Eagles On the Brink, Chargers Rally and Other NFL Notes

Kelly
Kelly

Has the glitter disappeared from Chip Kelly's offense which has lost three straight?

It wasn’t that long ago that Mark Sanchez was the darling of Philadelphia and right alongside of him was his head coach Chip Kelly. Now, both might as well be the red-headed step-sisters at the nearest Philly orphanage.

The Eagles went into Washington last night and lost on a Kai Forbath field goal with five seconds left by the final of 27-24. The loss sends the Detroit Lions into the playoffs and now means the only way that Philly can get in is as a division champion. They will need the Cowboys to lose to the Colts today, then to the Redskins next week and they have to beat the Giants in their finale.

In other words, things aren’t so good. Chip Kelly’s no-huddle system is the greatest offense in the history of football when the team is doing well but he is now about to be run out of town after three-straight losses. On his coat tails will be Sanchez whose numbers don’t look too bad (37/50 374 yards 2TD/1INT) but he had a costly fumbled and his interception came at a horrible time and led to winning field goal.

To be fair, Sanchez as far from the only problem. Cody Parkey was one of three in field goals, the Eagles had 13 penalties and also dropped four passes. The imperfect storm happened at the worst possible time for the Eagles.

If you’re in Philly today, you are a Colts’ fan for sure.

McCoy

Mike McCoy's Chargers rallied to stun the Niners and kept their playoff hopes alive.

Bolts Stay Alive

On the left coast last night in the late game, San Diego rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat San Francisco 38-35 in overtime. The victory keeps the Chargers playoff hopes alive as they move to 9-6 on the season. Denver has already won the AFC West so the best the Bolts can do is a wild-card but it’s a logjam in the AFC to say the least.

Division rival Kansas City is in Pittsburgh today. The Chiefs are 8-6 and are looking to keep their playoff chances alive as well with a win over the 9-5 Steelers who can clinch a playoff spot with a victory. Also at 9-5 is Baltimore and then Buffalo is 8-6.

While we entered this week knowing all 12 playoff spots could be filled, I’m starting to think we’ll see a few contests next week that will determine both positioning and berths into this year’s playoffs/

Nothing in LA in 2015

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear yesterday that there will not be an NFL franchise in Los Angeles in 2015. Goodell told St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland that any relocation would not happen until at least the 2016 season.

That doesn’t mean the Rams, Chargers and Raiders can’t file for relocation on or after January 1st though. The problem is that a “super majority” is needed and Goodell made it pretty straight-forward comments that this won’t happen for 2015.

The question in my mind is why is the league so adamant about having a team in the LA area? It’s a bit of a rhetorical question because LA is the second biggest TV market in the country but is there really a fan-based demand for a team? I’m not saying there isn’t because I don’t live in SoCal but from everyone I talk to and listen to I get the distinct feeling a team in LA would be a rather “ho-hum” type of move.

Of those three teams I would think the Rams have the greatest chance of heading to Los Angeles and I say that because their owner seems dead-set on it. The Raiders are flirting with San Antonio which appears hungry for NFL football and I believe the Chargers will eventually get a new stadium.

Stranger things have happened though…

 

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Michigan Moves on Harbaugh; Ramifications are Many

Harbaugh
Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh has many things to consider but for right now, Michigan's offer cold have a ripple effect.

Well, there it is. The University of Michigan is doing their absolute best to bring home Jim Harbaugh. By now you probably already know what the contract offer looks like, six years and $48 million, but there’s a lot more to this story now than just the money.

Here’s a look at the ramifications of just the offer being thrown out there.

For Harbaugh – This offer immediately makes NFL teams prizing his services take notice. At eight million per year, it’s not out of the range for an NFL team to pay, but it does make it a little harder.

It’s believed that Oakland Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis will pay this much and more in an effort to get Harbaugh to come across the bay. There’s even a report Davis was willing to pay Jon Gruden as much as $16 million so eight is a drop in the bucket.

Harbaugh is clearly in the cat-bird seat while this unfolds. His team is out of the playoffs so his focus can pretty much be wherever he wants it to be. I expect the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to be in play for him.

Don’t forget that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross is a Michigan Alum with an endless bank account.

Hackett

Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett did the right thing by going after Harbaugh now but will it work?

For Michigan – The school has obviously made it known they are no longer willing to be the punching bag for Michigan State and Ohio State and anyone else beating the Wolverines these days. This kind of money says only one thing; “We want success now.”

The problem is dealing with the letdown of a potential Harbaugh pass. The only way that pain is tempered is if Michigan goes and gets a current head coach of a program that no one sees coming. A guy like Gary Patterson or Mark Helfrich or Kevin Sumlin.

Regardless of who it is, anyone not named “Jim Harbaugh” will be a letdown to the vast majority of the fan base.

For Other College Coaches – If you heard a loud ring coming from Tuscaloosa, Alabama last night that wasn’t just yours ears. That was Nick Saban’s agent calling Alabama to demand a raise.

There’s no way that Saban is going to be paid less than a guy who has won very little at the collegiate level and especially way less than he has. This effect will be a trickle-down one too. Guys like Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio will also be looking for raises.

Even if Harbaugh goes in another direction and leaves Michigan hanging, those numbers aren’t going to go away. There isn’t a college coach in America who hasn’t had his eyes pop out from that offer.

For the 49ers – If I’m owner Jed York and I see how in demand my coach is and he has one year left on his deal, I’m increasing the price for his services. Common thought was that it might take a couple of third-round picks to get him out of his final year.

Now? I’m asking at least a first-round pick and then the negotiations can begin from there. York can’t let him go for nothing.

My Prediction: I honestly believe Michigan means a lot to Harbaugh but he’s not coming back. He’s spent nearly all of his coaching career on the West Coast and appears to be very vested in his family and their wishes.

This doesn’t mean he won’t listen to the Jets or Dolphins but right now I think Harbaugh either stays in San Francisco or goes across the bay. The lure of the Super Bowl title is too much for him to ignore.

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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.

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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.

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Several NFL Games for You to Think About for Tomorrow

Johnson
Johnson

Calvin Johnson returns in the nick of time as the Lions host the red-hot Dolphins.

I’m giving you some extra time to mull over these NFL games for tomorrow so consider carefully.

Miami (+3) at Detroit (O/U 43.5) – This is the most intriguing match-up of the week because Miami is red-hot and the Lions are winning close games and get back Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. The Lions have one of the best defenses in the league but now they face Ryan Tannehill is playing perhaps the best football of his career right now.

The Dolphins are playing great defensively as well illustrated by their 37-0 waxing of San Diego last week. This one may likely turn on turnovers and whether the Miami offense can handle the crazy fans sure to be in Detroit tomorrow.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Miami’s last 15 games… Detroit is 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games at home… Miami is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The Lions are 1-5 in their last six games against the Dolphins.

The Pick: I love the Dolphins getting the three and I’ll take the UNDER.

Gore

Frank Gore has guaranteed a playoff trip for his Niners. Now he has to deliver.

San Francisco (+6) at New Orleans (O/U 49) – Could two teams be any different despite the fact they have the same 4-4 records? New Orleans leads the NFC South after winning two-straight while the 49ers are staring up in the NFC West standings at both Seattle and Arizona. Because their division is the worst in football, there is less pressure on the Saints to win this one.

San Francisco has to face the reality that falling another game behind the Cardinals would mean a division title is out of the question. Therefore they have to play well in order to beat the Saints in the Superdome. If they go with large doses of Frank Gore I think they can pull this one out but that’s always a big “if.”

Trends: The 49ers are 10-4 straight up in their last 14 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in four of the Saints’ last six games against San Francisco… The Niners are 5-10-1 against the spread in their last 16 games against the Saints… New Orleans is 7-2 SU in their last nine games against the 49ers.

The Pick: I like the Niners getting the points in a game of much needed urgency. Take the UNDER as well.

Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay (O/U 46) – This game was a “pick’em” game early in the week and frankly this one is tough to call because Atlanta can’t win on the road and Tampa can’t win at home. When Matt Ryan gets outside of the Georgia Dome his numbers slip dramatically so why should we think differently here?

I think the running game of Tampa Bay is the difference today.

Trends: Atlanta is 0-5 straight up on the road in their last five games… Tampa Bay is 3-8 against the spread in their last 11 games… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Falcons last six games at Tampa Bay… The Bucs are 0-5 SU in their last five home games.

The Pick: I like the Bucs getting the points and I’ll go with the UNDER.

Other Games I like This Week

Pittsburgh (-6) at NY Jets – Until the Steelers offense hits a speed bump I’ll take them to cover.

NY Giants (+10) at Seattle – In their last eight games against Super Bowl winning QBs the Seahawks are 8-0. Enter Eli Manning and take the Seahawks to cover.

Chicago (+7.5) at Green Bay – More than a TD dogs are tough to pass on but I will here because the Packers have Jay Cutler’s number. Take the Pack to cover.

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Early NFL Lines Offer a Few Road Favorites

Dalton
Dalton

Andy Dalton and the Bengals host Cleveland in a key AFC North game Thursday night.

Road favorites aren’t uncommon but this week we have three plus a “pick’em” game so you’ll need to do your homework and I’ll do my best to help later this week.

Cleveland (+6) at Cincinnati – The AFC North is a logjam and all four teams are above .500. I expect a great effort from the Browns who I like getting those points.

Dallas at Jacksonville (in London) – There is no line yet because of the situation with Tony Romo.

Miami (+3) at Detroit – This should be one of the best games of the day. Will a hot Miami team handle a rested Lions’ team getting Megatron and Reggie Bush back? I like the Fins getting the points.

Orton

Can Kyle Orton and the Bills upset the Chiefs this Sunday?

Kansas City (-1.5) at Buffalo – The Bills are one of the hardest teams to figure out this year especially at home. If Kyle Orton can get protection I like the Bills getting the points.

San Francisco (+4.5) at New Orleans – What a brutal loss for the Niners on Sunday. Now they have to play in New Orleans against the surging Saints. I like the Saints to cover.

Tennessee (+10) at Baltimore – The Titans no doubt paid attention to the Steelers’ destruction of the Ravens’ secondary. The problem is that Zach Mettenberger isn’t exactly Ben Roethlisberger so take the Ravens even giving ten.

Pittsburgh (-4.5) at NY Jets – This is a situation where normally the Steelers play down to the competition. The Jets are reeling and their secondary is a mess as is their offense. Take the Steelers to cover on the road.

Atlanta (Pick’em) at Tampa Bay – Flip a coin here right? Personally I think Atlanta’s Mike Smith is a dead man walking so let’s see how his team rebounds following the bye. I like the Bucs to win at home.

Denver (-11) at Oakland – The Raiders get the honor of hosting Denver following the Broncos loss at New England. Tony Sparano has these guys playing hard but the talent just isn’t there. Take the Broncos to cover.

St. Louis (+7) at Arizona – In recent weeks, St. Louis has beaten Seattle and San Francisco so now they go for the trifecta. The problem for the Rams is that neither of those teams is playing as well as the Cardinals are. I like Arizona to cover at home.

NY Giants (+9) at Seattle – The Seahawks really disappointed me last week. Double-digit favorites over Oakland and they couldn’t close the deal. This week will be more of the same. Take the Giants and the points.

Chicago (+7) at Green Bay – The NFC North rivalry returns to the frozen tundra where the Packers are leading the division along with Detroit. The Bears have been a huge disappointment in recent weeks and Jay Cutler has struggled to the point where frustration has settled in. Take the Packers at home to cover.

Carolina (+5.5) at Philadelphia – Cam Newton is coming off of a poor performance at home in the loss to New Orleans while it looks like Mark Sanchez will get his first start in quite a while with Nick Foles out with a clavicle injury. The Panthers just haven’t proven any sort of consistency to me this year so I like the Eagles to cover.

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Two Great Rivalries are the Focus of Today’s NFL …

Manning Brady
Manning Brady

The two long-time rivals meet for the 16th time in Foxboro today.

St. Louis (+10) at San Francisco (O/U 44) – The Rams head west giving up 30 points per game and now have to play the Niners who are scoring only 22 points per game. Obviously something will give here.

I have no doubt that San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has paid close attention to the surging Cardinals and somewhat dysfunctional Seahawks in his own division. Dropping a game here could be a death blow if Arizona continues playing well.

Trends: St. Louis is 8-14-1 against the spread in their last 23 games against San Francisco… The total has gone UNDER in in five of the 49ers last seven games at home… The Rams are 0-4-1 straight up in their last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 5-1 SU in their last six games at home.

The Pick: Look for a lot of Frank Gore early and Colin Kaepernick off of him. Take the Niners to cover and the OVER.

Denver (-3.5) at New England (O/U 54) – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hook up for the 16th time in their careers and this time around Manning’s Broncos are favorites on the road in a place where Brady doesn’t lose very often.

The biggest injury concern I have in this game is that New England will be without defensive end Chandler Jones who is out with a hip injury. His ability to get to Manning and create problematic throwing lanes will be sorely missed.

My gut feeling tells me the Bill Belichick and the Pats will establish the run early to keep Manning and his receiving weapons on the sidelines.

Trends: Denver is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against New England… The Patriots are 8-17 straight up in their last 25 games against the Broncos… The total has gone OVER in four of Denver’s last five games against New England… The total as gone OVER in eight of the Patriots’ last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take the home underdog Pats and the OVER too.

Lynch

Expect to see early doses of Marshawn Lynch in today's game against the Radiers.

Oakland (+14.5) at Seattle (O/U 43) – Heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch plus the play-action ability of Russell Wilson equals too much for the Raiders. Oh and need I mention the struggling Raiders’ offense against a defense searching for its’ groove?

Trends: Oakland is 1-5 straight up in their last six games on the road against the Seahawks… Seattle is 19-2 SU in their last 21 games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Raiders last eight games when playing on the road in Seattle… The Seahawks are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: Seattle will pull away late so take them to cover and take the OVER.

Baltimore (-1) at Pittsburgh (O/U 47.5) – The best rivalry in pro football goes primetime again as the Ravens invade Heinz Field. Both teams stand at 5-3 but the game is arguably ore important to the Steelers because they stand 1-2 in the division with two games remaining and both are with Cincinnati.

The Ravens are 2-2 in the division with tonight’s game and then a date with Cleveland remaining so it’s vital for the Steelers to get the win and even the season series with Baltimore at a game apiece.

The Steelers come off an offensive explosion in the win over Indy last week while the Ravens dropped a tough game in Cincinnati to the Bengals who own two victories over the Ravens this season.Look for Baltimore to take shots early against an average Steelers’ secondary while Pittsburgh will look to Le’Veon Bell to carry the load

Trends: Baltimore is 2-3-2 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh is 11-4 straight up in their last 15 games against the Ravens in Pittsburgh… The total has gone OVER in four of the Ravens’ last six games… The total has gone OVER in nine of Pittsburgh’s last 13 games.

The Pick: The Ravens have the Steelers number of late. Take them to cover and the OVER.

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