ARTHUR JUAN THE WARPATH
Over the last 19 NFL seasons, a rookie receiver has reached 1,000 yards receiving just 11 times. This year, two rookie receivers have a chance to reach the milestone as Titans’ A.J. Brown has 927 yards, while Washington’s Terry McLaurin sits at 919. The latter has been ruled out with a concussion this week, but Brown finds himself in a position to hit the 1,000-yark mark and help his team make the playoffs.
Brown has eclipsed 100 yards receiving in three of his last five games and is a big reason why the Titans are one win away from making the postseason after starting the year 2-4. All Tennessee has to do is beat the Houston Texans who Brown destroyed for a 8-114-1 in Week 15.
We are grabbing the Over 67.5 on Brown’s receiving total which puts him just under the 1,000-yard mark.
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THE BEAT JONES ON
The Green Bay Packers may win ugly, but they win. With one more victory they can lock up a first-round bye and with a little luck, could end up with home-field advantage as the No. 1 seed. Running back Aaron Jones was the man of Week 16 rushing 23 times for 156 yards and two scores. The league-leader in touchdowns has hit paydirt five times in the last three games and could have all the touches to himself with fellow RB Jamaal Williams doubtful for Week 17’s matchup against the Detroit Lions. With one more TD, Jones would tie Amhan Green for the Packers’ single-season touchdown record set in 2003.
Williams has averaged 9.2 rushes over the last six weeks and there is no reason why Jones shouldn’t absorb those touches with so much on the line for the Packers. With Jones averaging 5.7 yards per carry over the last month and the Lions giving up 4.1 yards per carry on the season, assuming a 17-to-20-carry game for Jones we predict his rushing yardage to be somewhere in the 83-87 yard range.
As Jones’ rushing total is set at 70.5 yards, the Over is a big go for us here especially since he went for a 19-109-4 in the only game Williams missed this year. If you’re looking for more, take the Jones rushing TD (-130).
STRIKING A STINKING SECONDARY
Adam Chernoff pointed out on Twitter yesterday the sad state of the Washington Redskins’ secondary ahead of its matchup in Dallas versus the Cowboys on Sunday. Both of their safeties have been ruled out and in their place are two players who have 11 snaps combined this year.
On top of the safety issues, Chernoff continues to show that six of the eight Washingon cornerbacks have been with the team for 10 days or less and the starting LCB, RCB and slot corner have just 97 snaps combined this year.
Dallas QB Dak Prescott isn’t 100 percent heading into the game but somebody in the receiving core should roast these replacements. We are avoiding Amari Cooper who looked disinterested last week, which leaves us Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb.
Gallup’s total sits at 67.5 yards which the receiver has topped that number in two of his last three games. Cobb’s total is 45.5 yards which he has eclipsed in four of his last six.
CMC Vs. THE BIGGEST TOTAL, EVER
It’s been a rough season for the Carolina Panthers, to say the least but the lone bright spot has been the play of running back Christian McCaffrey. The star of the Panthers’ offense is just 67 yards receiving shy of becoming the third player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards, a stat that isn’t lost on offensive coordinator Scott Turner.
The OC told reporters earlier this week that he will get CMC the ball any way he can versus the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and if McCaffrey can manage 216 yards from scrimmage, he will break Chris Johnson’s single-season record of 2,509 total yards.
The Saints are still gunning for a win on Sunday with playoff seeding at stake, but their defense has slipped out of the Top-10 DVOA ranks (both in the pass and in the run) and currently sits at No. 12. Even if New Orleans gameplans strictly against the Panthers RB, McCaffrey is just too skilled of a runner and receiver to be bottled up.
If you’re keen on profiting on history, take the Over on CMC’s total yards of 183.5. We doubt you will ever see a total as big as that.
MIXON MIXING IT UP
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has seen at least 20 carries in each of his last four games and has averaged nearly 22 totes a game since Week 10. On deck for the league’s seventh-most used rusher is the Cleveland Browns who gave up 243 yards on the ground last week and are surrendering a league-high 216 yards a game over the last four weeks.
Just four weeks ago, Mixon gashed the Browns for 186 total yards (146 rushing) on 23 carries and four targets. The Browns have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three straight weeks and we hope that trend continues into Week 17.
With Mixon getting in on the passing game (109 rec yards last four games), we are going to double down on his rushing total of 85.5 and his total yards of 105.5 in a plus-matchup against a team that can’t wait for the off-season.
LAST MAN STANDING
We backed the wrong Philadelphia Eagles tight end last week as it was Dallas Goedert and not Zach Ertz (injured) that went off. Even when Ertz was on the field, Carson Wentz looked Goedert’s way more often, targeting the tight end 12 times which he turned into a 9/91/1 in a must-win game.
This week, the Eagles will need a win to secure a playoff berth (or a Cowboys loss) and that path leads through the Giants in the Meadowlands. With Ertz a true game-time decision, Goedert will play an every-down role Sunday and will be the focal point of the offense, even if Ertz guts it out.
With a JV roster of wideouts, the Eagles are still throwing the ball 44.3 times a game (2nd-most) over the last three weeks and we expect Goedert to be the biggest beneficiary of the air yards. We are taking the Over on Goedert’s total on any number below 65 yards.
SHOOTING FOR A CENTURY
The Kansas City Chiefs could finish in second, third or fourth in the AFC depending on the outcome of their Week 17 match versus the Los Angeles Chargers and the winner of New England and Miami. TE Travis Kelce leads the team in receptions and receiving yards and sits at 94 catches on the year — six short of the century mark and back-to-back seasons with 100 catches.
The Chargers saw plenty of the K.C. TE in Week 11 as Kelce saw 10 targets which he turned into seven grabs and 92 yards and a score. Kelce’s reception total sits at 6.5 which could leave us one short if he is shooting for 100 and no more, but with K.C. needing a big game from its star pass-catcher, we are taking the Over 6.5 as Kelce has seven grabs or more in six of his last seven games.
PLAYOFF PATH: OAKLAND RAIDERS
The Raiders have one the lowest probability to make the playoffs, but they still have a chance. Oakland needs four games to go its way which ESPN gives a 12.8 percent chance of happening.
First and foremost, the Raiders need to take care of business and beat the Broncos in Denver as three-point dogs. The Broncos have played well at home of late, winning four of their last five — beating the Lions, Chargers, Browns and Titans. Oakland has struggled in the thin air, winning just once in seven trips to Colorado.
If the Silver and Black can squeak out a victory, they will still need the Ravens, Colts and Texans to pull out a win. After all that nonsense, they STILL need one of the Bears, Patriots, Lions or Chiefs to win. Not confusing at all.
Looking at the first four games, if we put those Money Lines together (OAK, BAL, IND and HOU) we get +2000 and assume one of those final four teams can pull off a victory, especially the Pats. So, if you have faith in Gruden’s troops, put your money down and you can turn $100 into $2000.
SUNDAY NIGHT HOMER PICK
The Seattle Seahawks must be feeling nostalgic with the signings of runningbacks Robert Turbin and Marshawn Lynch prior to their Week 17 encounter with the San Francisco 49ers. The trip down memory lane is the result of putting Chris Carson on the I.R. along with Rashaad Penny, and C.J. Prosise. The only healthy running back that was on the roster to begin the year is rookie RB Travis Homer who Pete Carroll said the team “would lean on Homer in the running game against the 49ers.”
Homer is a 2019 sixth-round pick out of Miami (FL) with 4.58 speed who is a great mix of speed, athleticism and toughness and was one of the best pass-pro RBs in the draft. The knocks on the runner are his vision and minimal use in the passing game (19 catches in 13 games last year).
San Francisco may have the league’s No. 12 DVOA rush defense, but Kyle Shannahan’s defense is allowing just 92 yards rushing a game over its last three games. It will be tough sledding for the rookie, but with his rushing total set at a manageable 42.5 yards, it’s hard to pass on since his coach has said that the volume will be there.
We are taking Homer’s Over 42.5 yards as we think he gets 13-15 rushes on the low end.
BILLS CRAWLING INTO PLAYOFFS
People who defend the Buffalo offense are kidding themselves. Josh Allen has just missed too many deep throws, taken too many sacks and fumbled too often. The Bills are putting up just 236 yards of offense over their last three games which is the second-worst mark in the league behind teams like Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.
With Buffalo already locked into the 5th seed in the AFC, the Bills will rest some players versus the New York Jets on Sunday, but head coach Sean McDermott told reporters that Josh Allen and the majority of the offense will play.
New York held a similarly bad offense in Pittsburgh to 260 yards and 10 points last week and should get healthier on defense in Week 17.
Josh Allen may start, but there is a good chance he catches a breather in the second half. We are backing the Under on the Bills’ team total of 18.5 — a number they haven’t topped in three straight weeks and will struggle against the Jets’ No. 2 DVOA rush defense.
ALLEN WITH HISTORY
Sticking with the Bills, QB Josh Allen has a skill set that scouts love but hasn’t produced big numbers in the NFL passing department, (yet?). Versus the Jets in Week 17, Allen will have a chance to become just the second NFL QB (Cam Newton did it twice) to throw for 3,000 yards, rush for 500 yards, pass for 20 TDs and rush for 10 TDs.
All the Buffalo QB needs to do is rush for one TD on Sunday to reach the milestone.
If and when the Bills get inside the 10, we are looking for Allen to call his own number and reach double-digit rushing TDs. Allen will finish the season with the most rushing TDs by a QB regardless, but we are hoping the 10 TD milestone is a number that the QB and coaching staff are aware of. Take J.Allen to get a rushing TD for plus-money.
PLAYOFF PATH: DALLAS COWBOYS
Jason Garrett hasn’t been fired yet even though fans have been calling for it ever since the beatdown the Dallas Cowboys took at home on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys can still win the division and a trip to the playoffs despite the fact that they have lost four of their last five games. ESPN gives Dallas a 73.8 probability of making it to the postseason, but the path is partially out of its hands.
The first step is to beat the Washington Redskins in Dallas as 10.5-point favorites. The Cowboys have won eight of the last 10 matchups and knocked off Washington in Week 2, 31-21. The Redskins will be without rookie QB Dwayne Haskins and possibly No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin who is in the concussion protocol.
The second step is a Philadelphia Eagles loss to the New York Giants. The Eagles are 4.5-point road chalk and have won the last six matchups. The Giants have only two divisional wins this year with both those coming against Washington. If Daniel Jones can put up some points, things could get real interesting as the Eagles could be without Zach Ertz and are real short in the playmaker department.
If you are a Cowboys backer, don’t forget to put some of that stocking stuffer cheddar on the Cowboys ML (-500) and the Giants ML (+180) for a +233 payout and a playoff berth.
THE D IN KC
How about that Kansas City defense. Through its last four games, the Chiefs’ D has held opponents to just 30 points, three touchdowns, 261 yards of offense per game while piling up 10 sacks and keeping offenses to a 36-percent third-down conversion rate.
The Chiefs are still in the hunt for a first-round bye and will be at full force when they host the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 17.
The Chargers’ offense has topped 20 points just once since November 8 and looked dreadful versus the Oakland Raiders’ Bottom-5 defense last week. Over his career, QB Philip Rivers is 14-14 versus the Chiefs but has an 82.6 QB rating against KC, which is his third-lowest rating among the league’s 31 other teams.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see L.A. play some bench players including backup QB Tyrod Taylor. With KC still in win-mode, we are taking the Chargers’ team total 17.5 and hitting the Under.
The Pittsburgh Steelers almost had Rudolph save Christmas last week, instead backup center B.J. Finney stepped on the QB's foot, Rudolph got tripped up and pile-drove into the ground injuring him and forcing the Steelers to use fourth-stringer Devlin Hodges once again
Without No. 1 center Maurkice Pouncey and Rudolph, the league’s third-worst offense over the last three weeks doesn’t stand much of a chance of putting up points, even with Pittsburgh facing a resting Baltimore defense. The Steelers have scored more than one TD in just two of their last six games and could be without top running back James Conner as well.
Take the Under on the Steelers’ team total of 20.5 points.
PLAYOFF PATH: PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Not wanting to be on the naughty list, there is a possibility that the Pittsburgh Steelers punch their ticket to the playoffs. ESPN gives them a 28.4 percent chance of seeing a Wild Card game.
The simplest path for the Steelers is a victory versus the Ravens and a Houston Texans win over the Tennessee Titans. This scenario could net backers a +378 payday but the Texans could possibly be playing for nothing and wanting to rest key starters for the playoffs.
An even more interesting path is a Steelers loss (+115), a Texans win (+175), a Colts win (-200), a Vikings win (-300), a Packers win (-500), a K.C. win (-370) and a Dolphins win (+625). This 0.8 percent probable case has a reward of around +13,000. I think we like the first scenario if you’re rooting for the Steelers.
L.A. Rams TE Tyler Higbee showed that he can maintain his ridiculous production even with the return of fellow TE Gerald Everett. Higbee saw 89 percent of the snaps and 11 of the 12 TE targets in Week 16. The 11 targets were his third-straight week reaching double-digit targets as the emerging TE sits fifth in total targets (44) and second in receiving yards (438) over the last four games.
Although the Rams are eliminated, Higbee is just seven catches and 50 yards short of a 70/700 campaign which is incredible considering he had just 212 yards heading into Week 13. It just so happens that the Rams face the most generous team to opposing tight ends in the Arizona Cardinals (73.9 Y/G) this week.
We are taking one more ride on the Cards’ TE defense and will take the Over on Higbee’s receiving total on any number below 80 yards.
NFC WEST UP FOR GRABS
Sunday night will feature an NFC West throwdown that will crown the division leader. The 49ers can claim the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win in Seattle, but a loss could shake up the entire bracket. If Seattle, a 3.5-point home dog, pulls off the victory it will win the division but need some help to get a bye.
Recency bias will have the public down on the Seahawks, especially without RB Chris Carson, but QB Russell Wilson is an impressive 12-3 lifetime versus the 49ers. Wilson has never lost to San Francisco at home over his career and knocked off the Niners on the road in Week 10.
We like the 3.5 points at home and if you really want the Hawks to capture the No. 1 seed, then put your dollars down on this dandy: Seattle win (+155), Carolina win (+500) and Detroit win (+475) for +8700.