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Old 12-10-2014, 03:04 AM   #1
Anthony
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Cool Anthony's Week 15 NFL Pointspread Picks

Last week: 4-12. Season totals: 98-107-3, Pct. .478. Best Bets: 21-21, Pct. .500.

Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.



THURSDAY NIGHT

Arizona
13 (+2 1/2), ST. LOUIS 6 - Let's not get carried away because the Rams shut out two teams that have a combined record of 5-21! And Shaun Hill gives them no distinct quarterback edge over anybody - not even Drew Stanton. The Cardinals will find a way to keep themselves atop the NFC playoff standings in advance of next Sunday night's home game against Seattle which will very likely decide not only the NFC West but also the first-round byes and home-field advantage.


SUNDAY

N.Y. GIANTS
27, Washington 0 (+6 1/2) - I was wrong when I insinuated three weeks ago that Jay Gruden was the new David Shula, and not because the analogy is technically inexact since he is the younger brother rather than the son of a Super Bowl-winning head coach. Actually, he is the new Les Steckel, and richly deserves to suffer the same fate - fired, and with tons of prejudice, after a single 3-13 season, with which record The Team That Dares Not Speak Its Name is virtually certain to finish.

TENNESSEE 24, N.Y. Jets 14 (+1) - With Ken Whisenhunt forced to do the right thing and start Jake Locker because no-talent hack Zach Mettenberger suffered what would appear to be a season-ending shoulder injury last week, the Titans will go into what will be the comedy of the year - indeed, the decade, so far - next Thursday night in Jacksonville with some, if the term really applies in this case, momentum.

NEW ENGLAND 38, Miami 10 (+8) - After finally getting off the schneid on natural grass Sunday night in San Diego, the Patriots are one of three AFC teams who can clinch division titles with a win this week - and they should do so, easily, in the cold.

BUFFALO 24 (+5 1/2), Green Bay 21 - Have the Packers peaked too early, at least on defense? And they're 6-10 straight up and 4-12 against the spread on artificial turf since 2012, including 1-3 and 0-4 this year, and they have never won or covered in Buffalo (0-5 lifetime), the home team in this series has won and covered six in a row, with all six of the games having final margins of nine points or more, and this is the final home game of the season for the Bills, who have won their last three such games by scores of 19-0, 28-9, and 40-14. Super Upset Special - and it's big balloons!

Tampa Bay 17 (+4 1/2), CAROLINA 0 - The NFC South must be cursed or something: Just as it looked as if the Panthers were going to come again and win the division, Cam Newton gets into an auto accident and suffers the same injury that caused Tony Romo to miss a pivotal game against Arizona a month ago. So now Derek Anderson, dubbed "The Joker" after he was caught on camera laughing on the sidelines while his team was getting blown out in a prime-time game four years ago, must start at quarterback for Carolina. And that's no laughing matter - especially hosting a team that is 4-3 against the spread on the road this year compared with 1-5 at home.

Pittsburgh 31, ATLANTA 28 (+1) - Tough call on this one. The Steelers have absolutely owned the Falcons historically, with a 12-2-1 straight-up record in the lifetime series, but Pittsburgh has covered just one of six indoors since 2009. The key issue may be that where the Falcons have potential looking-ahead issues (they're at New Orleans next week), the Steelers do not (they will be at home to Kansas City), although a letdown on Pittsburgh's part is certainly possible coming off the huge division win at Cincinnati.

CLEVELAND 27 (+2 1/2), Cincinnati 17 - It's not very often that you get a team that has already beaten a division rival on the road (as the Browns did, winning 24-3 in the City of Satan five Thursday nights ago) as a home underdog in the return engagement - and how close to 100% will Andy Dalton (left last week's game late after a scary hit by Pittsburgh rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt) be? The Bengals have also covered in only one of their last five in Cleveland, and with the "midget" - as Marvin Lewis so stupidly called him - Johnny Manziel making his long-awaited first NFL start, so much the better.

INDIANAPOLIS 37, Houston 13 (+6 1/2) - The Colts are the second of the three AFC teams who can wrap up a division title with a victory; and the Texans of course have never won in Indy - 0-12 straight up, 4-8 against the spread - and Houston is 6-31 outright and 11-25-1 pointwise on artificial turf since 2004, of which 3-11 and 2-11-1 since 2011. Viewers outside of the two cities involved will likely get switched to the Pittsburgh-Atlanta game about midway through the third quarter, as will those assigned the Miami-New England game beyond those two markets.

BALTIMORE 34, Jacksonville 7 (+13 1/2) - Still another plausible mid-game switch candidate for CBS: The Jaguars, who have lost five straight at Baltimore (covering in only one of them), have dropped six straight on rugs (also with one cover) and are 2-9 straight up and 4-7 against the spread in cold weather since 2008, will no doubt be just plain looking ahead to next Thursday night's battle for the basement in the AFC South, where a win will likely enable Jacksonville to evade the cellar for the second year in a row despite losing a dozen or more games in both seasons. Home team in this one has also won and covered in the last five.

KANSAS CITY 16, Oakland 13 (+11 1/2) - About the only drama that informs this game is whether or not this year's Chiefs will keep alive their bid to become the first NFL team since 1945 not to get a single touchdown catch from a wide receiver over the course of an entire season. In any event, the number is way, way too high.

DETROIT 34, Minnesota 17 (+7 1/2) - Maybe - just maybe - the Lions are over their December thing, and they won by 14 at Minnesota in Week 6. Since in last week's lines we picked the Seahawks to win 19-3 for a third time in a row (it didn't happen, even though they did win and cover as a best bet), let's go with Detroit for what would be a "Holy Ghost" of 34-17 wins - and all at home, too - in this spot.

Denver 35, SAN DIEGO 20 (+3 1/2) - If ESPN were still doing the "Contender or Pretender?" routine, the Chargers would be tabbed as most emphatic pretenders after their two-score loss to New England on grass Sunday night - and speaking of grass, the Broncos have won 14 consecutive road games on it, and have covered in 13 of them. The AFC teams with division-clinching threats go three for three - and all three of them with easy, spread-covering wins.

SEATTLE 31, San Francisco 6 (+8 1/2) - This figured to be a putative NFC West title game before the season started - but instead the Seahawks find themselves a game behind Arizona, while the 49ers are in serious danger of finishing last (St. Louis is just about guaranteed to carry any tie-breaker over them). And should Raiders fans even want Jim Harbaugh to be their team's new head coach at this point?

Dallas 27 (+3 1/2), PHILADELPHIA 14 - After the Chiefs (obviously), the Eagles have the next worst wide receivers in the NFL, a fact that was hammered home in devastating fashion last week - and the home team is 0-5-1 against the spread in the last six meetings, and dating back to Week 6, teams coming off a loss are 26-37-1 straight up when facing opponents who had won their last game. And to go with this demonstrated momentum advantage, Dallas has the added edge of having three more days' worth of preparation time. This would be a best bet in a normal week - but the beaucoup of truly comical mismatches during the day makes this week anything but normal overall, though not terribly unusual for December.


MONDAY NIGHT

CHICAGO
24 (+3), New Orleans 20 - Until Sean Payton blew up the locker room on Tuesday, cutting wide receiver Joe Morgan and announcing the benching of numerous other players, I was poised to pick the Saints, figuring that the Bears would throw in the towel now that Brandon Marshall is out for the season (broken ribs and a frightening lung injury) and given Chicago's 4-11 straight-up record in December since 2011. And if somebody does win the NFC South with double-digit losses while a team (the Dallas-Philadelphia loser?) misses the playoffs at 11-5, the owners are highly likely to approve both the addition of a third wild-card playoff spot to each conference and a change in the seeding procedures denying division winners an automatic home playoff game, presumably in time for the 2015 season.


BEST BETS: NEW ENGLAND, INDIANAPOLIS, DENVER
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