Week 16 Tips
December 22, 2012
By Kevin Rogers
The playoff races are tight in each conference with only two games remaining in the regular season. Past Atlanta, San Francisco, and Green Bay, the NFC has plenty of different scenarios of teams not only qualifying for a Wild Card spot, but the NFC East is still up for grabs. The Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants each own 8-6 records, but New York is finished with Dallas and Washington on the schedule. Meanwhile, Minnesota looks to close strong against Houston and Green Bay, two teams that have already wrapped up division titles.
Vikings at Texans (-8, 44 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
Minnesota has been the ultimate roller-coaster ride this season in the NFL. The Vikings began the campaign at 4-1, but lost five of the next seven games. Leslie Frazier's club has got back on track with consecutive victories over Chicago and St. Louis as short underdogs to improve to 8-6, while being part of a five-team logjam for one playoff spot in the NFC.
The Texans wrapped up their second straight AFC South title by beating the Colts last Sunday, 29-17 as 10 ½-point favorites. Houston moved to 12-2, as Gary Kubiak's squad can clinch home-field advantage in the AFC with a victory over Minnesota. In four games off a home win, the Texans have hit the 'under' three times, while twice holding opponents to nine points or less.
The Vikings picked up just their second road win in seven tries last Sunday in a blowout of the Rams. Minnesota has lost all three times this season after scoring at least 26 points in a victory, including double-digit losses at Washington and Chicago. In two meetings between these teams, the 'over' has hit each time, including a 28-21 home triumph by Minnesota in 2008.
Saints at Cowboys (-2 ½, 51 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
New Orleans couldn't overcome the disastrous offseason of "Bountygate," as the Saints will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Cowboys are trying to avoid a December meltdown in the final two weeks, as Dallas saved its season with an overtime victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday.
Dallas controls its own destiny as far as the NFC East title goes as the Cowboys travel to Washington in the season finale. Jason Garrett's team closed as a one-point favorite in last week's 27-24 triumph over the Steelers, a third straight victory for the Cowboys. Dallas has cashed the 'over' in five of the last six home contests, as the potential for a shootout is possible again, taking on a New Orleans' defense that ranks 32nd in points allowed.
The Saints put together their most impressive win of the season last Sunday with a 41-0 rout of the Buccaneers as 3 ½-point 'chalk.' The victory snapped a three-game skid, but New Orleans enters the Lone Star State with a 2-4 ATS record as an underdog this season. It's been a difficult task to determine is the Saints will hit the 'over' on the road consistently as evidenced by 3-3 mark to the 'over' with a total above 50.
Bengals at Steelers (-3 ½, 41 ½) - 1:00 PM EST
We didn't want to disregard the AFC playoff race, which still has plenty of storylines. Cincinnati dug themselves back from the dead after starting 3-5 as the Bengals have won five of their last six games, including a Thursday night rout of the Eagles, 34-13 as 4 ½-point road favorites. Now, the Bengals are playing with revenge after losing in Week 7 at home to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh topped Cincinnati, 24-17 two months ago at Paul Brown Stadium in a Sunday night affair, as the Steelers held the Bengals to 185 yards of total offense. With all the injuries the Steelers have suffered this season, former Georgia Tech standout Jonathan Dwyer stepped in to rush for 122 yards that night, while Chris Rainey scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh has won each of the last five meetings, including a 3-0 record against Andy Dalton.
The Bengals are getting the job done on the defensive side, allowing 13 points or less in five of the previous six games, while cashing the 'under' five times in this stretch. Cincinnati has been one of the better road clubs in the league this season by compiling a 5-2 SU/ATS ledger, but both losses came to division opponents at Baltimore and Cleveland.
Giants (-2 ½, 47) at Ravens - 4:25 PM EST
New York knows the drill - just get in the playoffs. The Giants have alternated wins and losses in each of their last five games, including a 34-0 drubbing last Sunday at the hands of the Falcons. Tom Coughlin's club has lost three straight road contests, while scoring just 29 points in those defeats. The task won't be easy this week, but the Ravens need a victory to secure the AFC North crown.
Baltimore has stumbled recently with three consecutive losses, while getting blasted at home by AFC West champ Denver, 31-17 last Sunday. In John Harbaugh's tenure as head coach, the Ravens have never lost four straight games, as Baltimore has been in this situation two previous times since 2008. The Ravens have seen tremendous success at home against NFC opponents, winning 12 straight games dating back to 2006.
The Giants own a 2-4 ATS record the last six weeks, while putting together a 2-5 ATS mark since 2006 as a road favorite against AFC competition. The 'under' is profiting for New York recently, hitting in seven of the last nine games, even though this is the lowest total for the Giants since falling at Cincinnati in Week 10.
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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