By Marc Lawrence, PlaybookSports.com — As we are awaiting the bowl season, there’s plenty of National Football League upset action: Saturday, Dec. 17 — Indianapolis over MINNESOTA by 1
After some minor shuffling, this clash between the Colts and Vikings was moved to the 1:00 opening slot, meaning viewers will quickly realize that if they don’t have the NFL network, they’re SOL. Yes, today’s trio of Saturday action will air strictly on NFLN, yet another example of the NFL biting the fans’ hands who feed them. What appears to be a mismatch on paper might more accurately reflect the 4-point line favoring Minnesota: the 10-win Vikings have allowed more points than they’ve scored this season, and they now rank 32nd – dead last – in overall defense in the league. The Northmen have managed to go 2-2 in their last four contests, but we get the sense that the ship has sprung a leak and there is no repairman in sight. Things don’t look much better for the visitors. For an instant, the Colts’ hire of former Indy starting center Jeff Saturday moved into feelgood territory as Indy opened with a win over the Raiders in his first game as head coach. But it’s been a bucket of cold water to the face since, with the Colts dropping three straight, while failing to reach the 20-point mark in scoring. Still, the blowout loss at Dallas was a 4th-quarter fluke (Cowboys outscored Indy, 33-0) and defeats against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia came down to the final minutes. The WOM informs us that the wild horses are on an 11-0 ATS run when playing off a double-digit loss, plus they’ve cashed SEVEN straight tickets versus NFC North opponents. The Colts also counter with the league’s 7th ranked stop-unit, 89 YPG superior to that of Minnesota. So, the question begs: would an Indianapolis win really be an upset?
Sunday, Dec 18
TAMPA BAY over Cincinnati by 8
We realize this might be the hardest sell of the week but that’s what we’re in business for, to even up the playing fi eld in games like this. Cincy QB Joe Burrow tied Otto Graham, Dan Marino, and Kurt Warner for the most 40-yard TD passes (17) in the first three years of his career last week. And he’s suddenly enjoying life from the upright position, having been sacked only 6 times in the last six games. With it, the Bengals are 5-0 SUATS the last five games, and that may sound good to Joe Public, but not to the savvy handicapper as non-rested NFL teams on a 5-0 SUATS win streak have puked as non-division favorites of 5 or fewer points, going just 10-20-1 ATS in this role. On the other side of this hardto-like take are the Bucs, who were totally throttled in last week’s 28-point loss at San Francisco. It doesn’t get much worse than that. In fact, it was the third-worst loss in Brady’s NFL career. And adding more misery, it occurred at the hands of 7th round rookie QB Brock Purdy. By now we all know of Brady’s jaw-dropping 11-1 ATS career mark as a home dog. But we saved the best for last.
JACKSONVILLE over Dallas by 6
Don’t look now but one of the hottest arms in the NFL will be front and center in this contest, and we’re not talking Dak Prescott. It’s Jaguars’ QB Trevor Lawrence, who over the course of his last three games sports a 111.7 QB Rating with 0 INTs. Meanwhile, the not-so-big news in the Dallas receiver room is that WR TY Hilton will be joining the Cowboys, not Odell Beckham, Jr. The feeling here is OBJ may still be in play for America’s Team, but not until he’s able to take the field. Yes, the Boys are confident, riding an 8-game ITS (In The Stats) win skein entering today’s game. But we can’t ignore one of Marc’s favorite Black Book Super Systems at play in this game – “Darlin’ Be Home Soon”.