November 25, 2012
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Sportsbook.ag NFL Sunday
ATLANTA FALCONS (9-1) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Atlanta -1.5 & 50.5
Opening Line & Total: Pick 'em & 48
The red-hot Buccaneers look to creep within two games of the NFC South Division lead when they host the Falcons on Sunday.
Tampa has won four in a row, SU and ATS, with last week's comeback win at Carolina. Its offense has been phenomenal over the past six games, averaging 34.2 PPG and 431.5 total YPG. The Falcons nearly got tripped up by Arizona at home last week, but still won SU despite losing the turnover battle 6-to-1. Atlanta is 4-1 SU and ATS on the road this season, and outscoring these host teams by an average score of 30 to 18. The Falcons are 6-1 SU in the past seven meetings with the Bucs, all with Matt Ryan under center. There's no way Ryan can play as poorly has he did last week (5 INT), as he is the reason Atlanta has been so effective away from home, throwing for 1,592 yards (318 per game), 14 TD and 3 INT in five road games this season. Mike Smith is 20-7 ATS (74%) coming off an ATS loss as the head coach of the Falcons, and road teams where the line is +3 to -3 after having won four out of their last five games in November are 41-13 ATS (76%) over the past 10 seasons.
Ryan is 6-2 all-time versus Tampa Bay, but his numbers aren't great (57% completions, 185 passing YPG, 6.7 YPA, 8 TD, 9 INT). In his last visit to Tampa, he threw for 330 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Ryan and the rest of the Falcons are expecting both WR Julio Jones (ankle) and RB Michael Turner (groin) to play this week. Jones played less than half of the snaps last week, but was able to practice, albeit on a limited basis, on Friday. If he's hobbled again, Ryan will just look more to his other two star receivers in WR Roddy White (946 rec. yds, 5th in NFL) and TE Tony Gonzalez (team-high 64 receptions). Considering the Buccaneers have allowed the most passing yards in the nation (313 YPG) and will be without starting CB Eric Wright (Achilles), the game plan should call for a heavy passing attack. The run game is a possibility though, as Turner ran all over the Bucs when these teams last met on Jan. 1, gaining 172 yards and 2 TD on just 17 carries. He scored from 81 yards out, marking the 2nd-longest run of his career, and making the score 42-0 at the time. However, this season's Buccaneers lead the NFL in rushing defense at 82 YPG, and have held five of their past six opponents to less than 105 rushing yards. Despite the Falcons six turnovers last week, this is not usually a sloppy team, as they had just one giveaway in their previous three games combined.
Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman is having an outstanding season with 2,505 passing yards, 21 TD and 7 INT in 10 games. However, he is just 1-5 in his career versus Atlanta, throwing for 1,246 yards (208 YPG), 8 TD and 10 INT. He was held under 200 passing yards in four straight meetings before throwing for 274 yards the last time these teams faced each other. Atlanta's pass defense is much improved in 2012 though, ranking seventh in the NFL with just 216 passing YPG allowed. The Falcons could be without top CB Asante Samuel, who is questionable because of a shoulder injury. The Bucs have not had rookie RB Doug Martin against the Falcons in the past, and Martin has been the biggest reason his team has won four straight games, rushing for 592 yards (6.1 YPC) and 5 TD while adding another 174 receiving yards and a touchdown. Considering Atlanta has allowed 131 rushing YPG (7th-most in NFL), Martin will likely carry the ball 20+ times in an effort to control the clock.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (7-2-1) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-5)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Francisco -1 & 50
Opening Line & Total: Pick 'em & 48.5
The Saints look to continue their second half surge, and they'll try to do it against the same 49ers team that ended their 2011 season.
New Orleans has won five of their past six games, including three in a row by an average of 13.3 points per game. They've been greatly improved defensively over these three wins, allowing 19.0 PPG during that span. Last year in the Divisional playoffs, the Saints outgained the Niners 472-407 at San Francisco, but lost the turnover battle 5-to-1. They still had a chance to win, but Alex Smith found Vernon Davis for a 14-yard touchdown with nine seconds left to give San Francisco a 36-32 victory. Smith will not start this game however, as the team is sticking with Colin Kaepernick despite Smith being cleared of his concussion symptoms that kept him off the field last week. The Saints got on a roll late last season, covering nine of their final 10 regular-season games. They're on a similar roll now after an 0-3 start, having covered six of their past seven contests. San Francisco, meanwhile, has to travel on a short week after having won at home against Chicago on Monday night. And despite the Niners winning last January, they have been dominated in this series lately, going 2-9 SU (3-8 ATS) in the past 11 regular-season meetings with the Saints.
Kaepernick was certainly impressive last Monday against a Chicago defense considered by many to be the best in the NFL. The second-year pro completed 16-of-23 passes for 243 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. He also got Davis more involved in the offense, as the big tight end caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. This ended a slide of 40 receiving yards or less in each of his four previous games with Smith under center. There has been no slump in San Francisco's running game this year, as it leads the NFL with 165 rushing YPG, gaining 5.5 yards per carry. Frank Gore has his highest YPC average since 2007 with 5.3 YPC and needs just 169 yards over his final six games to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the sixth time in his past seven seasons. Gore has also burned the Saints in three straight meetings, gaining 283 rushing yards on 5.8 YPC and adding another 125 yards on the receiving end, totaling 408 yards from scrimmage (136 YPG). The 49ers have the luxury of choosing either method to move the football as the Saints rank last in the league in rushing defense (158 YPG) and second-to-last in passing defense (305 YPG).
Drew Brees has thoroughly enjoyed facing this 49ers defense in his career, as he is 5-0 in regular season starts with 295 passing YPG, 12 TD and only 2 INT. He also lit up this team in that playoff loss, throwing for 462 yards and four touchdowns. Brees is the biggest reason his team has won five of six, throwing for 1,716 yards (286 YPG), 18 TD passes and just 4 INT in this span. New Orleans has not been a great rushing team for the season (95 YPG, 26th in NFL), but it has been chewing up yards at an impressive pace in the past three games with 147 rushing YPG on 5.4 YPC. With RB Darren Sproles (hand) set to return for the first time in nearly a month, the ground game should be even more potent, as Sproles averages 4.5 YPC this season and 5.2 YPC for his career. Despite the Saints' great offensive rhythm, the 49ers have been extremely stingy all year, allowing just 183 passing YPG (2nd in NFL) and 94 rushing YPG (7th in league).
GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-3) at NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Giants -2.5 & 51.5
Opening Line & Total: Giants -2.5 & 49
The well-rested Giants try to put an end to Green Bay's long win streak when the two teams meet in a playoff rematch on Sunday night.
The Packers have won five in a row SU (4-1 ATS) and New York lost back-to-back games before its bye week. Giants QB Eli Manning was reportedly dealing with a "tired" arm. He hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games while throwing four interceptions. He did throw for 338.5 YPG, 6 TD and only 2 INT in his two meetings with Green Bay last year (a regular season home loss and a playoff win). QB Aaron Rodgers led a comeback win over Detroit last week. While he lost to the Giants in last year's Divisional playoffs, he has 386.5 YPG and a 121.2 passer rating against them over two regular-season matchups. Green Bay is just playing too well to expect the slumping Giants (1-3 ATS in past four games) to actually win and cover at home. New York is just 1-4 ATS at MetLife Stadium, allowing 26.4 PPG and 389 total YPG in these five home games. The Packers are 10-2 ATS versus good offensive teams - averaging >=5.65 yards/play in the second half of the season over the past three seasons. Also, home teams where the line is +3 to -3, after having lost 2 out of their last 3 games, in November games, are a dismal 9-32 ATS (78%) in the past five seasons.
Rodgers has been sizzling during the five-game win streak, throwing for 264 YPG with 17 TD and just 2 INT. New York's 25th-ranked passing defense (258 YPG) doesn't figure to slow him down much. In the three meetings with the Giants over the past two calendar years, Rodgers has thrown for 346 YPG, 10 TD and 2 INT. Although his top WR Greg Jennings (abdominal surgery) has been practicing this week, he is not expected to suit up on Sunday. But Rodgers has plenty of other weapons with WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Nelson has compiled 218 receiving yards, which included an 80-yard touchdown, in two meetings with New York in the regular season. Cobb led the team in targets (12) last week in Detroit, and has scored in each of the past four games. While the passing game remains one of the best in the NFL, the rushing attack continues to be subpar, with 99 rushing YPG on the season (24th in league). James Starks has taken over the rushing workload for this team with 43 carries in the past two weeks, but has a mere 135 yards (3.2 YPC) with all that work. Green Bay has done a great job protecting the football with just three turnovers in the past five games combined, but the Giants are outstanding in creating miscues, compiling 19 takeaways over the past six games.
Manning says his arm is no longer "tired" and the Giants are likely to test that theory early and often against Green Bay's 21st-ranked passing defense (244 YPG) that will be missing two of its top defensive backs in Charles Woodson (collarbone) and CB Sam Shields (shin). Both of Manning's top wideouts have gotten open frequently against the Packers. Victor Cruz has 193 yards on 12 receptions in two career games versus Green Bay, while Nicks has scorched the Pack in his three career games against them with 346 receiving yards and 5 TD. Nicks was targeted 14 times in the last game, a 31-13 loss at Cincinnati. The Giants are still an above-average rushing offense (111 YPG, 13th in NFL), but they have carried the football just 89 times (22.3 per game) in the past four games, resulting in just 91 rushing YPG. Top RB Ahmad Bradshaw has just 56.5 rushing YPG in this span, but that's also been due to a pesky foot injury that has likely healed more during the bye week. Green Bay has a strong run-stop unit that allows just 99.5 rushing YPG this year (10th in NFL). But the Packers star DT B.J. Raji has been slowed by an ankle injury and OLB Clay Matthews is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. Matthews (9 sacks) has been a big reason why Green Bay entered the week second in the NFL in team sacks. But Eli Manning is not one to hit the turf very often as he has been sacked just 13 times all season. No team has been sacked less than New York this year.