NFL Week 15 Special Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 12/13/2013
The big story of the week in the NFL was dead-man walking Mike Shanahan deciding to deactivate Robert Griffin III, the same guy who cost the Redskins three first-round picks (one a swap) and a second, for the rest of the season and start backup Kirk Cousins. Shanahan says it's just to assure that RGIII doesn't get hurt and will be fully healthy for offseason activities and into next season (even son Kyle, the team's offensive coordinator, said he was disappointed by the move and had no say in the move).That is 100 percent hogwash considering Shanahan absolutely knows he won't be Washington's coach next season. So why would he care? This is about two things: Shanahan thumbing his nose at owner Dan Snyder and showing he's still a QB guru if Cousins plays well.
Shanahan reportedly quit after last season, even cleaning out his office, because he was fed up about how Snyder was all buddy-buddy with RGIII, the franchise player. That's a bit weird, but the guy is the face of the team, and Snyder can do what he wants. Shanahan also knows he has a contract for $7 million next season, so he's just daring Snyder to fire him. That way he perhaps takes a year off and does some TV work and collects the cash or pursues another job. I'd bet $1,000 that Snyder does fire Shanahan on Dec. 30, the day after the season or "Black Monday."
For some reason, the Redskins took Cousins in the fourth round of the same draft they took RGIII. Now maybe they can get something for him. Cousins was pretty good in RGIII's place last year, completing 68.8 percent of his passes, but doesn't have good numbers in mop-up time this year. Among Bovada's Week 15 specials are Cousins' “over/under” totals this week at Atlanta: 240.5 yards (both -115), 1.5 TD passes (under -130 favorite) and .5 interceptions (over -200 favorite).
The Falcons are in full tank mode at this point. They rank 20th in pass defense, allowing 246 yards per game. Atlanta is 27th in giving up 25 TD passes and 30th with just five picks. I like Cousins over on all. The Washington defense is wretched, so I expect Atlanta to score often. That means the Skins will be throwing all day. Plus, you have the dome factor. I look for something like 280 yards, two TDs and two picks.
Sticking with the quarterbacks, nothing gives me more pleasure than ripping on the New York teams, and Bovada offers a prop on whether Eli Manning (+110) or Geno Smith (-150) ends the season with more picks. Manning has 20 while the Jets rookie has the same. The G-Men close vs. Seattle, at Detroit and vs. Washington. One stellar pass defense and two bad ones. The Jets finish at Carolina, vs. Cleveland and at Miami. Those are all good defenses against the pass. Still, I like Eli. The Giants throw more, and he has no chance of being pulled. Smith could be.
Usually I am aware why Bovada posts a prop, but I'll admit I had to look this one up: Will a linebacker lead the NFL in interceptions this year, with “yes” at -300 and “no” at +200. I was definitely not aware that Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy leads the league with six. There are three guys behind him with five, including Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. There's another huge group with four, including linebackers Sean Lee (Cowboys) and Kiko Alonso (Bills). So really you are betting on Levy or David here. I'm going no. I like Titans corner Alterraun Verner, who has five. He faces interception-prone QBs the rest of the way in Arizona's Carson Palmer, Jacksonville's Chad Henne and Houston's Case Keenum. Verner is a bit nicked up but is expected to play Sunday vs. the Cards.
Finally, let's end with two Texans props. The first I think is a lock: Will Houston take a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 draft: yes -130 and no -110. I don't think there's even a question here. Matt Schaub is a goner, and Keenum is a backup type. The Texans will take Teddy Bridgewater No. 1 overall if they land there or Fresno State's David Carr if they slide down a spot or two.
Will Houston's next coach have a say in things? One would think so. The site lists these guys as the team's new head coach in the wake of Gary Kubiak's firing: Lovie Smith (5/2), Art Briles (11/4), Ken Whisenhunt (4/1), David Shaw (5/1), Kevin Sumlin (5/1), current interim coach/defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (15/2), Bill Cowher (15/1) or Jon Gruden (15/1).
Team owner Bob McNair has said he wants someone with NFL experience, so presumably that would rule out Texas A&M's Sumlin, Baylor's Briles and Stanford's Shaw. Cowher and Gruden seem happy doing TV, and neither have Texas ties. Smith was successful as Chicago's coach and is a Texas native. In fact, his first coaching job was at Big Sandy High School in Sandy, Texas. I definitely think it's either him or Whisenhunt, the former Cardinals coach who led that franchise to a Super Bowl when he had Kurt Warner. Whisenhunt helped turn Philip Rivers around this year in San Diego as the team's offensive coordinator. The question is whether Houston wants to go with an offensive (Whisenhunt) or defensive (Smith) mind. If you take a QB No. 1 overall, wouldn't you want Whisenhunt? The only worry there, I suppose, is Kubiak also was an offensive guy, so McNair could go in another direction. I don't think Phillips has a shot, so I'd lean Whisenhunt.
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