College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets
If you're a Texans fan, and for some reason you decided to take a nap around kickoff last Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts (and I can't imagine why you would, other than that the outcome of Texans games in Indy seems to be predetermined), and then woke up on Tuesday morning, it had to be a pretty jarring experience.
I mean, when you decided to take your 40 winks, Ryan Fitzpatrick was your starting quarterback and Tom Savage was waiting in the wings. When you woke up on Tuesday morning, Case Keenum was a Houston Texan again and you were forced to surf Thad Lewis YouTube videos to find out who in the hell he is.
This had to be how the guys in The Hangover felt when they found the tiger in the bathroom, right?
So here we are, Week 16 of the NFL season, the Texans are 7-7 and their entire quarterback depth chart has been blown away like the Soprano crew at the end of Season 6. Case Keenum
is your starting quarterback once again could be starting on Sunday -- CASE KEENUM! -- and yet mathematically the Texans would remain alive in Week 17 with a win over the Ravens.
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I can't give Bill O'Brien a final grade as a head coach in his first season with the Texans, but I can say he does seem to have a "survivor" vibe to him. Against much more talented teams, his team fights to the end of games, and in an AFC playoff race where they have one of the thinnest rosters, here they are in Week 16 with a chance.
According to people good at the math, it's like a 6 percent chance, but a chance nevertheless. That said, as we get to the best bets, on Sunday I'm taking....
Ravens -5 over TEXANS I am working under the assumption that three months on the St. Louis Rams' practice squad hasn't transformed Case Keenum into a consistently capable NFL quarterback. I will grant that Keenum, in his eight starts last season, was sporadically capable. He had those great first halves against Kansas City, Indianapolis and Arizona. He made a few plays against Oakland and New England. But I won't bet on "sporadically capable." Not against a team that gets after the passer (third in the league in sacks) and with a receiving corps that is basically banged-up DeAndre Hopkins, recently concussed Andre Johnson and a bunch of guys who wouldn't get on the field for the Titans. Sorry.
Lions -8.5 over BEARS So i get these emails every week that outline some trends for the games on Sunday, and these trends normally help me formulate my selections. And the primary metrics in the trends email say the Lions are in a total ambush spot on Sunday against the Bears:
* Lions 4-26 SU last 30 road games vs. NFC North (11-16-3 ATS) * Lions 5-17-1 ATS last 23 games as road favorites (0-3 SU & ATS L3)
And yet, all I can think of is this....
The Bears' starting QB this Sunday ... pic.twitter.com/Y0oU2xkzXq
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) December 18, 2014
I mean, if you're picking this game, do you really trust this douche nozzle to back up the immutable laws of math?
Bears' new starting QB has won MULTIPLE RINGS, yo ... pic.twitter.com/hIxGjg2CJd
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) December 18, 2014
Answer: Hell no.
Vikings +6 over DOLPHINS This time of year, if I'm going to back a team that's mathematically eliminated, I want to back a team that still feels like they're playing for something. With a rookie quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) who's been the top rookie QB this season and a first-year head coach (Mike Zimmer), the Vikings are still looking at 2014 as a building block toward 2015. Ironically, the Dolphins are the team still alive in the playoff race in this game, and they feel like they've given up on the season. I'll take the six points gladly in this game, and will probably take the Vikings to win straight up as well.
PANTHERS -3 over Browns Ten for 18 for 80 yards, and two horrific picks? Yes, Johnny Manziel has immediately been moved onto the "I need to see it happen with my human eyes before I back him in a road game" list. For the record, I still think his T-shirts at $15 are a good value, though...
— Nick Salvatore (@NSalvs) December 15, 2014
Colts/COWBOYS OVER 55 I'm not sure who's going to win this game on Sunday, but I am virtually certain there will be points scored. Lots and lots of points. The OVER is 9-1 in Indy's last ten road games, and despite going 3-1 straight up in their last four, Dallas has allowed nearly 30 points a game. If there's no DeMarco Murray (or limited Murray), it means the Cowboys will be throwing the ball, which either means lots of chunk plays down the field to Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams. I hate both teams, but I love both offenses.
Seahawks -7.5 over CARDINALS Since losing to the Chiefs in Week 11, the Seattle defense has allowed a total of 27 points in the last four games. Now they go up against a third-string quarterback, just a few weeks after holding Arizona's second string quarterback to three points. Basically, if Seattle scores 17 points, they're covering in this game. I think they'll score seventeen points.
Last week: 3-2-1 Season total: 47-48-1
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