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The last quarter of the NFL season breeds some new scenarios that handicappers are forced to weigh.

Which coaches are on the hot seat? Which teams are positioning themselves for a draft pick? Who will turn the reins over to a young quarterback?

Here is my assessment of the NFL’s bottom-tier teams and where they are heading over the last month of the season.

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Jets — The talent is lacking and Adam Gase’s coaching is poor, but there has been plenty of effort over the last few weeks.

During Monday’s press conference, Chargers head coach ­Anthony Lynn said, “I think it’s safe to say that they (Jets) were more physical than we were. Their front five is as good as any that we’ve gone up against, effort- and energy-wise.”

Teams are going to feel pressure going against them over the last month of the season. No one wants to be known as the team that lost to the Jets. I backed them last week against the Chargers, and I will be doing so again this week.

Lions — If the wheels have not come off already, they are certainly very loose. The Lions are 13-22-1 under Matt Patricia.

Following last week’s shutout loss to Carolina, safety Duron Harman said, “At the end of the day, everybody’s job is in jeopardy.”

It is never a good sign when you are talking about job security in Week 12. I think Thursday’s game against the Texans is pivotal for how the rest of this year is going to go. A win should inject some life back into the locker room. But if the Lions do not beat the 3-7 Texans at home, they may not win a game the rest of the season.

Bengals — Following Joe Burrow’s knee injury, this will go down as a lost season. More importantly, the Bengals are in coaching purgatory.

Has anyone been overly impressed with Zac Taylor over the past two seasons? Not really. But can they fire him after losing Burrow in Week 11 and Joe Mixon missing over half the season? After two years, Cincinnati still does not have a great assessment on Taylor at the helm.

Jaguars — Doug Marrone is probably out, but I will be looking to back overs with the Jaguars as offensive coordinator Jay Gruden looks to put his best foot forward.

Gruden is likely auditioning for another job, but he has built a serviceable offense around Gardner Minshew and Jake Luton at quarterback and an undrafted rookie running back. He will look to make sure those numbers pop over the last couple weeks of the season.

So keep an eye on these struggling teams and how they are approaching each week as it pertains to lineups. There’s money to be made, or lost, depending on what happens.


Washington at Cowboys, Total 46: Dallas got its offense clicking against Minnesota last week, but let’s not overreact. This Washington defensive line will look a lot different than the one the Cowboys saw last week. I think we see a fairly tight and conservative game plan from both sides. UNDER


Giants -5.5 at Bengals: The jury is still out on Joe Judge as an x’s and o’s coach, but there is no denying that he has had his team playing hard all season. GIANTS

Falcons at Raiders, Total 55.5: The Raiders defense should not be intimidated by Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley after facing the Chiefs last week. Getting Lamarcus Joyner and Clelin Ferrell back from the COVID list would certainly be a boost. UNDER

Browns at Jaguars, Total 49.5: No team is happier to travel to Jacksonville than the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland had three straight home games, and they were treated to some of the worst weather of the NFL season in all three of them.

This will be an opportunity for Baker Mayfield to let loose a little bit after playing in three monsoons. Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward will both be out on Cleveland’s defense, which should aid Jacksonville in scoring some points. OVER

Dolphins -7 at Jets: Following last week’s loss to the Chargers, Jets running back Frank Gore said, “They (younger teammates) come in every week to work their behind off. That keeps me going. I know that they care.” That is good enough for me. JETS

Chiefs -3.5 at Buccaneers: The Raiders were able to hurt Kansas City with deep passes. Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller were consistently behind the defense and Derek Carr was fantastic at finding them.

I am skeptical that Tom Brady will be able to do the same. Brady was 1-of-8 on passes over 15 yards with two interceptions against the Rams on Monday night. CHIEFS

Last week: 3-3

Season: 30-36

About the Author

James Bunting

James Bunting covers college basketball, baseball and the NFL for Gaming Today. He has worked as a freelance sports writer for several outlets over the last decade, focusing specifically on the sports betting industry in the last five years.

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