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2020 NFL Schedule

Green Issue #3 will be out in late May with a comprehensive look at the recently released NFL schedule.

Here is the 2020 Schedule Chart giving you every team’s path in one page!

Get more great content like this as a 2020-21 Nelly’s Green Sheet subscriber. We’ve already posted our NFC and AFC Coaching Reference Guides.

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NFL Draft Props

The NFL Draft starts tonight and a welcome look back into the sports schedule.

We’ll have some NFL Draft grades in Green Sheet Issue #2 next week, along with our NFC Coaching Reference Guide. Get the AFC Coaching Reference Guide in Green Sheet Issue #1, sent out in mid-April to our subscribers.

The $99 Green Sheet season subscription rate will expire at the end of April, sign up now for the best price for the 2020-21 football season.

Total Wide Receivers Drafted in Round 1

Under 6.5 (-240)

The depth of this year’s Wide Receiver group has been well publicized and while there may be seven or more players with the potential to be a 1st Round pick, there aren’t likely to be seven actually picked. Six teams don’t have a first round pick while several others have multiple first rounders so the amount of viable spots for a top wide receiver to land is diminished. There appears to be four clear 1st round wide receivers while the grouping of the receivers that most generally grade 5th through 9th is tightly packed and teams will likely be patient to wait on a run of receivers to start. Several teams in the market for a receiver also have early second round options and seem likely to see if they can get away with waiting. 

Total Alabama Players to be Drafted in the First Round

Under 5.5 (-130)

Jedrick Wills, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and Terrell Lewis seem likely to be mid-to-late 1st round selections while most assume Tua Tagovailoa will be an early 1st round pick. Coming off an injury Tagovailoa looks like one of the more polarizing projections in the draft and could be a candidate for a major slide, even to round 2 as he is likely only a clear fit for a few teams. Finding a sixth Alabama first rounder is difficult as while Trevon Diggs is a highly rated player, he grades 5th or 6th among cornerbacks in a deep draft at the position while likewise safety Xavier McKinney will likely slip as no safety was picked in the 1st round last season. 

Total ACC Players Drafted in the First Round

Under 3.5 (-230)

As loaded as Clemson has been the Tigers only have two clear 1st round picks ahead in this draft with defensive stars Isaiah Simmons and A.J. Terrell, with only Simmons a lock to be an early pick. Louisville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton looks like the only other obvious 1st round option for the ACC and he could slide after acknowledging a failed drug test. In a normal year Tee Higgins could be a first round pick but the wide receiver block is so deep this year, there isn’t room for him in round 1 as the third Clemson player to be drafted. Cam Akers from Florida State could be next from the ACC but it is questionable whether any running back will be taken in round 1 and Akers isn’t at the top of that position list. 

More first round picks, the SEC vs the Field

All other conferences (-120)

LSU and Alabama could combine to reach double-digits for players taken in the first round while Auburn, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia all have a single player to contribute among those nearly universally projected in round 1. A lot of mock drafts call for a big run of SEC players late in the first round but those picks are also frequently traded as teams scramble to land a coveted player that has slipped from the predicted chart. The depth from Alabama and LSU isn’t coming from scarce positions as teams aren’t likely to send a lot of draft capital to move into the back of round 1 to grab a wide receiver or defensive back. Most of the fringe first rounders that could be chased with those late 1st round picks will be edge rushers and offensive linemen, or even a quarterback that slides, and most of those candidates in that range of the draft are coming from outside the SEC. 

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NFL Close Calls Week 1

NFL Close Calls – Week 1

09/10/2018

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 in the fourth quarter last week in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (-10) 32, Washington Redskins 27 (44): Case Keenum hit several big plays early in his Washington debut as the Redskins stunned the Eagles with a 17-0 lead 20 minutes into the game and held on to a 20-7 edge at halftime. Philadelphia erased that lead in a three-minute span in the third quarter with back-to-back scores to lead by one heading into the fourth. The Eagles kept the momentum with an early fourth quarter touchdown and then a field goal with about three minutes remaining put the Eagles past the heavy home favorite spread for the first time in the game leading by 12. Having punted on its first three possessions of the second half with a total of five yards gained, Washington put together a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an underdog cover saving touchdown with six seconds on the clock.

Buffalo Bills (+2½) 17, New York Jets 16 (41): The Jets took the lead early on an interception return touchdown but missed the PAT and that was the only scoring of the first half with Josh Allen having four turnovers for the Bills. The Jets led 8-0 after a safety on Buffalo’s first offensive snap of the third quarter and with good field position they added a touchdown to lead 16-0. Buffalo finally answered with a field goal and then in the fourth quarter produced an impressive touchdown drive to trail by only six with about 10 minutes to go. The Jets picked up a first down but opted to punt short of midfield rather than risk going for it on 4th-and-2. Allen led an 8-play, 80-yard touchdown in just three minutes as the Bills took a 17-16 lead with about three minutes to go. The Jets got close to midfield on its next drive but couldn’t convert for a one-point loss in a game where new kicker Kaare Vedvik missed two kicks.

Tennessee Titan (+5½) 43, Cleveland Browns 13 (44): The Browns crept back in this game with a touchdown to trail by only two late in the third quarter but a 75-yard touchdown followed to put the Titans in commanding position leading 22-13 through three quarters. Those on the ‘under’ still had some room to work with but back-to-back Baker Mayfield interceptions handed the Titans short fields and Tennessee scored quickly on drives of only 35 and 34 yards to push the total ‘over’, eventually adding a Malcolm Butler pick-6 later in the game for good measure to create the blowout 30-point final margin.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 27, Detroit Lions 27 (48½): Laying just a few points against 2018’s worst NFL team seemed too good to be true but the Lions got out to a 17-0 edge in the second quarter and after the defense held Arizona to a pair of field goals, wound up in front 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. Zane Gonzalez added a field goal to trim the margin to 15 points and Detroit had a 3-and-out. Kyler Murray then led his first NFL touchdown drive with David Johnson going in from 27 yards and the Cardinals were within a single score with six minutes to go. Detroit should have been able to put the game away, but Arizona exhausted its timeouts and ultimately the Lions had to punt from midfield, with a poor effort going only 11 yards. With a short field Arizona was able to work its way down the field and Murray again delivered a touchdown as well as a two-point conversion to tie the game. Arizona went first in overtime and reached the Detroit 8-yard-line but had to settle for a short field goal. The Lions likewise couldn’t get through to the end zone and tied the game at 27-27. Arizona faced a dilemma on 4th-and-7 from the Detroit 46 with the risky options to try an extremely long field goal or go for the 1st down both likely to hand the game to the Lions if they failed. The Cardinals played for the tie and punted to the Detroit 5-yard-line where the Lions didn’t offer much of a threat to deliver a miracle late score.  

Los Angeles Chargers (-6½) 30, Indianapolis Colts 24 (44½): Side and total results faced a dramatic finish in the battle of 2018 AFC playoff teams. The Chargers had a 17-6 lead at halftime after Adam Vinatieri missed a PAT and a field goal to cost the Colts. He hit for three on the first drive of the third quarter, but the Chargers answered with a touchdown to lead by 15. In two plays the Colts answered back to get back within a single score down eight, just short of a spread that bounced between 7 and 6½ before even sliding to just 6 at some outlets by kickoff. The Colts got the break they needed late in the third quarter with a muffed punt return catch but Vinatieri would miss again from just 29 yards early in the fourth to keep the margin at eight. The Chargers moved to 1st-and-goal with a chance to put the game away but an interception in the end zone gave the Colts new life. 16 plays later the Colts found the end zone while converting a 4th down along the way. The two-point conversion with less than a minute on the clock could have ended the spread uncertainty but Marlon Mack got through and tied the game to force overtime. The Chargers got the ball first and hit a big early play that withstood review. On 3rd-and-1 the Colts needed a stop to stay in the game but the Chargers converted and ran into the end zone on the next play. With no PAT needed in OT most on the Colts still covered while the late Indianapolis touchdown secured the ‘over’ as well.

New Orleans Saints (-6½) 30, Houston Texans 28 (51½): With a 14-3 halftime lead the Texans underdog cover appeared on track on a line that dipped from +7 to +6½. New Orleans scored quickly out of halftime, but the Texans were able to answer to maintain an 11-point lead. A late third quarter touchdown put the Saints down by four and a few plays later Deshaun Watson was intercepted giving the Saints the ball back near midfield. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Saints took their first lead by three. Both teams had to punt before Houston appeared to climb into scoring range reaching the New Orleans 44. Watson took an 11-yard sack and Houston had to punt. Pinned deep the Saints got 41 yards on a huge 3rd-and-2 play and eventually had a new set of downs on the 33-yard-line of Houston, with those on the Saints and the ‘over’ eagerly awaiting a score. Houston’s defense held leaving the Saints to kick a field goal with 50 seconds left, leading by only six. Watson needed only two plays to find the end zone with completions for 48 and 37 yards as the Texans stunned the Superdome crowd. The game was tied ahead of the PAT which Ka’imi Fairbarin incredibly missed right, a controversial flag came out as Fairbairn was contacted well after his kicking leg came back down and on the retry Houston went up by one to take overtime out of the picture and confirm the underdog cover. New Orleans would use the final 37 seconds to go 35 yards and Will Lutz came through with a 58-yard field goal for a dramatic win for the Saints.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 12

NFL Close Calls – Week 12

11/27/2018

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 and total in the fourth quarter in Week 12 of the NFL regular season.

Chicago Bears (-3) 23, Detroit Lions 16 (43): Chase Daniel filling in for Mitchell Trubisky brought the line on the early Thanksgiving game down from -4 to -3. The Lions trailed 9-7 at the half with the Bears getting a field goal and a touchdown in the final four minutes before halftime. Detroit took a 13-9 advantage into the fourth quarter but the Bears quickly answered to go up by three early in the fourth. The Lions went 73 yards on the next possession but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal to tie the game, after being unable to get in the end zone on a pair of plays inside the 3-yard-line. Detroit’s defense forced a punt but on 1st down Matthew Stafford was intercepted and Eddie Jackson put the Bears in front with a 41-yard return as the Bears suddenly led by seven and the ‘over’ was within a touchdown. Detroit had plenty of time to work with and eventually had a new set of downs at the Chicago 12-yard-line at the two-minute-warning. On 3rd down Stafford was intercepted again this time for a touchback to end the threat as the Bears escaped with the win and cover despite posting only 264 total yards.

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Buffalo Bills (+3) 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 21 (36½): The Bills and Jaguars were tied at 14-14 through three quarters after Josh Lambo missed a field goal from just 42 yards. The Bills haven’t been known as a quick strike offense but in three plays and with the help of 30 penalty yards, Buffalo got in the zone to take a 21-14 edge early in the fourth quarter. Four straight punts followed before the Bills added a field goal after intercepting Blake Bortles deep in Jacksonville territory. The Jaguars would add a touchdown with just over a minute remaining but didn’t get the on-side kick attempt as Buffalo held on for the minor upset and 17 fourth quarter points pushed the game ‘over’ one of the league’s lowest totals of the season.

Baltimore Ravens (-13) 34, Oakland Raiders 17 (41½): Baltimore led just 20-17 through three quarters but another rough fourth quarter was on the way for the Raiders. Former Oakland star Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown pass to put the Ravens up by 10 and Baltimore got a fumble return touchdown from Terrell Suggs a few minutes later after having scored earlier in the game on a punt return putting the Ravens up by 17 on a spread that climbed from -11 to -13. The defeated Raiders didn’t offer a much of a late threat to get back within the number, going backwards on a late 3-and-out.

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Philadelphia Eagles (-5) 25, New York Giants 22 (49):The underdog Giants had a 19-3 edge but the Eagles got eight points with about a minute to go before halftime and then added another three to trail by just five through three quarters. With 10 minutes to go Philadelphia went up by three with another touchdown with a successful two-point conversion, but that lead was not quite enough against a line that opened at -6 never fell past -4 during the week. The Giants tied the game with a short field goal with about six minutes remaining but Philadelphia burned most of the remaining time to hit from 43 yards for a three-point edge for a demoralizing loss for New York, though the effort was enough for the underdog to narrowly hold the cover.

New England Patriots (-13) 27, New York Jets 13 (47): The Jets were tied with the Patriots 13-13 with four minutes left in the third quarter but Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 21-yard touchdown as the AFC East leaders took a seven-point edge in the final frame on a spread that climbed up to -13 from an early week price of just -9. The Jets crossed midfield on its next drive but early in the fourth quarter opted to punt after taking a 3rd down sack. New England then completed an 80-yard drive with nine minutes to go for that 14-point advantage. It looked like the Jets would earn the backdoor cover reaching the New England 4-yard-line at the two-minute warning. Josh McCown had two throws to the end zone fall incomplete however as the Patriots held the 14-point margin.

Seattle Seahawks (+3) 30, Carolina Panthers 27 (47): Carolina led by three through three quarters and took a seven-point edge with seven minutes remaining in a game where the Panthers finished with 476 total yards but had a few missed opportunities early to keep Seattle in the game. Seattle went 75 yards in just over three minutes to answer with a tying touchdown. Graham Gano then missed a 52-yard field goal try just after the two-minute warning for the Panthers and without a timeout the Seahawks went 45 yards for Sebastian Janikowski to connect from 31 for the upset win in Charlotte with the Seahawks posting 20 points in the final 22 minutes of the game.

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Denver Broncos (+3) 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (49): These teams were tied at 3-3, 10-10, and then 17-17 through three quarters with Pittsburgh turnovers offsetting a significant production edge. The Broncos completed a 79-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter after a Pittsburgh fumble just outside of the red zone but it appeared the Steelers would tie the game to potentially force overtime. Pittsburgh wound up with a new set of downs at the Denver 3-yard-line just after the two-minute warning but on 3rd-and-goal Ben Roethlisberger rushed a pass up the middle after an awkward exchange and the errant throw was snagged by defensive lineman Shelby Harris for an interception in the end zone to seal the minor upset for the Broncos. That turnover also sealed the ‘under’ with the total likely to be eclipsed had the game headed to overtime.

Minnesota Vikings (-4) 24, Green Bay Packers 17 (49): The Sunday night NFC North battle appeared to be headed towards a shootout with a 14-14 score just four minutes into the second quarter but Minnesota would miss a pair of field goals before halftime. In the second half both teams punted on early possessions while the Packers failed near midfield going for it on 4th-and-1. The good field position allowed Minnesota to finally add three to take the lead with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter with the spread climbing from -3 to -4 by kickoff after opening at -3½. The Vikings were able to take a 10-point lead just before the start of the fourth quarter and then halfway through the fourth the Packers defense got a big 3rd down sack to stay in the game, pushing Minnesota out of field goal range. On the punt disaster struck as the ball bounced into returner Tramon Williams and was recovered by Minnesota at the Green Bay 15-yard-line. Still no points were recorded as Mike Zimmer and the Vikings eventually opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 7-yard-line up by 10. The Packers would face a similar decision on 4th-and-1 ahead of the two-minute-warning but opted to kick the 38-yard field goal to get back within one score, three points which were no help to those on the Packers, while the ‘under’ was also able to hold on.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 8

NFL Close Calls – Week 8

10/30/2018

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 and total in the fourth quarter in Week 8 of the NFL regular season to close October. Almost every game made the list in an exciting Week 8 with the spread or total results still in question late across the league.

Houston Texas (-7) 42, Miami Dolphins 23 (45½): Houston led by four at the half and extended the lead to 11 points in the third quarter. Miami hit a field goal in the final minute of the third to get within eight with a spread that was at -7 or -7½ for most. Miami tried an on-side kick and it didn’t work out, handing Houston great field position and two plays later Deshaun Watson connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 49-yard score. Miami answered but only with a field goal and Houston added another fourth quarter touchdown to pull away and seal a five-game winning streak.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 18 (44½): In London the Eagles delivered a 95-yard touchdown drive early in the third quarter to lead by 11 but Jacksonville closed to within five points late in the third quarter, opting to go for two and coming up short in a critical play relative to the spread that briefly hit -3½ before settling back at -3. A Josh Lambo field goal early in the fourth made the margin just two points, enough for the underdog Jaguars to cover. Philadelphia responded with a six-play touchdown drive to lead by nine with about 10 minutes remaining. Everyone involved on the spread or total watched with great interest as Jacksonville reached 1st-and-goal with about seven minutes remaining. The Jaguars didn’t get much closer however and settled for a 24-yard field goal that kept the Eagles past the favorite spread and left the total ‘under’. Jacksonville nearly got the big break it needed with an apparent fumble but on review Josh Adams was ruled down before the ball popped out. The Eagles still had to punt a few plays later but after converting one 4th-and-short play, the Jaguars fell incomplete on a 4th-and-2 throw near midfield as the Eagles and the ‘under’ held on.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) 33, Cleveland Browns 18 (47½): The Steelers led just 16-12 late in the third quarter as underdog and ‘under’ tickets were in a promising spot. James Conner added a late third quarter touchdown run to put the Steelers up by 11 and the Browns punted on its next three possessions, netting +1 yard over 10 plays while the Steelers added 10 more points. The total scoring was at 45 just ahead of the two-minute warning as Cleveland got the ball back. The Browns reached the Pittsburgh 24-yard-line with very little time left and on 4th down Baker Mayfield hit Seth DeValve for a touchdown at the six second mark to push the total ‘over’, in what turned out to be the final offensive series for coaches Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

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Kansas City Chiefs (-8) 30, Denver Broncos 23 (53½): The Chiefs led by just two at halftime 16-14 with a missed extra point in the second quarter on one of two touchdowns these teams had in the final minute before halftime to greatly change the total scoring pace. In the third Kansas City took control with two scores to go up 30-14 but Denver would score on the first play of the fourth quarter to trail by 10. The Broncos opted to go for two but failed to leave the margin right on the common number of +10, though the favorite spread fell Sunday morning. The Chiefs threw an interception a few plays later to give Denver a serious comeback shot but the Broncos had turnovers on their next two possessions. Getting the ball back with four minutes to go Denver added a field goal to ensure the underdog cover, though it wasn’t quite enough to clear the total.

Chicago Bears (-8) 24, New York Jets 10 (42): The Bears led just 7-3 at the half as the ‘under’ was the clear play in autumn conditions in Chicago. Halfway through the third quarter Chicago went up 14-3 and then early in the fourth added a field goal after a marginal punt left the Bears at midfield. The underdog Jets answered with their best drive of the day and suddenly were within the spread trailing 17-10. The Bears didn’t face a 3rd down on an 8-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to get back in front with seven minutes to go and a final threat for the Jets ended at midfield.

Seattle Seahawks (+3) 28, Detroit Lions 14 (48): Seattle had a big second quarter to lead 21-7 for a hot scoring pace but neither team added points in the third quarter to put the ‘under’ back in good shape. After getting stuffed at the goal line in the third quarter, Seattle ensured the underdog win with an early fourth quarter touchdown to put the scoring at 35 in a game that wound up with no field goals. Detroit gave itself a shot getting back within 14 and the ‘over’ was just one touchdown short of hitting with still 10 minutes to play. The Lions crossed midfield halfway through the final frame but Matthew Stafford fumbled on a sack. Detroit would reach the 4-yard-line with a new set of downs on its next possession but Stafford was picked off in the end zone to save the ‘under’.

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Cincinnati Bengals (-3½) 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 (55): The Bengals led 27-6 in this game just before halftime but the Buccaneers hit a long field goal right before the half and then added an early third quarter touchdown to climb within 11. A pick-6 that got Jameis Winston out of the game put the Bengals up 34-16 with the ‘over’ needing just five more points in the final frame. That total was decided quickly with the Buccaneers adding 10 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, sitting within a single score. Both teams punted with the game now tight and Cincinnati opted to punt on its next possession after a sack put the Bengals out of reasonable field goal range. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers down the field but faced 4th-and-3 at the 18-yard-line with a stop able to seal the win for the Bengals. Fitzpatrick hit O.J. Howard for the touchdown and then the Buccaneers also converted for two and the tie. Andy Dalton still had a minute remaining and the Bengals converted a big third down and A.J. Green did the heavy lifting to get the Bengals in place for a 44-yard field goal that won the game, but left those on the Bengals just shy of the spread.

Indianapolis Colts (-3½) 42, Oakland Raiders 28 (51): The Raiders led 28-21 into the fourth quarter as they have done several times this season despite only one win. Indianapolis tied the game with about 11 minutes remaining and forced a punt on defense. It took the Colts only six plays to score again, going in front 35-28 and the Raiders fumbled on first down after getting the ball back. Indianapolis added a short-field score to build the misleading 42-28 final margin.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 18, San Francisco 49ers 15 (40): This battle of one-win division rivals saw San Francisco go in front 5-3 at halftime and then 12-3 through three quarters. Early in the fourth the 49ers had a chance to go up by 16 but wound up settling for a 20-yard field goal to lead by 12. Despite limited production from the offense all day Josh Rosen led a touchdown drive in six plays to get the Cardinals back in the game, down by five. Arizona forced a punt and had the ball back with seven minutes to go but wound up fumbling near midfield. San Francisco couldn’t put the game away, needing to punt and Rosen led a very effective two-minute drill, going 73 yards in 12 plays to put the Cardinals in front, succeeding on the two-point conversion for a three-point lead. Overtime would have put the ‘over’ back in play but the 49ers ran out of time just across midfield and never got a tying field goal attempt off.

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Los Angeles Rams (-7½) 29, Green Bay Packers 27 (57): This highly anticipated NFC clash lived up to the billing with the Packers giving the undefeated Rams all they could handle early. A 10-0 lead slipped to just 10-8 as the Rams got a safety and a touchdown in the final three minutes before halftime. Los Angeles took over in the second half with consecutive touchdowns to lead 23-13 but Green Bay got back within three in the final seconds of the third quarter. The Rams settled for an early fourth quarter field goal which allowed the Packers to go in front 27-26 after a 40-yard touchdown pass. Both teams punted on the next possessions but a weak 25-yard effort set the Rams up in great field position with about five minutes to go. A red zone holding penalty forced Los Angeles to settle for the field goal just after the two-minute warning, leading by two with the scoring at 56, right even with the early week total that eventually climbed to 57. Ty Montgomery opted to take the kickoff out of the end zone and disaster struck for the Packers with a fumble as Aaron Rodgers didn’t get back on the field with a chance to win the game. Facing 3rd-and-10 the Rams would have had to kick a field goal if they were stopped with just over a minute on the clock but Todd Gurley found the corner and had a clear path to the end zone. In a play that will be remembered for a long time, he wisely stayed in bounds and kneeled at the 4-yard-line to effectively end the game, as a spread and total result flipping touchdown was kept off the board.

New England Patriots (-13½) 25, Buffalo Bills 6 (44): The first three quarters of the Monday night game featured both teams moving the ball effectively but a combined six field goals kept the scoring low with New England well short of the heavy road favorite spread with a 12-6 edge. Getting the ball early in the fourth the Patriots finally completed a drive with a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive to lead 18-6, with Brady’s two-point conversion throw intercepted. Derek Anderson almost had a touchdown throw but Jason Croom was ruled on out of bounds on review and then two plays later Devin McCourty took an interception 84 yards for a Patriots touchdown at the six-minute mark, putting New England past the heavy favorite spread. A touchdown would have still earned the cover for the Bills but Buffalo stalled on the New England 32-yard-line with about three minutes remaining and then in the final minute with Nathan Peterman in the game for an injured Anderson, the Bills were stopped on downs around the 34-yard-line.

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Pointspread Previews NFL Week 1

POINTSPREAD PREVIEWS

NFL WEEK 1 – Weekend of September 9

Our preseason Annual should be in the mail in early August but here is a look at the NFL Week 1 schedule with five situational angles for the opening week in the same format that we feature in the Annual for each week of the college football regular season. Our official newsletter predictions for Week 1 will be in our September 3 issue of the Green Sheet as our opinion on these games could change but at this point here are a few things to think about looking ahead to the opening week NFL schedule.

Revenge Spot: Cleveland Browns over Pittsburgh Steelers:

The 0-16 season for the Browns was bookended with Week 1 and Week 17 losses to the Steelers. Both games were highly competitive despite the contrasting final records for these division rivals fueled by a few big mistakes from rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. Cleveland has covered in the past three meetings in this series and the Browns now have a solid veteran quarterback known for taking care of the ball in Tyrod Taylor who led the Bills to the playoffs last season. Cleveland finished last season -28 in turnovers as improvement in that area should make the Browns a candidate to improve by a handful of wins on the season  and this game will have extra meaning for Cleveland’s new offensive coordinator Todd Haley who has spent the past six seasons with the Steelers in that capacity. Always one of the league’s most popular teams the Steelers are often overvalued in the opening week, currently on a 1-5-1 ATS run in Week 1 with four S/U losses in that span since 2011 and the Steelers are 4-6 ATS in the last 10 trips to Cleveland including three S/U losses despite the contrasting results for these franchises over the past decade. Pittsburgh lost at Chicago early last season and only twice in eight games won by more than six points on the road last season.  CURRENT LINE: PITTSBURGH -5½

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Road Trip: Baltimore Ravens over Buffalo Bills:

In Week 1 the playing field is supposed to be level in regards to travel but Bills have a late week Sunday preseason Week 3 game at home before playing the preseason Week 4 game in Chicago the following Thursday. The Bills are then on the road in Week 1 facing the Ravens. While the travel mileage isn’t overly demanding for that stretch the Bills are likely to start an unproven quarterback on the road against a defense that had some success last season. Baltimore pitched three shutouts last season and had a great turnover margin despite missing the playoffs at 9-7. The overall prospects for the Ravens are discouraging this season but knowing that they will be on the road in four of the first six weeks of the season will put extra emphasis on this home opener. The Ravens are at home for the final preseason week for a favorable set-up ahead of this game and the Ravens are 10-2 S/U in the past 12 home openers, covering as well in five of the past seven instances. A playoff team from a year ago the line should remain under a touchdown with the lower scoring potential for Baltimore but it should be a favorable opening week game for the Ravens no matter who ends up starting at quarterback for Buffalo. CURRENT LINE: BALTIMORE -5½

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Historically Speaking: Tampa Bay Buccaneers over New Orleans Saints:

Tampa Bay is 16-12 ATS at New Orleans since 1981 while going 19-13-1 ATS as an underdog in this series in that span while also covering in five of the past eight meetings. The Saints overcame a slow start last season to win the NFC South and expectations are high considered one of the top NFC contenders this season by many. The Saints have lost S/U in Week 1 in six of the last seven seasons however as it often takes some time for Drew Brees and the offense to reach full capacity. There are also concerns with the big defensive improvement last season being due to some scheduling breaks. Jameis Winston is currently suspended for this game which will put the Buccaneers as an even greater Week 1 underdog but Ryan Fitzpatrick is a capable veteran and the Buccaneers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Expected to be a NFC sleeper last season not much went right for the Buccaneers last season with a hurricane postponing the Week 1 game plus injuries taking a significant toll. Tampa Bay was only -47 in scoring differential despite a 5-11 record with seven losses by less than a touchdown last season as this wasn’t a typical last place team. Week 1 teams laying 7 or more points are just 16-23-2 ATS since 2006 including just 2-4 ATS with two S/U losses the past two seasons.  CURRENT LINE: NEW ORLEANS -9½

Look-Ahead: New York Giants over Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Giants were a stronger team than last season’s 3-13 record indicated with a number of narrow misses early in the season before things spiraled out of control for Ben McAdoo. New York had terrible luck with injuries with the receiving corps decimated early in the season and new head coach Pat Shurmur steps into a pretty good situation with a team that was in the playoffs two years ago. Shurmur didn’t have success as a head coach in Cleveland but he will have an established quarterback and a promising rookie running back to go up against one of the league’s top defensive teams. Jacksonville nearly made the Super Bowl last season but gave away the lead in the AFC Championship against the Patriots. Next on the schedule is a rematch with the Patriots for the home opener and that game certainly will be the focal point of September for a Jaguars team unaccustomed to coming off a season of success and now facing elevated expectations. The Giants will catch a home underdog spread and could be a threat against a Jaguars team that can still be erratic offensively with the Jaguars just 4-4 S/U on the road last season. CURRENT LINE: JACKSONVILLE -3½

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Letdown: San Francisco 49ers over Minnesota Vikings:

Last season everything lined up for the Vikings to have a special season, with the injury to Aaron Rodgers opening the door in the NFC North while claiming the #2 seed in the NFC and knowing that the top seeded Eagles were playing with a backup quarterback in the playoffs. Minnesota looked like a team of destiny with a miracle win over the Saints sending the team to the NFC Championship with a berth to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis at stake for an incredible storyline. Things didn’t work out with a blowout loss in Philadelphia for another devastating NFC Championship result added to the depressing postseason history of the franchise. Minnesota is considered one of the top NFC threats this season with the big free agent signing of Kirk Cousins but making a quarterback and offensive coordinator change adds for some early season adjustments that could lead to a slow start plus offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away in late July to add to the turmoil on the staff. Meanwhile San Francisco closed 2017 with five straight wins and Jimmy Garoppolo is undefeated as a starting quarterback. The 49ers featured a formidable defense late in the season particularly against the run and the underdog will be worth a look in Week 1 in a big NFC battle.  CURRENT LINE: MINNESOTA -5½

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NFL Close Calls – Week 11

NFL Close Calls – Week 11

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 in the fourth quarter last week in Week 11 of the NFL regular season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) 40, Tennessee Titans 17 (44½): This matchup of AFC division leaders was tight through three quarters with the Steelers often settling for field goals, leading 23-17 with the ‘over’ nearly locked up. Pittsburgh took control in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns to win convincingly, aided by four interceptions from Marcus Mariota.

Detroit Lions (-3) 27, Chicago Bears 24 (40½): The Bears jumped out to a 17-7 lead playing as a home underdog on Sunday. The Lions scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes of the second quarter however taking a 21-17 lead to sit just past the slight road favorite spread. Those on the ‘over’ had to start getting nervous despite the hot early pace as the third quarter went scoreless. The Lions hit a field goal at the 10-minute mark and the ‘over’ was sealed as Chicago completed a 78-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 24-24. Detroit answered with a field goal to lead but left plenty of time for the Bears, who would miss a 46-yard kick as time expired to leave most with a push.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1½) 30, Miami Dolphins 20 (44): The Buccaneers pulled away with a 20-7 edge at the half thanks to three Jay Cutler interceptions. Cutler would leave the game with a concussion and Matt Moore led the Dolphins back to a 20-20 tie with three minutes remaining, with the Dolphins having an eventual 448-321 yardage edge offset by turnovers. With four seconds remaining Tampa Bay was able to kick a go-ahead field goal for the narrow win, leaving the game just ‘under’ on the closing number that climbed from 40½ to 44. That is until the kickoff as a desperate series of laterals led to a fumble recovery touchdown in the end zone to shift that result.

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Houston Texans (-2½) 31, Arizona Cardinals 21 (38): The Cardinals led 21-17 through three quarters behind Blaine Gabbert but it was a back-up running back that would lead the victory for Houston as D’Onta Foreman scored twice in the final quarter to put Houston up by 10. The second score came after Arizona went for it on 4th down from its own 35-yard-line and Gabbert threw two late interceptions to prevent any late scoring opportunities for the Cardinals.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) 19, Cleveland Browns 7 (37): Jacksonville’s defense was dominant holding Cleveland to just 184 yards in the game but the offense mostly settled for field goals and missed one of those kicks in the first half. With about three minutes remaining Jacksonville connected for three points but at 13-7 the Browns were still a threat for the upset, especially with all three timeouts remaining. Facing 3rd-and-long from the Jacksonville 40-yard-line DeShone Kizer was knocked backwards and lost the ball with a clear recovery from Dante Fowler but the play was whistled dead with Kizer down before the ball came out as Fowler sprinted towards the end zone unimpeded. On review the fumble was confirmed but the return yardage cannot be credited in that situation. Jacksonville punted after three conservative runs and with three Cleveland timeouts very little time came off the clock. On 1st down Kizer was sacked with the ball coming out again and this time Jacksonville secured the defensive score to put the Jaguars in position for an incredible late favorite cover. The Browns were a threat to spoil that fortunate turn however reaching the 22-yard-line in the final seconds but the final throw fell incomplete.

New Orleans Saints (-9½) 34, Washington Redskins 31 (52½): Backing the ‘under’ on one of the highest totals of the day looked promising as the underdog Redskins led 24-13 through three quarters and there was no scoring in the fourth quarter until about the nine-minute mark. Washington seemed to put the game away with a 31-16 edge at just under six minutes to go but one more touchdown would swing the total result. The Saints incredibly got two scores to push the total ‘over’ and wound up winning in overtime though the underdog still covered.

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) 20, Denver Broncos 17 (38): Cincinnati led the majority of this game to hold the underdog cover but two fourth quarter touchdowns put the ‘under’ at risk with 37 points and still five minutes to go. The Bengals reached the Denver 38-yard-line with a new set of downs but went backwards and punted just after the two-minute-warning. Brock Osweiler and the Broncos could not pick up a first down on their final possession to leave the score at 20-17 Bengals.

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Philadelphia Eagles (-6) 37, Dallas Cowboys 9 (48): A halftime deficit turned into a blowout win for the Eagles with no second half drama. Those on the ‘over’ still had some hope as the Eagles got a defensive score with still 10 minutes remaining. With an injured kicker the Eagles continued to go for two, successful after three of four second half touchdowns for two additional points to push the total scoring to 46. Dallas looked likely to seal the ‘over’ reaching the Philadelphia 11-yard-line but a field goal wouldn’t help the cause and on 4th down Dak Prescott was intercepted in the end zone at the seven-minute-mark. Both teams punted on final possessions as the ‘under’ held.

Atlanta Falcons (+1) 34, Seattle Seahawks 31 (46): This was a rare low number for a Seattle home game but the Falcons looked deserving of the valuation with a 21-7 lead 16 minutes into the game in a playoff rematch from last season. Seattle chipped away to stay in the game but still trailed by eight heading into the fourth quarter with the ‘over’ already sealed. Atlanta settled for a very short field goal at the 3:49 mark and Seattle went the distance in less than a minute, getting the two-point-conversion to suddenly trail by only three. The Seahawks forced a quick 3-and-out on defense and Seattle was in position to force overtime. Adding to his infamous legacy Blair Walsh missed from 52 yards as Atlanta avoided a major collapse in a big game in the NFC playoff picture.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 10

NFL Close Calls – Week 10

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 in the fourth quarter last week in Week 10 of the NFL regular season.

Seattle Seahawks (-6) 22, Arizona Cardinals 16 (40): Seattle picked up a pair of field goals in the final two minutes of the first half to lead 15-7 but Arizona was within the number after hitting a field goal midway through the third quarter and remained down by five heading into the fourth quarter. After four straight punts the Seahawks finally pulled away going 80 yards in just seven plays with most of it coming on a highlight reel pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin for 54 yards. Arizona converted a 4th down play just across midfield but could not convert going for it on 4th-and-8 from the Seattle 15-yard line with about four minutes remaining, leaving the margin at 12. On Arizona’s final possession they did find the end zone but with only 20 seconds remaining in the game. That score made the margin six points, even with the closing number and incredibly Phil Dawson’s extra-point was blocked in a critical play for everyone involved.

Green Bay Packers (+5) 23, Chicago Bears 16 (38): The Packers held a 12-6 lead through three quarters as the ‘under’ pace was strong but with 10 points in the first five minutes of the final frame the Packers led 16-13 and all results were in play. Brett Hundley hit Davante Adams for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to put Green Bay in a commanding underdog position up by 10. The Bears answered with a field goal with just over three minutes remaining to push the game just ‘over’.

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Jacksonville Jaguars (-5) 20, Los Angeles Chargers 17 (40½): This AFC battle was tied 14-14 through three quarters ahead of a wild finish. The Chargers hit a 50-yard field goal to lead by three with about 10 minutes remaining as an underdog of anywhere from +3½ to +6 depending on the timing. Four straight punts followed before Jacksonville was intercepted on the first play after the two-minute-warning in what felt like a game-sealing play for the Chargers. On first down the Chargers incredibly fumbled with the initial ruling giving Jacksonville a touchdown return. On review the Jaguars had the ball at the 36-yard-line of Los Angeles in great position to at least tie the game. Pass interference on 1st down put Jacksonville in great field goal position but two plays later a taunting penalty pushed the Jaguars back 15 yards. On 3rd-and-25 Blake Bortles was again intercepted to seemingly seal the game for the Chargers again. Jacksonville still had all three timeouts however and less than a minute came off the clock before the Chargers had to punt, giving Jacksonville ball just short of midfield with a 50 second remaining. Just outside of field goal range Jacksonville was put back in position for a tying kick with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty with 20 seconds remaining and former Charger Josh Lambo sent the game to overtime, keeping all spread and total results still in play. The Jaguars crossed midfield but had to punt pinning the Chargers at the 10-yard-line. Philip Rivers took a shot on 3rd down and was intercepted near midfield with A.J. Bouye immediately celebrating while still a live ball carrier and eventually finding room to run and a path down the sideline. He was pushed out of bounds at the 2-yard-line by Rivers to save those on Los Angeles as a touchdown that would have given Jacksonville the win and cover. On the play the Jaguars were again hit with a taunting penalty to push the ball back another 15 yards and also force the Jaguars to look for a field goal rather than a short touchdown. Jacksonville stayed conservative and set-up a 35-yard field goal try that was made 30-yards with another Los Angeles penalty and Lambo again delivered with the Los Angeles still holding the underdog cover and the total also staying just ‘under’.

Tennessee Titans (-5) 24, Cincinnati Bengals 20 (40½): The Titans dominated the yardage in this game but led just 17-13 at halftime as the underdog Bengals were narrowly in position to cover. A scoreless third quarter featured six punts and Tennessee fumbled for a touchback early in the fourth quarter allowing the Bengals to stay within four while also providing a big boost for those looking for the ‘under’ to hold on. Another nine minutes ran off the clock with no scoring as Tennessee stayed conservative with the lead but A.J. Green broke free for a 70-yard touchdown with five minutes remaining to suddenly put the Bengals up by three with little margin for error remaining on the total. Tennessee crossed midfield just after the two-minute warning and then was bailed out with a big 3rd down penalty with a defensive holding call. Into the final minutes the Titans would have had to attempt a tying field goal to go to overtime but on 3rd-and-goal they connected for the go-ahead touchdown, sealing the ‘over’ as well. Cincinnati reached midfield for a Hail Mary try but the Bengals did enough to cover on the majority of lines.

Detroit Lions (-10) 38, Cleveland Browns 24 (43): The Browns led 24-17 late in the third quarter seeking their first win of the season and those with underdog tickets as high as +12 had to feel good about their chances. The Lions took just over a minute to tie the game however heading into the fourth quarter. The Browns were held to three consecutive 3-and-outs and the Lions scored two more touchdowns the second of which came on just four plays with just over four minutes remaining as Detroit led by 14. The Browns were a threat to at least take the underdog cover back in the final minutes, converting three fourth down plays but on 1st-and-goal DeShone Kizer was intercepted in the end zone.

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Los Angeles Rams (-13) 33, Houston Texans 7 (45): The Rams took over in the second half with Jared Goff delivering three touchdown passes in a span of about nine minutes as the Rams led by 23 heading into the fourth quarter and a game with 16 first half points suddenly had 37. Los Angeles settled for a short field goal halfway through the fourth quarter to put the total score at 40, with one touchdown able to clear the ‘over’. Houston was a strong threat to find the end zone but with four plays inside the 16-yard-line the Texans came up short including a 4th down interception as the ‘under’ held.

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Free NFL Pick Sunday

#263/264 ‘OVER 43’ Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals 12:00 PM ET

Both offenses struggled last week but they were going up against elite defensive teams in the Steelers and Jaguars. The Colts allow 8.9 yards per pass attempt as the Bengals should be due for one of their best scoring opportunities of the season with the offense showing some recent life until last week’s effort in Pittsburgh.

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The Colts didn’t score last week but actually moved the ball reasonably well against a top passing defense playing from behind the whole game, botching a few second half scoring chances to get back in the game. Indianapolis has allowed 31.7 points per game on average and while it will be cold in Cincinnati early forecasts of rain have missed the mark with clear conditions Sunday.

After scoring just nine points in the first two weeks the Bengals have posted over 22 points per game the past four games and that is with facing above average defenses in the past three games. Indianapolis had scored more than 24 points per game in a four-week run prior to last week as well as both offenses should have better opportunities this week. The Bengals in particular should have some matchup edges with recent injuries in the Indianapolis secondary.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 6

NFL Close Calls – Week 6

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 in the fourth quarter last week in Week 6 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) 28, Carolina Panthers 23 (43½): The Panthers and Eagles were knotted up at 10-10 at halftime and out of the break the Eagles took advantage of an interception, actually going up by eight with a two point conversion. Field goals were traded the next two possessions and a second Panthers field goal in the third quarter made it a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Touchdowns on both sides kept the margin at five in the fourth quarter before two late Panthers drives threatened into Eagles territory. A push on the closing spread of -3 was possible as the Panthers would have gone for two up by one if they found the end zone but the Eagles got an interception just outside the end zone with about three minutes remaining and then on Carolina’s final possession a 4th-and-short pass fell just incomplete past the two-minute warning as Philadelphia’s defense secured the outright underdog win.

Houston Texans (-7½) 33, Cleveland Browns 17 (46): The Texans took command with a 24-3 halftime lead and Houston led by 30 through three quarters. An interception return touchdown for the Browns early in the fourth quarter didn’t make much of a dent in Cleveland’s prospect of covering but the total was one score short of matching or surpassing the closing number. Five consecutive drives ended in punts but with Houston pinned deep the Browns got the ball back at midfield right after the two-minute warning. A pass interference call got the Browns more than half of the yardage and Kevin Hogan delivered a touchdown pass with a minute to go to deliver the ‘over’.

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New England Patriots (-9) 24, New York Jets 17 (48½): The Jets took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter looking like a lock to cover as a heavy underdog in this AFC East clash. By halftime New England had tied the game including getting a Rob Gronkowski touchdown with nine seconds before the break. Gronkowski scored again in the third quarter and an early fourth quarter field goal put New England just past the road favorite spread with a 10-point edge. The Jets appeared to get a touchdown with just over eight minutes remaining but on review it was surprisingly but perhaps correctly ruled a fumble out the end zone for a touchback in a controversial call, keeping the margin at 10 and greatly decreasing the chances for an upset. New York forced a quick punt on defense however and led a field goal drive inside of four minutes to trail by just seven and actually had the ball back in New England territory in the final seconds before the Patriots held on for the win but fell short of the spread. Those on the ‘over’ left disappointed as the Jets couldn’t force overtime as the ‘under’ held.

New Orleans Saints (-5) 52, Detroit Lions 38 (50): The Saints had nearly eclipsed the total themselves with a 45-10 edge a few minutes into the third quarter but the Lions didn’t quit and made things interesting late in an incredibly long game than featured five non-offensive touchdowns. Detroit still trailed 45-24 after back-to-back touchdown drives late in the third quarter and then in the fourth Detroit got a 74-yard punt return touchdown from Jamal Agnew. A first down loss had the Saints in passing mode despite the two-touchdown edge in the fourth quarter and pinned deep Drew Brees was intercepted for a touchdown to suddenly make it a seven-point game. New Orleans was held to a 3-and-out but this time it was the Lions in the shadow of their own end zone and Matthew Stafford fell victim to another pick-six as the Saints went back up by 14. Stafford was intercepted again on the next possession before three more punts were needed to finally burn out the entire remaining clock with the Saints surviving the comeback bid for the win and cover.

Chicago Bears (+5) 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (39½): The Bears scored with six minutes to go in the third quarter to lead 17-3 with a strong ‘under’ pace but the kickoff was returned for a touchdown to put the Ravens back in the game. Baltimore added a field goal on a short field with about 11 minutes to go to trail 17-13 and a Chicago fumble set the Ravens up in great field position. Things turned sharply back the other direction however as a Joe Flacco interception was returned 90 yards for a Bears touchdown. Baltimore made the ‘over’ a winner with a long field goal inside of three minutes and the Ravens got a miracle with a 77-yard punt return touchdown past the two minute warning. Baltimore tied the game with a successful two-point-conversion throw and overtime was needed in stunning fashion, keeping both side outcomes in play. Both teams had to punt on their first possessions leaving a field goal likely to win it and Mitchell Trubisky led a game-winning drive with Connor Barth connecting for a 40-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in overtime.

Washington Redskins (-11) 26, San Francisco 49ers 24 (46): Washington led 17-0 in this game but San Francisco managed to sneak into the end zone just before halftime. The 49ers kept the momentum in the second half tying the game through three quarters with the help of a Washington fumble. Washington hit a field goal and delivered an 84-yard touchdown drive as the favorite cover was back in play in the fourth quarter but Washington missed the extra-point to only lead by nine, a critical play for some with the line opening as low as -9½. C.J. Beathard put hopes of a front door cover to rest however delivering a long 49ers touchdown pass just past the two-minute warning. Down just two the 49ers got the ball back and reached the Washington 40-yard-line before a costly offensive pass interference call made the downs and distance too difficult to reach with the late scoring also sending the game just ‘over’.

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Los Angeles Rams (+1) 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (42): The ‘over’ pace left little doubt with two touchdowns in the first 25 seconds of the game. With a pair of special team scores the Rams had a 24-14 advantage at halftime with Jacksonville missing a field goal just before the break. The Rams fumbled with a scoring opportunity early in the third quarter leading to a field goal for the Jaguars to put the total score at 41, just shy of the over/under number. Jacksonville looked like a threat to score early in the fourth quarter but Blake Bortles was intercepted. A pair of punts followed and the improbable ‘under’ had some life. The Rams picked up a pair of big third downs and hit a field goal at 2:32 to hit 44 while securing the underdog win in a game with more points in the first 15 seconds than the entire second half.

Tennessee Titans (-6½) 36, Indianapolis Colts 22 (46½): The Monday night line was very late to release with the question of Marcus Mariota’s health. The Tennessee quarterback wound up playing even though the line and total both fell from an opening release of -8 and an opening total of 49. The Colts led by 10 early in the third quarter after an interception return touchdown but the Titans chipped away to trail 19-15 heading into the final frame with all spread and total results still in play. Tennessee took the lead back with a 15-play, 87-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter but the Colts delivered a big kickoff return and tied the game with a 52-yard field goal. Mariota completed a 53-yard pass for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to seal the ‘over’ and put the Titans up by seven, in between the opening and closing spreads. Indianapolis was poised to answer reaching the Tennessee 13-yard-line, but failing going for it on 4th-and-short. Looking to run out the clock with Indianapolis exhausting its timeouts 2nd year running back Derrick Henry broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run in the final minute to score a fortunate cover for those on the Titans.

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