Two shocking endings with playoff implications
December 19, 2017 3:00 AM
by Andy Iskoe
VIP Pigskin Picks | As is the case in promoting television shows and movies, here is a Spoiler Alert. This is a Triple Wow column. Wow Number One involves one of the most surprising and impressive results of this or any season.
As is the case in promoting television shows and movies, here is a Spoiler Alert. This is a Triple Wow column.
Wow Number One involves one of the most surprising and impressive results of this or any season. It’s the best word to describe what happened in Seattle this past Sunday in the NFC West showdown between the Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams. The game was expected to determine the Division winner, with the loser facing a tough road to make the Playoffs as a Wild Card.
A Seattle win would have evened the teams at 9-5 with the Seahawks holding the tie breaker as a result of having swept the Rams in their season series as they won in Los Angeles, 16-10, in Week 5. A Rams win would have evened the season series but with a two-game lead in the Division.
The game was priced as roughly a pick ‘em and thus a competitive game was anticipated. That anticipation lasted perhaps into the middle of the first quarter with the Rams leading, 13-0. Then came the onslaught as the Rams scored 21 more points to lead 34-0 at the half.
The Rams added further validation to their status as a legitimate contender in what has become a wide open NFC with Philadelphia, Minnesota, Carolina, New Orleans and even defending NFC Champion Atlanta all capable of making a run at the Super Bowl.
Wow Number Two was the much anticipated meeting between the top two teams in the AFC, Pittsburgh and New England, that came down to several key plays and decisions in the final minutes. The bottom line is New England continued its mastery over the Steelers despite not playing its best football for most of the game.
Ultimately the Pats prevailed, 27-24, in what could be a preview of the AFC Title game that now would most likely be played in New England. But let’s not count out the Jacksonville Jaguars from spoiling a second Pats vs. Steelers meeting.
That result also was significant for those who played the Patriots OVER their Season Wins Total, which opened last spring at 11.5 but was bet up to and closed at 12.5.
Finally, Wow Number Three. This one expresses further bewilderment over those who continue to back the Cleveland Browns. After Baltimore was a 7-point road favorite all week against the Browns the late money Sunday morning showed up on Cleveland, with the line closing at 6.5. Again, after teasing their fans in the first half to trail 17-10 at intermission, the Browns were shut out in the second half in a 27-10 loss.
The Browns are now 1-29 SU since the start of the 2016 season and are also just 7-23 ATS during this span. Backing them continues to be a path toward financial ruin. The last time the Browns had a winning record against the pointspread was in 2014 when they were 9-7 ATS. Since the start of 2015 Cleveland is 12-33-1 ATS while winning just 4 of 46 games!
Wow, once again, but for a different reason. And since the start of 2015 Cleveland is just 24-22 in 6-point Teasers, losing to the pointspread by an average of 5.0 points per game over the 46 games, including by an average of 5.8 points per game this season.
Only two teams in the NFC have clinched Playoff berths. Philadelphia has clinched the NFC East title and a first round bye. Minnesota has clinched the NFC North. In the AFC three teams have clinched Playoff berths with New England claiming a ninth straight AFC East title and Pittsburgh clinching the AFC North title. Also clinching at least a Wild Card berth is Jacksonville.
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis and the New York Jets have been mathematically eliminated in the AFC. And in the NFC Arizona, Chicago, the New York Giants, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington are sure to miss the Playoffs.
Here are previews of the 16 games that make up the Week 16 schedule that includes a pair of Saturday games and also a pair of games on Christmas day. Happy holiday wishes to all.