Tag Archives: predictions

Patriots-Dolphins Week 17, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 27, 2019 at 7:30 am ET

The Patriots can wrap up the 2nd seed of the 2019 AFC Playoffs with a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. A win or a loss or tie by the Kansas City Chiefs will mean the Patriots are the #2 seed and earn an all-important bye during Wild Card Weekend next weekend.    

Miami is just playing out the season and is in full rebuilding mode. However, they’ve played much better in the second half of the season.  After starting 0-7, the Dolphins are 4-3 in their last seven games. 

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (12-3) beat the Buffalo Bills 24-17 to clinch their 11th division title in a row. Tom Brady had his best game in several weeks, while the running game got 143 yards keeping the offense balanced.

The Dolphins (4-11) beat the Cincinnati Bengals 38-35 in overtime. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 419 yards and four touchdowns.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 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 Dolphins have been playing each other twice a year since 1966 when Miami entered the league. The Dolphins lead the all-time series 55-53 which includes 3 games in the postseason, where the Patriots lead 2-1. This series has been dominated by the home team. Miami is 38-17 at home while the Patriots are 35-17 in Foxboro. 

The teams split the series last season. In Week 2 in Miami, the Patriots shut them out 43-0, which happened to be the only game that Antonio Brown suited up for the Patriots this season.  

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Dolphins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game shined for the second week in a row, and against a much tougher defense in Buffalo running for 143 yards. Sony Michel had the most productive game of his own going for 96 yards on 21 carries. Rex Burkhead scored the game-winning touchdown, breaking two tackles on his way to the end zone.

Miami’s run defense is not good this season. The Dolphins have had equal difficulties stopping the run or the pass. Currently, the Dolphins are 27th against the run, allowing 135.4 yards per game. 

Look for the Patriots to continue to accentuate the run with Michel this week. The Dolphins linebackers have been hit hard by injury this year. Michel and Burkhead should both see a lot of work in this game. With the offensive line play improving, the Patriots should be able to dictate the pace here and open up play-action passing.          

Patriots WRs vs Dolphins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game looked better than they have in months against the Bills. Tom Brady completed nearly 80 percent of his passes and threw for 271 yards. He spread the ball around to nine different players. WIth better pass protection, he looked laser-sharp and just what they need heading into the playoffs.

Miami’s pass defense is 28th in the league this season, allowing over 265 yards per game. They’re missing their best corner, Xavien Howard and have a former Patriots (Jomal Wiltz, Eric Rowe) and a rookie Nik Needham in the secondary. Miami has only generated 22 sacks this season.

Look for Brady to have another solid game and continue to spread the ball around. Julian Edelman is banged up but will no doubt play. Mohamad Sanu has been disappointing but has made noise this week that says he’s feeling better and is ready to be more of a factor. James White and Burkhead out of the backfield should both factor in the passing game. 

Next up the Dolphins offense:

Dolphins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots run defense with Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton have continued to trend upward and they both have been playing excellent football this season. The linebackers are very good at shooting the gaps and stuffing the opponent’s running game, and putting them in must-pass situations. 

Miami’s running game is dead last in the NFL averaging just 72.9 yards per game. The leading rusher for the Dolphins is their journeyman 37-year old QB Fitzpatrick. Nuff said.

Dolphins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Miami passing game with Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a fairly good bright spot this year. As always, Fitzpatrick can get hot and absolutely tear up opposing defenses. But just as fast he can begin turning the ball over as well. He’s thrown 19 touchdowns but 13 interceptions as well. 

Turnovers are what hurts the offense. Fitzpatrick has good weapons to work with DeVante Parker is having an excellent year with 64 catches, 1065 yards, and 9 TDs. Tight end Mike Gesicki has 47 catches and is improving every week. Alan Hurns and Albert Wilson round out the receiver core. 

Stephon Gilmore should be matched up with Parker and that battle should be a good one to watch. I’m looking for the Patriots to get after Fitzpatrick, Miami has allowed 56 sacks this season to force him into being the latter of the two scenarios this week. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots special teams give them a whitewash of the key matchups this week. The coverage units have been outstanding and they’ve blocked four punts this season. Jake Bailey is having a terrific rookie season and Nick Folk has solidified the kicking with extra points and field goals. 

Miami has Jason Sanders who has done a good job in the kicking department. Matt Hauck is the punter. Their return game should be held in check this week. Look for the Patriots to go after another punt this week.  

Next up, who wins and why…


The Patriots and Tom Brady have enjoyed excellent success against Miami at home (In Miami is another story) and are looking to continue that trend. Bill Belichick has stated that last week and this week are essentially playoff games. They need this win to get a playoff bye. Miami has played hard all season for Brian Flores but they’re playing only for pride …and jobs next season.  

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Keep the Running Game Going – The Patriots will attempt to run the ball against a Dolphins defense that has struggled to stop it all season long. The offensive line has played much better the past two weeks and will be looking to make that trend continue. 

Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White should all see some snaps in the running game. Also, look for N’Keal Harry to get another shot at a Jet Sweep this week. 

Brady to Spread the Ball Around – With the running game gaining momentum, this opens up play-action passing and look for them to work the middle of the field as well as the perimeters this week. Last week Brady used nine receivers in the passing game and it kept a very good Bills defense off-balance. Look for him to get everyone involved again and spread the wealth. 

Get After Fitzy And Force Some Turnovers – The defense didn’t get any turnovers against the Bills, but as we stated above, that is the big problem with Miami’s offense. On the season the Dolphins are -12 in the turnover department while the Patriots are +25. If the pass rush can get home, they can force Fitzpatrick into making a few errant throws that have been the bane of his career. 


This is a game the Patriots should win easily. They are playing for a bye week while Miami is just playing out the string. While Flores has had the Dolphins playing hard for him all season, a fast start by the Patriots should put them in good position. I look for Brady and the offense to have another big day as New England ends up 13-3 in 2019.  Patriots 31-10

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour gets a week off as the Patriots get a bye week and watch the Wild Card Round resting up before a home game for the Divisional Game.

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 and breakdown game analysis


Patriots-Jets Week 12, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 23, 2018 at 6:45 am ET

The New England Patriots come off their bye week and take on the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Both teams are coming off a needed rest after getting beaten badly the week before.

With the teams moving in different directions, this one will take on a familiar feel. The Patriots are gearing up for the stretch run while the Jets are trying to save Todd Bowles job. But the last several games against the Jets, especially on the road have been very close encounters.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, November 25 at 1:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (7-3) are coming off of a much-needed bye week. Prior to that, they traveled to Nashville and were beaten by Tennessee. Now they’ll look to right the ship and prepare for a stretch run

The Jets (3-7) are also coming off of a bye week after a disastrous 41-10 drubbing by Buffalo. The Jets have lost four in a row and Coach Todd Bowles is on the hot seat.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The New England Patriots and New York Jets will meet for the 119th time, including three postseason games, since the series between the AFC East rivals began in the old AFL in 1960. New England leads the series 63-54-1 overall. The Patriots are 29-29 all-time on the road against the Jets, including 5-3 at MetLife Stadium. Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Pats have owned a 34-16 record against Gang Green. Last year the Pats earned their 18th series sweep over the Jets
with a 24-17 road win on Oct. 15, followed by a 26-6 victory at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31 to close out the regular season.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge. First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been decimated by injuries this season. Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead were placed on IR, Sony Michel sustained an injury in the preseason, then again versus Chicago but has returned and should give the team a great boost. When he’s been healthy, he’s been very good, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The Jets are kind of in the middle of the pack defensively against the run, they are 20th in rushing yards allowed but 13th in yards per attempt. It begins with the big men in the middle with nose tackles Mike Pennell and Steve McClendon. They have to be stout at the point of attack. If they are, inside linebackers Darron Lee and Avery Williamson are free to make plays.

With getting Shaq Mason back and Michel an extra week of getting back into the fold will help matters for the Pats running game which has been inconsistent. Look for Michel to get a lot of work between the tackles this week with Cordarrelle Patterson to see a few snaps as well.

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game has also suffered thru bouts of inconsistency this season but getting the offensive line back healthy will definitely help their protection issues and TE Rob Gronkowski is slated to return this week. If he’s anything close to 100 percent, he is a force multiplier for the NE offense. He scored two TDs in the first meeting last year in NJ and he’ll see a lot of Jamal Adams in this one. Tom Brady knows he has to do a better job of spreading the ball around to his receivers, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett.

The Jets defense is currently tied for 15th in the league against the pass allowing an average of 242 yards per game. But they have been outstanding on third down and have the 2nd best 3rd down defense in the league allowing only 33 percent of opponent’s 3rd downs to be converted.

Watching the matchup between Gordon and Morris Claiborne and Edelman and Buster Skrine in this one closely. How well each of these goes for the Patriots will greatly determine how successful the offense does on Sunday. Of course, Gronkowski’s health and status are of major significance. Brady should have a good game throwing against the Jets secondary, but the difference between another close one and a comfortable win is having a healthy Gronkowski. Look for James White to be targeted a lot in the red zone this week.  

Next up the J-E-T-S offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Jets running game has been a mirror image of how their games have gone. When they’ve won, they ran the ball extremely well including a season-high 323 yards against the Denver Broncos in their blowout win. When they don’t run the ball well, including their last four games, they’ve lost. They use Isiah Crowell as their feature back since Bilal Powell went on IR. If Sam Darnold is able to suit up (foot injury), he’ll be someone to monitor for scrambling out of the backfield.

The Patriots have been better against the run lately, although they gave up 150 yards on the ground against Tennessee. Kyle Van Noy has really stepped up as well as Lawrence Guy. But the team really needs a much better, consistent effort from Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton.

This is the key to the game offensively from a Jets perspective. They have to protect Darnold who struggled before his injury. They want to keep the game close and pound the ball with Crowell to keep Brady and the offense off the field. It will also allow for better 3rd down situations as well as open up play-action passing down the middle.

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Jets passing game is currently mired in 29th in passing yardage averaging just 206.1 yards per game. However, as we saw in Tennessee if the Patriots defense doesn’t show up ready to play, they can be abused quite easily. Darnold has been learning on the job as a rookie, completing 55 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His two biggest targets are banged up, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are both dealing with injuries and even if they play won’t be 100 percent.

The Patriots are 26th in yardage allowed thru the air, but that statistic is just a bit misleading as they are currently 10th in opposing passer rating. However, the inconsistent pass rush (just 15 sacks) can haunt them at times. Facing a less than stellar offensive line this week that has allowed 29 sacks, the Pats have to dial up some pressure and perhaps force Darnold into some errors.

The Jets will look to target the middle of the field and attack the linebackers in space. That’s where opponents have been most successful. If Darnold is able to go, the Pats defense will try to mix up their looks and show him some different things he hasn’t seen before. It will be interesting to see if Obi Melifonwu is active and sees the field this week. He could help with covering TEs and possibly play the “big nickel” safety/LB role that the Patriots like to use. This would be a good week in easing him into the system.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York Jets

The Patriots special teams, specifically their coverage units have been uncharacteristically poor this season. This is an area where the Jets, like the Titans, can take advantage. Andre Roberts does the work for the Jets in both the punt and kickoff return games, where the NE coverage units rank 29th and 31st respectively.

The Jets coverage units have been good and that too will be an area to monitor as the Patriots return game has been steadily improving this year.

Next up, who wins and why…


This rivalry goes back to the earliest days of the old AFL before the merger and the old cliche “throw out the records of each team” is an apt description. These games are usually close, rarely with a team winning by more than 10 points. So with that in mind…

Keys from a Patriots perspective this week: And if they look similar to the Tennesse game, that is because they are.

Show Up Early, Start Fast: We keep harping on this while on the road, but the Patriots have been awful in the first quarter (outscored 58-16 in road losses) of road games this season. In Nashville, they allowed the Titans 17 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, and that team was averaging less than that for an entire game.

This Jets team is free falling right now. They’ve lost four in a row and are openly talking about playing for their jobs for next season. They’re ripe for the plucking, which also makes NE ripe for another kick in the teeth. Another slow start and allowing the Jets to either hang around or take the lead is a disaster waiting to happen. They’ll feel an upset coming on and will play accordingly. It will also get the crowd, loud and boisterous.

The Pats need to actually show up ready to play in the first quarter and put the Jets on their heels and get them playing catchup.  

Force The Ball into Darnold’s Hands: The Jets are 29th in passing (yes I remember the Titans were #30). They aren’t built from playing from behind. The Jets offense isn’t prolific throwing the ball and have turned it over a lot. Darnold and McCown have tossed 16 interceptions this year.

Putting them into a position where they have to throw will allow Brian Flores and Bill Belichick to dial up more pressure for the pass rush and hopefully generate a turnover or two.

Third Down/Red Zone Woes Have to Cease: The Jets have the #2 defense on 3rd down in the NFL, getting into 3rd and manageable is key for Brady this week. And while they’ve moved the ball well most of the year, the red zone play on both sides of the ball has to improve. Defensively the Patriots need to force the Jets into three and outs.

They need to get aggressive on both sides of the ball this week and force the issue with the Jets. Something to consider, despite the games being close in score, Tom Brady is 25-6 against the Jets during his career.

New England will rediscover their running game with Sony Michel and force a couple of turnovers to pull away late in the game.  Patriots 27-14

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 5 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
October 8, 2017 at 9:30 am ET

NFL Week 5 kicked off with the unusual occurrence of a decent Thursday night game. The Patriots overcame two turnovers, twelve penalties and an inability to finish (1-3 in red zone, settling for four field goals) to defeat the Bucs 19-14 in Tampa. Nick Folk’s three missed field goals were the bulls eye for the wrath of Buc fans, but there was more to their loss than that. Tampa Bay was unable to capitalize on either turnover, and the play calling deserved scrutiny as well. Doug Martin gashed the Patriot defense to the tune of 5.7 yards per carry, but he was not utilized at all on the final three possessions. Both teams are on the road next week: the Patriots at the Jets, and Tampa Bay at Arizona.

Pittsburgh (-8) is the only team favored by more than a touchdown this week. Tennessee (at Miami), Kansas City (at Houston) and Minnesota (at Chicago) join New England at Tampa as the Week 5 road favorites. The Patriots had spent most of the week at -5½ but Rob Gronkowski’s status spurred late money on the Bucs, bringing the final line to four points in most venues, and even 3½ at some parlors.

Some interesting Money Lines to consider this week include the underdog Chargers +150 at the Giants and Buffalo +150 at Cincinnati. On the other side favorites Tennessee -145 at Miami, Kansas City -120 at Houston, and Minnesota -145 at Chicago are worth a look. The largest point totals are Green Bay at Dallas (52½) and Seahawks at Rams (47½). On the other end of the scale Baltimore at Oakland and the Bills at Bengals both have over/unders of 39½.

To see what games are being broadcast in your neck of the woods, check out 506 Sports NFL Maps.


NFL Week 5 Early Games

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants (-3½), o/u 45

The Chargers fired head coach Mike McCoy after losing so many winnable games a year ago. Fast forward to the 2017 season and it’s déjà vu. Under Anthony Lynn the Chargers are 0-4 with three losses by three points or less. The crowd could turn on the Giants should they fall behind, and they have never had much of a home field advantage over the years in East Rutherford.

Pick: Chargers 24, Giants 20
Chargers +3½ (two units)


Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-3), 39½

The Buffalo defense is allowing an NFL best 13.5 point per game. Cincinnati’s offense struggled mightily the first two games of the year, but has scored 55 points the last two weeks. Flying under the radar is the Bengal defense. Cincy’s D is giving up just 16.8 points per game and 4.4 yards per play, both third best in the league. The Bills are attempting to win consecutive road games, and face the challenge of playing three away games in four weeks.

Pick: Bengals 17, Bills 13
Bengals -3
Under 39½


New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (pick), 40

Both teams are devoid of talent and looking ahead to the 2018 draft. The Jets have taken a page from the movie Major League and are sabotaging management’s plans to tank. Todd Bowles has Gang Green playing solid fundamental football on defense, forcing opponents to go on long drives while waiting to exploit a mistake. Cleveland’s defense has played well against the run but the Browns are allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt.

Pick: Jets 20, Browns 17
Jets +0


Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-9), 42½

The Steelers beat arch rival Baltimore last week, and face the undefeated Chiefs a week ago. This is the perfect setup for a letdown, and the Jaguar defense is capable of keeping this game close.

Pick: Steelers 24, Jaguars 17
Jaguars +9


Tennessee Titans (-2½) at Miami Dolphins, 43

Matt Cassel is expected to get the start for Tennessee due to Marcus Mariota’s hamstring injury. Since 2012 Cassel is 8-18 with 27 TD and 36 picks. Despite Miami’s offensive impotence (last in the NFL with 8.3 points per game), it is really difficult to picture the Titans going on the road for a win Sunday.

Pick: Dolphins 16, Titans 13
Dolphins +2½
Under 43


San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts (-1½), 44½

There is no justification to take the Niners on the road straight up, and this point spread is so low that is essentially what one would be doing. Indy plays well in spurts but then looks awful the next quarter. The Colt defense is dead last at 34.0 points per game and is allowing 6.1 yards per play (29th). San Fran’s offense has been equally inefficient, so something has to give there. The Niners rank 26th in scoring (16.5 ppg), 26th in yards per play (4.7), 28th in the red zone (38.5%) and 30th on third down (30%).

Pick: Colts 24, Niners 20
Colts -1½


Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles (-6½), 45

The Cardinals have been unable to do anything at all on the ground since losing RB David Johnson in week one. That puts more pressure on Carson Palmer to carry the team. Problem is that the Cardinal offensive line is a sieve. Once the Eagles take a lead they can tee it up against that OL. Palmer has already been sacked a league high 17 times and that number may reach 20 – by halftime.

Pick: Eagles 24, Cardinals 13
Eagles -6½


Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions (-2½), 42½

Detroit leads the league with 11 takeaways, while Carolina has none in the last three games and is 31st with a -5 turnover differential. The Lion defense Carolina’s signature win last week was more about what the Patriot defense did not do than what the Panthers did do. Carolina is scoring 19.5 points per game despite having played against three bad defenses. Last week Cam Newton wasn’t able to handle success very well; how will he handle a loss with all eyes upon him Sunday? It’s really difficult to win back-to-back road games in the NFL.

Pick: Lions 20, Panthers 16
Lions -2½


NFL Week 5 Late Games

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-1½), 47½

What, the Rams are favored to beat Seattle?! The Seahawk defense has struggled against opposing running backs in both the running game (5.0 yards per carry) and catching passes out of the backfield (8 yards per pass attempt). Todd Gurley presents a matchup problem for the Seattle defense that will not have the benefit of their 12th man home crowd. On the other side of the ball the Ram defense has struggled (4.9 yards per carry, 26.3 points per game), but still should be able to take advantage of a porous Seattle offensive line.

Pick: Rams 23, Seahawks 20
Rams -1½
Under 47½


Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders (-3), 39½

Joe Flacco has now thrown an interception in ten straight games. The Raven QB has a league worst 5.0 yards per pass attempt and 31st ranked passer rating of 65.0. The Raven defense has struggled against the run, which plays right into Oakland’s game plan. With Derek Carr (back injury) out, EJ Manuel will be under center for the Raiders. That means plenty of carries for Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard.

Pick: Raiders 24, Ravens 17
Raiders -3


Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-3), 52½

Dallas plays much better at home, where Dak Prescott has a 109.6 passer rating in his last seven games. The Cowboy offensive line has not performed as well as they did last year, but should be able to easily handle a mediocre Green Bay defense. That means a big day for Ezekiel Elliott, who has underwhelmed to the tune of 3.6 yards per carry this year. The Packers will be able to score enough to make this game close, aided by the lack of Sean Lee on defense for Dallas. Cowboys get a small bit of revenge for last year’s playoff loss to Green Bay.

Pick: Cowboys 34, Packers 30
Cowboys -3
over 52½


NFL Week 5 Prime Time Games

Kansas City Chiefs (-1) at Houston Texans, 45 (Sunday night)

Houston obliterated Tennessee last week with an aggressive defense that limited the Titans to two third down conversions and nine first downs, while amassing five turnovers. DeShaun Watson broke through for five touchdowns last week and appears to be the franchise quarterback the Texans have been lacking since their inception. Kansas City finally has a good offense to compliment their defense for the first time since Dick Vermeil was the KC head coach. The Chiefs are averaging an NFL-best 6.8 yards per play, spreading the ball around to Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. KC is in a bit of a tough spot, going on the road after a hard fought Monday night game. In case you missed it the ‘meaningless’ final play of the game left gamblers in either ecstasy or agony.

Pick: Texans 24, Chiefs 20
Texans +1


Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Chicago Bears, 40 (Monday night)

The Chicago defense is allowing 26.0 point per game (27th) and a 47% third down conversion rate (31st). Offensively they 29th in scoring (15.2 ppg) and 23rd in yards per play (4.9). It does not matter who the quarterback is for either team or where the game is played. Minnesota (and about 90% of the NFL) is more than a field goal better than Chicago.

Pick: Vikings 27, Bears 17
Vikings -3 (two units)


NFL Week 5 Byes

Atlanta Falcons

Denver Broncos

New Orleans Saints

Washington Redskins


NFL Week 2 Odds, TV Info and Predictions

John Morgan
September 17, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

After an insipid Thursday night abomination, the rest of NFL week two gets underway on Sunday. The Patriots at New Orleans highlights the early games, in a matchup featuring a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Dallas at Denver is the best late afternoon game, unless you enjoy watching the Jets getting pounded at Oakland. The best game of the week comes on Sunday night with Green Bay at Atlanta in a rematch of last season’s NFC championship. Week two wraps up with Detroit at the Giants on Monday night.

For specific information on what games are being broadcast in your locale, please check out 506 Sports NFL Maps.


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Broadcast in Tennessee, northern Florida and southern Georgia.
Titans favored by 1; point total 41½

Let’s pump the brakes a bit on the Jaguars bandwagon. Their defense was superb last week, but that Houston offensive line was a sieve. Tennessee has a better QB, offensive line and running game than Jacksonville. Tough call here but I’ll give a slight lean to the Titans as the jags fall back to earth.
Titans 20, Jaguars 17


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, James Lofton
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Broadcast in DC, Maryland, central PA, West Virginia, Ohio and eastern Kentucky.
Ravens -8½; o/u 39

Baltimore collected five turnovers last week, but that was against a Bengal offense that has not scored a touchdown after 120 minutes of football. On the other hand the Browns may have a bit of a letdown after gearing up all offseason for the Steelers in week one. While I am not sold on the Ravens, I don’t know if I can trust the Browns to be competitive in consecutive weeks.
Ravens 24, Browns 17


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers
Broadcast in western New York, Virginia and the Carolinas.
Panthers -7; o/u 43

Buffalo beat the pitiful Jets at home last week, but did so in less than convincing fashion. Carolina’s defense should shut down the Bills, The Panthers roll in their home opener as they try to revert to their 2015 form.
Panthers 24, Bills 13


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints
Available in most markets that don’t have a local team playing at the same time.
Patriots -6½; o/u 57

The idiotic talk of a 19-0 season thankfully dissipated quickly in New England. The Patriots are already a patchwork team due to injuries, but the New Orleans defense is just what the doctor ordered for the Pats. Now that the spread is below seven points I like New England here, despite the lack of options at WR.
Patriots 34, Saints 27


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts
Broadcast in Arizona and Indiana.
Cardinals -7; o/u 44
Carson Palmer is toast, and RB David Johnson is out for two months. Despite his short time with the Colts, former third string QB Jacoby Brissett is a huge upgrade over Scott Tolzein. Despite all of that the Cardinal defense should dominate and Arizona wins easily.
Cardinals 27, Colts 16


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs
Broadcast in eastern NY, eastern PA, and most states west of the Mississippi.
Chiefs -5½; o/u 47½

With extra time to prepare and this being their home opener, KC should have no letdown after last week’s win in Foxboro. The Chiefs defense should be able to contain Carson Wentz while Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill prove to be too much for a pretty good Philly defense.
Chiefs 27, Eagles 17


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers
Broadcast in most of New England, the Rust Belt, and the Northern Plains.
Steelers -6½; o/u 44½

The Steelers are a much better team at home than on the road, so disregard last week’s narrow victory. Even if Sam Bradford (knees) can play, I’ll take the combination of Big Ben, Bell and Brown in a home opener over the Vikes.
Steelers 27, Vikings 17


Sunday Sept 17, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Broadcast in most of the southeast, and northern Illinois.
Bucs -6½; o/u 43½

While Mike Glennon would love to return to Tampa and defeat his former team, the problem is that he’s more suited to being a backup QB – and the Bucs know his tendencies inside and out. Jameis Winston now has DeSean Jackson as an option if Mike Evans is double covered, a problem the Chicago defense has no answer for.
Buccaneers 31, Bears 14


Sunday Sept 17, 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers
Broadcast in south and central Florida, southern California and Fargo.
Chargers -3½; o/u 45½

With this being their first game of the year, the west coast travel should not be an issue for Miami. I’m not yet ready to buy in to the hype that the Chargers will win the division. The big question will be how many empty seats there will be in the 27,000 seat soccer stadium the Chargers now call home.
Dolphins 24, Chargers 21


Sunday Sept 17, 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
Broadcast in eastern NY, eastern PA, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, KC, Minnesota, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, northern California and southern Oregon.
Raiders -13½; 43½

Let’s see, on one hand we have one of the best offenses in the league. On the other side there is the dumpster fire known as the Jets, attempting to tank their way to the number one pick of the 2018 draft.
Raiders 34, Jets 13


Sunday Sept 17, 4:25 pm ET on Fox; Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams
Broadcast in southern California, Virginia, Maryland and DC.
Rams -2½; o/u 45½

Similar to Jacksonville, I want to see if the Ram defense can keep it going in week two – this time against a better offense. If this was still Jeff Fisher running the show then I’d be confident in a bounce back game for Kirk Cousins. With Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator, perhaps I may need to start believing in this team.
Rams 20, Skins 17


Sunday Sept 17, 4:25 pm ET on Fox; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
Broadcast in most markets (see Wash-Rams and Niners-Seahawks).
Cowboys -2½; o/u 43

Denver’s defense is not quite as good as it was in recent seasons. The Dallas offensive line should control this game, and the Broncos don’t have an offense that can keep up with a decent team.
Cowboys 23, Broncos 16


Sunday Sept 17, 4:25 pm ET on Fox; Sam Rosen, David Diehl
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Broadcast in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Reno NV.
Seahawks -14; o/u 42

Seattle gets their aggression out after losing a game they should have won at Green Bay due to dumb penalties and questionable flags.
Seahawks 27, Niners 13


Sunday Sept 17, 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collisworth
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Broadcast in all markets.
Falcons -3; 56

This is not only the best game of the week, it could have been one of the best entire year had it been scheduled for later in the season. The Packers were fortunate to win last week against Seattle; they will be playing against a far superior offense on Sunday night.
Falcons 30, Packers 24


Monday Sept 18, 8:30 pm ET on espn; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Broadcast in all markets.
Giants -3; o/u 42½

Tough call here, but I’ll take the Giants to rebound while Detroit – playing outside of their dome – is slowed down against a good NYG defense.
Giants 24, Lions 20


The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publisher of this website. Neither the author nor this website promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.


NFL Week 1 Odds, TV Info and Predictions

John Morgan
September 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm ET

After what has seemed to be an eternity, the 2017 NFL season kicks off Thursday. Here is a look at the odds, television broadcast information, and predictions.

To see what games are being broadcast in your area, check out Patriot fan JP Kirby’s Week One NFL Maps.


Thursday Sept 7, 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collisworth
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Broadcast in all markets.
Patriots -9; over/under 48½

With the exception of clock management, Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Unlike the playoff game two seasons ago, the Chiefs have a healthy Justin Houston to disrupt the Patriot offense. I expect this game to start out close, but nobody makes better in-game adjustments than the New England coaching staff.
Patriots 27, Chiefs 17


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Broadcast in New England, New York and some of Florida (West Palm, Fort Myers).
Bills -9; 40

It is going to be easy to simply bet against the Jets every weekend this year. Division games tend to be tough though, and Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor is bound to be rusty after missing the last two weeks due to a concussion.
Bills 24, Jets 13


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears
Broadcast in most of the southeast and upper central US.
Falcons -7; 49

Much has been made about the psyche of Atlanta after the Super Bowl, and the tendency of SB losers to regress the following season. That may well happen, but not in this game. The Falcon offense will have its way with a mediocre Chicago defense, and the Bears don’t have any offensive firepower to keep pace.
Falcons 31, Bears 17


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, James Lofton
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Broadcast in Texas and northern Florida.
Texans -5½; 39½

Houston had the number one ranked defense in 2016, and that was without J.J. Watt. The Texan defense will harass Blake Bortles into costly turnovers, and coast to victory.
Texans 24, Jaguars 13


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Broadcast in the northeast, and most states west of the Mississippi.
Eagles -1; 48

The Eagle offensive line did not look good at all in the preseason, particularly in the running game. Even though Washington’s secondary is no better than average, it would be too much to ask Carson Wentz to carry the team. The Skins added Terrell Pryor but lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency. I don’t have a strong feel either way in this game; forced to choose, I’ll go with the home team.
Redskins 31, Eagles 28


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on Fox; Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions
Broadcast in Arizona, Washington, Michigan and Toledo.
Cardinals -2; 48

I don’t anticipate Carson Palmer having a bounce-back season, but with David Johnson at running back it may not matter for Arizona. Detroit desperately needs some production at RB from Ameer Abdullah, who appeared in only two games last year. This is another game that could easily go either way.
Lions 27, Cardinals 24


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Broadcast in Tennessee and most states west of the Mississippi.
Titans -2½; 50½

This is the most intriguing game of the week, featuring two young quality quarterbacks and two up and coming teams. Oakland has a more dynamic offense, but I’ll go with Tennessee’s superior defense in what should be a very close and entertaining game.
Titans 27, Raiders 24


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Tampa Bay Bucs at Miami Dolphins
Buccaneers -2½; 41½
Game Postponed to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Broadcast in Cincinnati, eastern Kentucky, DC and Maryland.
Bengals -3; 42½

Baltimore has major issues on their offensive line, and Joe Flacco practiced for the first time last weekend after missing the entire training camp and preseason with a disk issue in his back.
Bengals 20, Ravens 16


Sunday Sept 10, 1:00 pm ET on CBS’ Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Broadcast in most of the southeast and Great Lakes region.
Steelers -9; 46½

Pittsburgh has struggled mightily on the road in recent years, but this is the Browns. In a rare game when Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are all healthy and available, the Steeler offense should be able to score early and often. DeShone Kizer had a good preseason, but playing against second stringers is not the same as facing a blitzing Steeler defense.
Steelers 31, Browns 13


Sunday Sept 10, 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams
Broadcast in Indiana, Illinois, Arizona, Utah, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, West Palm and Ft Myers.
Rams -3½; 41½

There are plenty of question marks here, in what looms to be the worst game of the week. The Rams have a new coach (Sean McVay), a 2nd year quarterback who underwhelmed last year (Jared Goff), and will probably be without their best Player (holdout Aaron Donald). With Andrew Luck out the Colts turn to Scott Tolzein at quarterback, who was unimpressive in training camp and preseason. This game could be ugly, with multiple unforced turnovers.
Rams 20, Colts 16


Sunday Sept 10, 4:25 pm on Fox; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Broadcast in all markets except the Carolinas, San Francisco and Reno.
Packers -3; 51

Thankfully there is at least one late game worth watching. Seattle’s already strong defense got better with the acquisition of former Jet Sheldon Richardson. The Seahawk offensive line has taken a step back however, and none of their running backs are particularly impressive. The addition of TE Martellus Bennett gives the Packers another option, which could open things up for receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.
Packers 31, Seahawks 24


Sunday Sept 10, 4:25 pm on Fox; Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
Broadcast in the Carolinas, San Francisco and Reno.
Panthers -5½; 47½

Even though this is a road trip across three time zones, with this being week one that factor should have only a minimal effect. The Niner defense has improved but still has a long ways to go. Look for Cam Newton and the Panthers to rebound from a disappointing 2016 campaign, and for rookie RB Christian McCaffery to rejuvenate the Carolina offense.
Panthers 27, Forty Niners 13


Sunday Sept 10, 8:30 pm on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collisworth
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Broadcast in all markets.
Cowboys -4; 47½

This should be a high scoring and entertaining contest. The Cowboys will have difficulty covering Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Sheppard all at the same time. On the other side of the ball the Dallas offensive line should be able to open things up for RB Ezekiel Elliott before he begins his questionable suspension.
Cowboys 28, Giants 27


Monday Sept 11, 7:10 pm on espn; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Broadcast in all markets.
Vikings -3; 48

The NFL schedule makers threw espn a bone here, with Adrian Peterson returning to Minnesota in prime time in week one. The Saints traded WR Brandin Cooks early in the off season and WR Willie Snead is suspended for a DUI. However, Drew Brees still has Michael Thomas (92 receptions for 1,137 yards and 9 TD in 2016), and Ted Ginn is expected to step in to the spot vacated by Cooks. I will be curious to see how Minnesota utilizes rookie RB Dalvin Cook (2,253 yards from scrimmage and 20 TD at Florida State last year).
Saints 31, Vikings 28


Monday Sept 11, 10:20 pm ET on espn; Beth Mowins, Rex Ryan
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
Broadcast in all markets.
Broncos -3½; 43½

There has been a fair amount of hype for the Chargers in 2017, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Both teams get key offensive players back who were unavailable due to injuries last year: Charger WR Keenan Allen and Bronco RB C.J. Anderson.
Chargers 20, Broncos 17


Best Bets:
Texans -5½ vs Jaguars (3 units)
Panthers -5½ at 49ers (2 units)
Rams -3½ vs Colts (1 unit)


Patriots – Falcons Super Bowl LI Key Matchups, Prediction

Steve Balestrieri
February 3, 2017 at 8:44 am ET

The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons from Houston, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

The Patriots reach the mothership for the ninth time in their history, which is the most in NFL history, breaking a tie with the Steelers, Cowboys, and Broncos. The duo of Brady and Belichick reach the big game for the seventh time in 16 seasons with Brady under center.

This week’s game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25 in Boston. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Chris Myers will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (16-2) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship 36-17. Tom Brady was brilliant completing 32 of 42 for 384 yards and three touchdown passes. Chris Hogan had nine catches on 12 targets for 180 yards and two scores.

The Falcons (13-5) defeated the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship. Matt Ryan continued his dominant season, tossing for 392 yards and four touchdowns. Julio Jones had the same stat line as Hogan with nine catches on 12 targets for 180 yards and two scores.

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 Falcons are meeting for just the 14 time in their history with New England holding a 7-6 all-time edge. But Tom Brady is undefeated in four games against Atlanta, including a 30-23 win in the Georgia Dome back in 2013. Which was the last time the two teams met.

Needless to say, there has never been a matchup of this magnitude between the two teams.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

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

Patriots Wear Down Texans, Advance to AFC Title Game

Steve Balestrieri
January 15, 2017 at 1:00 am ET

Sloppy Execution But The Pats Prevail

The Patriots advance to the AFC Championship Game for a record sixth year in a row with a 34-16 win over the Houston Texans. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy game for the Patriots especially in the first half, but the team persevered and forced turnovers on defense and won over a tough, determined Texans team.

It was the little big men for the Patriots, Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman who did the damage for the Pats offense. Lewis had a 13-yard touchdown reception, a two-yard touchdown run and a 98-yard touchdown on a kickoff. He’s the first player in NFL playoff history to have a run, reception and a return for a score.

Lewis carried the ball 13 times for 41 yards, had two receptions for 23 yards and returned three kickoffs for 123 yards. But he had two fumbles, one of them directly led to the Texans only touchdown of the night.

Edelman gave Kareem Jackson fits all night and caught 8 passes for 137 yards and is now the Patriots all-time leading receiver with 76 catches.

QB Tom Brady was under a lot of pressure tonight, the most he’s seen all season and was hit numerous times. He completed 18 of 38 passes for 287 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs off of deflections. Brady threw only two picks all season and he equaled that number tonight.  Houston’s defense deserves a lot of credit, they had a good game plan and executed it very well for this game.

The Texans moved Whitney Mercilus and Jadaveon Clowney to the inside and their pressure up the A-gap was the cause of great disruption for the Patriots offense, mostly early in the game. The Pats countered by trying to force the Texans linebackers to play in space and take advantage of mismatches there.

After trading possessions where neither team could move the ball, and get a first down the Patriots struck first. They went 65 yards in just three plays for the first touchdown of the game. A pass interference foul on Chris Hogan was good for 35 yards. On the next snap, Brady found Hogan down the right sideline for 22 more down to the Houston 13.

On the ensuing play, Brady hit Lewis in the backfield in the left flat, he juked Bernadrick McKinney, cut back against the grain and raced just inside the pylon for his first touchdown of the year. The score made it 7-0 New England.

The defense had Osweiler facing a third and 18 from deep in the Houston zone but a dumb penalty on Eric Rowe gave them life and a 15-yard boost as well. Houston then put together their best drive of the night resulting in a 33-yard field goal by Nick Novak. The drive consumed eight minutes and three seconds.

On Novak’s kickoff, Lewis ran it back 98 yards for a score giving the Patriots a 14-3 lead. He received good blocks from Matthew Slater and Geneo Grissom to spring him for the touchdown.

After holding Houston for a three and out, Brady’s next pass was picked off by A.J. Bouye and returned to the Patriots 27. Brady intended to hit Floyd on a slant but the ball was just a bit too far in front and when it hit Floyd’s hands it bounced straight up and into Bouye’s hands.

But the defense stiffened and held Houston to just another field goal to make it 14-6. Then disaster struck, Lewis returned the kickoff to the 12 and fumbled, recovered by the Texans and they were in business. Two plays later, Osweiler hit a wide open C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Foxboro began to get restless. Patriots social media right about then was full of gloom and down as the score became 14-13.

Brady would lead the Pats down the field just before the half but the team fell short of the end zone and had to settle for a Stephen Gostkowski chip shot field goal after LeGarrette Blount was stuffed at the 1-yard line. The Patriots despite playing sloppy football in the first half led 17-13.

In the third quarter, Brady led the Patriots best drive of the game going 90 yards in 9 plays in just under three and a half minutes to give the Patriots a 24-13 lead. Brady started off with two passes to Edelman that went for 40 yards. He followed that up with a 21-yard pass to Hogan. The drive culminated with a beautifully designed play that had Brady hit James White for a 19-yard touchdown pass over McKinney.

The Patriots defense held Osweiler and the Texans to just three second half points while forcing three turnovers. Osweiler’s second interception was tipped and Logan Ryan returned it down to the Houston five-yard line. Ryan had a fantastic night in the secondary providing good coverage and breaking up pass plays.

Two plays later, Lewis powered it in from the one-yard line and it was 31-16 Patriots.

They would add a final field goal by Gostkowski to round out the scoring at 34-16.

It wasn’t the way they drew things up but the mark of a good team is one that can play poorly and still win by three scores. Our prediction of 34-13 was very close, but the game played out pretty differently.

Now the Patriots await the winner of the Kansas City – Pittsburgh game tomorrow night. They’ll face off with the victor on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. in Gillette Stadium.

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 – Broncos Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 16, 2016 at 8:09 am ET

The New England Patriots head out to the Mile High City as they take on the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ -TV Channel 4 in Boston. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Phil Simms as the color analyst. Tracy Woolfson 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 (11-2) beat the Ravens 30-23 on Monday Night Football. Tom Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense. Shea McClellin blocked a punt and LeGarrette Blount topped the 1000-yard mark for the season and picked up his league-leading 14th rushing touchdown.

The Broncos (8-5) lost in Tennessee to the Titans 13-10. The loss was Denver’s third in the last six games and now they face New England, Kansas City, and Oakland in their final three games as they try to make the playoffs.

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 Broncos are meeting for the 52nd time since 1960 when the AFL first opened. No place has been tougher to win for the Patriots since they entered the league as they’re just 9-21 on the road. The series has been dominated in recent years by the whoever is playing at home. The home teams have won 9 out of the past 10 games with the only victory on the road was the Pats in December 2011 defeating the Tim Tebow led Broncos.

Denver took both games last year, a 30-24 overtime win in Mile High in November and 20-18 in the AFC Championship Game, where a missed extra point by Stephen Gostkowski turned out to be the difference in the teams not going to overtime.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

NFL Week 14 Odds, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

John Morgan
December 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm ET

The schedule makers saved the best for last in NFL Week 14. On Sunday night Dallas is at the New York Giants in an NFC East showdown. Then on Monday night the Ravens and Patriots square off in a battle of division leading AFC rivals. While those two contests are the only ones (other than Thursday’s Raider-Chiefs game) between pairs of teams with winning records, there are still plenty of other interesting and competitive games.

Four other games are between clubs that both have at least a .500 record and genuine hopes for making the playoffs. Seattle at Green Bay, Pittsburgh at Buffalo, Denver at Tennessee and Houston at Indianapolis are all good matchups between teams fighting for a playoff spot. The only real stinkers this week are the Jets at Forty Niners and the battle for Ohio between Cincinnati and Cleveland.


NFL Week 14 Early Games on CBS

★★★★ 8-4 Denver Broncos at 6-6 Tennessee Titans
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn.
Titans -1 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . TEN -120, DEN +100
• Broadcast in Alaska, Arkansas, northern Alabama, Los Angeles CA, Palm Springs CA, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Sioux City IA, Kansas, Bowling Green KY, northern Mississippi, Missouri (except Hannibal), Montana, Nebraska, Las Vegas NV, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon (except Eugene), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau should be able to confuse whomever is at quarterback for the Broncos. The Titans are better defending the run than the pass and newly signed Justin Forsett has shown no signs in the last two seasons of being the answer to Denver’s inability to run the ball. Without the advantage of opponent’s gasping for air at Mile High the Broncos could be looking at their fifth loss in their last nine games.

Prediction: Titans 23, Broncos 20
Titans -1 . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Tennessee -120

Final Score: Titans 13, Broncos 10 ✓
Titans -1 ✓ . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Titans -120 ✓


★★★★ 6-6 Houston Texans at 6-6 Indianapolis Colts
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon.
Colts -6½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . IND -280, HOU +240
• Broadcast in Indiana, Louisville KY, Shreveport LA and Texas.

Houston is 1-5 on the road this year, averaging a league-worst 13.2 points per game away from home. After crushing the Jets last week the Colts seek their first back-to-back victories this season. Andrew Luck is playing better than he did early in the year and the Colts are healthier, with both lines performing better as well. I’ll take Luck at home over Brock Osweiler and his sub-60% completion rate on the road.

Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 20
Colts -6½ . . . . . over 46½ . . . . . Indianapolis -280

Final Score: Texans 22, Colts 17 x
Colts -6½ x . . . . . over 46½ x . . . . . Colts -280 x


★★ 4-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals at 0-12 Cleveland Browns
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker.
Bengals -5½ . . . . over/under 41 . . . . CIN -240, CLE +200
• Broadcast in eastern Kentucky and Ohio.

I keep getting suckered in by big point spreads for the Browns, and keep getting hosed. Cleveland is not only winless, they are also an NFL-worst 2-10 against the spread. The Bengals aren’t much better: 4-7-1 straight up, 3-8-1 ATS; 1-5 S/U and 0-5-1 ATS on the road. Even without AJ Green Cincy should win this game against a rusty Robert Griffin at QB for Cleveland. On a side note former Patriot Jonathan Cooper will make his first start at right guard for the Browns.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Browns 23
Browns +5½ . . . . . over 41 . . . . . Cincinnati -240

Final Score: Bengals 23, Browns 10 ✓
Browns +5½ x . . . . . over 41 x . . . . . Bengals -240 ✓


★★★★ 7-5 Pittsburgh Steelers at 6-6 Buffalo Bills
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson.
Steelers -3 . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . PIT -150, BUF +130
• Broadcast in New England, Alabama (except Birmingham and Huntsville), DC, Florida (except Jacksonville and Miami), Georgia, Louisiana (except Shreveport), Maryland, Mississippi (except Tupelo), New York (except NYC), North Carolina (except Charlotte), Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Following a four game mid-season losing streak, the Steelers have rebounded with three straight victories. With LB Ryan Shazier back on the field the Pittsburgh defense has vastly improved. The Steelers surrendered an average of just ten points per game during the current winning streak – with two of those wins coming on the road. Similar to the Steelers with Shazier, Buffalo is a much better team when LeSean Mcoy is able to play. Take away two games with very limited action and the running back is averaging 125 yards from scrimmage per game. The Shazier-McCoy matchup will be fun to watch, and will likely determine the outcome. Forecast is for snow and 15-25 mph winds, but that shouldn’t be much of a factor considering that the Steelers are used to that type of weather.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Bills 20
Steelers -3 . . . . . under 46½ . . . . . Pittsburgh -150

Final Score: Steelers 27, Bills 20 ✓
Steelers -3 ✓ . . . . . under 46½ x . . . . . Steelers -150 ✓


★★★ 3-9 Chicago Bears at 8-4 Detroit Lions
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
Lions -7½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . DET -330, CHI +270
• Broadcast in Illinois, Iowa (except Sioux City), Michigan, Hannibal MO and Wisconsin.

Former Patriot Akiem Hicks is coming off a 10-tackle, two-sack game last week. Detroit center Travis Swanson is out with a concussion, and guard Graham Glasgow will slide over to replace him. 2015 first round pick Laken Tomlinson would then start at guard; how those two fare versus Hicks will determine whether or not the Bears can pull off an upset. Chicago was able to pressure Matthew Stafford into early interceptions in a week three victory. However the Detroit defense has come on strong lately, holding opponents to an average of 16.3 points over the last six games.

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 17
Bears +7½ . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Detroit -330

Final Score: Lions 20, Bears 17 ✓
Bears +7½ ✓ . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Lions -330 ✓


NFL Week 14 Early Games on FOX

★★★ 5-7 San Diego Chargers at 4-8 Carolina Panthers
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, Brady Quinn, Jennifer Hale.
Panthers -1½ . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . CAR -125, SDG +105
• Broadcast in San Diego CA, Santa Barbara CA, Augusta GA, Columbus GA, North Carolina and South Carolina.

With C Ryan Kalil and RT Michael Oher on injured reserve, the Carolina offensive line has turned into a sieve. As a result Cam Newton has completed less than 50% of his passes in three straight games, and has surpassed a 60% completion rate just once all season. San Diego should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Despite the long trip for an early kickoff the Chargers should win this game; they are the better team on both sides of the ball.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Panthers 20
Chargers +1½ (one unit) . . . . . under 48½ . . . . . San Diego +105

Final Score: Panthers 28, Chargers 16 x
Chargers +1½ x . . . . . under 48½ ✓ . . . . . Chargers +105 x


★★★ 5-6-1 Arizona Cardinals at 7-5 Miami Dolphins
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Holly Sonders.
Cardinals -1½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . ARI -125, MIA +105
• Broadcast in New England (except Hartford), Arizona, Florida (except Jacksonville), Boise ID and Rochester NY.

After going 7-1 on the road last year the Cardinals are just 1-4 away from home in 2016, and have lost three straight on the road. Miami is due to bounce back after last week’s epic failure at Baltimore, but Arizona does have some matchups in their favor. The Cardinals can run the ball with David Johnson, who leads the NFL with 1,709 yards from scrimmage (142 ypg). Miami ranks 30th against the run in both yards per carry (4.7) and yards per game (130). However the Dolphins have an advantage with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh against an o-line that is poor in pass protection. I’m thinking both teams regress to their norms after last week’s games. Arizona hasn’t shown me any reason to believe in them either on the road, or in consecutive games.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Cardinals 17
Dolphins +1½ (two units) . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Miami +105

Final Score: Dolphins 26, Cardinals 23 ✓
Dolphins +1½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 43½ x . . . . . Dolphins +105 ✓


★★ 6-6 Minnesota Vikings at 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin.
Vikings -3½ . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . MIN -170, JAC +150
• Broadcast in Alaska, Jacksonville FL, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Toledo OH, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Jacksonville has lost seven in a row. Minnesota has lost six of their last seven, but at least their defense is keeping them in a position to win. Even with safety Harrison Smith sidelined the Viking defense should be able to do enough to carry Minnesota to a victory.

Prediction: Vikings 23, Jaguars 13
Vikings -3½ (two units) . . . . . under 39½ . . . . . Minnesota -170

Final Score: Vikings 25, Jaguars 16 ✓
Vikings -1½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 39½ x . . . . . Vikings -170 ✓


★★★ 6-5-1 Washington Redskins at 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday December 11 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver.
Redskins -2½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . WAS -130, PHI +110
• Broadcast in Alabama, Arkansas, California (except San Diego and Santa Barbara), Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Georgia (except Augusta and Columbus), Hawaii, Idaho (except Boise), Indiana (except Indianapolis), Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York (except Buffalo and Rochester), Ohio (except Cleveland and Toledo), Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee (except Nashville), Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Washington is dealing with multiple injuries to their offensive line. All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams returns from his suspension just in time for the Skins. Presuming that Kirk Cousins is given a decent amount of time, he should be able to pick apart a mediocre Philadelphia secondary. Washington is in a tough spot having to play a third straight road game, but they are definitely the better team. Playing away from home hasn’t bothered Cousins, who has 18 touchdowns to only four picks in his last nine road games.

Prediction: Redskins 31, Eagles 27
Redskins -2½ . . . . . over 46½ (two units) . . . . . Washington -130

Final Score: Redskins 27, Eagles 22 ✓
Redskins -2½ ✓ . . . . . over 46½ ✓✓ . . . . . Redskins -130 ✓


NFL Week 14 Late Games on CBS

3-9 New York Jets at 1-11 San Francisco 49ers
Sunday December 11 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl.
Niners -2½ . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . SFO -150, NYJ +130
• Broadcast in Arizona, California (except LA and Palm Springs), Jacksonville FL, Miami FL, Minnesota, Reno NV, New York City, Charlotte NC, Eugene OR and Philadelphia PA.

The San Francisco defense is awful and the Niners have lost eleven straight, including five in a row at home. In their last three home games SF has lost by an average of 16 points. At least the Jets have a decent defense.

Prediction: Jets 17, 49ers 13
Jets +2½ (one unit) . . . . . under 43½ (one unit) . . . . . New York +130

Final Score: Jets 23, 49ers 17 OT ✓
Jets +2½ . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Jets +130 ✓


NFL Week 14 Late Games on FOX

★★★★ 5-7 New Orleans Saints at 7-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager.
Buccaneers -2½ . . . . over/under 51½ . . . . TAM -140, NOR +120
• Broadcast in Mobile AL, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Roanoke VA, Beckley WV and Charleston WV.

New Orleans had trouble throwing the ball against Detroit, so expect the Saints to return to a more balanced offense that worked effectively earlier this year. The Tampa Bay defense ranks 26th in yards per rush (4.4) and 25th in rushing yards per game (116). The Bucs have been hot but even though this is a division game they could be caught looking ahead to next week’s Sunday night game against the Cowboys.

Prediction: Saints 31, Buccaneers 27
Saints +2½ (one unit) . . . . . over 51½ . . . . . New Orleans +120

Final Score: Buccaneers 16, Saints 11 x
Saints +2½ x . . . . . over 51½ x . . . . . Saints +120 x


★★★★★ 8-3-1 Seattle Seahawks at 6-6 Green Bay Packers
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews.
Seahawks -3 . . . . over/under 45 . . . . SEA -145, GNB +125
• Broadcast in almost all markets. Available everywhere except for those areas airing the Saints-Bucs or Falcons-Rams game. Also not available in the San Francisco bay area due to NFL broadcast rules.

Green Bay getting point at home is almost unheard of, especially after a pair of wins. The Packers improved dramatically on defense the last two weeks, but that may be a function of the opposing offenses. Seattle has been playing very well and the Green Bay defensive back seven is in bad shape right now. I’ll take Russell Wilson and Seattle’s superior defense. Regardless of the outcome this should be a great game for football fans to watch.

Prediction: Seahawks 30, Packers 24
Seahawks -3 . . . . . over 45 . . . . . Seattle -145

Final Score: Packers 38, Seahawks 10 x
Seahawks -3 x . . . . . over 45 ✓ . . . . . Seahawks -145 x


★★★ 7-5 Atlanta Falcons at 4-8 Los Angeles Rams
Sunday December 11 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink.
Falcons -6½ . . . . over/under 45 . . . . ATL -270, LAR +230
• Broadcast in Alabama (except Mobile), southern California (except San Diego) and Georgia.

I am leery of Atlanta’s offense outdoors against a good defense. Now add in WR Julio Jones attempting to play through a turf toe injury that makes it extremely difficult to plant your foot. And for good measure WR Mohamed Sanu has already been ruled out with a groin injury. If the Rams didn’t have such an inept offense then LA plus the points at home against a team traveling cross country would be the easy pick. But can anyone have faith in a Jeff Fisher-coached team?

Prediction: Falcons 24, Rams 20
Rams +6½ . . . . . under 45 . . . . . Atlanta -270

Final Score: Falcons 42, Rams 14 ✓
Rams +6½ x . . . . . under 45 x . . . . . Falcons -270 ✓


NFL Week 14 Prime Time Games

★★★★★ 11-1 Dallas Cowboys at 8-4 New York Giants
Sunday December 11 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Cowboys -3½ . . . . over/under 46½ . . . . DAL -190, NYG +170

Much was made of the Giant’s six game winning streak, but that was a house of cards. I know you can only play who is on your schedule, but look at who Big Blue played prior to losing to Pittsburgh. Defeating the Browns, Bears, Bengals, Eagles and Rams isn’t all that difficult. Last week Le’veon Bell gashed the G-Men for 118 yards on the ground another 64 yards on six receptions. Ezekiel Elliott should be able to run all day as well. That will neutralize any hope the Giants have of staying in the game with their pass rush. Dallas will be out for revenge for their only loss of the season, and get it.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 20
Cowboys -3½ (one unit) . . . . . over 46½ . . . . . Dallas -190

Final Score: Giants 10, Cowboys 7 x
Cowboys -3½ x . . . . . over 46½ x . . . . . Cowboys -190 x


★★★★★ 7-5 Baltimore Ravens at 10-2 New England Patriots
Sunday December 11 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Patriots -7 . . . . over/under 45½ . . . . NWE -300, BAL +250

Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense had a breakout game against Miami last week. That was an anomaly though, don’t expect a repeat of that performance. The Ravens rank 30th on third down (34.1%), 24th in yards per play (5.1) and 21st in scoring (21.3 points per game). Baltimore does have an excellent defense though, allowing just 17.2 points per game (2nd in the NFL). OT Nate Solder will need some help slowing down OLB Terrell Suggs. The Ravens excel against the run, so the Patriots will once again rely on quick short passes to a variety of targets.

Baltimore’s recent winning streak (four out of five) has caught people’s attention. However, all four of those wins were at home; their only road victories were at Cleveland and Jacksonville. Those two teams are a combined 2-22. They beat an injured Steeler team and then won against Cleveland again and Cincinnati. While the win over Miami was impressive I just cannot picture Baltimore winning this game. What will John Harbaugh whine about this time?

Prediction: Patriots 24, Ravens 20
Ravens +7 . . . . . under 45½ . . . . . New England -300

Final Score: Patriots 30, Ravens 23 ✓
Ravens +7 -push- . . . . . under 45½ x . . . . . Patriots -300 ✓


★★★★★ 10-2 Oakland Raiders at 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs
Thursday December 7 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Chiefs -3½ . . . . over/under 46 . . . . KAN -175, OAK +155

I felt the combination of Oakland’s inferior defense, Derek Carr’s injury and the home field advantage delivered by an underrated Arrowhead Stadium crowd would result in a Kansas City win. I didn’t anticipate Tyreek Hill having such an impact. To me Spencer Ware and KC running the ball would be the decisive factor, but the Chiefs ran for just 65 yards. Alex Smith was able to pass the ball downfield for 264 yards while Carr went just 17-41 for a paltry 117 yards.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Raiders 20
Chiefs -3½ (two units) . . . . . over 46 . . . . . Kansas City -175

Final Score: Chiefs 21, Raiders 13 ✓
Chiefs -3½ ✓✓ . . . . . over 46 x . . . . . Chiefs -175 ✓


NFL Week 14 Parlays and Teasers

3-Game Parlay (one unit): x
Jaguars vs Vikings -3½ ✓
Giants vs Cowboys -3½ x
Cardinals at Dolphins +1½ ✓

5-Team 6-Point Teaser (two units): xx
Falcons at Rams +12½ x
Buccaneers vs Saints +8½ ✓
Cardinals at Dolphins +7½ ✓
Colts vs Texans +12½ ✓
Jets at 49ers under 49½ ✓


Tale of the Tape

For the second week in a row my teaser and parlay were blown up by a low scoring game. Two weeks ago I anticipated the Packers-Eagles game to be high scoring based upon those two defenses. Philly only managed to score 13 points and the total was under by 7½ points. Last week was more of the same. I expected Detroit-New Orleans to be a high scoring affair. The Detroit defense had its best game of the season, limiting the Saints – at home no less – to 13 points as well. In retrospect I should not have been surprised; that was the sixth straight game that Detroit has held an opponent to 20 or fewer points.

Week 13 Results:
10-5 Straight Up
7-8 Against the Spread
9-6 Over/Under
2-unit plays: 3-3, -60
1-unit plays: 3-0, +300
3-Game Parlay: 1u, -110
5-Game Teaser: 2u, -220
18 units invested
6-5, -90 on $1980 risk.
-4.5% ROI

Year to Date Results:
114-76-2 Straight Up
102-85-5 Against the Spread
106-86 Over/Under
5-unit plays: 1-0, +500
4-unit plays: 1-0, +400
3-unit plays: 6-5-1, +120
2-unit plays: 35-19-1, +2800
1-unit plays: 39-26-1, +1030
Parlays: 3-8, +1410
Teasers: 6-5, +2610
91-63-3, +8870 on original $2310 risk.
384.0% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
31.5% ROI on $28,160 (256 units) of total weekly investments.

6-5, -90 on 18 units (-4.5%) in Week 13.
6-9-1, -360 on 28 units (-11.7%) in Week 12.
9-2, +2380 on 16 units (+135.2%) in Week 11.
4-9, -510 on 18 units (-25.8%) in Week 10.
7-4, +850 on 17 units (+45.5%) in Week 9.
11-2, +3470 on 27 units (+116.8%) in Week 8.
3-6, -480 on 12 units (-36.4%) in Week 7.
9-3-1, +1300 on 17 units (+69.5%) in Week 6.
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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