NFL nears it’s end as playoff picture will clearer after this weekend

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It may come as a surprise to some and a shock to many but the 2016 regular NFL season will be three quarters complete after this weekend. All but Cleveland and Tennessee will be playing their 12th game of the 16-game schedule.

The Browns and Titans played their twelfth games this past Sunday and will be the final two teams to enjoy their bye week while the other 30 teams catch up.

If you are of the opinion this has been a most unusual season that has been anything but on form, there are several indicators that can validate your opinion.

Take, for example, the projected Season Win Totals posted at virtually every sportsbook prior to the start of the season.

Through 11 games two teams are already guaranteed to exceed those Totals and those teams are 10-1 Dallas and 9-2 Oakland. The Cowboys were held at 8.5 projected wins and their Week 11 win over Baltimore was their ninth win of the season, clinching the OVER. Oakland has also exceeded its total of 8.5 with its win over Carolina this past Sunday.

An astonishing total of seven teams have already clinched UNDER their season in totals with four or five games still to play.

Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Green Bay and Jacksonville are all assured of cashing tickets for UNDER bettors. Just as surprising is that four teams on this list – Arizona, Carolina, Cincinnati and Green Bay – each made the Playoffs in at least each of the past two seasons!

And five more teams are in position to at least push one side of that prop with Atlanta, Detroit, Miami and Tennessee each needing one more win to reward backers of the OVER whereas one more loss by the New York Jets will cast tickets for UNDER bettors.

There is still plenty of football to 

be played – a quarter of the season to be exact – but it appears as though the Playoffs will have an above average number of teams participating in the post season that did not make it last year.

Or, in the case of Oakland, have not made the Playoffs in more than a decade. The Raiders currently holds the top seed in the AFC. Their 9-2 record assures the Silver and Black their first winning record since 2002. In that season the Raiders were blown out in the Super Bowl by Tampa Bay, coached by former coach Jon Gruden.

That loss set in motion more than a decade of futility that appears to have finally ended. Coach Jack del Rio, in his second season as Raiders coach, should be perhaps a unanimous choice for Coach of the Year barring a December collapse. If any coach is mars that unanimous vote it should be Dallas’ Jason Garrett.

With Cleveland and Tennessee having the final Byes for this season, here’s a preview of the 15 games that comprise the Week 13 schedule.

Thursday

Dallas -3 at Minnesota (43.5): Minnesota has no running game to challenge that defense but will rely on their own defense to contain the Cowboys’ offense while taking chances through the air. The spot calls for a play on the Vikings and a defensively strong home underdog is always attractive. MINNESOTA

Sunday

Denver -4.5 at Jacksonville (43): Denver started the season 4-0 both SU and ATS but is just 3-4 SU and ATS since. It can be argued that Jacksonville has the edge at QB with Blake Bortles vs Trevor Siemian and their defense makes this a game the Jags can win. Getting more than a FG supports the play. JACKSONVILLE

KC +3.5 at Atlanta (49.5): Atlanta has the edge on offense with KC having the better defense but those edges are not as great as generally perceived. Both offenses do excel at avoiding turnovers which also suggests a cleanly played game. The continuity and consistency of the Chiefs makes them an attractive underdog. KANSAS CITY

Houston NL at Green Bay: Player for player the Packers have the better talent and even though he’s not put up big numbers this season Aaron Rodgers gives the Pack a huge edge at QB versus Houston’s Brock Osweiler. Barring key injuries on Monday night, this spot sets up well for the hosts and the price is reasonable yet understandable. GREEN BAY

Philadelphia NL at Cincinnati: Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton has lost many of his key playmaykers due to off season departures and current season injuries that have hampered productivity. Cincy has scored 17 or fewer points in 6 of 11 games. The defense has played better lately than over the first month of the season and should have some success against a rookie QB. UNDER

Detroit +4.5 at New Orleans (53.5): At 5-6 the Saints have a plus 27 points differential and still have 3 games against the teams ahead of them in the NFC South. Detroit QB Matthew Stafford is enjoying a fine season and with a pair of accomplished veteran quarterbacks facing leaky defenses we should see points aplenty. OVER

SF +3 at Chicago (43.5): Obviously both teams have far more negatives than positives but San Francisco does have a strong ground game and the more mobile QB which may be the only significant edges enjoyed by either team in this game. SAN FRANCISCO

LA +13.5 at New England (45): The Patriots are banged up but still formidable on offense. After some shaky efforts following their Week 9 Bye New England is poised for their usual December run. And coach Bill Belichick has had great success against rookie QBs and the Rams’ Jared Goff is very lightly untested. NEW ENGLAND

Miami +3 at Baltimore (41.5): Baltimore has the better defense, especially against the run which favors them in that aspect of this matchup. Both passing offenses are average at best which suggests this game will be decided by the areas in which the Ravens enjoy the edges. BALTIMORE

Buffalo +3.5 at Oakland (49.5): Buffalo does have the better defense but it is average at best Oakland is on a 4-1 ATS run whereas the Bills are 1-4 ATS in the last 5. But for the season the teams are a combined 17-5 to the OVER which makes that the more attractive play with the pointspread at 3.5. OVER

TB +4 at San Diego (47): The Bucs are 4-1 SU and ATS on the road this season which makes getting more than a FG an attractive option in game that pits a pair of evenly matched teams as Tampa QB Jameis Winston continuing to improve but is not yet at the level of the Chargers’ Philip Rivers. TAMPA BAY

Washington +2.5 at Arizona (49.5): Washington has covered 4 in a row yet are underdogs here. The Cardinals have the much better defensive stats and are tied with Denver in allowing just 4.7 yards per play. A loss here and Arizona likely tosses in the towel but they do enjoy several favorable matchups with make laying a FG or less supportable. ARIZONA

NY Giants +5.5 at Pittsburgh (50): The Giants have been ineffective on offense but very strong on defense, especially over the past month and a half. That combination points to a continuation of both teams’ totals tendencies at more than a FG above the league average. UNDER

Carolina +6.5 at Seattle (45): Seattle enjoys two key edges in this matchup. They have the much better defense. The offense averages less than one turnover per game whereas the Panthers turn it over just under twice per game. Following their two prior losses this season Seattle has won and covered in their next game. The conditions in this spot favor a third straight successful bounce back. SEATTLE

Monday

Indianapolis NL at NY Jets: The status of Colts’ QB Andrew Luck and star WR TY Hilton keep this game off the boards on Monday. If one or both play the Colts are likely to be favored by under a FG. The Jets are in a rare prime time home game and have not quit on the season despite the lack of success that began in Week 1. NY JETS

Last week: 9-5-1

Season: 84-84-4

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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