NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

San Diego can supercharge playoff hopes with win in Tennessee

- The Chargers have clobbered the Titans in two recent meetings and they might be ready to bully them again this week. San Diego is back to creating turnovers on defense and capitalizing on offense, the recipe that made them Super Bowl contenders a year ago. Of note, San Diego road run stop ranks 31st in the league.

The Chargers defeated Kansas City 24-10 as a 6-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (37.5).

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 177 yards with a pair of touchdowns for San Diego, while Philip Rivers completed 10-of-21 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Titans defeated Houston 28-20 as a 3.5-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (40).

Vince Young threw for 248 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Tennessee, while Roydell Williams caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Current streak:
San Diego has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
San Diego: 7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS
Tennessee: 7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS

San Diego most recently:
When playing in December are 7-3
When playing on grass are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing outside the division are 5-5

Tennessee most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the division are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
San Diego is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Tennessee
San Diego is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
San Diego is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games
The total has gone OVER in 9 of San Diego's last 12 games on the road
Tennessee is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
Tennessee is 13-6 SU in its last 19 games
Tennessee is 16-8 ATS in its last 24 games
Tennessee is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 games at home

Next up:
San Diego home to Detroit, Sunday, December 16
Tennessee at Kansas City, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Eagles face must-win in revenge spot against Giants

- A.J. Feeley threw seven picks in two straight losses, but will Donovan McNabb get his job back anyway? The Giants mauled Philly in Week 4 but they don't often win here (losing five of seven). Philly must win to have a wing or a prayer in the NFC Wild Card hunt.

The Giants defeated Chicago 21-16 as a 1-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (40).

Derrick Ward rushed for 154 yards with a touchdown on 24 carries for New York, while Eli Manning completed 16-of-27 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Eagles lost to Seattle 28-24 as a 3-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41).

A.J. Feeley completed 19-of-42 passes for 220 yard with a touchdown and four interceptions for Philadelphia, while Brian Westbrook rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

Current streak:
Philadelphia has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
New York: 8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS
Philadelphia: 5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS

New York most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing within the division are 5-5

Philadelphia most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing within the division are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
NY Giants are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games on the road
NY Giants are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of the NY Giants last 6 games when playing Philadelphia
NY Giants are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games when playing Philadelphia
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Philadelphia's last 6 games
Philadelphia is 5-2 SU in their last 7 games when playing at home against NY Giants
Philadelphia is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Philadelphia's last 6 games when playing NY Giants

Next up:
NY Giants home to Washington, Sunday, December 16
Philadelphia at Dallas, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Bucs hot again, aim for 9-4 record vs. Texans

- A four-game winning streak has Tampa Bay on the cusp of the post-season in a year when injuries to QBs and RBs have failed to buck the Bucs trend of winning. Third-stringer Luke McCown got the job done Sunday and now they get a lesser task on the road at Houston.

The Buccaneers defeated New Orleans 27-23 as a 5.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41.5).

Luke McCown completed 29-of-37 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Tampa Bay, while Earnest Graham rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

The Texans lost to Tennessee 28-20 as a 3.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (40).

Sage Rosenfels completed 17-of-30 passes for 185 yards with a touchdowns and an interception for Houston, while Andre Johnson caught nine passes for 116 yards with a touchdown.

Current streak:
Tampa Bay has won 4 straight games.
Houston has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
Tampa Bay: 8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS
Houston: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS

Tampa Bay most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on grass are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the division are 5-5

Houston most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on grass are 4-6
After being outgained are 1-9
When playing outside the division are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Tampa Bay is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Tampa Bay is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 16 of Tampa Bay's last 23 games on the road
Tampa Bay is 4-11 SU in its last 15 games on the road
Houston is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games at home
Houston is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 6 games at home
Houston is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games

Next up:
Tampa Bay home to Atlanta, Sunday, December 16
Houston home to Denver, Thursday, December 13

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Rams look for fourth win in five games at expense of Cincy

- A pair of NFL also-rans hook up in what could be a high-scoring affair in Cincy Sunday when the Rams visit. However, the Rams average just 11.5 PPG on the road. St. Louis has won three of four after opening the season 0-8 and they have won and easily covered the past three meetings with the Bengals.

The Rams defeated Atlanta 28-16 as a 3-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (40).

Gus Frerotte threw for 311 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for St. Louis, while Torry Holt caught six passes for 135 yards with a touchdown.

The Bengals lost to Pittsburgh 24-10 as a 7-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (40.5).

Carson Palmer completed 17-of-44 passes for 183 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions for Cincinnati, while Rudi Johnson rushed for 34 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.

Team records:
St. Louis: 3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS
Cincinnati: 4-8 SU, 4-7-1 ATS

St. Louis most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on turf are 2-8
After being outgained are 3-7
When playing outside the division are 5-5

Cincinnati most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on turf are 4-6
After being outgained are 3-7
When playing outside the division are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of St. Louis's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of St. Louis's last 12 games
St. Louis is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Cincinnati
St. Louis is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing Cincinnati
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cincinnati's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Cincinnati's last 9 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cincinnati's last 6 games when playing St. Louis
Cincinnati is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing St. Louis

Next up:
St. Louis home to Green Bay, Sunday, December 16
Cincinnati at San Francisco, Saturday, December 15

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Cowboys big road favorites against toothless Lions

- Dallas rides a six-game winning streak to Detroit, where the Lions are stumbling through a four-game losing streak. The Cowboys bring the league's second-bets offense to Pontiac to face the league's fourth-worst defense, which could make the 11-point spread climb during the week.

Tony Romo threw four touchdowns last time out, as the Cowboys defeated the Packers 37-27. The Cowboys covered the 7-point spread, and the game's 64 points sailed OVER the posted total of 52.

Romo completed 19-of-30 passes for 309 yards with one interception, while Patrick Crayton caught two TD passes in the win.

The Lions lost to Minnesota 42-10 as a 5.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (44.5).

Jon Kitna completed 27-of-36 passes for 260 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Detroit and Roy Williams caught five passes for 85 yards.

Current streak:
Dallas has won 6 straight games.
Detroit has lost 4 straight games.

Team records:
Dallas: 11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS
Detroit: 6-6 SU, 5-6-1 ATS

Dallas most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on turf are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When playing outside the division are 7-3

Detroit most recently:
When playing in December are 2-8
When playing on turf are 5-5
After being outgained are 4-6
When playing outside the division are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Dallas's last 5 games on the road
Dallas is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Detroit's last 5 games
Detroit is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Dallas
Detroit is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games at home
Detroit is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Dallas

Next up:
Dallas home to Philadelphia, Sunday, December 16
Detroit at San Diego, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Raiders introduce Russell; look for third straight win vs. Packers

- JaMarcus Russell looked good in limited duty last week and he might get more action in Green Bay this weekend as Oakland tries to make it three straight wins. This is a match where strengths play to strengths and weaknesses to weaknesses. Oakland is tough against the pass, where the Pack is strong and Green Bay hasn't rushed well at home, where the Raiders rank last in road run stop.

The Raiders defeated Denver 34-20 as a 3.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41.5).

Josh McCown threw three touchdown passes for Oakland, while Justin Fargas rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.

Green Bay were defeated 37-27 by the Cowboys last time out, as 7-point underdogs. The game's 64 points sailed OVER the posted total of 52.

Ryan Grant carried the ball 14 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns for the Packers, while Brett Favre completed 5-of-14 for 56 yards, before Aaron Rodgers took over and threw for 201 yards and a TD in the loss.

Current streak:
Oakland has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Oakland: 4-8 SU, 5-7 ATS
Green Bay: 10-2 SU, 9-2-1 ATS

Oakland most recently:
When playing in December are 1-9
When playing on grass are 4-6
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the division are 2-8

Green Bay most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 9-1
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing outside the division are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Oakland's last 6 games on the road
Oakland is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Oakland's last 12 games on the road
Oakland is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 games
Green Bay is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games
Green Bay is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games at home
Green Bay is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Green Bay's last 5 games

Next up:
Oakland home to Indianapolis, Sunday, December 16
Green Bay at St. Louis, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Jags need win over suddenly dangerous Panthers

- Just when the Jaguars were proving they were still pretenders in a loss to Indy, the Panthers were proving they still had some snarl in a win over the 49ers. The teams clash in Jacksonville with the OVER prevailing in the past six Jag contests. Of note, Carolina boasts the league's fifth-best road rushing game while the Jags rank fifth from the bottom in stopping the run at home.

The Panthers defeated San Francisco 31-14 as a 3-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under (35).

Vinny Testaverde passed for 169 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Carolina and Steve Smith caught eight passes for 64 yards in the win.

The Jaguars lost to Indianapolis 28-25 as a 6.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (45).

David Garrard completed 24-of-29 passes for 257 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Jacksonville, while Fred Taylor rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries.

Team records:
Carolina: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS
Jacksonville: 8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS

Carolina most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on grass are 2-8
After outgaining opponent are 3-7
When playing outside the division are 3-7

Jacksonville most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on grass are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 5-5
When playing outside the division are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Carolina's last 9 games
Carolina is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games on the road
Carolina is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Carolina's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Jacksonville's last 5 games
Jacksonville is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Jacksonville is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
Jacksonville is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games

Next up:
Carolina home to Seattle, Sunday, December 16
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Bills host winless Dolphins, eye playoff possibilities

- Left for dead after two humiliating losses, Buffalo looks to pull even in the AFC Wild Card race with a win Sunday over winless Miami. The Bills usually handle the Dolphins against the spread (they are 7-0 past seven meetings) and this would be Miami's best chance to avoid the 0-16 season.

The Dolphins lost to the Jets 40-13 as a 1.5-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (37.5).

John Beck completed 23-of-39 passes for 177 yards with three interceptions for Miami and Jesse Chatman rushed for 26 yards on 11 carries.

The Bills edged Washington 17-16 as a 6.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (37).

Rian Lindell kicked five field goals for Buffalo, while Trent Edwards completed 22-of-36 passes for 257 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Current streak:
Miami has lost 12 straight games.

Team records:
Miami: 0-12 SU, 3-7-2 ATS
Buffalo: 6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS

Miami most recently:
When playing in December are 5-5
When playing on turf are 1-9
After being outgained are 0-10
When playing within the division are 1-9

Buffalo most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on turf are 4-6
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing within the division are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 5 games when playing Buffalo
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games on the road
Miami is 2-2-2 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Buffalo is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Miami
Buffalo is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Miami
Buffalo is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Buffalo's last 5 games when playing Miami

Next up:
Miami home to Baltimore, Sunday, December 16
Buffalo at Cleveland, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Vikings take running game on the road

- The home team has won all six meetings since 1995, but that could change this week as the run-heavy Vikes visit the freefalling 49ers. Minnesota has won three straight behind an improving defense and juggernaut running game that leads the league in road rushing at 150 YPG.

The Vikings defeated Detroit 42-10 as a 5.5-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (44.5).

Adrian Peterson rushed for 116 yards with a pair of touchdowns for Minnesota, while Tarvaris Jackson completed 18-of-24 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the win.

The 49ers lost to Carolina 31-14 as a 3-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (35).

Trent Dilfer completed 14-of-29 passes for 171 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions for San Francisco, while Frank Gore was held to 58 yards on 12 carries.

Current streak:
Minnesota has won 3 straight games.

Team records:
Minnesota: 6-6 SU, 6-4-2 ATS
San Francisco: 3-9 SU, 3-8-1 ATS

Minnesota most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on grass are 3-7
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the division are 5-5

San Francisco most recently:
When playing in December are 3-7
When playing on grass are 3-7
After being outgained are 1-9
When playing outside the division are 2-8

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 6 games when playing on the road against San Francisco
Minnesota is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
San Francisco is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Minnesota
San Francisco is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing at home against Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 5 of San Francisco's last 6 games when playing at home against Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of San Francisco's last 5 games at home

Next up:
Minnesota home to Chicago, Monday, December 17
San Francisco home to Cincinnati, Saturday, December 15

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Cards aim to shoot down Seahawk division hopes

- Arizona probably can't catch Seattle in the NFC West, but they would love to knock their division rivals down a peg Sunday. Arizona has won and covered the past two meetings, but they have lost four straight trips to Seattle. The Seahawks have won and covered four straight overall this season.

The Cardinals defeated Cleveland 27-21 as a pick'em in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (52).

Kurt Warner threw for 169 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception for Cleveland, while Edgerrin James rushed for 114 yards on 24 carries.

The Seahawks defeated Philadelphia 28-24 as a 3-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41).

Matt Hasselbeck completed 19-of-24 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Seattle, while Lofa Tatupu had three interceptions in the win.

Current streak:
Seattle has won 4 straight games.

Team records:
Arizona: 6-6 SU, 7-4-1 ATS
Seattle: 8-4 SU, 7-4-1 ATS

Arizona most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on turf are 4-6
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing within the division are 6-4

Seattle most recently:
When playing in December are 7-3
When playing on turf are 7-3
After being outgained are 6-4
When playing within the division are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Arizona's last 7 games when playing Seattle
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Arizona's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 13 of Arizona's last 18 games
Arizona is 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 games on the road
Seattle is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Seattle's last 7 games when playing Arizona
Seattle is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Seattle is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games

Next up:
Arizona at New Orleans, Sunday, December 16
Seattle at Carolina, Sunday, December 16

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Chiefs, Broncos in meaningless AFC West tilt

- It's been a while since a Week 14 battle between KC and Denver meant so little. But losing skids and erratic play have relegated both to also-ran status in the AFC and neither will likely catch San Diego. The Broncos have covered just two of 12 home games dating back to last season, but they have five straight at home against the fading Chiefs.

The Chiefs lost to San Diego 24-10 as a 6-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (37.5).

Damon Huard completed 19-of-34 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Kansas City and Kolby Smith rushed for 83 yards on 21 carries.

The Broncos lost to Oakland 34-20 as a 3.5-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (41.5).

Jay Cutler completed 16-of-32 passes for 214 yards with two interceptions for Denver, while Travis Henry rushed for 49 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries.

Current streak:
Kansas City has lost 5 straight games.
Denver has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
Kansas City: 4-8 SU, 5-6-1 ATS
Denver: 5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS

Kansas City most recently:
When playing in December are 4-6
When playing on grass are 4-6
After being outgained are 5-5
When playing within the division are 6-4

Denver most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on grass are 4-6
After being outgained are 3-7
When playing within the division are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Kansas City's last 8 games on the road
Kansas City is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Kansas City's last 22 games
Kansas City is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Denver
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Denver's last 5 games
Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Kansas City
Denver is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Kansas City
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Denver's last 11 games at home

Next up:
Kansas City home to Tennessee, Sunday, December 16
Denver at Houston, Thursday, December 13

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Line moves quickly in favor of Browns at Jets

- The Browns lost in the desert Sunday, but were made favorites against the Jets, who routed Miami. Cleveland has been equal parts good and lucky, while New York sandwiched the Dolphins win and Steelers upset around a complete annihilation at Dallas. Which Jets team will show up to face the Browns?

The Browns lost to Arizona 27-21 as a pick'em in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (52).

Derek Anderson completed 21-of-41 passes for 304 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Cleveland and Braylon Edwards caught seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

The Jets defeated Miami 40-13 as a 1.5-point underdog in Week 13. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (37.5).

Leon Washington rushed for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Jets, while Kellen Clemens completed 15-of-24 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the win.

Team records:
Cleveland: 7-5 SU, 9-3 ATS
New York: 3-9 SU, 4-7-1 ATS

Cleveland most recently:
When playing in December are 2-8
When playing on turf are 3-7
After outgaining opponent are 2-8
When playing outside the division are 5-5

New York most recently:
When playing in December are 6-4
When playing on turf are 2-8
After outgaining opponent are 3-7
When playing outside the division are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Cleveland is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Cleveland's last 12 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Cleveland's last 6 games on the road
Cleveland is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 13 of the NY Jets last 19 games at home
NY Jets are 2-4 SU in their last 6 games at home
NY Jets are 2-3-1 ATS in their last 6 games at home
NY Jets are 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 games

Next up:
Cleveland home to Buffalo, Sunday, December 16
NY Jets at New England, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Patriots host upset-minded Steelers in bid for 13-0

- For the second week in a row, the Patriots deserved to lose, but their self-destructing opponents wouldn't allow it. Now, the Patriots get a tough Steeler team that has the defensive personnel to replicate the problems caused by the Eagles and Ravens. But will it be enough? The Pats 6-1 ATS of late against Pitt.

The Steelers defeated Cincinnati 24-10 as a 7-point favorite in Week 13. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (40.5).

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 184 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and he also ran in for a score for Pittsburgh, while Hines Ward caught 11 passes for 90 yards with two touchdowns in the win.

Tom Brady threw a game-winning touchdown with 44 seconds left last time out, as the Patriots defeated the Ravens 27-24. The Patriots could not cover the 18.5-point spread, but the 51 points made it OVER the posted total of 46.5.

Brady completed 18-of-38 pass attempts for 257 yards with two touchdowns.

Current streak:
Pittsburgh has won 2 straight games.
New England has won 12 straight games.

Team records:
Pittsburgh: 9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS
New England: 12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS

Pittsburgh most recently:
When playing in December are 8-2
When playing on turf are 6-4
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the division are 7-3

New England most recently:
When playing in December are 9-1
When playing on turf are 10-0
After being outgained are 7-3
When playing outside the division are 9-1

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh's last 5 games when playing New England
Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games on the road
New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 5 of New England's last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 5 of New England's last 5 games when playing Pittsburgh

Next up:
Pittsburgh home to Jacksonville, Sunday, December 16
New England home to NY Jets, Sunday, December 16

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Giants vs Eagles

(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Eagles will get one of their most important players back for their belated playoff push, as Donovan McNabb is expected to return under center when the defending NFC East champions battle the New York Giants this Sunday in a critical divisional clash from Lincoln Financial Field.

McNabb was forced to exit the Philadelphia 17-7 victory over Miami on November 18 due to a sprained right ankle and a jammed thumb on his throwing hand, then sat out the team's next two games because of the injuries. A.J. Feeley nearly led the Eagles to a monumental upset of still-unbeaten New England the following Sunday, but the career backup played an even larger role in Philly's costly 28-24 home loss to Seattle last weekend.

Feeley threw four interceptions against the Seahawks, three of which landed in the arms of linebacker Lofa Tatupu, and completed just 19-of-42 passes in a forgettable fill-in job. Two of Tatupu's picks directly led to Seattle touchdowns, while the last halted a potential game-winning drive in the final seconds.

McNabb's presence couldn't have come at a better time for the Eagles, who are in danger of missing out on the NFC's postseason parade for only the second time in the last eight seasons. At 5-7, Philadelphia is one of five teams that are a game behind three other clubs presently battling for the conference's sixth and final playoff spot.

On second thought, McNabb may have picked a bad time to make his comeback. In the Eagles' encounter with the Giants earlier this season, the five-time Pro Bowl selection was sacked 12 times by New York's blitz-happy defense in Big Blue's 16-3 victory at the Meadowlands on September 30. Giants end Osi Umenyiora single-handedly accounted for six of those takedowns as he abused inexperienced tackle Winston Justice.

Justice was subbing for an injured William Thomas, one of five key Philadelphia starters inactive for that game. The most notable absence for the Eagles was do-everything running back Brian Westbrook, the NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage. Also unable to go that night were secondary stalwarts Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard and tight end L.J. Smith.

This time around, the Giants are the ones dealing with some health issues. Top running back Brandon Jacobs has missed the last two games with a strained hamstring and is a question mark to return on Sunday. Derrick Ward rushed for a career-best 154 yards in Jacobs' stead during last week's 21-16 comeback win at Chicago, but the second-stringer broke his left fibula on his final carry and was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

New York is also likely to be without free safety Gibril Wilson for a second straight week due to a knee sprain. Fellow defensive starters James Butler (hamstring), Antonio Pierce (ankle) and Aaron Ross (hamstring) are also banged up, while star wideout Plaxico Burress' production has been slowed by a nagging ankle sprain that he continues to play through.

The Giants may be able to afford resting some of their walking wounded, since their 8-4 record has put the team in good position to earn the NFC's first Wild Card berth.

SERIES HISTORY

The Giants hold a 77-66-2 edge in a regular season series that dates back to the 1933 season, including a 16-3 home win in a primetime tilt during Week 4. The teams split last year's home-and-home, with New York recording a stunning, come-from-behind 30-24 overtime victory in Week 2 of last season, and Philadelphia returning the favor with a 36-22 win at Giants Stadium in Week 15.

Following a 23-20 Eagles win in a NFC First-Round playoff this past January, the Giants now own a 2-1 lead in the postseason series with the Eagles. Big Blue took a 20-10 home decision in a 2000 NFC Divisional Playoff and a 27-21 triumph in a 1981 NFC First-Round Playoff at Veterans Stadium.

The Eagles' Andy Reid is 9-10 against New York all-time, including 8-9 in the regular season. The Giants' Tom Coughlin is 6-4 versus Philadelphia, with two of the wins dating back to his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and is 5-4 against Reid in his career.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Injuries to the running back position have been nothing new to New York this season, as Jacobs (599 rushing yards, 11 receptions, 3 total TD) has only played in seven games because of a sprained knee in addition to his hamstring ailment, and Ward had just returned from a four-game absence due to groin and ankle problems in the Chicago game. Both backs have been good when healthy, however, as the Giants rank sixth in the NFL in rushing offense (127.5 ypg). Coughlin is hopeful that Jacobs, who's had three 100-yard efforts this year, will be able to carry the load on Sunday. If not, short-yardage specialist Reuben Droughns (247 rushing yards, 6 TD) will receive the bulk of the work. Whoever gets the call will have the benefit of running behind a quality offensive line that's been one of the Giants' strengths.

The Giants also have some uncertainty at quarterback, not in regards to who will start, but rather how the erratic Eli Manning (2571 passing yards, 17 TD) will fare on Sunday. The former No. 1 overall pick followed up a woeful four- interception performance in a Week 12 loss to Minnesota with two more picks against the Bears, giving him a league-high total of 17 on the year. Manning redeemed himself later on, though, as he directed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to rally New York to victory. Burress (55 receptions, 9 TD) remains Manning's favorite target, but the hobbled receiver has scored just one touchdown over the last six games after starting the season out on fire. Amani Toomer (47 receptions, 3 TD) was the go-to-guy last Sunday, as the veteran wideout finished with six catches for 69 yards and a score. Manning also has Jeremy Shockey (54 receptions, 3 TD) to throw to, although the excitable tight end has also gone through bouts of inconsistency.

Philadelphia's defense has been tough against the run this year, holding opponents to just 96.8 yards per game (9th overall) and 3.7 yards per attempt. The Eagles did struggle in that area last week, however, as Seattle put up 135 yards on the ground and took advantage of the absence of athletic tackle Brodrick Bunkley (25 tackles, 2 sacks) in the middle. The second-year lineman is set to return from the knee sprain which forced him out of last Sunday's tilt and forms a stout interior presence along with active tackle Mike Patterson (56 tackles, 3 sacks). Strong safety Quintin Mikell (54 tackles, 1 sack), who had 10 tackles against the Giants earlier this season, is also expected to be back after sitting out the last two weeks with an MCL sprain.

Injuries have plagued a decorated Eagles secondary all season long, as cornerback Sheldon Brown (46 tackles, 3 INT, 14 PD) has been the lone regular to start every game. That's one reason why Philadelphia has recorded a league- low seven interceptions and ranks just 19th in defending the pass (220.5 ypg) this season. Sheppard (34 tackles, 1 INT) left the Seattle game with soreness in his problematic right knee, but the two-time Pro Bowl corner insists he'll be ready to go on Sunday. The Eagles have registered a respectable 30 sacks on the year and possess two good edge rushers in ends Trent Cole (56 tackles, 9.5 sacks) and Juqua Thomas (29 tackles, 5 sacks).

WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL

The return of McNabb (2329 passing yards, 13 TD, 6 INT) should stabilize a Philadelphia offense that has been prone to costly mistakes the last two weeks, as Feeley threw more interceptions in his pair of starts than McNabb had over the team's initial 10 games. The absence of both Westbrook (69 receptions, 4 TD), arguably the best receiving back in the NFL, and rock-solid left tackle William Thomas really hurt the Eagles in their earlier meeting with New York, as McNabb completed just 15-of-38 throws for 138 yards while being repeatedly battered by the Giants' pass rush. Philadelphia's receiving corps has been mostly hit-or-miss this year except for speedy wideout Kevin Curtis (56 receptions, 5 TD), who totaled 111 yards and a touchdown on six catches last week. The Eagles rank fifth overall in total offense (356.8 ypg) but are just 17th in scoring (21.5 ppg), partly due to the team's minus-nine turnover ratio.

Westbrook (994 rushing yards, 7 TD) wasn't missed as much in the run game during Philly's Week 4 defeat to the Giants, as capable backup Correll Buckhalter (249 rushing yards, 3 TD) rushed for 103 yards on only 17 carries in that contest. They're both quite dependable holding onto the ball as well, as neither back has fumbled in a combined 263 carries for the season. The Eagles come in averaging 120.5 rushing yards per game, the 11th-best mark in the league.

McNabb will be taking aim at a wounded New York secondary that will definitely be without its top playmaker in Wilson (76 tackles, 4 INT) and could also be missing strong safety James Butler (49 tackles, 1 INT), who aggravated a hamstring injury against the Bears. If he can't go, the Giants could be left with a pair of rookies, Michael Johnson (18 tackles) and Craig Dahl (6 tackles), as the all-important last line of defense. That means the Giants will have to keep applying the pressure up front, an area where the team has excelled this season. New York took down Chicago's Rex Grossman six times last Sunday, bringing the unit's league-best sack total to 44, and boasts three premier pass-rushing ends in Umenyiora (39 tackles, 11 sacks), Michael Strahan (44 tackles, 9 sacks) and Justin Tuck (46 tackles, 9 sacks). Ross (27 tackles, 3 INT, 1.5 sacks) sat out last week with his leg problem but is expected to be back for Sunday's test.

The Giants currently own the NFL's fifth-ranked rush defense (92.3 ypg) and limited the run-challenged Bears to only 68 yards on the ground in last week's win. However, Pierce's (82 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) ankle injury is a concern, as the steady middle linebacker is the team's best stuffer up front. He'll likely play but could be limited, as he recorded a rather-low total of three tackles last Sunday while battling through the ailment.

FANTASY FOCUS

There hasn't been a better fantasy running back this year than Westbrook, who's had a number of big games against the Giants in the past and should always be used when healthy. Curtis has quietly delivered a fine first season with the Eagles and makes a solid play at one of the receiver spots, while McNabb draws a favorable matchup against a banged-up Giants secondary. Be a little cautious with the star quarterback, however, as he could show some signs of rust and will face significant pressure from New York's excellent trio of pass rushers. No Philadelphia receiver other than Curtis merits starting consideration.

The safest fantasy plays on the Giants side appear to be Toomer and Shockey. Burress presents more of a dilemma for his owners, as he's a borderline No. 1 receiver when healthy but his recent numbers draw some red flags. As for Manning, who knows? He usually plays better on the road, where he doesn't have to deal with the notorious winds of Giants Stadium, but hold your breath if you don't have more reliable alternatives at quarterback. Hold off on starting Jacobs, who's still not 100 percent, but Droughns makes for a decent option because he usually gets goal-line carries. Finally, the Giants defense had a huge point total against the Eagles in September and is certainly worth a look.

OVERALL ANALYSIS


These two bitter rivals played two games that went down to the wire last year, including a 23-20 Eagles victory in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs that was decided on a last-second field goal by David Akers. The Giants won this season's first encounter by a comfortable margin, but keep in mind that Philadelphia played that game seriously short-handed and is now in a much better situation injury-wise. New York is the team with health questions this time around, and it's hard to expect the defense to produce a double-digit sack total like it did back in September. With both quarterbacks likely to deliver uneven performances, as McNabb hasn't played in three weeks and Manning often mixes as many head-scratching decisions as he does big plays, and each team possessing solid defenses that have shown to be vulnerable at times, expect another close contest. The x-factor will be Westbrook, who's been as close to unstoppable as any offensive player in the league this season. The Eagles have shown an ability to deliver with their backs to the wall before, and they'll rally behind Westbrook and a raucous home crowd to stay alive in the postseason chase.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 23, Giants 20

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Cowboys vs Lions

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Cowboys have assured themselves a spot in the NFC's postseason fray. As for the Detroit Lions, their once-promising chances of reaching the playoffs have been fading with each passing week.

The Lions will attempt to reverse their recent fortunes when the badly- slumping club hosts the powerful Cowboys this Sunday at Ford Field in a matchup between teams currently headed in decidedly opposite directions.

Detroit had put itself in good position to earn its first playoff berth since 1999 by posting a strong 6-2 record at the season's midway point, making quarterback Jon Kitna seem like a prophet for his bold preseason prediction of a 10-win campaign. However, the Lions have returned to their customary losing ways since, having dropped four consecutive games heading into this week's showdown.

The low point came last Sunday in Minnesota, where Detroit was routed by the surging Vikings by a 42-10 score. It was the Lions' third double-digit defeat during its present slide.

Adding injury to insult, Detroit star wide receiver Roy Williams suffered a potential season-ending knee sprain during the game. The 2007 Pro Bowl participant was leading the team with 63 catches and 836 receiving yards.

Being without their best offensive player certainly won't help the Lions' hopes for a sudden turnaround. Neither will a tough four-game stretch to close out the regular season that begins with a visit from a strong Dallas squad that stamped itself the favorite to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl with a 37-27 home triumph over Green Bay in Week 13.

The victory sewed up a postseason berth for the 11-1 Cowboys, who bring a six- game win streak into the Motor City and now control their own destiny for home-field advantage through the conference playoffs. Dallas can also clinch the NFC East by defeating the Lions or if the second-place New York Giants lose at Philadelphia on Sunday.

If the Cowboys need any further motivation, the team can point to its 39-31 loss to Detroit in the 2006 regular-season finale. Kitna provided some bulletin board material a few days after the game with some unflattering remarks about the Dallas defense on a Seattle radio show.

Following Sunday's contest, the Lions will visit AFC-West leading San Diego and still have to travel to 10-2 Green Bay in Week 17.

SERIES HISTORY


Dallas has a 10-9 lead in its all-time regular season series with Detroit, but was shocked by a 39-31 count at Texas Stadium during Week 17 of the 2006 season. The Lions were 2-13 entering that game. Dallas last beat Detroit in 2005, scoring a 20-7 win at home. The Cowboys were 38-7 winners when they last visited the Motor City in 2003, but dropped a 9-7 decision there in 2002.

In addition to their regular season history, the teams have met twice in the postseason. The Cowboys were 5-0 winners in a 1970 NFC Divisional Playoff, and the Lions won a 38-6 affair in a 1991 NFC Divisional Playoff.

Detroit's Rod Marinelli is 1-0 against the Cowboys in his brief head coaching career. The Cowboys' Wade Phillips will be meeting both the Lions and Marinelli for the first time as a head coach.

WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL

Dallas' gaudy record has been built on the strength of a prolific offense that has produced the second-most total yards (390.9 ypg) and points (32.9 ppg) in the NFL this season. The Cowboys also rank third in the league in passing offense (269.5 ypg) and have scored at least 24 points in every 2007 game. Quarterback Tony Romo (3352 passing yards, 33 TD, 14 INT) has produced a 100- plus passer rating in six straight contests and had his third four-touchdown outing in four weeks to key the big win over Green Bay. Terrell Owens (71 receptions, 1249 yards) has been on just as hot a streak, as the entertaining receiver eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth time in his last six games with a dominating seven-catch, 156-yard effort against the Packers. Owens leads the NFC with 14 touchdown grabs and has scored in seven straight contests. Fellow wideout Patrick Crayton (36 receptions, 7 TD) hauled in two of Romo's scoring strikes last week, while tight end Jason Witten (65 receptions, 6 TD) is on the verge of a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl nod.

The Cowboys can run the ball as well, with its backfield tandem of Marion Barber (796 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 8 total TD) and Julius Jones (521 rushing yards, 2 TD, 18 receptions) combining for over 109 yards per week. The duo works behind a standout offensive line that has provided excellent protection for Romo, who's only been sacked 16 times this year, and consistently opened holes for the league's seventh-rated ground attack (121.4 ypg).

It would be a surprise if Romo and Owens didn't again produce big numbers against a Detroit defense that ranks next-to-last in passing yards allowed (265.6 ypg) and has yielded 24 touchdowns through the air. The Lions have compensated somewhat by forcing 32 turnovers, the second-most in the NFL, but need to get more of a pass rush out of ends Dewayne White (33 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT) and Jared DeVries (19 tackles, 5 sacks) in order to slow down Dallas' dangerous offense. An already shaky secondary could have further issues if cornerback Travis Fisher (54 tackles, 2 INT), who is considered questionable to play with a wrist problem, can't go.

The Lions have fared better against the run, where stud tackles Shaun Rogers (26 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT) and Cory Redding (26 tackles) anchor a unit that has allowed a respectable 105.8 rushing yards per game (15th overall). Detroit couldn't stop Adrian Peterson and the Vikings last week, however, as Minnesota rolled up a whopping 216 yards on the ground in its victory. Second- year linebacker Ernie Sims had 11 tackles in the game and tops Detroit with 105 stops on the year.

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL

Kitna (3157 passing yards, 15 TD, 13 INT) still has a number of capable weapons with which to work even without Williams available, but Detroit has been plagued throughout the year by a noticeable imbalance on offense. The Lions have the fewest rushing yards (77.2 ypg) and attempts (234) in the NFL and only tried to run the ball seven times against Minnesota, although that was partly due to the team facing a sizeable deficit for much of the game. Top back Kevin Jones (458 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 6 TD) had only one yard on three carries last Sunday after putting up an impressive 93 on 20 tries against a quality Green Bay defense the previous week.

With Williams out, receivers Shaun McDonald (59 receptions, 4 TD), Mike Furrey (46 receptions, 1 TD) and heralded rookie Calvin Johnson (32 receptions, 4 TD) will all be asked to assume greater roles on Sunday. Furrey had a huge day against the Cowboys last year, catching a career-high 11 passes for 102 yards and a score. Kitna has struggled during Detroit's losing streak, having thrown seven interceptions in the four defeats after being picked off only six times through the first eight games, and there's a concern that the 11-year veteran has worn down some after being sacked an unacceptable 47 times over the course of the year.

Kitna will likely be feeling the heat from a Dallas defense that has produced 33 sacks thus far and battered Brett Favre into an early exit in Week 13. The majority of that total has come from outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware (66 tackles, 10 sacks) and Greg Ellis (23 tackles, 10.5 sacks), who have terrorized enemy quarterbacks on a weekly basis. Ware took down Kitna three times in last year's meeting, while Ellis is coming off a two-sack game versus Green Bay. The Cowboys have been vulnerable at times to strong passing teams but have compiled 18 interceptions (2nd overall) on the year, with cornerbacks Terence Newman (36 tackles, 5 INT, 11 PD) and Anthony Henry (19 tackles, 5 INT, 11 PD) and free safety Ken Hamlin (44 tackles, 5 INT, 11 PD) all having been playmakers in the secondary.

The Cowboys have yet to allow an opposing back to run for 100 yards this season, and that streak figures to continue with the Lions' reluctance to feed Kevin Jones the ball. As a team Dallas is giving up a scant 85.6 rushing yards per game (4th overall) and boasts one of the game's best run-stopping safeties in four-time Pro Bowler Roy Williams (71 tackles, 2 INT). Linebacker Bradie James (72 tackles, 2 sacks), a target of Kitna's comments following last year's meeting with Detroit, has also had a strong year on the inside.

FANTASY FOCUS


Those who have Romo and Owens on their teams don't need a recommendation here to know to start these two fantasy superstars. Witten is a must-play as well, as Detroit's Cover 2 defensive scheme often provides plenty of opportunities for tight ends that can stretch the middle of the field. Barber's also quite worthy of a start this week, especially with a good possibility of the Cowboys building a big lead and using the powerful back to run out the clock.

Judging by Kevin Jones' three-carry effort last week and Dallas' prowess in stopping the run, bench him this week if he's still got a spot on your roster. The injury to Detroit's Roy Williams boosts the fantasy stock of Furrey and McDonald, and both make decent choices this week as No. 2 receivers or flex players. It's a tougher call on Johnson; the rookie's got a world of ability but has been inconsistent. Kitna will be chucking it early and often on Sunday. That gives the mouthy signal-caller a chance to put up good numbers, but also increases the point potential of a Cowboys defense that should have plenty of opportunities for sacks and interceptions.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Clearly, Dallas is the superior team on both sides of the ball in this matchup, and the only realistic way the Cowboys shouldn't deliver a comfortable victory is if they don't take this game too seriously. With last year's loss to the Lions and Kitna's subsequent comments still fresh in the team's minds, don't expect that to happen. Detroit doesn't have the personnel to prevent another scoring outburst from the Dallas offense, and the Lions either can't or won't run the ball to keep the likes of Romo, Owens, Barber and Witten off the field. As the Patriots proved in mid-October, the only way to beat the Cowboys is to outscore them in a shootout. With Detroit's offense losing some bite with the injury to Roy Williams, that seems like a near- impossible task.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 38, Lions 17

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Chargers vs Titans

(Sports Network) - The San Diego Chargers are closing in on another AFC West title and will try to keep their winning streak intact when they visit the Tennessee Titans Sunday afternoon at LP Field.

San Diego is two games ahead of Denver in the division standings with four games left on the schedule, including a second matchup against the Broncos in two weeks. After a shaky 1-3 start to the 2007 season, the Chargers have rebounded to win two straight and six of their last eight games.

The Chargers are coming off a 24-10 victory over the AFC West-rival Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday. It was all defense for the Bolts, who recorded a season-high eight sacks against Kansas City. All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson continued his solid season and passed Hall of Famer Walter Payton for third on the all-time list for rushing touchdowns (111).

Head coach Norv Turner seems to have the Chargers back to their 14-2 form from a year ago, but is now faced with a tough task on Sunday in Tennessee. San Diego then returns home to host Detroit and Denver before hitting the road to Oakland in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Titans are losing ground in the AFC South and sit three games behind division-leading Indianapolis and one game back of second-place Jacksonville. However, they are tied with Cleveland for the final wild card spot in the AFC.

Tennessee got back in the win column with last Sunday's 28-20 home win over the division-rival Houston Texans. Quarterback Vince Young is starting to find his groove and threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way. Young, who is often criticized for his arm strength and accuracy, proved critics wrong on Sunday.

Young is the offensive leader of the Titans, who put the brakes on a three- game losing streak with the win. Tennessee also got a huge lift with the return of star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and can thank defensive end Antwan Odom for knocking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub out of the game early on. Haynesworth was a big reason for the early success of the Tennessee defense until he missed three games because of a hamstring injury.

Now Haynesworth is back and healthy for a Titans squad clinging to a tie for the final postseason berth in the AFC. After hosting the Chargers, Tennessee will visit Kansas City before taking on the New York Jets. The Titans will then wrap up the 2007 regular season with a tough one at Indianapolis.

SERIES HISTORY

The Chargers have a 21-13-1 lead in the all-time regular season series against the Titans, including wins in the last four head-to-head matchups. San Diego was a 40-7 home winner when the teams met in Week 2 of last season, and took a 13-7 decision in its only trip to Tennessee, back in 1998. The Titans/Oilers last defeated San Diego in 1992, when they blanked the Chargers by a 27-0 count in Houston.

Though San Diego leads the regular-season series, the Titans/Oilers have won all three postseason matchups between the teams, including AFL Championship wins in 1960 and 1961.

Turner is 0-4 in his career against the Titans, going 0-2 while with Washington (1994-2000) and 0-2 while with Oakland (2004-05). Tennessee's Jeff Fisher is 0-3 in his career against San Diego, but is 4-0 head-to-head with Turner.

WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL

The Chargers have no problem putting up points even during their early struggles this season. They are averaging 24 points a game over the past four weeks thanks to Tomlinson (1,049 rushing yards, 11 TD), who had 177 yards and two second-half touchdowns against the Chiefs. He has five TD's over the last five games, but will face a tough Tennessee run defense this weekend. Tomlinson has faced the Titans twice in his career and is averaging 109 rushing yards per game with three touchdowns. When Tomlinson scores two or more touchdowns in a game, the Chargers are an amazing 26-2. Tomlinson is also a threat out of the backfield and has 427 receiving yards and a score this season. He is aiming for the 42nd 100-yard game of his career on Sunday.

Titans linebackers David Thornton (90 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT), Keith Bulluck (69 tackles, 4 INT) and Ryan Fowler (47 tackles) will be busy trying to contain Tomlinson, who faces the seventh-rated run defense in the NFL. The trio combined for 19 stops in a win over Houston on Sunday and have faced other top running backs in the league, including Indianapolis' Joseph Addai, Reggie Bush of the Saints and Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor of Jacksonville. Bulluck continued his team-best active streak of 92 consecutive starts and became the third player in team history reach 1,000 career tackles last week. Most of the credit, though, goes Haynesworth (32 tackles, 5 sacks), who returned from a three-game absence last weekend. The bulky lineman was able to contribute with two stops against the Texans. The Titans ranked first in the NFL against the run before Haynesworth's injury, allowing 66 yards rushing a game over the first eight weeks. Without him, the Titans gave up 166, 166 and 148 yards rushing in the three games he missed -- all losses. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (39 tackles, 6 sacks) plays with a high motor every game, while fellow end Odom (16 tackles, 5 sacks) brings the big hits. Odom, who knocked Schaub out of the game last weekend with a shoulder injury, has a career-high five sacks this season.

While the Titans will most likely stack the box with eight men to contain Tomlinson, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (2,458 passing yards, 15 TD, 13 INT) will get a chance to compete with Tennessee's eighth-rated pass defense. Rivers didn't have astronomical numbers in the win over Kansas City, passing for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He has five TD passes and three picks over the last three weeks. Rivers threw for 235 yards and a touchdown for a 99.1 passer rating in his only meeting with Tennessee, which came last season. Rivers' favorite target has been Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (61 receptions, 8 TD). He only had one catch for minus-one yard against the Chiefs, but is enjoying another productive campaign. Wideout Vincent Jackson (30 receptions, 3 TD) had a 38-yard touchdown reception last weekend and has the potential to break out any week. Since most of the offense is centered around Tomlinson, the receivers have to fight for catches every week. Chris Chambers (51 receptions, 2 TD) and Tomlinson are also in Rivers' arsenal.

Tennessee's defensive backfield doesn't garner the attention the front four and linebackers do, but this group is as talented as any other in the league. Led by cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan (67 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and Nick Harper (65 tackles, 2 INT) and safety Chris Hope (49 tackles, 2 INT), the Titans will be an even match for San Diego's 22nd-ranked pass attack. Hope missed Sunday's win over the Texans, however, and is considered questionable for Sunday. Finnegan and Harper combined for 14 tackles last weekend. Titans rookie safety Michael Griffin (30 tackles, 1 INT) posted his first career pick in the Houston win.

WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL

Young (1,911 passing yards, 7 TD, 14 INT) is having a streaky season, one year removed from his AFC Rookie of the Year campaign. He is 1-3 over the last four games but has been opening eyes around the league with his improved arm strength and accuracy. Young has been criticized often for his ability to hit receivers accurately, but is averaging 264 yards passing over the past four weeks with four touchdown passes and six interceptions. In Sunday's win over the Texans, Young threw for 248 yards and two scores with an interception. Young, who has been picked off in five straight games, had a 43-yard touchdown strike to Roydell Williams and an 11-yard scoring toss to Justin Gage against Houston. He also accounted for 44 of the team's 153 rushing yards against the Texans, giving him 292 yards on the ground this season. Over the past four games, Young has 1,056 passing yards and 176 rushing yards, an average of 308 yards per contest. Gage (41 receptions, 2 TD) and Williams (38 receptions, 2 TD) are Tennessee's deep threats, while tight end Bo Scaife (40 receptions, 1 TD) contributes in a limited capacity.

San Diego's pass defense leads the NFL with 20 interceptions this season. So it looks like a good matchup for the Chargers, since Young seems to turn the ball over on a week-to-week basis. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (25 tackles, 8 INT) is having a splendid season shutting down opposing wide receivers and posted his third game of the year with two or more picks against the Chiefs. Cromartie has an NFL-leading eight interceptions in 2007. Cornerback Quentin Jammer (48 tackles) and safeties Clinton Hart (63 tackles, 3 INT) and Marlon McCree (59 tackles, 3 INT) combined for 14 tackles and three passes defensed last weekend against Kansas City.

Titans running back LenDale White (754 rushing yards, 6 TD) seems to have regained his form after three straight weeks of subpar performances. During Tennessee's three-game losing streak, White averaged 27 rushing yards per game with no touchdowns. He then broke out for 60 yards and a score on 12 carries against the Texans. White posted his sixth touchdown of the season, while backfield mate Chris Brown (388 rushing yards, 2 TD) had 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries last week. The duo make up the fifth-best ground attack in the NFL this season. San Diego is 20th against the rush and the 3-4 scheme may have something to do with it. Defensive ends Igor Olshansky (36 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and Jacques Cesaire (26 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and nose tackle Jamal Williams (36 tackles) combined for 16 tackles and a sack last weekend.

All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman (58 tackles, 9.5 sacks) leads the Chargers in sacks and will be gunning for the elusive Young and White. Merriman is coming off an impressive game against the Chiefs in which he posted six tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery. He has 13 stops and four sacks over his last four games. Linebacker Shaun Phillips (57 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT) also wreaked havoc on Kansas City with nine tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. Linebacker and leading tackler Stephen Cooper (83 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) posted a game-high 10 tackles and a sack in the win. The Chargers notched eight sacks against Kansas City.

FANTASY FOCUS

Tomlinson is a fantasy stud and will be until the day he retires. Owners can always count on Tomlinson to get at least 10 or more points every week because the offense is centered around the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player. Not only can Tomlinson hurt you between the tackles and around the ends, he is also a dangerous threat out of the backfield. He usually kills defenses on screen plays because of his patience and excellent vision. Rivers is not having the type of season owners had anticipated. After an outstanding 2006 campaign, the young quarterback has declined this season. Gates garners his success on how Rivers plays and has fallen off as one of the top tight ends in fantasy football. Jason Witten of Dallas, Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez and Cleveland's Kellen Winslow have emerged ahead of him at the position this season. Gates is still a must-start every week, because you never know how Rivers will perform.

As for the Titans, Young and White rake in the most fantasy points. White had been hurting owners over the past three weeks until breaking out for 60 yards and a score last Sunday. He should do well again this weekend against San Diego's suspect run defense. Young, meanwhile, is playing the best football of the season at the right time. With Tennessee hunting for a playoff berth, now is the time for Young to lead the way. He is passing for more yards lately, which has opened up the offense more.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Chargers are inching closer to another division title, while the Titans are fighting to stay alive in the playoff picture. Tennessee is battling with Cleveland for the final postseason spot in the NFL and will come out on top on Sunday because there is no margin for error. Fisher is an excellent planner and can make the proper adjustments at crucial times. Expect the Titans to give Tomlinson a hard time much like their division rivals in Jacksonville did to the star back a few weeks ago. Tomlinson was held to 62 yards rushing against the Jaguars. Tennessee has the defensive line and the linebackers to not only stop San Diego's ground attack, but apply enough pressure on Rivers. Rivers has been shaky under Turner's command and won't find any loopholes on Sunday. Tennessee will be led once again by Young and his ability to make plays. As long as Young plays smart and protects the football, the Titans will be in good shape. Plus, the Titans are playing in front of their home crowd.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Titans 27, Chargers 23

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Raiders vs Packers

(Sports Network) - The Green Bay Packers will try to lock up the NFC North title this Sunday at Lambeau Field, where they will battle the Oakland Raiders.

The Packers are far exceeding everyone's expectations set for the season, as the club is 10-2 and can win the division with a victory this weekend despite a loss to Dallas in its most recent matchup. Green Bay, which has won 14 of its past 16 games dating back to last season, can also claim the 18th division title in team history with a loss or tie by the second-place Detroit Lions in their game against the Cowboys this Sunday.

In addition, the Packers will clinch at least a playoff spot despite a loss if the Arizona Cardinals lose or tie this weekend. Green Bay, which hasn't reached the postseason since the 2004 campaign, hasn't lost consecutive games since Weeks 12 and 13 of last season.

And it looks as if Green Bay will have its workhorse under center in Brett Favre. The legendary quarterback left the team's 37-27 setback to the Cowboys in the second quarter due to an elbow bruise.

However, head coach Mike McCarthy said last Friday that Favre, who was recently selected as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, should be ready to go in this one and extend his streak of games started to 250, a league record for quarterback.

Just in case, Green Bay signed quarterback Craig Nall this week. He gives Green Bay three quarterbacks on the roster for the first time all season and would back up Aaron Rodgers if for some reason Favre can't play.

While the Packers are confident they'll have their veteran quarterback under center this weekend, the Raiders will likely get some more glimpses of their signal-caller of the future.

In last Sunday's 34-20 win over Denver, Oakland rookie JaMarcus Russell, the first overall pick of the 2007 draft, made his NFL debut. Russell saw limited time, replacing starter Josh McCown briefly in the second quarter. He played in two series and completed 4-of-7 passes for 56 yards while adding four yards on three carries.

At 4-8 and tied for third in the AFC West, Oakland has little to lose by putting Russell on the field. It may have happened sooner if the LSU product's career hadn't gotten off to a late start because of a contract holdout.

It remains to be seen how the quarterback situation will pan out for Oakland regarding this game. Daunte Culpepper had two strong games for Oakland, which has won two straight after a six-game losing streak, but missed the Denver game because of a quadriceps injury. He did not practice early in the week and is also considered questionable for this game.

McCown, meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes in his start last weekend.

Whether Culpepper or McCown starts, it is likely that Russell will see the field again this Sunday.

SERIES HISTORY

The Packers lead the all-time regular season series with the Raiders, 5-4, including a 41-7 road win when the teams last met in 2003. That game is best- remembered for coming one day after the death of Favre's father, with the quarterback throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns in an inspirational effort. Green Bay has now won four straight in the series since the then-Los Angeles Raiders were 20-0 winners at Lambeau Field in 1987.

In addition to the regular season series, the teams also faced off in Super Bowl II, with the Packers scoring a 33-14 win in Miami.

The Packers' McCarthy and Raiders' Lane Kiffin will be meeting each other, as well as their counterpart's respective franchise, for the first time as head coaches.

WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL

Culpepper (1,331 passing yards, 5 TD, 5 INT) had thrown for 514 yards and a touchdown over his last two games before the injury, though McCown was also good last week in his first start since September 16. McCown (901 passing yards, 8 TD, 9 INT) threw for 141 yards on 14-of-21 passing, but the bottom line is that both quarterbacks have struggled overall this season, as evidenced by Oakland's No. 30 ranking in passing offense (173.3 ypg) with. Both players know it is only a matter of time before the team becomes solely Russell's. Oakland has been outstanding on the ground this year, and were getting it done earlier in the season behind LaMont Jordan (528 rushing yards, 3 TD). However, it has been the Justin Fargas (863 rushing yards, 3 TD) show as of late, with Jordan falling behind backup Dominic Rhodes on the depth chart. Fargas ran for 146 yards and a score against Denver and is averaging 106 yards per game on the ground in his five starts this season.

Wide receivers Tim Dwight and Jerry Porter both caught touchdown passes last week, as did tight end Zach Miller. Porter (34 receptions, 4 TD) led the team with five catches for 49 yards, while leading receiver Ronald Curry (47 catches, 3 TD) contributed three receptions for 34 yards. Fullback Justin Griffith added to the passing game, hauling in four passes for 23 yards, while Miller (31 receptions, 2 TD) ended with 58 yards on three catches.

Green Bay's defense will aim to recover a bit this weekend, as it was lit up for 414 net yards, including 309 passing, in addition to 37 points versus Dallas. Those totals were far above the Packers' average, as they enter this tilt allowing 18.5 points (6th overall), 323.6 yards (15th overall) and 223.1 passing yards (23rd overall) per game. Green Bay had all sorts of trouble with Cowboys wideout Terrell Owens, who made seven catches for 156 yards with a score. Thankfully for the Packers, Oakland does not a receiver the caliber of Owens. Corner Al Harris (32 tackles) came up with the Packers' lone turnover against Dallas, picking off his first pass of the season. Another Green Bay cornerback to keep an eye on this weekend is Charles Woodson, who was the fourth overall pick of the 1998 draft by the Raiders. If Woodson (48 tackles, 4 INT) is able to play -- he missed the Dallas game with a toe injury -- it would mark his first game against his former club. Linebacker A.J. Hawk (80 tackles) was Green Bay's leading tackler last week with eight, while Nick Barnett (96 tackles, 2 sacks) added five stops and safety Atari Bigby (77 tackles) had six. The Packers also failed to sack Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, a rarity when ends Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman are on the field. Gbaja-Biamila (22 tackles, 9.5 sacks) has five sacks in his past four games, while Kampman (54 tackles) is tied for the NFC lead with 11 sacks. Gbaja- Biamila, though, is considered questionable for Sunday due to an ankle/knee injury, as is reserve safety Aaron Rouse (knee).

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

Favre threw for just 56 yards and was picked off twice against the Cowboys before his exit. Both turnovers led to touchdowns for Dallas. Despite that rough outing, the veteran is still enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. Favre has thrown for 3,412 yards and 22 touchdowns while getting intercepted 10 times for a QB rating of 97.9. Rodgers (218 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) did an outstanding job filling in for Favre after the injury, giving Green Bay hope for the future. Green Bay is ranked 30th in the league in rushing offense, but got excellent support on the ground from Ryan Grant (588 rushing yards, 4 TD) against the Cowboys. Grant ran for 94 yards on 14 carries and found the end zone twice. Wide receiver Donald Driver (70 receptions, 898 yards) led Green Bay in the loss with seven catches for 66 yards to extend his streak of games with a reception to 92, the second-longest run in team history. Greg Jennings (44 receptions, 10 TD) made five receptions for 87 yards and caught the team's only touchdown pass. Jennings has a scoring catch in eight of his last 10 games. James Jones also got on the stat sheet with three catches and leads all NFC rookies with 43 receptions and 633 yards.

The Oakland defense was able to hold Denver under 300 yards of total net offense last Sunday and managed to pick off Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler twice. Linebacker Thomas Howard (75 tackles, 1 sack) posted one of those picks and is tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions on the season. He also had seven tackles in the game. Corner Fabian Washington (29 tackles, 1 INT) notched the other interception, giving Oakland 15 as a team on the season, tied for sixth in the league. End Jay Richardson (25 tackles) had Oakland's only sack of the game, the first of his career. Leading tackler Kirk Morrison (99 tackles, 1 sack) had a team-high 10 tackles in the win, while tackle Warren Sapp (35 tackles, 2 sacks) and linebacker Robert Thomas (48 tackles) each had five stops. Sapp, with 96 1/2 career sacks, is just 3 1/2 shy of becoming the second defensive tackle in league history with 100, which would join John Randle (137.5).

While Oakland has been dominant against the pass (5th in the league), it has struggled mightily against the run. The Raiders are allowing 148 yards per game on the ground, 30th in the NFL, although they did hold Denver running backs Travis Henry and Selvin Young to just 77 rushing yards between the two of them. However, Henry found the end zone twice.

FANTASY FOCUS

With fantasy playoffs set to start in most leagues, now is the time to exploit great matchups. That makes Grant an excellent start this weekend due to the Raiders' poor run defense. Owners who picked him up earlier in the year will see it pay off in a big way this weekend. However, don't be afraid to start Favre, Driver and Jennings, either. That trio is talented enough to get past a strong Raiders' pass defense, and if a better option isn't there to start, feel safe in going with any of those three. Favre is slinging it like never before, Jennings is a touchdown machine, and Driver guarantees you at least 5-7 catches. Green Bay should see a lot of red zone chances, so give Packers kicker Mason Crosby a look as well. For the Raiders, Fargas has been just as good as Grant lately and he should get a bulk of carries as the Raiders shuffle two quarterbacks in and out of the game. For this reason, none of the Raiders' QB's should get a look, as whoever plays will be splitting time with Russell. This also hurts the value of Oakland's receivers. None are worth more than a flex start, though Miller might serve well at the tight end spot.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

While the Raiders will surely come to play, there is little doubt the club is on cruise control as it begins to mold itself for the future. The Packers, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to wrap up the division this weekend so they can start saving Favre for the playoffs. Green Bay's offense is clicking right now and should put up a ton of points on the Raiders. Russell, when he plays, will get some good experience in avoiding a pass rush, as Green Bay can bring the heat. The Packers are just too much for the Raiders to handle right now, even if Oakland has won two in a row, and should head to the locker room after four quarters as NFC North champs.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Packers 35, Raiders 17

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Panthers vs Jaguars

(Sports Network) - The Jacksonville Jaguars have a chance to move one step closer to realizing their playoff dreams when they host the Carolina Panthers this Sunday in an interconference encounter from Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

Jacksonville's hopes for an AFC South championship were all but dashed with last Sunday's 28-25 loss to the division-leading Indianapolis Colts, but with an 8-4 record, the club still finds itself in a good position in regard to securing a postseason berth. The Jaguars currently own the top Wild Card spot in the conference and have a seemingly favorable schedule the rest of the way, with three of their final four regular-season tests coming against teams sporting sub-.500 records at the moment.

Don't expect the Jags to be taking anything for granted, however. Jack Del Rio's squad was in a similar situation a year ago, but proceeded to lose its last three games and got left out of the playoff field with an 8-8 mark.

Carolina also finds itself in the postseason mix among the NFC contingent, but is one of a logjam of teams battling for the conference's final Wild Card slot. The Panthers are tied with five other franchises at 5-7, which is one game back of a trio of 6-6 teams sharing the No. 6 seed entering this week's play.

Right now, Carolina would settle for back-to-back victories, something it hasn't done since defeating New Orleans and Arizona to begin October. The Panthers dropped five straight games following that streak before rebounding with a 31-14 home decision over the lowly San Francisco 49ers.

Carolina mustered a mere 50 points over the course of its five-game slide, but took advantage of six San Francisco turnovers to record its highest point total of the season.

Such a scoring outburst could be tougher to come by for the Panthers this week, as the Jaguars have held the opposition to 17 points or less in five of their six home games in 2007.

Carolina has had success on the road this season, having won four of its six away tests so far. However, the Panthers have lost all three of their matchups against AFC South foes this year.

Jacksonville is 2-1 versus the NFC South in 2007, with the lone blemish a 41-24 setback at New Orleans back in Week 9.

SERIES HISTORY

Jacksonville has a 2-1 edge in its all-time series with Carolina, but was a 24-23 road loser when the teams last met, in 2003. The Jaguars defeated the Panthers in Jacksonville (24-14) in 1996 and Charlotte (22-20) in 1999.

Panthers head coach John Fox is 1-0 against both Jacksonville and Del Rio.

WHEN THE PANTHERS HAVE THE BALL


Carolina has struggled mightily to put up yards and points ever since starting quarterback Jake Delhomme went down to a season-ending elbow injury in September, although the ageless Vinny Testaverde (868 passing yards, 5 TD, 5 INT) has been a serviceable fill-in when the brittle 44-year-old has been able to take the field. Wide receiver Steve Smith (59 receptions, 6 TD) hasn't been the gamebreaking presence that earned him Pro Bowl nods in each of the last two seasons, although the seven-year pro's drop in production can be attributed to the team's revolving-door situation at quarterback as well as the inability of Drew Carter (28 receptions, 4 TD) and Keary Colbert (31 receptions) to emerge as reliable options in the passing game. The Panthers rank just 28th of 32 NFL teams in passing offense (176.0 ypg) and 26th in scoring (17.0 ppg).

The Panthers have been inconsistent running the ball as well, although the club did amass a strong 166 yards on the ground against a submissive San Francisco team last Sunday. Second-year back DeAngelo Williams (468 rushing yards, 18 receptions, 2 total TD) had 82 of those yards on just 17 carries and is pushing injury-prone incumbent DeShaun Foster (728 rushing yards, 22 receptions, 4 total TD) for playing time. Williams is averaging a healthy 4.9 yards per pop this year, compared to 3.6 for Foster.

Opposing running backs have often found the going tough to come by when facing the Jaguars, who are yielding just 96.7 rushing yards per game (8th overall) and limited Indianapolis to 63 yards on the ground last week despite being without three-time Pro Bowl tackle Marcus Stroud (22 tackles, 3 sacks) and rugged middle linebacker Mike Peterson (70 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT). Peterson will miss a third straight game with a broken hand, but Stroud should be back in the lineup after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's steroid policy. He'll again be beside tackle John Henderson (30 tackles, 1 sack), who's been voted to Hawaii twice during his first six NFL campaigns.

Teams have found the going a little easier attacking Jacksonville via the air, as evidenced by Peyton Manning's 288-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Jaguars in last week's showdown. For the year the Jags rank 27th in passing yards allowed (249.2 ypg), but the defense has recorded eight interceptions over the last five weeks. Safeties Sammy Knight (74 tackles, 4 INT, 10 PD) and Reggie Nelson (51 tackles, 4 INT, 1 sack) have been the team's top two ball-hawks, while corner Rashean Mathis (51 tackles, 1 INT) was a Pro Bowl honoree last season who's been slowed by a groin injury this year. A hit- or-miss pass rush has been led by ends Paul Spicer (30 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and Reggie Hayward (17 tackles, 3.5 sacks), but Hayward will not play on Sunday due to a groin pull.

WHEN THE JAGUARS HAVE THE BALL

Jacksonville only ranks 13th in the NFL in total yards (337.8 ypg) and scoring (22.3 ypg), but the offense has been a very effective unit in the games in which quarterback David Garrard (1883 passing yards, 11 TD) has been under center. The first-year full-time starter has completed better than 67 percent of his passes and did not throw an interception until being picked off once by the Colts last week. Due to Garrard's efficiency and a punishing ground game that has produced an average of 141 yards per contest (2nd overall), the Jaguars have turned the ball over just 16 times all year. Jacksonville comes at you with two very good running backs in veteran Fred Taylor (812 rushing yards, 2 TD) and second-year standout Maurice-Jones Drew (631 rushing yards, 8 TD, 27 receptions), with Taylor having put together 104-yard outings in back- to-back weeks. The Jags were able to compile an impressive 168 rushing yards on a tough Indianapolis defense a week ago.

The Jaguars don't have any standout receivers, but their trio of Dennis Northcutt (36 receptions, 3 TD), Ernest Wilford (31 receptions) and Reggie Williams (26 receptions) are all capable performers. Williams is the big-play threat of the bunch, as he's averaged 17 yards per catch and leads the team with six receiving touchdowns. Wilford's been Garrard's go-to-guy as of late, having racked up a season-best 72 yards on five grabs against the Colts.

While Carolina's offense has been anemic for most of the year, Fox has still managed to field a pretty solid defense that is coming off its best showing of the season. The Panthers limited the inept 49ers to 195 total yards and recorded six sacks along with six turnovers, including four picks of quarterback Trent Dilfer. One of those interceptions was returned 73 yards for a touchdown by nickel back Richard Marshall (57 tackles, 2 INT). Until last week, pressuring the passer had been a big problem for the Panthers, who entered the San Francisco game with a league-worst 10 sacks. Longtime end Mike Rucker (40 tackles, 2.5 sacks) awoke from a season-long slumber to register 1 1/2 sacks in the win, but three-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers (35 tackles, 3 sacks) has disappointed on the other side.

In addition to its No. 10 overall rating in pass defense (207.2 ypg), Carolina has been mostly stout versus the run, holding opponents to just 3.6 yards per rush on the year. A quality tackle tandem of Kris Jenkins (30 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Maake Kemoeatu (34 tackles) has enabled rookie middle linebacker Jon Beason (98 tackles, 1 INT) to make plays. The 2007 first-round draft choice has five games with double-digit tackles this season.

FANTASY FOCUS

With both teams preferring to grind it out on offense, there doesn't appear to be a wealth of intriguing fantasy options coming out of this game. Taylor's recent strong yardage totals make him a good candidate to start, but the 10th- year pro's low touchdown total on the season gives him only No. 2 back status. Since Jones-Drew gets most of the goal-line touches and is more involved as a receiver, put Taylor's understudy in that same category. Garrard wouldn't be a bad choice, since the underrated quarterback has put together two straight games of over 250 passing yards. It's hard to recommend any Jacksonville receivers other than maybe Reggie Williams, but the Jaguars defense should be a reasonable play against a Carolina team that struggles to score points.

On the Panthers' side, Smith's track record makes him definitely worthy of starting consideration, but keep in mind that he hasn't had a 100-yard game or a touchdown since Week 6. Testaverde should not be used unless you're desperate at quarterback, while Foster's done little in terms of point- production in recent weeks. Carolina only seems to use DeAngelo Williams in blowout games, and this one doesn't appear to fit that bill.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Jacksonville knows from last year's experience that it can't be taking any opponent lightly at this critical time of year, so a letdown at home against a Carolina squad that frankly isn't as strong would be quite a surprise. The Panthers' impressive all-around performance last week was more the product of inferior competition than anything else, and the bar will certainly be raised on Sunday by the Jaguars. Look for Jacksonville to play it safe and come through with a methodical victory that will cement its status as a likely playoff participant.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jaguars 23, Panthers 13

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Buccaneers vs TEXANS

(Sports Network) - No one will argue that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had it easy over their first 12 games of the 2007 season, but did anyone expect this?

A Tampa Bay team just one year removed from a 4-12 disaster needs only to defeat the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium in order to wrap up the NFC South title and a playoff berth.

Entering 2007, the Buccaneers were considered at best a dark horse to come out of the division. Most of the focus in the NFC South was on defending division champ New Orleans, which had played for the conference title in January, and on a talented Carolina team that had just missed the playoffs at 8-8.

But as the Saints struggled, and the Panthers were beset by injuries, the Buccaneers took advantage.

Last Sunday's 27-23 come-from-behind win in New Orleans completed a home-and- home sweep of the Saints by Jon Gruden's club, putting the Bucs in position to not only wrap up a postseason berth in Week 14, but to wrap it up with three weeks to spare.

Though the division title is what Tampa Bay is after, continued strong play in the team's concluding stretch of the schedule could give the Buccaneers a shot at the No. 2 seed and the all-important first-round bye that comes with it,

Gruden and company face Atlanta (3-9), San Francisco (3-9), and Carolina (5-7) in their final three games.

The Texans, meanwhile, are simply looking to keep their postseason dreams alive for another week. Houston was a 28-20 loser at Tennessee last Sunday, dropping Gary Kubiak's team to 5-7 and keeping them alone in last place in the AFC South.

Though a division title is now out of reach for the Texans, four wins in a difficult final stretch that begins with the Bucs and concludes with matchups against the Broncos (5-7), Colts (10-2), and Jaguars (8-4) would give Houston a realistic chance at its first postseason berth in team history.

SERIES HISTORY

The Buccaneers and Texans have met just once in a meaningful game, a 16-3 Tampa Bay home win during the 2003 season. The Bucs will be traveling to Houston for the first time since 1995, when the lost to the Oilers, 19-7, at the Astrodome. Tampa Bay is 0-4 all-time in Houston.

The Buccaneers and Texans also met in the 2007 preseason, a 31-24 Tampa Bay win at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 30th.

Gruden is 1-0 in his career against the Texans, while Houston's Kubiak will be meeting both Gruden and the Bucs for the first time as a head coach.

WHEN THE BUCCANEERS HAVE THE BALL

After missing most of the last two weeks due to a back problem, it would appear that Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia (2135 passing yards, 11 TD, 3 INT) will return to the lineup on Sunday. If the veteran has another setback, the Bucs would again turn to Luke McCown, who played well in the win over the Saints. The ex-Brown threw for 313 yards - the team's second-highest passing total of the season, and also tossed touchdown passes to seldom-seen tight ends Jerramy Stevens and Anthony Becht. But McCown showed his greatest chemistry with ageless wideout Joey Galloway (49 receptions, 6 TD), who tortured the Saints by hauling in seven passes for 159 yards, including a 60- yarder to end the first quarter that set up a one-yard touchdown pass one play later. Galloway needs 109 yards for the sixth 1,000-yard season of his career, and third consecutive. The running game remains in good hands with the blossoming Earnest Graham (737 rushing yards, 7 TD, 36 receptions), who has averaged 101.8 yards in his last four games, and has scored a touchdown in four straight. The Buccaneers, who currently rank 19th in the league in total offense (325.2 yards per game), have thrown a league-low five interceptions on the season.

The Buccaneers might seek to take a run-first approach against a Texans defense that ranks just 25th in NFL rushing defense (122.2 yards per game) and is surrendering 4.5 yards per carry on the season. Houston gave up 153 yards on 29 carries (5.3 per rush) to the Tennessee ground attack, and allowed touchdown runs by both LenDale White and Chris Brown. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans (109 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) posted a game-high 14 tackles in the loss, but did not get enough help from an interior line led by tackles Travis Johnson (32 tackles, 1 INT) and Amobi Akoye (27 tackles, 5 sacks). When Garcia drops back to pass, he'll want to be on the lookout for defensive end Mario Williams (40 tackles, 8.5 sacks), who comes off a career-best two-and-a-half sack effort against Vince Young last Sunday. The 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick leads the Texans in QB takedowns, but as a team Houston ranks near the bottom of the league with 19 sacks. A makeshift secondary that has been beset by injuries received 12 tackles from safety Will Demps (24 tackles) and an interception from cornerback Fred Bennett (33 tackles, 3 INT) last week.

WHEN THE TEXANS HAVE THE BALL

Sunday will bring the second start of the 2007 season for Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels (914 passing yards, 8 TD, 7 INT), who is expected to be in the lineup subbing for the injured Matt Schaub. Schaub suffered a shoulder injury after being tackled by Titans end Antwan Odom in the first quarter of last week's loss, and is out indefinitely. Rosenfels, who presided over a 24-17 win over the Raiders in Week 9, was 17-of-30 for 185 yards with a touchdown and an interception after relieving the starter in Week 13. Wideout Andre Johnson (32 receptions, 5 TD) was once again the team's top target, hauling in nine passes for 116 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. Johnson has 100-yard games in four of his five appearances this year, and can eclipse 1,000 (in what would be a total of nine appearances) by averaging 116.3 over his final four games. In the backfield, Ron Dayne (601 rushing yards, 3 TD, 14 receptions) is expected to again get the start after averaging 84.3 rushing yards per game over his past three starts. Ahman Green (260 rushing yards, 2 TD, 14 receptions), who has missed six games this season with a knee injury, could miss the rest of the season. The major problem for the Houston offense this year has been turnovers, with the team having committed an NFL-worst total of 31 as Week 14 commences.

Though the work of the Tampa Bay offense has been a pleasant surprise this season, the mistake-prone Texans will be far more concerned about a Buccaneers defense that ranks fourth in the league overall (291.8 yards per game) and shut down the high-powered New Orleans attack for much of last week's contest. The Saints managed just 246 total yards and 13 first downs, while Tampa came up with three sacks of the usually untouchable Drew Brees and picked up a key fourth-quarter turnover. Ends Gaines Adams (27 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Jovan Haye (55 tackles, 5 sacks) both had sacks of Brees, while Haye jumped on Reggie Bush's botched pitch attempt to Devery Henderson to set up a Tampa Bay score in the closing minutes. Rookie Greg White (18 tackles, 5.5 sacks) continues to lead the Bucs in sacks, while safety Jermaine Phillips (72 tackles, 3 INT, 1 sack) and cornerback Ronde Barber (47 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) have made a number of big plays due to the persistent Buccaneers pressure. Linebackers Barrett Ruud (94 tackles, 2 INT) and Derrick Brooks (94 tackles), who are tied for the team lead in stops, will look to keep the Texans running game in check this week.

FANTASY FOCUS

The Buccaneers are not known for their high-powered offense, but fantasy managers who have started either Graham or Galloway in recent weeks have been pleasantly surprised. Kicker Matt Bryant and the Tampa Bay defense are also decent plays, but it's probably best to stay away from Garcia until he proves he's back to health. On the Houston side, Andre Johnson appears to be back to previous form, and is a must-start. You'll probably hesitate in starting Ron Dayne, though the journeyman will likely give you something out of the backfield. Kicker Kris Brown has been among the league's most consistent point-producers at his position.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Buccaneers are a better team than the Texans, but there have to be some questions about their state of mind entering this game. Seven days after a monumental road win in New Orleans, will a team that has already pretty much guaranteed itself a playoff berth display 100 percent focus? It seems doubtful. Houston comes into this matchup as a desperate club trying to hold on tight to its fleeting playoff hopes. For that reason, look for the Texans to play more consistent football, sprinkle in a couple of big plays, and walk away with a win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texans 20, Buccaneers 19

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Re: NFL : GAME PREVIEWS 12/9

Game Preview for Rams vs Bengals

(Sports Network) - Another weekend of NFL football approaches and the Cincinnati Bengals have another chance to finish the 2007 season with a respectable record.

Picked in the preseason as a potential team to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, the Bengals have played to a disappointing 4-8 mark so far. Head coach Marvin Lewis' job has been in jeopardy, and a loss to the lowly St. Louis Rams Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium will only make his job stability worse. The Bengals would once again fall short of a winning season under Lewis for the fourth time in five seasons if they can't beat the Rams.

Cincinnati had a chance to keep its slim playoff hopes alive last week in Pittsburgh, but the Bengals played as ugly as the conditions at a rain-soaked Heinz Field. The Bengals suffered a 24-10 loss as quarterback Carson Palmer battled through a rough day, passing for 183 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Palmer had his worst outing of the season and completed just 17-of-44 passes for a quarterback rating of 51.6.

Palmer and the Bengals catch a break this week versus St. Louis, but nothing is a given anymore in the National Football League. Cincinnati will then travel to San Francisco before hosting Cleveland and heading out to Miami for the regular-season finale.

The main question heading into this weekend for St. Louis is the health of quarterback Marc Bulger. Bulger is still recovering from a concussion, but passed a neuropsych exam and was cleared for practice Wednesday. Bulger, who will most likely be available against Cincinnati, was held out of last week's 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons. He originally sustained the injury during the first quarter of a November 25 loss to Seattle.

Backup and former Bengal Gus Frerotte started in Bulger's place against the Falcons and threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Unfortunately, Frerotte will not play on Sunday because of a shoulder injury.

St. Louis has won three of its last four games after opening the season with an 0-8 record. The playoffs are obviously out of the question for second-year head coach Scott Linehan's club, so pride is on the line for the Rams.

The Rams will host Green Bay and Pittsburgh before closing out a miserable and injury-riddled 2007 campaign at Arizona.

SERIES HISTORY

The all-time series between the Rams and Bengals is knotted at 5-5, with St. Louis evening the series by virtue of a 27-10 win during the 2003 season. The Rams have won three in a row against Cincinnati, including a 38-10 triumph in their most recent trip to the Queen City, in 1999. The Bengals' most recent win in the series was a 15-3 victory at Riverfront Stadium against the then- Los Angeles Rams in 1993.

Lewis is 0-1 in his career against St. Louis, while Linehan will be meeting both Lewis and the Bengals for the first time as a head coach.

WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL

With Frerotte (983 passing yards, 7 TD, 11 INT) out with a partial tear in the labrum of his right shoulder as well as a sprain and Bulger (1,789 passing yards, 6 TD, 9 INT) slowly recovering from a concussion, the starting quarterback duties could go to Brock Berlin. According to Linehan, he is confident in Berlin's ability despite having been on the practice squad. But Linehan is also optimistic that Bulger will return against Cincinnati. Bulger, though, must be cautious in his return, as concussion injuries are taken seriously. He has been meeting with doctors on a regular basis and will continue to get multiple opinions from the medical staff.

The Rams have the 16th-best pass attack in the NFL and one of the top wide receivers in the game. All-Pro wideout Torry Holt (72 receptions, 6 TD) is coming off his second 100-yard receiving game over the past four weeks, as he hauled in six passes for 135 yards and a touchdown versus Atlanta. Holt has reached the end zone twice in three games and is aiming for his eighth consecutive season with 1,000 yards receiving. He has had 100-yard games 12 times in his career against teams from the AFC. Age hasn't been a problem for wideout Isaac Bruce (42 receptions, 3 TD), as the veteran has three touchdown catches over the last four weeks. Bruce only has one 100-yard receiving game this season, however, and came away with 31 yards on four receptions in the recent win over Atlanta. Tight end Randy McMichael (28 receptions, 3 TD) hasn't contributed much in his first year with St. Louis, but had two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

Cincinnati is near the bottom in pass defense this season. It may catch a break if Bulger doesn't play, but the Bengals still have to be wary of what Holt and Bruce can do to opposing defenses. In the loss to the Steelers, the Bengals allowed seven first downs on 11 third-down opportunities, including five by Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward. Even though the defense forced four turnovers for the third time this season and didn't allow a pass longer than 19 yards, Cincinnati has a challenge this weekend against the Rams' West Coast offense. The Bengals have also allowed just an average of 277 passing yards in their last four games. Cornerbacks Leon Hall (49 tackles, 4 INT), Deltha O'Neal (43 tackles, 1 INT) and Johnathan Joseph (38 tackles, 3 INT) will try to keep Holt and Bruce in check. Joseph had one of two picks for the Bengals last week and finished with seven solo tackles. He is aiming for a third straight game with an interception.

St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (628 rushing yards, 4 TD) is averaging almost 93 rushing yards over the last three games with a pair of touchdowns. Jackson has three scores over the last four weeks and recorded 96 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in the win over Atlanta. He seems to be fully recovered from a groin injury that sidelined him for four games earlier this season. Still, the Rams have the 24th-ranked ground attack this season despite having one of the best running backs in the game. Jackson, the NFL's defending yards from scrimmage champion, will be in search of just his second 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Bengals' weak run defense, which ranks 23rd in the league. Cincinnati hadn't allowed a team to gain 100 yards rushing in the previous three games until the Steelers posted 101 last weekend. Linebackers Landon Johnson (82 tackles, 1 sack) and Dhani Jones (60 tackles, 1 sack) combined for 11 tackles in the loss to Pittsburgh. Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Smith (61 tackles, 2 sacks) hasn't had a sack in three games and is due for a breakout day.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL

Palmer (3,259 passing yards, 21 TD, 15 INT) did not throw a touchdown pass in a game for the second time this season last weekend in Pittsburgh. He finished just 17-of-44 for a season-low 183 yards and was sacked once. Palmer, though, can still become the fifth-fastest quarterback to reach 100 career touchdown passes when he faces the Rams' 20th-ranked pass defense. Palmer, who has five TD passes and five interceptions over the previous three weeks, owns an 8-4 record versus the NFC with 25 touchdowns and 13 picks. He has three talented wide receivers in his arsenal, leading with Pro Bowl wideout Chad Johnson (77 receptions, 1,127 yards, 6 TD). Johnson is a threat on every snap of the ball and came away with 86 yards on six catches last weekend. He has just three touchdown catches over the last 10 weeks, though, and all three were recorded in a win over Tennessee on November 25. Johnson has no less than four catches over the last four games for the fourth-best passing offense in the league. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (914 receiving yards, 11 TD) owns an NFL-best 88 receptions this season, but has just one score over the past four contests. He has no less than five catches over the last four weeks of action and needs just 86 receiving yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. Chris Henry (17 receptions, 1 TD) has played the last four games since serving an eight-game NFL suspension for some legal issues. Henry is a solid third option for Palmer and usually takes on single coverage, since most teams like to double up both Johnson and Houshmandzadeh.

St. Louis is only 20th against the pass and gave up 324 yards through the air against the miserable Falcons last week. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (57 tackles, 5 INT) and cornerback Fakhir Brown (38 tackles, 3 INT) both had interceptions in the win and will be busy again with a trio of talented Cincinnati wideouts on the horizon. Atogwe and Brown combined for 11 stops last Sunday for a defense which recorded 10 passes defensed in the game. Linebackers Brandon Chillar (53 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Chris Draft (27 tackles, sack) and Brown came away with two tipped passes apiece.

Bengals running back Rudi Johnson (389 rushing yards, 2 TD) couldn't do much against Pittsburgh's defense in the rain, as he finished with 34 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He is back at full strength after missing time because of injury and has scored in back-to-back games. Backup Kenny Watson (521 rushing yards, 5 TD) is doing a fine job with his chances on the field and is averaging almost five yards per carry for the league's 26th-best ground attack. Watson had just 23 yards on five touches against the Steelers. The two will share the load against St. Louis' below average run defense. The Rams surrendered 111 rushing yards to the Falcons, as Atlanta's Jerious Norwood posted 94 yards on eight carries. St. Louis had gone three straight weeks without giving up 100 yards on the ground until the Atlanta game. Rams linebackers Will Witherspoon (87 tackles, 7 sacks) and Chillar have the duty of shutting down the rush and keeping an eye on both runners out of the backfield. Witherspoon has six sacks in the past five games and at least one of those tilts. Defensive tackle and team sack leader La'Roi Glover (27 tackles, 4 sacks) and end James Hall (40 tackles, 2.5 sacks) will apply the pressure up front, along with tackles Clifton Ryan (22 tackles, 2 sacks) and rookie Adam Carriker (22 tackles, 2 sacks). The Rams recorded four sacks in the win over the Falcons.

FANTASY FOCUS

Palmer is coming off a poor showing, but don't pay too much attention to that because he will bounce back. Palmer is one the league's best signal-callers and has been delightful so far for fantasy owners. A big reason for Palmer's success has and always will be because of Chad Johnson. The flamboyant wide receiver gets a lot of looks and yardage, but is not reaching the end zone on a regular basis. That shouldn't matter, because he can break out for two or three scores at times. Fellow wideout Houshmandzadeh is enjoying a career year with a league-high 88 receptions to go along with 11 touchdowns. Henry is a nice flex option because of the one-on-one matchups he ends up going up against. Rudi Johnson is a good start this week against the Rams' run defense, so keep Watson on the bench. Watson does figure in the scheme, just not as much as Johnson does. Jackson and Holt are the best fantasy options for St. Louis. With Bulger still recovering from a concussion, the Rams are left with just Jackson and Holt to carry the fantasy load. Holt is a future Hall of Famer and had 10 catches for 124 yards and a score in the Rams' last meeting with the Bengals. Jackson has 987 yards from scrimmage and seven TD's in his last seven games versus teams from the AFC.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Rams have already packed their bags for vacation, so a solid effort from them on Sunday is not expected. Linehan's team has been plagued by injuries the entire season despite St. Louis' recent success since an 0-8 start. Bulger will most likely be under center on Sunday with a cloudy head, although he has been gradually coming along from his concussion and has been practicing this week. Cincinnati is playing for Lewis, who could be on the way out depending on how the Bengals wrap up the 2007 season. A chance for a division title went out the window after the loss at Pittsburgh, and the chances of the Bengals reaching the playoffs in the AFC with an 8-8 record are slim. Palmer and his trio of wide receivers will enjoy a productive afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium, especially if Rudi Johnson can find some daylight to keep the St. Louis defense on its heals.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bengals 31, Rams 16

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