It’s clear Green Bay Packers best in pro football

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as it relates to the upcoming playoffs following this past weekend’s results.

Green Bay and San Francisco had already clinched Division titles and joining them in the playoffs this past weekend is Houston. By defeating Cincinnati while Tennessee was losing to New Orleans, the Texans are in the playoffs for the first time in their 10 season franchise history as champions of the AFC South.

New Orleans has also clinched a playoff spot but has yet to lock down the NFC South title, holding a two-game lead over Atlanta.

The Falcons, along with Detroit, are each 8-5 and in control of the NFC Wild Cards. The New York Giants dramatic comeback win at Dallas last Sunday night tied them with the Cowboys atop the NFC East at 7-6. They will meet again in Week 17 in a game that likely decides the Division title and the fourth NFC seed.

The Texans are the only AFC team to have clinched a playoff berth but are just one of four with 10-3 records. Baltimore, New England and Pittsburgh are also 10-3.

The Ravens hold tie tiebreaker edge over Pittsburgh while New England has a two game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East but do have the tiebreaker edge. The Jets do control their destiny for the second AFC Wild Card.

Tim Tebow continued his magic in Denver as the Broncos’ improbably win over the Bears gives them a one game lead over Oakland in the AFC West.

The Broncos QB continues to put up miserable stats through the first three quarters of games but manages to take advantage of fourth quarter situations to lead his team to victory. Denver is now 7-1 in his starts.

To be fair, Denver kicker Matt Prater was the star with his 59 yard FG to end regulation and 51 yarder in OT for the win. But Tebow engineered those late drives that set up the FG. The value of his leadership cannot be quantified but it’s clear his teammates believe in him and Denver is now playing with the expectation that they will find a way to win every game they play.

Credit the NFL for scheduling so many Divisional contests over the final few weeks of the season. It means that more games will have meaning as the season winds down and impact the playoff field where currently just four of the dozen spots have been clinched with three weeks remaining.

The lines maker continues to do a fine job in balancing point spread results.

Through Sunday the over/under margin was exactly even at 102-102 with three pushes. Home favorites have gone just 61-69-6 ATS while home underdogs are 34-33-2 ATS.

Double digit favorites are just 12-19-1 ATS with two likely such contests this week.

Here’s a look at the week 15 schedule of games.

THURSDAY

Jaguars +11 at Falcons (42): Jacksonville’s win last week keeps this line under two touchdowns but the Falcons should win easily, having the balance and firepower to attack a weakened Jacksonville defense that last week’s foe, Tampa Bay, did not. Despite the poor ATS record of double digit favorites, the Falcons should seize early control. FALCONS.

SATURDAY

Cowboys -6½ at Bucs (46): Expect a fully focused and intense effort from the Cowboys, which should be enough to offset the effects of a frenzied atmosphere in Tampa as the Bucs faithful, at least, enjoy their moment in the national spotlight. The Cowboys’ talent edge is huge with the Cowboys having the better player at almost every position. COWBOYS.

SUNDAY

Redskins +7 at Giants (45½):. The Redskins have gotten defensive play all season but the offense has been a problem. The Giants have allowed more points than they’ve scored and more yards than they’ve gained. And their last five wins have been by just four or less. The Giants’ defense remains banged up and the familiarity factor keep this game close. REDSKINS.

Packers -13½ at Chiefs (46): The Packers are likely without WR Greg Jennings, injured in their win over Oakland. This line probably hits and even exceeds two TD’s. If KC can’t score more than 10 they likely will not cover. But the better option might be the total as the Packers may play workmanlike football and turn to the running game. UNDER.

Saints -7½ at Vikings (50): The Vikings are statistically better than their 2-9 record would suggest but poor QB play since the start of the season has been a major problem. As with several other elite teams, New Orleans’ offense is so potent that seemingly poor defensive statistics are misleading. The indoor venue suits the New Orleans style. SAINTS.

Seahawks +4½ at Bears (35½): These teams met twice in Chicago last season with the Bears avenging a regular season loss with a playoffs win. Both games went OVER the Total and each was lined higher than the Total for this contest. The Bears have now had a couple of games to adjust to the losses of starting QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte. OVER.

Dolphins NL at Bills (NT): The concussion suffered by Miami QB Matt Moore in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia keeps this game off the board on Monday. Miami’s turnaround has been related to an improved offense behind Moore and better defense. Severe weather is always a concern in Buffalo. Miami has stayed UNDER in 11 of 13 games. UNDER.

Panthers +6½ at Texans (46): Carolina rookie coach Ron Rivera has done a fine job of turning the Panthers around and they are likely to play hard down the stretch. Though the Texans are contending for the top seed in the AFC playoffs they could still suffer a bit of a letdown following last week’s division clinching win. PANTHERS.

Titans -6½ at Colts (41): The Titans won the earlier meeting against the Colts 27-10 despite being outgained by 88 total yards. In fact, the Colts’ 399 total yards in that game is their second highest total of the season. It’s not much to go on but perhaps enough to signal that the 0-13 Colts are viewing this as the one that will put an end to a winless season. COLTS.

Bengals (NL) at Rams (NT): The Rams QB situation is a mess and likely to be unsettled for much of the week. The Cincy offense has struggled over the second half of the season and points figure to be scarce, at least any that result from the execution of the two offenses. Prior to Monday night the Rams had scored more than 20 points just once. UNDER.

Lions -1 at Raiders (48): If the Lions are to make the playoffs this game is a must as they end the season hosting San Diego and at Green Bay. Oakland is back home after being routed at both Miami and Green Bay. RB Darren McFadden remains doubtful and his absence has hampered the offense. The Lions have DT Ndamukong Suh back. LIONS.

Patriots -6 at Broncos (46): Denver QB Tim Tebow continues to rally the Broncos but if there is one coach who can devise a game plan to exploit a QB’s vulnerabilities it is the Pats’ Bill Belichick. A large part of Denver’s success has been the defense but it will be challenged by one of the best offenses it will see all season. PATRIOTS.

Jets +3 at Eagles (44½): The Jets have started to allow QB Mark Sanchez a bit more freedom with the offense and the running game has improved over the second half of the season. The defense remains a strength. Philly QB Michael Vick appeared tentative last week in his return from injury, relying very little on his running ability. JETS.

Browns +6½ at Cards (37½): Both teams have QB issues yet this game is on the boards all over the world which shows just how little respect is afforded both offenses. But the Cleveland pass defense has been above average. This matchup is conducive to a game of time consuming, rush oriented drives that could take less than 3 hours to play. UNDER.

Ravens -2½ at Chargers (44): The Chargers have long been a strong December team and rank in the top 10 in both total offense and defense. This is their final home game and are home underdogs for just the third time in more than half a decade. Earlier this season they lost in that role to Green Bay. But they are playing much better now. CHARGERS.

MONDAY

Steelers (NL) at 49ers (NT): Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is probable for this game but most books had no line as of Monday morning. Expect San Francisco to be just under a FG favorite. This will be a very physical game that should be dominated by the defenses with the winner likely hard pressed to top 17 points. UNDER.

last week 8-7  NFL 94-104-5  PCT rising

 

 

 

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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