Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 12:00 AM
THE NFL WEEK 16 REPORT - HERE ARE SUNDAY'S SLATE OF KEY GAMES (PLUS, A LOOK AT THE HAWAII BOWL TOO)
'Twas the day (and night) before Christmas and all through the National Football League house there are uber-important games on the Week 16 menu and ...
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have plenty of NFL Week 16 Winners beginning with Saturday's twin-bill - that's Indianapolis at Baltimore (4:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network) and Minnesota at Green Bay (8:30 p.m. ET on NBC). And don't forget the slew of College Football Bowl games roll on with action every day/night this week -- so check with us here online or 1-800-323-4453 and there's still time to sign up for the Bowl Playoff / Package with Jim Hurley, and get the bowls, the NFL, and get all the daily/nightly College Basketball and NBA Winners too!
NFL WEEK 16
LOS ANGELES RAMS (10-4) at TENNESSEE (8-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
It's been a long time before "drinks" for the Rams franchise - they have not won a divisional title since the 2003 season when they called St. Louis home - but here they shoot for the NFC West crown behind second-year slinger Jared Goff (3,503 yards passing with 24 TDs) who would love to pick apart a Tennessee secondary that's sniping at one another - and at the defensive coaches too - following last week's late-game collapse in San Francisco. Hey, if Tennessee - a 6.5-point pup for this game - wins here and then next week at home against Jacksonville, they'd clinch at least a wild card spot.
Spread Stat - The LA Rams have covered their last five consecutive games in which they were the betting favorite; Tennessee is just 12-24-4 ATS as hosts dating back to the start of 2013.
ATLANTA (9-5) at NEW ORLEANS (10-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
When we last watched the Falcons and Saints square off against one another, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton was flashing the "choke" sign at Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman following a key fumble: Okay, so Payton's said he's sorry for that but will Freeman (806 yards rushing / 212 receiving yards) have the proverbial last laugh here and help engineer a season sweep for the defending NFC champs? One major key in this critical tilt in N'Orleans is can they turn over Falcs' QB Matt Ryan who aired three INTs in that hang-on-for-dear-life 20-17 win a couple of weeks ago?
Spread Stats - The Saints are a healthy 12-4 against the odds when playing fellow NFC South clubs the past two-plus seasons; On the flip side, the Falcons have failed to cover five of their seven road games this year (and note Atlanta went 7-2 ATS away a year ago).
JACKSONVILLE (10-4) at SAN FRANCISCO (4-10) - 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so chatted up the LA Rams who are having a true revival season: Now we can utter those same words about the here-and-now J'ville Jaguars.
This AFC South squad already has clinched its first playoff berth since 2007 and they zoom into this clash winners of seven of their last eight games (they've covered six of these last eight games) with a defense that leads the NFL in scoring (allow only 14.9 ppg) and sacks (51). If new-kid-on-the-block QB Jimmy Garoppolo has hopes of springing the upset here with San Francisco (hey, the 49ers are only 4.5-point underdogs here) than occasionally challenging Pro Bowl-bound CB Jalen Ramsey will be must-watch action. Right now, he's the best in the biz!
Spread Stats - Jacksonville is a rock-solid 9-5 against the Las Vegas prices this year and the Jaguars have covered 11 of their last 16 overall road games; San Francisco is 18-23-1 ATS as underdogs the past two-plus seasons.
SEATTLE (8-6) at DALLAS (8-6) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
The Dallas Cowboys welcome back RB Elliott Ezekiel from his six-game suspension - that's the story gaining all the buzz this week - but this is put-up or shut-up time for both of these teams that are gonesville from the post-season with an "L" here: Let's see if the Cowboys - who've strung together three consecutive wins after losing the first three games that Elliott missed - can keep up this magical mojo and we'll be keeping a keen eye on how Dallas' defense attacks Seattle QB Russell Wilson who has taken more body blows this year than at any time of his storied career. Seattle comes off last weekend's 42-7 drubbing at the hands of the LA Rams and, if you watched head coach Pete Carroll's presser afterwards, the Seahawks' coach was in a major state of shock - let's see if the 'Hawks respond to a tough week of practice.
Spread Stats - Seattle is just 5-8-1 vig-wise overall this year and is just 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight games; Dallas enters this bash at 4-0-1 ATS in its last five games when installed as the betting favorite.
COLLEGE BOWL UPDATE
It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the HAWAII BOWL - at Honolulu, HI
HOUSTON (7-4) vs. FRESNO STATE (9-4) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you're doing some last-minute wrapping, then check out this prime-time tilt from the 50th state.
This marks the fifth straight bowl appearance for the Houston Cougars - strangely enough rookie head coach Major Applewhite is the third different coach during this span of time (following Tony Levin and then Tom Herman) - while Fresno State's back in the bowl picture after a two-year hiatus that included back-to-back brutally bad years (see 3-9 and then 1-11 in 2016). Game plan for the 2.5-point pup Fresno State Bulldogs is double-team Houston D-lineman Ed Oliver - this year's Outland Trophy winner - and hope QB Marcus McMaryion plays mistake-free ball (see only 4 INTs this year). Meanwhile, Houston is starting its third different quarterback here as D'Eriq King (991 yards passing with 6 TDs and 1 INT) gets the nod.
Spread Stats - Houston is an incredible 15-4 ATS when playing non-league foes the past five years; Fresno State's 9-2-2 versus the vig this season and a collective 16-6-2 spreadwise since the start of last year.
NOTE: Our Jim Sez column on Christmas Day features NBA action plus lots more!