Vince Lombardi

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EDWARD EGROS
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THE CHALKBOARD

Week 15: QC's 5 Best Bets

Got to love 5-0 any week but candid introspection yields the conclusion luck played a big role in the Falcons covering (-2 TO and a crazy penalty the zeroed out a Saints field goa) and the Eagles covering (had punt blocked for TD). Late turnovers in both games turned in QC's favor. Bet heaven is a place where all the late turnovers go in your favor. Earth, however, is not like that. But one can always hope.

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1. Redskins -4 over Cardinals
Washington's slim playoff hopes were snuffed the last 2 weeks in losses to Dallas and the LA Chargers. Still, the Redskins have proven to be a resilient bunch. QB Kirk Cousins has put up 7.611 QCYPA and RB Samaje Perine has had his moments. Other than when facing the two best teams in the NFC (Philadelphia and Minnesota), the defense has limited opposing passers to no more than 6.273 QCYPA at home. The Cardinals are 6-7, but just 1-5 ATS on the road. This will be Arizona's first road game in a month and their injuries are mounting. An already leaking O-line will be without T Jared Veldheer and RB Adrian Peterson is likely gone for the year. The Redskins should put 3 men on WR Larry Fitzgerald and dare Bruce Arians and QB Blaine Gabbert to beat them with anyone else. Arizona could only muster 4 field goals at home last week against a punchless, -2 TO Titans team. It does not figure to be any better away from the desert.

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2. Rams +2 over Seahawks
Seattle received 5 generous turnovers from the Rams in LA and still only won 16-10. The Seahawks defense is not nearly what it was that day. DBs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are gone and at best superstar MLB Bobby Wagner will try to play on one leg. Wagner is a difference maker and if he is not around to throttle RB Todd Gurley, HC Sean McVay should have an easier time keeping the Rams balanced. LA is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS on the road including a win at Jacksonville where Seattle just lost. If QB Jared Goff plays within himself, the Rams should be able to contain Russell Wilson enough to take command of the NFC West.

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3. Patriots -3 over Steelers
Rolling with Bill Belichick afer a loss is about as Squary McSquare Pants as you can be. The Patriots almost always bounce right back. Tom Brady has owned the Steelers over the years. Like everyone else, Brady was flat in a suprise loss last week in Miami. But he will have TE Rob Gronkowski back in the lineup and WR Chris Hogan should be betteer after returing to action from injury agains the Dolphins. RB Dion Lewis has been reliable all year and he should have a big day against a Steelers D that is without some key players in LB Ryan Shazier and DB Joe Haden. DC Keith Butler's unit started out strong, but they have yielded at least 8.028 QCYPA in 5 of their last 6 games. Offensively, QB Ben Roethlisberger has put up big numbers the last 4 games (12 TD passes), but the Seelers have not run the ball more than 24 times in any of those games which is odd for a team with Le'Veon Bell. It is never a good idea to think another team will win a shootout in the air against Brady and Belichick. Miami ran the ball 30 times in its upset of the Patriots. If Pittsburgh loses connection early and abandons Bell, it could be another long day for the Steelers.

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4. Raiders +3 over Cowboys
It seems QC says it every week: Raiders QB Derek Carr is the most inconsistent player in the NFL. After 2 good games, he stunk it up in Kansas City (5.073 QCYPA). But he has been much better at home. Only the Ravens and Chargers stingy pass defenses have held Carr below 8.111 QCYPA in Oakland and the Raiders are 4-2 ATS in the East Bay. Dallas QB Dak Prescott had done next to nothing for the last 5 games until erupting late in the Cowboys 30-10 win over the Giants. Winning the turnover battle 6-0 the last 2 weeks has been Dallas' biggest weapon. DC Rod Marinelli was glad to have LB Sean Lee back on the field last week, but the pass rush that has been good most of year has failed to produce a sack in 3 of the last 4 games. The one thing the Raiders do consistently well is protect Carr. If that continues, look for Carr to bounce back with a quality performance against a young Dallas secondary that has not been tested much since getting torched by Phil Rivers on Thanksgiving Day.

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5. Buccaneers +6.5 over Falcons
Atlanta is battling for a playoff spot and needs a win here to set up a huge game the following week in New Orleans against the Saints. Tampa Bay is going nowhere and rumors are swirling that HC Dirk Koetter and QB Jameis Winston are iffy after the Bucs turned the ball over 5 times in a loss to Detroit last week. Still, the Falcons had a tough time closing out Tampa Bay just 3 weeks ago when Winston was still out with an injury. The Bucs found a RB in Peyton Barber the last time they played Atlanta and he has given the ground game some burst the last 2 games, both close losses. Tampa Bay has rushed the ball 28 and 35 times in its last two games and when Atlanta opponents have rushed the ball 30 or more times, the Falcons are 0-5 ATS. Defensively, Mike Smith's pass defense is bad (8.221 D-QCYPA), but his troops still take the ball away (14 TO in last 6 games). Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has had turnover problems from time-to-time, most notably at Detroit and at home against Buffalo and New Orleans. The Bucs have lost only 1 game at home by more than 5 points (to Carolina and its physical defense when Winston played hurt). If Barber continues to give the Bucs balance and Koetter can limit Winston's pass attempts to less than 30, the Bucs could win this one SU.

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 39-29-2

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