Tag Archives: Jeff Fisher

NFL Week 11 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 6 vs Raiders

John Morgan
November 11, 2017 at 5:30 pm ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including this past Thursday’s game between Seattle and Arizona. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

NFL Week 11 looks like it will have plenty of close games. There are no double-digit favorites, and only one game with a spread of more than seven. Home teams are favored in only half of the 14 scheduled games, and nine games have odds of 3½ or fewer points.

The week kicks off with Tennessee at Pittsburgh in Thursday night. In the early Sunday time slot there is what should be a great game between two NFC division leaders. The Rams are at Minnesota in a battle between two teams that have far exceeded expectations thus far in 2017. The winner will be in good position to head into the playoffs with a first round bye. LA has shown that all they needed was to rid themselves of Jeff Fisher, while the Vikings defense has carried the load after losing RB Dalvin Cook to a torn ACL.

In the late afternoon time slot the Patriots and Raiders renew a rivalry dating back to the inception of the American Football League 57 years ago. Players will face the challenge of the high altitude and smog of Mexico City in the 35th meeting between these two franchises. What’s the over/under on the number of times ‘tuck rule’ is mentioned on television that day? Don’t turn hearing that phrase into a drinking game; too many people will die from alcohol poisoning.

Week 11 wraps up with a pair of good prime time NFC games. On Sunday night the Eagles are at Dallas. Philly has a 2½ game lead heading into the week 10 games, and the Cowboys need a win to keep up for a chance of at least a wild card spot. Then on Monday night Atlanta is at Seattle. The two clubs have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in three of the last four years. Both have underachieved somewhat this year despite their winning records, but still have enough talent to put together a long winning streak in the second half of the season.

NFL Week 11 Early Odds

Thursday Nov 16 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Detroit Lions (-2½) at Chicago Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (-3½)
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Arizona Cardinals (-2) at Houston Texans
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs (-9½) at New York Giants
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Green Bay Packers
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) at Cleveland Browns

Sunday Nov 19 late afternoon games
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers (-3), 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
New England Patriots (-6) at Mexico City Raiders, 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Dallas Cowboys, Sunday November 19 on NBC
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2), Monday November 20 on espn

Bye Week
Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts
New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers

 

I like the Jaguars minus-7 against the Browns based on the numbers above. Another option is a three-point teaser two-game teaser. Bring Houston to plus-5 at home versus Arizona, and the Jags to minus-4 at Cleveland. For less risk (but a lower payoff) make it six points. That would give Houston more than a touchdown (+8) and Jacksonville just a minus-1.

Today in Pats History: Happy Birthday Chris Long

John Morgan
March 28, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Happy Birthday to Chris Long, who headlines March 28 in New England Patriots’ history.

 

Chris Long, 32 (3/28/1985)
Patriot DE, 2016
Uniform #95

The Longs are one of the premier NFL football families. Chris’ father Howie is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his brother Kyle is a starting RG for the Bears. At Virginia Chris Long was a unanimous All-American and first team All-ACC. He was also the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the Ted Hendricks Award for the nation’s best defensive end. The St. Louis Rams selected Long with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft.

Long was a steady starter on a solid Ram defense for several years. However he missed ten games in 2014 with an ankle injury and four more in 2015 due to a knee injury. Upon his return Jeff Fisher kept William Hayes as his starter, leaving Long as a situational reserve. The Rams had previously restructured Long’s contract which created a cap number of $14 million for 2016. Not surprisingly he was cut as one of several cap saving moves.

Long visited with Dallas, Washington and Atlanta, and then signed a one-year deal for $2 million with the Patriots on March 18, 2016. Having previously cashed in with two large contracts, Long was secure with leaving some money on the table in order to play for a Superbowl contender.

After eight years of wallowing in St. Louis Ram mediocrity, Long finally not only experienced a winning season but also the playoffs and a Superbowl victory. Though it did not show up in the stat sheet Long did have key plays in the improbable comeback victory over Atlanta. On one key play his bull rush over Jake Matthews applied pressure from the right, so Matt Ryan could not turn that way. This was on Dont’a Hightower’s oft-replayed strip sack and fumble recovered by Alan Branch. That play may have been a big reason why Long was able to draw Matthews into a holding penalty on the subsequent drive. That flag resulted in a loss of ten yards and kept Atlanta out of field goal range. It was one of several plays that was the difference between a Superbowl win or loss.

Long played in every Pats game in 2016, with seven starts. However his playing time decreased as the season progressed. In the first eight games Long was in for about 70% of the defensive plays, averaging 49 snaps per game. Down the stretch that dropped to just over 50%, averaging 34 snaps in the final six games of the regular season. In the playoffs Long had 27 snaps versus Houston, 20 plays (29%) against Pittsburgh and then only 15 snaps in the Superbowl. With that in mind it is understandable that he has elected to explore other options in free agency. Long finished the season with 35 combined tackles (22 solo), four sacks, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. Despite his short time in Foxboro all of Patriot Nation is grateful for his hard work and contribution.

Off the field the Chris Long Foundation’s signature project is The Waterboys. It unites NFL players and fans to raise awareness and funds with a goal to install 32 deep borehole wells in East Africa. Each well costs $45,000 and serves up to 7,500 people.

3/28 12:05 pm update: Long has reportedly signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Reche Caldwell – Patriot WR, 2006

Reche Caldwell, 38 (3/28/1979)
Uniform #87

Like many pro athletes, Caldwell excelled in multiple sports as a youth. In high school he threw 77 touchdown passes and also set several school records in baseball. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998 but opted to play football instead. Caldwell stayed in state and went to the University of Florida. There he played for Steve Spurrier at the end of the Fun-n-Gun era. On offense he played alongside future NFL players such as Rex Grossman, Jabar Gaffney and Earnest Graham.

Caldwell finished his junior year with 65 receptions for 1,059 yards and ten touchdowns. San Diego then selected him in the second round of the 2002 draft, 48th overall. He spent four years with the Chargers, never quite living up to his draft status. Over that span Caldwell had 76 catches for 950 yards and seven touchdowns.

Following the 2005 season Patriot free agent David Givens signed with Tennessee. Troy Brown would soon turn 35. Depth at the wide receiver position needed to be replenished, and the Pats signed UFA Caldwell. At the same time Deion Branch was in the last year of his rookie contract. He held out and was eventually traded after lengthy and bitter negotiations. Rookie Chad Jackson injured his hamstring in training camp. Rather than being a third or fourth option at WR, Caldwell was suddenly by default forced to be the primary receiver.

In that 2006 season Caldwell had 61 receptions (on 101 targets) for 760 yards and four touchdowns. The playoffs started well as he caught 12 of the 15 passes thrown his way over two games, for 130 yards. That included a TD against his old team in a 24-21 victory at San Diego.

2006 AFCCG at Indianapolis

Reche Caldwell Eyes

Caldwell was targeted nine times against Indy, catching just four passes. At one point Caldwell muffed a perfectly thrown pass in the corner of the end zone. Then with under ten minutes to go and the score tied, Caldwell was left uncovered on a botched Colt defensive assignment. Brady threw to Caldwell for what should have been an easy catch and an 18 yard waltz into the end zone. Caldwell became overanxious and turned too soon – even though no defender was remotely close to him – and dropped the ball. Two plays later he was unable to catch another pass and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal. The Colts came back to win the AFCCG 38-34. The NFC was weak that year; the winner of that game was the defacto Superbowl champion. It was a huge missed opportunity for the Patriots.

Bill Belichick retooled his offense the following season with the additions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Caldwell was cut on September 3, 2007 and spent one final NFL season with Washington. His post-NFL career did not go well.

Caldwell returned to his old Tampa neighborhood and opened up a gambling parlor. His problem was that it was successful, and he never considered that perhaps he should keep a low profile. After the inevitable arrest for bookmaking and running a gambling house, Caldwell posted bond. He kept hanging out with his old crew and saw how popular Ecstasy was at the clubs. Caldwell made the absurdly foolish decision to buy some Molly over the internet as his next business venture. That resulted in a 27-month prison sentence.

How Reche Caldwell Googled his way from the Patriots to prison | ABC News

 

Greg ‘Truck’ Moore – Patriot LB, 1987

Greg Moore, 52 (3/28/1965)
Uniform #54

The 6’1, 240 lb linebacker went to college at Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was one of the replacement players in 1987 when the NFLPA went on strike. Moore started in all three of those replacement games, with one fumble recovery.

With his brief NFL career over, Moore returned to his native Georgia. He is the owner of Elite Realty Specialists.

Greg Moore

 

Bryan Wagner – Patriot P, 1991 and 1995

Bryan Wagner, 55 (3/28/1962)
Uniform #8 and #9

Wagner was with five different teams over nine season in the NFL. With the Browns in 1997 he led the league in number of punts with 97; the following season he led the NFL with four punts blocked. He signed with the Patriots in 1991 but was released after three games. Wagner was averaging a mere 29.1 net yards on his 14 punts.

The Patriots re-signed him in 1995. He punted 37 times over eight games, with a carer-high 42.1 yards per punt. He now teaches phys ed and is a high school football coach in Ohio.

1/12/1986: Bryan Wagner Is Alive and Hopes to Be Kicking in the NFL

1/25/1995: Super Bowl XXIX : Persistence Lands Him on His Feet

5/31/2005: Ex-punter lands coaching job

 

Steve Doig – Patriot LB, 1986-87

Steve Doig, 57 (3/28/1960)
Uniform #59

Doig is a New England native. He was born in Melrose, played hockey at North Reading High School and went to the University of New Hampshire. At UNH he was the ECAC player of the year. Detroit selected Doig in the third round of the 1982 draft, 69th overall. Over three seasons with the Lions he appeared in 34 games with four starts.

The Patriots signed Doig in 1986, after he had not played at all the previous season. He played in five games for the Pats in ’86, and one more in 1987. Doig also appeared in the playoff loss to Denver following the 1986 season. The Pats waived Doig on September 8, 1987.

Doig’s biggest highlight came in the last game played at the Orange Bowl. In the ’86 season finale Doig recovered a fumbled kickoff to give the Patriots the ball at the Miami 24. On the next play Craig James fumbled the ball away, and Tony Eason injured his shoulder making the tackle. Steve Grogan replaced Eason and later threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan with 44 seconds remaining. That gave the Patriots a 34-27 victory, and the AFC East title.

 

Lonnie Farmer – Patriot LB, 1964-66

Lonnie Farmer, 77 (3/28/1940)
Uniform #55

Farmer played in 31 games over three seasons for the Pats, but his carer was cut short by a knee injury. This is from the 1966 Patriots Media Guide:

This rebel belter from Lookout Mountain, Tenn., enters his third pro season with best prospects ever … lost last season with a knee injury … otherwise would have been a regular … is one of the surest, toughest tacklers on Patriots team … is one of Coach Holovak’s best on the suicide squad … was brought to Boston’s pros by fellow Chattanooga alumnus Charley Long … was Williamson All-American and AP second team All-American in ’63 … has a real taste for action … intense competitor … injury free season could give Lonnie a shot at All-Star honors.

Lonnie Farmer
Left to right: defensive tackle Jim Lee Hunt, safety Ron Hall, and linebacker Lonnie Farmer.

 

Other NFL notables born on March 28 include:
Geno Atkins (29), five-time Pro Bowl DT for Cincinnati Bengals.
NaVorro Bowman (29), four-time All Pro LB for San Francisco 49ers.
Derek Carr (26), two-time Pro Bowl QB for the Oakland  Las Vegas Raiders.
Jim Turner (76), AFL-AFC kicker for the Jets and Broncos

 

There is only one March 29 Patriot birthday, so I will insert it here.

Chris Calloway – Patriot WR, 2000

Chris Calloway, 49 (3/29/1968)
Uniform #82

Calloway is most well known for seven years with the Giants. He was their leading receiver for four straight years. Calloway had receptions in a team record 47 straight games, and at the time he ranked third in franchise history with 334 receptions. He was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1990, but only spent two seasons with the Steelers.

In 1999 the Giants released Calloway, attempting to get younger and also save money. Calloway signed a $4 million contract with Atlanta, which was very big money at that time. He caught only 22 passes and the Falcons let him go after one season.

During training camp in 2000 Bill Belichick axed Vincent Brisby and signed Calloway. By that time though he was 32 and his best days were behind him. Calloway appeared in seven games with two starts for New England. He had only five receptions for 95 yards while with the Patriots. The Pats cut him on October 21, 2000. Calloway finished his NFL career with 386 receptions for 5497 yards and 30 touchdowns.

11/28/2009: Former New York Giants wide receiver Chris Calloway trying to hang on

Chris Calloway

 

Other NFL notables born on March 29 include:
Earl Campbell (62), Houston Oiler Hall of Fame running back.
Ryan Kalil (32), Carolina Panther five time Pro Bowl center.
Justin Tuck (34), two time Pro Bowl defensive end.

 

Best of Social Media: Week 13 Rams vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
December 6, 2016 at 10:00 am ET

Heading into their Week 13 match up with the Los Angeles Rams, the New England Patriots were seeking their 14th consecutive 10-win season and one step closer to locking up another AFC East title.

The Patriots received the ball first to open up the game, and not even four minutes into the first quarter they jumped out to an early 7-0 lead following LeGarrette Blount’s longest run of the season, on fourth down no less.

For the first time since October 23rd, the Patriots finally recorded an interception, and who better to do it than Malcolm Butler?

(Courtesy @PatsPropaganda)

After one quarter of play, the Patriots still lead 7-0.

The Patriots had the ball to open the second quarter, and Brady drove the Patriots down inside the Rams 20 yard line setting up this beautiful tip-toe touchdown by Chris Hogan.

The Patriots defense smothered Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff as cornerback Logan Ryan recorded his first sack since 2013.

https://twitter.com/ThePatriotWay/status/805484141064032256

Another week of questionable NFL officiating following this controversial facemask non-call.

FOX Cameras captured this Matt Patricia twin in the Gillette Stadium stands.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski would tack on a 28-yard field goal and the Patriots went into halftime with a 17-0 lead.

In honor of the Patriots 15th anniversary of the 2001 Super Bowl XXXVI championship, members of the team returned to Foxboro for a special halftime ceremony.

https://twitter.com/Andruzzi63/status/805498364464889856

Troy Brown took to the podium and delivered a heartfelt statement for the ages, echoing Red Sox legend David Ortiz’s famous marathon speech.

https://twitter.com/OnlyInBOS/status/805504928823255040

You can checkout the full halftime ceremony at this link HERE on the Patriots website.

With the second half underway, the game didn’t get any easier for Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Seeking to challenge a catch, he struggled to find his red flag buried within his coat.

Fisher would ultimately win the challenge, but it would only lead to a field goal. Rams still trailed 17-3.

The Patriots would get the ball back, and “Minitron” Julian Edelman hauled in this 32 yard pass from Brady following an incredible dodge of the pass rush.

It was a long afternoon for the Rams.

In the fourth quarter the Patriots were unable to find the end zone, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a terrific performance making all four field goal attempts, three of them from over 45 yards.

The Rams would tack on a garbage time touchdown with under four minutes to play but the Patriots would walk away with their tenth win of the season by a final score of 26-10.

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, December 4, 2016

Career victory number 201 for quarterback Tom Brady, the most all-time.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNn40A6hxra/?taken-by=nink50&hl=en

❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

Great team win today fellas!!! #Blessed

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNnPngJDp1K/?taken-by=laflamablanca95

Reactions from LA to Patriots’ 26-10 Victory over Rams

John Morgan
December 5, 2016 at 7:15 am ET

We know the story lines in New England after the Patriots’ 26-10 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Here are a handful of reactions from the City of Angels and beyond. The Rams lost for the seventh time in their last eight games. For what it is worth it is safe to say that Bill Belichick owns Jeff Fisher. In the last three games between the two head coaches the Hoodie’s squads are 3-0, outscoring Fisher’s clubs by a combined score of 130-17.

News broke earlier that Fisher’s contract has been extended for two years. That perplexing decision is not surprisingly the focus of attention for those dedicated souls that follow the Rams.

 

First, an interesting piece from a forgotten name. Remember the doctor that operated on Tom Brady after his knee was demolished in the 2008 season opener? He was excoriated at the time by some after news of post-operation infections, but it turns out that he and Brady are BFFs.

LA Times: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s biggest fan works for the Rams

One of Brady’s best friends and most devoted supporters will be watching from a prime vantage.

The visitors’ sideline.

Neal ElAttrache, team physician for the Rams, helped save Brady’s career. ElAttrache reconstructed the left knee of the future Hall of Famer, who suffered a three-ligament tear in a 2008 season opener.

“At a pretty critical moment in my career, he was someone who was right there by my side,” Brady recently told The Times. “I’m forever grateful to him and his commitment to me, and we’re lifelong friends because of that.”

ElAttrache, who met Brady 15 years ago when a mutual friend introduced them for a golf round at Pebble Beach, remains his personal doctor from 3,000 miles away. He consults from afar with the Patriots medical staff and trainers on garden-variety injuries, and is always prepared if something more serious were to occur.

In an era of heightened scrutiny on the complex interaction among doctors and teams and players, the friendship that has emerged between ElAttrache and Brady extends beyond the sacrosanct physician-patient relationship.

“I think it’s safe to say that I will never root for another person against Tom Brady,” said ElAttrache, who serves as chairman of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Foundation and director of medical affairs for the Kerlan-Jobe Institute.

 

SB Nation: Jeff Fisher’s problems are never his fault, and he has a contract extension to prove it
Nobody in the NFL is as good at being bad at their job as Jeff Fisher, but he’s got a million excuses for that

It’s turned out to be a tough season for Fisher and the Rams; this week was the worst of it so far. Sean Payton and the Saints gave them a revenge game beatdown, a public fight with the team’s most prominent alumni left Fisher looking petty, and a conference call in which Fisher didn’t seem to know who the Patriots running backs were.

Yet, somehow, the Rams still came out in support of their head coach. COO Kevin Demoff spent the week parroting the team’s party line on Fisher, that it’s unfair to judge him by his record. They’re paying him $7 million per year to not be judged by his perpetually mediocre results.

The Rams’ team headquarters is such a judgment-free zone that the Rams gave Fisher a two-year contract extension earlier this season, one that will pay him $7 million in 2017 and $9 million in 2018.

Nothing new for Teflon Fisher. He’s coached 22 years with only six winning seasons and three losses away from having more than any other head coach in NFL history. When a nuclear explosion rids the world of humanity, there will only be Jeff Fisher organizing a group of 53 cockroaches into a 7-9 insect football team.

 

Turf Show Times: Los Angeles Rams 10, New England Patriots 26: Overmatched
It was never going to be anything other than what it was

The talent level on the Rams’ offense, especially along the offensive line, is entirely insufficient to be able to operate an offensive gameplan consistently.

The physicality and aggression, let alone the quality of tutelage, lends itself to an unusually high number of penalties. Today, that didn’t manifest itself to nearly the degree it tends to. No matter.

But most overwhelmingly, the 2016 Los Angeles Rams, much like their previous versions the last four years in St. Louis, are overseen by Jeff Fisher, a master in finding ways to limit his teams to a very low level of capability and not get fired.

Today isn’t so much about losing to the Patriots. Lots of good teams have done as much.

Today isn’t even about the manner in which they did it with a horrendous offensive output capped with a garbage time touchdown that came on the back of the Patriots’ lone defensive failing of the day.

It’s about the entirety of Fisherball. It’s about five years of it. Five years of losing. The excuses. The complete lack of accountability.

With the loss today, Jeff Fisher is one loss away from tying Dan Reeves for the most losses of all-time of any NFL head coach.

 

LA Times: Rams Coach Jeff Fisher receives contract extension

Rams Coach Jeff Fisher has received a contract extension, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Fisher is in the final season of a five-year contract that pays him $7 million a year. The Rams are 4-7 this season and Fisher has a 31-43-1 record with the Rams heading into Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

General Manager Les Snead also received an extension, said the source, who requested anonymity to avoid getting ahead of the expected official announcement.

Despite his record, Fisher before the season was thought to be in line for an extension for helping to oversee the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

But the Rams did not announce it before a season-opening loss against the San Francisco 49ers or after the Rams got off to a 3-1 start.

 

Sports Illustrated: Rams overlook obvious problems and extend coach Jeff Fisher’s contract

Say this much about the Rams: They don’t easily cave to outside noise.

Despite the increasing calls for Los Angeles to move on from coach Jeff Fisher as the franchise steamrolls towards its fifth straight sub-.500 record under his leadership, the front office apparently thinks highly enough of Fisher to keep him around. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Rams and Fisher had, in fact, signed a two-contract extension through 2018.

Rumors of such an extension had been floating since earlier this season—the Rams’ first back in Los Angeles. SI’s Jonathan Jones even speculated last week that Fisher may know something the general public did not about his job status.

Turns out, that was true. Which is enough to make you wonder why the Rams kept this all so hush-hush.

The obvious answer is that the backlash for the front office rewarding Fisher in the midst of a disappointing 4–7 season would have been (and now will be) swift. The Rams finished 7-8-1 in Fisher’s first year in St. Louis (2012), but they have not been able to match even that mediocre finish in the years since. Headed into Sunday’s game at New England, Fisher was just two away from tying Dan Reeves for the most losses (165) in NFL coaching history.

 

Los Angeles Daily News: Rams have a ways to go to totally win back hearts of Los Angeles

What, you thought this was going to be a perfectly seamless transition? The Rams were just going to waltz into town after abandoning us all those years ago and just slide right back into our hearts and souls?

Sorry, that was never going to happen. It was inevitable there would be hiccups and bumps in the road. This was as awkward as awkward gets, them walking out on us 21 years ago like a dad kicking his family to the curb and us eventually writing them off for good.

 

Former Ram running back Eric Dickerson is not a fan of Fisher’s contract extension. For a detailed review of the conversation between the Hall of Fame RB and Fisher, see Eric Dickerson says he will not go to Rams games as long as Jeff Fisher is the coach from the LA Times.

Washington Post: Eric Dickerson says Jeff Fisher banned him from sideline, Rams deny it

Earlier Monday, on Dickerson’s own Los Angeles-based radio show, he said, “Someone from upper management called me and said that I make the players feel uncomfortable about some of the stuff I’ve said on the radio, and they don’t want me on the sidelines. Basically, they didn’t want me at the games.”

(Dickerson) told Liz Habib, a sports anchor at KTTV in Los Angeles, that Fisher had called him and said, “As long as I’m head coach, you’re not welcome on the sideline.”

“As long as you’re head coach, you don’t ever have to worry about ever seeing me at a Rams game again,” Dickerson said he told Fisher, in comments made to Jason Smith of Fox Sports Radio. He said that he’d gotten the call about 10 days ago, and that he told the coach, “First of all, I wore the Rams uniform. You could get fired, [General Manager] Les Snead could get fired, Kevin Demoff could get fired, but I will always be Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams.”

“How dare you have the audacity to call me with that nonsense,” Dickerson said of Fisher to Smith. About the coach’s “really good conversation” comment, Dickerson said, “The good conversation came after I let him know what time it was. … Then he backed down.”

 

And the topic devolves from there.

Washington Post: Eric Dickerson wonders about naked pictures and Jeff Fisher’s contract extension

“I asked Kevin Demoff [the team’s V-P of football operations and chief operating officer] point-blank last night, I said, ‘So, are you bringing Jeff Fisher back? Does he have an extension?’” Dickerson said on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” “He said, ‘We’re talking about it.’ He asked me, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘My honest opinion? No. Look, he’s had five years. Five years of losing. Enough is enough.

“‘If I’m a fan, I feel like all these Rams fans, I’m their voice. I mean, why would you bring him back?’ I asked him, ‘Where are the naked pictures at?’ He must’ve got something on someone because five years is enough. It really is. You can’t subject all the Rams fans to this for another year.

 

And with this being SoCal, a former celebrity has an opinion as well.

CBS Sports: Snoop Dogg rips the Rams, calls for Fisher’s firing over Dickerson situation
Even Snoop thinks the Rams should fire Jeff Fisher

If Jeff Fisher’s goal in Los Angeles is to turn every celebrity against the Rams, then he’s doing a good job.

As the fallout continues from Fisher’s feud with Rams legend Eric Dickerson, we now know that there are at least two celebrities in L.A. who want to seen Fisher fired: Dickerson and yup, you guessed it, Snoop Dogg.

When Snoop’s talking about the NFL, he’s usually spends most of his time talking about the Seahawks or Steelers; however, it appears that he became so irate at Fisher at the Dickerson situation that he decided to go on Instagram and call for Fisher’s firing.

Here’s the censored version of what Snoop said.

“Coach need to go … He don’t know how to coach,” Snoop says in his video. “He ain’t won s—. He ain’t gonna win s—. He need to go. Period.”

 

Ramblin Fan: Los Angeles Rams Take the Marvin Lewis Approach With Jeff Fisher After Extension

So why did the Rams decide to reward Fisher with an extension despite his inability to post a winning record? It’s hard to determine any positives in this situation, but the one factor that sticks out the most is the hand Fisher was dealt for 2016 along with the potential surrounding Jared Goff at quarterback.

Los Angeles strongly believed at the beginning of the season the one thing holding them back from truly becoming contenders in the NFC was the quarterback position and after moving up in the draft to select Goff along with parting ways with Nick Foles, they finally received an upgrade. Goff may still have plenty of work to do from a development standpoint, but the No. 1 pick finally found a way to spark the Rams’ offense when he threw for three touchdowns in the first half against the New Orleans Saints back in Week 12.

The decision may not make sense at the moment, but it’s clear Los Angeles is taking the Marvin Lewis approach with this situation by keeping Fisher around, despite his inability to win a single playoff game. For the sake of the Rams fan base, let’s hope the organization doesn’t keep Fisher around as long as the Bengals have kept Lewis if the team continues to struggle over the next couple of seasons.

 

https://twitter.com/LATACO/status/805580225681555456?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Enews%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

 

 

Brady, Patriots Turn Back the Clock to 2001 in Win Over LA

Steve Balestrieri
at 6:56 am ET

 The Patriots were honoring the 2001 team that won the Super Bowl 15 years ago this weekend. That team shocked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI for one of the bigger upsets in NFL history. The 2016 version of the Pats and Tom Brady evoked a truly 2001esque performance on Sunday against the Rams to throttle their visitors 26-10 that was far more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated.

The Patriots were balanced on offense and early in the game ran the ball extremely well using a nice combination of LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis. In the second half, they went to the short passing game with Brady hitting a number of different receivers. The defense mixed up their coverages and blitzes and got two interceptions and sacks from four different players. Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals and channeled a Vinatieri-like performance.

Their workmanlike butt kicking of the hapless Rams also culminated in the 201st win of Brady’s remarkable career. It was fitting that the team used Sunday as the day to celebrate the 2001 team. Because in the final drive against the Rams in SB XXXVI, it was John Madden who would foretell what was to come when he said, “What Tom Brady just did on that final drive, gave me goosebumps.” Now, 15 years later Brady stands at the pinnacle of NFL quarterbacks.

Heavy Lifting Starts Now: Look no one is suggesting that the past three games have been against any teams that are remotely considered top flight NFL teams. But with the team having to reinvent itself on the fly due to trades and injuries, this has been a time of searching for pieces to fit their system. And it seems they’ve found them. Their next two weeks against the Ravens and Broncos will go a long way in determining how the team’s seeding will go playoff wise.

SF, the Jets, and Rams gave the team the chance to find the right combinations that they’ve been searching for defensively and it seems they’ve settled on their players now and it gives them the chance to work more on their execution. This arguably lesser competition sets the table for tougher opponents down the stretch and into January.

With Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts filling in for the departed Jamie Collins at linebacker opposite Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots have their rotation now and how each will be utilized. McClellin and Van Noy each had a sack and the latter came up with a leaping interception of Jared Goff on Sunday.

Eric Rowe is now the 2nd corner opposite of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan will be the slot corner where, Justin Coleman and rookies Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones failed to make an impression despite some chances.

Matt Patricia dialed up a bunch of different looks for rookie QB Jared Goff and although they blitzed a bit more, they mixed things up with linebackers coming from both the edge and the A-gaps, corner blitzes from Logan Ryan and from the safeties. The result was Goff, was off-balance and was sailing his throws all day.

The Rams were held to just 25 yards of offense in the first half, the least amount of any team in the NFL this year. They had less than 100 yards of total offense until a garbage-time drive in the final minute of the game pushed them to 160. But with just 126 yards passing, and Todd Gurley and the running game rendered completely ineffective, this was a dominant effort by the defense. This was a building block type of game, that they unit can use to tighten things up and get better.

Brady Continues Excellence: Tom Brady got his milestone win and as he is prone to do, deflected all the credit to his teammates and coaches. And while QB stats when it comes wins is pretty much worthless, the fact that he’s done it so often and with such a varied cast around him for the past 17 years speaks volumes about himself.

On Sunday, Brady carried over the workman-like approach against the Rams completing 33 of 46 passes for 269 yards and a nice touchdown pass to Chris Hogan. The back-shoulder throw at the pylon in the end zone was perfectly thrown and put the Patriots up 14-0. It felt like it was 40-0 with the way the defense was shutting down the LA offense.

The offense settled for four field goals after that, but there was no reason to risk any chance of a turnover after that. The game was well in hand and they were cruising. They just took the points and kept rolling.

Blount is having a career year: LeGarrette Blount or LG as he’s called in the locker room is having an outstanding 2016. It’s hard to believe that he was a question mark during the preseason this summer. Blount did a lot of the heavy lifting in the first half where he gained 70 yards and set the tone for the day on the Patriots first drive.

Facing a 4th and 1 from the Rams 43-yard line, Blount took a handoff and was attempting to run over the right tackle. Finding the way blocked, he kicked it outside and then broke down the right sideline and raced to the end zone for a highlight reel touchdown. He finished with 18 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown.

On the year, he’s carried 230 times for 957 yards and an NFL-leading 13 touchdowns. With just 58 yards in the final four games, he’ll break his career high of 1007 yards he set in his rookie season with Tampa Bay. He’s already shattered his best of seven TDs scored in 2013 with the Patriots. With two more rushing touchdowns, Blount would break the Patriots record of 14 set by Curtis Martin in 1995 and equaled in 1996.

Edelman, Mitchell Pick up the Slack: With Rob Gronkowski out, the question became who was going to pick up the offense and elevate their game. With fellow tight end Martellus Bennett having a quiet day with just a pair of catches, that in itself wasn’t surprising as the big man is battling injury issues of his own with shoulder and ankle woes. Brady turned to another old reliable weapon and a new one.

Julian Edelman had a fantastic day hauling in 8 catches for 101 yards. He looks like his normal self for perhaps the first time this season and was positively dominant down low. He made the tough catches in contested areas and took some terrific blows in this game. Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell continues to impress as well.

He too caught eight passes for 82 yards and is becoming a favorite target of Brady. The fact that Brady trusts him, frequently on third down speaks volumes on how far he’s progressed this year. In the past three weeks, he’s made tremendous progress. His production eases the sting of the Gronkowski loss a bit.

One final observation, does anyone believe that Bill Belichick was over-hyping Rams punter Johnny Hekker now? He was by far the best player on the field for LA on Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Rams Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 2, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return home to Gillette Stadium for a game against the Los Angeles Rams. The kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

This week’s game will be televised by Fox Sports and can be seen locally on Fox 25 Channel 25 in Boston. Kevin Burkhardt will handle play-by-play duties with John Lynch as the color analyst. Pam Oliver will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (9-2) improved to 6-0 on the road this season with a 22-17 win over the New York Jets. Tom Brady led the game-winning drive with just over five minutes to go and tossed the winning touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell. The rookie WR had two touchdowns on the day. Brady passed the 60,000-yard plateau in his career and the comeback win was his 50th with career win #200 tying Peyton Manning for the all-time lead for quarterbacks.

The Rams (4-7) lost a blowout contest in New Orleans 49-21 to the Saints. The Rams defense which had allowed only 50 points in the previous four games allowed nearly that to Drew Brees and the Saints.  The good news was however that rookie QB Jared Goff in just his second NFL start tossed three touchdowns.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Rams are meeting for the just the 13th time as they are pretty unfamiliar with one another. The two teams did meet in Super Bowl XXXVI with the Pats upsetting the heavily favored Rams 20-17. Although the Patriots hold an overall 7-5 edge in the 12 contests dating back to 1974, they are just 2-3 at home.

The Pats have won the last four meetings with the last a 45-7 win in London back in 2012. Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns, two to Rob Gronkowski and two to WR Brandon Lloyd.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Jeff Fisher Struggles To Name Patriots Running Backs

Robert Alvarez
November 30, 2016 at 3:09 pm ET

During a conference call with the New England Patriots media on Wednesday, Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made some confusing remarks in regards to the Patriots running back corps.

It all started when Fisher was asked a question about the Patriots three top backs, LeGarrette Blount, James White and Dion Lewis.

“Well, they’re all different,” said Fisher. “I have a place in my heart for LeGarrette, because I gave him a start, and I have great respect for him. He’s a big back, and he’s hard to get down. And as they rotate through, different guys play in different situations, and they do a good job with it. He knows where the ball’s going to go, and the guys are very, very disciplined. “I’ve been impressed with Brandon and what he’s done out of the backfield. You’ve got to deal with him, in addition to Danny. You’ve got playmakers all around, so we have to play sound defense.”

Danny? As in Danny Woodhead who was released from the Patriots in 2013 and is currently out for the season in San Diego?

Upon further research, Fisher even played against Woodhead’s current team in 2014.

It didn’t end there. Fisher then went on to say, “I’ve been impressed with Brandon and what he’s done out of the backfield. You’ve got to deal with him, in addition to Danny. You’ve got playmakers all around, so we have to play sound defense.”

Brandon? As in special teamer Brandon Bolden who hasn’t seen a carry in an NFL game since Week 4?

While it is entirely possible Fisher was thinking the of the right players but saying their names wrong, it is not the best look for a coach who’s team is currently 4-7 and is only four days away from kickoff. Rams fans can only hope he wasn’t watching tape from the 2012 Patriots.

In his last two meetings versus New England, Fisher has been outscored 104-7, including the memorable 59-0 snow bowl thrashing in his last appearance in Foxboro back in 2009.

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the Rams

Steve Balestrieri
at 9:49 am ET

The Patriots return home after a two-game road trip and will take on the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium. The kickoff is slotted for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots (9-2), defeated the New York Jets 22-17 on Sunday. Tom Brady led the come-from-behind game-winning drive in the final five minutes, his 50th of his career. He hit rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell with a four-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes remaining for the win. Mitchell had a pair of touchdown catches. Chris Long strip sacked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to kill the Jets hopes of answering.

The Patriots maintain their two-game lead in the division over the red-hot 7-4 Miami Dolphins who have won six in a row. The Pats are still tied with Oakland with the best record in the AFC and once again hold the tiebreaker with the win over the Jets.

The Rams (4-7), continue their mediocrity under coach Jeff Fisher’s watch. They always seem to teeter between making the jump to being a good team and doing just enough to lose. They were blown out 49-21 against the Saints in New Orleans last week.

The loss was the Jets sixth in the past seven games. Rookie QB Jared Goff did throw for three touchdowns in the losing effort.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Rams:

Fisher Continues to Muddle Along, Rams Still in Search of a Winner: The Rams got off to a 3-1 start this season but since then they’ve suffered thru a series of close losses until the blowout loss last week in New Orleans. After a while, the responsibility must fall on the coaches’ shoulders. Sunday’s loss dropped the Rams to 4-7. Under coach Jeff Fisher’s watch, they’ve never been better than 7-8-1, despite picking high in the draft every year.

The loss to the Saints was Fisher’s 163rd, moving him past Tom Landry into second place all-time as an NFL head coach. Landry coached in 81 more games than Fisher, however. If the Rams drop three of their final five games, Fisher would become the NFL’s all-time leader in career losses.

And yet the excuses run freely. Fisher blamed the loss on Sunday on the fact that, the Saints “had a few extra days to prepare for us” because they played the previous Thursday night. Fisher also used the relocation card saying, “I don’t think anybody really knows what we’ve been going through,” about the move to St. Louis that entails a heavy travel schedule.

Despite this, he continues to cruise along, year after year seemingly bulletproof. Many other coaches are given far less leeway in search of a winning program. Could this be the year that the Rams management digs in their heels? A loss on Sunday to the Patriots would signal another season of no better than 8-8.

Goff Finally the QB of the Present for LA: The Rams used the top pick in the NFL Draft in 2016 to draft Jared Goff from Cal to be their QB of the future. In doing so, the Rams gave up some tremendous draft capital to get there. They traded their first-round pick, two 2nd round picks, a 3rd in 2016 and their 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick in the 2017 draft for Tennessee’s first overall pick, a 4th round pick and a sixth in 2016.

Goff finally broke into the starting lineup two weeks ago against Miami and followed that up with an impressive performance against the Saints where he threw for three first-half touchdowns. His talents got the attention of both Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia this week.

“You have a big guy, he’s a tall quarterback, he’s long,, ” Pats defensive coordinator Patricia said of Goff. “He has an extremely strong arm and a very accurate arm in a lot of the different throws that they ask him to make.”

“He’s a very good quarterback from the standpoint of arm strength and the ability to get the ball downfield. He has some tremendous skill players – Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick”

“You just have to respect the talent and the skill that [Jared] Goff has,” Belichick said. “You can certainly see that, particularly in this game against New Orleans, but he’s a very, very talented player with a great arm and an ability to make a lot of throws.”

Goff has excellent arm strength and can zip the ball anywhere on the field. He’s shown good recognition and will use his check down when he has to. However, in just his third start, the Patriots will try to show him some looks on defense that he hasn’t seen before. And Bill Belichick’s track record against rookie QBs remains, pretty darn solid.

Aaron Donald is the Rams biggest disruptor on Defense: The Rams have a very solid, stout front four. They’re the reason that their pass defense is so stingy allowing just 227.5 yards per game, they create pressure, not sacks per se but pressure.

It starts with Aaron Donald in the middle. Donald is considered undersized for a defensive tackle at 6’1, 285, but he’s like a bowling bowl and incredibly strong. He’s very tough to move off his spot and is equally effective against the run as he is with the pass.

Donald leads the team with six sacks and he and Robert Quinn are outstanding at disrupting the timing of the opponent’s passing game. But it is Donald who as an interior pass rusher, that gives Tom Brady fits. He can push the pocket and create pressure in Brady’s face. Bill Belichick spoke glowingly about him on Tuesday.

“I’d say [Aaron] Donald is one of the most disruptive players in the league, maybe kind of like Geno Atkins that we played against with Cincinnati. He’s got good quickness, good playing strength,” Belichick said. “He’s got very good countermoves, so a lot of times he wins on his initial move, but if you happen to block his initial move, then he’s got a counter move and a quick counter and they’re hard to stop. He’s very instinctive.”

“He’s got a good knack [for] knowing kind of when to do the right thing. He changes it up on his opponent, on those guards quite a bit. They don’t always get the same thing from him; he keeps them off balance. He’s really a very disruptive player. He makes his share of plays in the running game too, it’s not all pass rush. He does a good job in the running game and makes a lot of negative plays. He’s just a hard guy to block.”

The Patriots will have their hands full with Donald this week. Remember sacks are secondary, pressure is the key. The Rams as a team have 22 sacks, the same number as the Patriots. But they do a great job of creating pressure.

Rams OL has struggled, it begins with Robinson: On the flip-side, the Rams offense, specifically the offensive line is struggling. The offense for the Rams ranks at the bottom of all NFL ranks, they are the 28th ranked passing offense, and the 29th ranked rushing offense. And the play of the offensive line is a big reason for it.

Fisher benched left tackle Greg Robinson for last week’s game in New Orleans after the 3rd-year player has struggled with his consistency since his rookie campaign. Fisher said, that Robinson, was a healthy scratch because he required “a break, a week o because he needed it. … I expect Greg will return back to the lineup.”

His replacement, Roger Saffold injured his hand so Robinson will probably be back in the lineup this week. He’ll be going against Trey Flowers and Jabaal Sheard this week. It will be a matchup to watch.

Gurley Struggling, but with No Branch That May Change: No one has struggled more this season than RB Todd Gurley. He’s been held to under 100 yards in 17 of his last 18 games and much of that has to do with the fact that the Rams have been falling behind in many of their games.

Gurley has suffered from less than stellar offensive line play as well. But that may change this week. With a rookie QB making just his third start, they may opt to go run heavy this week. With the 29th ranked rush offense? Well, matchups can change quickly.

With Alan Branch probably going to be suspended this week, the Patriots run defense will be missing a key cog in the interior. This too will be an intriguing matchup to watch.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

NFL Week 13 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Patriots favored by 14

John Morgan
November 25, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Earlier this week the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released their ‘look ahead’ betting lines for NFL Week 13. These odds are published in advance of any of the prior week’s games being played, including the three Week 12 Thanksgiving Day games. Early lines give some clairvoyant risk takers an opportunity to roll the dice on games that will not take place for another week and a half. There are times when public reaction to the most recent game clouds reality, and for a moment one can exploit the betting lines on a team that may be overrated or underrated due to the most recent result – or be done in by an unforeseen injury.

For the third consecutive week the New England Patriots were listed as the heaviest favorite in these early odds. After two weeks on the road the Pats return to Gillette Stadium. The Westgate lists the Patriots as 14 point home favorites against Los Angeles. The Rams have plenty of talent on defense. Jeff Fisher’s defense ranks fifth in scoring (18.7 points per game), sixth in yards (318 per game), seventh in yards per play (5.0) and seventh on third down (36.7%).

So why is there such a large spread for this game? Fisher has never been known for his offensive acumen, and this season is no different. The Rams have the worst offense in the league, which is quite an achievement when you consider how inept certain other offenses such as the Browns, Jets and Bears have been this season. LA ranks dead last in scoring (14.9 points per game), 31st in yardage (a hair under 300 yards per game) and is 30th at 4.8 yards per play.

Mr. Mean Mustache needs just four more losses to become the biggest loser in NFL history. Fisher has not had a winning season since 2008, and in each of his five seasons as head coach of the Rams his team has had six losses ten games into the season. I suppose that means we have to give him credit for consistency.

Enough of Fisher, back to the Week 13 games. The slimmest early odds belong to Cincinnati as a one-point home favorite over Philadelphia, and Dallas a two-point favorite at Minnesota. With the Cowboys winning and Vikings losing Thursday I would expect that spread to increase when odds are published Monday. Dallas is one of three road favorites for Week 13. Denver is favored by 4½ at Jacksonville; considering how bad the Jaguars have been I am ready to jump on the Broncos in that game. The other road fave is Indy, by 2½ points at the Jets.

 

NFL Week 13 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines

9-1 10-1 Dallas Cowboys (-2) at 6-4 6-5 Minnesota Vikings
Thursday December 1 at 8:30 pm ET on CBS

7-3 Denver Broncos (-4½) at 2-8 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS

7-3 Kansas City Chiefs at 6-4 Atlanta Falcons (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS

6-4 Houston Texans at 4-6 Green Bay Packers (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS

5-5 Philadelphia Eagles at 3-6-1 Cincinnati Bengals (-1)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX

6-4 7-4 Detroit Lions at 4-6 New Orleans Saints (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX

1-9 San Francisco 49ers at 2-8 Chicago Bears (-4)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX

4-6 Los Angeles Rams at 8-2 New England Patriots (-14)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX

6-4 Miami Dolphins at 5-5 Baltimore Ravens (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS

5-5 Buffalo Bills at 8-2 Oakland Raiders (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

5-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4-6 San Diego Chargers (-5½)
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

6-3-1 6-4-1 Washington Redskins at 4-5-1 Arizona Cardinals (-3½)
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

7-3 New York Giants at 5-5 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers (-6)
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

4-6 Carolina Panthers at 7-2-1 Seattle Seahawks (-6½)
Sunday December 4 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

5-5 5-6 Indianapolis Colts (-2½) at 3-7 New York Jets
Monday December 5 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN

The Browns are guaranteed to not lose in Week 13. Cleveland and Tennessee will not play, which will complete all of the byes for the 2016 season.

 

NFL Week 16 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
December 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm ET

NFL Week 16 Previews, Predictions, TV Info, Odds and Picks Against the Spread

The next to last week of the 2015 NFL regular season began with a meaningless game between two franchises with a Christmas wish to never play in front of their own fans again, desperately wanting to relocate for greener pa$tures. AFC West division rivals San Diego and Oakland met on Thursday night in Charles Woodson’s next to last game.

 

While there are several games of high importance for determining this season’s playoff picture, the two most relevant matchups are Cincinnati at Denver in the AFC and Washington at Philadelphia in the NFC. The Bengals-Broncos tilt is in all likelihood a determination of which team will receive a much coveted first round bye, while the latter is an elimination game for Philly, and a chance for the Skins to mercifully end the NFC East division race – and avoid a situation where an NFL team with a losing record would be rewarded with a first round playoff game at home.

 

As has been the case nearly all season, this week there is a paucity of games between teams that both have winning records. There are only three games that fit in that category this week (and just two for the entire day Sunday): the Patriots at Jets in an early game, Green Bay at Arizona late, and then Cincinnati at Denver on Monday night. No wonder the NFL pushes fantasy football and jumps in bed with weekly fantasy/gambling sites to maintain fan interest; 21 franchises have not at this point produced a winning record for their consumers, the fan bases for their respective teams.

 

NFL Week 16 Playoff Picture with Clinching and Elimination Scenarios

NFL Week 16 TV Info: Patriots-Jets, Panthers-Falcons Receive Primary Early Game Broadcast Distribution

NFL Week 16 Television Maps

 

★★★★ 7-7 Washington Redskins at 6-8 Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, December 26 at 8:25 pm ET on NFLN; Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Eagles -3 (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 48 . . . . Phi -150, Was +130

This could be a game where DeMarco Murray returns to his 2014 self, if only he could get on the field. Washington is allowing 130 rushing yards per game (28th) and 4.9 yards per carry (31st). However, the Eagles need to finish drives better on both sides of the ball. Philly’s offense ranks 26th in red zone touchdowns (1.3 per game) and hits pay dirt on only 50% of their trips to the red zone (26th). Chip Kelly‘s D isn’t much better, allowing 2.5 red zone touchdowns per game (30th) and their 68.6 RZ percentage is last in the NFL. On the other hand Washington scores touchdowns 64.1% of the time in the red zone, while the defense is limiting opponents to touchdowns 51.2% of the time (8th) and 1.5 RZ touchdowns per game (9th). A win would give the Skins a division title for only the second time in 16 seasons – and insure the NFC East will not send a team with a losing record to the playoffs. Philly has been blown out in three of their last five games, and Kirk Cousins is playing noticeably better with DeSean Jackson back in the lineup.

Prediction: Skins 28, Eagles 27
Skins +3 . . . . . over 48 (one unit) . . . . . Washington +130

 

★★★ 5-9 Chicago Bears at 6-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Matt Millen, Peter Schrager
Bucs -3 (opened at -2½) . . . . over/under 46 . . . . TB -160, Chi +140

Both teams have lost three of their last four games, but there is a sense that the Bucs are heading in the right direction while Chicago is going the opposite way. Doug Martin quietly ranks second in the NFL with 1,305 yards rushing (just nine yards behind Adrian Peterson) leads the NFL with 13 carries of 20+ yards, and his 5.1 yards per rush is best among all players with at least 150 attempts. The Bears have played much better (4-3) on the road than at home (1-6), but their defense nneds to come up with some big plays: Chicago’s 14 takeaways rank 28th in the NFL. The Bears have been guilty of playing to the level of their competition, with wins at Green Bay, at Kansas City, at St. Louis and a two-point loss versus Denver – while playing poorly in home losses to the Niners and Washington. WR Alshon Jeffery will miss his sixth game with a hamstring injury; the Bears will need to make tough decisions on him and RB Matt Forte as both are set to become free agents in March.

Prediction: Bucs 27, Bears 20
Bucs -3 . . . . . over 46 . . . . . Tampa -160

 

★★★★ 14-0 Carolina Panthers at 7-7 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Panthers -6½ (opened at -6½) . . . . over/under 47½ . . . . Car -300, Atl +250

Remember in mid-October when people debated which of these two NFC South teams would lose first? How about back in August, when nobody doubted that the Falcons possessed the superior offense? Fast forward to late December and the Panthers are averaging an NFL-best 32.1 points per game while Atlanta is tied for 19th at 21.6 ppg. Matt Ryan has not thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions in a game since Week 9 when he had one TD and no picks against San Francisco. Fun fact: Carolina has only played one team with a winning record at the time the two met this year (Green Bay, Week 9).

Prediction: Panthers 31, Falcons 20
Panthers -6½ . . . . . over 47½ . . . . . Carolina -300

 

★★ 4-10 Dallas Cowboys at 6-8 Buffalo Bills
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
Bills -6½ (opened at -5½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Buf -270, Dal +230

Why has there been such a precipitous drop off in production for the Bills, when the hiring of Rex Ryan was supposed to improve performance for an already good Buffalo defense? It is quite simple, really. Rex prefers to blitz and confuse opponents, rather than rush four linemen and drop seven defenders in coverage. Ryan’s philosophy does not mesh well at all with a great (or at least very effective) defensive line. His downfall as a coach is his stubborn inability to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of the players on his roster.

Prediction: Bills 20, Cowboys 17
Cowboys +6½ . . . . . under 42½ . . . . . Dallas +230

 

4-10 San Francisco 49ers at 5-9 Detroit Lions
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Tony Siragusa
Lions -10 (opened at -8½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . Det -600, SF +450

San Francisco has scored more than 17 points just once since Week 6, and Detroit has won four of their last six games to remove themselves from contention for the top overall draft pick.

Prediction: Lions 24, Niners 16
Niners +10 . . . . . under 42½ . . . . . San Francisco +450

 

★★★ 3-11 Cleveland Browns at 9-5 Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Chris Fischer
Chiefs -11 (opened at -12½) . . . . over/under 42½ . . . . KC -600, Cle +450

Say what you want about Alex Smith, but the Chiefs rank second in the NFL with only twelve turnovers – and five of those came way back in Week 2 when KC fumbled the game away to Denver. That formula should work fine against a team like the Browns, but I can’t help but wonder if that is a sustainable recipe for success come playoff time when facing the league’s elite squads.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Browns 14
Browns +11 . . . . . under 42½ (one unit) . . . . . Kansas City -600

 

★★★ 6-8 Indianapolis Colts at 5-9 Miami Dolphins
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink
Dolphins -2½ (opened at -1) . . . . over/under 44 . . . . Mia -140, Ind +120

Indy takes a page out of their Suck for Luck campaign and loses a game they could and should win.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Colts 20
Dolphins -2½ . . . . . under 44 . . . . . Miami -140

 

★★★★★ 12-2 New England Patriots at 9-5 New York Jets
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
Patriots -3 (opened at -3) . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . NEP -155, NYJ +135

Did you know that according to ESPN, Ryan Fitzpatrick is having a better season than Tom Brady, and that the greatest game a quarterback has ever had was when Charlie Batch threw two picks and passed for 186 yards?

Podcast: Patriots vs Jets Preview
Patriots 2015 Opponents: Five Impressions of the Jets
Patriots-Jets Key Matchups
Key Players to Watch, Patriots at Jets

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 16
Patriots -3 . . . . . under 45½ (one unit) . . . . . New England -155

 

★★★ 7-7 Houston Texans at 3-11 Tennessee Titans
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcotts
Texans -3½ (opened w/Titans -4½) . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . Hou -170, Ten +150

I could not for the life of me understand why Tennessee opened as favorites by more than a field goal. Had Houston already clinched? No; had Brian Hoyer suddenly turned into a combination of Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Tom Brady? No, the dropoff from Hoyer to Brandon Weeden was not quite that monumental; if nothing else, Hoyer and Marcus Mariota both being out is a wash. Hopefully you all jumped on that line when it was available early in the week.

Prediction: Texans 27, Titans 17
Texans -3½ . . . . . over 40½ . . . . . Houston -170

 

★★★ 9-5 Pittsburgh Steelers at 4-10 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Steelers -10 (opened at -9½) . . . . over/under 47 . . . . Pit -600, Bal +400

Perhaps with this being a division rivalry the score will remain close, but Baltimore has more starters on injured reserve than they have able to suit up and play at this point – though they have plenty of other problems as well. Thankfully this game was flexed out of the Sunday night prime time slot.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Ravens 13
Steelers -10 . . . . . under 47 . . . . . Pittsburgh -600

 

★★★★ 5-9 Jacksonville Jaguars at 5-9 New Orleans Saints
Sunday, December 27 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Saints -3 (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 51½ . . . . NO -175, Jax +155

I realize that part of the job of television announcers is to promote the game in order to maintain viewer interest, but sometimes these people just go completely off the rails. Last week on Sunday Night Football, Jon Gruden said that he “really liked the Saints’ defense“. Memo to Chucky: so does every single offense in the NFL.

Prediction: Jaguars 31, Saints 28
Jaguars +3 . . . . . over 51½ (one unit) . . . . . Jacksonville +155

 

★★★★★ 10-4 Green Bay Packers at 12-2 Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, December 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Cardinals -4½ (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 50½ . . . . Ariz -220, GB +190

Two weeks ago Minnesota nearly beat Arizona, but lost due to three turnovers. Green Bay is the best in the league at not giving the ball away (only 11 all season), but will be without CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhtiari. It’s too bad that FOX was able to protect this game; it should be the league’s showcase contest on Sunday night.

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Packers 24
Packers +4½ . . . . . over 50½ . . . . . Green Bay +190

 

★★★ 6-8 St. Louis Rams at 9-5 Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, December 27 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Seahawks -12½ (opened at -14) . . . . over/under 40½ . . . . Sea -950, StL +650

I feel bad for Wes Welker for not only having to play for Jeff Fisher, but also because his only job opportunity in the NFL was on such a putrid offense.

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Rams 13
Rams +12½ . . . . . under 40½ . . . . . St. Louis +650

 

★★★ 6-8 New York Giants at 9-5 Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, December 27 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Vikings -6½ (opened at -4) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . Min -270, NYG +230

I wonder how many fantasy football championships will be won or lost due to Odell Beckham’s suspension? This is a difficult game to handicap because when the game kicks off the Giants could either be eliminated from the post-season, or have the potential to put themselves in a three-way tie for first place with a win; similarly the Vikings could be locked in to the sixth seed depending on the outcome of earlier games.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Giants 20
Giants +6½ . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Minnesota -270

 

★★★★★ 11-3 Cincinnat Bengals at 10-4 Denver Broncos
Monday, December 28 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Bengals -3½ (opened at -3½) . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . Den -180, Cin +160

Battle of the backup quarterbacks to determine a first round bye. This is a rarity: a genuinely competitive game between two of the league’s best teams on a Monday night.

Prediction: Broncos 23, Bengals 20
Bengals +3½ . . . . . over 39½ . . . . . Cincinnati +160

 

★★ San Diego Chargers (4-11) at Oakland Raiders (7-8)
Thursday, December 24 at 8:25 pm ET on NFLN; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Raiders -4 (opened at -6) . . . . over/under 45 . . . . Oak -200, SD +170

Prediction: Raiders 24, Chargers 17
Raiders -4 X . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Oakland -200
Final Score: Raiders 23, Chargers 20 (OT)

Considering the two team’s records, the game was far more entertaining than I had anticipated even though both defenses dominated the second half and the two clubs combined for 25 penalties worth 196 yards. San Diego led by seven at halftime but the Raider defense was stout, and sacked Philip Rivers for a safety late in the third quarter. Oakland finally took a three-point lead with less than five minutes to play when they recovered a fumble on the three, scored on the next play, and then converted on the two-point conversion. Josh Lambo hit a 45-yard field goal in the final minute to send it to overtime, and after an eight-minute drive on the first possession of OT Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 31-yard field goal. The Raiders stopped Danny Woodhead for a two-yard gain on third down on San Diego’s ensuing possession, and then a pass to Dontrelle Inman – who had to play defense as a nickel back late in the game due to injuries – fell incomplete to end the game. Oakland WR Seth Roberts – a teammate of Malcolm Butler at West Alabama – made two big plays late: scoring on that two-point conversion, and then holding on for a key 33-yard juggling catch and run to set up the game-winning field goal.