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Green Sheet Early Look

Check our a short preview of our first off-season issue of the 2020-21 Green Sheet.

Click Here for a Green Sheet Early Look

The Green Sheet for the 2020-21 season and that will be an online only subscription released in the middle of each week. The subscription will start with several off-season issues in early to mid-April. We’ll have a $99.00 season subscription rate available until the first issue comes out in April.

Support us in this lean period of the calendar by signing up in advance for next season at a greatly discounted rate.

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NFL Close Calls Wk15

NFL Close Calls – Week 15

12/16/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 15 of the NFL regular season including two late defensive scores that made a great impact.

Baltimore Ravens (-17) 42, New York Jets 21 (44): The Ravens wrapped up this game with a 35-7 edge through three quarters but a blocked punt touchdown in the fourth put the Jets back in the conversation against the heavy underdog spread. A touchdown halfway through the fourth put the Jets within 21 after a successful two-point conversion and New York got the ball back at midfield with still five minutes remaining. On 4th-and-1 a Sam Darnold throw fell incomplete and Baltimore was able to run out the remaining clock with Robert Griffin III in the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6) 38, Detroit Lions 17 (46): The Buccaneers stormed out to a 21-0 lead in this game but the Lions slowly climbed back in the picture, completing a long touchdown drive on the first play of the fourth quarter to trail by only seven on a spread that climbed as high as +6 by kickoff. Tampa Bay missed a field goal on its next possession as the Lions were a live upset threat but with about five minutes remaining David Blough was intercepted with a 70-yard return for a touchdown. The Lions had to go for it on 4th down short of midfield on its next drive and the Buccaneers added another score to pull away for a somewhat misleading 21-point final margin. Three fourth quarter touchdowns also shifted a possible ‘under’ with 34 points through three quarters to a clear ‘over’.

Philadelphia Eagles (-6½) 37, Washington Redskins 27 (38): The Redskins led at halftime and erased a three-point deficit through three quarters with an early fourth quarter touchdown run from Adrian Peterson for a four-point lead as a home underdog. The fourth quarter would feature 33 points to soar ‘over’ the total and Philadelphia was able to set-up next week’s NFC East clash by going in front with 26 seconds to go, leading by four for the largest lead of the game for the Eagles. That would change with no time on the clock however as in desperation mode just across midfield an attempted lateral wound up going the other way for a late Eagles touchdown to flip the spread result.

Green Bay Packers (-4½) 21, Chicago Bears 13 (40½): After a low-scoring first half the Packers went in front 21-3 with two third quarter scores. The Bears added a field goal early in the fourth and later a touchdown while forcing five consecutive Green Bay punts with only one first down allowed. Down eight the Bears had three late possessions ending in an interception, stopped on downs in Green Bay territory with a failed pass interference challenge, and then delivering an incredible final play that nearly shifted the spread and total results and could have sent the game to overtime. The Bears had one second on the clock from the Green Bay 34-yard-line and opted for a short pass rather than a deep throw to the end zone. Against loose coverage Tarik Cohen had a lateral back to Mitchell Trubisky who sent the ball to Jesper Horsted who rumbled inside the 10-yard-line. Horsted failed to send the ball back one more time even with two Bears with an opening down the sideline in what could have been a score for Chicago to set-up a possible tying two-point conversion.

Houston Texans (+3) 24, Tennessee Titans 21 (50½): The Texans had a 14-0 lead in the huge AFC North contest with some big momentum swings early in this game. Deshaun Watson was intercepted for a touchback on the opening drive but Houston would block a field goal attempt for a scoreless first quarter. The play of the game was a deflected Ryan Tannehill pass to the edge of the end zone deflecting for an interception and an 86-yard return to set-up a Houston touchdown. Up 14-0 Houston stopped the Titans on downs later in the first half but Tennessee managed to score back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game around an interception of Watson in the end zone to thwart another scoring opportunity. Houston would respond with a touchdown on the next drive and later a field goal to lead by 10 but Tennessee added a score just ahead of the two-minute-warning to stay in play while keeping those on the ‘over’ in the mix for a late miracle. The Titans wouldn’t get the ball back until just 17 seconds remained and Ryan Tannehill was sacked to end the threat, narrowly avoiding a potential defensive score.

Seattle Seahawks (-6) 30, Carolina Panthers 24 (49): The Seahawks seemed to be in complete control going up 30-10 with about seven minutes remaining in the game. Those on the ‘over’ and taking the points found late life however with the Panthers scoring with about five minutes remaining on a Christian McCaffrey run while the defense then forced a quick 3-and-out. Just over minute later the Panthers were in the end zone again to send the total ‘over’ while allowing many Carolina tickets to be cashed at +6½. The scoring stopped there as Seattle was able to take a knee to eventually burn over three minutes of clock, moving to the #1 spot in the NFC.

New York Giants (-3½) 36, Miami Dolphins 20 (46½): The Dolphins trailed by one late in the third quarter despite botching two early scoring opportunities with a missed field goal while being stopped on downs at the 10-yard-line as well. A false start pinned Miami deep and a safety followed while the Giants got a good kickoff return and scored a few plays later to turn a one-point edge into a 10-point edge in quick order. Miami’s offense disappeared from there and the Giants pulled away while a 10-7 game at halftime turned into a clear ‘over’ with 39 second half points.

Buffalo Bills (+1) 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 10 (37): The Steelers led 10-7 through three quarters as a very slight favorite but the second of eventually four Devlin Hodges interceptions handed the Bills a field goal to tie the game. Buffalo didn’t have a productive offensive game but Josh Allen led the Bills 70 yards in six plays in the middle of the fourth quarter with Buffalo surviving a fumble in the red zone. Down seven the Steelers had a new set of downs at the Buffalo 26-yard line with three minutes to go but went backwards with a penalty and a sack before a fourth down interception in the end zone. Hodges would be intercepted in the end zone again in the final seconds as the Bills defense came through to send Buffalo into the postseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6½) 20, Oakland Raiders 16 (46½): Oakland appeared to have a good sendoff underway with a 16-3 lead at halftime though settling for three short field goals left the door open. The Jaguars added three in the final seconds of the third quarter to trail by 10 before the Raiders offense faltered in the fourth with a costly sack near midfield forcing a punt and then a missed field goal. The Jaguars would get two touchdowns from Gardner Minshew to Chris Conley with the go-ahead score coming with only 31 seconds to go. Oakland got a 33-yard pass interference call to have a reasonable shot late but the final two deep throws fell incomplete.

Atlanta Falcons (+10) 29, San Francisco 49ers 22 (49): The score was just 13-10 through three quarters in favor of the 49ers with the underdog points and the ‘under’ looking safe. San Francisco would score with 10 minutes remaining but missed the PAT in a key play with +10 a common number late in the week in this game. That wound up not mattering as the Falcons scored a touchdown with five minutes to go and San Francisco added a field goal after the two-minute warning for a five-point margin. Atlanta had a touchdown called back on review in the final seconds but on the final play Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones right at the goal line. Ruled short on the field, review gave Atlanta the score for the win. The Falcons did not add the conversion to lead 23-22 as the ‘under’ held but a disastrous 49ers kickoff return lateral situation after time expired would result in a fumble recovery in the end zone as Atlanta added six more points and the ‘over’ was cleared.

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Free NFL Pick Sunday

#305 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – over Detroit Lions 12:00 PM CT

The Buccaneers lost the turnover battle 4-1 last week and still won vs. a team fighting to stay in the playoff race. The Buccaneers put up 542 yards in that game and this team has won four of the past five games with big offensive numbers, including averaging more than 30 points per game the past six games. While the 6-7 Buccaneers have only one win against a team with a winning record, they do have four road wins and the three road losses were one-score games vs. likely playoff teams. The Lions have dropped six straight games in a miserable season and while many of the recent games have been competitive, they also haven’t had to face many great offensive teams in recent weeks facing the Bears twice in the past five games while also playing at Washington.

Detroit has been held to 20 or fewer points in four of the past five games and every team that has defeated Tampa Bay this season has scored 27 or more points with the Lions topping 27 just twice in 13 games this season. After an encouraging first start on Thanksgiving, David Blough struggled last week with two interceptions while taking five sacks and while Tampa Bay’s defense will provide him with a more favorable matchup, the Lions have posted only 4.7 yards per play the past three games for one of the worst averages in the league. Tampa Bay’s defense has 12 sacks the past three games as while Jameis Winston has been a consistent turnover risk this season, the Buccaneers rank fifth in the NFL in creating 22 turnovers and big plays could go against Detroit as well. In his career Winston’s QB Rating is 10 points higher in his road starts while posting far lesser interception rate and a fast indoor field will be beneficial to a Buccaneers offense with several big play threats. Tampa Bay has covered in two thirds of its games as a road favorite since Winston joined the team including winning by 17 two weeks ago similarly priced in Jacksonville.

Detroit is just 9-13 ATS as a home underdog since 2015 while featuring 6.6 yards per play allowed at home for the worst mark in the NFL this season. There are three other 3-win teams right now and all of those teams have a decent chance to win this week as the Lions have an incentive to continue to slide to better its draft positioning for next season while reaching .500 has been a noted and realistic goal for a Buccaneers team that is playing at a much higher level than the season record suggests. This line has climbed too high to stay in the mix for a rated pick but will be our lean for today’s free pick.

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Wk11 NFL Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 11

11/19/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 11 of the NFL regular season.

Dallas Cowboys (-7) 35, Detroit Lions 27 (46½): The Lions would not go away in this game as a 10-point halftime lead for Dallas fell to three points and the Cowboys led by just six after setting for a short field goal. With eight minutes to go Dallas got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to lead by 14 to seemingly put the game away but Detroit answered quickly and the spread result hinged on a two-point conversion try with the Lions unable to convert to leave the margin at eight and in favor of the popular road favorite.

New Orleans Saints (-5) 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 (50½): The Saints had a 27-10 lead late in the third quarter but the Buccaneers would wind up with a 30-yard touchdown pass to close to within 10. The total sat ‘under’ with 44 points through three consecutive punts. With five minutes remaining Tampa Bay opted to go for it on 4th-and-10 and Jameis Winston was intercepted with a 55-yard return touchdown for Marcus Williams of the Saints sealing the ‘over’ and the road favorite cover.

New York Jets (+1) 37, Washington Redskins 17 (37½): A 20-3 score at halftime didn’t look great for the ‘under’ with a total that dropped below 38 but a scoreless third quarter gave life to that wager. The Jets scored early in the fourth and then off a turnover added another touchdown just a minute later to put the scoring at 37. Washington put up more than half of its yardage for the game in the final 12 minutes eventually adding two touchdowns to clear the ‘over’ comfortably.

San Francisco 49ers (-10) 36, Arizona Cardinals 26 (44): The Cardinals had a hot start with a 16-0 edge but would produce minimal yardage the rest of the game following their first four drives. That allowed the 49ers to get back in the game San Francisco took a 23-19 edge early in the fourth quarter but missed on the two-point conversion. Arizona would go back in front to seemingly lock up the underdog cover at a double-digit price that fell dramatically from its opening. The 49ers would score with 31 seconds left to lock up the win and then on a final desperation play San Francisco grabbed the loose ball for a touchdown as time expired. Under the rules changed ahead of last season teams don’t need to attempt the PAT as the margin stayed right at 10 for a common push.

New England Patriots (-4) 17, Philadelphia Eagles 10 (44½): The Eagles led 10-0 in this game but the Patriots had three field goals in the final nine minutes before halftime to trail by one. Out of halftime the Patriots delivered a touchdown pass from Julian Edelman and not Tom Brady and 10 consecutive punts followed. Philadelphia reached the New England 26-yard-line in the final two minutes but Carson Wentz ended the threat with four consecutive incomplete passes including a near touchdown drop on 4th down as holding Tom Brady to no touchdowns and the Patriots to fewer than 300 yards still wasn’t enough for the home underdog cover.

Los Angeles Rams (-5) 17, Chicago Bears 7 (40): The Rams led 10-0 at halftime but the Bears were able to complete a 12-play drive for seven halfway through the third quarter. Eight straight punts followed before the Rams connected for a 51-yard touchdown that was wiped out with a formation penalty. Six plays later Los Angeles was able to convert from 1st-and-goal to get past the home favorite price and Chicago behind Chase Daniel managed only six yards on its final possession.

Kansas City Chiefs (-5½) 24, Los Angeles Chargers 17 (52½): The Chargers moved the ball well in the first half Monday night in Mexico City but settled for three field goals. An interception set up a 6-yard touchdown drive for the Chiefs for a 10-9 edge at the break. The scoring pace escalated in the third quarter as Kansas City scored touchdowns on its first two drives to lead 24-9 but the Chargers answered late in the third and got the two-point conversion to trail by just seven. The scoring stalled with five consecutive punts to start the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers threw his third interception to seemingly hand the Chiefs points with just over four minutes remaining but Kansas City wasn’t able to quite get into field goal range and punted to pin the Chargers inside the 10. Rivers converted a 4th down in the two-minute drill and reached the Kansas City 14-yard-line looking to tie the game but interception #4 came with 18 seconds to go as Kansas City and the ‘under’ both held on.

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Eliminator Final 3

The 2019 Eliminator Contest is down to the FINAL 3 contestants!

Will Weekly Wizard claim his record 4th title with a back-to-back title run? Can long-time Nelly’s featured handicapper Bobby Dalton deliver the championship? Will Rocketman claim his first title? Don’t miss this week’s picks!

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 10 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES NOV. 16-18

CLICK HERE for the Week 10 Contest Single Plays

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

DOWN TO THE FINAL 3 CONTESTANTS!

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NFL Close Calls Wk10

NFL Close Calls – Week 10

11/12/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 10 of the NFL regular season including the epic Monday night affair in San Francisco.  

Oakland Raiders (+1) 26, Los Angeles Chargers 24 (49): The Raiders led 20-17 through three quarters after the Chargers settled for a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The next Los Angeles drive started with a sack but eventually finished in the end zone while taking more than eight minutes off the clock. Down four, Oakland would need a touchdown and Derek Carr led the offense down the field without facing a 3rd down until 3rd-and-1 from the 18-yard-line with just over a minute remaining. Josh Jacobs would break through and go the distance to put Oakland up by two and incredibly Daniel Carlson missed the PAT to leave the Chargers a chance to win with a field goal. That touchdown also put the total just ‘over’ hovering from 47½ to 49 during the week. The Chargers could only pick up five yards before Philip Rivers wound up intercepted with 20 seconds to go on 4th-and-10, his third pick of the day for a 3-0 turnover edge for the Raiders in a two-point win.

Tennessee Titans (+5) 35, Kansas City Chiefs 32 (48½): Patrick Mahomes likely returning was already baked into this spread opening at -3 but Kansas City climbed all the way to -6 in Nashville with the confirmation of last season’s MVP returning. Mahomes did not disappoint with huge numbers and a 63-yard touchdown put the Chiefs up by nine in the fourth quarter. Tennessee answered with a five-minute drive to get within two and then held the Chiefs to a field goal, with Kansas City incredibly leading by five on a closing line of five despite that being a rather uncommon football margin. The Titans had to go for it on 4th-and-17 from their own 32 and failed but the Chiefs weren’t able to close out the game, taking a sack on 3rd-and-short. A bad snap botched a field goal attempt to keep the margin at five and gave the Titans great field goal position with still more than a minute to go. Ryan Tannehill delivered the go-ahead score for the Titans in just four plays and the two-point conversion put the Titans up three. Handed only 23 seconds Mahomes got the Chiefs 28 yards but a 52-yard kick to force overtime was then blocked by Joshua Kalu, with either perfect or uncalled early timing depending on your perspective.

Cleveland Browns (-3) 19, Buffalo Bills 16 (42): Cleveland led 9-7 at halftime after being unable to punch in several attempts near the goal line to prevent a larger lead, though Buffalo also missed a 34-yard field goal before the break. A safety tied the game in the third quarter but Cleveland got a field goal to lead by three on a spread of -3, though -2½ was available early in the week. A holding call for the Bills cost them a first down late in the third quarter and Buffalo went for it on 4th-and-4 and came up short on the final play of the third quarter. The Bills got a solid punt return a few minutes later to land near midfield and was able to get in the end zone after some close calls with a recovered fumble and then a touchdown brought back on review. Down four the Browns gave up a defensive touchdown but on a review Baker Mayfield’s fumble was overturned to an incomplete shovel pass. Shortly after the two-minute warning Cleveland connected for the go-ahead score to leave the margin at three. Buffalo got in position to force overtime but Stephen Hauschka missed left from 53 yards for a costly Bills defeat and a push for most on the spread.

New York Jets (+3) 34, New York Giants 27 (43): There were big scoring swings in this contest with a 14-0 lead for the Jets but the Giants scoring twice before the break. The Jets got a defensive score in the third quarter but the Giants put back-to-back touchdowns together and led 27-24 heading into the fourth, right even with the closing spread with a big move on this game from the Jets opening as a slight favorite. The Jets closed the game on a 13-0 run as a productive overall day from Daniel Jones and the Giants offense finished with four punts and a fumble for 25 net yards on its final five possessions combined.

Green Bay Packers (-4½) 24, Carolina Panthers 16 (49): The Panthers scored first in this game but the Packers took over in the second half to lead 24-10 heading into the third quarter with two scores around an interception in the end zone from Kyle Allen. The Panthers scored with about 12 minutes to go and went for two unsuccessfully to trail by eight. The defense did its part forcing two Green Bay punts and Allen led an 18-play drive going 88 yards in the final three minutes. The Panthers needed 89 however as after getting new life after a defensive penalty on 4th down, the Panthers wound up with an incomplete pass and then one final chance. Christian McCaffrey went up the middle and may have crossed the plane narrowly but amidst bodies and a snow covered field, the clear video evidence of the ball crossing the chalk wasn’t there as the Green Bay escaped and Panthers backers were left a few points short.

Chicago Bears (-6½) 20, Detroit Lions 13 (38): Matthew Stafford was ruled out Sunday morning as this line shot from as low as -2½ up to -7 before settling at -6½ with Jeff Driskel starting. It was 7-6 at halftime but Mitchell Trubisky led two scoring drives in the third quarter for a 14-point edge. The Lions were productive with a big yardage edge and scored with six minutes to go on a big play to climb within seven. The Lions failed on 4th-and-11 near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but the Bears only could run off 32 seconds. Down at their own 10, the Lions were able to make Bears and ‘under’ backers quite nervous reaching the Chicago 25 in the final seconds but the defense held up.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+4) 17, Los Angeles Rams 12 (43½): The Rams had two interceptions to start the second half but held defensively both times. A field goal put Los Angeles within four and Aaron Donald added a safety early in the fourth quarter, sitting down two to leave the Rams with a path to cover the road favorite number with a touchdown. The Steelers converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 34 in a huge play in this outcome and then recovered their own fumble on the very next play for another close call. Eventually the Steelers were able to add a 33-yard field goal to lead by five with fewer than three minutes remaining to seal the underdog cover in most scenarios. The Rams had two late possessions but the first ended with a 4th down incomplete pass while Jared Goff had another interception on the final drive. The most impactful play of the game ultimately came just before halftime with Jared Goff ruled to have fumbled and Pittsburgh returning it 43 yards for a touchdown when an incomplete pass has often been called on similar throwing motions.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) 28, Dallas Cowboys 24 (48): A 14-0 first quarter lead for the Vikings was erased in the second quarter but Minnesota added field goals on both sides of halftime. Amari Cooper got a touchdown midway through the third to put Dallas up one but the Vikings answered with eight, going for it on 4th-and-goal and also hitting the two-point conversion. Dallas was not as aggressive in its answer kicking a field goal with 10 minutes remaining to trail by four. In the final minute of the game Dallas would again face 4th-and-5 and could not find the end zone. Minnesota didn’t do enough to run much clock off and Dallas had the ball back near midfield. A few quick gains made for a reasonable Hail Mary try that was ultimately intercepted.

Seattle Seahawks (+6½) 27, San Francisco 49ers 24 (47): Week 10 saved the best for last with a thrilling showcase game in the NFC West Monday night. The undefeated 49ers looked the part as the league’s top team with a 10-0 first quarter lead. The game turned late in the second quarter with a defensive touchdown for Seattle to climb within three despite the offense struggling. Seattle held to get the ball back before halftime in great field position and DK Metclalf nearly took the Seahawks into the end zone with a long run after contact but he was incredibly stripped of the ball for a San Francisco touchback. Seattle also fumbled on its first drive out of the break but San Francisco stalled on the edge of field goal range and fell incomplete on 4th-and-2. Back-to-back turnovers led to two quick Seattle touchdowns but the momentum shifted back quickly as the 49ers had their own defensive score to make it 21-18 early in the fourth. San Francisco tied the game with a field goal at about the six-minute mark before matching field goals sent the game to overtime, with San Francisco’s late tying field goal securing the ‘over’ as well. The Seahawks hit a huge play on 3rd-and-16 and were in field goal range going first on overtime but Russell Wilson threw his second interception of the season. San Francisco looked poised to win but fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin missed badly from 47, the same distance he hit from to force overtime. Punts followed as a tie looked possible but Wilson had a big scramble and hit a few short gains to allow Jason Myers to deliver from 42 yards as time expired for the upset.

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Eliminator Final 5

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 9 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES NOV. 9-11

CLICK HERE for the Week 9 Contest Single Plays

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

DOWN TO THE FINAL 5 CONTESTANTS!

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NFL Week 9 Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 9

11/04/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 9 of the NFL regular season. Every home team covered in Week 9 heading into Monday night but not without late drama in several games.

San Francisco 49ers (-10) 28, Arizona Cardinals 25 (43½): While Arizona put up a decent fight they allowed a score on the final play of the first half to fall behind 21-7. Scoring a few minutes out of the break kept the Cardinals in the game but San Francisco answered three minutes later to lead 28-14 heading into the fourth quarter. In the final frame a long Cardinals drive resulted in a field goal to trim the margin to 11, with the decision to kick due to facing 4th-and-13. That wasn’t going to be quite enough for the underdog on a spread that leaped from +7 all the way to +10. The Arizona defense held and Kyler Murray and Andy Isabella connected for 88 yards to put the Cardinals back in play for the upset. The-two-point conversion was good and it was a 3-point margin. San Francisco converted three third downs including one that was upheld on a challenge to melt the remaining clock, moving to 8-0.

Buffalo Bills (-10½) 24, Washington Redskins 9 (37): A rout seemed possible with a quick 10-0 lead for the Bills in the first quarter. Washington managed a second quarter field goal but a strong Bills kickoff return followed and it was 17-3. Washington got three more before the break to trail by 11, right near the closing spread. A productive Bills drive out of halftime was stopped on 4th-and-1 and eventually Washington added three more to trail by just eight with a spread that was as low as +9½ before climbing back up. Four consecutive punts kept the scoring in check and aided the ‘under’ before the Bills inherited great field position with about six minutes remaining. The play of the game relative to the spread was Buffalo facing 3rd-and-18 in deep field goal range. An incomplete pass and Buffalo likely punts to pin Washington back but Josh Allen connected with John Brown for 23 yards. Still ahead of the two-minute warning Buffalo wasn’t going to be able to run out the clock and eventually added a Devin Singletary touchdown to flip the spread result with just 2:21 to go. Dwayne Haskins got the Redskins near midfield before falling short on 4th-and-4 in a mediocre but perhaps slightly better than some expected performance in his first NFL start against a quality defense on the road.

Carolina Panthers (-3) 30, Tennessee Titans 20 (43): After a scoreless first quarter the Panthers scored 17 in the second and led 24-7 through three quarters. The Titans completed a 94-yard drive early in the fourth but allowed a 58-yard run to Christian McCaffrey a few minutes later to stay down by 16 as a slight underdog, though the spread was +3½ or higher much of the week. Ryan Tannehill was intercepted on Tennessee’s next drive in Carolina territory but the Panthers would miss a field goal to keep the Titans in the game. With fewer than three minutes remaining Tennessee found the end zone but didn’t get the conversion to trail by 10, leaving the door open for a spread-spoiling touchdown if they got the ball back. Only 20 seconds came off the clock on Carolina’s 3-and-out with Tennessee only needing to burn two timeouts thanks to a 2nd down pass call from the Panthers. The Titans went down the field quickly but had to waste a down to stop the clock with just over a minute remaining on 3rd down and opted for a field goal on 4th-and-3 to the relief of those on the Panthers. The kick was ultimately missed anyway but the 19-point fourth quarter did clear the total ‘over’.

Philadelphia Eagles (-5) 22, Chicago Bears 14 (41): The Eagles dominated the first half in this playoff rematch as in a week where Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense came under great scrutiny, the offense had negative total production five drives into the game and didn’t pick up a first down until the final minute of the first half. Philadelphia extended a 12-0 halftime lead to 19-0 going 84 yards after halftime but Chicago would score touchdowns on two of its next three drives to trail by five, even with a common spread on the game. A pair of punts followed before a great Carson Wentz drive, burning more than eight minutes of clock in a 16-play effort that resulted in a field goal in the final minute of the game to give the Eagles the clear win and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs (+5½) 26, Minnesota Vikings 23 (46): The line on this game was not commonly available until the weekend and with Patrick Mahomes ruled out the road favorite price kept climbing. A 10-10 tie at halftime was broken with a short-field Vikings touchdown following a Chiefs fumble on the kickoff after the break. Minnesota missed the PAT however and that allowed the Chiefs to lead by one after Damien Williams broke a 91-yard run late in the third quarter. The Chiefs added a field goal to lead by four but Minnesota went in front by three early in the fourth. The Vikings weren’t able to hold on defense however even with a huge 3rd-and-13 sack to push Harrison Butker’s tying field goal attempt to 54 yards. Still ahead of the two-minute warning Kirk Cousins went backwards on Minnesota’s chance for a go-ahead drive. A terrible punt followed as special teams issues continue to haunt Mike Zimmer with the Chiefs starting at Minnesota’s 45-yard-line. A sack on 1st down gave Minnesota a chance to get to overtime but Matt Moore connected for two solid gains and Butker was good from 44 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) 26, Indianapolis Colts 24 (39½): A common fallacy is assuming a near-even line won’t come into play but the difference between +1 and -1 looked significant in the Colts/Steelers game much of the way with either option available on either team depending on the timing. The scoring got off a normal trajectory as Pittsburgh recovered its own fumble in the end zone late in the third quarter to take a safety instead of allowing a touchdown, trimming a 20-16 lead to 20-18. The Colts would fumble the kickoff to botch an opportunity to have good field position and despite gaining only four yards, the Steelers added three points to lead by five. With Brian Hoyer at quarterback most of the game the Colts were in the red zone midway through the third but faced a decision on 4th-and-2. Hoyer connected for the touchdown but the Colts didn’t get the two-point try as the lead was one. A big defensive pass interference call withstood review but from 1st-and-goal the Steelers had to settle for a short kick to go back in front by two with still six minutes to go. Punts were exchanged before Hoyer and the Colts got the ball back with 2:28 to go from their own 15. Pass interference would again be the central conversation with Indianapolis gaining 35 yards on a call that withstood review. Pittsburgh would also challenge for offensive pass interference later in the drive but with no change of course. Indianapolis reached field goal range but lost three yards on 3rd-and-1 with just over a minute to go. Adam Vinatieri would miss in another high profile spot from 43 yards as Pittsburgh escaped with the win.

Oakland Raiders (-3) 31, Detroit Lions 24 (51½): While both teams moved the ball well, the scoring stalled in the third quarter as the Lions settled for a short field goal to tie the game 17-17. Off-setting penalties offset a potential 3rd down stop for the Lions early in the fourth quarter and on the re-play Oakland went up 24-17. After a series of punts the Lions took advantage of good field position to tie the game with just over five minutes remaining. Oakland quickly earned 1st-and-goal as the two-minute warning approached but on 3rd-and-9 Oakland connected to go back up by seven. The Lions got two chunks of yardage on penalties but in the final minute Matthew Stafford took a sack from the 4-yard-line. Facing 3rd-and-goal from the 14, Detroit got 13 yards and Oakland held on the final play with an incomplete pass on a jump ball off play-action, with Lions fans certainly having a valid case that the defender’s contact was early.

Seattle Seahawks (-4) 40, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 (50½): +6 and even briefly +6½ was available early in the week on the Buccaneers. It didn’t seem to matter with a 21-7 early lead for the road underdog. Halfway through the third quarter Seattle connected for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game. Matching field goals followed to make it 24-24 early in the fourth before both teams had fumbles. Taking advantage of great field position Seattle took its first lead of the game with eight minutes to go on a short field goal. The Buccaneers were able to tie the game with five minutes to go. It took only three plays for Seattle to answer, hitting a 53-yard touchdown to pass up the favorite spread for the first time in the game. Jameis Winston converted a 4th down at the two-minute warning and then put Tampa Bay into the end zone in the final minute. With still 46 seconds to go, Tampa Bay kicked the PAT to tie the game. To no one’s surprise Russell Wilson was able to get the Seahawks in position to win but Jason Myers missed from 40 yards, setting up the nightmare scenario to come for Buccaneers backers. Seattle won the toss and an exhausted Buccaneers defense was picked apart. An illegal contract call gave Seattle a big first down to get into field goal range and on 3rd-and-6 the Seahawks struck for 29 yards, inevitably getting into the end zone two plays later for the win and the undeserved favorite cover for most.

Denver Broncos (+4) 24, Cleveland Browns 19 (39): Before Joe Flacco was ruled out, the Broncos were a slight favorite in this game but were +3 to +4 with Brandon Allen set for his first NFL action. Allen played well and led the Broncos to a 17-12 lead at halftime, with Denver’s defense holding Cleveland to four field goals. A Phillip Linsday run put Denver up by 12 late in the third quarter but the Browns got back within five early in the fourth. Cleveland forced a punt and had the ball back with still more than seven minutes to go. A signature drive was possible for Baker Mayfield in what has been a difficult season. The Browns reached 3rd-and-1 at the Denver 25 and kept the ball out of Mayfield’s hands with a rush from Nick Chubb losing three yards. Mayfield fell incomplete on 4th down as the Broncos held on to surpass the Browns in the ACC standings.

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NFL Week 8 Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 8

10/28/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 8 of the NFL regular season. Most of this week’s games apply as if you won in Week 8 on sides, congratulations, almost every game could have gone the other way with many of those games certainly deserving of an opposite spread result.

Minnesota Vikings (-17) 19, Washington Redskins 9 (41½): There were eight scoring plays Thursday night but seven were field goals as Minnesota posted more than twice as many yards but couldn’t pull away. Washington trailed by just seven late in the third quarter and got the ball back with a stop on 4th-and-1 just outside of Minnesota field goal range. Two plays later Dwayne Haskins was intercepted to set-up a Dan Bailey field goal early in the fourth quarter to put Minnesota up by 10. A late touchdown would be enough for most Vikings backers on a spread that opened at -14½ and only hit -17 very late in the day before kickoff. The Vikings had the opportunity and attempted to score despite Washington being out of timeouts late but ultimately wound up stopped on 4th-and-4 from the Washington 7-yard-line in the final minute.

Detroit Lions (-6) 31, New York Giants 26 (49): The Lions had a 14-0 lead early but Detroit has made a habit of blowing leads this season. Sure enough the Giants scored the next two touchdowns but missed a PAT to trail by one. The Lions would stretch the edge to four by halftime and led by five through three quarters after an exchange of touchdowns in the third with the Giants failing going for two. Detroit hit a big play early in the fourth quarter to lead by 12 before New York was stopped on downs on back-to-back possessions. Detroit would go backwards on both late possessions however and getting the ball back just ahead of the two-minute warning, the Giants were a backdoor threat. A 25-yard pass interference call put New York in business and with 1:19 remaining the Giants found the end zone. Down six New York matched the closing number and opted to kick the important PAT to lose by just five.

Tennessee Titans (-2) 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 (45½): The Buccaneers have appealing numbers but the consistent turnovers stand out and they came to bite in this contest with Tampa Bay posting a 389-246 yardage edge in a narrow loss. The Titans led by two at halftime after the Buccaneers went for two after a score right before the break and came up short. The Buccaneers would get eight on an early third quarter score however to lead by six. Tennessee added a late third quarter field goal to trail by three but forced a punt with Tampa Bay unwilling to go for it on 4th-and-1 in its own territory. The Titans then nearly doubled their offensive production for the game with a 12-play 90-yard drive to deliver the go-ahead score, slipping past the slight favorite spread with 6:55 to go as well. Tampa Bay had three more possessions that ended in a fumble, failing on 4th-and-1 in Tennessee territory, and finally a deep pass from Jameis Winston intercepted at the Tennessee 25-yard-line.

Los Angeles Chargers (+3) 17, Chicago Bears 16 (41): The Bears commanded this game in the numbers but settled for three first half field goals while the Chargers got a touchdown. The scoring mode flipped in the third quarter as the Bears were able to find the end zone and led 16-10 as a slight home favorite after a Chargers field goal late in the third quarter. Mitch Trubisky fumbled in Chicago territory on the next possession and the Chargers were able to go 26 yards for a touchdown in three plays to lead by one. Chicago had a productive drive to reach the Los Angeles 37-yard-line but Trubisky took a 3rd down sack and the Bears had to punt. The defense got the stop to give the Bears another chance and rather than taking a few shots to get a touchdown or get closer, the Bears took a knee in the final minute and watched Eddy Pinero miss left from 41 yards.

Seattle Seahawks (-7) 27, Atlanta Falcons 20 (48½): The closing line says seven but that wasn’t an overly common price on this game. Seattle opened at -3 and held at -3½ early in the week before number jumped with Matt Ryan ruled out. -8 was typical over the weekend as results wound up varying on this game. Multiple outcomes didn’t seem possible as Seattle led 24-0 at halftime but Matt Schaub would prove to be a productive backup getting the Falcons 11 points in the third quarter. A Seattle field goal with about six minutes left in the game made the lead 16 and seemed safe but Atlanta went the distance in fewer than three minutes and suddenly was within 10, failing on a two-point conversion that mattered for many. In many ways that might have been a worse outcome for Seattle backers as with a two-score lead the Seahawks could still relax and they punted back while taking just 27 seconds off the clock. Schaub and the Falcons managed the clock well and kicked a second down field goal without using a timeout to trail by seven while still leaving more than a minute on the clock, giving many late-week Falcons backers a win. The on-side kick went out of bounds however to end any further threat as Seattle held on and the total that fell throughout the week stayed just ‘under’.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) 29, New York Jets 15 (40): Jacksonville dominated this game in most ways and led 22-7 after a late third quarter field goal. An early fourth quarter touchdown with a successful two-point conversion suddenly put the Jets down just seven however to land even with the common weekend number though early in the week Jacksonville opened at -4½ and was -6 to -6½ for long stretches. The Jaguars gained 30 yards on the next possession but had to punt. Hopes for a New York comeback were short-lived however with a penalty, a negative rushing play, and an interception on three snaps for the Jets. On a short field Jacksonville found the end zone on 3rd-and-goal to go up by 14. Sam Darnold was intercepted across midfield on the next possession for the Jets while another late series ended on downs.

Los Angeles Rams (-12) 24, Cincinnati Bengals 10 (48½): In London the Rams got more they bargained for with the winless Bengals with a 10-10 tie late in the second quarter before a trick play gave Los Angeles a 65-yard touchdown. Out of halftime the Rams added another touchdown to slip past the heavy favorite spread. The Bengals appeared ready to answer reaching the edge for field goal range before going backwards and needing to punt on 4th-and-long. Cincinnati held the Rams to four straight punts the rest of the game but two late drives deep into Los Angeles territory came up empty with a field goal not being worth considering given the time and score. The Bengals couldn’t convert from the 6-yard-line with about five minutes remaining and on a late drive appeared to get the underdog cover with a touchdown with eight seconds to go. On review the play was overturned and the Bengals came up incomplete on its last shot from inside the 10. Winning by 14 with only 24 points Rams backers escaped with a very fortunate cover in a game where the Bengals had more than 400 total yards but just 10 points.

New Orleans Saints (-12½) 31, Arizona Cardinals 9 (48): Arizona trailed New Orleans just 10-6 at halftime but opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 form its own 30 early in the third quarter. The aggressive play was commendable as Kliff Kingsbury is breaking the mold but the move backfired with the Saints adding a short-field touchdown to go up 17-6 a few plays later. Arizona would add a field goal and through three quarters both teams had three scores but Arizona had only field goals. Still down one score Arizona couldn’t get a big third down stop early in the fourth quarter and the Saints went up by 15. About halfway through the final frame the Cardinals reached the New Orleans 27-yard-line but a field goal did no good at that point and 3rd-and-2 and 4th-and-2 attempts to extend the series were stopped. A deflated Cardinals defense gave up back-to-back big plays as the Saints put the game away with another touchdown with five minutes to go.

Houston Texans (-5½) 27, Oakland Raiders 24 (52): The total wound up with mixed results on this game landing right on 51 where the number sat for big chunks of the week. Oakland led this game 21-13 as a Houston win didn’t seem in play but the Texans scored in the first few seconds of the fourth quarter and just went for one to trail 21-20. The Raiders managed a field goal to go up by four before a wild sequence with Deshaun Watson delivering a go-ahead touchdown pass but appearing to be seriously injured. Up three the Houston defense forced an Oakland punt and was a serious threat to steal the cover but Oakland exhausted its timeouts and Houston with Watson still in the game, was ultimately able to take a knee well across midfield after the two-minute warning without needing to try to advance further or consider a late field goal.

New England Patriots (-10) 27, Cleveland Browns 13 (43): Double-digit spreads in the NFL are rarely out of play as while the Patriots were in complete control after 17-0 first quarter, a Browns cover lurked as a real possibility. Down 27-10 Cleveland went for it on 4th-and-16 deep in its own territory and went further backwards. Dealt a 14-yard field the Patriots went backwards as well and missed on a 34-yard field goal with about four minutes remaining. A touchdown would have trimmed the margin to 10 but the Browns came up just short of a 1st down on a late series in New England territory and after a false start pushed it to 4th-and-6 they opted to kick a field goal to trail by 13. The Browns would get the ball back with about a minute to go and picked up a big gain with a pass interference call but a sack followed. With no timeouts left and the clock would run out a few plays later with the game staying just ‘under’ as well.

Green Bay Packers (-5) 31, Kansas City Chiefs 24 (48): A quick 14-0 lead for the Packers was erased in the second quarter as the Chiefs got a good performance from Matt Moore and the defense created some pressure. The Sunday night game was tied 17-17 through three quarters and 24-24 with nine minutes to go. The Packers scored on a 67-yard short pass and run from Aaron Jones to lead by seven but more than eight minutes remained. The Chiefs reached the 40-yard-line and opted to punt on 4th-and-3 with more than five minutes remaining and three timeouts left, a decision it isn’t clear they would make with Patrick Mahomes. Green Bay was able to covert a pair of third downs and run out the remaining clock for the win and narrow cover.

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NFL Wk5 Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 5

10/07/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 5 of the NFL regular season.

Seattle Seahawks (-1½) 30, Los Angeles Rams 29 (48½): The Thursday night NFC West clash lived up to its billing with a back-and-forth contest. The Seahawks led by one at halftime, briefly opening as a slight underdog but listed commonly a slight favorite at -1½ most of the week. The Rams had two 75-yard touchdown drives in the third quarter surrounding a short-field Seattle score but Los Angeles missed on a two-point conversion attempt to lead by just five. Early in the fourth quarter field goals were exchanged before Russell Wilson led a lengthy drive for the Seahawks and found the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 2:28 to go. The two-point conversion try loomed large on the spread result but DK Metcalf was unable to haul it in, leaving Seattle up by just one. The Rams had plenty of time to get into field goal range but Seattle challenged an incomplete pass and it was ruled that it was narrowly a wild interception from Tedric Thompson, a deflected pass that was juggled several times but was kept off the turf. Seattle was not able to pick up a first down to finish off the game however and it appeared that the Rams would sneak away with the win, reaching field goal range only to have Greg Zuerlein miss from 44 yards.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (44): The Ravens jumped out to an early 10-point lead but Pittsburgh took advantage of two interceptions to add a six points before the break to trail by four, getting close to the home underdog spread that mostly fluctuated between +3 and +3½. Pittsburgh scored first after halftime after another Lamar Jackson interception but Baltimore quickly answered with a field goal to knot the game at 20-20. Mason Rudolph was injured in the third quarter as the Steelers were down to undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges at quarterback. He did enough to lead Pittsburgh to another field goal with 2:37 remaining but Baltimore answered as Justin Tucker was good from 48 to force overtime, a kick that also sealed the ‘over’. The Ravens were forced to punt starting the extra session and Pittsburgh appeared to be on the move but JuJu Smith-Schuster lost the ball after a solid gain, with Baltimore narrowly recovering the fumble in bounds, effectively already in field goal range. A conservative approach followed as the Ravens picked up only six yards and Tucker hit from 46 for the win, though for many on the Ravens it wasn’t quite enough.

Oakland Raiders (+7) 24, Chicago Bears 21 (40): After a scoreless opening quarter in London the Raiders delivered 17 points in the second quarter for a commanding underdog edge on a line that climbed back up dramatically by Sunday, opening at -6 before falling as low as -4½ and rising all the back to -6½ and -7 by kickoff. The Bears suddenly also climbed back into the game in the third quarter taking advantage of good field position to score three touchdowns, going in front 21-17. The Raiders were on the doorstep to go back in front but Chicago got a fumble recovery near the goal line and the Bears were able to work their way out of danger into Oakland territory. Points weren’t added however but then it was the Raiders who were then pinned deep. A running into the kicker penalty gave Oakland a retry on a punt that would have left the Bears near midfield. Now facing 4th-and-1, the fake punt was on and Eddie Harris picked up the first down but appeared to fumble. On review the Raiders kept the ball and Derek Carr would go on to complete the 97-yard scoring drive to put Oakland back in front. Chicago crossed midfield on a late possession, but Chase Daniel wound up intercepted as Oakland moved to 3-2.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 26, Cincinnati Bengals 23 (46½): These winless squads kicked a lot of field goals early on as Arizona held a 13-9 lead through three quarters and the ‘under’ sat in good shape. The Cardinals added three more to lead by seven and seemed to put the game away with a 37-yard touchdown run with about seven minutes remaining for a 14-point lead. Andy Dalton led a 79-yard scoring drive around the four-minute mark to get the Bengals back within seven and the Cardinals weren’t able to gain a first down while only running off 27 seconds. Dalton hit Tajh Boyd for two big plays and suddenly Cincinnati was in the end zone. The Bengals opted to kick for the tie rather than go for the win with the touchdown right at the two-minute warning, a score that was also extremely relevant for those on a total that hovered in-between 46 and 47. There was too much time left for the Cardinals as Kyler Murray led his first NFL game-winning drive using his arm and his legs to set-up Zane Gonzalez for another field goal for the win.

Carolina Panthers (-3) 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 27 (41): The Panthers took a 28-17 lead early in the third quarter but the Jaguars would fight back adding a touchdown to trail by just four heading into the final frame on a spread that was commonly +3 or +3½. The Panthers weren’t able to put the game away despite two chances to add points, missing a field goal and then getting stopped on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard-line. Jacksonville settled for a field goal to trail by one with about six minutes remaining but the Panthers seemed to close the door with a 59-yard touchdown run. Incredibly the extra-point went right however as the margin stayed at seven. Jacksonville fumbled near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but still wound up getting another shot, eventually reaching the Carolina 24-yard-line before running out of time.

Buffalo Bills (+3½) 14, Tennessee Titans 7 (39): Tied 7-7 through three the Bills turned in a 77-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter surrounded by the third and fourth missed field goals of the day from Titans kicker Cairo Santos. The Titans would get a late possession but punted with about four minutes to go and didn’t get another chance as the Bills escaped with a win in a matchup that could loom large late in the season in the AFC wild card picture.

Denver Broncos (+4½) 20, Los Angeles Chargers 13 (46): A 14-0 first quarter lead offered great promise for the underdog Broncos and that edge was pushed to 17-0 with a field goal following up a missed field goal from the Chargers. Los Angeles also fumbled for a touchback on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line in the final play before halftime. Most of the third quarter went by harmlessly but winless teams often find ways to give their opponents a shot. Joe Flacco wound up intercepted at his own 7-yard-line to seemingly put the Chargers right back in the game but Philip Rivers returned the favor with another red zone turnover. Denver’s defense wouldn’t get a shot to prevent the next score however with Desmond King returning a punt 68 yards for a Chargers touchdown near the end of the third quarter. Joe Flacco took a costly 3rd down sack on the next Broncos drive to push the field goal attempt back and Brandon McManus would miss. A few plays later the Chargers added three to wind up within one score. The Broncos were eventually able to hit a field goal late in the fourth to finally put the game away for win #1.