Week 14 Tips
December 7, 2012
By Kevin Rogers
Four weeks remain in the regular season as three division titles have been clinched so far. The Broncos, Patriots, and Falcons have wrapped up division championships, while the Texans are in the playoffs at 11-1. New England and Houston hook up on Monday night in Foxboro, but there are plenty of teams in the AFC trying to solidify a playoff spot in the coming weeks. We'll start with the battle of the Beltway as Baltimore tries get on track against a hot Washington club.
Ravens at Redskins (-2 ½, 47 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
Washington picked up a key victory on Monday night, edging the Giants, 17-16 as short home underdogs for its third consecutive win (all against division opponents). The 'Skins play their third home game in four weeks as the Ravens make the short trip down I-95 for an interconference showdown. Baltimore threw away an opportunity to distance themselves from Pittsburgh in the AFC North race, but the Ravens were tripped up by their rivals.
The Steelers rallied from a 13-3 deficit with Charlie Batch at quarterback to stun the Ravens, 23-20. Baltimore failed to cover as eight-point favorites, dropping to 3-7 ATS the last 10 games and 9-3 SU overall. John Harbaugh's club has won four of the previous five road contests, as three of those victories came by three points. In those five away games, the Ravens have cashed the 'under' four times, while scoring 16 points or fewer on four occasions.
After suffering a three-game losing streak, Mike Shanahan's team has won three straight games to reach the .500 mark at 6-6. In the favorite role, the Redskins own a 1-3 SU/ATS record, including home losses to the Bengals and Panthers. Following a 5-1 start to the 'over' this season, Washington has now cashed the 'under' in five of the last six games.
Chargers at Steelers (-8, 41 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
Pittsburgh's chances at a Wild Card berth has been recharged after upsetting Baltimore, but things took a more positive turn when Ben Roethlisberger was cleared to play this Sunday. Roethlisberger sat out the last three games with a shoulder injury, which was suffered in a Week 10 home victory over the Chiefs. The Steelers struggled to put up points with Batch and Byron Leftwich taking over at quarterback, scoring just 47 points in three games.
San Diego is playing out the string right now at 4-8, while head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith will be let go at the end of the season. The Bolts have dropped eight of their past 10 games, as the only two victories came over the lowly Chiefs in this stretch. The Chargers covered just three times since a 2-0 start, as one of those ATS wins came with a last-minute touchdown at Denver to cash as 7 ½-point 'dogs in a 30-23 defeat.
The Steelers are listed as a favorite of at least seven points for the second time this season, as Pittsburgh failed to cash as 12 ½-point 'chalk' in the overtime win over Kansas City last month. The 'under' has been the play for Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, hitting in the first five home contests for the Steelers. Since 1983, the Steelers have won 12 of 13 home meetings with the Chargers, as the lone San Diego victory in this span propelled the Bolts to Super Bowl XXIX in the 1994 AFC Championship.
Titans at Colts (-5 ½, 47) - 1:00 PM EST
Indianapolis continues to have a magical season with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, as the Colts go for their ninth win. The Colts have been the master of winning close games, coming off another miraculous triumph at Detroit last Sunday, rallying from 12 points down in the final four minutes. Indianapolis will go for the season sweep of Tennessee, who squandered a late lead the last time these teams met in Nashville.
The Titans held the Colts to just six points in the first 56 minutes of regulation back in Week 8, but Luck led Indianapolis to the tying touchdown and ultimately the winning touchdown in a 19-13 overtime victory. Bruce Arians' club owns an 8-4 ATS mark, but this is the longest number the Colts are laying all season. The Colts have been involved in plenty of low-scoring games at Lucas Oil Stadium, hitting the 'under' five of six times.
Tennessee continues with the Jake Locker experiment at quarterback, as the former University of Washington standout is just 2-5 in seven starts. The Titans have scored more than 14 points just three times in those seven games, while the defense and special teams combined for three touchdowns in a Week 3 overtime win over the Lions. For what it's worth with Peyton Manning gone, the Titans have lost each of their last four visits to Indianapolis.
Cowboys at Bengals (-3, 45 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
In perhaps the most intriguing matchup on Sunday's card, both Dallas and Cincinnati try to stay alive in their playoff races. The Bengals go for their fourth straight victory following a 3-5 start, which includes three consecutive triumphs in the favorite role. Granted, Cincinnati beat three teams out of playoff contention in Kansas City, Oakland, and San Diego, but the Bengals did start this hot streak with a domination of the defending champion Giants at home.
Marvin Lewis has struggled in the role of a home favorite throughout his career, including a 1-2 ATS record this season. The Bengals' defense has stepped up during this winning streak, allowing 13 points or less in each game, while cashing the 'under' each time. Since the start of last season, Cincinnati has won five of six games against NFC opponents, including a 2-0 record in 2012.
Dallas has failed to cover each of the last three weeks, but the Cowboys are notoriously dreadful as a favorite. Jason Garrett's team pulled out home wins over the Browns and Eagles over the last three weeks, but a loss on Thanksgiving to Washington may cost Dallas a postseason berth. The offense is clicking recently by scoring 31 points or more in three of the last four games, as the 'over' is 3-1 in this span.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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