Sunday, December 26, 2010

Roberts Week 16 NFL Selections; Bucs Look to be The Side

By Micah Roberts

Packers-Giants headline an amazing week 16
There is no question who the best sports commissioner in the world is. Hello Roger Goodell, and thanks for making so many proactive changes in such a short time. Beyond being the only NFL commissioner to actually take a look at the lingering affects of concussions and hold players accountable for conduct off the field, his greatest gift to the fans may be changing the late season schedule to reflect more meaningful games. Last week had eight divisional rematches, this week we have three and in the final week, every game will be divisional rematches.

Not that he planned it, but this week we also have the pleasure of seeing every game mean something except for the Texans-Broncos and Lions-Dolphins games. Week 16 is like the first week of the wild, wild card in the playoffs. 19 teams are still in the hunt for a playoff birth that is only offered to 12. One of the most attractive betting opportunities features two of those teams vying for a spot.

Tampa Bay is hanging on by a thread for their playoff lives while Seattle is fighting for the NFC West division crown and seemingly given every opportunity to lose and still be in it. The Bucs have to win this game while the Seahawks could actually lose and still have a shot at the division with their week 17 matchup against the Rams.

Even though Tampa Bay has eight wins, they haven’t beat a team with a winning record. Not only does Seattle have a losing record, but they’ll be trying to win on the road for one of the longest road trips anyone in the NFL could make as they travel from the northeast corner of the country to the very bottom of the southeast. West coast teams traveling east is rarely a good bet, especially from a Seattle team that routinely gets whacked by double digits.

The main culprit for each team’s success and demise has been turnovers. Seattle gives the ball up frequently and is third worst in the league with at a -9 ratio while the Bucs saving grace this season has been being able to hold onto the ball at +8. In Matt Hasselbeck’s last four starts, he has thrown 10 interceptions. The Seahawks only win over that stretch was beating the lowly Panthers in Seattle. I’ll take Tampa Bay, who is favored by 6-points, to win by 14.

Detroit @ Miami (-3 ½): You’ve got the best cover team in the NFL with the Lions (10-4 ATS) who are on a two game winning streak against the worst home team with the Dolphins (1-6). The only negative could be Shaun Hill starting instead of Drew Stanton, who engineered the Lions last two wins. Because of that winning cohesion gone with Stanton, I would lean towards the Dolphins, but would be hard pressed to bet on them.

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (-14 ½): The Vikings have packed it in having been blown out in their last two games. Joe Webb playing quarterback doesn’t inspire confidence and going against a team that is clicking like the Eagles will make his play look worse than he actually is. I would feel comfortable laying up to 16 with Philly.

Shanahan's confidence in Rex will be rewarded 
Washington @ Jacksonville (-7): The Jaguars have been one of the best home teams (5-2) and have everything to play for, but the question is, what Rex Grossman will show up? Will it be the “Bad” Rex that was run out of Chicago or will it be the “Good” Rex who almost engineered a win at Dallas, and more importantly covered. Same situation this week as a 7-point underdog. Because of the whole McNabb ordeal, and Mike Shanahan’s confidence in Grossman, I would look for another good game out of Grossman which make taking the points attractive.

San Francisco @ St. Louis (-2 ½): Sam Bradford has already played more games in a season than he ever has and in his last two games, he’s looked like a rookie quarterback for the first time this season throwing four interceptions with his lowest combined two game passer rating of the season. In those games, which appeared to be do or die for the Rams, Bradford was at the forefront of reasons why they lost. I think the kid is running out of gas so I’ll take the 49ers to win a close one.

New England (-7 ½) @ Buffalo: Since losing at Cleveland in week 9, the Patriots have reeled off six straight wins and have scored over 30 points in each game. Tom Brady hasn’t thrown an interception since week 6 in a win over Baltimore. The Bills should be able to score some points, but they won’t be able to keep up. Look for this to be the largest margin of victory of the day.

NY Jets @ Chicago (-1): Thanks to a spirited win by the Jets win at Pittsburgh last week ending a two game slide, you get a chance to lay less than a field goal with the Bears at home. I’m not a big fan of the Bears scheme, but did the Jets really show anything offensively last week to make us believe they are reborn from the team that couldn’t score a touchdown the previous two games? Mark Sanchez won’t be able to throw deep and the running game still isn’t in shape. I’ll take the Bears with hopes Jay Cutler starts out well.

Peyton Hillis controlling the clock should lead Browns to win
Baltimore (-3 ½) @ Cleveland: I love that the Browns are competitive again and can welcome Art Modell back home with a real threat. Since a week 6 28-10 loss at Pittsburgh, the Browns have forced every team to play to their level, forcing the tempo. In the process they have played gritty football with a chance to win every game. Getting a field goal and hook in this meaningful game for the city looks to have some value.

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5): After a six game losing streak, the Titans rebounded strong last week with an offensive output similar to what we saw in big wins over the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys early on. The correlation looks to be having Kenny Britt back healthy once gain, a player who was out for most of those six losses. This looks like a good money line play here because this is what recent AFC West leaders do in week 16, they lose.

Indianapolis (-3) @ Oakland: Another correlation with a quarterback and team playing well due to a single receiver is the Colts plight without Austin Collie. He has been Peyton Manning’s crutch while without Dallas Clark and the Colts wins and Manning’s numbers reflect it. Collie had been banged up since week 9 before last week, and the Colts went on to lose four of five games with Manning throwing 13 of his 15 interceptions on the year. Collie is out for the season and the Raiders are playing well. I’ll take the points with the home team.

Houston (-2 ½) @ Denver: The heir apparent to Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, will be auditioning his game plan for Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who now realizes after 11 losses that Shanahan’s competitive teams of 9-7 weren’t that bad after all. Kubiak is likely to be dismissed after this year, but should have a good game plan put together to take down one of the worst teams in the league right now.

NY Giants @ Green Bay (-3): If the Giants win, they’re in, it’s that simple. If the Packers win their next two, they’re in. This is the jewel of the day with more on the line than any other game. The Packers have the advantage of being at home and having Aaron Rodgers back, while the Giants try to regroup from their meltdown last week. Will there be any lingering affects this week? It kind of feels like there has to be. That was a must win game for the division and they blew it horrifically. It’s hard game to bet, but I’d take the Packers if forced to play it.

All the Falcons do is play sound football and win
San Diego (-7 ½) @ Cincinnati: Get Terrell Owens out of the game and presto, the Bengals end their 10 game slide. Who can figure the Chargers out week to week, especially on the road (2-4) where they have lost to teams close to being as bad as the Bengals. The Chargers rarely lose in December and it’s a must win spot for them, so I’ll look for a 10-point win from them this week.

New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2 ½): It seems like a gift being able to lay less than a field goal with the Falcons at home in a game where they can clinch the division and conference with a win against a team they feel very comfortable at beating. The Saints have come on strong, but have lost more games than they have won against winning teams, including what was a near must win game last week at Baltimore. I see a close game, but lots of value laying less than a field goal with a team that has been the clear class of the NFC.

Article in the LVRJ 

Week 16 LVRJ NFL Challenge Picks

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