Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Chuck O'Brien

The Baltimore Ravens need to win just one more football game to earn a playoff bid for a fifth straight season.

To do so, they need to beat a team struggling to put points on the board, a team that has lost two straight and a team with major concerns at the quarterback spot.

Problem is, said team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And I don't care if they're wheeling Terry Bradshaw out to the huddle, this is still the Steelers-Ravens, and it's easily one of the most heated rivalries in the league. Thus, I'll gladly take the points (+7') in this one.

I know the Ravens have won 15 straight at home, and 12 in a row against division foes, but Roethlisberger might be back and realistically all the Steelers need to do is stay close. The last time Baltimore lost at home? Pittsburgh won 13-10 in December 2010.

Baltimore's 16th-ranked offense still has to contend with the Steelers' top-ranked defense, which comes in looking to avenge last week's debacle against the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh's league-leading defense allowing 257.2 yards per game, and the stop unit will supposedly receive a boost today with the return of safety Troy Polamalu, who has missed nine of his team's first 11 games.

What I've learned about the Steelers, who have covered 10 of their last 12 after a straight-up loss, is when everything seems to be going against them - the defense steps up big.

Sure, the Ravens can still win the AFC North with a victory here and a Bengals loss in San Diego; it's more about the cover. Given the sense or urgency the Steelers must play with - if they lose they'll be eliminated from contention in the AFC North - I think we're in for another physical tussle that finishes with a 3- or 4-point margin on either side of the ball.

Six of last seven regular-season games between these two rivals have been decided by three points. Why should this one be any different? Take the underdog, which incidentally, has covered nine of the last 12 series showdowns.

3♦ PITTSBURGH

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Craig Davis

I have identified a few things I believe the Dolphins must do in order to pull the upset... but first, a little bit about this team.

First off, they are throwing and catching the ball a little better than I believed they could. Brian Hartline and Davone Bess are on pace for over 1000 yards receiving and accomplished this in an offense that doesn't run the ball particularly well.

They are also healthier than they've been in a while as only FB Jorvorskie Lane is questionable. New England, on the other hand, is going to miss this game as will G Logan Mankins.

It was no coincidence that the Dolphins scored 24 points Sunday against Seattle while finally finding a running game again, was it? They rushed for nearly 200 yards against a Seattle defense that has been pretty good against the run.

The running game opened up the passing game, especially with play-action, and the Dolphins had some big plays because of it.

The other thing the Dolphins MUST do is get pressure on Tom Brady. DE/LB Cameron Wake has slowed down in getting sacks, but he's always a threat and if he can get some early pressure on Brady like I think he should, it will only help the defense with their intensity.

Free play of the day on the Miami Dolphins over the Patriots plus the points.

1♦ MIAMI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Jeff Benton

Your Sunday freebie is a NFL total.

Go Over in the Patriots-Dolphins game.

The New England Express rolls its way into Sun Life Stadium having scored an unreal 108 points (most in the NFL since 1950) over the last pair of games, and they are averaging almost 48 points per game over their last four contests.

Not surprisingly, the Patriots have played to Overs in nine straight games.

Miami snapped a string of five straight Unders with an Over last weekend at home against Seattle, and while they have been predominantly an Under team this season, when playing the Patriots that has not been the case.

Series numbers show Overs in the last four meetings, and six of the last eight overall between these AFC East Division rivals.

It is a blue moon when the Patriots combine to play an Under these days, so instead of looking for the spot where the New England attack sputters, stick with the trends and play the Over in Miami this afternoon.

4♦ NEW ENGLAND-MIAMI OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Chris Jordan

Just a few weeks back the San Francisco 49ers played to a tie with the lowly St. Louis Rams. Today I fully expect the best out of the Niners, who should win this game by double digits. I'll weigh in immediately on the big ass elephant in the room, and that is Colin Kaepernick.

He, in my opinion, may have single-handidly saved the Niner's season. Sounds drastic, but I mean that in every sense of the statement. San Francisco was going to have a winning season, we know that. But with him in, it can continue to have a dominating season. I think with Alex Smith, the team suffers a couple more disappointing losses, which could have done damage mentally to the Niners.

The UNR-product has been setting an example for quite some time, if you hadn't known, as he's one of the first to arrive at the team facility everyday, and now as the starting quarterback, I would think many others are skipping past the snooze button and are eager to get to Centennial Boulevard in Santa Clara, California.

For the third consecutive week the sophomore pro will lead the Niners' offense on the field, as he's been impressive in wins over the Bears and Saints - two the NFC's elite teams. Kaepernick has completed 48 of 74 passes for 680 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and was sacked six times. He has a 102.3 passer rating.

Will this be another Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady situation, and have we seen the last of Smith? It's still too early to tell what reigning NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh has up his sleeve. But one thing is for sure, the Niners have a rejuvenated attitude with Kaepernick on the field.

Lay the chalk, and make note with this point spread, I want you buying the half point down off the listed 7-1/2, which I see everywhere. A couple of my colleagues like to be stubborn just to try to prove a point, and will call the situation out when they're right, but the fact is, when buying the half point works, the opponents to the wiseguy move are nowhere to be found. Regardless, everyone knows common sense with lines of 3, 4 and 7 - you NEVER get beat by the hook! So if your book is offering Frisco -7 or -7', buy the half point down.

4♦ SAN FRANCISCO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Matt Rivers

Sunday NFL free play winner is New England over Miami.

The Dolphins were able to hang on against the Seahawks last week at home, stopping a three game straight up and against the spread losing streak, but with just 41 total points scored in their last three games, I have a feeling Miami will be hard-pressed to keep pace with a New England team that has been "ringing the bell" with regularity these days.

The Patriots have come up with 190 points (47.5 ppg average), their last four games, and enter the Sunshine State on a five game winning streak. Against the spread the Pats have been able to cover in their last pair of wins and in three of their last four overall.

It is doubtful to me that Ryan Tannehill is going to be able to trade blows with Tom Brady for the full four quarters, and the fact New England is on a 4-1 run both straight up and against the spread their last five visits at Sun Life Stadium pretty much should tell you all you need to know about this one.

Go with the Patriots to continue their late-season upswing.

3♦ MIAMI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Wunderdog

Maryland at George Mason
Pick: George Mason +5.5

George Mason is once again a power in the Colonial, with a win over Virginia of the ACC already. The Patriots are on a 4-1 ATS run and 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games. They play defense as well as anyone, allowing 58, 45 and 52 points the last three games (all wins). Maryland has had an easy schedule since opening with a loss to Kentucky. This is a young Maryland team and Mark Turgeon’s roster features four freshmen and three sophomores, many of whom have little experience in the rigors of college hoops and the ACC.  They won by only nine against a weak Lafayette team, as Lafayette stayed relatively close by going 15 for 32 from three point range. The Terrapins are 1-4 ATS in their last five against the Colonial Athletic Association and 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a win. Play George Mason.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Charlie Sports

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
Play: Seattle Seahawks

The (6-5) Seattle Seahawks of the NFC West divsion will take on the (8-3) Chicago Bears of the NFC North division in 2012 NFL action. Seattle needs a win to stay in the NFC Playoff hunt and after a bad loss at Miami last week the Seashawks will be playing with a purpose. The Chicago Bears have dropeed 2 of their last 3 straight up and ATS. Seattle gets the road cover.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Nelly

Pittsburgh + over Baltimore

The charmed season for the Ravens came up with another improbable win last week and a nominee for play of the year with a 4th-and-29 conversion. Baltimore is 9-2 S/U and ATS despite being a below average defensive team and a below average rushing team. Those are two areas where Pittsburgh excels and after an absolute joke of a performance last week with eight turnovers, a motivated Pittsburgh team will be up to get revenge after a narrow loss two weeks ago in this match-up. Pittsburgh will be conservative on offense with Charlie Batch but the defense will keep the Steelers in this game and Baltimore can be exposed for the average team that they are despite the great record.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Harry Bondi

Indianapolis / Detroit Under 51

The Colts have become known as an offensive team with all the press rookie QB Andrew Luck has received -- including the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated -- but the fact is that this team has gone under the total in five of its last six games with the only over coming in New England when the high-flying Patriots offense went off. Take away that game and Indy has allowed 20 points or less in four of its last five, and just 13 points in three of those games. Offensively, Luck is a different QB on the road and has not been nearly as efficient. Detroit loves to pile up yards but is awful in the red zone. Bottom line: this number is inflated so we'll gladly play under the 51.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 2

Bob Balfe

Chicago Bears -3.5

The Seahawks are very exciting at home, but on the road they are not a good football team. Russell Wilson only has one win to his name on the road and I don’t like his chances today against a great defense. When healthy this is an elite football team. Look for Chicago to pound the run and play smothering defense. Take Chicago.


Carolina Panthers -4

How can Kansas City play football today? This is a bad team to begin with and this is not a case of a coach having cancer or a teammate dying in a tragic way. This was a murder-suicide done in front of the head coach. Cam Newton is going to run all over this defense. The Chiefs are the worst team in football and things just got uglier for them. Take Carolina.


New England Patriots -9

New England does not have the best defense, but in a game like this who cares? The Dolphins can score all they want, but still wont be able to outscore the Patriots. Once New England gets a lead they are going to continue to pad it with touchdowns. These teams are just on two different levels. Look for New England to win big. Take the Patriots.


Philadelphia Eagles +10.5

I don’t care how bad Philly has it this year with injuries. You throw out all the records when these two teams play. This is just way to many points for Dallas to be laying. This cowboy team is no stud like team. Look for the Eagles to run the ball better today with their promising backup. This will be a typical slopfest, but I like the Eagles keeping it close. Take Philly.

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