NFL Sees Record Number of Points in Week 15; More …

Charles
Charles

Jamaal Charles was a fantasy players' dream on Sunday against the Raiders.

In week 14 of the National Football League season, the 32 teams combined to score a total of 90 touchdowns which was an NFL record. A week later, the 32 franchises were at it again as they scored more points in a single week than any other in history. Keep in mind there was a game last night too.

Three teams in fact scored over 30 points on Sunday… And lost!

This should not be surprising in light of rules that continue to aid the offense and punish the defense. I think you’ll see records for touchdowns and points being threatened each week now that the league has made the effort to favor high-scoring games.

If you read my stuff then you know how I feel about this. I can’t stand what is happening to the NFL and football in general but I’m not supposed to think that way. If I do, then I’m accused of not caring about ‘player safety.’ That’s bull and the league, the players and the fans know it. This is not only to accommodate average fans who want to see scoring but it also appeals to the fantasy players. Just ask those who played with or against Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles yesterday.

Charles had five touchdowns and in standard leagues registered somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 points. Why any NFL team would waste early round draft picks on defensive players anymore is beyond me. This league is about offense and you need weapons, not defenders who get flagged for interference or hitting the QB late.

Bryant

Bryant walks through the tunnel before the game even ends in Dallas.

Dez Bryant Strikes Again

The Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant is an extremely talented and passionate wide receiver. The problem is that passion is often used as an excuse when he does things that are out of character for most professional football players. Sunday in Dallas, Bryant walked off the field with just under two minutes left and headed for the locker room.

The odds that Bryant would have played again were slim as the Packers took three knees to end the game but that isn’t the issue. Bryant said yesterday that he left the field to hide his tears. You’ll excuse me if I start laughing and cough up my ice water. Even if that is the reason he left the field, he still shouldn’t have done it. Football is the ultimate team game and the message Dez Bryant keeps sending is that he is about himself regardless of the words he may say to the contrary.

Until Bryant grows up, his antics will not be received well regardless of how talented he is.

RGIII Deserves Better

I still can’t get over the unexplainable decision to not only bench Robert Griffin III but to also make him inactive. The excuse used is that the Redskins want him to have a chance at a healthy and productive offseason. Honestly? I get that. He spent last year rehabbing his knee and didn’t get his normal time to improve his game.

That said, RGIII is not going to get better by watching Kirk Cousins help his own cause as the Redskins will certainly shop him for draft picks. Imagine how things could have gone had Peyton Manning not been allowed to finish his rookie season? What about Brett Favre’s first year in Green Bay where made one mistake after another?

I’m not really sold on what the end game truly is but I have to think Washington Owner Daniel Snyder has had enough of Mike Shanahan but stranger things have happened. Either way, RGIII doesn’t deserve the fate he has been given for 2013.

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NFL Wild-Card Sunday Betting Tips

Ray Lewis will hope to prolong his retirement with a Ravens win over Indianapolis in Sunday's early kickoff.

Playing his last game at home, Ray Lewis will hope to prolong his retirement with a Ravens win over Indianapolis in Sunday's early kickoff.

The NFL postseason got off to a good start for bettors backing favorites to cover the spread. Both Houston’s win over Cincinnati and Green Bay’s victory over Minnesota on Saturday saw the bookies’ favorites advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, scoring a win against the spread in the process. Both games saw the total go under.

Sunday sees the remaining two fixtures of the wild-card round and Casino Review has all the information you need. Let’s start with a matchup that pits Charm City’s past against its present.

 

Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM ET

There’s little left to be said about an Indianapolis (11-5, 4-4 road) side that has defied the odds and the experts just to make it to the postseason. All that’s left to do is see how far Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck and Co. can take this ride. Of course, the team has every belief it will be well beyond Sunday’s wild-card matchup in the Colts’ former home city.

Rather than concern itself with the Colts’ impressive run, Baltimore (10-6, 6-2 home) will look to put the skids on a run of poor form. The Ravens have dropped four of five and look like a wounded animal coming into the playoffs. The return of Ray Lewis – who will be playing his final home game after announcing he’ll retire at the end of this run – may be enough to buoy the Ravens. But then again, it might not.

Baltimore defeated Indianapolis the last time these two sides met (Dec. 2011), snapping an eight-game Colts winning streak. The two sides have met in the playoffs twice previously (following the 2006 and 2009 seasons) with Indianapolis running out victors both times. Of course, the team that took those wins, and those eight straight, included a certain Peyton Manning. Such records may as well be thrown out of the window at times like these.

There’s no denying that the Baltimore defense of old was not on show this season, but completed to the Colts, even this so-so Ravens defense is a beast. Baltimore outranked Indianapolis in points and yards allowed this season, including rushing and passing yards.

Surprisingly, a Baltimore offense that spluttered throughout the year also ranked better than Indianapolis, but there was a certain amount of magic surrounding Andrew Luck, who dragged the Colts back time and again. Doing the same this weekend would really set out a stall.

Odds: Baltimore opened as 6½-point favorites, a number that has risen to seven. The over/under is 47, up from 46 at opening.

Take: Baltimore – As has been the case with this opening round, it wouldn’t be that big a surprise to see either of these teams come out with a victory. Of course, were the Colts to win, it would prove the bigger story. But ultimately, Baltimore has a huge edge in experience, and somehow the Ravens always seem to find a way to win at this stage of the playoffs. The Ravens have won three straight wild-card games, and four straight playoff openers. You have to go back to Jan. 2004 to find a Ravens team that was one-and-done in the postseason. Take the Colts to cover the spread and keep this a close game however. An improved defensive display will keep the total from going over.

 

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins

4:30 PM ET

Andrew Luck isn’t the only rookie quarterback turning franchises around. In fact, two individuals that have done exactly that will meet at FedEx Field in Sunday’s late afternoon game.

Robert Griffin III may have been drafted behind Andrew Luck but more and more people are cottoning on to the idea that the Redskins’ triggerman may just be the best candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson may not have been a starter when the season commenced, but he’s certainly earned his spot, and again, is rated higher than Andrew Luck in many people’s eyes. Both will look to add to their legacy with a debut playoff win.

Washington (10-6, 5-3 home) outlasted Dallas and the New York Giants to win the NFC East, booking its first playoff trip since the end of the 2007 season. The Redskins provided the league’s best rushing attack, averaging 169.3 yards per game. The side ranked fifth overall in total yards gained (383.2 YPG) and fourth in points scored (27.3 PPG).

Seattle (11-5, 3-5 road) navigated some early road woes to finish the season strong. Really strong. The Seahawks averaged 42.5 points per game over the last four games of the season, stuffing opponents defensively to the tune of 10.8 points per game in the process.

The Seahawks were unbeaten at home this season, but will not get to play at CenturyLink Field after finishing one-half game behind San Francisco in the NFC West. Seattle’s early season road woes – which saw the team go 1-5 – seem to have turned around with wins in Chicago and Buffalo. Still, this is a side that will not be relishing a road game at this time of year.

Seattle has produced a 1-8 all-time road record in the playoffs, including seven straight. The last time the Seahawks won on the road in the playoffs was on Dec. 31, 1983, in Miami. For those too young to remember, the Seahawks were an AFC team until the 2002 expansion year.

Washington on the other hand has not lost a home playoff game since Dec. 30, 1984. Granted, the team has only played five games in that 18 year period, but that won’t dampen this side.

Washington is 11-6 all-time against Seattle, and has won six of the last eight. Worryingly for the Redskins though, the two losses that have fallen in that eight-game span both came during the playoffs (following the 2005 and 2008 seasons).

Odds: Seattle is the only road favorite of wild-card weekend. The spread opened at just one, but has subsequently risen to three. The over/under is 46, up from 45½.

Take: Seattle – History denotes that it is more likely than not that there will be one lower ranked seed beating a higher ranked seed during the wild-card round of the playoffs (see yesterday’s article). Well, this looks like this year’s candidate. Seattle is almost as solid as Washington in the running game – ranking third in the league (161.2 YPG) and much more effective defensively. No team in the league gave up fewer points than the Seahawks (15.3 PPG) this year. That may be just the advantage Seattle needs. Take the Seahawks to cover the close spread. Take the total to go over as these two teams look to run some points on to the board.

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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.

Winner Takes All as Dallas Visits Washington

Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo will each look to lead his team to not just a victory but a playoff berth as the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys meet on Sunday Night Football.

Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo will each look to lead his team to not just a victory but a playoff berth as the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys meet on Sunday Night Football.

The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins clash on Sunday night in a winner takes all game that will decide the NFC East champion.

The two sides meet at FedExField in Landover, Md., on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET) in a game that has serious playoff implications. If Washington wins, Dallas will be eliminated from postseason contention. If Dallas wins, Washington will need (a lot of) help from elsewhere.

Were the Redskins to lose, Mike Shanahan’s side would need Minnesota, Chicago, and the New York Giants to lose also, allowing the team to secure the final Wild Card berth. With Green Bay, Detroit, and Philadelphia respectively on the schedule for those sides, Washington would do best to win this one outright.

Win, lose, or draw, Washington (9-6, 4-3 home) has had its best season since 2007, a year in which the side went 9-7 and the last time a postseason trip was made. A win on Sunday would give the Redskins 10 wins for the first time since 2005 and only the third time in 21 years.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III has led the side by example, often playing beyond his years. He is the current favorite (10/11) to be handed the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, ahead of Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (6/5) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (13/4), both of whom have led their respective teams to the postseason. Griffin III will be hoping for a similar result this weekend.

The Redskins arrive in Week 17 with a six-game winning streak, the franchise’s longest such streak since a seven-game jaunt in 1997.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys (8-7, 4-3 away) arrive in Maryland on the back of last weekend’s nail-biting 34-31 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints. As they seem to have done for much of the season, the Cowboys mounted a comeback late. This time however, the Saints squeaked a victory in the extra frame.

Prior to that loss, Jason Garrett’s side had won five of six, transforming from 3-5 underachievers to 8-6 playoff contenders. A win this weekend will cap that turnaround, and have the Cowboys hosting Seattle in next week’s Wild Card round.

With Minnesota, Chicago, and the Giants all taking to the field earlier in the day, Washington will enter the game knowing exactly what is needed. It’ll also arrive at kickoff confident of a win, thanks in part to a 38-31 win over the Cowboys in Texas on Thanksgiving.

That game saw the Redskins take a 28-3 lead into halftime, only for the Cowboys to claw back into the game. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw a staggering 62 pass attempts in that game while his counterpart, Griffin, tallied 304 yards passing with four touchdowns and one interception. In a rare instance this season, the rookie was limited to just 29 yards on the ground.

The Cowboys will need to limit Griffin again this week as well as running back Alfred Morris. The two have combined to give Washington the best running game in football, averaging 162.3 yards per game. Morris ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,413 yards on the season.

If Dallas needs to worry about Washington’s running game, then the Redskins need to worry about Dallas’s passing game. The Cowboys are third in the league in passing this year, averaging 302.2 yards per game. Only Detroit and New Orleans have dialed-up more yards through the air.

Tony Romo is a big part of that number. The nine-year veteran is third in the league – behind Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford – having tallied 4,685 passing yards on 611 attempts, with a 66.3 completion percentage (6th), and 26 touchdowns (6th).

Romo’s biggest problem came early in the season when he was prone to giving up the football. His 16 interceptions are tied for fifth most on the season, but things are vastly improved at this point in the season. Having thrown 13 picks in the first seven games, including four in one game against the Giants on Oct. 28, he has thrown just three since, and only one over the past four weeks. Romo threw two interceptions against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.

Washington’s defense – which allows 287.7 passing yards per game – could well struggle against this new, focused Dallas aerial attack. But then again, this is a Dallas side that went into New York on the final day of the season last year needing to win, but failing to get the job done.

Washington opened as 3½-point favorites, a spread that hasn’t changed with most online bookmakers. The Redskins have been terrific against the spread this season, compiling a 10-5-0 ATS record. Dallas meanwhile has struggled in covering, tallying a 6-9-0 ATS record. The Cowboys will need to upset the Redskins and the spread this week if they’re to make it to the postseason.

The over/under opened at 50, and has fallen to 49½ with most bookmakers. The total has gone over eight time for the Cowboys this year and nine times for the Redskins. The Thanksgiving game between these sides saw a 46-point total eclipsed by a 69-point game. The over certainly looks the smarter choice this weekend.

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Week 14 NFL Betting Tips

Robert Griffin III will look to lead the Redskins past the Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

Robert Griffin III will look to lead the Redskins past the Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

With four playoff berths awarded last weekend, things will get a little edgier this week for those sides still looking to play in January.

Baltimore has an opportunity to sew up the AFC North this weekend, but only with a win and losses for both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Expect this particular race to carry on for a little longer.

Meanwhile, Houston can convert its playoff berth into a division championship with a win over New England on Monday night. That’s a tough task, and a New England win would give Indianapolis a ray of hope in the AFC South, providing the Colts can take care of Tennessee that is.

Elsewhere, the NFC East, NFC North, and NFC West continues to see action too close to call, with early leaders New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and San Francisco now holding on for dear life. These run-ins are going to be so good!

To get you in the mood for more NFL action, here’s CasinoReview’s pick of three of the best from this weekend’s schedule.

 

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings

Three losses in four games have seen the Bears lose sole possession of the NFC North lead. Tied with Green Bay at the top of the table, the Bears’ chances of winning the division now look shaky to say the least.

Chicago (8-4, 3-2 road) will look to turn around its recent poor form with a trip to Minnesota (6-6, 5-1 home). The Vikings are two games back of the Bears and Packers, but with games remaining against both sides, can still be considered in the race for the division, or a Wild Card berth at least.

The Bears’ only win in the last four was a 28-10 victory over Minnesota, but the Vikings side that takes to the road is very different to the one that plays at home. The Vikings will be anything but a pushover in this one, and Chicago’s top 10 rush defense could be in for a long day against the number one rusher in the league, Adrian Peterson.

Odds: Chicago opened as two-point favorites, a number that has since increased to three. The over/under is 39, down from 40 at opening.

Take: Minnesota – The Vikings represent a real opportunity to back an underdog winner, thanks to the side’s impressive home form. The Bears have been offensive lacking of late and without the leadership of Brian Urlacher, there could be further woes to face. Take the total to go under; the Bears will limit Minnesota’s points but can’t score themselves.

 

Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins

By hook or by crook the Ravens have somehow managed to scrape together wins this season despite having a very different look to previous seasons. Not nearly as proficient on the defensive side of the ball, Baltimore (9-3, 4-2 road) has struggled offensively also, yet the side has kept on winning.

However, last week the Ravens fell to the Steelers, thwarting what would have been a golden opportunity to have put the AFC North out of reach. Instead, Baltimore now has a tentative two-game lead with a tough schedule ahead.

Washington (6-6, 3-3 home) has leapt into playoff contention with three straight NFC East wins and looks very much the form side heading into this encounter. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is being touted as a potential MVP candidate by some, and the ‘Skins have a real opportunity of a massive turnaround this season.

Baltimore will make the short trip to Landover, Md., knowing that the Redskins will be a tough out, despite the Ravens’ historic advantage in the series.

Odds: The spread opened Even, a testament to the surging ‘Skins and faltering Ravens. Oddsmakers subsequently have Washington as three-point favorites ahead of kickoff. The over/under has edged from 47 to 47½.

Take: Washington – Just three weeks ago it would have been ludicrous to have expected Washington to take this game, but the Redskins have looked good of late. The Ravens meanwhile need the boost of a win, but really will be up against the wall. The big winners in this one, other than Washington, will be Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. This is likely to be decided by little more than a field goal, so take the total to go over just.

 

New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants

Although not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Saints have an absolute mountain to climb in order to do just that. Running the table would give the Louisiana side a 9-7 record which in all likelihood won’t be enough for one of the two vacant Wild Card berths.

New Orleans (5-7, 2-4 road) travels to the New York Giants (7-5, 4-2 home) this weekend looking to keep any faint glimmer of hope alive. The Giants meanwhile will be looking to stay ahead of the chasing pack in the NFC East. Both Washington and Dallas are hot on the G-Men’s heels, just one game back in the division, and both with a superior divisional record.

The Saints have won three straight games against the Giants, and four of the last five. This season has thrown these sorts of trends out of the window though. The Giants are 10-4 all-time against the Saints in New York/New Jersey.

Odds: The Giants opened as five-point favorites but that advantage has slipped to 4½. The over/under is 53.

Take: New Orleans – Despite having only one win over a team with a winning record this season, New Orleans will find the Giants ripe for the pickings this weekend. A Saints win will set the cat amongst the pigeons in the NFC East. Take the total to go under; although the two previous encounters have eclipsed 53, these are two sides struggling to find their offensive flow this season.

 

Week 14 Schedule

Thursday: Denver 26-13 Oakland

Sunday: (1 PM ET) St. Louis @ Buffalo | Atlanta @ Carolina | Dallas @ Cincinnati | Kansas City @ Cleveland | Tennessee @ Indianapolis | NY Jets @ Jacksonville | Chicago @ Minnesota | San Diego @ Pittsburgh | Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay | Baltimore @ Washington; (4:05 PM ET) Miami @ San Francisco; (4:25 PM ET) New Orleans @ NY Giants | Arizona @ Seattle; (8:20 PM ET) Detroit @ Green Bay

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Houston @ New England

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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.

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

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Early Thanksgiving Football Betting Tips

The Cowboys and Redskins collide Thursday in a true Thanksgiving tradition.

The Cowboys and Redskins collide Thursday in a true Thanksgiving tradition.

Thanksgiving is upon us which means it’s time for some real Thursday night football, and not those hapless games that parade under the Thursday Night Football banner the rest of the year.

Let’s face it, there’s no way you’re going to get to sit down tomorrow and work your way through the NFL’s Thanksgiving schedule looking for those all-important tips that will ultimately help you make the right pick. There’s always someone, or some task, that gets in the way. So take the opportunity today to get on top of things and pick your teams early.

Here’re a few tips from CasinoReview that may well help you with the three-game slate.

 

Houston Texans @ Detroit Lions

12:30 PM ET

In keeping with tradition, Detroit (4-6, 2-2 home) hosts the Thanksgiving Classic opening, this year welcoming the best team (record-wise) in all of football, Houston (9-1, 4-0 road).

The Lions have had a rough season so far, coming across as a one-dimensional passing team with just one receiving threat (Calvin Johnson). A porous defense hasn’t helped matter, with the team conceding 24.6 points per game, 23rd in the league.

The Texans meanwhile have been the toast of the AFC, serving up nine wins from 10. The team’s only loss – a 42-24 beat down at the hands of Green Bay – alongside close wins over the Jets, Broncos, Bears, and this past weekend against Jacksonville, have proved the side is fallible though, and Detroit will look to make the most of home field advantage.

These two sides have met just twice before (2004, 2008), splitting the pair between them.

Odds: Despite its superior record, Houston opens as just three-point favorites. The over/under is 49.

Take: Houston – With a defense that ranks in the top 10 in passing (7), rushing (2) and scoring (4), it’s hard to imagine the Lions putting many points on the board in this one – despite passing for more yards per game than any other team in the league. Detroit’s defense has been relatively sharp itself, until you consider points conceded, a category in which the Lions rank 23rd across the league. That means Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster may have a typical Texans game. On top of all of this, Detroit has not won a Thanksgiving Day game since beating the Green Bay Packers 22-14 in 2003. Take the Texans to cover the spread and the total to go over.

 

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys

4:15 PM ET

In the second of Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving games, Dallas (5-5, 2-2 home) hosts division rivals Washington (4-6, 2-3 road) in what may prove to be the most competitive game on the schedule.

The Cowboys’ spluttering season has almost evened out over the past two weeks, with wins over Philadelphia and Cleveland (just). That being said, that isn’t exactly the most sterling of opposition.

Washington routed Philadelphia 31-16 this past weekend, halting a three-game skid in the process. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has impressed for much of the season, and the Redskins at least seem pointed in the right direction. A win over the Cowboys will put the side back in contention for the NFC East, which the Giants seem determined to lose.

Washington’s pass defense – which is ranked 29th in the league – could be up against the wall as Tony Romo and the Cowboys passing game – ranked seventh in the league – looks to lead an almost rushing-less offense.

Odds: Dallas is favored but the opening spread of six points has dwindled to three ahead of kickoff. The over/under is 46.

Take: Dallas – In many ways it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Redskins take this game, which is more a commentary on the Cowboys’ lack of consistency than it is Washington’s prowess. However, Dallas has owned Washington in the recent past, taking three straight and six of the last seven. Add to that the fact that the Redskins have never beaten the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day (in six attempts) and Tony Romo’s impressive November record (21-3) and you have all the ingredients for history to repeat itself, however uninteresting that might seem to those rooting against America’s Team.

 

New England Patriots @ New York Jets

8:20 PM ET

The third game on Thursday’s schedule is the non-tradition, NFL-makes-some-money game between New England (7-3, 3-2 road) and the New York Jets (4-6, 2-3 home).

A win in this AFC East divisional match-up could well be enough for the Patriots – already three games ahead of the Jets, Bills and Dolphins, who are all tied up – to all but be awarded the division title. The Jets therefore need a win and even that might not be enough to bring back any credibility to what has been an incredulous season.

The bad news for the Jets is that not only was New England victorious earlier in the season, and not only have the Patriots won three straight, but the Massachusetts side has also won 18 of the last 24. The Jets, to put it abruptly, are up against it.

Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Co. will need to remember that the Patriots’ victory earlier this year was achieved only in overtime. There might be some hope yet.

Odds: New England is a one-touchdown favorite heading into this one. The over/under is 51.

Take: New England – Okay, so we’re going with all three Thanksgiving favorites, but that’s just the way this schedule is shaping up. Few people expect the hapless Jets to get anything from the Patriots, a team that has averaged 47 points per contest over the last three games. Compare that to a paltry 14.3 being put up by the Jets in that same period. Take the Patriots to cover/obliterate the spread and take the total to go over, as it has in eight New England games this season, especially as the Patriots covered the total alone last weekend.

 

Remaining Week 12 Schedule

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Minnesota @ Chicago | Oakland @ Cincinnati | Pittsburgh @ Cleveland | Buffalo @ Indianapolis |Tennessee @ Jacksonville | Denver @ Kansas City | Seattle @ Miami | Atlanta @ Tampa Bay; (4:05 PM ET) Baltimore @ San Diego; (4:25 PM ET) St. Louis @ Arizona | San Francisco @ New Orleans; (8:20 PM ET) Green Bay @ NY Giants

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Carolina @ Philadelphia

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Week 9 NFL Betting Tips

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers - sans Killer Bees uniforms - will travel on the day to take on the New York Giants.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers - sans Killer Bees uniforms - will travel on the day to take on the New York Giants.

It’s the midpoint of the NFL season and Week 9 promises a lot of close matchups as teams look to improve their records heading into the second half.

As ever, there is no shortage of talking points heading into play on Sunday. Can the Ravens hold off the Browns? Will Jacksonville win another game this season? Can Atlanta remain unbeaten?

To get you started with your picks this week, we’ve skimmed some of the more intriguing games from the schedule and given you our thoughts.

Be sure to come back tomorrow also for an in depth look at the Sunday Night Football clash between Dallas and  Atlanta.

 

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins

A much-maligned Carolina (1-6, 0-3 road) hits the road this weekend, heading for Landover, Md., and a showdown with the Washington Redskins (3-5, 1-2 home). Make no mistakes; this one’s on the radar thanks to its pitting Robert Griffin III against Cam Newton.

Newton has had a tough season, something he’s struggling mentally to cope with, while Griffin is having the sort of season Newton enjoyed last season. Whilst the issue of whether or not these two quarterbacks are similar has been on the agenda this week, there’s one these two certainly have in common: both will be looking for a win this weekend.

Carolina has posted a dismal record, particularly after hopes were so high ahead of the season. Washington, meanwhile, has had what can be considered a successful year, mainly because expectations were low coming into the season.

The Skins have been free-scoring this season, ranking fourth in the league in points, at 26.6 per game. The team’s running game is tallying 166.3 YPG, second only to San Francisco, and will be the focus in this one.

Carolina should take solace in the fact that Washington isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut. The Redskins are last in the league at stopping the pass, conceding 314.3 YPG through the air, whilst giving up 28.4 total points per game (29th). That should give Newton and the Panthers some time to work out an offensive scheme.

Odds: Washington is 3½-point favorite, with the over/under at 47½.

Take: Carolina – The Panthers have been woeful this season but this is the sort of game the side from Charlotte can take an upset win from. Defensive will be at a premium, so Carolina should make this a shootout. Running the football would be a good idea for both sides. Take the over for those same reasons.

 

Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts

It’s being billed as the battle of two rookie quarterbacks, but this game has more going for it than just the clash between Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill.

Both Indianapolis (4-3, 3-1 home) and Miami (4-3, 2-2 road) have surprised a lot of people this season. Neither has been the automatic out some would have expected, and at the end of this game, one of these sides is going to have a 5-3 record!

Miami will focus on trying to run the football, a decision that is as much to do with the Colts’ inability to stop the run (27th) as the Fins’ abilities to run (11th). On the flipside, Luck and Indianapolis will look to throw the football to take advantage of a top ten passing offense, and to exploit Miami’s poor pass defense (27th). Besides, Miami is second in the league at stopping the run and the Colts’ running game is less than stellar.

Odds: Miami opened as three-point favorites but that number has fallen to one. With 24-hours left until kickoff, we could see some more movement there. The over/under is 43.

Take: Miami – This one will be decided by Miami’s defense, which currently gives up just 18 points per game. Only Chicago and San Francisco concede fewer points. The Dolphins have played tough all season, while the Colts have had a mixed-bag of performances. The Dolphins will cover the low spread, snapping the Colts’ three-game winning streak in the series. Take the under on 43.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

Much of the East Coast is still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but regardless of whether you think the game should go ahead or not, the New York Giants (6-2, 3-1 home) will host Pittsburgh (4-3, 1-3 road) late Sunday afternoon.

With the team hotel flooded, the Steelers will fly in on the morning of the game, a factor that many believe gives the Giants an advantage. In reality, it’s a short flight and a later game so it probably won’t be that big a deal.

The Giants have the second best passing offense in the league, behind New England, but it’ll be up against Pittsburgh’s number one ranked pass defense. If the two cancel each other out, as they could well do, it’ll be up to the running game to put points on the board. Neither side has been particularly prolific running the football this season, but the advantage may come down to Pittsburgh’s superior rush defense, which ranks in the league’s top ten.

Historically, New York has dominated the head-to-head (44-28-3) but recently, neither team has been able to string two wins together in a row. The Giants won last time out (2008) so unless they buck a trend that dates back to 1991, it could be bad news for the blue side of New York this weekend.

Odds: The Giants opened as 4½-point favorites but have seen that figure drop to 3½ recently. The over/under is 47.

Take: Pittsburgh – The Steelers are a tough team, despite a mediocre record. Last week the side won its second straight game for the first time this year. The Giants may have won four in a row, but they’ll face a very tough defense. With the distraction of Hurricane Sandy, it’ll be tough to get past the Steelers. Take the total to go under; this is going to be a defensive battle.

 

Week 9 Schedule

Thursday: Kansas City 13-31 San Diego

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Arizona @ Green Bay | Detroit @ Jacksonville | Chicago @ Tennessee | Denver @ Cincinnati | Carolina @ Washington | Baltimore @ Cleveland | Miami @ Indianapolis | Buffalo @ Houston; (4:05 PM ET) Minnesota @ Seattle | Tampa Bay @ Oakland; (4:25 PM ET) Pittsburgh @ NY Giants; (8:20 PM ET) Dallas @ Atlanta

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Philadelphia @ New Orleans

Bye: New England, NY Jets, San Francisco, St. Louis

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