After the Thanksgiving Day results, you can probably rule out the New York Jets and Detroit Lions from the playoffs – I wonder about the futures of coaches Rex Ryan and Jim Schwartz (with his boneheaded challenge, although it is an incredibly stupid rule). Thus, I would say the only teams to officially forget about the postseason are the two mentioned above, the Eagles, Panthers, Rams, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders and Chiefs. With that said, let’s look at some Sportsbook.ag props on potential playoff chances for a few teams.
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Among the teams the site lists, Pittsburgh (6-4) is the biggest favorite to make it at -300, with “no” at +220. I love the no there. Right now the Steelers do hold the final AFC wild-card spot and there’s just one team behind them: Cincinnati. But Ben Roethlisberger isn’t going to be back for at least a few more weeks. I could see Pittsburgh being upset this week at Cleveland with Charlie Batch at quarterback. Even if not, the Steelers easily could lose at least three of their next four if Big Ben is out: at Baltimore, vs. San Diego, at Dallas, vs. Cincinnati. Will 9-7 cut it? I say no in this case.
Cincinnati (5-5) is +240 to make it and -320 not to. And the Bengals are the team I would take over Pittsburgh. They did already lose one head-to-head matchup but can remedy that in Week 16. The Bengals should spank the Raiders this week and face fading San Diego, schizophrenic Dallas and the quitting Eagles after that before the Pittsburgh game. Week 17 against Baltimore looks daunting, but I have a feeling the Ravens are locked into their playoff seed at that point and have nothing to play for. In a hypothetical, what if Baltimore could assure that Pittsburgh would miss the playoffs by losing to the Bengals? Think the Ravens wouldn’t savor that?
The Colts (6-4) are -115 to miss and make it. They could easily win their next three: vs. Buffalo, at Detroit (Lions will probably quit now) and vs. Tennessee. Yes, Indy plays Houston twice in the final three weeks – win vs. Chiefs in the middle of that – but the Texans almost for sure will have squat to play for in Week 17. Take “yes” there.
The Chargers (4-6) are -500 to miss out and +350 to make it. Forget it, this team has no heart and Norv Turner is a goner. Bolts may well lose their next three: vs. Baltimore, vs. Cincinnati and at Pittsburgh (if Big Ben is back). The one positive is that San Diego closes with three winnable games: vs. Carolina, at the Jets, and vs. Oakland. But it’s no here.
The two NFC options are the Seahawks and Bucs. Seattle (6-4) is -140 to make it and +110 not to. The Seahawks might be the worst road team in NFL history to make the postseason as they are 1-4 away from the Pacific Northwest. And the ‘Hawks next two games are on the road: Miami and Chicago. So if they lose those two, they probably have to then run the table with the final four games as: vs. Arizona, at Buffalo, vs. San Francisco and vs. St. Louis. Possible? Sure. Likely? I say no, and no is the pick here.
The Bucs (6-4) are +200 to make it and -260 not to. While they are a pleasant surprise, the Bucs have a tough finish, with two games vs. Atlanta and trips to Denver and New Orleans. Tampa Bay doesn’t make it – New Orleans claims the final NFC wild-card spot (the Bears/Packers NFC North runner-up gets the other).
Week 12 Sportsbook.ag Leaders
Houston’s Matt Schaub easily won last week with 527 yards passing against Jacksonville, tied for the second-most all-time. I liked Carson Palmer, and his 312 was solid but will rarely take a week these days in the pass-happy NFL. The Texans’ Andre Johnson led the way with a career-high 273 receiving yards. I liked Calvin Johnson, who was fourth with 143. That’s usually enough most weeks. And Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin won the week yet again with 138 rushing yards. I went chalk with Arian Foster, and he finished with 90 as Schuab and Johnson morphed into Montana and Rice for one game. New England was the highest-scoring team with 59 points. I took the Saints, who had 38 in Oakland.
Not quite as many options this week with the three Thursday games, and the site never includes Monday games. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is the +350 favorite to put up the most rushing yards, and that’s hard to argue with. Peterson was red-hot entering last week’s bye with 629 yards in his past four games. He goes against a Chicago defense that is among the best in the NFL against the run, but Peterson averages nearly 103 yards a game in his career vs. the Bears. But I believe that Chicago defense plays angry after stinking on Monday night and will not let Peterson be the difference. I have a hunch on K.C.’s Jamaal Charles at +1000 against Denver’s very good run defense. I honestly don’t understand the Chiefs. The three times Charles has gotten 20 carries this year, he has hit triple-digits. Kansas City won one of those games (its only win) and lost by a field goal in the other two. Not sure why it hasn’t happened more often, but he does get it at least 20 on Sunday.
On the passing yards, Brees is the +300 favorite as the Saints host the Niners. As good as Brees is, I just can’t take him against that excellent defense. Go with Matt Ryan (+400) against the No. 30 Tampa Bay pass defense. On the receiving yards, I like the Colts’ Reggie Wayne at +1000 against the Bills. Cincinnati (Cincinnati!?) is the favorite to score the most points at +400 against Oakland. Yes, the Raiders have allowed 135 points the past three games, but the Bengals are too conservative to hang 40 on them. I like the Giants off a bye at +500 in what should be a shootout against Green Bay (+1000).
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