Posts by Joe Fortenbaugh

Las Vegas market report: Wildcard weekend

Recent history hasn’t demonstrated a significant bias during the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs as it pertains to general classifications. Since 2009, home teams are an average 11-8-1 against the spread during the wildcard round, while favorites are just 9-10-1 ATS. During that same time span, overs have gone a modest 9-11.

Recent history hasn’t demonstrated a significant bias during the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs as it pertains to general classifications. Since 2009, home teams are an average 11-8-1 against the spread during the wildcard round, while favorites are just 9-10-1 ATS. During that same time span, overs have gone a modest 9-11.

So we’ll have to dig a little bit deeper this week in the hopes of unearthing some little nugget of information that may provide an edge in one or perhaps all four matchups scheduled to take place beginning Saturday afternoon.

2014 SNAPSHOT

Home teams: 123-127-6 (.492)
Favorites: 120-130-6 (.480)
Home favorites: 81-88-4 (.479)
Home dogs: 42-39-2 (.518)
Overs: 120-135 (.470)

CLICK HERE to check out the current lines.

Arizona Cardinals (11-5, 4-4 road) at Carolina Panthers (7-8-1, 4-4 home)

When: Saturday, 4:35pm ET
Weather: High of 50 degrees, 70% chance of rain, winds 5-10 mph
Open: Carolina -4.5/39
Current: Carolina -6.5/38

Arizona in 2014: 11-5 ATS, 10-5-1 to the UNDER
Carolina in 2014: 8-8 ATS, 8-8 to the OVER

Cam NewtonNewton and the Panthers are big favorites against an 11-win Arizona team on Saturday.

Analysis: Two teams heading in completely opposite directions as the Carolina Panthers have surrendered an average of just 10.75 points per game during their current four-game winning streak while the Arizona Cardinals have dropped four of their last six and haven’t scored more than 18 points in a matchup since November 9. One look at Cardinals third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley will have public bettors sprinting to the windows to bet Carolina, but note that the Panthers’ four-game win streak is a bit of a mirage, as those victories came against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta, who combined to post a 22-42 record this season. The Cardinals can still play some defense and with the weather in Charlotte on Saturday expected to be messy, this should be an extremely tight affair. In addition, be advised that Carolina has scored more than 24 points in a game just four times this season and none of those performances came against a club with a top-20 defense.

Notable trends: Arizona is 9-3 ATS over its last 12 road games while Carolina is 1-5 ATS over its last six games played in the month of January.

The play: Arizona (we want +7 but will take +6.5) and UNDER 38

Baltimore Ravens (10-6, 4-4 road) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5, 6-2 home)

When: Saturday, 8:15pm ET
Weather: High of 41 degrees, 100% chance of rain, winds 10-15 mph
Open: Pittsburgh -3/47
Current: Pittsburgh -3/46

Baltimore in 2014: 7-8-1 ATS, 9-7 to the UNDER
Pittsburgh in 2014: 9-7 ATS, 9-7 to the OVER

Joe FlaccoICONCan Joe Flacco conjure up some more postseason road magic?

Analysis: 33.6% of Pittsburgh’s 2014 offensive production may be on the sidelines for Saturday’s showdown with division-rival Baltimore, as Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell suffered a hyperextended knee in last Sunday night’s 27-17 win over Cincinnati. Not only would this be a big blow to the Steelers’ rushing attack (1,361 yards, second in NFL), but Bell also caught 83 passes this year and is a monster in pass protection, unlike 5-8, 173-pound backup Dri Archer, who could have some serious trouble against a Baltimore defense that ranked second in the NFL in sacks this season (49). Ravens signal-caller Joe Flacco has had an up-and-down 2014 campaign, especially when playing on the road, but the seven-year veteran is 6-4 career in the playoffs away from M&T Bank Stadium and knows what it takes to run the table in the postseason. Be advised that the weather forecast calls for rain and moderate winds in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Notable trends: Baltimore is 4-0 ATS over its last four road playoff games while Pittsburgh is 9-3 ATS over its last 12 playoff games.

The play: Baltimore (we want +3.5, will play at +3) and UNDER 46

Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1, 5-3 road) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 6-2 home)

When: Sunday, 1:05pm ET
Weather: Indoors
Open: Indianapolis -4/49
Current: Indianapolis -3.5/49

Cincinnati in 2014: 8-7-1 ATS, 10-6 to the UNDER
Indianapolis in 2014: 10-5-1 ATS, 9-7 to the OVER

Marvin LewisMarvin Lewis has never won a playoff game. Is this the year?

Analysis: The early money showed up in support of Cincinnati due to a variety of factors, one of which has to do with an Indianapolis team that has been walking on eggshells as of late. One look at the Colts’ schedule shows an 11-win team that padded its stats with soft matchups against Jacksonville (twice), Tennessee (twice), Washington, Cleveland and the New York Giants, but came up short in marquee showdowns with Denver, New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Dallas. In addition, the Indianapolis defense ranked just 19th in scoring this season (23.1 pts/gm) and 18th against the run (113.4 yds/gm), which is a big concern when playing a Cincinnati team that ranked sixth in the league in rushing (134.2 yds/gm) with a whopping 567 yards coming via the ground game over the last three weeks alone. But how do you get behind a Bengals team that is coached by Marvin Lewis (0-5 lifetime in playoffs) and quarterbacked by Andy Dalton (0-3 lifetime in playoffs)? Not only that, but take note that Cincinnati is just 2-5 ATS over its last seven trips to Indianapolis.

Notable trends: Cincinnati is 5-1 ATS over its last six games following a loss while Indianapolis is 1-4 ATS over its last five playoff games.

The play: Cincinnati (+3.5). I’m calling this game “The Banana in the Tailpipe Special.”

Detroit Lions (11-5, 4-4 road) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4, 4-4 home)

When: Sunday, 4:40pm ET
Weather: Indoors
Open: Dallas -7/48
Current: Dallas -6.5/48

Detroit in 2014: 7-9 ATS, 11-5 to the UNDER
Dallas in 2014: 10-6 ATS, 9-6-1 to the OVER

DeMarco MurrayMurray and the Cowboys have been on fire ever since that Thanksgiving loss.

Analysis: Ever since they were drilled 33-10 at home by the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys have been cooking with gas. Big D has ripped off four straight wins (4-0 ATS as well) by an average of 21.5 points per game with only three turnovers committed and 12 turnovers forced. All of this is due in large part to the league’s best offensive line which has paved the way for a rushing attack that ranks second in the NFL (147.1 yds/gm). On the flip side you have the Detroit Lions who, despite entering this showdown with 11 wins under their belt, went just 4-4 on the road this season and are now 8-20-1 ATS over their last 29 road contests. In addition, the Lions are 1-6 ATS over their last seven matchups against teams with a winning record. Detroit has a nasty defense, but the big problem is whether or not highly-paid “franchise” quarterback Matthew Stafford will finally rise to the occasion on the big stage, something the Georgia product has failed to do in each of his six NFL campaigns. Stafford has completed only 54.1 percent of his passes on the road this season, with nine touchdowns, six interceptions and a QB rating of 74.9.

Notable trends: Detroit is 2-5 ATS over its last seven games overall while Dallas is 4-0 ATS over its last four games overall.

The play: Dallas (-6.5) along with a Dallas (-.5) and Baltimore (+9) teaser.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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Sources: Dolphins offered Rex Ryan defensive coordinator position

Update (12/31 at 6:45pm PST): I completely dropped the ball on this story and would like to apologize to all parties involved for the incorrect information regarding the Miami Dolphins' interest in former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. There is no excuse for this type of error. Miami did not offer Ryan

Update (12/31 at 6:45pm PST): I completely dropped the ball on this story and would like to apologize to all parties involved for the incorrect information regarding the Miami Dolphins’ interest in former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. There is no excuse for this type of error. Miami did not offer Ryan the opportunity to become the team’s new defensive coordinator. Again, my deepest apologies to all involved.

Dismissed Monday after six seasons as the head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan won’t have trouble finding work if he chooses to return to the National Football League in 2015.

Sources familiar with the situation have informed the National Football Post that the Miami Dolphins offered Ryan a multi-year contract this week worth approximately $8 million to become the team’s next defensive coordinator.

Rex RyanRyan went 46-50 during the regular season in six years with the Jets.

However, while Ryan built his reputation as the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-2008, the prevailing line of thinking is that the 52-year-old would prefer to accept a head coaching position rather than take a role as an assistant. That assertion is furthered by the recent reports indicating Ryan is scheduled to meet with both the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers about their current vacancies.

As for Miami, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was noncommittal on Monday regarding the future of current defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who has been with the team since 2012. Coyle’s defense got off to a hot start in 2014, holding the opposition to just 18.8 points per game with 25 sacks and 18 turnovers through the first eight contests of the season. But with a playoff berth on the line, the Dolphins wilted down the stretch and were torched for an average of 35.2 points per game over the team’s final four outings.

The Dolphins’ attempt to lure Ryan to Miami clearly indicates that the organization is looking to shake things up on the defensive side of the ball. Whether or not the team succeeds in landing an upgrade remains to be seen, but head coach Joe Philbin has gone just 23-25 with the club since taking over in 2012 and no doubt enters the 2015 campaign on the hot seat.

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Bowl game betting primer: Part II

Bowl season has a habit of producing some utterly insane results. So the hope is that you can either sidestep these yearly landmines by avoiding the game altogether or somehow find yourself on the correct side of an absurd outcome.

Look no further than the Christmas Eve spectacular between Western Kentucky and Central

Bowl season has a habit of producing some utterly insane results. So the hope is that you can either sidestep these yearly landmines by avoiding the game altogether or somehow find yourself on the correct side of an absurd outcome.

Look no further than the Christmas Eve spectacular between Western Kentucky and Central Michigan for proof, as the Hilltoppers (that’s obviously the team we were backing) blew a 49-14 fourth quarter lead, but hung on to win (and not cover) 49-48.

Twitter exploded following the 75-yard miracle that doomed our evenings, but all you can really do in those situations is shake it off as quickly as possible and hope that the gambling gods balance out your karma somewhere down the road.

Actually, to hell with all of that. I’m still pissed about that finish.

Last week: 2-4

Season: 40-50 (.444)

CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL

#9 Mississippi Rebels (9-3, 2-2 road) vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs (11-1, 4-1 road)

When: Wednesday, December 31 at 12:30pm ET
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Open: TCU -3
Current: TCU -3.5

Mississippi in 2014: 7-4-1 ATS, 9-2 to the UNDER
TCU in 2014: 10-2 ATS, 8-4 to the OVER

Bo WallaceBo Wallace and the Rebels are primed for the upset.

Analysis: TCU entered the final meaningful week of the college football regular season slotted third in the inaugural college football playoff rankings, but inexplicably fell to sixth following a 55-3 thrashing of Iowa State. Being as how college football is all about everybody getting rich except for those who actually put their bodies as risk, it was no surprise to see a big draw like Ohio State fly up the board to claim the fourth and final playoff spot, leaving an 11-1 TCU squad dejected at having to play in what the team could be viewing as a meaningless December 31 bowl game. So whether or not the Horned Frogs are motivated to show up in this one is a huge concern. We stand on the side that feels TCU doesn’t care much for this showdown after having a shot at the title ripped from its hands, so give us the Rebels, the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense (13.8 pts/gm) and 3.5 points and we’ll gladly settle in front of the couch to watch the Peach Bowl.

Notable trends: Mississippi is 4-0-1 ATS over its last five bowl games while TCU is 0-5 ATS over its last five bowl games.

Pick: Mississippi (+3.5)

ROSE BOWL

#2 Oregon Ducks (12-1, 5-0 road) vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles (13-0, 4-0 road)

When: Thursday, January 1 at 5:00pm ET
Location: Pasadena, California
Open: Oregon -8
Current: Oregon -9

Oregon in 2014: 9-4 ATS, 6-6-1 to the OVER
Florida State in 2014: 3-10 ATS, 8-5 to the UNDER

Jameis WinstonWinston and the Seminoles are feeling little love within the betting markets.

Analysis: Correct me if I have this wrong: The defending champion Florida State Seminoles, winners of 29 straight games, head to the Rose Bowl as a staggering 9-point underdog for a matchup with Oregon, per Sportsbook Review.com? I get the fact that the Ducks won and covered the number in each of their final eight games of the year while the Seminoles covered the spread in just three of 13 contests this season, but that is far too many points to lay against the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner. FSU has been in the big spot before, while 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota has never come close to this grand of a stage. The Seminoles may have played down to their competition this season, but with a month to prepare and far more on the line come January 1, they’ll get up in a big way for this semifinal encounter.

Notable trends: Oregon is 5-2 ATS over its last seven bowl games while Florida State is 8-1-1 ATS over its last ten bowl games.

Pick: Florida State (+9)

ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1, 3-1 road) at #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, 4-0 road)

When: Thursday, January 1 at 8:30pm ET
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Open: Alabama -9.5
Current: Alabama -9.5

Alabama in 2014: 5-8 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER
Ohio State in 2014: 8-5 ATS, 11-2 to the OVER

Analysis: The Crimson Tide are a juggernaut and there is no disputing that sentiment, as it’s tough to find flaws in a program that has gone 72-8 (.900) with three national championship victories since 2009. Still, this is a big number to lay on a squad that has gone just 5-11-1 ATS over its last 17 games that will be facing a well-rested and ultra-prepared Urban Meyer football club. Ohio State’s 21st-ranked scoring defense (21.2 pts/gm) will be the key to success in the Sugar Bowl, as Bama has recorded 42 or more points in each of its last three contests. And don’t think for one second that Meyer hasn’t been selling the Buckeyes on the fact that many feel they shouldn’t be playing in this game (TCU, anyone?). We’ll hold our nose here in the hopes that a +10 surfaces sometime before kickoff.

Notable trends: Alabama is 0-7-1 ATS over its last eight non-conference games while Ohio State is 6-2 ATS over its last eight non-conference games.

Pick: Ohio State (we’re waiting for +10, but will play +9.5)

TAXSLAYER BOWL

Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 3-2 road) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6, 2-3 road)

When: Friday, January 2 at 3:20pm ET
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Open: Tennessee -2.5
Current: Tennessee -3.5

Iowa in 2014: 6-6 ATS, 6-5-1 to the OVER
Tennessee in 2014: 6-6 ATS, 6-4-1 to the UNDER

Kirk FerentzICONFerentz is 5-1 ATS over his last six bowl games.

Analysis: Say what you will about Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes, but the reality of the situation is that the man is good with a month to prepare his team for postseason play. Ferentz is 5-1 ATS over his last six bowl games and word around the campfire is that the Hawkeyes have been putting together some exceptional practices in the build-up to the school’s showdown with Tennessee. We believe that this will be a classic situation in which the public shows heavy support for the SEC school over the Big Ten program, so we’ve got no problem backing the contrarian angle here on January 2.

Notable trends: Iowa is 6-2 ATS over its last eight neutral site games while Tennessee is 3-8 ATS over its last 11 non-conference games.

Pick: Iowa (+3.5)

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

East Carolina Pirates (8-4, 3-3 road) vs. Florida Gators (6-5, 2-2 road)

When: Saturday, January 3 at 12:00pm ET
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Open: Florida -7.5
Current: Florida -7

East Carolina in 2014: 5-7 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER
Florida in 2014: 6-5 ATS, 8-3 to the OVER

Analysis: East Carolina hasn’t played in a January bowl game since 2010 and missed the college football postseason entirely last year, so the assumption is that this team should be pretty jacked up at the chance to knock off a reeling SEC school that just dumped its head coach after another disappointing campaign. After opening as more than a touchdown favorite, Florida has since been knocked down to as low as -6.5 at some shops, which is a significant move since it crossed through the key number of 7. The thought process here is that we’ve got a motivated team (ECU) against a squad that probably cares very little to be playing in this game, so we might as well take the touchdown and brace for the upset.

Notable trends: East Carolina is 5-0 ATS over its last five non-conference games while Florida is 4-1 ATS over its last five bowl games.

Pick: East Carolina (+7)

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Updated Super Bowl odds: Welcome to the postseason

While the advantage in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy sides with the four teams that earned a first-round bye (Seattle, Green Bay, New England, Denver) and even more so with the two clubs who claimed home field advantage (Seattle, New England), preseason Dallas backers have to be salivating at the hedging opportunity

While the advantage in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy sides with the four teams that earned a first-round bye (Seattle, Green Bay, New England, Denver) and even more so with the two clubs who claimed home field advantage (Seattle, New England), preseason Dallas backers have to be salivating at the hedging opportunity that has presented itself entering the month of January.

DeMarco MurrayDeMarco Murray and the Cowboys have surged from 75/1 to 10/1 to win this season’s Super Bowl.

Listed at 75/1 to win the Super Bowl back in August, which was more favorable than the odds for just six other teams (Cleveland, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Tennessee), the Cowboys rode the legs of running back DeMarco Murray and right arm of quarterback Tony Romo to an NFC East crown and spot on the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s odds board at 10/1. And of the four teams listed above the Cowboys, none will be playing during this upcoming weekend’s slate of playoff action.

The defending champion Seahawks remain atop the board at 9/4, while the freefalling Cardinals bring up the rear at 75/1. Poor Bruce Arians. The Arizona head coach was cooking with gas until the injury bug decimated the team’s quarterback position.

Here’s the full rundown:

Note: The odds in parenthesis indicate where each team was listed back on August 25.

Seattle Seahawks: 9/4 (9/2)
New England Patriots: 5/2 (8/1)
Green Bay Packers: 5/1 (10/1)
Denver Broncos: 6/1 (5/1)
Dallas Cowboys: 10/1 (75/1)
Indianapolis Colts: 20/1 (20/1)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 20/1 (20/1)
Baltimore Ravens: 30/1 (25/1)
Carolina Panthers: 40/1 (60/1)
Cincinnati Bengals: 40/1 (20/1)
Detroit Lions: 40/1 (40/1)
Arizona Cardinals: 75/1 (40/1)

SUPER BOWL XLIX GAME LINE

NFC (-1.5/49) vs. AFC

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NFP power rankings

Happy holidays, everybody! This marks the final installment of the NFP power rankings for the 2014 season. However, we’ll be back next week to break down the wildcard playoff matchups via the “Las Vegas market report.”

The numbers in brackets indicate each team’s Power Ranking, which is based on a scale of 60-100.

Happy holidays, everybody! This marks the final installment of the NFP power rankings for the 2014 season. However, we’ll be back next week to break down the wildcard playoff matchups via the “Las Vegas market report.”

The numbers in brackets indicate each team’s Power Ranking, which is based on a scale of 60-100. These numbers can be used as a baseline to determine the point spread between any two teams on the list. Keep in mind that these numbers do not account for home field advantage, situational analysis (extra rest, back-to-back road games, divisional rivalries, etc), injuries, weather or public perception. They are merely to be used as a baseline for your initial analysis.

NFP power rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks [93.0]
Record:
11-4 (Won 35-6 at Arizona)
Previous ranking: 93.0 (1)

2. New England Patriots [92.0]
Record:
12-2 (Won 17-16 at NY Jets)
Previous ranking: 92.0 (2)

3. Green Bay Packers [91.5]
Record:
11-4 (Won 20-3 at Tampa Bay)
Previous ranking: 91.5 (3)

4. Dallas Cowboys [91.0]
Record:
11-4 (Won 42-7 vs. Indianapolis)
Previous ranking: 89.5 (5)

5. Denver Broncos [89.5]
Record:
11-4 (Lost 37-28 at Cincinnati)
Previous ranking: 91.0 (4)

T6. Pittsburgh Steelers [89.0]
Record:
10-5 (Won 20-12 vs. Kansas City)
Previous ranking: 87.5 (T11)

T6. Cincinnati Bengals [89.0]
Record:
10-4-1 (Won 37-28 vs. Denver)
Previous ranking: 88.5 (T7)

8. Detroit Lions [88.5]
Record:
11-4 (Won 20-14 at Chicago)
Previous ranking: 88.5 (T7)

9. Indianapolis Colts [88.0]
Record:
10-5 (Lost 42-7 at Dallas)
Previous ranking: 89.0 (6)

10. Kansas City Chiefs [87.5]
Record:
8-7 (Lost 20-12 at Pittsburgh)
Previous ranking: 87.0 (13)

T11. San Diego Chargers [87.0]
Record:
9-6 (Won 38-35 at San Francisco)
Previous ranking: 86.5 (14)

T11. Baltimore Ravens [87.0]
Record:
9-6 (Lost 25-13 at Houston)
Previous ranking: 87.5 (T11)

T11. Arizona Cardinals [87.0]
Record:
11-4 (Lost 35-6 vs. Seattle)
Previous ranking: 88.0 (T9)

14. Philadelphia Eagles [86.0]
Record:
9-6 (Lost 27-24 at Washington)
Previous ranking: 88.0 (T9)

15. Houston Texans [85.5]
Record:
8-7 (Won 25-13 vs. Baltimore)
Previous ranking: 84.0 (19)

16. Miami Dolphins [85.0]
Record:
8-7 (Won 37-35 vs. Minnesota)
Previous ranking: 85.0 (T16)

17. Buffalo Bills [84.5]
Record:
8-7 (Lost 26-24 at Oakland)
Previous ranking: 85.5 (15)

18. San Francisco 49ers [84.0]
Record:
7-8 (Lost 38-35 vs. San Diego)
Previous ranking: 84.5 (18)

19. New York Giants [83.5]
Record:
6-9 (Won 37-27 at St. Louis)
Previous ranking: 82.5 (23)

20. Minnesota Vikings [83.0]
Record:
6-9 (Lost 37-35 at Miami)
Previous ranking: 83.5 (20)

T21. Atlanta Falcons [82.0]
Record:
6-9 (Won 30-14 at New Orleans)
Previous ranking: 82.0 (T24)

T21. Carolina Panthers [82.0]
Record:
6-8-1 (Won 17-13 vs. Cleveland)
Previous ranking: 82.0 (T24)

T21. New Orleans Saints [82.0]
Record:
6-9 (Lost 30-14 vs. Atlanta)
Previous ranking: 85.0 (T16)

T24. St. Louis Rams [81.5]
Record:
6-9 (Lost 37-27 vs. NY Giants)
Previous ranking: 83.0 (T21)

T24. Washington Redskins [81.5]
Record:
4-11 (Won 27-24 vs. Philadelphia)
Previous ranking: 81.0 (26)

26. Chicago Bears [81.0]
Record:
5-10 (Lost 20-14 vs. Detroit)
Previous ranking: 81.5 (25)

27. Cleveland Browns [80.0]
Record:
7-8 (Lost 17-13 at Carolina)
Previous ranking: 83.0 (T21)

28. Oakland Raiders [79.5]
Record:
3-12 (Won 26-24 vs. Buffalo)
Previous ranking: 79.0 (T29)

T29. New York Jets [79.0]
Record:
3-12 (Lost 17-16 vs. New England)
Previous ranking: 79.0 (T29)

T29. Jacksonville Jaguars [79.0]
Record:
3-12 (Won 21-13 vs. Tennessee)
Previous ranking: 79.0 (T29)

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [78.5]
Record:
2-13 (Lost 20-3 vs. Green Bay)
Previous ranking: 79.5 (28)

32. Tennessee Titans [78.0]
Record:
2-13 (Lost 21-13 at Jacksonville)
Previous ranking: 78.5 (32)

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Bowl game betting primer: Part I

Happy Holidays and a special thanks to all of you who stuck with the NFP college football betting primer through an up and (mostly) down campaign. We closed out the regular season with a clean sweep and now the hope is that we can maintain this success through the remainder of the 2014 bowl

Happy Holidays and a special thanks to all of you who stuck with the NFP college football betting primer through an up and (mostly) down campaign. We closed out the regular season with a clean sweep and now the hope is that we can maintain this success through the remainder of the 2014 bowl season.

The following rundown isolates six games from this week’s upcoming slate of postseason action. We’ll be back next Tuesday morning with another edition of the bowl game betting primer to cover the marquee matchups and New Year’s Day run of games for those of you who may be interested in watching that sort of thing.

Be safe and have a wonderful holiday season.

Final week of regular season: 5-0

Season: 38-46 (.452)

BOCA RATON BOWL

Marshall Thundering Herd (12-1, 6-0 road) at Northern Illinois Huskies (11-2, 6-1 road)

When: Tuesday, December 23 at 6:00pm ET
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
Open: Marshall -10
Current: Marshall -10

Marshall in 2014: 8-5 ATS, 7-6 to the OVER
Northern Illinois in 2014: 7-6 ATS, 9-4 to the UNDER

Analysis: Northern Illinois will have a hell of a time trying to slow down a lightning quick Marshall offense that averaged 45.1 points per game this season (fifth in NCAA) while defeating the opposition by the staggering average of 26.3 points per contest. The Thundering Herd represent the best offense that the Huskies have faced in 2014, which is led by experienced signal-caller Rakeem Cato, who is 2-0 both straight-up and against the spread in bowl games (563 passing yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT). Take note that Marshall is 8-3 ATS over its last 11 games against teams with a winning record while Northern Illinois is 1-4 ATS over its last five matchups with Conference USA opposition. This is a big number to lay per the odds board at Sportsbook Review.com, but given the MAC’s poor bowl record in recent years, we’re comfortable Marshall will prevail by more than 10.

Notable trends: Marshall is 5-1 ATS over its last six non-conference games while Northern Illinois is 2-5 ATS over its last seven bowl games.

Pick: Marshall (-10)

SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL

Navy Midshipmen (7-5, 3-1 road) at San Diego State Aztecs (7-5, 1-5 road)

When: Tuesday, December 23 at 9:30pm ET
Location: San Diego, California
Open: San Diego State -3
Current: San Diego State -3

Navy in 2014: 5-7 ATS, 7-4 to the UNDER
San Diego State in 2014: 6-5-1 ATS, 11-1 to the UNDER

Analysis: A rematch of the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl in which San Diego State emerged victorious 35-14, the Aztecs have a big advantage in this matchup due to the fact that it will be played at Qualcomm Stadium where SDSU went 6-0 this season winning by an average of 19.8 points per game. Another San Diego State edge comes in the form of having three weeks to prepare for Navy’s triple-option attack, a system the Aztecs’ 3-3-5 defense faced when playing Air Force and New Mexico this year and had much success, holding both schools to season-low offensive yardage totals. This is a big step up in class for a Navy squad that is 2-5 ATS over its last seven games played in the month of December.

Notable trends: Navy is 2-5 ATS over its last seven neutral site games while San Diego State is 11-5-1 ATS over its last 17 games following a win.

Pick: San Diego State (-3)

POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL

Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5, 4-2 road) at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (7-5, 2-4 road)

When: Wednesday, December 24 at 12:00pm ET
Location: Nassau, Bahamas
Open: Western Kentucky -2.5
Current: Western Kentucky -3.5

Central Michigan in 2014: 5-7 ATS, 7-5 to the UNDER
Western Kentucky in 2014: 6-6 ATS, 8-3-1 to the OVER

Brandon DoughtyWKU quarterback Brandon Doughty led the nation with 44 touchdown passes this season.

Analysis: Led by quarterback and Conference USA Player of the Year Brandon Doughty (NCAA-best 44 TD passes in 2014), Western Kentucky shook off the cobwebs from learning a new system that resulted in a 3-5 start and rallied to close out the year on a perfect 4-0 run (3-1 ATS), winning by an average of 18.7 points per game. And those four wins didn’t come against inferior competition, either, as the Hilltoppers landed the only blemish on Marshall’s otherwise perfect 12-1 record with a 67-66 win back on November 28. This is just as much a PLAY ON Western Kentucky as it is a PLAY AGAINST Central Michigan, as MAC teams cannot be trusted during bowl season (0-5 in bowl games in 2013).

Notable trends: Central Michigan is 5-15-1 ATS over its last 21 non-conference games while Western Kentucky is 14-3 ATS over its last 17 games played on grass.

Pick: Western Kentucky (-3.5)

ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 1-4 road) at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-5, 4-4 road)

When: Friday, December 26 at 1:00pm ET
Location: Dallas, Texas
Open: Louisiana Tech -5
Current: Louisiana Tech -6

Illinois in 2014: 5-7 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER
Louisiana Tech in 2014: 10-3 ATS, 8-4-1 to the OVER

Analysis: Some may be worried about the five Bulldogs who were suspended at the beginning of the month due to academic issues, but Louisiana Tech rallied without those players against 12-1 Marshall on December 6 and nearly upset the Thundering Herd before falling 26-23. Winners of six of their last eight, Skip Holtz has the Bulldogs playing with jam thanks to a 2014 turnover differential of +18 (note that Illinois is -2 in turnover differential this season). The Fighting Illini may have finished the year at 6-6, but the team got really lucky in its wins over Minnesota, Penn State and Northwestern. In addition, note that Louisiana Tech is 5-1 ATS over its last six games overall. With think the Big Ten will be dealt a swift and decisive blow in this one.

Notable trends: Illinois is 9-19 ATS over its last 28 games played on turf while Louisiana Tech is 4-0 ATS over its last four games played on turf.

Pick: Louisiana Tech (-6)

BITCOIN SAINT PETERSBURG BOWL

North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-5, 3-2 road) at Central Florida Knights (9-3, 3-2 road)

When: Friday, December 26 at 8:00pm ET
Location: Saint Petersburg, Florida
Open: Central Florida -1
Current: Central Florida -1.5

North Carolina State in 2014: 7-5 ATS, 6-5-1 to the UNDER
Central Florida in 2014: 8-4 ATS, 6-6 to the OVER

Analysis: Central Florida boasts one of the better defenses you’ll see this bowl season after concluding a 12-game campaign that resulted in permitting an average of just 17.9 points per contest (eighth in NCAA) with 27 turnovers (2.25 per game) and 33 sacks (2.75 per game). The Knights also went 4-0 ATS to finish the season and are now 6-1 ATS over their last seven games played on a Friday. North Carolina State definitely took a step in the right direction this season, but note that the team’s seven wins came against opponents who combined to finish the year with a 37-46 record (.445). The Wolfpack have turned the corner and should prove to be worthy adversaries in this one, but we believe Central Florida will prevail based on the strength of its defense.

Notable trends: North Carolina State is 2-7 ATS over its last nine games on turf while Central Florida is 8-2 ATS over its last ten non-conference games.

Pick: Central Florida (-1.5)

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL

Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 3-2 road) at #24 USC Trojans (8-4, 3-3 road)

When: Saturday, December 27 at 8:00pm ET
Location: San Diego, California
Open: USC -5.5
Current: USC -7

Nebraska in 2014: 7-4-1 ATS, 7-5 to the OVER
USC in 2014: 7-5 ATS, 7-5 to the UNDER

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Bo PeliniUS PRESSWIREBo Pelini’s time at Nebraska has come to an end.

Analysis: The Cornhuskers dropped two of their final three games to close out the regular season, are 1-4 ATS over their last five neutral site matchups and just said goodbye to head coach Bo Pelini, who had some choice words for the Nebraska brass on his way out the door. In addition, as you’ll see below, the Huskers have had a hell of a time when tasked with beating opposition from the PAC-12, while USC has performed quite admirably in recent encounters with Big Ten schools. Take note that the Trojans are 5-1 ATS over their last six bowl games and enter this showdown much more organized and well-prepared than the team that will be staring them down from the other sideline.

Notable trends: Nebraska is 0-4 ATS over its last four games against the PAC-12 while USC is 9-2 ATS over its last 11 games against the Big Ten.

Pick: USC (-7)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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Updated Super Bowl odds: The rise of the champs

The top of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook odds board has seen plenty of turnover over the last few weeks in regards to the shop’s Super Bowl prices, as the Green Bay Packers relinquished the title of “favorite” last week to the New England Patriots before the defending champion Seahawks stepped in

The top of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook odds board has seen plenty of turnover over the last few weeks in regards to the shop’s Super Bowl prices, as the Green Bay Packers relinquished the title of “favorite” last week to the New England Patriots before the defending champion Seahawks stepped in on Monday to claim their rightful spot on the throne.

Russell WilsonWilson and the Seahawks are back on top of the Westgate odds board.

Winners of eight of their last nine outings and led by a defense that is surrendering an average of just 6.6 points per game over its last five starts, the Seahawks now reside at a price of 5/2 to win February’s Super Bowl following a thorough 35-6 dismantling of former NFC West leader Arizona.

The New England Patriots, who sat atop the board last Monday at a price of 5/2, slipped to 11/4 to make room for the Seattle surge. And after claiming the NFC East in dominating fashion, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys jumped from 12/1 to 10/1 while division rival Philadelphia fell off the board entirely.

The entire rundown is listed below.

Note: The odds in parenthesis indicate where each team was listed back on August 25.

Seattle Seahawks: 5/2 (9/2)
New England Patriots: 11/4 (8/1)
Green Bay Packers: 9/2 (10/1)
Denver Broncos: 5/1 (5/1)
Dallas Cowboys: 10/1 (75/1)
Indianapolis Colts: 20/1 (20/1)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 20/1 (20/1)
Detroit Lions: 25/1 (40/1)
San Diego Chargers: 30/1 (30/1)
Arizona Cardinals: 40/1 (40/1)
Cincinnati Bengals: 40/1 (20/1)
Atlanta Falcons: 60/1 (60/1)
Baltimore Ravens: 60/1 (25/1)
Carolina Panthers: 80/1 (60/1)
Houston Texans: 300/1 (25/1)
Kansas City Chiefs: 1000/1 (50/1)

OFF THE BOARD

San Francisco 49ers (10/1)
New Orleans Saints (7/1)
Philadelphia Eagles (25/1)
Chicago Bears (20/1)
New York Giants (40/1)
Washington Redskins (50/1)
St. Louis Rams (75/1)
Miami Dolphins (50/1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (100/1)
Tennessee Titans (100/1)
New York Jets (60/1)
Buffalo Bills (60/1)
Minnesota Vikings (100/1)
Cleveland Browns (100/1)
Jacksonville Jaguars (200/1)
Oakland Raiders (100/1)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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Start ’em, Sit ’em, Smash ’em

FANTASY QUESTIONS

While the Sunday live chat is no more, I’m still available to answer any and all fantasy questions throughout the week on twitter @JoeFortenbaugh if you use the hashtags #FSTLV and #GMCFF. Fire over some good ones and they just may end up on the Fantasy Sports

FANTASY QUESTIONS

While the Sunday live chat is no more, I’m still available to answer any and all fantasy questions throughout the week on twitter @JoeFortenbaugh if you use the hashtags #FSTLV and #GMCFF. Fire over some good ones and they just may end up on the Fantasy Sports Network Sunday morning between 10:00am-12:00pm eastern.

WEEK 16 SURVIVOR PICKS

–At this point in the season, I really have no clue which teams you guys have left to use in survivor. So rather than throw out what will likely amount to repeat selections, hit me up on twitter @JoeFortenbaugh and we can talk it through from there. Best of luck!

FADE OF THE WEEK

Record: 7-7-1

Last week: Cincinnati Bengals (+1) over Cleveland Browns (win)

This week: Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) at Miami Dolphins

Analysis: Like clockwork, the Miami Dolphins are once again tanking at the end of the season, as Joe Philbin’s team has dropped three of its last four contests and is averaging a paltry 14.0 points per game over its last three outings. On the flip side, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings have come on strong during the second half of the season and have now covered the number in four straight matchups. Take note that while Minnesota is 10-1 ATS over its last 11 games played in the month of December, Miami is 0-5 ATS over its last five games played in the month of December.

WESTGATE LAS VEGAS SUPERCONTEST SELECTIONS

Last week: 3-1-1

Season: 36-38-1 (.486)

Two weeks left for the Big Puma and I to get our squad above .500 so we can save some face entering the 2015 season. Here’s the rundown for Week 16:

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (+6.5) at Miami Dolphins
DETROIT LIONS (-6.5) at Chicago Bears
NEW YORK GIANTS (+4.5) at St. Louis Rams
ARIZONA CARDINALS (+8) vs. Seattle Seahawks
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+3) vs. Denver Broncos

CLICK HERE to check out all of the current lines.

START ‘EM UP

Kyle Orton, QB, Buffalo Bills (at Oakland): Orton hasn’t exactly set the league on fire since taking over for former first-round draft pick E.J. Manuel in Buffalo, but he has helped guide the Bills to an 8-6 record and an outside shot at a postseason appearance. Those of you who are jammed up at the quarterback position in Week 16 should give this guy a good, long look, as the Raiders just surrendered 297 passing yards and two touchdowns to game manager Alex Smith last Sunday. Knowing the Bills, this will be a tight game entering the fourth quarter, which means Orton should rack up plenty of passing attempts against a defense that is permitting an average of 27.2 points per game this season (30th in NFL).

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints (vs. Atlanta): Ingram has found the end zone just one time over his last six outings, but owners should expect that streak to come to a close Sunday against a dreadful Falcons defense that is surrendering more fantasy points to opposing running backs this season than any other team in the league (24.2 pts/gm). Not only is Atlanta the lone NFL defense giving up over 400 yards of offense to opponents this season (409.9 yds/gm), but this unit has also permitted six rushing touchdowns over its last three starts.

Kyle OrtonOrton has a tasty matchup on deck against the Oakland Raiders.

Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens (at Houston): Smith has found the end zone in two of his last four starts and should provide a solid stat line for owners Sunday in Houston against a Texans defense that currently ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass (257.1 yds/gm) while giving up an average of 26.8 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (third-most in NFL). In addition, be advised that the Houston secondary has permitted at least two touchdown passes in nine of its last 12 outings.

Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams (vs. NY Giants): The rookie from Auburn is purely a situational start based on his matchup, as the St. Louis offense can’t be trusted to move the football with any sort of regularity on a consistent basis. That being said, Week 16 offers up a tasty matchup for Mason against a Giants defense that currently ranks 30th in the NFL against the run (135.1 yds/gm) while surrendering an average of 20.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (eighth-most in NFL). As a bonus, St. Louis has had ten days to get ready for this matchup.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (at Washington): Last Sunday’s home loss to the Cowboys has the Eagles on the outside looking in at the 2014 playoffs, which means this team needs to rally in a big way Sunday against a highly dysfunctional Washington Redskins team. With just two games remaining in the season, the Redskins are surrendering an average of 26.4 points per game on defense (28th in NFL) and 25.7 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (fifth-most in NFL). In addition, note that Maclin caught eight passes for 154 yards and a touchdown when these two squads got together back on September 21.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (at Pittsburgh): The two-year veteran has come on strong the last two weeks, catching 12 passes on 15 targets for 169 yards and a touchdown. Kelce has tremendous upside, but working within the limited confines of the Kansas City offense, it’s unclear if we’ll ever see the Cincinnati product hit his true ceiling. Either way, Week 16 presents a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh defense that is surrendering an average of 8.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (eighth-most in NFL). Note that the Chiefs have made an effort to get this guy more involved in the offense over the last two weeks and it’s starting to pay dividends.

San Diego Chargers, D/ST (at San Francisco): Banged up and struggling, the San Diego defense enters a highly favorable matchup Sunday in Santa Clara against a 49ers offense that has scored 17 or fewer points in seven of its last eight games with 13 turnovers and 36 sacks. And with Jim Harbaugh on his way out the door and the team officially eliminated from playoff contention, motivation is an element that could be lacking come Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium.

SIT ‘EM DOWN

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (at San Francisco): Wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Ryan Mathews are out, the offensive line has been playing suspect football at best and Rivers has thrown just seven touchdown passes over his last seven starts. That makes for a bad combination of factors against a 49ers defense that is permitting an average of just 17.1 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (third-fewest in NFL).

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore): Foster is battling a hip injury and faces a Baltimore defense on Sunday that may stack eight defenders in the box in an effort to dare fourth-string quarterback Case Keenum to beat them through the air. And as if that wasn’t daunting enough, take note that the Ravens currently rank third in the NFL against the run (84.3 yds/gm) while surrendering fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league (12.5 pts/gm).

Philip RiversRivers has thrown just seven touchdown passes over his last seven starts.

Michael Floyd & Larry Fitzgerald, WRs, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Seattle): This is a bad situation all the way around for the Arizona offense, as the Cardinals are now down to third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley thanks to injuries sustained by both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. In addition, this is without question the worst matchup on the board for Lindley, as the Seattle defense currently ranks first in the NFL against the pass (184.3 yds/gm) while giving up fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any other team in the business (14.0 pts/gm). Owners need to activate Plan B in a hurry.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (vs. Detroit): Arguably the most underrated running back in the league, Forte has found the end zone just once over his last three starts and will be playing on an offense this Sunday led not by starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but by the highly unpredictable Jimmy Clausen. So not only is the signal-caller switch a huge blow to Forte’s overall value, but note that Detroit currently ranks first in the NFL against the run (63.8 yds/gm) while permitting an average of just 14.3 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (fifth-fewest in NFL).

Michael Crabtree & Anquan Boldin, WRs, San Francisco 49ers (vs. San Diego): 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is in the midst of one of the worst regressions we’ve seen from a signal-caller in quite some time. The Nevada product is playing behind a terrible offensive line, has no confidence in himself and lacks the touch necessary to make some of the more complicated throws in the National Football League. As a result, the San Francisco offense has scored 17 or fewer points in seven of its last eight games and boasts a passing attack that ranks 28th in the NFL (198.7 yds/gm). No sense in starting either one of these receivers on championship weekend.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (vs. Cleveland): One of the few bright spots on the Carolina offense this season, Olsen has racked up 20 receptions on 24 targets for 182 yards and a touchdown over his last two starts. However, that stat line came against two of the worst defenses in the league in New Orleans and Tampa Bay and Week 16 offers up a much more challenging situation against a Cleveland Browns team that is permitting an average of just 5.5 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (fifth-fewest in NFL). Olsen isn’t the worst option on the board for Week 16, but his upside is severely limited.

Cincinnati Bengals, D/ST (vs. Denver): We like the Bengals to upset Denver Monday night in Cincinnati, but not enough to justify starting this defensive unit against Peyton Manning and breakout running back C.J. Anderson. Owners in need of a better option should look to Minnesota and Miami.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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NFP power rankings

It’s been a few weeks since our last installment of the NFP’s power numbers, so take note that the “previous ranking” section underneath each team refers to where that specific club was ranked back on October 30 and not last week. My apologies for the length of time in between updates.

It’s been a few weeks since our last installment of the NFP’s power numbers, so take note that the “previous ranking” section underneath each team refers to where that specific club was ranked back on October 30 and not last week. My apologies for the length of time in between updates.

Before anybody’s blood pressure shoots through the ceiling at the thought of having the 11-3 Arizona Cardinals in the ninth position, remember, these are not the NFL’s standings. With Carson Palmer done of the season and Drew Stanton battling a knee injury, Bruce Arians has turned the keys to the car over to a quarterback in Ryan Lindley who boasts a career passer rating of just 46.8. That type of downgrade/uncertainty definitely has an impact on where we view the Cardinals as a team today, which is the entire point of these rankings.

The numbers in brackets indicate each team’s Power Ranking, which is based on a scale of 60-100. These numbers can be used as a baseline to determine the point spread between any two teams on the list. Keep in mind that these numbers do not account for home field advantage, situational analysis (extra rest, back-to-back road games, divisional rivalries, etc), injuries, weather or public perception. They are merely to be used as a baseline for your initial analysis.

NFP power rankings

1. Seattle Seahawks [93.0]
Record:
10-4 (Won 17-7 vs. San Francisco)
Previous ranking: 88.0 (8)

2. New England Patriots [92.0]
Record:
11-3 (Won 41-13 vs. Miami)
Previous ranking: 90.0 (3)

3. Green Bay Packers [91.5]
Record:
10-4 (Lost 21-13 at Buffalo)
Previous ranking: 87.5 (T9)

4. Denver Broncos [91.0]
Record:
11-3 (Won 22-10 at San Diego)
Previous ranking: 92.0 (1)

5. Dallas Cowboys [89.5]
Record:
10-4 (Won 38-27 at Philadelphia)
Previous ranking: 89.5 (T4)

6. Indianapolis Colts [89.0]
Record:
10-4 (Won 17-10 vs. Houston)
Previous ranking: 88.5 (7)

T7. Detroit Lions [88.5]
Record:
10-4 (Won 16-14 vs. Minnesota)
Previous ranking: 86.5 (T12)

T7. Cincinnati Bengals [88.5]
Record:
9-4-1 (Won 30-0 at Cleveland)
Previous ranking: 87.0 (11)

T9. Philadelphia Eagles [88.0]
Record:
9-5 (Lost 38-27 vs. Dallas)
Previous ranking: 89.5 (T4)

T9. Arizona Cardinals [88.0]
Record:
11-3 (Won 12-6 at St. Louis)
Previous ranking: 90.5 (2)

T11. Baltimore Ravens [87.5]
Record:
9-5 (Won 20-12 vs. Jacksonville)
Previous ranking: 86.5 (T12)

T11. Pittsburgh Steelers [87.5]
Record:
9-5 (Won 27-20 at Atlanta)
Previous ranking: 85.0 (T16)

13. Kansas City Chiefs [87.0]
Record:
8-6 (Won 31-13 vs. Oakland)
Previous ranking: 86.0 (14)

14. San Diego Chargers [86.5]
Record:
8-6 (Lost 22-10 vs. Denver)
Previous ranking: 89.0 (6)

15. Buffalo Bills [85.5]
Record:
8-6 (Won 21-13 vs. Green Bay)
Previous ranking: 84.0 (T18)

T16. New Orleans Saints [85.0]
Record:
6-8 (Won 31-15 at Chicago)
Previous ranking: 85.0 (T16)

T16. Miami Dolphins [85.0]
Record:
7-7 (Lost 41-13 at New England)
Previous ranking: 85.5 (15)

18. San Francisco 49ers [84.5]
Record:
7-7 (Lost 17-7 at Seattle)
Previous ranking: 87.5 (T9)

19. Houston Texans [84.0]
Record:
7-7 (Lost 17-10 at Indianapolis)
Previous ranking: 84.0 (T18)

20. Minnesota Vikings [83.5]
Record:
6-8 (Lost 16-14 at Detroit)
Previous ranking: 81.5 (25)

T21. Cleveland Browns [83.0]
Record:
7-7 (Lost 30-0 vs. Cincinnati)
Previous ranking: 83.0 (T22)

T21. St. Louis Rams [83.0]
Record:
6-8 (Lost 12-6 vs. Arizona)
Previous ranking: 80.5 (27)

23. New York Giants [82.5]
Record:
5-9 (Won 24-13 vs. Washington)
Previous ranking: 83.5 (T20)

T24. Carolina Panthers [82.0]
Record:
5-8-1 (Won 19-17 vs. Tampa Bay)
Previous ranking: 83.5 (T20)

T24. Atlanta Falcons [82.0]
Record:
5-9 (Lost 27-20 vs. Pittsburgh)
Previous ranking: 81.0 (26)

25. Chicago Bears [81.5]
Record:
5-9 (Lost 31-15 vs. New Orleans)
Previous ranking: 83.0 (T22)

26. Washington Redskins [81.0]
Record:
3-11 (Lost 24-13 at NY Giants)
Previous ranking: 82.5 (24)

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [79.5]
Record:
2-12 (Lost 19-17 at Carolina)
Previous ranking: 78.5 (T30)

T29. Oakland Raiders [79.0]
Record:
2-12 (Lost 31-13 at Kansas City)
Previous ranking: 78.0 (32)

T29. New York Jets [79.0]
Record:
3-11 (Won 16-11 at Tennessee)
Previous ranking: 79.0 (29)

T29. Jacksonville Jaguars [79.0]
Record:
2-12 (Lost 20-12 at Baltimore)
Previous ranking: 78.5 (T30)

32. Tennessee Titans [78.5]
Record:
2-12 (Lost 16-11 vs. NY Jets)
Previous ranking: 80.0 (28)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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Las Vegas market report

The month of December means, among other things, the start of bowl season, which any decent analyst will tell you requires a thorough examination of which teams possess the key ingredient known as motivation. Every year we’re presented with a handful of matchups that pit teams overly excited for postseason play against schools that

The month of December means, among other things, the start of bowl season, which any decent analyst will tell you requires a thorough examination of which teams possess the key ingredient known as motivation. Every year we’re presented with a handful of matchups that pit teams overly excited for postseason play against schools that couldn’t care less about the hand they’ve been dealt.

With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the same can be said about professional football, as there are numerous teams who have packed it in for 2014 and are already looking ahead to vacations in the Caribbean. Did you watch the Saints-Bears game on Monday night? Because that serves as a perfect example of a team with motivation fighting for a playoff spot (New Orleans) taking on a club that has already thrown in the towel on the season.

2014 SNAPSHOT

Home teams: 108-110-6 (.495)
Favorites: 107-111-6 (.490)
Home favorites: 73-76-4 (.489)
Home dogs: 35-34-2 (.507)
Overs: 107-116 (.479)

Detroit Lions (10-4, 3-3 road) at Chicago Bears (5-9, 2-5 home)

When: Sunday, 1:00pm ET
Open: Detroit -4.5
Current: Detroit -6.5

Detroit in 2014: 7-7 ATS
Chicago in 2014: 5-9 ATS

Jay CutlerCutler and the Bears are already looking ahead to a postseason spent on the beach.

Analysis: This line skyrocketed from Detroit -4.5 on Sunday evening to Detroit -6.5 late Monday night thanks to another lifeless effort from manbaby Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Losers of six of their last eight outings with only three point spread covers over their last 11 games, the Bears have officially packed it in for the 2014 campaign thanks to a locker room rift started by offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer that will contribute to the pending dismissal of head coach Marc Trestman. Meanwhile, the Lions seized control of the NFC North last Sunday with a win over Minnesota coupled with a Green Bay loss at Buffalo, so the motivation is there to keep the pedal to the metal. Detroit is cooking with gas right now (7-2 SU over last nine games) and is set up beautifully in Week 16 for a showdown with a Chicago team that is just 7-18-1 ATS over its last 26 home contests. This is a classic case of a highly motivated football team squaring off against a club that is already in the process of booking its postseason vacations.

Notable trends: Detroit is 8-3 ATS over its last 11 games against NFC North opposition while Chicago is 3-13 ATS over its last 16 games against NFC North opposition.

Baltimore Ravens (9-5, 4-3 road) at Houston Texans (7-7, 3-3 home)

When: Sunday, 1:00pm ET
Open: Baltimore -3.5
Current: Baltimore -5.5

Baltimore in 2014: 7-6-1 ATS
Houston in 2014: 8-5-1 ATS

Analysis: Houston’s top three quarterback options (Ryan Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tom Savage) are unavailable for Week 16 due to injury, which leaves the Texans with either Case Keenum or Thad Lewis to take the wheel against a Baltimore defense that is surrendering an average of just 19.1 points per game this season (sixth-best in NFL). In addition, Houston’s loss at Indianapolis last Sunday gave the Colts the AFC South crown, so one has to question how much motivation the Texans will have for a showdown with a Ravens team that is currently postseason bound, but looking to improve its position via a divisional championship. One interesting angle for this matchup involves former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who currently runs the Baltimore offense, but is very familiar with Houston’s personnel. Don’t be surprised if the Ravens stack eight in the box on defense in an effort to shut down Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster while simultaneously daring either Keenum or Lewis to beat them through the air.

Notable trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS over the last five matchups between these two teams.

Indianapolis Colts (10-4, 4-2 road) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4, 3-4 home)

When: Sunday, 4:25pm ET
Open: Dallas -1
Current: Dallas -3

Indianapolis in 2014: 9-4-1 ATS
Dallas in 2014: 8-6 ATS

Andrew LuckLuck will operate with a banged-up receiving unit on Sunday.

Analysis: Wide receivers Reggie Wayne (triceps) and T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) are banged up and the Indianapolis defense is surrendering an average of 29.2 points per game on the road in 2014. Those are big concerns when you consider the fact that the Cowboys have successfully rebounded from their Thanksgiving Day loss to Philadelphia with back-to-back wins that came by scoring an average of 39.5 points per game. Dallas is clicking at the moment but doesn’t have time to stop and smell the roses because the Eagles are still nipping at their heels. However, the Colts just wrapped up the AFC South title with last Sunday’s win over Houston, so one has to question whether or not the team will get up for a Week 16 matchup with a non-conference opponent. Either way, note that Indy is 8-3-1 ATS over its last 12 games overall while Dallas is 1-4 ATS over its last five home contests.

Notable trends: Indianapolis is 0-3-1 ATS over its last four games against teams with a winning record while Dallas is 1-4 ATS over its last five games after scoring more than 30 points in the previous contest.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-5, 3-3 road) at Washington Redskins (3-11, 2-4 home)

When: Saturday, 4:30pm ET
Open: Philadelphia -8.5
Current: Philadelphia -7.5

Philadelphia in 2014: 8-6 ATS
Washington in 2014: 4-10 ATS

Analysis: Chip Kelly is a perfect 3-0 (2-1 ATS) against the Redskins with an offense that has averaged 31.3 points per game against the team from our nation’s capital. But curiously enough, this line is moving against a Philadelphia club that is currently on the outside of the playoff picture thanks to last Sunday’s home loss to Dallas. We know the Eagles have plenty of motivation to get up and play big in Week 16, but what about this dysfunctional Redskins team that has dropped six straight by an average of 14.0 points per game, is rumored to be looking for yet another head coach and is 1-8 ATS over its last nine games following a loss? Be advised that the Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Washington.

Notable trends: The road team is 11-4-1 ATS over the last 16 meetings between these two teams.

Green Bay Packers (10-4, 3-4 road) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12, 0-6 home)

When: Sunday, 1:00pm ET
Open: Green Bay -10
Current: Green Bay -10.5

Green Bay in 2014: 7-6-1 ATS
Tampa Bay in 2014: 6-8 ATS

Analysis: The first-glance analysis of this matchup would be to note that Tampa Bay is 0-6 at home this season and losing by an average of 9.3 points per game, while the Packers just let the NFC North lead slip through their fingertips thanks to an upset loss at Buffalo last Sunday. So one would think that Aaron Rodgers and company would stomp all over the Buccaneers defense with renewed vigor after laying an egg in Week 15, right? Well, it’s worth noting that Green Bay has had some trouble with this franchise in the past (3-9 ATS in last 12 vs. Tampa) and of Tampa Bay’s last nine losses, six have come by eight or fewer points. However, most of that last sentence loses its luster when you note that the Packers are 12-5 ATS over their last 17 road games while the Buccaneers are 15-35-1 over their last 51 home contests.

Notable trends: Green Bay is 3-9 ATS over its last 12 meetings with Tampa Bay.

Seattle Seahawks (10-4, 4-3 road) at Arizona Cardinals (11-3, 7-0 home)

When: Sunday, 8:30pm ET
Open: Seattle -7.5
Current: Seattle -8

Seattle in 2014: 7-6-1 ATS
Arizona in 2014: 10-4 ATS

"RussellWilson and the Seahawks are averaging just 19.8 points per game over their last five outings.

Analysis: Wait a minute, you’re telling me an 11-win team with the revenge angle is catching eight points at home in a game lined with a total of just 36 points? Well, that’s what happens when both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton are lost to injury, forcing Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to opt for a backup in Ryan Lindley who has started a grand total of just four games during his two-year career. Things are so bad at the QB position in Arizona right now that some knuckleheads are tying to make the case for 43-year-old Kurt Warner to come out of retirement. The thought process behind this line move is that a team with the league’s top-ranked defense that has won seven of its last eight matchups should have no problems handling a third-string quarterback. Just remember that Seattle is only averaging 19.8 points per game over its last five outings, which could make covering an 8-point line a tall order if Lindley finds a way to avoid turning the ball over.

Notable trends: Seattle is 2-6 ATS over its last eight trips to Arizona.

THE REST OF THE RUNDOWN

New York Giants at St. Louis Rams: From STL -5.5 to STL -5
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: From JAC -3 to JAC -3
San Diego Chargers at San Francisco 49ers: From SF -2.5 to SF -2.5
Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins: From MIA -6.5 to MIA -6.5
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: From NO -6.5 to NO -6.5
New England Patriots at New York Jets: From NE -10 to NE -10
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers: From PIT -3 to PIT -3
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers: NO LINE (Newton injury)
Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders: From BUF -5.5 to BUF -5.5
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals: From DEN -3.5 to DEN -3.5

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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