Analyzing the Four NFL Teams That Were Bounced From the …

Harrison
Harrison

Despite being 37, James Harrison was the Steelers best pass rusher. Will he be back?

Now we get to the heart of the National Football League Playoffs. Next weekend, the Divisional Playoffs begin and for whatever reason this part of the playoffs has always brought the most excitement and the most thrilling games. I do not know why but over the last 20 years or so that’s just how it has played out.

The match-ups were finalized yesterday as Dallas and Indianapolis both won to advance. The Colts will travel to Denver where another Andrew Luck-Peyton Manning duel awaits. Dallas will travel to Green Bay where the “Ice Bowl” may very well be re-lived as temperatures are forecasted to be extremely cold as of this writing.

The half of the brackets were filled out on Saturday in wins by Baltimore and Carolina. The Ravens now travel to New England where they have been a thorn in the side of the the Patriots for several years now. Carolina will take their dinged up quarterback Cam Newton to Seattle where a crazy-loud crowd awaits.

Let’s address today however, the teams that are preparing for the NFL Draft and the offseason now.

In Arizona, fans can only ask “what might have been” had Carson Palmer or even Drew Stanton been healthy enough to play on Saturday. No disrespect to the young man, but Ryan Lindley isn’t an NFL quarterback and I’m not entirely sure rookie Logan Thomas is either. Head Coach Bruce Arians will no doubt look for depth at several positions, most notably at QB.

The Cards must also deal with the potential of Larry Fitzgerald moving on as it’s doubtful the team can afford him.

In Pittsburgh, the offense appears to be intact but the offensive line could use some upgrades. The defense is the biggest question heading into the offseason as the futures of Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and James Harrison are in limbo. Polamalu and Taylor are likely done but the 37-year old Harrison claims he wants to return. Considering he was their most consistent pass rusher, it might not be so bad.

That said, the secondary in Pittsburgh is bad and that will be addressed in the draft and free agency. The biggest issue with the defense however is coordinator Dick LeBeau who at 77 might be ready to finally call it a career.

The Cincinnati Bengals dropped their fourth straight playoff game under Andy Dalton and while Marvin Lewis seems to have been in the Queen City forever, he still hasn’t won a playoff game either. Don’t be surprised if a change is made there. Sometimes you have to make a change to get over the hump.

In Dalton’s defense, he was without his top two weapons in A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham yesterday but the 0-4 playoff record and huge contract won’t care. The Bengals are in need of some change and it’s coming.

Lastly is the Detroit Lions who saw their biggest weakness come back to haunt them in Dallas as their offensive line was exposed at the worst possible time. The Lions’s offseason issues will begin with Ndamukong Suh who will be a free agent. The Lions must decide if the headaches he brings with his dirty play are worth the money.

Obviously the Lions need to shore up the offensive line but Matthew Stafford is starting to find himself in some dubious company as he might be the best QB not to win a playoff game.

All four of these teams are capable of returning to the playoffs next season especially if expansion from 12 to 14 happens as many expect, but all four must make significant changes in order to past the Wild-Card round.

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Three Late NFL Games Plus the Monday Night Game are Here …

Ryan
Ryan

Matt Ryan knows he and the Falcons are under .500 but they still lead the division heading into today's game with Arizona.

Arizona (-1.5) at Atlanta (O/U 44.5) – The Cardinals finally cam back to Earth last Sunday with a very humiliating loss to Seattle. Arizona was dominated in each facet of the game and now has to travel across the country to Atlanta where the Falcons are waiting.

Atlanta will know the fate of New Orleans when they kickoff so a win would give them a game lead in the NFC South should the Saints lose in Pittsburgh and the Falcons take care of business against Arizona.

The question is simply this; can Drew Stanton shake off last week’s poor performance? If he can, the Cards can maintain their lead in the NFC West but if not thing could start to unravel for them with Seattle breathing down their necks.

Trends: Arizona is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in six of Atlanta’s last seven games… The Cardinals are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road in Atlanta… The Falcons are 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against the Cardinals.

The Pick: Everything tells me to go with Arizona here but I’m not. Take the Falcons to win at home and take the UNDER.

Lacy

Eddie Lacy may be the most important Packer on offense today against the Patriots.

New England (+3) at Green Bay (O/U 58.5) – This one is being touted as a potential Super Bowl preview as only the media can do it. I’m not ready to go that far just yet but it’s clear these are two of the better teams in football at the moment. Regardless of the elements, the Patriots are used to the same weather the Packers are so throw that out the window.

Look for both teams to establish the run by throwing early. Limiting pressure on their respective quarterbacks will go a long ways towards victory.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of New England’s last five games on the road… The Packers are 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five home games… The Patriots are 5-10-1 ATS in their last 16 road games… Green Bay is 5-0 in their last five games at home.

The Pick: This is the type of game where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady thrive at home but on the road? I’m not so sure. Take the Packers to cover with a late score and the UNDER is a good way to go here too.

Denver (-1.5) at Kansas City (O/U 49.5) – The Broncos are dinged up at key positions and have struggled in recent weeks but they put things together in time to come back and beat Miami in the fourth quarter last week. The Chiefs are coming off of a sobering loss to the Oakland Raiders which was their first win of the season.

With a difficult remaining schedule, that loss could prove especially costly if they drop this one at home today. Look for Andy Reid to get the running and play-action game going early. The real key is whether the Chiefs pass rushers can get to Peyton Manning.

Trends: Denver is 14-5 straight up in their last 19 road games… The total has gone UNDER in six of the Chiefs’ last eight games at home against Denver… The Broncos are 4-1 SU in their last five meeting s with the Chiefs in KC… The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Broncos.

The Pick: Take the home dog Chiefs and the UNDER.

Monday Night

Miami (-7) at NY Jets (O/U 42) – The Jets are going back to Geno Smith at quarterback but I don’t think it really matters. Miami is really good defensively and unless the Jets run the ball well early I expect multiple turnovers from Smith.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of Miami’s last seven games on the road against the Jets… The Jets are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home… The Dolphins are 5-1 straight up in their last six games against the Jets… New York is 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games against Miami.

The Pick: That’s a huge number on the road and it scares me enough to take the Jets and the points although Miami wins and take the UNDER.

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The Casino Review sportsbook blog provides news and analysis on the online sports betting industry, helping experienced and recreational bettors get the most out of their online betting experience.

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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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.

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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.

 

 

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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

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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.

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