NFL Week 14 odds roundup: Chiefs favorites over Raiders among betting lines

Leave a comment

The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled to beat the spread at home and the Oakland Raiders are riding a fairly lengthy against-the-spread streak on the road. Nevertheless, the Chiefs are listed as three-point favorites on the NFL lines against the Raiders with a 46.5-point total in the Thursday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Chiefs are just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight home games at Arrowhead Stadium whereas the Raiders are 8-0 ATS in their last eight road games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Kansas City beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13, as the likes of OLB Derrick Johnson, CB Marcus Peters and FS Eric Berry showed they can contain a top offense. Oakland’s Derek Carr leads the NFL’s fifth-best offense. Chiefs QB Alex Smith is not flashy but efficient and Oakland, 30th in total defense, is prone to giving up a lot of yards.

The Dallas Cowboys are favored by three points on the road against the New York Giants in the Sunday Night Football matchup. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is up against a Giants defense which is much improved, but regressed in Week 13 by allowing Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell to rush for 118 yards. Dallas is 4-2 SU in its last six road games against the Giants, whose poor offensive line might hamper Eli Manning’s best efforts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by two points on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Snow is in the forecast. The Steelers have given QB Ben Roethlisberger excellent pass protection, and when the Bills pass rush is stopped their defense is beatable. Buffalo is getting WR Sammy Watkins back to complement star RB LeSean McCoy and the fact Buffalo is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games as a home underdog should not be overlooked.

With the AFC South lead at stake, the Indianapolis Colts are six-point favorites against the Houston Texans. Colts QB Andrew Luck has never lost at home to Houston, which likely needs to get pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, wrist) back on the field to have a chance. Texans RB Lamar Miller was absolutely shut down against Green Bay in Week 13, but could bounce back against a mediocre Colts defense.

The Seattle Seahawks are 2.5-point road favorites against the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay is 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog and QB Aaron Rodgers, along with WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jared Cook, pose a strong test for a Seahawks defense that has plugged in FS Steven Terrell for glue guy Earl Thomas (broken tibia). Russell Wilson may actually have a ground game, judging by Thomas Rawls’ 104-yard effort last week against the Carolina Panthers.

And the New England Patriots are seven-point favorites against the Baltimore Ravens in the Monday Night Football matchup. Tom Brady, without Rob Gronkowski but still complemented by the likes of Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount, is facing the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is coming off a strong performance and his team is not only 5-0 ATS in its last five Monday games, but has always competed well at Gillette Stadium.

NBC Sports’ Josh Norris attempts the combine

Leave a comment

The lengths I go to entertain you.

Since I attempt to evaluate these prospects’ athleticism, my friends at NBC Sports thought it was only fair if I went through the same circuit of drills and tests as the future NFL players.

So what did I learn? I learned that I am no longer an in shape 18-year-old. I learned how important flexibility is for every single drill. I can’t even touch my toes, which does not help with the broad jump or turning the corner on a three cone. And I’m jealous of the rest these prospects get between their attempts.

For more of Josh’s drills, check out the full lineup here

T.O. controversy underscores need for Hall of Fame transparency

Leave a comment

I started down the T.O. Hall of Fame time out rabbit hole a week ago due primarily to concerns regarding a lack of transparency in the selection process. After a week of arguments, counterarguments, and a few condescending comments from voters who resent being questioned or criticized by people who don’t know the inner working of the process, I’m back to where I started.

Those who criticize the process indeed don’t know the inner workings of the process because the process is kept completely secret. And the T.O. case proves that the time has arrived for transparency.

As Peter King of TheMMQB.com pointed out earlier this week, those who voted against Owens largely have slipped into hiding.

The fact that Owens didn’t make it from the final 15 to the final 10 suggests that the nays are more plentiful than necessary to transform him from one of the final five into a Hall of Famer. Don’t underestimate, however, the possibility that the voters collectively realized that enough of them would never get behind Owens on the final ballot (where it takes only 10 to put the kibosh on Canton) to make pushing Owens to the final 10 or the final five an exercise in futility.

It ultimately may be only 10 people who are anti-T.O. Maybe there aren’t that many; maybe the handful was loud enough and zealous enough that they managed to convince enough of their peers to think that pushing Owens through to the final five would set the stage for an ugly filibuster at best or a complete waste of time (and a spot that could have gone to someone else) at worst.

The only obvious “no” votes currently known (by me) are Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (he wrote a column about it), Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (ditto), Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts (he made his case against Owens in a radio interview), and Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report (his Twitter account makes his position clear). All of the “no” votes should be known, and those who have kept quiet while the process has been challenged generally and a small handful of their colleagues have been attacked specifically should speak up.

Even if all the “no” votes were known, we still won’t know everything that needs to be known. Those voters who have chosen to disclose their position on Owens refuse to disclose the identity of other Hall of Famers, players, and/or coaches who have privately said that Owens doesn’t belong. Setting aside the question of whether these non-voters should have so much sway over the process, the refusal to name them makes the process even harder to accept.

It’s one thing to gather facts anonymously. Gathering opinions anonymously allows for those anonymous opinions to be tainted by personal animus. Also, it makes objective assessment of the basis for the opinions impossible, allowing for all sorts of subjective factors to be twisted and warped — and for the voters to abdicate their responsibility to assess the candidate to the whispers of those who, given the benefit of secrecy, are far more likely to yield to the temptation of human factors.

The broader concern is this: When evaluating a player based on what he did on a 100-by-53-yard patch of grass or FieldTurf or green cement, it’s easy to assess the opinions of the voters and to develop opinions on the accuracy of the outcome of the votes. When things that happened from the sideline to the parking lot become relevant to the process, it becomes impossible to know what is being considered, why it’s being considered, which others have made it through despite similar concerns, and whether those standards will be applied to future candidates.

There can be no consistency without transparency, and with no transparency it’s impossible for those who view Owens as a knee-jerk Hall of Famer to understand his omission for a second straight year. The voters who oppose Owens can either sneer at those of us who think they got it wrong or they can heed the criticisms, lobby for meaningful change, and bring a different approach to the process in 2018.

If it’s the former, there will be more sneering at those of us who think they got it wrong, both as to Owens and as to others who seem to pass the Hall of Fame eyeball test but can’t get in.