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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES 12/17

By Joe Nelson
Posted 12/17/2007 at 03:40 PM

Last week we mentioned the final weeks of the NFL season might lack drama as many of the playoff positions are already locked but last week’s results definitely changed a few things. The sixth wild card spot in the NFC will be an interesting race but the fifth spot might also be up for grabs as the Giants may be copying their baseball neighbors in Queens with late season collapse that might save the Mets from a few punch lines. New York is 9-5 but the next two games are very tough playing at Buffalo then hosting the Patriots. The door is open for the winner of next week’s game between the Vikings and Redskins and the Saints are still in the mix with a big win last week. The Cowboys also gave the Packers reason to play hard the next two weeks as Green Bay could grab home-field advantage by winning out and having Dallas lose at Carolina or at Washington.

In the AFC the Browns continue to provide a great story this season and although Cleveland lost both games to the Steelers the records are tied on top of the AFC North. Both teams play losing teams the next two weeks but last week’s loss for the Steelers might also bump the North winner down to the #4 seed which would mean a potential divisional game in Foxboro. The Titans are the only other team that could jump into the wild card mix but looking at the upcoming schedules Cleveland and Jacksonville appear to have overwhelming advantages as Tennessee must still play the Colts and looks destined for first-team left out, just like last season. Some interesting records set last Sunday included the first-ever Buccaneers kickoff return touchdown, a span of 1,865 attempts broken by Michael Spurlock’s 1st quarter score. The Buccaneers franchise held on to a more infamous record as the Dolphins were able to win in overtime to avoid a winless season. Brett Favre became the all-time passing leader in Green Bay’s win in St. Louis as well. Sunday was a day that saw all of the elite teams struggle with Dallas losing outright and Indianapolis and New England failing to cover in closer than expected games against weak opponents. The Packers managed to cover in St. Louis but the game was very competitive early. Pittsburgh and Seattle were also losers but San Diego and Tampa Bay solidified their positions.

Underdogs were 9-6 for the week prior to Monday’s game as the dogs regained some ground after dominating favorite cover weeks the past two weeks. Weather led to some interesting games last week most notably in Cleveland with a completely snow-covered field leading to an 8-0 game that featured zero turnovers. The Under went 8-6-1 last week with three of the four games that faced severe weather falling under totals the dropped significantly. Good Luck.

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