Might the de facto NFC East title game be held on Sunday when the New York Giants visit the Washington Redskins? Could be.
Now let me preface this by saying I expected Philadelphia to win that division back in the preseason (I fell into the Sam Bradford trap) and Dallas to finish second. Figured the Giants third and Redskins fourth. But after what transpired on Thanksgiving, the East looks like a two-team race between the G-Men and Redskins.
Philadelphia apparently has quit on Chip Kelly as the Eagles were flat-out embarrassed in Detroit on Thursday, 45-14, to lose their 10th game in the past 15 (I recommended the Lions on Monday). If Philly defensive coordinator Bill Davis has a job this by the end of this weekend, then Kelly should be fired. In the span of four days, including last Sunday's home loss to Tampa, the Eagles allowed 90 points, 951 yards and 10 touchdown passes. After a Nov. 8 win over Dallas, the Eagles were 4-4 with their next three opponents all having losing records. Now they are 4-7 and almost surely soon to be 4-8 with a loss next week at New England.
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I admit I thought Dallas would beat Carolina on Thursday and that's how I picked in my game preview here at Doc's. Boy, was I wrong. Rusty Tony Romo looked totally off with three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns in a 33-14 loss that wasn't that close. Romo also reinjured that left collarbone, so his season is over and so is the 3-8 Cowboys' year. Presumably Matt Cassel starts the rest of the way. Long story short: Bet against Dallas from here on out and go "under" all its totals.
Should New York, as a 2.5-point favorite, win at Washington on Sunday, the Giants would have two-game lead over the Eagles and Redskins, not to mention a sweep of Washington. I suppose a Redskins upset keeps Philly somewhat in the race; BetOnline has a prop on Washington making the playoffs, with "no" at -700 and "yes" at +450. The Skins will be without starting cornerback Chris Culliver the rest of the season as he tore his ACL in practice on Thursday. He was one of the team's big offseason signings but has been injury-prone in 2015.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 12.
Bills at Chiefs (-6, 41.5): Looked at this in Monday's Opening Line Report, when the Chiefs were -5. That was before Buffalo lost Monday night in New England and Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor injured his throwing shoulder. It does appear Taylor will be good to go, which was no sure thing as late as Wednesday. Coach Rex Ryan now says Taylor is "ready to roll" and he is listed as probable. But two stellar Bills defenders, tackle Kyle Williams and end Mario Williams, are out. Kyle Williams' season might be over as he hasn't played since Week 6; Mario was hurt Monday night. Chiefs running back Charcandrick West was very iffy as of Monday with a hamstring injury and it's still not looking good as he hasn't practiced as of Thursday. Spencer Ware should start, and he had a big game off the bench last week when West got hurt against San Diego.
Saints at Texans (-3, 48): New Orleans comes off its bye week, and it will be interesting to see if the Saints' NFL-worst defense looks any different under new coordinator Dennis Allen, the former Raiders head coach. He was promoted from an assistant role when Rob Ryan was fired following New Orleans' embarrassing effort in Week 10 at Washington. Allen doesn't really have much to work with so not sure how much will change, but things can't get worse I suppose. Houston will have starting quarterback Brian Hoyer after he missed a Week 11 win over the Jets. Houston has won three straight and the Texans' defense has allowed only two TDs over that stretch. This has the highest total of Sunday's games.
Dolphins at Jets (-3.5, 42.5): New York won't have Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis for this AFC East matchup due to a concussion. That obviously improves Miami's chances of an upset. Revis hadn't missed a game since a season-ending knee injury limited him to two games in 2012 with the Jets. New York has lost four of five, and its wild-card hopes would be in deep trouble with a loss. The Jets could all but eliminate the Fins from playoff contention with a win; New York won in London 27-14 over the Dolphins in Week 4, which proved to be Miami coach Joe Philbin's final game. The Dolphins had only 226 yards in that one; New York had nearly that many rushing. Revis had a pick in the game.
Cardinals at 49ers (+10, 44.5): This is the only double-digit spread on the board. I could see Arizona's Carson Palmer surpass New England's Tom Brady as the MVP favorite following Week 12. Brady looked very mortal in Monday's win over Buffalo, and his receiving corps is decimated. I expect Brady to struggle Sunday night in Denver against the best all-around defense in the NFL. Palmer, meanwhile, could have a big day against the lousy 49ers, who are 27th in total defense. In a Week 3 47-7 home win over San Francisco, Palmer was 20-for-32 for 311 yards and two scores. His counterpart in that game, Colin Kaepernick, wasn't quite as good. He was 9-for-19 for 67 yards and four picks. Confident I could do that. Kaepernick is now out for the season, and it's Blaine Gabbert against that very good Arizona defense. Top Niners running back Carlos Hyde is expected out again with a stress fracture in his foot. The Cards need a win to keep pace with unbeaten Carolina for any shot at the NFC's top seed.
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