The regular season is winding down and so are the remaining opportunities to keep winning wagers in the NFL. The NFC South has three of its teams involved in crucial contests, which will be critical to who ends at the top of the division and who makes the playoffs. The New York Jets have been grounded with a pair of defeats and will attempt to take flight again and keep share of the division lead versus AFC East rival Buffalo. Arizona won first division title since Bruce Springsteen released instant classic ‘Born to Run” album and now have to deal with celebrity and how to prepare for postseason and teams on the remainder schedule like Minnesota. Finally, Pittsburgh and Baltimore renew un-pleasantries, with extra ambulances and doctors on call. Bookmaker.com provides the Week 15 numbers.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta (Falcons -3, 44.5)
It’s inconceivable the Tampa Bay defense will be steamrolled a second straight time, even facing Michael Turner. Similar to Carolina, Atlanta prefers to move the chains and try a few deep balls. The Buccaneers defense has to control third downs or it could be another tough road loss. On offense Garcia needs more help from offensive line, to start running game and play-action passing. The Bucs are 11-4-1 ATS in recent battles. Atlanta leads the league in first quarter points with 94. This shows excellent planning and execution and home keeps the crowd in the game. The Falcons defense has to do better job against the run, permitting 123.4 yards a game the last five weeks. Make Tampa Bay one dimensional, which frees up John Abraham to rush Jeff Garcia. If Roddy White catches three long passes, good chance the favorite moves to 16-5-1 ATS in this southern showdown.
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (Jets -7.5, 41)
Brett Favre has to load up on Red Bull or some energy drink, as once again his play is noticeably slipping late in the season. Opposing teams have devised ways to take away deep ball from Jets, with no burners and the secondary has more holes than Dunkin Donuts without a pass rush. When New York had five game winning streak, they scored on first possession, put the right plays together to make that happen again. Buffalo players are wondering why offensive coordinator Turk Schonert has gotten so pass happy, especially with two quarterbacks with limited ability in that persuasion. The Bills work better running the pigskin and blending the pass. Buffalo has covered seven of last 10, the defense will need to win field position battle and force two or more miscues.
Denver at Carolina (Panthers -7.5, 48)
Mike Shanahan’s team has been impossible to figure, however they might bloviate having the opportunity to attack Carolina corners with Jay Cutler tossing the ball, after seeing how open Tampa Bay receivers were down the field. By now the Broncos don’t worry whose running, with turnstile efforts this season. Carolina can be run on. Denver has actually been better against the run with 4-3 setup and safety near the line of scrimmage. If they fail to stop Panthers back, Broncos drop to 1-9 ATS in December after a pair of wins and covers. This is Carolina’s last home game and NFC South teams are 23-2, 18-6-1 ATS at home in 2008. Off the huge win last Monday, a drop in intensity would wipe out potential importance of Giants game next week. John Fox’s squad can control the line of scrimmage on both sides in this matchup and bludgeon Broncos with Steve Smith down the field.
Minnesota at Arizona (Cardinals -3, 47)
Tavaris Jackson will get the call for the Vikes who want him to play like he did last week in relief of Frerotte. If Arizona could, they would wear Detroit helmets, as Adrian Peterson has five fumbles against the Lions this season. Peterson knows he has to secure the ball better, with Cardinals swooping in to swipe the ball away. The Vikings run of the mill secondary will need Jared Allen and others to rattle Warner. The Cardinals will want to improve certain areas before playoffs (does that sound odd), while keeping wins coming. Kurt Warner has eight turnovers in last four games, not acceptable. The running game has to rise to well below average instead of 32nd. A hundred yard effort against Minny would be big confidence boost. Play like a division champion at home against a visitor that is 2-6 ATS against teams with winning home records.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (Ravens -2.5, 34)
Pittsburgh is well renowned for playing with intensity, however this stage will have Baltimore stoked. The Steelers must match the Ravens and stop them at the point of attack when running the ball. Flacco was often confused last week, with Dick LeBeau calling the defense he’ll do whatever he can to the rookie to keep in same state of mind. Baltimore has to consistently win first and second down, Keeping Joe Flacco in manageable situations and Ben Roethlisberger in third and long. Baltimore will take stupid penalties when they are too juiced up, they must maintain poise and not give away free yards to Steelers. The Ravens are 10-2 ATS in home games after three or more consecutive wins.