Fans Share in Responsibility of Pathetic NFL Officiating

Pete Morelli is yet another example of NFL officials who just aren't doing their jobs very well.

I honestly can’t imagine what it must be like to be a fan of the Detroit Lions today. Even after two full days to let it go, I’m guessing there are many in the Great Lake State who still feel sick about the pass interference call that wasn’t.

They know as do I that one play does not make a whole game but the again how do we really know this? I don’t know what the Lions would have done on the next play had that been properly called defensive holding as Vice-President of League Officials Dean Blandino explained.

At worst, the Lions would have been inside Dallas territory with a first and ten had the defensive holding call been made. But this call and those egregious ones like it aren’t really my point today.

This about sums up Lions' fans following Sunday's loss in Dallas.

As fans, we are the ones guilty of allowing this type of thing to continue happening to professional football. We are the ones who tolerate our teams being cheated out of opportunities and we are the ones who have allowed NFL Commissioner to ruin the game in the name of ‘player safety’ in an effort to save money.

Every time we tune in and every time we buy the newest NFL apparel we just give our approval of what is happening on the field of play.

If you read my stuff often then you already know I think instant replay challenges are the worst things to happen to sports in a long time. My basic principle as to why starts with the fact that often, they still can’t get the calls correct.

There’s much more to it than that, but that’s the gist of my displeasure as far as instant replay goes. All officials make mistakes and all officials make poor calls and my contention is that if players can screw up then so to can officials.

Players make errors on every single play in the NFL yet they are not held to the standards of the officiating crews. Maybe in the film room they are but not in the court of public opinion where Pete Morelli has been torched at the stake in effigy.

That’s a far as I can go with defending NFL Officials.

Now that I’m ready to lay the lumber let’s start with the aforementioned Mr. Blandino. By now, you already know the story of him partying with the Dallas Cowboys’ top brass earlier this summer. You want to talk about a poor choice? Bingo.

I’m not saying Blandino can’t have a drink with officials from any team but it doesn’t look good at all when you’re out late boozing it up. That was a very poor decision by Blandino.

His on-filed issues are just as bad and they reared their ugly heads this past weekend. Morelli’s poor officiating over-shadowed the fact that officials in all games suddenly forgot about all those ‘illegal contact calls’ they made at a record pace this past regular season.

Go back and watch any of the Wild-Card games and you’ll see more grabbing than a teenage boy in a high school dance. Why emphasize it so much if you are going to let it go in the postseason?

Let’s also not forget the sudden subjectivity of a rule that penalizes players from coming onto the field without a helmet.  Dez Bryant came onto the field to protest a call while his defense was on the field. Bryant was not flagged and Blandino explained that this call was subjective based on each particular official’s decision.

You know and I know, the official was intimated and wasn’t going to flag Bryant because he’s Bryant and because he’s a Cowboy.

As fans, we have only ourselves to blame for the current product because no matter how bad things are we just keep coming back for more.

Final Two Games of Wild-Card Weekend on Tap

All eyes will be on Andy Dalton today as he looks for his first playoff win.

The opening games of the National Football League’s Wild-Card Weekend left us wanting more as both games were lacking in my opinion of big plays and “down-to-the-wire” drama. The Carolina Panthers held the Arizona Cardinals to less than 100 yards of total offense in their win in the NFC while the Baltimore Ravens went into Pittsburgh and knocked off the Steelers.

The Panthers will find out their destination today while the Ravens will head to New England where they’ve had some good playoff success. On to my thoughts for today’s action.

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 49) – Last time the Bengals came to Indianapolis they left without even scoring a single point. I have to believe they will have watched that tape a great deal this week to see where things went wrong. I definitely think you’ll see heavy doses of Jeremy Hill in order to set up play-action.

The Colts have leaked serious oil heading into the postseason and they have to hope they can find their groove. The rushing attack for Indy has been a struggle all season but they’ll need to find some semblance of it in order for Andrew Luck to have time to throw.

Let’s face it; all eyes will be on Andy Dalton who is 0-3 in the playoffs. He hasn’t played well in any of the three previous postseason games. The good news? He plays much better during day games than he does night games.

Key Injuries: CIN WR A.J. Green OUT/Concussion, TE Jermaine Gresham QUEST/Knee… IND G Hugh Thornton OUT/Shoulder

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of the Bengals’ last eight games… Indianapolis is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against the Bengals… Cincy is 2-5 against the spread when on the road in Indy.

The Pick: I like the Colts to cover and the OVER.

Matthew Stafford has to shake off an average regular season and play well today in Big D.

Detroit (+7.5) at Dallas (O/U 48) – The Lions received some good news when Ndamukong Suh’s suspension was overturned earlier this week which means he will play against the Cowboys. I believe his presence will have serious impact on the game but only if his team’s offense can find some success and that hasn’t been easy in recent weeks.

The Cowboys will do nothing special. They will run the ball with DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo will look for Dez Bryant in the passing game. If the Dallas defense plays well, this game could get ugly early. The only way it doesn’t is if the Lions’ top-ranked rushing defense can force Romo to be the only source of offense.

Matthew Stafford needs a signature win and his play this season doesn’t make me think this is the week but the talent is there. He must avoid the bone-headed plays that seem to haunt him. If he can, a close game may be in store today.

Key Injuries: DET G Larry Warford OUT/Knee, DT Nick Fairley DOUBT/Knee…DAL T Doug Free DOUBT/Knee, G Zack Martin PROB/Ankle

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Detroit’s last 19 games… Dallas is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home… The total has gone UNDER in eight of the Lions’ last nine games on the road.

The Pick: Take Dallas to cover and I like the OVER.

Your Latest Super Bowl Odds as We Head Into the Playoffs

Marshawn Lynch is the key to a Seattle Super Bowl repeat.

The National Football League Playoffs begin on Saturday and before we dive too far into those games let’s take a look at the latest Super Bowl odds for the 12 teams still standing. I’ll give “why they can win it” and I’ll give you “why they can’t.”

Seattle Seahawks 12/5 – Top-seed and first-round bye

Why they win it? Defense and Marshawn Lynch

Why they don’t? The officials. If they call it tight in the secondary, a close game could easily be turned.

New England Patriots 3/1 – Top-seed and first-round bye.

Why they win it? The defense forces many turnovers and Tom Brady is Tom Brady.

Why they don’t? Brady has had less than stellar playoff performances in recent years. If he falters and the defense can’t create turnovers then forget it.

Green Bay Packers 6/1 – Two-seed and a first-round bye.

Why they win it? Offensive balance and consistent pressure from the defense.

Why they don’t? Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury persists and the defense becomes susceptible to the run.

Denver Broncos 13/2 – Two-seed and a first-round bye.

Why they win it? The continued balance with C.J. Anderson running the ball keeps on rolling and the defense makes teams one-dimensional.

Why they don’t? The playoff demons of Peyton Manning rear their ugly heads and that’s a real possibility as he is under .500 in the playoffs.

Can Tony Romo finally get over his late-season hiccups?

Dallas Cowboys 15/2 – Sunday vs. Detroit.

Why they win it? Tony Romo is turnover-free and the defense plays well and creates turnovers.

Why they don’t? Romo becomes “late season Romo” and the defense struggles to stop the run.

Pittsburgh Steelers 14/1 – Saturday vs Baltimore.

Why they win it? The defense continues to gel while Ben Roethlisberger has an epic playoff run.

Why they don’t? The Le’Veon Bell injury. This offense will not be the same without him.

Indianapolis Colts 28/1 – Sunday vs. Cincinnati

Why they win it? The running game suddenly emerges and the defense finds consistency.

Why they don’t? Andrew Luck is asked to carry them. He can for stretches but not to a Super Bowl title. He is too prone for turnovers throwing it that much.

Carolina Panthers 33/1 – Sarturday vs. Arizona

Why they win it? They ride Jonathan Stewart and a defense that keeps coming together.

Why they don’t? The defense cracks and Cam Newton tries to do too much.

Baltimore Ravens 40/1 – Saturday at Pittsburgh. Ravens +3.5

Why they win it? Joe Flacco snaps out of his funk and the defense creates numerous turnovers.

Why they don’t? Justin Forsett is limited, Flacco keeps struggling and the defense can’t make stops.

Cincinnati Bengals 40/1 – Sunday at Indianapolis. Bengals +4

Why they win it? Andy Dalton gets over the hump and Jeremy Hill becomes a major factor.

Why they don’t? The defense can’t get pressure and Dalton turns it over as he has all season.

Detroit Lions 40/1 – Sunday at Dallas. Lions +7.5

Why they win it? Matthew Stafford gets hot and the defense limits opposing offenses to field goals.

Why they don’t? The suspension of Suh dooms them in the first round along with continued poor play from Stafford.

Arizona Cardinals 66/1 – Saturday at Carolina. Cards +6

Why they win it? The defense becomes an impenetrable wall and the QB play is flawless.

Why they can’t? Quarterback issues plain and simple.


Playoffs are Set; Questions are Many in the National Football League

Jets' Owner Woody Johnson (center) has parted ways with his General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan.

The National Football League is now into its’ second season and there is no shortage of great story-lines so let’s get to it.

Ryan/Idzik Out

Earlier this morning the inevitable came down from New York Jets’ Owner Woody Johnson. Both General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan have been fired and now the Jets will have to bring in a whole new regime there.

Whoever comes in will have a quality front-seven to work with but a whole bunch of questions on offense especially on offense. I have to believe you’ll see the Jets look for an offensive-minded guy but there’s no guarantee especially when you’re talking about the Jets.

AFC Playoff Breakdown

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are your top seeds and have next week off. The Pats will play the lowest remaining seed from Wild-Card Weekend while the Broncos will host the higher one.

The Steelers' playoff success will hinge on the health of Le'Veon Bell.

Rematches are the name of the game on Saturday and Sunday in the AFC. In primetime, the AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers will host Baltimore. This will be the rubber match as the teams split earlier this season with both winning at home. The Steelers are currently listed as 3.5 point favorites.

The Sunday afternoon game features a rematch from earlier this season as the Indianapolis Colts host the Cincinnati Bengals. In week seven, the Bengals traveled to Indy and were crushed 27-0 in a game where their offense mustered just eight first downs.

The Colts are struggling though as the playoffs arrive. The running game is nearly non-existent and they have banged up receivers. For the Bengals, it always comes back to Andy Dalton who will make his fourth start in the playoffs and is still looking for his first win. The Colts have opened as six-point favorites.

NFC Playoff Breakdown

The defending champion Seahawks are your top seed in the NFC while the Green Bay Packers are the two-seed.

The first NFC game on Wild-Card Weekend will be Arizona traveling to Carolina. The Panthers blew out the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South yesterday and despite having a losing record, Carolina will not be an easy out. The defense is playing better and the running game is thriving behind Jonathan Stewart.

Obviously the issue for Arizona is the QB position. Drew Stanton is expected back from his sprained knee but will he be able to generate enough offense? This was the same place Arizona started their Super Bowl run in 2009. The Cards are a 4.5 point underdog.

The final game of the opening weekend features the Detroit Lions playing at the Dallas Cowboys. An interesting point here is that the Cowboys were unbeaten on the road this season. That means they went 4-4 at home in ATT Stadium.

The Lions come in with a struggling offense and a defense that is licking its’ wounds after Aaron Rodgers beat them on basically one leg. If Matthew Stafford can’t get himself right then this will be yet another one and done for the Lions in the postseason. Detroit is opening as a seven-point underdog.

What to Expect in the Playoffs

I don’t believe Seattle and New England are 100% infallible but they are clearly the favorites. Going in to either team’s stadium will not be easy but neither team was unbeaten at home.

If you’re looking for teams to cause trouble then go with the Panthers in the NFC and the Steelers in the AFC. The only issue with Pittsburgh is Le’Veon Bell who hyper-extended his knee and is uncertain for Saturday.

I think this is a season where chalk holds. Dallas at Seattle in the NFC title game and Denver and New England in the AFC Championship.

NFL Late-Game Picks for Week 17

Eddie Lacy could be the 'X' factor in today's game between his Packers and the Lions.

Here are four late games I really like today.

Detroit (+7) at Green Bay (O/U 47.5) – By now you know the history… The Lions haven’t won in Lambeau Field since 1992 and while the players and coaches will scoff at that, it has to be in their minds. Unlike most indoor teams, the Lions are suddenly surviving on the defensive side while the offense continues to struggle.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is an excellent game-planner and he will he have studied the team’s loss in Detroit over and over to find weaknesses. In my opinion this game is more about Matthew Stafford than it is Aaron Rodgers. Stafford has to play well and he hasn’t for much of the season.

Trends: Detroit is 4-2 straight in their last six games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in four of Green Bay’s last five games against the Lions…Detroit is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games versus the Packers.

The Pick: The Packers have been a scoring machine at home but the Lions can get after it on defense. I like the Lions getting the points and the UNDER.

Cam Newton needs a big game if the Panthers are to win in Atlanta today.

Carolina (+3) at Atlanta (O/U 48) – Both of these teams are lousy on defense. They each give up about 25 points per game but the Falcons score on average about five more points per game on offense than do the Panthers. Being that this game is an “all or nothing” proposition, I expect both teams to pull out all the stops to earn the win.

One of the key issues here is the health of the Falcons’ receivers. Roddy White has battled ankle issues but will play and Julio Jones has had a hip problem. If both can go, it’s a big boost for the offense.

Trends: The Panthers are 3-6-1 straight up in their last 10 games… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Atlanta’s last 11 games… Carolina is 1-5 SU in their last six games on the road in Atlanta.

The Pick: I like Falcons to cover and I love the OVER.

Arizona (+7) at San Francisco (O/U 37) – The Cardinals are staggering into the playoffs behind a quarterback carousel that is struggling. Drew Stanton will miss this one but could return for a the playoffs. Ryan Lindley gets the start despite being told Logan Thomas would be the man for most of the week.

For the 49ers, all signs point to this being Jim Harbaugh’s final game there. Where he goes next is up in the air, but despite missing the playoffs, he leaves the franchise far better than he found it.

Trends: Arizona is 0-5 straight up in their last five visits to San Francisco… The Niners are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in four of the Cardinals last six games against San Francisco.

The Pick: I like UNDER and I think the Cards find a way to keep it close so take them getting the points.

Cincinnati (+3) at Pittsburgh (O/U 48) – The final game of the 2014 NFL regular season is the third and final battle of the day for a division crown. The winner claims the AFC North and will get a home game for Wild-Card Weekend. The loser is still in the playoffs but will have to hit the road.

The Steelers took a close game into the fourth quarter in the first meeting in Cincinnati three weeks ago and scored 25 points to win 42-21. While the Bengals struggled to slow Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers had no answer for A.J. Green. I think both are limited a bit tonight forcing other players to step up.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Cincinnati’s last seven games… The Steelers are 5-2 straight up in their last seven games at home against the Bengals… Cincy is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh.

The Pick: I expect a little less scoring tonight so take the UNDER but I’ll take the Steelers to cover in a tight game.

Intriguing NFL Storylines for the Final Week of the Season

By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh is coaching his last game in San Francisco tomorrow.

The 2014 National Football League Season comes to an end this weekend and while you can find all the playoff scenarios at, I’m looking at those but also a lot more. Let’s get rolling.

Monday is of course now known as “black Monday” because this is typically the day that NFL coaches who are on the hot seat are in fact fired. My expectation is that you’ll see several coaches packing up their offices.

If I’m a betting man, I have to believe Rex Ryan is finally out in New York although there are arguments to be made that General Manager John Idzik is a bigger problem. I also believe Tony Sparano will be removed as the Raiders’ interim tagged coach and will be looking for new employment. I his case, it’s hard to to avoid the decent success his team has had but I believe the Raiders will look elsewhere.

Also on the chopping block will be Mike Smith in Atlanta if the Falcons lose tomorrow. Even if they advance to the playoffs I expect him to be gone unless they make a miraculous run to the Super Bowl.

The biggest name will of course be Jim Harbaugh. Michigan officials were reportedly already in San Francisco yesterday and will be at Harbaugh’s door as soon as the official word comes down that he is fired. Reports are that that will come very soon after the Niners’ final game. My feeling is that the 49ers are making a mistake. Harbaugh has been hugely successful and rescued this franchise from mediocrity. If anyone should go it’s the GM Trent Baalke but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Other potential unemployed coaches: Tom Coughlin, Marc Trestman, Jeff Fisher, Doug Marrone

A.J. Green went for over 200 yards last time the Bengals faced the Steelers. Can he do it again?

Three Division Champs to Be Crowned Sunday

In the AFC, Pittsburgh hosts Cincinnati at Heinz Field on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season. The winner gets the AFC North title and a home playoff game next week while the loser hits the road to open the postseason.

In their first meeting three weeks ago, the Steelers scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to win 42-21. I expect a much closer game this time around but you have to like the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger who plays well at home especially late in the season.

In Green Bay, a similar situation exists. The Packers host the Lions and the winner earns the NFC North title and possibly a top seed in the NFC while the loser becomes the fifth or sixth seed and starts the playoffs on the road. While the chances exist for Detroit to to be anywhere from a one-seed to a six-seed, they have to get past the Packers in Green Bay.

The last time the Lions won at Lambeau Field was 22 years ago when Rodney Peete was the quarterback and Barry Sanders was the running back. Matthew Stafford has to play better for the Lions to have a chance Sunday.

Last but not least is the showdown in Atlanta where it’s all or nothing for the Falcons and Panthers. A win gets either into the playoffs while the loser goes home and possibly looks for a new coach. The winner of the NFC South will also become the second team since the 1970 merger to win a division with a record under .500 and will create more discussion about re-seeding for the playoffs.

In all likelihood, the Falcons or Panthers will host a team with at least three or four more wins then they have and that doesn’t sit well with many. Take the Falcons with the home-field advantage tomorrow.


Your NFL Lines for the Upcoming Weekend

Calvin Johnson will need some big plays if the Lions are to end their streak of losses in Green Bay.

I’ll spend less time on the non-playoff games for obvious reasons.

Detroit (+7.5) at Green Bay (O/U 48) – This one is simple; the winner gets the division and a first-round bye at worst. The loser will end up as the fifth or sixth seed and will head out on the road. The suspension of Lions’ center Dominic Raiola will be a huge story in this game. I think the Lions’ defense will keep this close but the Packers pull away and win. Take GB to cover.

Jacksonville (+10) at Houston (O/U 40) – Another audition for Case Keenum and a final shot to see J.J. Watt in 2014. The Texans cover.

Cincinnati (+3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 48) – The winner wins the AFC North and at best gets a three-seed which means they’ll open the playoffs at home but won’t have a bye week. The Steelers blitzed the Bengals with a 25-point fourth quarter four weeks ago but I see this one much closer with so much on the line. Take the Steelers to cover with a late score.

Indianapolis (-7) at Tennessee (O/U 46.5) – The Colts need to right their ship because they aren’t playing well with the playoffs approaching. They need a Cincinnati win over the Steelers coupled with a win of their own in order to grab the three seed. Look for Andrew Luck to get things going early before taking a seat in the second half. I like the Titans here because the Colts will empty the bench in the second half.

Cleveland (+9) at Baltimore (O/U 41.5) – Do we have any idea who is playing quarterback for Cleveland? No Manziel and no Hoyer means rookie Connor Shaw gets the start. The Ravens still have an outside shot at the playoffs but they need lots of help. My gut feeling here is that Joe Flacco bounces back from a horrible game and plays well. Take the Ravens to cover.

Buffalo (+5) at New England (O/U 44) – By virtue of Denver’s loss Monday night, New England has home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. That means Bill Belichick will get his starters out quickly after a couple of series. Take the Bills who have slim playoff hopes as well.

NY Jets (+6) at Miami (O/U 42) – Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross says Joe Philbin will return. Let’s see how his team plays knowing that. Take the Jets.

A loss pretty much ends the tenure of Mike Smith in Atlanta. Of course a win might not help him much either.

Carolina (+4) at Atlanta (O/U 48) – The battle for the NFC South will boil down to a simple question; whose defense can make the most stops? We know Atlanta can score and we know the Panthers play good defense but what about the other scenario? The Falcons defense is really bad but I have a feeling based on the last few weeks that they make enough plays. Take the Falcons to cover.

Chicago (+6.5) at Minnesota (O/U 44) – Gimme the Vikings to cover.

San Diego (+3) at Kansas City (O/U 42) – Both teams have playoff hopes especially the Bolts who just need to win. A loss brings KC and Houston into play. Can the Chiefs generate enough offense and can the Chargers protect Philip Rivers? Take the Chargers and the points.

Philadelphia (+3) at NY Giants (O/U 52) – I predict lots of scoring. Giants to cover.

Dallas (-6) at Washington (O/U 49) – The Redskins will not roll over in this game especially after a nice win last week over Philly. The Cowboys can clinch home-field throughout the playoffs with a win so I believe it will be all hands on deck. They’ll ride the offense to a big win. Take Dallas to cover.

New Orleans (-4) at Tampa Bay (O/U 47) – Saints to cover.

St. Louis (+13) at Seattle (O/U 41) – The Seahawks look to wrap up at the very least a first round bye with a win. Should Dallas stumble then they get home-field advantage. I think the Rams will fight valiantly but I like the hawks to cover.

Arizona (+6) at San Francisco (O/U 37) – All signs point to this being the final game for Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco. The Cardinals are hoping for losses by Dallas and Seattle but I don’t think it will matter with their current quarterback situation. Take the Cards getting the points in this one.

Oakland (+14) at Denver (O/U 48) – I’ll be surprised if Peyton Manning doesn’t sit a bit here as poor as he’s looked recently. I like the Raiders getting the points.


Early NFL Lines With Playoff Implications All Over the Place.

Blake Bortles and Jacksonville host division rival Tennessee in what could be a real yawner on Thursday night.

Tennessee (+3) at Jacksonville – The Jags nearly upset Baltimore on the road; the Titans nearly beat the Jets at home.

The Pick: Jags getting the points at home.

San Diego (+2.5) at San Francisco – Talk about contrast… The Niners are playing for nothing while the Chargers need a win and a loss by someone in the AFC North to sniff the playoffs.

The Pick: Take the Bolts getting the points.

Philadelphia (-8.5) at Washington – The Eagles have looked awful the last two weeks so maybe the game away from home will do them some good. Either way, Mark Sanchez has to play better. Washington continues to be an absolute mess.

The Pick: Take the Eagles to cover.

Is Joe Philbin down to his final days as head coach in Miami?

Minnesota (+6.5) at Miami – The Vikings deserved a better fate in Detroit on Sunday but they’ve still shown tremendous improvement under Mike Zimmer. For Miami, another late-season slide appears to be dooming the job of Joe Philbin.

The Pick: I like the Vikes getting the points.

Green Bay (-10) at Tampa Bay – I take little consolation in calling Green Bay’s loss at Buffalo other than this; “I told you so!” Now that that’s over I expect a much better and much more focused Packers team on Sunday.

Tampa will not just let them Packers come in and roll over them though. They are keeping games close and I expect them to play hard again here.

The Pick: Take the Bucs getting double-digit points.

Detroit (-4.5) at Chicago – At some point the pathetic Lions’ offense is going to cost them but it won’t be this week. The Bears are a mess from inside the locker room to out on the field. I have no reason to believe the Lions defense won’t stifle Jay Cutler the way they did on Thanksgiving Day after giving up early scores.

The Pick: Still, I like the Bears getting the points.

Atlanta (+6.5) at New Orleans – This is week one of the Battle for the NFC South.

New England (-10) at NY Jets – If this were week 17 I’d probably tell you to take the Jets because the Pats will rest everyone. Still, I think you may see Jimmy Garapalo in the second half. The Jets are just lousy and Bill Belichick hates them.

The Pick: Take the Pats to cover.

Kansas City (+3) at Pittsburgh – Monster game for the Chiefs who need to win to keep their playoff chances alive while Pittsburgh can get into the playoffs with a victory. Big match-up here will be how the Steelers offensive line handles the pass rushers of the Chiefs.

Steelers have dropped home games to Tampa and New Orleans already this season.

The Pick: Take the Chiefs getting the points.

Cleveland (EVEN) at Carolina – Johnny Football take two.

The Pick: Take the Panthers at home.

Baltimore (-4.5) at Houston – The Texans will be starting Case Keenum or Tom Savage against a defense that recorded eight sacks last week.

The Pick: Take the Ravens to cover.

NY Giants (+5) at St. Louis – Can the Rams slow down Odell Beckham? Does it matter? Look for the stingy Rams D to give a little but they’ll get enough offense I think.

The Pick: Rams to cover.

Buffalo (-6) at Oakland – Bills have a great pass rush but can they win on the road?

The Pick: Take the Raiders getting the points.

Indianapolis (+3) at Dallas – This is a huge game for the Cowboys against a Colts’ team that tried its’ hardest to give away a game at home on Sunday to Houston.

The Pick: Take the ‘Boys to cover.

Seattle (-7.5) at Arizona – This doesn’t look good for Arizona. They’ll play hard but Seattle smells blood in the water. Take the Seahawks to cover.

Denver (-3.5) at Cincinnati – The Broncos have wrapped the division out West while the Bengals, who have led the North all season, could see it slip away in their final two games against Denver and Pittsburgh. The Bengals’ defense was impressive against Manziel but this will be a different test.

The Pick: Take Denver to cover.


As Promised, Here are Your Late NFL Games for Today

Russell Wilson looks to play the right tunes against the 49ers today in Seattle.

Friday I gave you the early National Football League lines and today I’m giving you the late games including the Monday night game. This way, you have a few more hours to decide where your money is going…

Minnesota (+8) at Detroit (O/U 42) – Right now the Lions are like that tennis player who just needs to hold serve long enough until they can get that one, good shot to turn the tide. Detroit has the second wild-card locked up right now but in the final week of the season, they’ll get Green Bay with a chance to take the division. This theory only holds true if both teams keep winning.

The Vikings are showing some real improvement in recent weeks and will not be an easy out here for the Lions even at home in Ford Field.

The Pick: Take the Vikes and the UNDER.

NY Jets (-3) at Tennessee (O/U 42) – OK, both teams stink and are out of the playoffs. The Jets are more “stable” at QB right now.

The Pick: Take the Jets to cover and the UNDER.

Look for Demaryius Thomas to have a big day in San Diego.

Denver (-6) at San Diego (O/U 51) – While a lot of the attention will be on the game in Seattle today, this one could be the game of the day. The Chargers in a massive battle for a wild-card spot with most of the AFC North and really can’t afford a loss. Denver is looking to clinch the division with a victory and is still hoping to get home-field advantage.

The Broncos have become a bit more dangerous with a solid running game with C.J. Anderson but don’t sleep on Peyton Manning not throwing the ball a lot today. The Bolts need to find balance on offense and come up with some turnovers on defense.

The Pick: I like San Diego getting the points and take the UNDER.

San Francisco (+10) at Seattle (O/U 38) – How the mighty have fallen huh? A loss today knocks the 49ers out of the playoffs and ramps up the “Jim Harbaugh to (fill in the blank) rumors. QB Colin Kaepernick has been average this season and will need to play well in an effort to get this team in position to win. The defense is banged up though and now they have to face a streaking Seattle team.

The Seahawks have cranked up their defense to the level that got them a Super Bowl title and that’s scary for the rest of the league. Look for another solid performance from them today and look for heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch as well.

The Pick: Take the Niners getting double-digit points and take the UNDER.

Dallas (+3.5) at Philadelphia (O/U 55) – Two weeks ago, the Eagles put a beatdown on the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and now these two meet again with the division lead at stake. A Philly win will be tough for the Cowboys to overcome with just two games remaining while a Dallas win will make for some great drama down the stretch.

The Eagles were manhandled by Seattle last week so look for them to bounce back offensively. For the Cowboys, it’s simple; protect Tony Romo.

The Pick: Take the Eagles and take the OVER.

New Orleans (-3) at Chicago (O/U 54) – So the Saints lost three-straight at home, go to Pittsburgh and throttle the Steelers, then return home to get blitzed by the Panthers. Good luck figuring them out…

The Bears are a mess on the field and in the locker room.

The Pick: Take the Saints to cover and the OVER.

A Monday Night Twin-Bill Gives You a Chance to Bounce Back

Calvin Johnson should see lots of opportunities against the Giants tonight.

So you went with the Buccaneers because Cam Newton was out huh? There was no way the Browns would stay within six of the Steelers right? I’m sure you had the Bears to cover over a pathetic Bills’ team too correct?

The nice thing about Monday night football is that it gives you a chance to re-coop some losses from Saturday and Sunday. This is opening week though and that means we get not one, but two Monday night games to consider. Let’s get to it!

NY Giants (+6) at Detroit (O/U 47) – The Giants went 5-0 in the preseason yet their offense struggled more than anyone else in the NFL. The Lions looked very good throughout the preseason but were victimized by that same old problem of stupid penalties. New York has a huge opportunity with both Dallas and Washington losing yesterday to get to the top of the NFC East with Philadelphia who won.

The Lions have a similar situation in front of them. The Bears and Packers both lost while Minnesota routed the Rams. Getting a head start on the NFC North is always a good way to begin things. The secret for Detroit is simple; Matthew Stafford needs to get the ball to Calvin Johnson and the defense needs to make plays and not shoot its’ self in the foot with penalties.

The Giants have to run the ball with Rashard Jennings in order to get Eli Manning an opportunity to use play-action. His receivers are limited so he needs to have time to spread the ball around. The New York defense will have to get pressure up the middle in order to disrupt Stafford.

Trends: Detroit is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home… The Giants are 4-8 ATS in their last 12 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in six of the Lions’ last nine games at Ford Field… The Giants are 9-3 straight up in their last 12 games against Detroit.

The Pick: Road teams have been spectacular this weekend which makes me think the Giants sneak away with a win but I’m not buying it. Take the them with the points but the Lions win and take the OVER as well.

Carson Palmer leads Arizona into the final game of week one against San Diego.

San Diego (+3) at Arizona (O/U 47) – The Chargers finished 9-7 last year while the Cardinals went 10-6 yet it was San Diego that headed to the playoffs while the Cards were stuck at home because of their ridiculously tough decision. Arizona lost stud D-lineman Darnell Dockett to a season-ending injury in the preseason and need someone to step up in order to keep the defense near the top of the rankings.

My major question for the Chargers is how will Philip Rivers do without QB guru Ken Whisenhunt helping the offense? The first thing to do is get Ryan Mathews involved. He stayed fairly healthy in 2013 and needs to do the same this year. Rivers will focus on Keenan Allen and his other receivers while trying to avoid the very good Cardinals’ secondary.

Arizona is most likely without running back Andre Ellington who they have high hopes for this season. If he can’t go, former Steeler Jonathan Dwyer will get the call and he’s a nice fit for a game or two but not long-term. Obviously Carson Palmer needs to focus on Larry Fitzgerald and company in order to keep the Chargers’ D honest.

Trends: San Diego is 5-1 straight up in their last six games… Arizona is 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games… The total has gone OVER in four of the Cards’ last six games at home… The total has gone UNDER in five of San Diego’s last six games on the road.

The Pick: I like the Cards to cover but I do like the UNDER in this one.