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Inside the Points - Week 15
By Fritz Schlottman
December 12, 2003
 

Jacksonville (4-9) at New England (11-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 27
NE 14, JAX 13

Trends

JAX
Points for = 17, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 7/6 (Away = 3/3)

Four straight Unders.

NE
Points for = 20, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home =4/3)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Big flat spot for the Patriots here. They've beaten Indianapolis and Miami back-to-back to wrap up the AFC East and stake a claim to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots may struggle to get up for the Jaguars this week.

Opinion

New England at home is a defensive monster. The Patriots have played six home games and in four of those contests they haven't scored more than 17 points but they're beating teams by a touchdown or more. A couple of 12-0 wins tell you how strong this team is at home. New England has shut out the last two teams at home. Going back further, the Browns managed just three points and the New York Giants six points on the road against the Patriots defense. New England is number four in scoring defense and second in the AFC in yards per point.

One thing is for sure, the Patriots aren't going to run the ball on the Jaguars. New England doesn't have a great running game while no one is running the ball on the Jaguars this year. Jacksonville allows just 84 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry) per game while the Patriots defense allows just 90 (3.5 per carry). Neither defense has allowed a rush for over 30 yards this season and both squads are in the top four in rushing defense.

Jacksonville may be that team that ends the season with a great run. Last year, the handicappers jumped on the Vikings and rode them to the finish line. This year, the Jaguars seem to be the team on a roll. Even if QB Leftwich gets confused by some of the schemes thrown at him this week and throws a couple of picks, the Jaguars have enough defense to hang in his game. Jacksonville hasn't won on the road since last December, so taking them as a side this week may be a little risky.

Both teams are coming off shutout wins, Jacksonville 27-0 over Houston and New England 12-0 over Miami. Both teams may have trouble scoring this week. The Under looks awfully attractive here.

Pittsburgh (5-8) at New York Jets (5-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 40

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 47
NYJ 27, PIT 20

Trends

PIT
Points for = 19, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 7/6 (Away =2/4)

NYJ
Points for = 18, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 5/8 (Home =1/5)

        PIT     NYJ  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/9/2001 NYJ 7 PIT 18 345 134 211 220 61 159
10/8/2000 PIT 20 NYJ 3 330 193 137 206 112 94

Motivation

Both teams have had disappointing seasons. Both teams are out of the playoffs. Either team may quit, but both teams have HC's that can motivate players.

Opinion

With neither team in the playoff picture, this game hasn't gotten a lot of attention in Vegas this week. Both teams have their weaknesses-the Jets can't stop the run while the Steelers can't stop good passing teams. New York's defensive line should be able to overwhelm Pittsburgh's weak offensive line and get pressure on Maddox. NYJ DE Ellis is #5 in the league in sacks (11.5) and the Jets as a team have 31 sacks. The Steelers offensive line is 26th in sacks allowed (36) and they make up for that poor pass protection by not opening hole for their running backs. The Steelers are averaging just 90 yards rushing per game (3.3 yards per carry). Nevertheless, Pittsburgh will take advantage of the NFL's worst rush defense and pound the ball at the Jets. Vegas thinks this will be a higher scoring affair with the Jets having enough pass rush to win by a touchdown.

Dallas (8-5) at Washington (5-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
DAL 20, WAS 14

Trends

DAL
Points for = 18, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 7/6 (Away =3/3)

WAS
Points for = 19, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 7/5/1 (Home =4/2)

        DAL     WAS  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/2/2003 WAS 14 DAL 21 400 208 192 213 89 124
12/29/2002 DAL 14 WAS 20 186 38 148 352 151 201
11/28/2002 WAS 20 DAL 27 328 211 117 315 83 232
12/2/2001 DAL 20 WAS 14 337 215 122 277 81 196
10/15/2001 WAS 7 DAL 9 386 211 175 226 103 123
12/10/2000 WAS 13 DAL 32 314 242 72 270 79 191
9/18/2000 DAL 27 WAS 21 332 153 179 334 107 227

Motivation

Dallas is desperate for a win after losing two straight games. The NFC East title is not going to happen this year, and if the Cowboys don't get it turned around this week, they may end up missing the playoffs entirely. On the other side, Washington has demonstrated that they haven't packed it in buy covering four straight ATS and beating the Giants SU last week.

Opinion

Vegas has noticed that the Dallas defense is wearing down as the year goes on. The Cowboys are undersized and the weekly pounding has taken its toll. Teams can run the ball on this defense and those blitzers aren't getting to the enemy QB they way they were earlier this season.

That said, Vegas expects a maximum effort from Bill Parcell's guys this week. Expect them to come with every thing they've got left to break this losing streak.going back to the blitz on defense to put pressure on WAS QB Hasselbeck.

Miami may have set the blueprint for beating this Dallas defense. You wait for them to blitz and then pick on the Cowboys young cornerbacks. The Redskins should be able to take advantage of that blitz this week for a few big plays. On the other hand, no team gives up as many sacks as the Redskins do. This should be a game of big plays.good to watch-bad to gamble on. The handicappers are sitting this one out.

San Francisco (6-7) at Cincinnati (7-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
CIN 24, SF 17

Trends

SF
Points for = 22, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 5/8 (Away =4/2)

CIN
Points for = 21, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home =3/3)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Cincinnati comes off a three game road trip. They won two of those games and four of their last five SU. They may be a game behind the Ravens for the AFC North title, but this team doesn't look like they're going to fold the way past Bengals teams have. The 49ers go into The Jungle this week. SF is 0-6 on the road this season and probably not looking forward to another cold weather game in a hostile environment.

Opinion

This is one of the pros' favorite plays of the week. San Francisco has had all sort of problems away from home. The 49ers are 0-6 on the road this season. After three straight games away from home, the Bengals return to "The Jungle" this week still with faint hopes of a playoff berth. They have a great deal of confidence playing in front of a home crowd. The Bengals most recently beat the Chiefs on their home field. 'Hard to find a better motivational situation than that.

The Bengals were in a terrible spot last week. The third game of a three game road trip against the AFC North Division leading Ravens. Even after that loss (their first in five games), Vegas notes that this team isn't hanging their heads. Cincinnati feels very good about where they are and what they can do the rest of the way.

San Francisco has had a season-long nightmare on the road. After their initial road OT loss at St. Louis, it's been straight down hill. They got hammered at Minnesota (7-35), beaten at Seattle, beaten in Arizona, whacked in Green Bay, and crushed at Baltimore (6-44). No reason to expect them to come out with a great effort this week. The wise guys are all over Cincinnati in this spot.

Atlanta (3-10) at Indianapolis (10-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 47.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 52
IND 28, ATL 24

Trends

ATL
Points for = 18, Points against = 26
Over/Under = 6/7 (Away = 1/5)

IND
Points for = 28, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 9/4 (Home = 4/2)

        ATL     IND  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/16/2001 ATL 27 IND 41 316 66 250 512 187 325

Motivation

A big flat spot for the Colts here. For all practical purposes, they locked up the AFC South title with their victory over the Titans last week. A week prior, they were battling the Patriots. Now they get the Falcons a few days after they showed their Head Coach the door. Don't be surprised if Indy lets Atlanta hang around for three-quarters.

Opinion

Last week Vegas wondered how may points a rusty Michael Vick (on one leg) was worth to the books. Just in case you care, the answer was six points.

The big news this Wednesday was the firing of Dan Reeves. Atlanta played with a lot of emotion last week with the return of Vick and upset the favored Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. Vegas is wondering how they will play this week with a new HC. Reeves had a good relationship with the team and Vick in particular. Vegas notes that the trend has been that a team will play better the week following a coaching change.

Wade Phillips assumes Reeve's duties, but is probably coaching his last three games in Atlanta. A good assistant, but a less than desirable HC, Phillips likely won't be back with the team next year as he has little chance of being named the new Head Coach or kept on as an assistant under a new administration.

Indianapolis will probably not be aggressive with Vick. Carolina, with that great defensive line, didn't go after him until late in the game and the Colts should lay back, contain him, and make Vick a passer this week. Vegas thinks this should be a very high scoring game with Manning taking advantage of that 32nd ranked Falcons' defense and Vick having all day to pick the Colts' secondary apart.

Colts games at home are high scoring affairs. The Colts defense has given up 27 points or more in four of their last five games and their home games are averaging 51.5 points per game and the last three are averaging 63 points per game. No reason to expect this to be a low-scoring affair. The pros like the Falcons and the Over in this game.

Minnesota (8-5) at Chicago (5-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
MIN 24, CHI 13

Trends

MIN
Points for = 26, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 7/5/1 (Away = 4/1/1)

CHI
Points for = 18, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home = 4/2)

        MIN     CHI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/14/2003 CHI 13 MIN 24 400 202 198 208 80 128
10/27/2002 CHI 7 MIN 25 364 148 216 218 44 174
9/8/2002 MIN 23 CHI 27 364 136 228 368 80 288
11/25/2001 CHI 13 MIN 6 316 124 192 235 142 93
9/23/2001 MIN 10 CHI 17 319 104 215 284 47 237
10/15/2000 MIN 28 CHI 16 368 191 177 294 98 196
9/3/2000 CHI 27 MIN 30 374 186 188 425 153 272

Motivation

Minnesota got back on track with a big win over the visiting Seahawks. Chicago saw its playoff hopes extinguished with a road loss at Green Bay. With nothing left to play for, the Bears have made a change at QB in this spot. The Vikings have to be eager to get after a rookie signal-caller.

Opinion

QB Rex Grossman will get his first action of the season. The Bears organization is going to give him a little playing time, now that they're out of the playoff picture, to see what they've got. With QB Kordell Stewart throwing the ball 40 times last week, the Bears managed just one offensive touchdown. Chicago may struggle to get another one this week. The handicappers know this is the first week Grossman's practiced with the Bears' first team and so this game is the first time he'll be exposed to NFL game speed. Good luck, rook!

Great news if you're a Vikings fan, knowing that with a win over Chicago, Minnesota will go 5-1 in the division and hold all the tiebreakers over the Packers. Then again, were you really expecting the Bears to do their greatest rivals any favors?

With a rookie making his first start, you'd think Vegas would be all over the Vikings. Then again, looking at the Vikings defense and the QB he's replacing, it may not be that bad for Grossman. Teams have had success running on the Minnesota defense, so the obvious answer is to simplify the offense and hand the ball off to the A Train. Minnesota has struggled on the road, losing games SU to San Diego and Oakland, so they may not be sure things here.

Vegas looks for both teams to grind it out on the ground, Minnesota because their ground game is averaging over 130 yards per game and Chicago because they will want to limit the number of Grossman turnovers. In the end, the pros would rather not put their money on a rookie QB making his first start. Minnesota is the choice here.

Houston (5-8) at Tampa Bay (6-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = no line.

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = no line

Trends

HOU
Points for = 16, Points against = 24
Over/Under = 8/5 (Away = 5/2)

TB
Points for = 18, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 4/9 (Home =1/5)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Hard to say without knowing whom Houston will be starting at RB and QB. Tampa still has an outside shot at the playoffs with Carolina in a slump while the Texans did absolutely nothing on offense against the Jaguars last week.

Opinion

If the Texans are without their starting backfield this week, Vegas is jumping all over the Buc's here so long as the line is under two touchdowns.

Buffalo (6-7) at Tennessee (9-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 40

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 29
TEN 23, BUF 6

Trends

BUF
Points for = 16, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 1/12 (Away = 1/5)

TEN
Points for = 26, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home = 2/4)

Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
8/16/2003 TEN 37 BUF 24 146 114 32 37 20 17
9/3/2000 TEN 13 BUF 16 266 129 137 172 53 119
1/8/2000 BUF 16 TEN 22 219 123 96 194 139 55

Motivation

Just a terrible spot for the Bills. They have done nothing on offense on the road this season and now they have to travel into Adelphi and play a pissed off Titans team in one of the NFL's toughest venues.

Opinion

QB Steve McNair hurt his leg (the other one this time) again. His newest ailment is a broken bone spur that will keep him from practicing this week. Vegas expects him to play, as he finished last week's game, but McNair will probably be a game-time decision. Then again, he probably shouldn't play. The Titans have the first wildcard spot pretty well in hand and have very little to gain by putting him on the field.

Depending on Eddie George hasn't worked out. The Titans tried to put the game on his shoulders against the Jets and when Tennessee fell behind after not running the ball effectively, they had to go back to the passing game. Buffalo has a nasty defense that won't crack if Tennessee pounds away, so George may not be effective this week.

The Bills can't score on the road. Other than the 24 points they put up on a Giants team that has quit on their coach and their season, Buffalo has struggled to score even a single touchdown on the road. The Bills scored six points at Dallas, five and Kansas City, three against the Jets, and seven points in Miami in their last five road games. The only thing Buffalo has been able to do is run the ball, and that's not the way to beat Tennessee.

Bills under is on a 12 game winning run, no reason to go any other way here.

Seattle (8-5) at St. Louis (10-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 51

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 51
STL 34, SEA 17

Trends

SEA
Points for = 25, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 5/7/1 (Away = 4/2)

STL
Points for = 28, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 9/3/1 (Home = 5/1)

        SEA     STL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/21/2003 STL 23 SEA 24 316 96 220 308 82 226
12/22/2002 STL 10 SEA 30 392 100 292 271 17 254
10/20/2002 SEA 20 STL 37 290 50 240 478 218 260
9/10/2000 STL 37 SEA 34 340 101 239 476 97 379

Motivation

The Seahawks have to be dreading another road game. Like all NFC West teams, Seattle's tough at home but lay a Mothra-sized egg on the road. On the other hand, the Rams have a huge home field advantage in the friendly confines of the dome.

Opinion

The Rams didn't win pretty last Monday, but they got enough from their defense to get a victory over the Browns. St. Louis' inability to stop the run bit them again last week. Cleveland (hardly a good running team) ran for over 160 yards. This isn't the first team to get big yardage on the ground. Minnesota had nearly 190 yards on the ground, the Cardinals had 160+ and Baltimore ran all over this defense.

Seattle has all kinds of problems on the road. Last week, the handicappers were looking for a shoot-out against the Vikings. Minnesota showed up, but the Seahawks offense was nowhere to be found. Seattle is giving up 153 rushing yards on the road. Maybe that's why they can't stay in football games outside Washington.

This week, the Rams are small home favorites. In this situation (less than a touchdown), St. Louis is 16-3 since their Super Bowl year. The Rams are about as close to an automatic as there is at home, outscoring the opposition 36-17 and defeating the last five opponents 188-73 (avg. 38-15). No reason not to go with the Rams this week, the wise guys are putting their money on the home favorites here.

Detroit (4-9) at Kansas City (11-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 45.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 42
KC 28, DET14

Trends

DET
Points for = 16, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/9 (Away = 2/4)

KC
Points for = 29, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 8/5 (Home = 4/2)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

The Chiefs need a win in the worst way. They haven't play well over the past four weeks and now they've lost home field advantage in the playoffs. The Lions on the road are approaching urban legend status. A girls scout powder puff team would put fear into Detroit so long as the game was played outside Michigan.

Opinion

Fourteen is a ton of points to lay, but you have Kansas City in their first desperate situation of the year and the Lions on the road have been a disaster. With the lost to Denver, the Chiefs have surrendered home field advantage to the Patriots, and with the Colts lurking nearby, Kansas City will be motivated this week. Detroit got hammered on the road at Seattle last time up and that certainly is being taken into consideration. With a win against Detroit or a loss by Denver the Chiefs have the divisional title.

At face value, there's simply no way you lay two touchdowns in the NFL; the games week-in, week-out are just too close. Then when you consider the Chiefs' leaky defense, you'd think the handicappers would be all over Detroit this week. But thinking about it for a minute, if you're in the Chiefs organization and your confidence has been shaken the past several weeks with losses to the Bengals and Broncos, you might want a big win to settle the squad down and reassure the home fans. Blowing the Lions out of Arrowhead is well within the range of possibilities. Then again, if you're in the Chiefs' offices, do you take the approach that you don't try and get it all back in one game by swinging for the fences? Fourteen is still too much, Vegas is on the Lions or staying off this game.

Cleveland (4-9) at Denver (8-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
DEN 24, CLE 14

Trends

CLE
Points for = 16, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 6/7 (Away = 3/3)

DEN
Points for = 24, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home = 3/4)

        CLE     DEN  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/15/2000 CLE 10 DEN 44 278 38 240 499 146 353

Motivation

Denver's now in the drivers' seat after getting the big win over the visiting Chiefs last week. Cleveland spent a lot of emotional capital in Monday night's game. This is a bad spot for both teams as the Browns are sandwiched in between games, between the before mentioned Chiefs last week and the Colts next week on the Broncos' schedule.

Opinion

The Broncos bounced back nicely from their loss to the Bears Week 13 with a dominating victory over the Chiefs. The linesmaker may be putting a tax on the Broncos this week as 10 points seem a bit high. The Broncos need the win while the Browns have nothing left to play for.

Part of the thinking by the Sportbooks may be that Cleveland comes out flat after Monday night. Everyone in the city and in the Browns' organization desperately wanted a win in their first Monday night appearance in some years. A couple of key interceptions in the final minute of the first half did them in and they may not play with the same intensity this week. Now they go on the road, on a short week and have to play a more talented Denver football team.

On the other hand, the Broncos have been in this situation before and failed miserably. They were big favorites to the Lions in a sandwich game and failed to cover and Denver were double digit favorites over the Bears and lost the game straight up. What do you do if both teams come out flat? Take the Under of course.

Baltimore (8-5) at Oakland (3-10)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 40.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
BAL 27, OAK 10

Trends

BAL
Points for = 25, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 9/4 (Away = 4/2)

OAK
Points for = 17, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 4/8/1 (Home = 2/3/1)

        BAL     OAK  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
1/14/2001 BAL 16 OAK 3 282 110 172 191 24 167

Motivation

The Raiders have given up on their season and their coach after the "dumb" remark. Meanwhile, the Ravens are coming off an emotional win over the Bengals in the battle for the AFC North title. May be a flat spot for Baltimore.

Opinion

Not much debate about this game. Vegas thinks this Raiders team has quit on their coach while the Ravens know how to beat bad football teams. Baltimore's defense is really intimidating and their ability to run the ball gives them a physical edge, even if they don't bring their A game. No contest here, Vegas loves the Ravens in this spot.

Carolina (8-5) at Arizona (3-10)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 38.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
CAR 21, ARI 17

Trends

CAR
Points for = 19, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 7/5/1 (Away =3/3)

ARI
Points for = 13, Points against = 29
Over/Under = 7/6 (Home =2/4)

        CAR     ARI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/6/2002 ARI 16 CAR 13 244 58 186 312 91 221
12/30/2001 ARI 30 CAR 7 318 95 223 331 158 173

Motivation

Carolina is on a three game skid. The Cardinals were embarrassed last Sunday in San Francisco. Both teams may be motivated off their loss or one or both teams may start packing up the tent here.Vegas just isn't sure.

Opinion

Carolina looks like a team that's peaked or got lucky early in the season. The Panthers have won all six games they've played in decided by a field goal or less. They've had exactly one win all season (Atlanta at home) that was by more than six points.

Last week, this young Carolina team looked bad under playoff pressure. The Panthers offensive line that played well all season missed blocks on blitzes, failed to open holes against the NFL's worst defense, and couldn't protect Delhomme. QB Jake Delhomme, a first year starter, looked uncomfortable in the pocket. The Panthers had seven three and outs in that game. Now the Panthers have injuries. DE Mike Rucker and LB Dan Morgan are questionable and the Carolina secondary is falling apart. You don't find many touchdown road favorites, on three game losing streaks, minus two important defenders, and traveling to the opposite coast.

Is that enough to support the Cardinals? Arizona has gotten hammered on the road against good teams and bad teams. However at home, the Cardinals have beaten the Packers, taken the Rams to overtime, beaten the 49ers, and beaten the Bengals.

QB Josh McKown will get his first start of the season, so the Cardinals should be running the ball early and often. That suits Vegas just fine in this spot; each team will grind it out and keep the game close. The question is, have the Cardinals quit already or will the change at quarterback spark this team? No one knows for sure, so you can find pros on both sides of this game.

Green Bay (7-6) at San Diego (3-10)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 46

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
GB 24, SD 10

Trends

GB
Points for = 25, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 7/6 (Away = 3/3)

SD
Points for = 19, Points against = 26
Over/Under = 8/5 (Home = 4/2)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Green Bay has two easy games to get ready for the final showdown with Denver. The Packers haven't been good road teams against bad football teams this season with losses to Detroit and Arizona on the road. On the other hand, the Chargers will be starting QB Drew Brees, signaling an end to their season before this last game has been played.

Opinion

A lot of road favorites have been losing lately. Green Bay has already lost games (Arizona and Detroit) where they were big favorites. If QB Doug Flutie were starting, Vegas would be all over the Chargers in this spot. However, the Chargers have thrown in the towel and are scrimmaging for next season so their own scouts can get San Diego's draft board ready for the next head coach. Not a game Vegas likes one bit. Under may be the way to play this ugly contest.

New York Giants (4-9) at New Orleans (6-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
NO 21, NYG 20

Trends

NYG
Points for = 16, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/8/1 (Away = 3/2/1)

NO
Points for = 20, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 6/7 (Home = 3/3)

        NYG     NO  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/30/2001 NO 13 NYG 21 253 153 100 330 74 256

Motivation

Just an ugly game were individual players will follow their own motivations. Both teams have more or less ceased to exist as teams per say.

Opinion

The pros want no part of this game. The one sure bet here is that this game will be sloppy. Both HC are dead men walking. Both QBs will make mistakes-Palmer because he hasn't played with the Giants first team all season and Brooks because he always seems to commit turnovers. Just an ugly contest that no one wants to comment on.

Philadelphia (10-3) at Miami (8-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 31
PHI 17, MIA 14

Trends

PHI
Points for = 21, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 7/5/1 (Away = 2/4)

MIA
Points for = 18, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 4/9 (Home = 3/3)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

With the victory over the Cowboys last Sunday, the Eagles are in the driver's seat. Philadelphia holds home field advantage in the NFC and all the tiebreakers over Dallas in the NFC East. Miami is now on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. With the Bills and the Jets remaining, a win here and they have a great shot at running the table and making the post season. A loss and the Dolphins are going to have to get some help from Green Bay in Denver's finale and the Colts in Week 16.

Opinion

Big, big, game for Miami. They desperately need to win as Denver are big favorites at home against Cleveland this week. A Broncos' win and a Dolphins' loss would put Miami in an extremely difficult situation.

Vegas thinks Feidler will play, but may not last. The Dolphins starting QB re-injured that knee in last week's loss to New England. The pros think he's one good hit from exiting the game. Fiedler's not that mobile to start with, and on a bad wheel he's not going to avoid many hits.

Given how poorly the Eagles have played the run and Feidler's injury, the obvious game plan is to give the ball to Ricky Williams. Then again, when hasn't that been the strategy? The problems has been, it just doesn't work.

The Eagles under Andy Reid have been awesome underdogs, awesome on Monday nights, and on such a roll that it may not matter what the Dolphins do. The Eagles played their best game of the season against Dallas and a win over Miami and or a Dallas loss on Sunday and Philadelphia clinches the NFC East division. They're played great football and have all the motivation they need this week.