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After a lethargic and underwhelming performance against the Buffalo Bills, the New England Patriots look to get back on track at Cleveland on Sunday. In case you have just awoken from a coma, Tom Brady will be starting his first game of the season after Roger Goodell’s Article 46 triumph. Vegas expects the Patriots to win this game with ease, listing the Pats as a rare double-digit road favorite.
The Patriots host Cincinnati and are listed as seven-point favorites. Last week the Bengals handled Miami with ease, though a disconcerting habit of settling for field goals kept the final score relatively close at 22-7. The Bengal defense looked much better with the return of Vontaze Burfict from his suspension
Out of town New England Patriots fans hoping to see Tom Brady’s 2016 debut in week five will have to head out to a local tavern that has the Sunday Ticket. Although TB12’s return will be a big story line for sports media this week, the game will be televised locally in just one market outside of the stations in New England that always broadcast the Pats an the Ohio stations that typically air the Browns.
The New England Patriots will attempt to accomplish what seemed impossible back on July 15. The Pats will go for their fourth straight victory without Tom Brady Sunday afternoon in Foxboro against the Buffalo Bills. This would be an exquisite piece of retribution for Pats fans coveting another piece of revenge against 345 Park Avenue for their botched sting.
What is not a surprise is that the New England Patriots are the week’s largest favorite. The Pats are giving away ten and a half points even though they are on the road, albeit at Cleveland.
On Thursday night the New England Patriots successfully completed Act Three of their 2016 FU 3454 Park Avenue tour, crushing the Houston Texans 27-0 at Gillette Stadium. On Sunday Pats fans can sit back and relax, rooting on disaster and enjoying schadenfreude for rival teams and their salty-tear fans.
For the second time in three weeks the New England Patriots will be on prime time television. The New England area will receive Denver at Cincinnati early, followed by Pittsburgh at Philadelphia for the two AFC games. Fox will predictably televise an NFC East game
Three weeks ago the Arizona Cardinals bludgeoned Green Bay in a shockingly one-sided 38-8 victory. Saturday evening the Packers will have an opportunity to prove that game was an anomaly as they travel to Glendale for the first of this weekend’s NFC Division Round playoff games
In a 180 degree swing from last week, all four home teams are favored in this weekend’s NFL division round playoffs. The Patriots are favored by 5 over KC, Denver by 6½ over Pittsburgh, Arizona by 7½ over Green Bay, and in the closest line Carolina – the team with the NFL’s best record – is only a 3-point home favorite over Seattle.
The final game of wild card weekend pits the Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins. During the off season Green Bay was expected to be a Super Bowl contender, and the Pack is in the post-season for the seventh consecutive season. Washington on the other hand was viewed as being one of worst teams in the league before the season began; this is just their second winning season in eight years, and their last playoff victory came ten years ago when Joe Gibbs was still the head coach for Washington.
The NFL regular season is supposed to reward teams with the best records with an advantage in the playoffs, but Vegas handicappers differ with their opinion. Of the four teams playing at home in the first round of the NFL playoffs only one is favored to win. Despite all the disparaging comments about their division, the NFC East lays claim to the only home favorite in the wild card round. The Washington Redskins are the sole lone favorite this weekend, and that is by just one point – despite the traditional three points being placed in favor of the home team. The Packer playoff mystique is long gone after last week’s home loss to the Vikings
Expect the New England offense to perform much better than it did last week. Let’s give credit where it is due: the Jet defense is one of the best in the NFL. The Patriots should have much better success on third down than they did last week, which will lead to more scoring opportunities – and at the same time keep the Patriot defense off the field, allowing them to be less gassed and more effective.
One nice thing about the final week of the season for football fans is that two networks televise both an early and late game, plus restrictions that prohibit another game being televised while the local team plays a home game are lifted. There was a time when this was actually standard operating procedure: the AFL would televise two games on NBC, and the NFL would televise two games on CBS. Once the two leagues merged that ended though, and now pro football fans are forced to either pay big bucks or watch crappy games between losing teams far too often.
In one of only three NFL Week 16 games between two teams with winning records, the 12-2 New England Patriots take on the 9-5 New York Jets in a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Patriots have already won the AFC East title (for the seventh consecutive season) and earned a first round bye. The Pats can clinch the number one seed and home field throughout the conference playoffs with a win over their arch rivals (or with a loss by Cincinnati). The Jets have the same record as Pittsburgh and Kansas City but need help because they would lose tiebreakers to the Steelers or Chiefs. Gang Green will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss combined with wins by the Broncos, Steelers and Chiefs. The Jets would also be eliminated from the number five seed with either a loss plus a Pittsburgh win, or a loss plus victories by the Broncos and Chiefs.
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.
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