A Trio of Thanksgiving Games For Your Plate

Cutler
Cutler
Jay Cutler needs to take full advantage of his weapons if the Bears are to defeat Detroit on Thursday.

I’m getting you you’re Thanksgiving Day games early because I know many of you will be on the road or sleeping in or you’ll be stuck at work so here is my take on al three games for Turkey Day.

Chicago (+7) at Detroit (O/U 47) – At 5-6, the Chicago Bears are in no position to lose games. Thursday will mark the first of two meetings with the Lions in the final five weeks of the season. For Detroit, they cannot afford to fall any further behind Green Bay who they will face in Lambeau Field on the final day of the season. And they haven’t won there in about 25 years.

Defensively, the Bears have struggled all year and that’s good news for a Detroit offense that is also struggling. The key match-up for this one is the Detroit defense against the Chicago offense. If the Bears can’t generate any offense then this could get ugly.

Trends: Chicago is 9-3 straight up in their last 12 games versus Detroit… The Lions are 6-1-1 against the spread in their last eight games against the Bears… The total has gone OVER in four of Chicago’s last five games when playing in Detroit… The Lions are 1-9 in their last ten Thanksgiving Day Games.

The Pick: I love the Bears getting a touchdown and take the OVER.

Sanchez
The Eagles need Mark Sanchez to take care of the ball and they can do that with a good running game.

Philadelphia (+3) at Dallas (O/U 54.5) – Both teams are 8-3 and a win would go a long way towards a division title but these two will meet again on December 14th in Philly.

It may be cliché to say, but I think whichever team has more success running the ball will have an inside track on winning the game. I say this because Mark Sanchez and to a slightly smaller extent Tony Romo, will turn the ball over.

The better each team can run the ball the better each team’s quarterback play is likely to be. One other thing to keep an eye on… The Eagles excellent special teams unit.

Trends: Philadelphia is 15-5 straight up in their last 20 games… The Cowboys are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games… The total has gone UNDER in five of the Eagles’ last seven games playing in Dallas… The Cowboys have won eight of their last ten games on Thanksgiving Day.

The Pick: I like the Eagles getting three and I like the OVER.

Seattle (EVEN) at San Francisco (O/U 40) – These two NFC West foes will follow the same patter as Dallas and Philadelphia. They’ll play each on Turkey Day then see each other again on December 14th.

With each team at 7-4 and trailing the Arizona Cardinals by two games, this game carries monstrous implications. Arizona will have a very winnable game at Atlanta on Sunday so the loser here could fall back three games with four to play.

The 49ers have struggled to score points recently and that will be a factor here despite their home-field advantage.

Trends: Seattle is 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games… The 49ers are 0-5 ATS in their five games against Seattle… The total has gone UNDER in five of the last 6 times Seattle and San Francisco have played each other… The Seahawks are 1-2 in career Thanksgiving Day Games while the 49ers are 3-1-1 on Turkey Day.

The Pick: I think the Seahawks ride the momentum of their win last week and win in San Francisco. Take the UNDER as well.

Your Early NFL Lines Which Are Always Subject to Change

Reid
Reid
Andy Reid has the Chiefs rolling in the AFC West and now they head to Oakland for a Thursday night game.

Kansas City (-7) at Oakland – The Chiefs find themselves tied with Denver atop the AFC West at 7-3 although a home loss to the Broncos in week two gives Denver the edge. The Raiders are… The Raiders who haven’t won now in a calendar year.

Cleveland (+3) at Atlanta – The Browns laid a serious egg at home in losing to Houston Sunday while the Falcons have suddenly won two-straight and sit atop the NFC South at 4-6. If Brian Hoyer struggles to put points on the board in the first half, sound the Johnny Football alarm.

Tennessee (+10.5) at Philadelphia – This line could move substantially depending upon how the Titans did last night. Mark Sanchez came crashing back to Earth while getting buried in Green Bay Sunday. Look for the Eagles to get back to some normalcy at home.

Gray
I'm sure you all saw the performance of Jonas Gray coming didn't you?

Detroit (+5.5) at New England – The Lions put up a valiant effort in losing to the Cardinals in the desert and now face falling behind a hot Packers’ team in the NFC North. What more can be said for the Patriots who are getting it done in numerous ways?

Green Bay (-9.5) at Minnesota – Aaron Rodgers and the Packers take their high-scoring machine on the road to Minnesota where the Vikings are still struggling to find their way. What we have to be careful with here is the potential for a letdown.

Jacksonville (+14) at Indianapolis – I honestly don’t know what’s in the water in Jacksonville but it seems any QB that comes there just gets worse. The Colts will be ready for rookie Blake Bortles and they’ll be fired up after getting pounded by the Patriots.

Cincinnati (+2.5) at Houston – The Bengals may have saved their season with a big win at New Orleans and now face a Texans’ team that is suddenly just a game behind the Colts. Rookie Alfred Blue filled in for Arian Foster with a big day on the ground which helped Ryan Mallett in his debut.

NY Jets (+4.5) at Buffalo – The Jets ended their eight-game losing streak by beating the Steelers and now head to Buffalo where the Bills are clinging to life in the AFC at 5-5. A loss ends any chance of the Bills making the postseason while a win keeps them alive.

Tampa Bay (+6) at Chicago – Jay Cutler finally used the weapons around him to his advantage in beating Minnesota. Meanwhile the Bucs seem to be playing better and better and are getting good performances from young guys.

Arizona (+6.5) at Seattle – Let’s put it this way; the Seahawks cannot afford to lose. They are 6-4 while the Cardinals are 9-1. Not only would a loss end any reasonable chance at a division title but probably a playoff spot as well. Don’t forget, the Cards won in Seattle last year.

St. Louis (+5.5) at San Diego – At 4-6, you’d think the Rams would already be out of contention for the playoffs. Don’t tell them that though as they have played teams very tough in recent weeks and knocked off Denver this past Sunday. For the Chargers, they survived the Raiders but they’re looking up at both Kansas City and Denver in the AFC West.

Miami (+7) at Denver – The Broncos are dealing with injuries to both Emmauel Sanders and Julius Thomas and Miami is playing well. Can Ryan Tannehill survive the pass rush?

Washington (+7.5) at San Francisco – The Redskins seem near an implosion right now and a west coast road trip won’t help any.

Dallas (-3) at NY Giants – At 3-7, the Giants will be left to pay spoiler in the NFC East. Dallas is coming off a bye which had to be good news for Tony Romo.

Baltimore (+4) at New Orleans – Both teams will be looking for wins to stay alive in their respective divisions and the Saints are no longer infallible at home.

Monster Games in the NFL Today

Rodgers
Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers leads the Packers today as they host the Eagles at Lambeau.

Philadelphia (+6) at Green Bay (O/U 55) – Division leaders are set for a chilly showdown in Lambeau Field today as the NFC East leading Eagles hit the road to face the NFC North leading Packers. Philadelphia of course is now led by Mark Sanchez who has played well in a game and a half but now things get a little more serious.

The Green Bay defense isn’t without its’ problems, but they will get after Sanchez so he’s going to have be willing to take his check-downs. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers will be in the exact same boat as the Eagles come in off a game where they sacked Cam Newton eight times.

Look for both teams to ride the running game a little more than usual.

Key Injuries: PHI Nick Foles OUT/Collarbone… GB Guard T.J. Lang PROBABLE/Ankle

Trends: Philadelphia is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games against the Packers… The total has gone OVER in all five of Green Bay’s last five games… The Eagles are 2-4 SU in their last six games in Green Bay… The Packers are 6-13 against the spread in their last 19 games against the Eagles.

The Pick: I expect a close one today so take the Eagles getting the points and take the OVER.

Stanton
Drew Stanton takes over as the Cardinals host Detroit today.

Detroit (Pick’Em) at Arizona (O/U 41.5) – The big story here is obviously Arizona now being led by Drew Stanton. He’s facing the league’s top defense in the Lions who are riding their front seven to a successful season so far. Arizona’s defense is pretty darn good too and I expect a great match-up between Calvin Johnson and Patrick Peterson.

The one thing I’m really keeping an eye here is special teams. I say this because I have a feeling both teams will struggle to move the ball. Detroit has struggled in the kicking game and that could be an issue today.

Key Injuries: DET DT Nick Fairly OUT/Knee… ARI DT Ed Stinson OUT/Toe

Trends: Detroit is 7-17-1 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… Arizona is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home… The Lions are winless in their last five trips to Arizona… The total has gone OVER in five of Arizona’s last seven games when playing at home against Detroit.

The Pick: Take the Cards at home and take the UNDER.

New England (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 58) – The last time these two teams saw each other, the Patriots were running over the Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoffs en route to the AFC Title game. This one is not without drama as well because the winner gains a serious leg up on the loser in terms of home-field advantage in the playoffs.

It’s easy to assume that both teams will throw the ball all over the field today but don’t be too quick to make that judgment. New England often sets up teams to think this and I have a feeling the Colts will do the same thing.Whoever becomes one-dimensional first will more than likely lose this game.

Key Injuries: NE DE Chandler Jones OUT/Hip… IND DT Arthur Jones OUT/Ankle

Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of New England’s last seven game at Indianapolis… The Colts are 1-4 straight up in their last five games against the Patriots… The Pats are 16-2-1 against the spread in their last 19 games on the road in Indy… Indianapolis is 7-1 SU in their last eight home games.

The Pick: I love the Pats getting the three and take the OVER.

Other Games

Seattle (Pick’em) at Kansas City – Take the Chiefs at home.

Cincinnati (+7.5) at New Orleans – Must-win for both, take the Bengals getting the points.

Today’s Saturday Sports Bullets

Kershaw
Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw pulled off a double with his Cy Young and MVP wins.

Saturday has again rolled up on me and with so many things to discuss I figure it’s time to throw some more bullets your way with a variety of thoughts from around the sports’ world.

College basketball tips off this weekend so I know all of you are dying for my Final Four selections. Here goes; Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin, Wichita State
No surprises in the baseball voting with Clayton Kershaw grabbing both the NL Cy Young Award and the MVP. Mike Trout was the easy winner of the AL MVP as well. I have no issue with pitcher winning MVP. If he’s the most dominant guy on the field then so be it.

I have to wonder what Florida Gator fans are thinking. Will Muschamp is going to get this team to a bowl game. Even if they lose to South Carolina today and Florida State in the finale, they’re going to beat Eastern Kentucky which will give them six wins. Is this what Gators’ fans want?

Brady Hoke’s future is in the same boat. The team needs to beat either Maryland or Ohio State to get to a bowl game. Either way the only way Hoke’s job is saved is through a win at Ohio State and then a bowl win. Those things are unlikely to happen.

I think the Chicago Bulls have a serious problem with Derrick Rose. There’s no way he should be talking about his “after basketball life” the way he is. Then Thursday night he comes up lame again with a hamstring pull. I can’t see the Bulls wanting to invest another dime in him. After all, this is the city where Michael Jordan would have run through brick walls to beat the Washington Bullets.

Kobe Bryant made one of 14 field goal attempts last night in a loss to San Antonio. It was kind of a fitting scene as Bryant and Tim Duncan chatted a few times during the game. Duncan had another double-double going for 13 points and 11 boards. I applaud Bryant for coming back from his injuries but I really don’t know that he is helping the Lakers.

The NBA announced this week that when teams play on Christmas their jerseys will feature the players’ first names rather than their last. Not real sure why but OK.

Drebin
You would think Frank Drebin is running things in Tallahassee the way they do business.

I’m paraphrasing a bit here but I loved the tweet from Fox Sports’ College Football Writer Stewart Mandel who wondered if the people of Tallahassee wouldn’t be safer in the hands of Frank Drebin. I couldn’t agree more. This is of course in response to the constant blundering of the Tallahassee Police Department when it comes to Jameis Winston and Florida State.

There are some great games on tap for the National Football League tomorrow. The Eagles play at Green Bay where the tundra is expected to be frozen a bit early this year. The Patriots play in Indianapolis and this game could go a long way towards securing home-field advantage. Two of the best teams in the NFL face off in Arizona where the Cardinals host the Lions. Unless you have the NFL Sunday Ticket, you’ll most likely be out of luck. Only about 19% of the nation will get this game.

Obviously there are some great college football games on tap today but I want to focus a Big 12 game for a second. Oklahoma will face Texas Tech today without QB Travis Knight. The Sooners were ranked number one in many preseason polls and now have three losses, two of which came at home. Don’t be a bit surprised if Bob Stoops is suddenly on the hot seat. Yes he wins games, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” market place. Alumni aren’t thrilled about losing to Kansas State and Baylor in Norman.

 

 

Monday Night Features the First Start for Sanchez in Philly

Sanchez
Sanchez
Mark Sanchez will lead the Eagles for the next several weeks and get his first start tonight.

Carolina (O/U 48) at Philadelphia (-7) – Both teams come in knowing exactly what occurred within their division from yesterday and both now realize the extra importance of tonight’s game. The Panthers got a gift with New Orleans suffering a home loss to San Francisco which means a win tonight would give them five wins which would tie them with the Saints.

The Eagles are aware of the Cowboys victory in London over Jacksonville and need to win to stay a game up on them in the NFC East. Both teams tonight are dealing with quarterback issues although they are both of a different sort.

Newton
Cam Newton needs a big game tonight in Philadelphia so the Panthers can stay with the Saints in the NFC South.

Cam Newton has been inconsistent for most of the season and I don’t put all of that on him. He’s had to rely on rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin as his go-to guy and the running game hasn’t exactly panned out well either with the team’s top two running backs dealing with injuries. Still, Newton knows those excuses only go so far. He needs to make better decisions with the ball and has to do a better job of executing when the the plays are there.

For Philadelphia, the Mark Sanchez era is here. Starting quarterback Nick Foles is likely out for the rest of the season with his injury. Last week, Sanchez came in for Foles and promptly delivered a solid performance in getting the Eagles a road win at Houston. Sanchez was 15 of 22 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Overall, a very “Sanchez-like” performance.

Philly and Carolina rank 15th and 29th in total defense respectively. The reason for the Panthers low ranking is that they also rank 29th in rushing defense so I would suspect we’ll see plenty of running with LeSean McCoy and company. Don’t dismiss Sanchez running the ball off of the read option either. He’s more than capable of picking up the necessary yardage.

Sanchez will obviously look to Jeremy Maclin as his top target while Newton will look heavily for Benjamin as mentioned previously.

Both defenses will do what so many NFL defenses plan to do at the start of each game which is to pressure the quarterback and stop the run. The Eagles have done a far better job of this so far in 2014. One key area that favors the Panthers is in the Giveaway/Takeaway department. Carolina is +4 while the Eagles are a whopping -10 on the season. That stat alone could keep the game close.

Key Injuries: CAR Corey Brown WR Probable/Concussion, PHI Nick Foles QB Out/Collarbone

Trends: Carolina is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against the Eagles… The total has gone OVER in five of Philly’s last seven games when playing Carolina… The Panthers are 2-3-1 straight up in their last six games on the road… Philadelphia is 8-1 SU in their last nine games at home.

The Pick: The Eagles are unbeaten (4-0) at home while the Panthers have just one win away from their stadium. Take the Eagles tonight to cover behind a big night from Mark Sanchez and take the OVER as well.

Here’s Your Early Look at NFL Lines for Week Nine

Graham
Graham
A healthy Jimmy Graham would be a welcome sight for Saints' fans.

Tuesday means I’m giving you an early look at the National Football League schedule and who is favored and who is not. Here’s you’re sneak peek.

New Orleans (-1) at Carolina – The Saints got a much-needed win over Green Bay and now can take over first place with a win over the Panthers. Were the Saints in any other division, they may have been left for dead, but not this one.

San Diego (+2.5) at Miami – Very interesting game here with the Chargers getting ten days to prepare for a Dolphins’ team that has struggled offensively but is playing very well defensively. This is a monster game for both teams in terms of their respective divisions.

Jacksonville (+11.5) at Cincinnati – The Bengals appear to have righted their listing ship with a tight win over Baltimore on Sunday. They had gone 0-2-1 in their previous three games. Jacksonville got that all important first win over Cleveland but then was just awful in losing to Miami. A.J. Green may return for the Bengals as well even though I don’t think they’ll need him.

Tampa Bay (+6) at Cleveland – I think the Browns got a significant wake-up call after they beat rival Pittsburgh and then lost to Jacksonville. They got past the Raiders Sunday and now entertain the Buccaneers who are about as bad as it gets right now.

Washington (+2.5) at Minnesota – Depending on what happened last night in Dallas, we could see Robert Griffin III return, Kirk Cousins get another shot or maybe Colt McCoy again. The biggest thing about this game however might be the protests going on outside regarding the Redskins’ nickname.

Foles
Nick Foles and the Eagles look to bounce back in Houston.

Philadelphia (-2.5) at Houston – The Eagles hit the road again following a tough loss at Arizona on Sunday. The Texans will not be an easy challenge as they typically play well at home. If the Eagles can put the clamps on Arian Foster then they should win going away.

NY Jets (+9.5) at Kansas City – Rex Ryan wasted no time in announcing that Michael Vick would get the start against the Chiefs following Geno Smith’s brutal performance against Buffalo. Ryan is as close to a dead man walking as anyone could be right now so he needs to get something going immediately or he’s gone before the season ends.

Arizona (+4) at Dallas – The Cowboys played last night and barring an enormous injury things should be set up for the game of the week with the 6-1 Cardinals. The formula will be simple for Dallas; run the ball and limit the Cards’ offense. This should be a great game.

St. Louis (+9.5) at San Francisco – The Rams looked to be on the right track when they beat the Seahawks but then they played poorly in losing to Kansas City. Now they head to San Francisco where the 49ers are getting healthy and seem to be putting any issues with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh behind them.

Denver (-3) at New England – Stop me if you’ve heard this but Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are meeting once again an the media will do everything to not fall all over themselves. Actually this should be a great match-up where both QBs will need to find the mismatches at the line of scrimmage. Hard to believe the Pats are underdogs at home where Brady rarely loses.

Oakland (+15) at Seattle – I expected a bit more from the Tony Sparano-led Raiders but the talent just isn’t there. While I think the Seahawks still have some issues, they should roll over Oakland.

Baltimore (+1.5) at Pittsburgh – The Ravens beat the Steelers in week two and have a 2-2 divisional record. Pittsburgh is 1-2 in the division and still has two games remaining with Cincinnati. These two almost always play games to within a field goal and I expect this to be no different.

Indianapolis (-3) at NY Giants – The Colts look to rebound from their 51-34 loss to Pittsburgh while the Giants come off the bye week. You can pretty much pencil in a 300-yard passing game for Andrew Luck who seemingly does it every week, but now the Colts’ defense appears to be a weakness. Can the G-Men take advantage at home?

Really Good Match-Ups in Your NFL Late Games

McCoy
McCoy
LeSean McCoy and the Eagles invade Arizona for a battle of 5-1 teams.

As is usually the case, the National Football League offers us some great games in the late time slots so let’s get to them.

Philadelphia (+3) at Arizona (O/U 48.5) – There are several god games on the Sunday schedule but I’m hard-pressed to find a better match-up than this one. Both teams are 5-1 but the Cards lead their division while the Eagles find themselves behind the surging Cowboys who are 6-1.

The match-up to watch is when the Eagles are on offense against the Cardinals’ defense. The secondary for Arizona is among the best in the league and they’ll depend on the front seven to limit LeSean McCoy and get pressure on Nick Foles.

Key Injuries: PHI Darren Sproles Quest-knee, ARI Calais Campbell, Quest-knee

Trends: Philadelphia is 6-2 straight up in their last eight games on the road… Arizona is 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Eagles’ last 10 games when playing in Arizona… The Cardinals are 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games against Philly.

The Pick: I like Philly getting the points and the OVER.

Luck
Andrew Luck has been red-hot and now plays a vulnerable Steelers' defense.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 49) – The Colts enter this game as hot as any team in the league. They shut out Cincinnati last week and have beaten AFC North leader Baltimore as well. Andrew Luck has put himself in the MVP conversation with spectacular play.

The Steelers have been inconsistent all season winning every other game on the schedule to stand at 4-3. They won Monday night over Houston with a three-minute barrage that ended with 24-straight points. Outside of that, they didn’t play particularly well.

Key Injuries: IND Reggie Wayne OUT Elbow, PIT Marcus Gilbert Doubt Concussion

Trends: Indianapolis is 3-6 against the spread when playing on the road in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 11-2 in their last 13 games against the Colts… The total has gone OVER in five of the Colts’ last seven games when playing in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games.

The Pick: The Steelers tend to play to the level of their competition so I expect a good game but take the Colts to cover and I like the OVER.

Green Bay (+1) at New Orleans (O/U 56) – Remember when Packers’ Quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the fans to “R-E-L-A-X?” He was mocked by some for that but all he and the Packers have done since then is win. Winning has been important with good play of Detroit who is atop the division with them. Rodgers has been spectacular in the last few weeks and now he gets to go up against a Saints’ defense that has been abysmal through the first six games.

Last week, New Orleans blew a 13-point lead in the final four minutes to the Lions. Part of that was the defense and part of that was the offense. Drew Brees will be happy to be at home as the Saints have spent most of the early part of the season on the road.

Key Injuries: GB Sam Shields Doubtful Knee, NO Jimmy Graham Quest shoulder

Trends: The total has gone OVER in six of Green Bay’s last seven games… New Orleans is 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten games at home… The Packers are 6-3 straight up in their last nine games against the Saints… The total has gone OVER in five of New Orleans’ last five games against Green Bay.

The Pick: Take the Packers because the Saints just haven’t proven anything to me yet and take the OVER.

Bonus Pick: Oakland (+6.5) at Cleveland (O/U 43.5)  Take the Browns to cover and the UNDER

An Apology and Another Idea About Money in the NFL

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Could the NFL play a regular season "neutral site" game in a place like Ole Miss?

There are times when I find myself so enamored with getting you some good betting information that I make a mistake or two. Usually it’s a missed bit of punctuation or a double up on a word in my haste to get the information to you. Yesterday however I committed a pretty egregious error that I’m a bit embarrassed about for a couple of reasons.

First I gave you everything you needed to know about the Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette game. The only problem is that the game isn’t being played tonight. It was played Tuesday night. I completely read the date incorrectly. Worse yet was I thought for sure the Red Wolves would win in Lafayette but nope. The Rajun Cajuns prevailed 55-40. Please accept my apologies…

On to the topic of the day.

I read with great interest an article at Peter King’s MMQB website about the potential for expansion to Europe that quickly turned to a discussion about the length of the regular season. Jenny Vrentas wrote about getting the idea for this regular season change from a reader who commented on an article of hers about NFL expansion to London.

The reader suggested a regular season of 19 weeks with a 17-game schedule. Each team in the league would have eight home games, eight away games and one neutral site game. Obviously with 17 games in 19 weeks, there would be two bey weeks for each team. On the surface, it looks like a good idea but it has flaws and lacks originality.

Cowboys Texans
Where would the Cowboys and Texans play each year for a neutral site and would it even make sense?

First of all, the idea of two bye weeks has already been done. In 1993, all NFL teams had two bye weeks. The regular season at the time was 16 games and that’s the way it remained. On this particular issue therefore, it isn’t exactly revolutionary.

One of the major flaws of the proposal is how do we determine who plays who at neutral site games? Right now, NFL schedules are based upon a rotation between divisions across the conferences, one division within the conference, two games against division opponents and then two in-conference games based upon order of finish the previous year.

So for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the NFC South this year (four games), the AFC South (four games), in-division opponents (six games) and then Kansas City from the West and the New York Jets from the East. That adds up to 16 games. Now let’s say we add a 17th game. How do we determine who that neutral site game is against and where shall it be?

Would it be fair for the Steelers to play the Eagles perhaps? What if they are the defending NFC Champs and the Steelers are coming off of a 3-13 season? Plus, where would you play that would be “neutral?”

Many in the NFL would like to see regional rivalries like the one I mentioned played every year. Dallas vs Houston, San Francisco vs Oakland, the Jets vs the Giants and so but how do you balance the schedule to make it as fair as it is now? Also, what do you do with a team like Atlanta? Who would there regional rival be or Buffalo for that matter?

The overriding problem with any such addition to the current schedule flies in the face of everything that the NFL currently stand for which is “player safety.” Playoff expansion, regular season expansion, blah, blah, blah. If they would just admit these ideas are about money above all else I’d at least have a little respect for their honesty.

I Really Like These Sunday Late Games

Rivers
Rivers
Why shouldn't Philip Rivers be getting some MVP consideration?

I’m taking a look at the late games today which may be capped by the best game of the day when the Giants visit Philadelphia. Let’s go!

San Diego (-7.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – The Chargers are a fourth quarter letdown in the opener  away from being 5-0 right now. QB Philip Rivers is having an MVP-type season and the defense is really coming together. In Oakland, the Tony Sparano era is underway. I can guarantee you that the Raiders will give maximum effort today.

San Diego has to be careful not to rely too much on Rivers with both of their top running backs out of the game with injuries.

Trends: San Diego is 3-7 against the spread in their last ten games against the Raiders… Oakland is 4-17 in their last 21 games against the the Chargers… The total has gone OVER in five of San Diego’s last seven games when playing on the road against Oakland.

Key Injuries: SD RBS Ronald Brown, Ryan Mathews OUT… OAK G Khalif Barnes OUT

The Pick: Take the Raiders getting the points and I like the UNDER.

Murray
DeMarco Murray cannot afford to fumble the ball the way he has against Seattle.

Dallas (+9) at Seattle (O/U 47) – There used to be an old saying that Monday night’s winners were Sunday’s losers. This came about because of less time to prepare and heal up before the next game. I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. Pete Carroll will have his team ready to go because this isn’t the normal Dallas team they’ve seen in recent years.

The Cowboys are running the ball behind DeMarco Murray and their much-maligned defense is doing just fine.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Dallas’ last seven games… Seattle is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games at Seattle.

Key Injuries: DAL LB Bruce Carter OUT… SEA TE Zach Miller OUT

The Pick: Take Dallas getting the points and the UNDER.

Washington (+3.5) at Arizona (O/U 45.5) – This is all going to depend on who is starting at quarterback for Arizona. There’s talk it could be Palmer, Stanton or even rookie Logan Thomas who came in last week. I think you’ll see Bruce Arians rely on the running game a bit more either way.

For the Redskins, can Kirk Cousins bounce back from a rough go against the Seahawks? I think you’ll see them go with Alfred Morris and the running game a bit as well but the Cardinals’ defense is tough so he’ll have to throw at some point.

Trends: Washington is 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road… The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six games when playing the Redskins at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Washington’s last five trips to Arizona.

Key Injuries: WAS QB Robert Griffin III OUT… Qbs Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton QUESTIONABLE

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

NY Giants (+3) at Philadelphia (O/U 51) – With Dallas playing earlier in Seattle, this becomes a monster game for both of these teams. A Cowboys’ loss means the winner of this game takes first-place in the NFC East. The Giants will be hurting without running back Rashard Jennings but don’t be a bit surprised if rookie Andre Williams has a big game in his place.

For the Eagles it’s quite simple; they need to get LeSean McCoy going. He’s averaging less than three yards per carry right now and that’s not going to cut it.

Trends: The Giants are 3-9 against the spread and are 3-9 straight up in their last 12 games against Philadelphia… The Eagels are 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… Philly is 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games at home.

Key Injuries: NYG RB Rashard Jennings, OUT… PHI C Jason Kelce OUT

The Pick: Take the G-Men getting the points and I like the OVER.

Here are Your Late Game Numbers in the NFL today.

Bortles
Bortles
Blake Bortles makes his first career start today in San Diego.

Jacksonville (+14) at San Diego (O/U 45) – A week after knocking off defending champion Seattle, the Chargers went on the road and beat previously unbeaten Buffalo in Western New York. If you take away that blown 11-point lead in the opener at Arizona, then the Chargers would be the talk of the league right now.

For the Jags, Blake Bortles makes his first career start at quarterback after most of us thought this would be a ‘red-shirt’ season for him. I think he’ll play decently but I think he’ll make mistakes too and that will lead to points for the Chargers.

Trends: Jacksonville is 3-13 straight up in the their last 16 road games… The Chargers are 4-1 SU in their last five games against Jacksonville… The total has gone OVER in five of the Jags last six games when playing the Chargers… The total has gone UNDER in four of San Diego’s last five games.

The Pick: 14 is a huge number but the Bolts are clicking right now so I like them to cover and take the OVER.

Philadelphia (+4.5) at San Francisco (O/U 50.5) – The Eagles are 3-0 but have not exactly played a full game yet and LeSean McCoy hasn’t really gotten it high gear yet either. They’ll look to take advantage of a suddenly struggling 49ers’ defense.

San Francisco meanwhile needs to get things right and in a hurry. At 1-2, they can’t afford to fall behind Arizona (3-0) and Seattle (2-1) in the NFC West if they expect to make the playoffs.

Trends: The Eagles are 6-1 straight up on the road in their last seven games… The Niners are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Eagles at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Philly’s last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 18-6-1 SU in their last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I expect a close game so take the Eagles and go with the OVER as well.

Bridgewater
Bridgewater will also make his first career start today.

Atlanta (-3.5) at Minnesota (O/U 47) – The Teddy Bridgewater era is underway in the Twin Cities and he obviously will have to make due without Adrian Peterson in the backfield so much of the offense will be on his shoulders.

The Falcons are coming off a 10-day break after they whipped Tampa Bay 56-14 on a Thursday night. While the offense is certainly clicking, the defense is picking things up a bit too.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of Atlanta’s last six games… Minnesota is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games when playing at home against Atlanta… The Falcons are 3-6 SU in their last nine games when playing on the road against the Vikings… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Vikings last five games when playing the Falcons.

The Pick: Take Atlanta to cover and take the UNDER.

New Orleans (-3) at Dallas (O/U 54) – If this game were outside I’d probably go with Dallas immediately because the Saints just don’t play well outside. That said, they’ll be inside at Jerry World and I expect a good performance from them. The Saints’ defense has to be better and the Cowboys will be a challenge in the air and on the ground.

Look for Dallas to keep getting better defensively and for DeMarco Murray to keep hauling the pigskin in order to keep pass rushers off of Tony Romo.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of New Orleans last five games when playing at Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games when playing the Saints at home… The Saints are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games on the road… Dallas has beaten New Orleans just once in their last nine meetings.

The Pick: Call me crazy but I like the Cowboys getting the points and I like the OVER.