Nothing like a little revenge to get the late-season NFL blood boiling.
This week there are eight in-season revenge games on the card, featuring divisional rivals that have already met once this year. Sunday begins with Jacksonville at Tennessee (the Titans flattened the Jags by 27 in October) and Monday ends with New York at New England (the Jets rolled the Patriots 28-14 in September). And in between is a host of other situations where motivation should be high on both sides. The NFL lines are tightening up, the games are getting more important, and the sharks are circling the unsuspecting bettors that are clinging to that little bit of loot they still have tucked into their dwindling bank accounts.
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It’s December. That means it is crunch time. Let’s get down to business.
Here are my Week 13 NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (9-2) – The Patriots have won 14 straight at home and have been able to dominate the Jets over the course of the last decade. Their defense has continued to improve, but this group has also benefited from an attacking offense that puts pressure on the opposition. Since this team dumped Randy Moss they have rallied and been off the chain, averaging nearly 40 points per game over the last three weeks.
2. New York Jets (9-2) – Despite some closer-than-expected wins over the last month the Jets have still been paying out. They are 9-2 ATS on the road and they are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 games overall. But they have also been only moderately impressive despite lacing up against one of the weaker schedules in the league. Their last win over a team that is better than .500 was in Week 3 at Miami.
3. Atlanta Falcons (9-2) – Even though they have been invincible at home, the Falcons have been pretty pedestrian on the road. They have a losing record under Mike Smith away from home despite the fact that they are 6-2 ATS on the road and 5-2 ATS as a road chalk. Further, the road team is 4-0 ATS in this Tampa series.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) – I know there will be plenty of dramatic buildup to it, but we all know that Big Ben is going to play this week. The underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven in the Pittsburgh-Baltimore series and five of the last six meetings have been decided by four points or less. The Steelers are 10-2 ATS as a dog with revenge. Oh, and that fine for James Harrison for last week’s hit is ridiculous.
5. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – You have to worry about the fact that it took a late rally to beat the Big Ben-less Steelers earlier this year in Pittsburgh. What you don’t have to worry about is that Baltimore is 44-20-1 ATS in its last 65 as a home favorite. This is a game I think Baltimore desperately needs to win. I think their window is closing and I wonder if they are disciplined and mentally tough enough to get these Ws.
6. New Orleans Saints (8-3) – The Saints have had extra time to prep for this week’s game and they are a hefty favorite. This team also knows that they are still looking up at Atlanta so they shouldn’t be leaving anything to chance – meaning we should get a peak effort each week and we should see more focus out of this team. However, they also have to go off surface and into what could be a cold, wet Cincinnati stadium this week.
7. Green Bay Packers (7-4) – This is only Green Bay’s second home game since before Halloween and they are in the midst of a stretch of four of five games away from Lambeau. This team is making people do serious work to score. They have allowed just 7.5 points per game over the course of their last four games and for the season their defensive yards per point are a ridiculous 21.3.
8. San Diego Chargers (6-5) – The Chargers are 13-1 SU against the Raiders and they have revenge in this game. They lost 35-27 despite outgaining Oakland by over 200 yards in the last meeting. They are 11-1-1 ATS as a division favorite with revenge off a win. They are 17-3 ATS in December as a favorite against a losing team.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) – Coming off two straight divisional games made last week’s trip to Chicago a tough spot for the Eagles. I’m not reading a lot into that game. Especially because if Mike Vick doesn’t throw that INT at the goal line down 14-13 the results of that game could have been reversed.
10. Chicago Bears (8-3) – I guess they are good. Chicago dominated the first meeting. They have allowed the fewest points in the league. They have given up just seven offensive TDs in five games. Road teams off three straight underdog wins are just 8-16-1 ATS since 1980.
11. Indianapolis Colts (6-5) – I kind of hinted at the fact that the Colts were going to be in some trouble this year earlier in the season. And I have to say I was actually pretty surprised by their hot start. However, let’s not bury a team for losing to the Patriots and Chargers in back-to-back weeks. They are still in the driver’s seat for their division title
12. New York Giants (7-4) – New York has dominated its series with Washington over the last few years, winning seven of eight over the Redskins and going 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings. They laid a 45-12 beating on the Skins in Washington last December. But it’s hard to lay a touchdown with this squad in the physical condition that it is in.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – Matt Cassel is apparently the hottest quarterback in the league right now, ripping off a rush of 10 touchdowns to no interceptions the last three weeks. However, before we get too giddy about Noodle Arm you have to look at the horrendous secondaries that he has been tearing up – Seattle, Arizona and Denver. I still trust this running game a lot more than this passing game. Kansas City is 2-0 ATS as a favorite over a touchdown this year but they are just 3-3 ATS laying points overall.
14. Miami Dolphins (6-5) – Brandon Marshall should be back this week from the hamstring injury that kept him out last week. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they will likely be without linebacker Channing Crowder. Miami is a feeble 6-20 ATS as a home favorite. Chad Henne is back at the controls this week. It is debatable if that is an upgrade.
15. Washington Redskins (5-6) – Once again, this week we’ll find out if this Redskins team is for real or not. Through three months I’m still not sure. Washington doesn’t have revenge for a loss to the G-Men this year but they do have revenge for getting swept the last two years and for only beating New York one time since 2005. With the exception of the Philly massacre, more than five points have decided just two of Washington’s 10 games.
16. Tennessee Titans (5-6) – The Curse of Randy Moss continues. However, the Titans may have caught a bit of a break this week against Jacksonville. It looks like Kerry Collins will be under center. He won’t be 100 percent, obviously, but he has to be an improvement over the horror show that Rusty Smith was last week.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) – Tampa Bay continued its ridiculous 5-0 ATS run with another B.S. backdoor cover last week in Baltimore. The Bucs are just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 home games.
18. Houston Texans (5-6) – The Texans are 3-9-1 ATS after a win against the spread and 0-9 ATS against a team off a SU and ATS road loss. I, like everyone else, can’t wait to see what Mike Vick does to this horrendous Houston secondary.
19. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – Peyton Hillis isn’t just carrying my fantasy team, he is carrying a suddenly spry Browns offense. He has rung up 666 total yards and six touchdowns over the last four games. The result has been six straight games going ‘over’ and in the last five games they have averages of nearly 26 points per outing. The Browns are 9-4-1 ATS as dogs and 12-5 ATS against the AFC, but they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven overall. .
20. St. Louis Rams (5-6) – Hey, I’m not stunned. I’ve been saying that the Rams are the best team in the NFC West for two months. However, they still have plenty of work to do. Just because Arizona is rolling over right now doesn’t mean that getting a road win over a divisional opponent is going to be easy. They are just 4-13 ATS in divisional games.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) – I think that the Jaguars will be catching around six points this weekend when the line finally comes out. Jacksonville hasn’t won in Tennessee since 2007. They should get back Eugene Monroe at left tackle this week after missing last week with a concussion.
22. Minnesota Vikings (4-7) – I’m not buying the Minnesota Renaissance. Yes, they won last week in Washington. But they are still just 1-5 ATS in their last six games and have lost two of their last five games by double digits.
23. Oakland Raiders (5-6) – If you actually took Oakland last week, laying the points, you should punch yourself in the face. They are also walking into a shredder this week in San Diego. It’s games like this weekend’s where we will find out if this franchise is making real progress. These are games they have been losing by 30 points in recent years. However, Oakland is 4-1 ATS as a double-digit dog and they are 4-1 off a DD loss at home. I would like to see them at least put up a fight this week.
24. Dallas Cowboys (3-8) – I’ve talked about it often this season: the biggest issue for the Cowboys this year has been their defense. Last season they were No. 1 in the NFL with a defensive YPP of over 20.3. Right now they are No. 30 at 13.1. The result is also the second-most points allowed to opposing offenses (301) this year and a stunning eight straight games going ‘over’ the total.
25. San Francisco 49ers (4-7) – This is an early start on the “East Coast” for San Fran after a Monday Night Football win, which makes this a rough situation. However, I feel like the Niners are back in their best role: big underdog. They are still 9-1-2 ATS when catching points. I know that they will miss Frank Gore. However, I am a big fan of the bruising style of Anthony Dixon. I think he can do some work. This team is just 1-8-1 ATS against the Packers and they are just 5-20-2 ATS after a win of two touchdowns or more.
26. Seattle Seahawks (5-6) – This team is horrendous. And on top of that they are getting gutted by injury. What you saw last Sunday at home wasn’t an aberration. This team is undermanned on all sides of the ball and the warm-and-fuzzies from Pete Carroll’s arrival are wearing out. Despite that, this team could still lay out a beating this week to one of the few teams worse off than they are. Seattle is 11-4 ATS as a home favorite but just 2-5 ATS against a sub-.500 team.
27. Denver Broncos (3-8) – Denver is 5-16 SU and 6-15 ATS in their last 21 games. The Broncos are 3-9 ATS as a dog of over a touchdown. This team is in complete disarray. But they can still sling it on offense. Todd Haley accused Josh McDaniels of running up the score in the first meeting, so Denver better be ready to defend for the full 60.
28. Buffalo Bills (2-9) – The Bills are 12-4 ATS on the road and they are on a 5-0-1 ATS run. And I know that the focus has been on the fact that they have three OT losses and very well could be a .500 team right now. But I’m going to repeat what I said earlier this year: this team isn’t showing me that it is a scrappy team that can compete with anyone. They are showing me that they are losers that continuously find ways to lose.
29. Detroit Lions (2-9) – Here is something you don’t see every day: Detroit is 2-9 but they lead the NFL in red zone efficiency, converting 71 percent of their chances this year. The underdog is 16-7 ATS in the last 23 meetings with Chicago and the Lions are catching the Bears in a tricky spot. I know the focus this week could be on the fact that Detroit should have beaten the Bears in the first meeting (the Calvin Johnson No-Catch), but if you look at the tape the Lions were completely dominated that game.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9) – Obviously no one has a problem laying fat numbers to this debacle of a team. The Saints-Bengals is the No. 1 bet game on the board this week and there is 90 percent of the action coming in on New Orleans. Marvin Lewis is as lame as a duck could be. There is no way that he can maintain any control over this group.
31. Arizona Cardinals (3-8) – The ‘over’ is 40-17 in Arizona’s last 57 games as an underdog. The Cardinals have won eight straight in this series and they haven’t lost to St. Louis since 2006. However, Arizona has been outgained in all but one of its last 10 games and they are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10.
32. Carolina Panthers (1-10) – This team is converting just 25 percent of its red zone opportunities. They managed to cover last week, but I still don’t think this group has a chance in hell of winning another game the rest of the year.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He has banked profit for his clients after five of seven winning football weeks and is rolling out more predictions this week. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.