I rather like Bovada’s Week 13 futures specials rather than what happens just this week, so let’s look at a few of those.
I’m always ready to jump on those head-coaching props, and the site lists three on whether they will return next season: the Jets’ Rex Ryan, Lions’ Jim Schwartz and Cardinals’ Ken Whisenhunt. Certainly New York and Detroit had playoff expectations this season. I’m sure Arizona will say it did, too, but it was kidding itself with the quarterbacks on the roster.
Ryan is -200 to not be around come opening day 2013 and +150 to get another shot. Jets owner Woody Johnson used to love Ryan because he got the Jets on the back page of the tabloids and his teams won, reaching two straight AFC title games. But New York closed last season losing its final three games to miss out on the post season and now is 4-7 and probably out of the playoffs again. So that means Rex is 4-10 in his past 14 games.
The Jets seem very unprofessional at times under Ryan, with anonymous sources emerging left and right to criticize about one thing or another to the press. And Mark Sanchez has completely regressed and lost confidence. Could Ryan, who is under contract for two more years, save his job by making the postseason? Probably. And it’s not impossible. Jets’ remaining schedule: vs. Cardinals, at Jaguars, at Titans, vs. Chargers, at Bills. New York really should be favored in all of them. So you probably need to tether Ryan’s future to the Jets winning out. I happen to think he gets one more year, as does GM Mike Tannenbaum, so take “yes”.
It’s also possible Sunday’s Cardinals-Jets game could be the final straw for either Ryan or Whisenhunt if one of the teams is blown out. Arizona looks poised to finish 4-12 after starting 4-0. Ryan Lindley – Ryan Lindley! – will start again this week under center. Whisenhunt (+130 to return, -160 not to) rode the coattails of Kurt Warner for a few years, but the Cards have been lousy without Warner. It’s clearly time to make a change in the desert and bring in a new coach to tutor whatever quarterback the team takes in the 2013 draft. The only thing that might stop the Cards is they are so cheap and wouldn’t want to eat Whisenhunt’s contract. He is under contract through next season at around $5.5 million a year, and the team holds an option for 2014. The Bidwells might just let him “play” it out and not owe him anything. I still think he’s gone.
Schwartz (-110 to return, -130 not to) was a Coach of the Year candidate last season after he guided the Lions to their first playoff berth in more than a decade. But at 4-7, Detroit would need a miracle to get back there. You can’t blame Schwartz for Jahvid Best’s potentially career-ending concussion and some other injury problems, but the Lions were on the police blotter all summer. And Schwartz tends to find himself in the middle of bad press. There was last year’s dust-up with Jim Harbaugh and then his blunder with the challenge flag on Thanksgiving Day. A stupid rule, to be sure, but still a rule (not for much longer). Should the Lions lose out, Schwartz is probably gone. But they probably end up 7-9 and earn their coach one more year.
Back to the Cardinals, there is a prop on whether they or the Philadelphia Eagles end the season on a 12-game losing streak. Yes is +600 and “no” -1200 for Arizona. I think yes is tremendous value. I already mentioned the team’s QB issue. And here is the remaining schedule after the Jets: at Seahawks, vs. Lions, vs. Bears, at 49ers. Find me a win there. Maybe the Niners have nothing to play for in Week 17 – but maybe they also are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
As for Philly, yes is +500 and no at -1000. DeSean Jackson is done for the year, and Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy might be. The Eagles should lose in Dallas on Sunday and then their remaining schedule is: at Bucs, vs. Bengals, vs. Redskins, at Giants. Those are all teams in the playoff hunt. It’s possible the G-Men are locked into the No. 3 seed in Week 17 and essentially lie down. But I would take a shot on yes here as well.
Sportsbook.ag Week 13 Leaders
For the first time this season, I hit on the highest-scoring team of the week last week as the Giants put up 38 points by crushing Green Bay (New England had 49 on Thanksgiving vs. the Jets, but Thursday and Monday games aren’t options). The G-Men paid off at +500 there. I liked the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles as the top rusher and he did have 107 yards – at least I predicted the dense KC coaches would finally give him the ball 20 times again and he would reach triple-digits – but the Rams’ Stephen Jackson won Sunday with 139 yards. On the passing yards, I took Matt Ryan against that lousy Tampa Bay pass defense. Ryan had a big game with 353 yards, but Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo led the way with 441 each. And on the receiving, I took Indy’s Reggie Wayne. He also had a good game with 102 yards, but Houston’s Andre Johnson took home the honors for the second week in a row – in fact, his 461-yard total in the past two games is the best in NFL history.
With Drew Brees having played Thursday night, there’s finally a new passing favorite in Week 13: Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning at +350. Rodgers is a bit surprising in that the Vikings are a solid No. 14 in passing defense. Manning faces that No. 32 Bucs unit. I have to go with Tom Brady at +600 as the Pats visit the Fins. Brady is red-hot right now (14 TDs, no picks in past five games, at least 320 passing in past two) and has closed the gap on Manning for the MVP award. Brady had 517 through the air in south Florida last year.
Houston’s Arian Foster is a big +250 rushing yardage favorite as the Texans visit Tennessee and its No. 27 rush defense. Foster was held to 86 yards in the first meeting with the Titans this season. I’m staying in that game and taking Tennessee’s Chris Johnson at +500. He had 141 in the first meeting and is averaging nearly 120 yards in his past three games overall. There’s a four-way favorite at +500 for most receiving yards: the Bengals’ A.J. Green, Bears’ Brandon Marshall, Lions’ Calvin Johnson and Colts’ Wayne. Andre Johnson is +1000 to go 3-for-3. I’m going with the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant at +1000 against the quitting Eagles. Bryant is finally playing up to his potential, with back-to-back 145-yard games.
As for highest-scoring team, New England is the +350 favorite. Hard to argue against that considering the Pats are averaging nearly 48 points in their past four. Go chalk there.
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