduling, and they justifiably took advantage of that opportunity. The Chiefs and Chargers have a combined six wins; their game has been moved out of the Sunday night prime time slot. NBC will now broadcast the Bengals-Cardinals game; those two clubs have a combined record of 15-3. In addition, a key NFC matchup between the Packers and Vikings has been pushed back from an early kickoff to the late afternoon time slot. Previously the only late game scheduled on FOX was Seattle at San Francisco, and that game could be as unwatchable as Thursday’s dud was; neither of those NFC West teams have winning records and the Niners have by far the most impotent offense in the league.


Here is a look at all of the NFL week 11 games, with the odds as of Saturday night (and early odds, from a week ago Thursday), kickoff times, television information and each team’s records. FOX has finally opted to not jam the Cowboys down everyone’s throats, despite the return of Tony Romo this week. Ironically this is a week when the New England area might not mind seeing Dallas, since they are playing AFC rival Miami. CBS in Boston will air Denver at Chicago while the rest of New England will get the Jets-Texans game early. FOX has the doubleheader this week and most of the country will get the Packers-Vikings in the late afternoon time slot.


4-5 Washington Redskins at 9-0 Carolina Panthers, early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis

Broadcast in all markets except Arkansas, Florida (except Jacksonville), southern Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylania, Texas, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL, Cleveland OH and Eugene OR

Panthers -7 (opened at -8½) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . Car -340, Was +280

It is amazing to think that a year ago at this time Carolina lost their sixth straight game to drop to 3-8-1, and the question was when and not if owner Jerry Richardson would fire head coach Ron Rivera. CB Peanut Tillman will miss another game with a knee injury, but that should be of little consequence for the Panthers. Carolina would be scary good this year; imagine how they would look if WR Kelvin Benjamin didn’t miss the entire year due to a pre-season torn ACL.

Prediction: Panthers 27, Redskins 17

Pick: Panthers -7 . . . . under 44½ . . . . Panthers -340


4-5 Oakland Raiders at 2-7 Detroit Lions, early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker

Broadcast in northern California, Michigan, Oregon and Toledo OH

Pick’em (opened w/Raiders -1½) . . . . over/under 50 . . . . Oak -110, Det -110

RB Joique Bell  is questionable with a shoulder injury, which is good news for Detroit. Bell has carried the rock 44 times for the Lions this year; 30 of those rushes are for one yard or less while only ten are for five yards or more.

Prediction: Raiders 31, Lions 24

Pick: Raiders pk . . . . over 49½ . . . . Raiders -110


2-7 Dallas Cowboys at 4-5 Miami Dolphins, early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch

Broadcast in parts of Arkansas, Florida (Gainesville, Miami, West Palm Beach), Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas (except Houston), Cedar Rapids IA and Memphis TN

Cowboys -1 (opened w/Miami -1) . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . Dal -120, Mia +100

Ah yes, the much anticipated meeting between this year’s most dysfunctional teams. Dallas gets QB Tony Romo back, but I would expect it to take another week to shake of the rust and get the timing down. The high humidity in south Florida won’t help the visiting team either.

Prediction: Dolphins 23, Cowboys 21

Pick: Dolphins +1 . . . . under 46½ . . . . Dolphins +100


4-5 Indianapolis Colts at 6-3 Atlanta Falcons, early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Broadcast in Alabama, northern Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana (except Shreveport), North Carolina (except Charlotte), South Carolina, Louisville KY, Tupelo MS and Richmond VA

Falcons -5½ (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . Atl -240, Ind +200

Indy’s season of cosmic retribution continues. You know things are bad when you are trying to talk Jason Campbell out of retirement to suit up for your team. You know things are worse when he turns down a chance for an easy paycheck to hold a clipboard.

Prediction: Falcons 27, Colts 24

Pick: Colts +5½ . . . . over 47½ . . . . Colts +200


4-5 St. Louis Rams at 2-7 Baltimore Ravens, early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston

Broadcast in southern Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Cleveland OH and Pittsburgh PA

Ravens -2½ (opened w/Rams -1½) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . Bal -140, StL +120

Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh has resorted to handing out ‘effort’ stickers to the players on his two-win team. As one dimensional as the Rams offense is, it is going to take more than an elementary school teacher gimmick to stop Rams RB Todd Gurley.

Prediction: Rams 23, Ravens 17

Pick: Rams +2½ . . . . under 41½ . . . . Rams +120


5-4 New York Jets at 4-5 Houston Texans, early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Broadcast in New England (except Boston), New York, northeast Pennsylvania, Texas (except Dallas), Fort Myers FL and Miami FL

Jets -3½ (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . NYJ -170, Hou +150

The Jets’ injury report is much shorter and less severe than it has been in the last few games; that is bad news for a Houston team starting a third string quarterback and backup running back.

Prediction: Jets 20, Texans 17

Pick: Texans +3½ . . . . under 40½ . . . . Texans +150


4-5 Tampa Bay Bucs at 4-5 Philadelphia Eagles, early game on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl

Broadcast in Florida (except Gainesville, Miami and West Palm) and Pennsylvania (except Pittsburgh)

Eagles -5½ (opened at -8) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . Phi -250, TB +210

Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense has no answer for quick slants and play action passes, other than taking uncalled for personal fouls and inexcusable roughing the passer penalties. Chip Kelly’s offense matches up very well against the Buc defense.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Bucs 23

Pick: Bucs +5½ . . . . over 44½ . . . . Eagles -250


7-2 Denver Broncos at 4-5 Chicago Bears, early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Broadcast in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky (except Louisville), Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio (except Toledo), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia and Scranton), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia (except Richmond), Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Boston MA and Las Vegas NV

Broncos -1 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 41 . . . . Den -120, Chi +100

While the focus is on Denver starting a backup quarterback, the harsh reality is that Brock Osweiler is a better option than Peyton Manning for the Broncos. Perhaps that is why Manning reportedly not helping Osweiler in meeting rooms or on the practice field. The fact remains that Denver has one of the NFL’s best defenses, while the Bears are giving up 26.0 points per game. WR Alshon Jeffery being held out of practices and listed as questionable with groin and shoulder injuries doesn’t help Chicago’s chances.

Prediction: Broncos 23, Bears 20

Pick: Broncos -1 . . . . over 41 . . . . Bears +100


4-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 2-7 San Diego Chargers, late game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

Broadcast in southern California, DC, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Miami FL, Tampa FL, Philadelphia PA, Charlotte SC and Dallas TX

Chiefs -3 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . KC -170, SD +150

Kansas City’s front seven is very good, and should have a field day against the sieve that is San Diego’s offensive line. After a really difficult schedule to start the season, KC has crawled back into the playoff race. Before jumping on the Chiefs’ bandwagon though, take a look at their last three wins: two against backup quarterbacks, and one against the lowly Lions.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Chargers 23

Pick: Chiefs -3 . . . . over 45 . . . . Chiefs -170


3-6 San Francisco 49ers at 4-5 Seattle Seahawks, late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber

Broadcast in northern California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Anchorage AK and Reno NV

Seahawks -13 (opened at -11) . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . Sea -1000, SF +700

Is Seattle turning into San Francisco, one year later? A couple years ago these two were the very best teams in the NFL. The Niners regressed from three consecutive years of advancing to at least the conference championship game to an 8-8 2014 season, before bottoming out in 2015. The Seahawks won 42 total games from 2012-14, making it to the Super Bowl twice and winning it all once; they now have a losing record, and both their offense and defense has regressed markedly. That trend may continue next year, but at home against this anemic 49er team Seattle will at least temporarily get its mojo back – though with this weakened Seattle team, the Niners do have a chance.

Prediction: Seahawks 23, Niners 13

Pick: Niners +13 . . . . under 39½ . . . . Niners +700


6-3 Green Bay Packers at 7-2 Minnesota Vikings, late game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Broadcast in all markets except northern California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Anchorage AK, San Diego CA and Reno NV

Vikings -1 (opened w/GB -3) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . Min -120, GB +100

In case you missed it Green Bay has apparently been playing fast and loose with the injury report, just one more item in a long list of stories that would be headline news if it involved the Patriots. Aaron Rodgers has apparently been dealing with a shoulder injury, and after last week’s loss to Detroit is also dealing with a leg injury. Though I am still skeptical about Minnesota based on their schedule, the reality is that they are a well balanced and fundamentally sound team. The Packers have not performed well the last three weeks and now find themselves on the road against a team they are a game behind in the standings. Just a hunch, they get it together here.

Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 23

Pick: Packers +1 . . . . over 44½ . . . . Packers +100


8-1 Cincinnati Bengals at 7-2 Arizona Cardinals, Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Broadcast in all markets

Cardinals -4½ (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . Ari -220, Cin +190

The Bengals and Cardinals were arguably the two worst franchises in the NFL when Carson Palmer forced his way out of Cincy five years ago, and apparently the Arizona quarterback still holds a bit of a grudge. The Bengals are in a bit of a tough spot here; they still haven’t proven they can beat a good time in prime time, and they are making a long road trip on a short week to heal and prepare.

Prediction: Cardinals 24, Bengals 20

Pick: Bengals +4½ . . . . under 48½ . . . . Cin +190


5-4 Buffalo Bills at 9-0 New England Patriots, Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Broadcast in all markets

Patriots -7½ (opened at -9½) . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . NWE -340, Buf +280

In their week two victory at Buffalo, 36 of New England’s plays were either pass attempts to, or runs by Dion Lewis or Julian Edelman. Without those two on the field this week’s game plan will be a severe challenge for Bill Belichick and his staff, and by default will need to be dramatically different.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Bills 24

Pick: Bills +7½ . . . . over 48½ . . . . Bills +280


2-7 2-8 Tennessee Titans at 3-6 4-6 Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday November 19
Jags -2½ (opened -1½) . . . . over/under 42 . . . . Jags -145, Titans +125
Final Score: Jaguars 19, Titans 13

With their second win in a row and third in their last four games, Jacksonville is suddenly breathing down Indy’s neck in the AFC South. That week four overtime loss when Jason Myers missed two late field goals is looming large now.


For comparison’s sake, here is a look at what the prop bets were for the week eleven games from back when the NFL schedule was announced in April. Some are right on or only off by a half a point; the oddsmakers were apparently a bit scared off by the the deflategate witch hunt in regards to the Patriots at that point in time. The Colts, Niners and Chargers stand out as teams that have precipitously dropped off from preseason expectations, while the Raiders and Jets are two that have vastly improved.

Titans at Jaguars (-1½)
Colts (-2) at Falcons
Redskins at Panthers (-5)
Bengals at Cardinals (-3)
49ers at Seahawks (-5½)
Jets at Texans (-5)
Chiefs at Chargers (-2½)
Cowboys at Dolphins (-1)
Rams at Ravens (-3½)
Buccaneers at Eagles (-8½)
Broncos (-2½) at Bears
Raiders at Lions (-8½)
Packers (-3) at Vikings
Bills at Patriots (-5½)


November 21 is a date with an eclectic mix of NFL birthdays. Hall of Fame QB Sid Luckman was born on this day in 1916. He was the first pro quarterback to successfully grasp the concept of the T-Formation, and for many years after he retired the debate as to whom was the GOAT was between Luckman and Sammy Baugh. Luckman won four NFL championships as the Bears’ quarterback, and was under center for the famous 73-0 beatdown over Washington. Luckman had two other amazing games in 1943. On November 14 he set an NFL record that has still yet to be broken, despite the drastic changes in the passing game: Luckman threw for seven touchdowns on the road in his native home town as the Bears crushed the Giants 56-7. A month later Luckman threw touchdown passes of 31, 36, 66, 29, and 16 yards, compiling 276 yards passing on just 15 completions, as Chicago beat Washington 41-21 for their third championship in four years. Although the passing game is dramatically different today, some of his numbers have somehow managed to stand the test of time. His career 8.4 yards per pass attempt still ranks as second best in NFL history, and his 7.9 percent of passes thrown for touchdowns remains the best in the history of pro football.

Besides Luckman, Green Bay Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo was born today in 1931; HoF QB Troy Aikman turns 49; HoF DE Michael Strahan turns 44; and Honor Jackson, who played safety for the Patriots in the early 70s turns 67 today.



NFL Week 10 Previews, TV Info, Predictions and Picks ATS

John Morgan
November 15, 2015 at 6:00 am ET

As a by-product of the league’s quest for parity, NFL week ten sadly has just one game between two teams with winning records: the New England Patriots at New York Giants in a late afternoon tilt on Sunday. Here is a look at all of the week ten games….


4-4 5-4 Buffalo Bills at 5-3 5-4 New York Jets,Thursday November 12
Jets -2½ . . . . over/under 42 . . . . Bills +114, Jets -126
Final Score: Bills 22, Jets 17

With the win the Bills jump from a #7 seed in the AFC playoff picture to #5, and the Jets drop one place to #6 – and as a result Pittsburgh falls to the wrong side of the bubble in the number seven slot.


1-7 Detroit Lions at 6-2 Green Bay Packers, early game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Broadcast in Alaska, Arizona, Chico CA, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky (except Bowling Green), Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio (except Cleveland), Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Packers -10½ (opened at -10½) . . . . over/under 49 . . . . Det +450, GB -600

Detroit ranks last in points allowed (30.6); not good when facing a Packer team coming home looking to get back on track after two losses.

Prediction: Packers 31, Lions 20

Pick: Packers -10½ . . . . over 49 . . . . Packers -600


2-6 Dallas Cowboys at 3-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch

Broadcast in Arkansas, Florida (except Jacksonville and Miami), Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Bucs -1 (opened w/Dal -1) . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . Dal -105, TB -115

The Cowboys finally get a win with a backup quarterback, one week before the return of Tony Romo.

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Bucs 23

Pick: Cowboys +1 . . . . over 43½ . . . . Cowboys -105


8-0 Carolina Panthers at 2-6 Tennessee Titans, early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis

Broadcast in Huntsville AL, Bowling Green KY, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Beckley WV.

Panthers -4 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . Car -210, Tenn +175

This would be a letdown trap game for Carolina, if not for the fact that Tennessee is not seasoned enough to handle success and win two games in a row.

Prediction: Panthers 24, Titans 13

Pick: Panthers -4 (three units) . . . . under 48 (two units) . . . . Panthers -210


3-5 Chicago Bears at 4-4 St. Louis Rams, early game on CBS; TBA

Broadcast in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Reno NV, North Dakota, South Dakota, Spokane WA and Wisconsin (except Green Bay).

Rams -6½ (opened at -9) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Chi +250, StL -300

The Bears are a whole lot better with Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey in the lineup, but the St. Louis defense is one of only two to have more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed; I would not doubt a critical late Cutler pick six decides this game.

Prediction: Rams 20, Bears 17

Pick: Bears +6½ (one unit) . . . . under 42½ (one unit) . . . . Bears +250


4-5 New Orleans Saints at 3-5 Washington Redskins, early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston

Broadcast in Alabama (except Huntsville), Connecticut, DC, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Pick’em (opened w/Saints -2½) . . . . over/under 50 . . . . NO -110, Wash -110

While the Skins defense is much better than New Orleans’, I’ll side with Drew Brees over Kirk Cousins in a game that could come down to a shootout.

Prediction: Saints 28, Skins 27

Pick: Saints +0 . . . . over 50 . . . . Saints -110


3-5 Miami Dolphins at 4-4 Philadelphia Eagles, early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Broadcast in Connecticut, parts of Florida (Fort Myers, Miami, Panama City, West Palm Beach), Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York (except Buffalo), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Richmond VA.

Eagles -6 (opened at -5½) . . . . over/under 49½ . . . . Mia +220, Phil -260

Miami’s resurgence with a change of head coaches has come to a sobering and abrupt halt with their third straight loss.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Dolphins 23

Pick: Dolphins +6 . . . . over 50 . . . . Eagles -260


2-7 Cleveland Browns at 5-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, early game on FOX; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Broadcast in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia (except Savannah), Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, Buffalo NY, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), South Carolina, Tennessee (except Nashville), Utah, Virginia (except Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Richmond), Washington (except Spokane), West Virginia and Wyoming.

Steelers -6½ (opened at -7) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . Cle +220, Pit -260

The brain trust in Cleveland now decides that they should see how Johnny Manziel can fare at quarterback. What, they thought they were winning the Super Bowl with Josh McCown? The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003; maybe next year.

Prediction: Steelers 23, Browns 17

Pick: Browns +6½ . . . . under 41½ . . . . Steelers -260


2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars at 2-6 Baltimore Ravens, early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

Broadcast in DC, northern Florida (Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee), southern Georgia (Albany, Savannah), Maryland and northern Virginia (Charlottesville, Harrisonburg).

Ravens -4½ (opened at -6½) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . Jax +180, Bal -220

Baltimore is down to Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown as their starting wide receivers; Jacksonville actually has a very good chance of pulling an upset on the road here.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Jaguars 24

Pick: Jaguars +4½ . . . . over 47½ . . . . Jaguars +180


6-2 Minnesota Vikings at 4-4 Oakland Raiders, late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber

Broadcast in California (except Chico), Jacksonville FL, Miami FL, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Cleveland OH, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA and South Dakota.

Raiders -3 (opened as Pick’em) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . Min +130, Oak -150

Look past the 6-2 record and you will see that the cumulative record of the teams Minnesota has defeated this year is 13-28. Derek Carr is playing very well and the deviants in the black hole will make it difficult for concussed Teddy Bridgewater.

Prediction: Raiders 24, Vikings 23

Pick: Vikings +3 . . . . over 44 . . . . Vikings +130


3-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 7-1 Denver Broncos, late game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Arizona, Arkansas, California (except SF/Oakland), Colorado, Idaho, Indianapolis IN, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee (except Memphis), Amarillo TX, Houston TX, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Broncos -4½ (opened at -7) . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . KC +180, Den -220

I would like the Chiefs a whole lot more in this situation if the Broncos were not looking to avenge a loss from the previous week. Once Denver bottles up KC’s running game, can Alex Smith carry the Chiefs to a win on the road in a loud stadium? Doubtful.

Prediction: Broncos 20, Chiefs 17

Pick: Chiefs +4½ . . . . under 41½ . . . . Chiefs +180


8-0 New England Patriots at 5-4 New York Giants, late game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana (except Indianapolis), Kentucky (except Bowling Green), Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Memphis TN, Texas (except Amarillo and Houston), Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Patriots -7½ (opened at -6½) . . . . over/under 54½ . . . . NE -350, NYG +290

The Giants are adept at forcing turnovers (an NFL-high 13 interceptions), but beyond those handful of plays their defense is just plain bad. New England’s receivers should have a field day against this pass coverage.

Prediction: Patriots 34, Giants 27

Pick: Giants +7½ . . . . over 54½ (two units) . . . . Patriots -350


6-2 Arizona Cardinals at 4-4 Seattle Seahawks, Sunday night on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Broadcast in all markets.

Seahawks -3 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . Ariz +130, Sea -150

I was a big believer in Arizona early on, but watching them lately their wins speak more about the level of their opponents than their own prowess. On the other hand, Seattle’s offense is just plain bad.

Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17

Pick: Cardinals +3 . . . . under 44½ . . . . Cardinals +130


3-5 Houston Texans at 8-0 Cincinnati Bengals, Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Broadcast in all markets.

Bengals -11 (opened at -13) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . Hou +475, Cin -650

The Bengals can be run on (NFL worst 4.9 yards per carry), but it is tough to stick to that game plan once you fall behind.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Texans 20

Pick: Texans +11 . . . . under 47½ . . . . Bengals -650


For a bit of nostalgia, here are the future prop bets for this week’s games that were posted back when the NFL schedule came out last April; note the point swings in one direction for the Patriots, Panthers and Bengals, and in the other direction for the Ravens and Cowboys. On the other hand it is uncanny how the line in so many other games has barely budged at all.

Bills (-1) at Jets
Cowboys (-4½) at Buccaneers
Cardinals at Seahawks (-5½)
Bears at Rams (-4½)
Panthers (-2½) at Titans
Chiefs at Broncos (-5)
Vikings (-1½) at Raiders
Jaguars at Ravens (-10½)
Browns at Steelers (-7½)
Patriots (-1½) at Giants
Dolphins at Eagles (-3½)
Saints at Redskins (Pick’em)
Lions at Packers (-5)
Texans at Bengals (-4)


Bye Week:

6-3 Atlanta Falcons

4-5 Indianapolis Colts

2-7 San Diego Chargers

3-6 San Francisco 49ers



Bills at Jets – TNF Preview, Prediction and Pick ATS

John Morgan
November 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm ET

Week Ten NFL Thursday Night Football has an interesting AFC East matchup, as Rex Ryan returns to Exit 16W for the first time since he was canned late last December, after losing eight straight games en route to a 4-12 record. The 4-4 Buffalo Bills travel to New Jersey to face the 5-3 New York Jets in a game with implications that go far beyond ego and bragging rights: the Jets currently hold the top wild card seed, fifth overall in the AFC, while Buffalo is just on the wrong side of the bubble, seventh overall in the conference. The game kicks off at 8:25 pm eastern time and is broadcast nationwide on NFLN. Jim Nantz will call the play-by-play along with commentary by Phil Simms, while Tracy Wolfson reports from the sidelines.


Odds: Early in the week the Jets were listed as three-point favorites, but as of Wednesday night most venues had brought the line down to NYJ -2½. The point total has inched down a bit, from 44½ to 42½; the typical money line has the Bills at +115 and the Jets -135.


The Jets have been playing better than the Bills this season, but Buffalo is a lot healthier. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is not on the injury report, but rumors are being floated that on Friday he will undergo minor surgery, with the hope that in ten days he would be ready to start against Houston. Safeties Calvin Pryor and Dion Bailey are both out with ankle injuries, leaving Rontez Miles to get his first NFL start opposite Marcus Gilchrist. Corner Antonio Cromartie (quad) has not practiced and is doubtful to play, and slot corner Buster Skrine (shoulder, hand) is questionable, but will have to move to the outside to take Cro’s spot. CB Dee Milliner came off in-season IR, but word is that he is not yet ready to play. Marcus Williams will likely take Skrine’s place in nickel situations; he was awful two weeks ago in the loss at Oakland, but played much better last week against Jacksonville. On top of that RG Willie Colon (knee) has been placed on injured reserve, center Nick Mangold – though expected to play – is still recovering from a nasty neck injury, and third down back Bilal Powell (doubtful, ankle) has barely been able to get on the field since week three.


Despite all those injuries, the Jets do have some hope. Buffalo is the road team with one less day to prepare, and New York still has a very good defense. The Jet defense ranks 4th in yardage (323 ypg), 9th in scoring (20.3 ppg), and is great against the run (80.6 ypg, 1st; 3.8 ypc, 7th). Chris Ivory has struggled the last three weeks, but if Mangold is close to full strength then New York’s offensive lines is capable of opening up running lanes for Ivory like they did at the start of the season.


While Jet players are dropping like flies, Buffalo is getting healthier. Their only injury of note is to DT Kyle Williams, who is out with a knee injury. QB Tyrod Taylor is back; the Bills are 4-2 in his starts, 0-2 when EJ Manuel was under center. Taylor completed all but one pass last week (11-12, 181 yards, 1 TD, plus 44 yards rushing). Extrapolating to a full 16-game season, Taylor would project to throw for 3,408 yards with 71.8% completions, 27 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, plus 616 yards rushing. RB LeSean McCoy had his best game of the season last week (112 yards rushing, 7.0 yards per carry); though he did suffer a shoulder injury late in the game, he is probable for Thursday. Backup RB Karlos Williams also had his best game of the year last week, averaging over 12 yards per carry while rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns.


Early in the season things looked good for Buffalo. At the start of the season the Bills upset the Colts, lost by only eight to the Patriots, and then crushed the Dolphins 41-14. We soon found out that Indy and Miami were nowhere near as good as they were hyped to be in the off-season, and the Bills have yet to win consecutive games. This is the first of three straight (and five of the next six) games on the road for Buffalo; if they have any hope for the playoffs they really need to win this one. The Bills are catching a beat up Jet team at the right time, while at the same time their key players are getting healthier. Despite Buffalo’s penchant for undisciplined play under Ryan – the Bills lead the NFL in penalties (10.6 per game) and penalty yards (95.5 per game) – the Jets simply appear to be a bit too beat up right now.


Prediction: Bills 24, Jets 20

Picks: Bills +2½ (one unit) . . . . . over 42½ . . . . . Bills +115


NFL Week 10 Advanced Lines: Patriots open as 6.5 point favorites at Giants

John Morgan
November 8, 2015 at 7:00 am ET

Prior to the kickoff of NFL week nine Thursday between the Bengals and Browns, the Westgate in Las Vegas published their initial early ‘look ahead’ betting lines for week ten. The New England Patriots have opened as 6½-point road favorites at the New York Giants – and by Friday that line had moved up to seven points.


The Pats-Gints game looms to be one of the most compelling in week ten; it is one of only three games (Vikings at Raiders, Arizona at Seattle) that does not include at least one team that at this point in time has a losing record.


Here is a look at all of the week ten games, with the early odds, times and television information. In cases of line movements the initial line has been crossed out and replaced with current odds.


3-4 Buffalo Bills (no line)(-1) at 3-4 New York Jets

Thursday November 12, 8:25 pm on NFLN

Initially no line due to both team’s QB situation; Buffalo now minus-1


1-7 Detroit Lions at 6-1 Green Bay Packers (-11½)

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX


2-5 Dallas Cowboys (-1) at 3-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX


7-0 Carolina Panthers at 1-6 Tennessee Titans

No early line due to uncertainty on status of Marcus Mariota

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX


2-5 Chicago Bears at 4-3 St. Louis Rams (-7½)

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS (why the cross-flex?)


4-4 New Orleans Saints (-2½) at 3-4 Washington Redskins

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX


3-4 Miami Dolphins at 3-4 Philadelphia Eagles (-5½)

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS


2-7 Cleveland Browns at 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX


2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars at 2-6 Baltimore Ravens (-5½) (-5)

Sunday November 15 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS


5-2 Minnesota Vikings at 4-3 Oakland Raiders (-1½) (Pick’em)

Sunday November 15 at 4:05 pm ET on FOX


3-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 7-0 Denver Broncos (-7)(-7½)

Sunday November 15 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS


7-0 New England Patriots (-6½) (-7) at 4-4 New York Giants

Sunday November 15 at 4:25 pm ET on CBS


6-3 Arizona Cardinals at 4-4 Seattle Seahawks (-3)(-3½)

Sunday November 15 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC


3-5 Houston Texans at 8-0 Cincinnati Bengals (-10)(-9½)

Monday November 16 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN


For grins, here are the future prop bets for this week’s games that were posted when the NFL schedule came out last April; note the point swings for the Patriots, Bengals, Ravens and Cowboys.

Bills (-1) at Jets
Cowboys (-4½) at Buccaneers
Cardinals at Seahawks (-5½)
Bears at Rams (-4½)
Panthers (-2½) at Titans
Chiefs at Broncos (-5)
Vikings (-1½) at Raiders
Jaguars at Ravens (-10½)
Browns at Steelers (-7½)
Patriots (-1½) at Giants
Dolphins at Eagles (-3½)
Saints at Redskins (Pick’em)
Lions at Packers (-5)
Texans at Bengals (-4)


Bye Week:

6-2 Atlanta Falcons

3-5 Indianapolis Colts

2-6 San Diego Chargers

2-6 San Francisco 49ers



NFL Week 9 Previews, TV Info, Odds, Predictions and Picks ATS

John Morgan
November 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm ET

For those without the Sunday Ticket, this may be a good week to head out to your local sports bar to catch the early games. NFL week nine has some interesting matchups on tap, starting with 4-3 Oakland at 4-4 Pittsburgh as the primary game on CBS. The Patriots host Washington at the same time, so the Raiders-Steelers will not be televised in the Boston area. The Pats game will receive virtually no broadcast distribution outside of the DC/Virginia area and New England area; in fact, it won’t even be available in Connecticut. The best early game is also unavailable in New England: 6-1 Green Bay at 7-0 Carolina, also broadcast on Fox. Denver at Indy (Peyton vs his old team!) is not generating the buzz that CBS wanted when this game was originally scheduled thanks to the Colts underwhelming performance this year, but that game will be broadcast in all but two television markets in the late afternoon slot.


Happy Birthday to Ray Renfro, who was born on this day in 1929. Drafted by Paul Brown in the fourth round of the 1952 draft, Renfro played for the Browns for twelve seasons; Renfro played in five NFL championship games, with Cleveland winning the NFL championship twice. After returning punts in his rookie season, Renfro became Cleveland’s starting halfback the next year, and was named to the first of his three Pro Bowls. Renfro later switched to flanker, and finished his career with 19.6 yards per reception; a mark that ranks ninth best in NFL history. Renfro was only the eighth player in NFL history to amass 50 career receiving touchdowns, which doesn’t sound like much today; by comparison, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker have an equal amount of touchdown catches. But back then that was quite an accomplishment; this was before Bill Polian and the competition committee tinkered with rules, and NFL regular seasons consisted of only twelve games.


4-3 Oakland Raiders at 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Broadcast in all of the pacific, rocky mountain and central time zones with the exception of Houston, Minneapolis, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee; also broadcast in Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and DC.

Steelers -4½ (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 48 . . . . Raiders +185, Steelers -215

The Raiders are looking for their third straight win and have not allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards in five straight games; that is the longest current streak in the NFL. On offense Oakland has nice balance with WR Amari Cooper (38 receptions, 565 yards, 14.9 yards per catch, 318 yards after catch) as the deep threat, WR Michael Crabtree (40 receptions, 483 yards, 25 first downs) more of a possession receiver, FB Marcel Reece (20 catches on 24 targets, 203 yards) out of the backfield, and RB Latavius Murray (534 yards, 4.6 yards per carry) bouncing back nicely (198 yards rushing, 5.7 ypc versus Chargers and Jets) after being pulled late in losses to the Bears and Broncos. Those four players (plus WR Andre Holmes) have three touchdowns apiece; QB Derek Carr has done a good job of spreading the ball around and keeping defenses from being able to key on one player.

Pittsburgh has lost two in a row and is now without star RB Le’Veon Bell for the remainder of the season. The Steelers do get some good news with the returns of DE Stephon Tuitt (knee) and S Will Allen (ankle), and the pickup of Jacoby Jones should improve their return game. I took Oakland in this game when they were getting six points, but even though the line has dropped I still like the Raiders to at least cover, if not win straight up.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Raiders 23

Pick: Raiders +4½ . . . . under 48 . . . . Raiders +185


2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4-3 New York Jets, early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green

Broadcast in Connecticut, central and northern Florida (Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee), western Massachusetts, eastern New York (Albany and New York City), Savannah GA and Vermont.

Jets -8 (opened at -8) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Jaguars +300, Jets -360

The line in this game has been all over the place. Prior to last Sunday’s game the Jets were favored by 8, but it dropped to 2½ after the week 8 games when both Jet quarterbacks were hurt. Once news that Ryan Fitzpatrick was a go for this game was released, the line shot back up – to as high as nine points in some venues. I expected the Jets to lose last week: back-to-back road games, a letdown after getting up to play the Patriots and then losing late, and having to travel coast-to-coast – but they should be back to form with their defense leading the way in this game.

Prediction: Jets 24, Jaguars 17

Pick: Jaguars +8 . . . . under 42½ . . . . Jets -360


4-3 St. Louis Rams at 5-2 Minnesota Vikings, early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis

Broadcast in Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Vikings -1 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 40 . . . . Rams +100, Vikings -120

Todd Gurley has given the Rams some offense, and St. Louis has won two straight and three of their last four. Since being inserted into the lineup in week four Gurley has rushed for at least 128 yards in each of those four games, averaging 144 yards rushing per game and 6.4 yards per carry. Minnesota’s record is a bit of a mirage, bolstered by two games against the Lions and only one against a team that does not have a losing record.

Prediction: Rams 19, Vikings 17

Pick: Rams +1 . . . . under 40 . . . . Rams +100


3-4 Miami Dolphins at 3-4 Buffalo Bills, early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

Broadcast in Florida, Maine, western New York and Rhode Island.

Bills -3 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . Dolphins +130, Bills -150

Miami is coming off a 29-point loss to the Patriots, and will be without DE Cameron Wake (torn Achilles). Buffalo on the other hand is coming off a bye – and a bad loss to Jacksonville in London. The Bills are healthier now, with QB Tyrod Taylor (MCL) returning for the first time in four weeks, and RB Karlos Williams (concussion) available as a back up and 3rd down option behind LeSean McCoy. Miami RB Lamar Miller has had success against Rex Ryan: in two games last year he averaged 7.3 yards per carry, rushing for 234 yards and two touchdowns.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Bills 20

Pick: Dolphins +3 . . . . under 44½ . . . . Dolphins +130


1-6 Tennessee Titans at 4-4 New Orleans Saints, early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Broadcast in most of the southeast: Alabama, Georgia (except Savannah), Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina (except Raleigh), South Carolina and Tennessee.

Saints -8 (opened at -9½) . . . . over/under 48 . . . . Titans +330, Saints -400

After an 0-3 start, New Orleans has resurrected their season by winning three straight and four of their last five. Despite their issues on defense (49 points allowed last week; 30th-ranked 29.3 points per game), the Saints should have no problems with a Tennessee offense that has scored a meager 36 points total in their last four games. The Titans have allowed 28 sacks (4.0 per game, 32nd in the NFL), so perhaps the New Orleans D can show some improvement over last week’s debacle. Normally a change in head coach gives a team a boost, but Tennessee is so bereft of talent I don’t envision that happening here.

Prediction: Saints 27, Titans 20

Pick: Titans +8 . . . . under 48 . . . . Saints -400


3-4 Washington Redskins at 7-0 New England Patriots, early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch

Broadcast in New England (except CT), DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Patriots -14 (opened at -12½) . . . . over/under 52 . . . . Skins +900, Patriots -1600

Washington’s pass defense ranks 28th in opponent completions (66.5%), 31st in yards per pass attempt (8.2), 32nd in touchdowns (35), 32nd in TD:INT ratio (35:7) and 32nd in passer rating (108.3) – and now they get to face Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxboro, with their best pass rusher (Ryan Kerrigan) playing with a fractured hand. Washington QB Kirk Cousins has nine turnovers in seven starts, but he is bolstered by the return of WR DeSean Jackson and underrated TE Jordan Reed (35 receptions, 350 yards, 3 TD in 4½ games this season). Bottom line: if Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like All Pros against the Washington secondary, what will Brady, Gronk, Edelman, Amendola and Lewis do to this defense?

Prediction: Patriots 38, Skins 20

Pick: Patriots -14 . . . . over 52 . . . . Patriots -1600


6-1 Green Bay Packers at 7-0 Carolina Panthers, early game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Broadcast in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, southern California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Packers -2½ (opened at -2) . . . . over/under 46 . . . . Packers -140, Panthers +120

A year ago the Packers were averaging scoring 30.4 points (best in the NFL) and 384 yards (6th) per game; this season those numbers are down to 24.9 (10th) and 332 (28th). With Josh Norman and Charles Tillman at corner for Carolina, Aaron Rodgers would be wise to look for Randall Cobb out of the slot and TE Richard Rodgers. Carolina is not that strong against the run (4.5 yards per carry, 27th), so a heavy dosage of Eddie Lacy and James Starks may be in order also. The Packers are very susceptible to the run also, and that plays right into Carolina’s strength. Last week Green Bay allowed Denver, who had done nothing at all on the ground all year, to run for 160 yards; two games before that the Rams rushed for 191 yards. I would be all in with Carolina in this game if not for the Panthers coming off a short week, and Green Bay being more motivated after a bad loss to the Broncos, and the ensuing public overreaction.

Prediction: Panthers 28, Packers 21

Pick: Panthers +2½ . . . . over 46 . . . . Panthers +120


6-2 Atlanta Falcons at 2-6 San Francisco 49ers, late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber

Broadcast in Alabama, northern California, Georgia, Louisiana and Reno NV.

Falcons -7 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . Falcons -300, Niners +250

Early in the season I didn’t believe in Atlanta, but they kept winning close games late. Then I started to come around, and they stumble: a loss to the 1-4 Saints, scoring just ten points to barely beat the Titans, and then a home loss to Tampa Bay. Even though this is a long road trip, I would expect a wake-up call after last week’s bad loss. After all, this a very bad SF team with draft bust Blaine Gabbert at QB, no Vernon Davis at TE(traded), a gimpy Carlos Hyde (foot) at RB and a banged up Anquan Boldin (hamstring) at WR.

Prediction: Falcons 20, Niners 10

Pick: Falcons -7 . . . . under 44 (three units) . . . . Falcons -300


4-4 New York Giants at 3-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, late game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston

Broadcast in Connecticut, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

Giants -2½ (opened at -1) . . . . over/under 50 . . . . Giants -140, Bucs +120

The Giants have been nothing if not inconsistent this season. The club began the year by creatively losing two games they should have won, then won three in a row. Since then they looked awful in a Monday night loss to Philly, barely beat the depleted Cowboys, and managed to lose to New Orleans last week despite scoring 49 points. Despite all that the G-Men should be able to take advantage of the Bucs soft Tampa-2 defense and their propensity for mental mistakes (Tampa Bay ranks 31st with 82.3 penalty yards per game).

Prediction: Giants 34, Buccaneers 31

Pick: Giants -2½ . . . . over 50 . . . . Giants -140


7-0 Denver Broncos at 3-5 Indianapolis Colts, late game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Broadcast in all markets except SF/Oakland and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Broncos -5½ (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . Broncos -240, Colts +200

While he’ll never admit it, you know that Peyton Manning wants to let Jim Irsay know that he should have never let him walk away to another team for nothing. The ad pitchman will be inside a dome, where wind and cold weather will not affect his throws. More importantly Denver has the type of aggressive defense that will force Andrew Luck into poor decisions, forced throws and turnovers.

Prediction: Broncos 27, Colts 17

Pick: Broncos -5½ (one unit) . . . . under 45 . . . . Broncos -240


3-4 Philadelphia Eagles at 2-5 Dallas Cowboys

Sunday night game on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Eagles -3 (opened at -1) . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . Eagles -150, Cowboys +130

Jerry Jones’ comments backing up Greg Hardy as a ‘leader’ after a sideline outburst a week ago are looking foolish now, after this week’s release of photos of the damage Hardy inflicted during the assault of his ex-girlfriend. The Cowboys are not the type of team that is capable of ignoring the outside noise and focusing strictly on the upcoming game – and that’s without even considering the fiasco they are enduring at quarterback with Tony Romo still out.

Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 17

Pick: Eagles -3 (one unit) . . . . under 43½ . . . . Eagles -150


2-5 Chicago Bears at 2-6 San Diego Chargers

Monday night game on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Al Michaels

Chargers -4½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 49 . . . . Bears +170, Chargers -200

Look beyond Philip Rivers’ gaudy passing stats and you will find a team defense that does not create turnovers (0.9 per game, 30th), with an offense without an effective running game (3.4 yards per carry, 31st). End result is a team that is very inefficient on both offense (17.7 yards per point, 29th) as well as on defense (12.8 yards per point, 28th). Chicago’s defense isn’t that great either, but they are playing much better since the return of QB Jay Cutler and WR Alshon Jeffery.

Prediction: Bears 24, Chargers 21

Pick: Bears +4½ (one unit) . . . . under 49 . . . . Bears +170


Bye Week:

6-2 Arizona Cardinals

2-6 Baltimore Ravens

1-7 Detroit Lions

3-5 Houston Texans

3-5 Kansas City Chiefs

4-4 Seattle Seahawks

Colts at Panthers Preview, Odds, Stats, Prediction and Pick ATS

John Morgan
November 2, 2015 at 12:45 pm ET

NFL Week 8 wraps up tonight with the 6-0 Carolina Panthers hosting the 3-4 Indianapolis Colts. The game kicks off at 8:30 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on ESPN. After an off-season where many in the media predicted the Colts would play in (if not win) the Super Bowl, Indy has underachieved dramatically. The Colts have lost three games that they were favored to win and enter this game on a two-game losing streak. Things could actually be worse for Indy; they are fortunate that, despite their geographic location, they play in the AFC South. Indy is 3-0 within their division, barely (average of four points) beating three of the worst teams in the league. Outside the friendly confines of the AFC South the Colts are 0-4 this year; over the last two years Indy is 14-0 within the division and 6-10 against the rest of the NFL.


Odds: The betting line in this game has been all over the place. A week a go in advanced look-ahead lines, this game opened up 3½ point favorites. By Saturday the line was up to seven points, but on Monday it was back down to 5½ points at most venues, with a few down as low as five points. The over/under is 46 with a half point variance either way depending on where you shop, and a typical money line has Indy +200 and Carolina -240. Against the spread the Colts are 2-5, while the Panthers are 5-1.


Offensive Team Stats

Points per Game: Panthers 27.0 (4th), Colts 21.0 (21st)

Yards per Game: Panthers 344 (22nd), Colts 351 (16th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Panthers 7.0 (20th), Colts 6.6 (28th)

Yards per Carry: Panthers 4.4 (10th), Colts 4.3 (15th)

Turnovers (giveaways) per Game: Panthers 1.3 (11th), Colts 2.1 (28th)


Defensive Team Stats

Points per Game: Panthers 18.3 (5th), Colts  24.9 (21st)

Yards per Game: Panthers 340 (29th), Colts 409 (31st)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Panthers 5.8 (2nd), Colts 7.6 (23rd)

Yards per Carry: Panthers 4.3 (21st), Colts 4.2 (18th)

Turnovers (takeaways) per Game: Panthers 2.0 (6th), Colts 1.0 (27th)



Own Penalties per Game: Panthers 6.3 (7th), Colts 8.0 (24th)

Own Penalty Yards per Game: Panthers 52.5 (5th), Colts 65.6 (22nd)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Panthers 6.7 (24th), Colts 10.1 (1st)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Panthers 48.7 (29th), Colts 92.4 (1st)


The Colts are going to go as far as Andrew Luck will carry them, and so far this season the results have not been pretty. Luck ranks at or near the bottom of the NFL among all starting quarterbacks in nearly every passing statistic, and now he has to face a very solid defense that excels in coverage, led by Josh Norman. The Defensive Player of the Month has four interceptions – including to pick-sixes – ten passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two tackles for losses.

Carolina’s ground and pound offense should have no problem with Indy’s soft run defense, and in addition Indy’s man coverage should open up wide running lanes for Cam Newton to take off for big gains if the Panther receivers are covered. The Colts have benefited from undisciplined play of their opponents in their three wins, but that certainly will not be the case with the Carolina defense.

The only remaining question is who will Indianapolis G.M. Ryan Grigson get into a heated exchange with first: owner Jim Irsay or head coach Chuck Pagano?


Prediction: Panthers 31, Colts 17

Pick: Panthers  minus 5½ points (four units)

Over 46 points

Panthers -240 (three units)






Jets at Patriots Stats-Based Preview

John Morgan
October 24, 2015 at 7:00 am ET

The 5-0 New England Patriots meet the 4-1 New York Jets in a battle for first place in the AFC East on Sunday. Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game rather than gross totals. I have used per-game stats rather than totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, considering that teams have played a different number of games thus far due to bye weeks.

Looking at these numbers I was a bit surprised – as I am sure many others will be – at how often the Jets ranked relatively high (top ten in the NFL) in offensive categories. It is also really amazing to see how often the New England offense and Jet defense both rank number one, or number one and two in one statistical category after another. This game is gearing up to be a classic clash between a great offense and and an elite defense.

There are a few areas that stand out that could be troublesome for the Patriots, and they all involve the Jets’ offense versus the Patriots’ defense. New York does very well on the ground (first in rushing yards per game and seventh in yards per carry) while the Patriots are below average (22nd and 30th, respectively) in those two categories. The Jet offense is also far more efficient on third down than the New England defense is, and the same holds true for the NYJ red zone offense in comparison to the Patriot RZ defense.

On the other hand the Patriots have some statistical advantages as well. The Jets’ propensity to turn the ball over (seven interceptions and three fumbles) could very well be a turning point in Sunday’s game, and the Patriots perform far better on special teams; that too could very well be a key point in the outcome of this game.

Patriots Offense versus Jets Defense

Scoring: Pats 36.6 (1st); Jets 15.0 (1st)

Yardage: Pats 422 (2nd); Jets 269 (1st)

First Downs: Pats 26.2 (1st); Jets 16.2 (1st)

Yards per Play: Pats 6.4 (3rd); Jets 4.3 (2nd)

Yards per Drive: Pats 40.4 (1st); Jets 23.2 (1st)

Points per Drive: Pats 3.39 (1st); Jets 1.02 (1st)

Drive Success Rate: Pats .798 (1st); Jets .604 (1st)

Points per Play: Pats .556 (2nd); Jets .241 (1st)

Touchdowns: Pats 4.2 (1st); Jets 1.8 (1st)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Pats 3.4 (1st); Jets 0.8 (1st)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Pats 73.9% (2nd); Jets 33.3% (1st)

Plays per Game: Pats 65.8 (14th); Jets 62.2 (7th)

Third Down Conversions: Pats 5.8 (12th); Jets 4.6 (7th)

Third Down Percentage: Pats 50.9% (1st); Jets 31.9% (4th)

Punts per Score: Pats 0.4 (1st); Jets 2.1 (1st)

Rushing Yards: Pats 97.2 (21st); Jets 82.6 (2nd)

Yards per Rush: Pats 4.08 (16th); Jets 3.50 (2nd)

Passing Yards: Pats 325 (2nd); Jets 187 (2nd)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Pats 8.6 (4th); Jets 5.4 (1st)

Completion Percentage: Pats 70.6% (2nd); Jets 52.4% (1st)

Passer Rating: Pats 118.4 (1st); Jets 60.9 (1st)

Complete Passes: Pats 27.8 (4th); Jets 19.4 (4th)

Incomplete Passes: Pats 11.6 (9th); Jets 17.6 (1st)

Quarterback Sacks: Pats 2.6 (21st); Jets 1.6 (25th)

Sack Yardage Lost: Pats 14.6 (16th); Jets 12.0 (22nd)


Jets Offense versus Pats Defense

Scoring: Jets 25.8 (7th); Pats 20.6 (11th)

Yardage: Jets 380 (8th); Pats 356 (17th)

First Downs: Jets 20.4 (16th); Pats 20.6 (13th)

Yards per Play: Jets 5.7 (8th); Pats 5.4 (13th)

Yards per Drive: Jets 29.9 (23rd); Pats 31.3 (11th)

Points per Drive: Jets 2.08 (10th); Pats 1.80 (12th)

Drive Success Rate: Jets .685 (19th); Pats .705 (16th)

Points per Play: Jets .384 (9th); Pats .315 (10th)

Touchdowns: Jets 3.0 (8th); Pats 2.6 (15th)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Jets 2.8 (4th); Pats 1.8 (15th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Jets 73.7% (3rd); Pats 69.2% (28th)

Plays per Game: Jets 67.2 (6th); Pats 65.4 (15th)

Third Down Conversions: Jets 6.2 (7th); Pats 5.6 (24th)

Third Down Percentage: Jets 43.1% (8th); Pats 40.0% (20th)

Punts per Score: Jets 1.0 (9th); Pats 1.3 (8th)

Rushing Yards: Jets 146 (1st); Pats 114.6 (22nd)

Yards per Rush: Jets 4.48 (7th); Pats 4.86 (30th)

Passing Yards: Jets 234 (21st); Pats 241 (15th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Jets 6.9 (18th); Pats 7.0 (10th)

Completion Percentage: Jets 62.6% (19th); Pats 64.2% (15th)

Passer Rating: Jets 83.4 (18th); Pats 87.5 (11th)

Complete Passes: Jets 21.4 (22nd); Pats 24.4 (21st)

Incomplete Passes: Jets 12.8 (14th); Pats 13.6 (14th)

Quarterback Sacks: Jets 0.4 (1st); Pats 3.8 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Jets 1.6 (1st); Pats 25.4 (2nd)



Patriot Giveaways: 0.6 (2nd);  Jet Takeaways: 3.0 (1st)

Jet Giveaways: 2.0 (27th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.4 (18th)



Penalties: Patriots 7.8 (19th); Jets 6.6 (6th)

Penalty Yards: Patriots 70.0 (27th); Jets 68.2 (25th)

Opponent Penalties: Patriots 9.4 (3rd); Jets 8.0 (10th)

Opponent Penalty Yards: Patriots 96.8 (1st); Jets 61.8 (16th)


Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency – Total DVOA: Patriots 44.4% (2nd); Jets 26.9% (5th)

Team Efficiency – Total DAVE: Patriots 37.5% (1st); Jets 19.6% (5th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 32.8% (1st); Jets 5.4% (10th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -3.7% (8th); Jets -29.4% (2nd)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 7.9% (3rd); Jets -7.9% (31st)