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Game to bet now
Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7)
It took the Bucs a while to figure things out this season, but Tampa Bay is on its best roll in years, and with five straight victories is making life very uncomfortable for Atlanta in the NFC South. Both are 8-5, the teams have split their two games and the final three weeks of the season will be spent examining tie-breaking procedures.
Tampa Bay’s road won’t be easy – after Sunday they play at New Orleans and then home vs. Carolina. But the Bucs earned valuable street cred with their Weeks 11-12 wins over Kansas City and Seattle, and now are legit players in the NFC playoff mix. Bettors are responding, too, feasting on the original line of 7.5 and betting it down a half-point early in the week.
Game to wait on
Cleveland at Buffalo (-10)
The players love him and the media loves him, but in the NFL you can lose only so much, so it looks like Rex Ryan’s coaching career is about to fade to black. A SU loss to the Browns would probably be his final game as a head coach and he pretty much needs to run the table (and somewhat convincingly) to salvage a 9-7 season and perhaps another season on the sidelines. But things don’t look good for either Ryan or QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is due a huge guaranteed contract if he stays with the Bills into mid-March, so it’s very possible they cut ties with both the HC and the QB.
As for the Browns and their trip to nowhere, bettors don’t even like them against a struggling Bills team, so the line has already bumped up a half-point from its 9.5 opening, and could go further.
Total to watch
Detroit at New York Giants (41.5)
Just when the Lions start to figure things out, they now have to deal with an injured quarterback. Matthew Stafford has emerged as one of the best QBs in the league and has led the 9-4 Lions to the top of the NFC North and a probable playoff spot. If things break right, they could get a first-round bye. But the injury (the Lions aren’t saying what it is) is raising concerns. He’ll play Sunday, but you can be sure that the Giants (9-4; they also need a victory to keep the heat on Dallas) will attempt to make the pocket very uncomfortble.
Will Detroit try to relieve the pressure by running the ball, killing clock? One other note – both the Giants (3-10-0) and Lions (4-9) are among the best under teams in the league.
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