Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Chuck O'Brien

143-109 roll with the plays I'm giving away heading into today's selection on the Indianapolis Colts (-7) at Kansas City.

The Colts need one more win to clinch a playoff spot, and I don't believe they're going let off the gas once they get motoring at Arrowhead Stadium.

There is just too much to be impressed by with this team, and I don't mean in the same manner you'd be impressed by the 49ers, Falcons, Patriots or Packers. I'm talking about the simple fact they just might be the most remarkable story in sports this year.

A win today would secure a double-digit win season for a team that went 2-14 last season and endured an incredibly tumultuous offseason, not to mention its coach being diagnosed with leukemia.

In short, this team is a miracle.

So why would I not expect the Colts to swat a Chiefs team that is 2-12 (tied for the worst record in the league) but that looks more like 'thee' worst team in the league overall. Over the past two weeks the Chiefs are 0-2 and have been outscored 45-7, including being shut out 15-0 last week by the somewhat-equally hapless Oakland Raiders.

I love what quarterback Andrew Luck has done this season thus far, showing poise as the new offensive leader for a team that has only known the name Peyton Manning since 1998. Now  it's Luck team, and he's doing a fine job, having rallied the team to victory six times in the fourth quarter, a rookie record and needing just 74 yards passing to break Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s rookie record of 4,051 yards passing set last season.

And quite frankly once Luck gets his unit rolling, I don't see Kansas City keeping up. The Chiefs rank last in the NFL in scoring and have failed to score an offensive touchdown five times in 14 games. There's nothing good to say about it, really. Last Sunday in the loss to Oakland, the Chiefs had a mere 17 first-half yards and finished with 119 total, only 10 of which were on the ground.

I'm going to lay the chalk in this one, thinking we're going to see an offensive explosion from the Colts, and another stinker by the Chiefs.

3♦ INDIANAPOLIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Craig Davis

I like the Cowboys and Saints to give us a LOT of points.

Dallas, surprisingly, has played better in December than past months... and it's usually the other way around. Normally they are leading the division entering this month before imploding down the stretch.

Not this year.

Why? Because they seem to have found their offense... and it doesn't hurt that Demarco Murray is back and healthy.

Dallas scored nearly 40 points vs. Washington and Philly before scoring 27 in an overtime win over the best defense in the league... the Pittsburgh Steelers... last week.

I'm not sure if it's just the addition of Murray in the backfield or not, but they aren't the same team that needed help at running back every week for two months while Murray recovered.

Tony Romo can move the ball down the field in a hurry... much like his counterpart today, Drew Brees.

Brees won't be breaking any records this year, and he probably won't be going to the playoffs, but he won't lay down either.

Brees is looking to pad his stats and will likely take some changes he normally would 't. Having said that, they'll still score points.

Dallas's defense isn't at good as they have appeared to be at times and they will allow some points to Brees and company, especially indoors where the weather will not be a factor.

Free play of the day on Dallas/New Orleans over the total.

4♦ NEW ORLEANS-DALLAS OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Jeff Benton

Your Sunday freebie is the underdog Vikings as they play at Houston this afternoon.

Both teams need to win, as the Texans are looking for home-field advantage in the AFC, while the Vikes are looking to grab one of the two Wild Card spots come January postseason time.

Of course the sub-plot here also involves Adrian Peterson's attempt to set the NFL single-season rushing record. AD is sure to get his touches, and with him being a "home run" threat anytime he touches the pigskin, I have to like Minnesota's chances getting an extra score from the linemakers.

After opening the season with four straight covers as the favorite, Houston has only gone 4-4 their last eight tries when listed as the chalk.

Minnesota has won back-to-back games in the underdog role, and they have covered five of eight overall as the underdog for the year.

Give the Vikes a "puncher's chance" with Peterson gunning for the rushing record.

Take Minnesota plus the points.

2♦ MINNESOTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Chris Jordan

Last night I won my free pick on the Under in the Atlanta/Detroit game, as I told you it wouldn't get into the 50s. Today I'm telling you to play the Dallas Cowboys minus the points against the New Orleans Saints, as I think the Pokes are catching fire in the nick of time and just might be seeing the rainbow.

If the Cowboys can win out, they have a chance to make the postseason, and you can't ignore that kind of momentum. Today they'll host one of the worst defenses in the league, and that alone should be reason to believe the momentum is in their favor. I mean, I know New Orleans has the third-best offense in the league, but Rob Ryan's defense has been pretty damn good, and I don't think the Saints will have it as easy as they may think.

Tony Romo and company, that's a different story, as the eighth-best offense in the league - spurned by the fourth-best passing game - will explode against the overall worst defense in terms of ratings are concerned.

Yes, the team laced with bounty accusations now has the 32nd-ranked defense in the NFL. And don't get me wrong, though I know the Saints come in after their first shutout victory in 17 years, they're not going to be doing much against this inspired Dallas team that has now won three straight and five of six overall.

For all the Romo haters out there, make note with two games left, he has already set single-season team records with 379 completions and 568 attempts.

Let's lay the cheap number with the Cowboys today.

1♦ DALLAS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Matt Rivers

Sunday free play winner is the Colts as the road chalk over the Chiefs.

The once-proud Chiefs are just a bad, bad football team. This is a team that has been held to 16 points or less in nine of their last ten games. Not surprisingly, KC has won just once in that ten game stretch, and they are just 4-6 versus the spread in that span as well.

Into town come the Colts fresh off their loss at Houston, and Indy can control their postseason destiny with a win this afternoon at Arrowhead. The Colts have been a bit of a pleasant surprise this season, and Andrew Luck to road wins and covers in three of their last five away from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indianapolis may not be going deep into the postseason this year, but they sure as hell are a much better team than Kansas City, so lay it on the road with the Colts as Indy gets the win and cover over the Chiefs.

4♦ INDIANAPOLIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Nelly

Cleveland Browns + over Denver Broncos

The Broncos continue to win and last weeks win puts a little more muscle behind what has been a weak schedule for Denver. With New England losing Denver moved into the key #2 spot in the AFC picture and the Broncos have an incentive to keep the pressure on. Denver has failed to cover in the last two games at home and the Broncos have not beaten a team at home that would be in the playoffs. Denver is also just 3-12-1 ATS as favorite of 10 or more since 2003. Cleveland had won three in row but it was a suspect win streak over bad teams and catching Pittsburgh without Big Ben. Last week the Browns lost at home to a QB making his first ever start so this is not a team that can be counted on. That said the Browns have a solid running game and a defense that is playing better in the second half of the season. Denver has failed to cover in three of the last four when favored by more than a touchdown and this could be too many points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

NFL Betting Picks

Indianapolis Colts -6.5

The Colts enter this week's game 9-5 and a win will get them into the post season with a Wild Card spot. Indianapolis is 3-4 on the road this year and are coming off a road loss in Houston, but they had won 3 straight games prior to that loss and 7 of 8. The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-12 on the season and just 1-6 at home this year. They've lost two straight games since a 27-21 victory over Carolina, scoring just 7 points in a 30-7 loss @ Cleveland and then being shut out in a 15-0 loss in Oakland. The Chiefs have lost 10 of their last 11 games overall. Indy ranks 9th overall in the NFL on offense and are averaging 22.1 ppg, while the Chiefs rank 25th and are scoring a league worst 13.9 ppg. Kansas City has put up single digits in 5 of their last 10 games, and have scored over the 16 points just once in those 10 games. Defensively the Chiefs rank 18th and are giving up 26.2 papg, and the Colts are ranked 21st giving up 25.6 papg. Take note that the Colts are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs a team with a losing record, 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games overall, and 7-0 ATS in their last 7 following a loss. The Chiefs are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games vs a team with a winning road record and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs AFC opponents. Indianapolis has only won 2 games by 7+ points this year, but I think there is a good chance they make it their 3rd this week facing the leagues worst scoring team. The Colts need a win to secure a playoff spot and they don't want to go into Week 17 needing a victory. Look for the Colts to come out big and take care of business against a bad Chiefs team.


Washington Redskins -4.5

The line has moved up to -6 in most places since Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is now probably for Sunday's game. The Redskins are 8-6 on the season and can get into the playoffs by winning out in Week 16 and 17. They are 4-3 on the road and have won 5 straight games entering Sunday's meeting with the Eagles. Wins have come against Cleveland, Baltimore, New York Giants, Dallas, and Philadelphia. The win over Philly came in Washington in November winning 31-6 as 3.5 point favorites. Philadelphia had won their two meetings last season, but this is a different Eagles team. Philadelphia is just 4-10 on the year and 2-5 at home. They are also just 3-10-1 ATS this season. Although they have 4 wins, they started the season 3-1 and have since gone 1-9. Their latest was a 34-13 loss last Thursday vs Cincinnati at home. Also note that their 4 wins have come by a combined 6 points, and this Eagles team could be 0-14 right now. Washington ranks 4th in the NFL on offense and are averaging 27.2 ppg, while the Eagles rank 15th but are averaging just 18.1 ppg (putting them ahead of just 3 teams). It looks like rookie RG3 will be starting Sunday and he has had an amazing rookie season completing 66.4% of his passes for 18 TDs and just 4 INTs for a 104.2 QB Rating. He has also added 748 yards on the ground with 6 rushing TDs. The Eagles will go with Nick Foles as their QB who is completing 59.4% of his passes with 5 TDs and 4 INTs for a 77.6 QB Rating. Note that while Philadelphia ranks 16th in defense compared to the Redskins who are 29th, the Eagles are giving up 26.8 papg while Washington is giving up 25 papg. Also note that the Redskins are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 divisional games, and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. The Eagles are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall, 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs a team with a winning record, and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a double digit loss at home. Also take note that Washington has done well in Philadelphia covering the spread in 4 of their last 5 trips to Philly. Philadelphia will have troubles stopping Washington's offense and I can't see the Eagles keeping this tight as they have shown no motivation lately. Take the Redskins for a 4 unit play.


Miami Dolphins -4

The Bills will travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins after an embarrassing 50-17 loss in Toronto vs the Seahawks. The loss dropped the Bills to 5-9 on the season and they are just 2-5 on the road. They've lost two straight (Seattle and St Louis) and 6 of their last 8 games overall. One of those two wins was a 19-14 victory at home over Miami, but Buffalo hasn't looked good scoring 20+ points just once in their last 5 games. The Dolphins started off the season well and looked like they might be surprising everyone battling for a playoff spot late, but they've dropped 5 of 7 to fall to 6-8 on the year. The Dolphins are a solid 4-3 at home this year though. They are coming off a 24-3 victory over Jacksonville as 7.5 point favorites. Neither the Dolphins or Bills have had much success offensively this season with the Bills ranking 20th and the Dolphins 27th, but Miami has been much better defensively than the Bills. Miami ranks 17th in the league and are giving up just 19.9 papg while the Bills are ranked 24th and giving up a high 28.7 papg. The Bills won their first meeting this season, but the Dolphins won both last year including a 35-8 final score in Miami. Note that the Bills are just 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 road games, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 December games. The Dolphins are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 vs AFC opponents, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs divisional opponents, and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 December games. When these two teams meet the favorite is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings Neither team has been impressive as of late, but the Dolphins are coming off a convincing home win and their defense should be able to help them win and cover vs the Bills at home.


Cincinnati Bengals +4

This divisional game between the Bengals and Steelers will feel like a playoff game as both teams are battling for the playoffs. The Steelers need to win out in order to grab a Wild Card spot, as they would hold the head-to-head edge over Cincinnati as they beat them 24-17 earlier this season in Cincinnati. The Bengals enter the game 8-6 overall but a very solid 5-2 on the road. They have won 5 of their last 6 games including an impressive performance in a 34-13 road victory in Philadelphia on Thursday night. Their lone loss during that stretch was a 20-19 loss vs Dallas where they lead for most of the game but gave it up late. The Steelers are 7-7 on the year and 4-2 at home. Pittsburgh has lost 4 of their last 5 games with losses to Baltimore, Cleveland, San Diego, and an overtime loss to Dallas last weekend. They are just 5-8-1 ATS this season and 2-7 ATS in games they've been favored. The Bengals are averaging almost 4 more ppg than the Steelers, and although the Steelers defense is #1 overall the Bengals are actually giving up just 0.1 papg than Pittsburgh. Note that Cincinnati is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games, and 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games following a win. The Steelers are just 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games, 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 vs AFC opponents, and 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall. Being basically a must win for both teams I think we will see a tight game, and I will take the Bengals and the points.


Seattle Seahawks +1

This is a big divisional game and possibly an eventual playoff match up as the 49ers enter this game 10-3-1 while the Seahawks are 9-5. San Francisco is 5-2 on the road, and are coming off a huge 41-34 win vs the Patriots in New England on Sunday night. The 49ers lead big and almost gave up a huge lead, but ended up holding off Brady and the Pats. The 49ers have won 4 of their last 5 games being led now by QB Colin Kaepernick who has been solid with a 7:2 TD:INT ratio and a 101.4 QB Rating. The Seahawks are a perfect 6-0 at home this year and are also playing great football lately, winning 3 straight and 5 of their last 6 overall. Their last two victories have been by a combined score of 108-17, and they've put up 21+ points in 7 straight games. Rookie QB Russell Wilson is leading the charge with 21 TDs, 9 INTs, and a 95.5 QB Rating, while adding 402 yards on the ground and 3 TDs. These two teams are very comparable on both offense and defense, both ranking in the mid to upper rankings on offense and being #2 and #3 on defense. They are both allowing 15.6 papg putting them a tie for first in the league in that category. The 49ers won 13-6 in their first meeting earlier this year in San Francisco, but things will be much different in Seattle as the Seahawks have one of the best (if not the best) home field advantage in the NFL. The Seahawks are an amazing 40-19-2 ATS in their last 61 home games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall, and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs a team with a winning record. The 49ers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs divisional opponents. This will be the first real big test for 49ers QB Kaepernick and although I'm sure he will do OK, I think the Seahawks stay unbeaten at home this year with a big divisional victory. I'll take the Seahawks +1.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

St Louis/ Tampa Bay Under 44: I just don’t see a whole lot of points being scored in this one. St Louis has had problems offensively for most of the year as they have averaged just 18.4 ppg overall and 18.8 ppg on the road. They will be facing a weak Tampa defense, but the Bucs are just weak vs the pass and that is not the Rams game. The Rams have a run first mentality but moving the ball on the ground will not be easy vs the number 1 run defense in the league. Tampa’s offense has slowed down of late and were actually shut out last week vs a bad Saints defense. The Rams have a better defense than the Saints as they allow just 22.5 ppg, but it’s even better on the road where they allow just 20 ppg. The Rams were gashed on the ground last week vs Minnesota and you can expect Tampa to try and exploit that run defense and that should eat clock. I expect the defenses to have a better showing in this one than these struggling offenses. Look for the mid 30’s at best here.

3 UNIT PLAYS

DETROIT +4 over Atlanta: The Lions will not be going to the post season, but I do not see them just rolling over in their last 2 home games of the year. The Lions really have played well at home, especially in their last 4 at Ford Field. In those games they have a 2 point loss to Indy, a 3 point OT loss to Houston, a 4 point loss to Green Bay and they beat Seattle by 4. All 4 teams will be in the postseason, just like Atlanta. The Falcons are 12-2 on the year and yes they did beat the Giants 34-0 last week, but this is a different team on the road. They are 5-2 away from home, but only 1 team of that group will likely make it to the postseason (Washington). In their last 3 away from home they have a 10 point loss to Carolina, a 1 point win vs Tampa Bay and a 4 point loss to New Orleans.  Not very impressive. Detroit has the offense to stay with this team and while Atlanta does need this one more I still see the Lions coming up with a big effort in primetime and try an spoil their bid for home field advantage through the playoffs. No


Giants -2.5 over BALTIMORE:  I feel that the Giants are the better team here and they will bounce back from last weeks horrible game. The Giant offense had a bad showing last week in getting shutout by Atlanta, but Eli and this offense rarely has 2 bad games in a row and they will be going up against a Baltimore defense that is injury riddled and has allowed 378.7 ypg and 29.3 ppg in their last 3 games. The Giants have now been held under 20 points 5 times and in the previous 4 times they went on to average 43 ppg, scoring at least 38 points in each game.  The Ravens have not only struggled on defense, but their offense looks completely lost right now, as they come in averaging just 18.8 ppg in their last 5 games. The Giants have been here before and I feel they are the better team on both sides of the ball and should come away with a TD win here.


San Diego/ Jets Under 37.5: The Jets offense has been pathetic this year and have now gone to 3rd stringer Greg McElroy. He did lead NY to a late comeback vs Arizona, but is not going to be able to turnaround this offense that has averaged just 13.7 ppg in their last 7 games. At home the Jet offense has put up just 317.6 ypg and 19.3 ppg. On the other side we also have an offense that has struggled as the Bolts come in averaging just 251.7 ypg and 18 ppg in their last 3 games. Overall this year the Bolts offense has been very un- San Diego like as they have averaged 308.8 ypg and 21.4 ppg on the year. The Chargers will be facing a hot Jets defense that has allowed just 240.7 ypg and 10 ppg in their last 3 games. Neither team can be all that excited about playing this one and it should translate into a lackluster performance on offense. Both defenses are solid and that should keep the scoring low in this one.


Chicago/ Arizona Under 36.5: The Bears offense has been truly poor in their last 6 games, averaging just 14.2 ppg over their last 6 games. The Arizona offense has been poor for much of the year. Sure they scored 38 points last week vs the Bills, but that was the only time that they they have scored more than 19 points in their last 10 games, and in those 10 games they have averaged just 13.3 ppg. That is by far the worst mark in the league over that span. Defensively, the Cards have struggled of late, but have been pretty solid at home, allowing just 18.1 ppg there this year. The Bears defense has been tough all year and they come in allowing just 18.5 ppg on the road. I just vdo see allot of points being scored in this one, especially with 2 struggling offenses on the field.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Jeff Alexander

Buffalo Bills +5

Miami is being overvalued by oddsmakers at home where it is 25-52-1 ATS in its last 78 games. Buffalo won the season's first meeting and has either won or lost by five points or less in four of the last six matchups. Bet the Bills.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Dave Price

Pittsburgh Steelers -3

The Steelers have the edge at home in this crucial AFC North matchup. They have won five in a row and 10 of 12 against the Bengals, and they have won by 12.8 points on average during the five-game winning streak. Pittsburgh was unable to bounce back in Dallas last week, but this is a team that usually bounces back strong. It is on an 11-3 ATS run in games following a defeat. It has won by an average of 12.8 points in these contests as well. It is also worth noting that the Steelers are on a 13-5 ATS run in games following 2 or more consecutive losses against the spread. Lay the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Frank Jordan

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Play: Pittsburgh Steelers 

This game is for the battle for the 6th playoff spot in the AFC. If Cincinnati wins they lock up a playoff spot and keep a shot at the division title alive. If Pittsburgh wins they hold their own destiny for the 6th spot and an outside shot at the division title if they get some breaks. Cincinnati is just 1-3 within the division where as Pittsburgh is 2-2 in the division. Two of the strengths of each team will meet up as Pittsburgh is 4-2 at home and Cincinnati is 5-2 on the road. Cincinnati has a young QB at the helm and to see if they have the right guy there is nothing like throwing him right into the fire of this big game. With that being said look for the veteran Big Ben to come up well big as Pittsburgh wins 28-24 as they score early and hold on late. Play Pittsburgh

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday December, 23

Wunderdog

Minnesota at New York
Pick: Under 198

The general public thinks of these teams as all about offense, but the fact is both Minnesota and the NY Knicks are playing great defense this season. Minnesota is eighth in the NBA in points allowed, the surprising Knicks are 13th. Minnesota showcased that improved defense the last game, an impressive 99-93 win over the mighty Thunder, holding Oklahoma City to 40% shooting and five of 20 from long range. The UNDER is 5-2 in the Timberwolves last seven games against a team with a winning percentage above .600, and the UNDER is 6-1 in their last seven games playing on two days rest. The Knicks can play the physical game in the low post, as well, with Tyson Chandler. They are off a bad defensive game, but Coach Mike Woodson and Carmelo Anthony were ejected for each drawing two technical fouls, as was Tyson Chandler for his scuffle with Chicago's Joakim Noah. Look for a strong defensive game by both teams. Play the Timberwolves/Knicks UNDER the total.

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