Playoff Implications on the Line for Both Teams in Monday Night Football

Brees
Brees
Drew Brees needs to take care of the ball if the Saints are to beat Baltimore.

If we are going to complain about all the poor Monday night games scheduled over the last few years then we must also give credit when the schedule maker gives us a game worthy of the nation’s spotlight.

Tonight in the Big Easy, Baltimore returns to the Superdome for the first time since winning their second Super Bowl title to face a Saints’ team that is desperate for a win to stay alive in the putrid NFC South.

Baltimore (O/U 50) at New Orleans (-3) – The Ravens enter the action tonight in last place in the AFC North. A win puts them into a 3-way tie for second so there’s no need for alarm. A loss however would put them three game behind Cincinnati in the loss column and the Bengals own the tie-breaker.

At 4-6, the Saints are in first place in the NFC South. Yes, I said “4-6” and “in first place.” A win would put them a game up in both the win and loss column over 4-7 Atlanta.

The Ravens received little to no help yesterday as the Bengals and Browns both won while Pittsburgh was on their bye week. New Orleans did get some help as both the Falcons and Buccaneers lost while Carolina was off for the weekend.

Ravens
The Ravens need a win to stay with the rest of the AFC North.

Offensively, the Saints and Ravens rank 3rd and 12th respectively. In passing, the Saints are fourth and the Ravens are 17th while they rank ninth and 11th in rushing. Despite the lofty rankings, Drew Brees hasn’t had the consistently good year passing that he’s accustomed to which is a bit strange since the Saints’ running game has improved a lot in 2014.

Baltimore has endured the Ray Rice issue and has been pleased with the emergence of Justin Forsett who has been solid in his role as the top back for Baltimore. Quarterback Joe Flacco will still take shots down-field with Steve Smith and Torrey Smith as well.

On defense, the Ravens possess the league’s 10th best overall unit while the Saints rank 18th. The teams are nearly identical in terms of passing defense with Baltimore ranking 19th and the Saints 21st while the run defenses rank 5th for the Ravens and 19th for the Saints.

If I’m Baltimore I’m attacking with the running game in an effort to open up the passing game. With the Saints struggling against the run it makes sound sense. If I’m the Saints, I’m throwing the ball coming out of the gate. The Ravens secondary is not at full strength and could be vulnerable if the pass rush isn’t there.

Key Injuries: BAL T Jah Reid OUT/Hand, NO RB Khiry Robinson OUT/Elbow

Trends: Baltimore is 6-1 straight up in their last seven games against the Saints… The total has gone OVER in four of the Saints’ last six games at home… The Ravens are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… New Orleans is 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 home games.

The Pick: First of all, take the OVER. I see both teams able to move the ball on each other to validate that. I have to go with Baltimore getting the points here too. They have been a more complete team throughout the season.

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.

Mark Sanchez Gets Another Chance Under Center

NFL Monday Night Football features the Carolina Panthers visiting the Philadelphia Eagles.

This will be the first start for Mark Sanchez the Eagles quarterback since December 30 of 2012. Sanchez is filling in for the injured Nick Foles.

Philadelphia is 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS, while the visiting Panthers are 3-5-1 SU and 5-4 ATS.

Sanchez played well after Foles broke his clavicle during the first half of the Eagles game last week at Houston. The Eagles were able to win 31-21.

Sanchez threw a 52-yard pass completion to Jeremy Maclin in his first play from scrimmage and ended the game with 202 yards passing, 2 TDs and 2 picks.

While Philly has won 3 of its past 4 to take the lead in the NFC East, Carolina has not won in over a month.

The Panthers have averaged just 12 points during their current losing streak of three games and have allowed over 30 points per game since the third week of the season, which is the second most in the NFL.

These two teams played last on November 26, 2012. Carolina won 30-22 as a favorite on the road by 3-points.

According to Bovada and betonline, the current line has Philadelphia favored by 7 points. On topbet and sportsbook.com, the point total for the game is now at 48.

The Eagles are 5-2 against the number in their past 7 games at home. The Panthers are 2-5 against the spread in their past 7 games on the road.

The UNDER has cashed in 11 of the past 13 games Carolina has played NFC opponents.

The OVER has cashed in 9 of the past 12 games Philadelphia has played versus teams with a winning record.

Carolina could see the return of three starting lineman and it could not happened any sooner for quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton had one of the worst games of his NFL career last week when he hit on just 10 of his 28 passes for just 151 yards and one interception versus New Orleans. He has interceptions in 5 consecutive games and only 8 touchdown passes in the first 9 games.

The Philly offense could run all over Carolina. Running back LeSean McCoy has had 100 yards rushing in 2 of the past 3 Eagles games.

The defense for Carolina is allowing 4.8 yards a carry, which is the worst in the NFL. Philly will likely run the ball as often as they can or until Carolina stops them.

Evan Mathis the All-Pro guard for the Eagles is healthy and should make his first start since the opening game. However, Todd Herremans the other starting guard is out with a torn biceps.

Many observers see Philly -11. There is value with the Eagles at home and on the OVER.

Texans, Steelers Look to Kick-Start Their Seasons

Bell-Ben
Bell-Ben
Le'Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger host the Texans tonight in Monday Night Football.

It’s my turn to take on Monday Night Football and this evening we have two teams with 3-3 records looking for some way to find consistency and stay in their respective division races. Pittsburgh hosts Houston tonight and both teams are looking up in the AFC and both know they need a win desperately to maintain an edge before the season gets away from them.

Houston (+3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 43.5) – The Steelers enter tonight’s game on a pattern we do not want to dismiss. Starting with week one, they have won, lost, won, lost, won and lost. So according to that pattern, the Steelers should win so there is no use in me going any further right?

This is the National Football League where the team that battered Pittsburgh a week ago, the Cleveland Browns, were beaten like a drum by previously win-less Jacksonville yesterday. The Texans started 2-0 but have not lost three of four but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Texans’ last two games were losses to Dallas and to Indianapolis by less than a combined ten points.

Foster
Arian Foster has had decent success against the Steelers in the past.

Those two teams are arguably the hottest in the NFL right now so those two losses don’t look so bad. What does look bad is the loss column of the Steelers which includes losses to Tampa Bay, Baltimore and now hard-to-figure Cleveland. Let’s breakdown tonight’s game.

When Houston has the ball… It doesn’t get much simpler than this; the Texans will use their zone blocking scheme and Arian Foster against a Steelers’ defense that has been gashed by teams that also deploy the system. In two games against Cleveland, the Steelers have given up over 300 yards rushing and the Browns use the zone blocking system.

Pittsburgh will have to make do without nose tackle Steve McLendon who is out. That means Cam Thomas or rookie Dan McCullers takes over there and that isn’t good.

I also believe you’ll see the Texans target cornerback Brice McCain who will replace Cortez Allen. McCain is a former Texan who had up and down moments for them. Allen has been brutal in recent weeks so we expect to see McCain. If Andre Johnson gets hooked up with him, look for that match-up.

When Pittsburgh has the ball… The opposite of simple is hard and that’s the test that awaits the Steelers’ offensive line as they have to deal with the best defensive player in the NFL right now in J.J. Watt. Pittsburgh can expect to see him lined up all over the line which means they will have to communicate about where he is. I doubt man-on-man blocking will cut it so look for the Steelers to double and chip on Watt.

The Steelers have a plethora of weapons on offense and those start with Ben Roethlisberger getting the ball to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. If the offensive line can give Big Ben time then I expect the offense to move the ball. Where the team really struggles though is in the red zone. That has to improve tonight.

Trends: Houston is 1-9 straight up in their last ten games on the road… The total has gone OVER in five of Pittsburgh’s last six games at home… The Texans are 8-15 against the spread in their last 23 games… The Steelers are 6-2 SU in their last eight games at home.

The Pick: I’m going to buck Pittsburgh’s on again off again system and take the Texans getting the points. Take the UNDER as well.

Bears double-digit ‘dogs versus Packers

Monday Night Football hosts one of football’s biggest rivalries tonight when the Chicago Bears visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Bears limp into Green Bay for their matchup with the Packers. Chicago is 4-3 SU and 1-5-1 ATS, but will be without four defensive starters and their starting quarterback for tonight’s game.

Jay Cutler was injured and will be replaced by Josh McCown at quarterback.

The Bears have only covered one of their games this season, which they routed the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, since they beat Pittsburgh the Bears have gone 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS.

Green Bay on the other hand is 5-2 SU and ATS and is 4-0 SU and ATS over their past four games. They two have had numerous injuries to deal with, but thanks to the great play of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers are back on top of the NFC North.

On some sports books, the Packers are an 11.5-point favorites, but for most they are 10.5 to 11 points such as on Bovada, betonline and topbet.

However, some say the line will start inching its way up and could reach 13 points prior to kickoff. As of Monday morning early, the Packers were 10.5-point favorites on Bovada and betonline.

Of late, the series has been all Green Bay as the Packer are 5-0 SU and ATS over the past five head-to-head games, including the NFC title game in 2010. The Pack has won six consecutive games in the series.

Green Bay is a half a game ahead of Detroit and one game ahead of Chicago in the division. The Packers, since 2011, have a record of 13-2 ATS versus opponents from the NFC North.

Chicago has had two weeks to get ready for the Packers but even when the defense was healthy, they had their problems against the pass.

Chicago has allowed more yards versus the pass than any other NFL team. The Bears defense could spend a great deal of time on the field if its offense cannot play well and eat some time off the clock.

Green Bay’s defense against the pass has improved since the first of the season. If the Packers can shut down the passing game of Chicago then they will have a huge edge in the game, as they are very good against the run.

Eddie Lacy, the Packers rookie running back has given his team more versatility as he has started to run well. Even though the Packers have lost key players on offense, Rodgers has overcome that by hitting his backups.

This game should be dominated by Green Bay from start to finish.

Pick: Green Bay 35-7

Denver laying double-digits but will Cover

Tonight two old rivals hook up in the Mile High City when the Oakland Raiders visit the Denver Broncos. This rivalry used to be one of the fiercest in the NFL during the 1980s and 90s but has lost some of its importance since the Raiders have struggled for much of the past decade.

Denver entered this season as the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC West as they ran away with it last season. At this point, the Broncos have the second shortest odds on many sportsbooks such as topbet, to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Over the first two weeks of the season, the Broncos have played as they have been expected and have covered the favorite spreads.

The division seems to be more competitive this season and that makes it even more important the Broncos continue winning.

New Head Coach Andy Reid has brought stability to the Kansas City Chiefs and their defense has played nothing short of spectacular in the first three games of the season.

Even Oakland, who has been considered doormats in the league of late, is showing new life with a 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS start. They had a chance to beat Indianapolis in week 1 before defeating Jacksonville in week 2.

The Broncos on most sportsbook like Bovada, betonline or sportsbook.com are favored by 15 with an over under point total of 50 in tonight’s matchup.

Over a week ago, the game opened with lines of 14.5 to 15 and has stayed in that area since.

Oakland has a dual threat at quarterback in Terrell Pryor who has 162 rushing yards on 22 carries. Talented running back Darren McFadden has 177 yards in two games and that has helped keep opposing defenses wondering who will run the ball.

The Raiders are second in the league behind just Philadelphia in rushing yards per carry and per game, and the Eagles have played 3 games to the Raiders 2. The Raiders have run the ball more than 50% of the time thus far after two games.

Pryor has also passed well with 343 years in two games and one touchdown. However, the Raiders will face a tough secondary for Denver and a talented defensive line.

Oakland must have long time consuming drives that end in touchdowns and hope their defense can at least slow Peyton Manning down.

Oakland, since 2003, has covered as a double digit underdog three times, with two of the covers being outright victories. Both were in Denver in 2004 and in 2009.

Nevertheless, this season Manning has the Broncos running on all cylinders. I like Denver less the 15 and the OVER to cash out.

Basketball and MNF Tips

Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs will be looking to upset the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

With just two weeks of Monday Night Football left on the schedule, you might have hoped for a barnburner of a matchup with serious playoff reverberations. Sadly, you’ve got the Jets and Titans, just another disappointment in a primetime NFL schedule that seems to have been full of passable fixtures this season. Alas.

Still, the NBA comes up smelling of roses tonight with some high-profile games that should get your betting juices flowing.

 

NFL: New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans

8:30 PM ET

A lot has been made this week of the fact that the Jets have clawed their way back into contention for a Wild Card berth. Whilst it’s true that Rex Ryan’s side is mathematically still alive in the race for the postseason, consider this; the Jets must first win out and then hope that Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati but loses to Cleveland and that the Bengals lose to the Ravens. Let’s put the Jets out of their misery now: at least one of those is not going to happen.

With all that in mind, tonight’s Monday Night Football fixture now seems fairly frivolous. Still, there’s money to be made.

Winners of two in a row (gasp!) New York (6-7, 3-3 road) travels to Nashville safe in the knowledge that the green side of NYC has won five of six games in the city, including the last two. Add to that a dire season for the Titans and the Jets are a shoe-in for a win, right?

This is the Jets we’re talking about. Tennessee (4-9, 2-4 home) has already defeated Buffalo and Miami from the AFC East, and a win over the Jets would be a small consolation in an otherwise disappointing season. Playing the role of spoiler has been known to propel some teams forward.

Odds: The Jets opened as one-point underdogs in this flip-a-coin matchup. The over/under is 42.

Take: NY Jets – The calamity Jets will hold on for another week but in very close conditions. Expect this to be decided by a field goal or less. Take the total to go under.

Bonus Tip: Skip out on this one and tune into some quality NBA action.

 

NBA: Houston Rockets @ New York Knicks

7:30 PM ET

Houston (11-12, 2-7 road) will look to make the push to .500 by beating a New York (18-5, 10-0 home) side unbeaten at home. Doing so would be a huge upset as the Knicks have been one of this season’s form sides. There also happens to be a small sideshow to this game.

Jeremy Lin will return to Manhattan for the first time since leading the Knicks through a wild spell last season. ‘Linsanity’ may have wound down, but the Houston point guard could provide some fireworks at the Garden tonight.

Meanwhile, the Knicks may be without Carmelo Anthony for a second straight game, after he sprained an ankle against the Lakers last week. The Knicks have fared well this season when spelling Anthony, and Raymond Felton’s matchup against Lin (or James Harden) really could be one to watch.

Odds: New York is favored by 10 points at Madison Square Garden. The over/under is 210½.

Take: The Knicks have barely buckled this season and Houston’s uneven side doesn’t look to have enough to handle the Knicks. That being said, the Rockets can score in bunches, so 10 points is a huge ask in terms of the spread. Take the Rockets to cover the spread. Likewise, 210½ points is a big ask, even though these sides can score, so take the under.

Bonus Tip: Expect the MSG crowd to give Lin a warm welcome. Yes he fled for more money but the fans still appreciate those magic moments last season. Now had the team been on a downer this year, that welcome might have been different.

 

NBA: San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder

8:00 PM ET

Perennial Finals candidate, San Antonio (19-6, 11-4 road) travels to last year’s finalist, Oklahoma City (19-4, 13-2 home) on Monday night looking to take a second win of the season from the Thunder.

Having defeated the Thunder 86-84 on November 1, the Spurs will come up against a red hot Oklahoma City side sporting a 10-game winning streak and the best record in the entire league.

The Spurs are no slouches though. At one game back of the Thunder, the Spurs are topping the Southeast Division and looking every bit as dangerous as they have over the last decade or so. This game really could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals.

Odds: Oklahoma City is 5½-point favorites at home. The over/under is 204½.

Take: Oklahoma City – This game may simply come down to home court advantage. The Thunder have one of the best crowds in the league backing them, and with San Antonio having been on the road for 10 of the last 13,things may well get a little too hot for the Spurs. Take the Thunder to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

Remaining NBA Schedule (Favorite highlighted)

Minnesota @ Orlando | LA Clippers @ Detroit | Chicago @ Memphis | Sacramento @ Phoenix

Patriots Host Texans on Monday Night Football

An upset win over the Patriots for Matt Schaub and the Texans would put Houston one step closer to and AFC South title and home field advantage in the playoffs.

In what some believe could be a preview of this January’s AFC Championship Game, New England hosts Houston at Foxboro on Monday night.

Bidding for a bye during the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Patriots (9-3, 4-1 home) will look to derail a Houston (11-1, 6-0 road) side that is unbeaten away from Reliant Stadium this season. Already in possession of at least a Wild Card berth, the Texans will be looking to take another step towards a second straight AFC South title.

Indianapolis’ come-from-behind win over Tennessee on Sunday afternoon means that the Texans are still not assured of the AFC South division title and won’t be until next week at the earliest, and with two of its remaining three games after Monday night against the Colts, there could be a sting in the tail of this particular story yet.

New England faces no such final stretch intrigue. The Patriots are the runaway leaders – and champions for the ninth time in 10 years – of the AFC East, a division that has seen the Jets, Dolphins and Bills all underachieve. Were it not for the beleaguered AFC West – which has recorded just 20 combined wins this season, 10 of which belong to Denver – the AFC East would be a frontrunner for worst division in football. As it stands, it’s certainly the most disappointing.

Best of the Best

New England has fought its way to a 9-3 record by bludgeoning opponents. Averaging a massive 35.8 points per game, the Patriots have stormed to eight wins over the last nine games, and whilst Miami’s fairly impressive defense limited Bill Belichick’s side to ‘just’ 23 last weekend Tom Brady and Co. don’t look ready to let the foot off the pedal just yet.

The Texans’ offense has had a season to remember also. Behind Matt Schaub’s arm and Arian Foster’s running prowess, the side has averaged 29.3 points per game, second only to the Patriots. The Texans have won six straight, and have only dropped one game – a 42-24 loss at home to Green Bay – all season.

The Texans also enjoy an advantage on the defensive side of the football. Wade Phillips’ defensive unit has conceded just 87.6 yards per game on the ground this season, and gives up only 18.4 points per game, good enough for fourth in the league. New England meanwhile has improved on last year’s poor defensive habits but still concede 21.7 points per game (14th) and 279.9 yards through the air (29th). Only New Orleans, Washington and Tampa Bay give up more air miles than the Patriots.

The Monday night clash will be an excellent chance for fans, players, coaches, experts and bettors alike to judge just how far Houston has come this season, and whether the perennial playoff favorite Patriots can compete again this season. It’ll also offer oddsmakers the opportunity to put some sunlight between the two sides in the NFL Futures, where both teams are currently considered 9/2 to win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

Looking for an Edge

New England is 14-5 on Monday Night Football since Bill Belichick took over the reins in 2000. Only one of those losses was at home, a 40-21 defeat to Indianapolis in 2005. Over the past six seasons, the Patriots have posted a 9-1 record on the marquee broadcast and are perfect at home.

Houston meanwhile has had only a flitting relationship with Monday Night Football. Neglected for the first six years of its existence, the Texans have since posted a 2-3 record on Monday nights, including a 1-1 record on the road. That sole victory came earlier this season in New York against the Jets.

The two sides have only met three times previously, with New England holding a 2-1 advantage. Houston came up short in its one and only trip to Foxboro, back in 2006. The sides last met on Jan. 3, 2010 at Reliant Stadium, a game that ended 34-27 to Houston.

New England is a four-point favorite ahead of kickoff. Both sides have fared well when it comes to covering the spread this season, with Houston compiling a 8-3-1 ATS record compared to New England’s 7-4-1 ATS.

The over/under is 51½, having dropped a point from opening. The total has gone over in nine Patriots games this season and six Texans games. In the three previous meetings between the sides, the final score has only tipped that mark once. The average final score is 30-20 (in favor of New England) just below the 51½ marker. That being said, with the two sides ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in scoring this season, the total could easily go over.

Monday Night Football and Basketball Tips

Having beaten Philadelphia and Dallas over consecutive weeks, Washington looks to make it a trifecta of division wins against the Giants on Monday Night Football.

Monday night serves up a big NFC East divisional encounter as well as a six-game slate in the NBA. CasinoReview’s got you covered with our pick of the action on this first Monday of December.

 

NFL: New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

8:30 PM ET

Washington (5-6, 2-3 home) welcomes the New York Giants (7-4, 3-2 road) to FedEx Field tonight for Monday Night Football. This storied rivalry has some added flavor to it thanks to the compact NFC East standings.

A win for Washington will mean that both the Redskins and Cowboys are just one game behind the Giants with four to play. That means a small margin for error for all involved.

The two sides met earlier this season, with the Giants narrowly emerging victorious in a contest that ended 27-23. That game saw Robert Griffin III tally 258 yards through the air and 89 yards on the ground. A similar performance and we could be seeing another upset to go with the six that emerged from Sunday’s slate.

That Giants victory snapped a two-game Washington winning streak in the head-to-head series. However, it is New York that has had the run of this rivalry of late, winning 10 of the last 13 and 12 of 15 since Tom Coughlin arrived in town.

The Giants’ fairly sturdy rush defense will be up against the best rushing team in the league; Washington averages 163½ yards on the ground per game. The Redskins have won two straight games, scoring a total of 69 points. Both teams know how to pile the points on, ranking No. 5 and No. 6 respectively in scoring this season.

Odds: The Giants opened as 2½-point favorites, a number that has since risen to three. The over/under is 51.

Take: NY Giants – As much as it would be a great storyline for the Redskins to take a hat-trick of wins against division opponents in three weeks, the Giants will prove to be a little too much tonight. Take the Giants to cover the spread, but don’t be surprised if this is decided by a field goal. Despite both teams being high-scorers, take the total to go under; 51 points is a big ask in a tight divisional game.

 

NBA: Portland Trailblazers @ Charlotte Bobcats

7:00 PM ET

It may not be one of the NBA’s glamor matchups, but this could be a chance to make a little cash at the expense of your bookie.

After a very surprising start to the season, Charlotte (7-8, 5-4 home) has lost three straight, falling below .500. Meanwhile, Portland (7-10, 3-7 road) has lost five of the last seven and is floundering at the bottom of the Northwest Division. It’s highly unlikely that this will be a pretty game, but it’s one that the Bobcats can win. After all, Portland is the one and only casualty of the not-very-formidable Washington Wizards.

Odds: Portland is a two-point road favorite heading into Time Warner Cable Arena, with the over/under at 195.

Take: Charlotte – The fact that Portland is considered favorite plays into your hands here. The Bobcats may not have the best home record in the league, but that record is better than the Blazers on the road. Take the total to go under; points may well be at a premium.

 

NBA: Orlando Magic @ Golden State Warriors

10:30 PM ET

Orlando (6-10) took down the Lakers on Sunday night, claiming some bragging rights of sort in the wake of the debacle that was the Dwight Howard trade. That victory gives the Magic six wins on the season, enough to beat out four teams in the East. Basically, Orlando has had and will continue to have a tough time of it this season.

The Magic will visit Oakland on Monday night to take on the Golden State Warriors (10-6). After years of bottom-feeding, the Warriors are top of the Pacific Division, and whilst it’s far too early to get overly excited about that fact, the Warriors’ recent play – seven wins in nine games – suggests this may be a team about to turn the corner. And a team the Magic is not going to want to face.

Odds: Despite Sunday night’s win over the Lakers, the Magic are underdogs (+9½) with the over/under at 196.

Take: Golden State – The Magic will struggle in the second night of a back-to-back, giving the high-octane, hard-rebounding Warriors the advantage. Take the Magic to cover the spread though, and the total to go under.

 

Remaining NBA Fixtures (Favorites highlighted)

Cleveland @ Detroit | Milwaukee @ New Orleans | Toronto @ Denver | LA Clippers @ Utah

Carolina Visits Philadelphia for Monday Night Football

Both Michael Vick and Andy Reid could be on borrowed time in Philadelphia, where the Eagles play Carolina on Monday Night Football.

Prepare for a bumpy ride as the lowly Philadelphia Eagles host the even-lowlier Carolina Panthers on this week’s edition of Monday Night Football.

No doubt when the NFL’s top brass and network execs got together to schedule this season’s fixtures, nobody expected Philadelphia and Carolina to be quite as bad as they have been. And if they did, they probably worked for NBC, who last night broadcast the much more alluring Packers-Giants matchup.

For fans of Monday Night Football, it’s the second week in three that the ‘hallowed’ game has featured bottom-dwellers. The big difference between this game and Week 10’s Steelers-Chiefs game is that this one features two bottom-dwellers.

Alas, it’s only fair that all teams get their shot under the bright lights.

Battle at the Wrong End

After being heralded as a Super Bowl contender ahead of the season, Philadelphia (3-7, 2-3 home) began scored some scrappy victories, taking three from four to start this campaign. Ever since, the Eagles have struggled and are losers of six straight games, a record in the Andy Reid era.

Carolina (2-8, 1-3 road) also entered the season with high expectations, but losses in six of the first seven meant this season became an uphill battle before it even began.

This weekend’s battle will see Philadelphia take to the field without running back LeSean McCoy, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to Washington. Quarterback Michael Vick will also miss a second straight game after suffering a concussion against Dallas is Week 7.

Rookie Nick Foles will spell Vick again this week. Foles, after fans clambered for him, was a less than stellar 21/46 in his full debut last week against Washington, throwing for 204 yards and two interceptions. Foles’ solitary touchdown pass this season came against Dallas.

Looking for an Edge

The Eagles lead the all-time head-to-head series 5-2, and have won four of the last five, including three straight. Carolina has just one win in Philadelphia, a 14-3 victory in January 2004 that sent the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII. Needless to say, neither team is headed for the Big Game this season.

Carolina opened as 2½-point favorites, thanks in no small part to Philadelphia’s six-game losing skid. Bettors are likely to avoid putting cash on the Eagles even at such a small margin; Philadelphia has compiled a 1-8-1 ATS record, the worst in the entire league. Carolina hasn’t fared much better, but 4-6-0 ATS is better. Philadelphia has lost its last four games by an average of 17 points.

The over/under is 41. The total has split evenly in Carolina games this season, going over five times and under five times. Only three Eagles games have gone over. Bettors should be wary of taking the over as these two sides both struggle to put points on the board, a category in which Carolina ranks 27th and Philadelphia ranks 31st (only Kansas City has been more futile offensively).

The safest bet therefore appears to be Carolina, but that’s hardly a safe bet.

And Now For a Bit of Fun…

If the thought of this ‘barnburner’ depresses you, here are a quick couple of props, direct from Bovada, to make you smile:

Carolina is 6/1 to be awarded the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. The Panthers merely need to fall below Kansas City and Jacksonville and that dream can become a reality.

He’ll be happy pontificating on the game for ESPN from the broadcast booth, but Jon Gruden is actually 3/1 to be the head coach of one of these two sides at the start of next season. He’d probably do better to wait out the Dallas vacancy.