December 8, 2012
Sportsbook.ag NFL Sunday
BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-3) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (6-6)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Washington -2.5 & 47.5
Opening Line & Total: Redskins -1 & 47
Sizzling-hot Washington looks for a fourth straight victory when it welcomes Baltimore to town on Sunday afternoon.
The Ravens continue to be the NFL's most underwhelming nine-win team. A week after a miracle win in San Diego, keyed by a 4th-and-29 conversion, they got beat at home by the Charlie Batch-led Steelers. Their previous four-game win streak included wins over the Chargers, Browns, Raiders, and Byron Leftwich-led Steelers. They've won eight of their last 10 SU, but their point differential during that stretch is just +31, and that's boosted by a 35-point win over Oakland. The Redskins, who have won three straight (SU and ATS), all versus NFC East foes, have not played well against AFC teams the past two years, going 0-6 SU and 0-5-1 ATS in inter-conference games. The Redskins have scored 28.7 PPG during their win streak, which is bad news for a Ravens team that has a meager 16.5 PPG on the road this season, and is dealing with yet another key defensive injury with LB Terrell Suggs (biceps) out indefinitely. And favorites in non-conference games, off a win against a division rival, are 83-44 ATS (65%) over the past 10 seasons.
Despite a 4-2 SU record, Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been pretty poor on the road this season, completing just 55% of his passes for 1,238 yards, 4 TD and 4 INT. He also struggled at home last week, completing just 47% of his passes (season low) for 5.5 YPA, 188 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. However, Washington has the league's second-worst pass defense at 299 passing YPG and has allowed 25.1 PPG this season (10th-most in NFL). The Redskins do have a great run-stop unit (92 rush YPG, 4th in NFL), while the Ravens rank 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards (102 YPG). However, top RB Ray Rice is starting to pick up the pace with 175 yards on 34 carries (5.1 YPC) plus 72 receiving yards over the past two games. In six road contests in 2012, Rice has 685 total yards (114 YPG). And a big reason for Baltimore's road success has been its ability to protect the football, as the club has played three straight away games without committing a single turnover.
Robert Griffin III continues to amaze as a rookie, piling up 852 total yards with 9 TD throws and just 1 INT during his team's three-game win streak. Not only does that give him 17 TD and 4 INT through the air, but he's also run for 714 yards (6.8 YPC) and six scores, although none since Week 6. He should be able to beat the Ravens with both his arm and his legs this week, as they rank 23rd in the NFL both against the pass (247 YPG) and the run (126 YPG). Baltimore's defense has been ravaged by injuries, most notably the long-term losses of LB Ray Lewis (triceps) and CBs Lardarius Webb (knee) and Jimmy Smith (hernia), and now LB Terrell Suggs (biceps) is out indefinitely as well. Washington has another star rookie in RB Alfred Morris (1,106 rush yds, 4.8 YPC) who has galloped for two straight 100-yard games, totaling 237 rushing yards on 46 carries (5.2 YPC). The Redskins' league-leading rushing offense (167 YPG) is a big reason why the team has so few turnovers, with just two giveaways in the past five games combined.
CHICAGO BEARS (8-4) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-6)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Chicago -3 (-105) & 39
Opening Line & Total: Bears -3 (even) & 40
Slumping Chicago looks to get back on the winning track as it tries to retain its dominance over division foe Minnesota on Sunday.
With their grip on the NFC North slipping after three losses in four games, the Bears won't mind a trip to Mall of America Field considering they've won six in a row, SU and ATS, over the Vikings. Just two weeks ago in Chicago, the Bears fell behind 3-0 early then scored 25 unanswered in an eventual 28-10 win. They had only 296 yards of offense in the win, but in true Bears fashion they held Minnesota to 258 and forced three turnovers. Chicago blew a lead late and then gave up a TD on the first drive of overtime in a 23-17 home loss to Seattle last week. The defense is really hurting with LB Brian Urlacher out (hamstring) and NFL interception leader CB Tim Jennings (shoulder) doubtful. The Vikings lost at Green Bay last week, dropping them to 1-4 (SU and ATS) in their past five games. They have turned it over multiple times in seven of their past eight games, and had to place top WR Percy Harvin (ankle) on season-ending IR earlier this week. The Bears had an off-day in losing to Seattle last week, but as long as QB Jay Cutler is healthy, and Vikings QB Christian Ponder is playing as poorly as he is right now without his top receiver, Chicago should have little trouble beating Minnesota by more than a field goal. The Vikings are 2-10 ATS when playing a winning team in the second half of the season since 2010, and Lovie Smith is 6-0 ATS in road games versus poor passing teams (5.7 YPA or less) as the Bears head coach.
Bears QB Jay Cutler has been outstanding in his career versus Minnesota, going 6-1 with a 98.8 passer rating. He's completed 67% of his passes for 1,552 yards (222 YPG), 16 TD and 7 INT. Two weeks ago, he completed 74% of his throws (23-of-31) for 188 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and took only one sack for the third straight meeting with Minnesota. Cutler also played very well last week (17-of-26, 233 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), marking Chicago's first game of 200 net passing yards since Week 5. Cutler has been relying heavily on WR Brandon Marshall (91 catches, 1,182 yards), who has 49% of his team's receiving yards this year. Marshall caught 12 passes for 92 yards against the Vikings two weeks ago, and followed that up with a season-best 165 yards on in the overtime loss to Seattle last Sunday. He'll be loaded up with targets again with WRs Earl Bennett and Devin Hester doubtful with concussions and rookie WR Alshon Jeffery questionable with a knee injury. The Bears have done a nice job with their ground attack this season (123 rush YPG, 10th in NFL), and will continue to pound the football with Matt Forte and occasionally Michael Bush. Forte has just 3.9 YPC in eight career meetings with the Vikings, but he has enjoyed the fast track in Minnesota with 284 total yards and 4.6 YPC in three career games there. Bush had a season-high 60 rushing yards and 2 TD against the Vikings two weeks ago, but he needed 21 carries (2.9 YPC) to get those numbers. Minnesota currently ranks 14th in the NFL in both rushing defense (115 YPG) and passing defense (230 YPG), and held Chicago below both of those averages (113 rushing YPG, 183 passing YPG) two weeks ago. The Bears entered last week with eight giveaways over a three-game stretch, but played turnover-free football in the overtime defeat to Seattle.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder has had a rough second season with a 79.4 passer rating (6.0 YPA, 14 TD, 11 INT). Since Harvin was injured four weeks ago in Seattle, Ponder has thrown for just 562 yards (141 YPG) on a pathetic 4.6 YPA. However, Minnesota can still win games with the worst passing offense in football (181 pass YPG) because of their outstanding ground game ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards (155 YPG). Adrian Peterson has over 300 more rushing yards than any other player in the league, rumbling for 1,446 yards on an incredible 6.2 YPC this year. He's currently on a streak of six straight 100-yard games, gaining 947 yards (158 per game) on 7.8 YPC and 6 TD during this surge. That included his 210-yard performance last week and his 108 yards versus the Vikings two games ago. For his career, Peterson has 931 yards (5.0 YPC) and 12 TD in nine meetings with Chicago. The Bears run defense ranks 10th in the NFL with 104 rushing YPG allowed, while the passing defense ranks seventh. Chicago still leads the NFL in forced turnovers (34), but it has just four takeaways over the past three games.
DETROIT LIONS (4-8) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Green Bay -6.5 & 49.5
Opening Line & Total: Packers -7 & 51.5
Slumping Detroit not only tries to end a long losing skid this season, but it also seeks its first win at Lambeau Field since 1991, when it visits Green Bay on Sunday night.
The Lions, who have dropped 20 straight meetings at Lambeau, continue to find new ways to lose games. They've lost four in a row SU (1-3 ATS) this season, and after having a habit of falling behind early in games, they've now blown double-digit leads in each of the past two weeks. Their offense is running out of receivers, as rookie WR Ryan Broyles (ACL) is out for the year, and so is fellow WR Titus Young (knee). The Packers have major issues on their offensive line, but overcame it in beating the Vikings last week. They've beaten the Lions three in a row, SU and ATS, though their cover at Detroit in Week 11 was backdoor, as a field goal with 19 seconds left game them a four-point win. The Lions are just a debacle, and their incompetent head coach Jim Schwartz just doesn't beat good teams. Detroit is 0-9 ATS (-9.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last two years. The Lions are also one of the most undisciplined teams in the NFL, with 65 penalty yards per game. And in addition to the long losing skid at Lambeau, the Lions are 1-13 SU (4-10 ATS) in the past 14 meetings overall.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford has lost all four career starts against the Packers, throwing 8 TD and 11 INT. However, he was on fire in his lone trip to Lambeau Field, completing 36-of-59 passes for a career-best 520 yards, 5 TD and 2 INT in a wild 45-41 loss in last year's season finale. Although his team has lost four straight, he's been pretty effective with 1,349 passing yards (337 YPG), 8 TD and 4 INT. He'll continue to look mostly to stud WR Calvin Johnson, who not only leads the NFL in receiving yards (1,428 yards), but has 16 catches for 387 yards and 2 TD in the past two meetings with Green Bay. Johnson has five straight games of 125+ receiving yards, which ties the NFL record. The gaggle of injuries to Lions wideouts will also provide more opportunities for TEs Brandon Pettigrew (556 rec. yds, 3 TD) and Tony Scheffler (112 rec. yds in past 2 games) to shine. Pettigrew has 37 targets over the past four weeks and caught seven passes for 116 yards in his last trip to Green Bay. The Lions throw the ball more than any team in the NFL, but they still rush for 104 YPG led by Mikel Leshoure (591 rush yds, 7 TD). The whole offense should benefit from an injury-riddled Packers defense that will be still without LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (shin) and S Charles Woodson (collarbone). Green Bay ranks 17th in the NFL in passing defense (234 YPG) and 15th in rushing defense (115 YPG).
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 7-1 in his career versus the Lions with a 70% completion rate, 2,112 passing yards, 18 TD and 5 INT. The only game he lost was a 7-3 game in Detroit in 2010 when he suffered a concussion in the first half and was forced to leave the game for good. Rodgers has five 300-yard games against the Lions, and has thrown at least two touchdowns in all seven wins, including three weeks ago when he finished 19-of-27 for 236 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT in the 24-20 win at Ford Field. He connected with Randall Cobb with 1:55 in regulation for the game-winning touchdown. Although the Packers still plan to employ a heavy air attack, Rodgers could see more pressure than usual with RT Bryan Bulaga (hip) and OT T.J. Lang (ankle) both injured. He has already taken 39 sacks this year, including three in Detroit in Week 11. Rodgers will also be missing starting WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring), but he finally has top WR Greg Jennings back healthy (46 rec. yards last week), and other great talents in Cobb (team-high 675 rec. yards) and James Jones (team-high 9 TD). Green Bay's rushing attack continues to be weak (105 YPG, NFL-low 3 rush TD), but the team added former star RB Ryan Grant to help shoulder the workload with underachieving Alex Green (3.3 YPC). James Starks, who has carried the football 65 times in the past four weeks, is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Detroit's defense is mediocre in both key areas, allowing 234 passing YPG (18th in NFL) and 119 rushing YPG (19th in league). But the Lions have been burned badly in the past two games, allowing 69 points and 960 total yards.
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