NFL Week 17 odds roundup: Playoff positioning on the line in top matchups

Leave a comment

With backup Matt McGloin at the controls, the Oakland Raiders will try to sustain their road-warrior mojo against the Denver Broncos. The playoff-bound Raiders, minus QB Derek Carr (broken fibula), are 2.5-point road underdogs against the Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The New England Patriots’ result will determine whether the Raiders have a shot at the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but a loss coupled with a Kansas City Chiefs win would leave them in a wild-card spot. The Raiders are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 road games.

The Raiders, through RB Latavius Murray, have the fifth-ranked rushing attack and Denver is porous against the run. If McGloin passes well enough to keep the Broncos defense honest, Oakland could outscore Denver’s mediocre offense.

The New England Patriots are listed as 10-point road favorites against the Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins, who are 9-1 SU and 8-1-1 ATS over their last 10 games, will have RB Jay Ajayi in the lineup to help with their formula of running the ball and playing good defense. Tom Brady might rely on RB LeGarrette Blount to ease the load, since Miami’s run defense is just average.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a 5.5-point road favorite against the San Diego Chargers as they vie for the AFC West title. The Chiefs, who rolled against Denver in Week 16, are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after an ATS win, but FS Eric Berry and a takeaway-happy defense are matched against the team with the NFL’s second-most turnovers.

The Washington Redskins, who need a win and some help to make the playoffs, are eight-point favorites against the New York Giants, the locked-in No. 5 seed. Washington has not been this big of a favorite since 2009. Whether QB Kirk Cousins‘ primary targets such as WR DeSean Jackson and TE Jordan Reed face the Giants’ starters for a full four quarters is unclear.

The Atlanta Falcons are 6.5-point favorites against the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan‘s offense has lit up the scoreboard against much better defenses than the Saints’ 25th-ranked unit. On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees has the league’s most productive offense and New Orleans is 5-2 SU in their last seven visits to Atlanta.

And with the NFC North title on the line, the Green Bay Packers are favored by 3.5 points on the road against the Detroit Lions in the Sunday Night Football matchup. The Lions are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six home games, but have rarely shown the type of formidable pass rush it would take to get Packers QB Aaron Rodgers out of the zone he has been in for the past five games.

NFL Week 1 odds: Panthers on TNF among favorites on opening slate

Leave a comment

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have ruled the NFC South for three seasons, but covering as a road favorite has not been their forte. Heading into Thursday night’s NFL season opener between last year’s Super Bowl teams, the Panthers are listed as three-point favorites against the host Denver Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Over the last three seasons, Carolina is 9-3 straight-up but just 5-7 against the spread as a road favorite, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. However, overall they’re also 8-0 both SU and ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of three or fewer points.

Denver, which won both home games last season where it was an underdog, is 25-4 SU in its last 29 home games. The total has gone under in both the Panthers’ last four season openers and in the Broncos’ last five games following consecutive wins.

In a Sunday Night Football tilt between the 2015 AFC and NFC finalists, the Arizona Cardinals are listed as six-point favorites against the temporarily Jimmy Garoppolo-led New England Patriots. The Cardinals are 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS in their last dozen games when favored by 6.5 or fewer points.

The Patriots are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against Arizona. The total has gone over six of the last seven times that New England was the underdog.

The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys tilt is listed as a pick’em. The Cowboys, now counting on rookie QB Dak Prescott, are 5-1 SU in their last six September games. The Giants aren’t known for being fast starters: try an 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS trend in their last five season openers. The NFC East rivals’ last seven games have all gone over the posted total.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the New York Jets; the Bengals have lost nine road games in a row against the Jets, but they are 6-2 SU and 8-0 ATS in their last eight away games. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are four-point favorites at home against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

With backup QB Shaun Hill starting, the Minnesota Vikings are two-point road favorites against the Tennessee Titans. According to website PredictionMachine.com, the Vikings’ projected points per game average with Hill at quarterback instead of the injured Teddy Bridgewater drops from 24.5 to 21.8. With Sam Bradford at quarterback that number is 22.1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by three points against the Washington Redskins on Monday night, with the total at 50 points. The total has gone under for bettors eight of the last 11 times the Redskins were an underdog of three or fewer points. In the other Monday night game, the Los Angeles Rams are 2.5-point favorites against the host San Francisco 49ers.

In other games of note, the Seattle Seahawks are 10.5-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are a slim one-point favorite at home against the Oakland Raiders, and the Green Bay Packers are 4.5-point favorites on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Super Bowl’s most memorable trick plays

Leave a comment

The appetite for gadgets and gimmicks at the Super Bowl is typically low. Surprising the other team with a safety blitz or deep pass, sure, but the risk of true trickery can often seem too steep with a title on the line.

Mess up a clever play in a game of this magnitude and lose a close one in the end? Good luck living that decision down for the rest of your coaching career. The reward of a momentum swing, though, remains a viable reason to roll the dice.

Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable trick plays in Super Bowl history:

STICK IT TO `EM

Dallas had a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter in New Orleans on Jan. 15, 1978. After Denver lost a fumble on a sack at its 29-yard line, Cowboys coach Tom Landry ordered the kill shot.

Running back Robert Newhouse grabbed a pitch from Roger Staubach and ran left. He stopped and threw right to Golden Richards for the game-sealing touchdown.

The play became even more of a standout afterward, when Newhouse revealed his anxiety in the huddle stemming from an excess of Stickum, the now-banned substance once used by skill-position players to grip the ball more easily, on his hands. Newhouse was hastily scrubbing it off in the huddle once his assignment became clear.

STEEL SURPRISE

Leading Seattle by four points early in the fourth quarter in Detroit on Feb. 5, 2006, Pittsburgh got the ball back with an interception at its 5-yard line. Three plays later, coach Bill Cowher made a bold call.

Running back Willie Parker handed off to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El on a first-down reverse from the Seahawks 43. Then Randle El, a former college quarterback at Indiana, halted his run and heaved the ball to a wide-open Hines Ward for the 21-10 final score.

That’s the only touchdown pass by a wide receiver in Super Bowl history.

`AMBUSH’ IN MIAMI

New Orleans stunned Indianapolis by recovering the kickoff to start the second half in Miami on Feb. 7, 2010.

The play was called “ambush,” a stutter-step tap by rookie kicker Thomas Morstead out of a standard formation with the Colts leading 10-6. The Saints responded with their first touchdown six plays later and went on to win 31-17.

Coach Sean Payton even drew praise for the daring move from President Barack Obama at the White House ceremony for the first-time champions that summer.

Honorable mention:

– Los Angeles Rams score on 24-yard halfback pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith for two-point third-quarter lead on Pittsburgh Steelers, who came back to win 31-19 in 1980.

– New York Giants use 44-yard flea flicker pass from Phil Simms to Phil McConkey in third quarter to set up short touchdown and pull away from Denver Broncos, on way to 39-20 victory in 1987.

– Denver Broncos complete 23-yard halfback pass from Steve Sewell to John Elway to set up field goal in first quarter for 10-0 lead on Washington Redskins, before falling 42-10 in 1988.