By Marc Lawrence, PlaybookSports.com — Two upsets loom with two weeks left on the schedule in the league where they play for pay …
NEW ENGLAND over Miami by 11
What a difference a month makes. Prior to December, Miami was the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture before an 0-4 unraveling dropped them to the 7th and final seed entering this pivotal Week 16 showdown against No. 8 seed New England, who enters this huge fray on a 1-4 skein in its last fi ve games. Talk about two teams driving around on balding tires. The Dolphins were outscored 16-0 to close out last week’s 26-20 giveaway loss to the Packers when QB Tua Tagovailoa was intercepted three times in the 4Q. It’s safe to say picks were their poison. Surprisingly, through it all, Tua somehow remains the top-rated passer in the league with a 105.5 Passer Rating. The main problem, though, per CBSSports.com through in the fi rst eleven games of the season Tua’s TD/INTs were 19-3. The last four games: 6-5. His completion percentage during the first eleven games: 70%. His completion percentage the last four games: 53%. And his aforementioned Passer Rating in the first eleven games was 115.7. In the last four games: 80.5. So, while the Dolphins control their playoff chances with wins in each of their fi nal two contests, it will all likely be dependent on the status of Tagovailoa who has entered concussion protocol for the second time this season. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater will assume the reins, with the tune “Bridge over Troubled Waters” never more prevalent than it is here. While he brings a 42-23 ATS overall career record in NFL starts into this contest, including 23-8 ATS away, the fact of the matter is he is just 4-8 SUATS in his last twelve starts, including 0-1 SUATS with the Fish this season. Should the winner of this game win next week they will nail down a playoff berth. With that, we hand it off to THE CLINCHER: Pats head coach Bill Belichick is 20-6 SUATS in Last Home Games, including 7-0 ATS with revenge.
HOUSTON over Jacksonville by 6
Go figure. The Texans own the worst record in the league, and lay claim to the top pick in this year’s NFL draft, yet they can still finish the season with a winning division record in the AFC South with a win here or next week against the Colts. It’s because each of their two wins this season have come against division foes, including a 13-6 victory at Jacksonville in early October, a game in which they were manhandled in the stats, 422-248. With it, the Jags enter 13-6 ATS in games with quintuple-plus division revenge as they have now lost 9 straight times to Houston. Unlike years past, Jacksonville controls its playoff destiny, as a loss here will not matter since next week’s home contest against Tennessee will ultimately decide the AFC South title. What arguably matters more is head coach Doug Pederson would like to extend the Jags win skein to four in a row. But the fact of the matter is each of their last three wins came in underdog roles and today they change clothes. Teams in this role are just 7-16-2 ATS since 1999, including 3-11-1 ATS from Game Ten out. So, while Jack’s muscles are bulging at the moment, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room, namely THE CLINCHER: See this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT on page 2. FYI: We also can’t ignore the fact that the UPSET SPECIAL has cashed for five straight weeks!