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NFL-Week 15- Sunday football- Betting preview

GAMES TO WATCH

Cowboys at Colts (-3, 47 ½) – 1:00 PM EST

Dallas (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS) captured control of the NFC East not only by sweeping a three-game homestand, but also threw the knockout punch on defending champion Philadelphia last Sunday. Following wins over the Redskins and Saints, the Cowboys went back and forth with the rival Eagles until Dallas finished off Philadelphia in overtime, 29-23 to cash as 3 ½-point favorites. Amari Cooper hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Dak Prescott in overtime to cap off a 10-catch, 217-yard performance along with three touchdowns catches.

The Colts (7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) rebounded from an ugly performance in a 6-0 setback at Jacksonville in Week 13 to top Houston last Sunday, 24-21 as four-point underdogs. Indianapolis opened things up by scoring 17 second quarter points, while Andrew Luck diced up the Houston defense for 399 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts have won six of the last seven games since a 1-5 start, while finished UNDER the total in four consecutive contests.

Dallas has won and covered five straight games, while winning two in a row on the road since starting 0-4 away from AT&T Stadium. The Colts started the season at 3-0-1 ATS when laying points, but have failed to cash in their last two opportunities when laying points. Dallas crushed Indianapolis in its last matchup in 2014 in Arlington, 42-7, as the Colts last beat the Cowboys in 2002.

Best Bet: Colts 27, Cowboys 21

Dolphins at Vikings (-7 ½, 44 ½) – 1:00 PM EST

Last season, the Vikings (6-6-1 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) pulled off the Minneapolis Miracle by stunning the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs with a last-second touchdown. Last Sunday, the Dolphins (7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS) put together the Miami Miracle by perfectly executing a pair of laterals in the final seconds, capped off by a Kenyan Drake touchdown to lift the ‘Fins past the mighty Patriots, 34-33 as 9 ½-point underdogs.

The Dolphins improved to 6-1 at Hard Rock Stadium, while remaining alive in the AFC Wild Card race. The only problem is Miami needs to fix its road woes, as the Dolphins have lost five of six games away from south Florida, while last winning on the highway in Week 2 against the Jets. Since Ryan Tannehill returned under center for Miami, the Dolphins are 3-0 ATS the last three games, while going 6-2 ATS with their starting quarterback in the lineup this season.

Minnesota stunk it up at Seattle last Monday in a 21-7 setback as the lone touchdown for the Vikings came late in the fourth quarter. The Vikings are 4-2 at U.S. Bank Stadium, where they have played at only once in the past month in a 24-17 victory over the Packers. Since winning three straight games in October, the Vikings’ offense has been limited to 20 points or less in four of the past six contests.

Best Bet: Vikings 23, Dolphins 19

Patriots (-2 ½, 54) at Steelers – 4:25 PM EST

It’s not normal to see December road meltdowns by New England and Pittsburgh, but they both occurred on the same Sunday. The Patriots (9-4 SU, 8-5 ATS) couldn’t break away from the Dolphins, but led 33-28 in the final seconds. The Dolphins stunned New England with the Miami Miracle on a 69-yard touchdown to hand the Patriots their fourth road loss of the season. New England allowed at least 31 points on the road for the fourth time in 2018, while losing at Miami for the fifth time in six seasons.

The Steelers (7-5-1 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) were in firm control of the AFC North three weeks ago, but are now in danger of missing the playoffs with a poor finish. Pittsburgh has lost the last three games by seven points or less, including last Sunday’s 24-21 setback at Oakland as hefty 10 ½-point road favorites. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury, while the Raiders scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute for only their third win of the season. Pittsburgh fell to 3-6-1 ATS in the favorite role, but the Steelers are 3-0 ATS as an underdog.

These two rivals are meeting for the first time since the infamous catch/no-catch from Steelers’ tight end Jesse James in New England’s 27-24 comeback victory at Heinz Field last December. That rally by the Patriots propelled New England to a home-field advantage in the AFC, while the Steelers eventually got bounced back Jacksonville in the divisional round. The Patriots have owned the Steelers through the years by capturing each of the past five matchups, while winning in three straight visits to Heinz Field.

Best Bet: Patriots 31, Steelers 24

BEST TOTAL PLAY

OVER 44 – Cardinals at Falcons

This is the lowest total the Falcons have seen at home since Week 2 against the Panthers, when Atlanta beat Carolina, 31-24 on a 44 total. Arizona’s offense has not been productive all season long, while scoring 33 points the past three weeks. Atlanta’s defense has been banged-up all season long, while Arizona has hit the OVER in three of five opportunities on the road with totals of 45 or less.

TRAP OF THE WEEK

The Seahawks have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL the last two months by winning six of their last eight games. Seattle seeks its fifth consecutive victory as the Seahawks face the 49ers for the second time in three weeks. The Seahawks pounded the Niners at CenturyLink Field in Week 13 as 10-point favorites, 43-16. San Francisco ended a three-game skid in a 20-14 triumph over Denver last Sunday as three-point underdogs to pick up its second consecutive home ‘dog cover. Seattle is listed as a road favorite for the first time since Week 4 at Arizona in a non-cover in a 20-17 win as 3 ½-point chalk.

BIGGEST LINE MOVE

The Rams opened as 7 ½-point home favorites against the Eagles at the Westgate Superbook last Sunday. Following the announcement of Carson Wentz’s back injury, Los Angeles has moved up to a 12-point favorite at many sports books. The Eagles are 0-2 SU/ATS in the underdog role, as Nick Foles will look to work his magic from last season’s championship run the rest of the season.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW

The Lions have played their last four games indoors, as Detroit will head to not-so-warm weather in Buffalo on Sunday. Game-time temperature is set for 37 degrees and luckily no snow, but Detroit has won only once this season outdoors and that came at Miami in Week 7. Meanwhile, Buffalo is coming off a pair of four-point losses to the Dolphins and Jets, while seeking a second win against an NFC foe.

NBA-Weekend-LeBron and Lonzo both make triple-double to help Lakers win with ease

LeBron James and Lonzo Ball gave the Lakers multiple triple-doubles in a game for just the second time, and Los Angeles routed the Charlotte Hornets 128-100 on Saturday night for its third win in four games.

James had 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Ball had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only other Lakers to accomplish that feat in the same game, doing so on Jan. 22, 1982.

James continued his dominance over Charlotte, improving to 27-1 in his last 28 games.

He was unstoppable throughout on penetration, helping the Lakers outscore the Hornets 40-17 in the third quarter and build a 30-point lead with his second triple-double of the season and 75th of his career. He did not play in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

PISTONS 113, CELTICS 104

DETROIT (AP) – Blake Griffin scored 27 points and Andre Drummond added 19 points and 20 rebounds to help Detroit beat Boston, snapping the Celtics’ eight-game winning streak.

Detroit also ended its own six-game skid with a solid 48-minute effort. The Pistons took control with a 13-0 run in the third quarter and played well at the start of the fourth as well.

Kyrie Irving led Boston with 26 points.

Both teams shot over 60 percent from the field in the first quarter, and the game was still tight at halftime, with Detroit up 57-56. Drummond punctuated his team’s 13-point run in the third with a dunk that put the Pistons ahead 76-66.

ROCKETS 105, GRIZZLIES 97

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – James Harden had 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his second consecutive triple-double, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter burst to beat Memphis.

Harden, who had 50 points in a triple-double in the Rockets’ victory over the Lakers on Thursday, was 9 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 7 from outside the arc as Houston won its third straight.

Clint Capela finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Gerald Green scored 17 points.

Mike Conley led Memphis with 22 points and six assists, while Marc Gasol added 17 points and nine rebounds. JaMychal Green had 13 points.

THUNDER 110, CLIPPERS 104

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Paul George scored 33 points to help Oklahoma City beat Los Angeles.

It was the fourth time in seven games George scored at least 30 points.

Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and six steals for Oklahoma City. Jerami Grant scored 18 points and Steven Adams added 16 for the Thunder, who bounced back from a 109-98 loss at Denver on Friday night.

Danilo Gallinari matched a season high with 28 points, Tobias Harris scored 22 and Montrezl Harrell added 21 for the Clippers.

BULLS 98, SPURS 93

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Kris Dunn scored 24 points, Lauri Markkanen added 23 and Chicago rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half to stun San Antonio.

The rally snapped Chicago’s three-game skid and ended San Antonio’s four-game winning streak.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which dominated the first half. DeMar DeRozan added 21 points.

MAGIC 96, JAZZ 89

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Evan Fournier scored 24 points, Terrence Ross came off the bench to add 10 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, and Orlando rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat Utah and sweep its two-game homestand in Mexico City.

Ross shot 8 of 9 from the field and Nikola Vucevic added 15 points and a season-high 19 rebounds for the Magic (13-15), who beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 on Thursday.

Orlando won despite 22 turnovers, 15 in the first half, and is in second place in the Southeast Division behind the Charlotte Hornets.

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points and Derrick Favors added 21 for the struggling Jazz (14-15), who lost for the third time in their last four games.

SUNS 107, TIMBERWOLVES 99

PHOENIX (AP) – Devin Booker returned from a six-game absence to score 28 points and Phoenix beat the Minnesota, giving the Suns a two-game winning streak for the first time in almost a year.

Deandre Ayton had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, including 10 points and five boards in the fourth quarter, when Phoenix pulled away. T.J. Warren added 21 points for Phoenix.

The Suns, coming off a victory over Dallas on Thursday, last won two in a row on Dec. 26-29, 2017.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 28 for the Timberwolves but only seven in the second half. Derrick Rose added 25 for Minnesota, which finished 0-4 on a western road trip and is 2-12 on the road this season.

NFL-Week 15-Thursday night football- Chargers at Chiefs at week 15 opening

The Chiefs have been ahead of the Chargers since winning their Week 1 showdown, but must take them down again to open Week 15 in order to avoid being tied atop the AFC West.

With just three regular-season games remaining, this Thursday night clash represents the best matchup we’ll see all week. That’s truly saying something since there’s also action on Saturday in addition to a fully Sunday and a quality Monday night game between the Panthers and Saints.

Nothing will top L.A. at Kansas City in terms of importance, so hopefully the on-field product will rise up and match the magnitude of this game’s implications.

The difference between being able to coast through its final weeks of the season and ensure itself homefield advantage as long as Kansas City is alive into the conference championship game rides on being able to extend dominant streaks over the Chargers and at Arrowhead this season. The Chiefs have won nine straight against L.A. and are a perfect 6-0 on their home turf, winning four of the games by double-digits.

Baltimore was able to push the Chiefs for four quarters on Sunday, leading into the final minute of action and requiring Patrick Mahomes to convert on a pair of fourth downs. With 1:29 left, Kansas City’s quarterback rolled to his right and bought himself just enough time to throw across his body and connect with Tyreek Hill for 48 yards on a 4th-and-9 conversion that may go down as one of the most impactful plays this NFL season if the Chiefs are able to hold serve on Thursday night. Kansas City was able to tie the Ravens and ended up with a 27-24 overtime win.

They enter this showdown with L.A. with their third-string running back set to get a heavy workload after registering the game-tying score on a five-yard pass from Mahomes with 53 seconds left. Kareem Hunt was cut following video of his confrontation with a woman being released by TMZ on Nov. 30 and his backup, Spencer Ware, is doubtful due to a shoulder injury. That leaves Damien Williams as tonight’s likely starter with rookie Darrel Williams and veteran Charcandrick West also available for carries.

The Chargers also have a complicated situation at running back entering this one since Melvin Gordon is doing his best to return early from a knee injury that has kept him out of the lineup. My expectation is that he won’t look like his usual self if he does make it back out on to the field, but the magnitude of this game is so great that it’s understandable he wants to make every effort to get back out there since competent backup Austin Ekeler has already been ruled out after suffering a stinger. Rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome would be called upon if Gordon can’t go. Read up on this matchup’s other injury-related concerns below.

Given all the attrition at running back, everyone should expect that the arms of Mahomes and veteran Philip Rivers will ultimately decide matters, but there’s a possibility that we’ll see rain in the second half of this one. It’s also expected to be a windy night with gusts rising into the high teens, which makes Mahomes’ stronger arm a weapon. Snow that was originally expected to be part of the festivities is now unlikely to materialize, but temperatures should be in the high-30s.

Mahomes beat the Chargers in the season opener by throwing four touchdown passes, two of which went to Tyreek Hill, who also opened the scoring with a 91-yard punt return less than two minutes in. Rivers threw for three scores in a game where the Chargers came up well short despite 541 yards of offense, turning it over twice. In many ways, from losing the battle of time of possession by nearly 10 full minutes to getting lit up in yardage despite winning handily, the Chiefs showed us very early how they were going to do things this season. It would therefore not be surprising to see more chunk plays and home run balls from Kansas City in this rematch.

Only Week 5’s contest against the Jaguars saw the Chiefs favored by fewer points at home than oddsmakers have saddled them with for this one, which is in part a nod to L.A.’s excellence in opposing stadiums. Because they’re awaiting Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park that they’ll be sharing with the Rams to open the 2020 season to finish being built, the Chargers have been playing “home” games in Carson’s soccer stadium, the StubHub Center. The L.A. Galaxy consider that a great place to play. The Chargers, understandably, do not.

The joke can be made that the Chargers will be playing their 14th road game of the season here since support for them is so scarce in Carson that their own fans are often drowned out by those from the visiting team. Players have commented that not having a true homefield edge has toughened up and contributed to their success in true road games since they’ve only lost once, falling to the Rams 35-23 back on Sept. 23.

Indeed, the Bolts are perfect outside of L.A. See, it’s funny.

The Chargers’ most recent road conquest came in a 33-30 upset of the Steelers to open December, moving them to 3-1 SU and ATS as a road underdog. They struggled some in a 26-21 win over Cincinnati as a 16-point favorite but were clearly playing not to lose as opposed to putting their foot on the gas. That shouldn’t factor in here given that there’s a division on the line.

Ironically, winning would put the Chargers in line for homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, which would at least mean they could sleep in their own beds and come out of the same locker room for a few rounds of the playoffs, so defeating the Chiefs would have value despite the team’s lack of a true edge at home. To win, they’ll need Rivers to play his best in a big game, which has certainly been an issue in the past. He’ll be facing a Kansas City defense that ranks last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (281.8) and 27th in points allowed (27.0), so it’s important that he takes advantage as long as Mother Nature allows him to. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams will try and wreak havoc against a secondary that gets back a familiar face at the perfect time.

NBA-Thursday night- Lakers to test their power against Rockets in game of the night

“While Houston faces an uphill climb after falling to the back of the pack in the loaded Western Conference, L.A. takes its act on the road for a four-game set that will open against James Harden, Chris Paul and their gang of underachievers. The Lakers have managed to overcome losing talented young wing Brandon Ingram and haven’t had Rajon Rondo back in the mix for weeks, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning six of seven since Nov. 29,” said Mejia.

“James has flawlessly played closer while ensuring that young co-stars Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball stay in rhythm throughout. Making sure both get going on the road will be his primary objective early on, but what we’re about to see what killer instinct LeBron has brought to Lakers, especially since a win over the slumping Rockets would increase the gap between the teams to six games if they’re able to get their road swing off to a strong start. Stops in Charlotte, Washington and Brooklyn will follow after that, so L.A. can go on a run that may see it in first place ahead of the Warriors when the teams meet for the first time on Christmas Day. The Lakers are just 6-6 on the road and have won only once away from Staples Center since Nov. 23, so the first quarter of this contest should be telling.”

Houston just snapped a three-game losing skid on Tuesday with a 111-104 win over Portland as a 6 ½-point home favorite but a 6-5 SU and 5-6 ATS record at the Toyota Center is still shaky, especially for a team that went 34-7 at home in last year’s regular season.

This year’s squad has plenty of new pieces and Mejia noted how the team is still trying to find the chemistry that helped them dominate their way to the No. 1 seed in the West last year.

He added, “Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni made a switch to his lineup, placing top sixth man Eric Gordon in his first five to ensure another shooter is out there taking advantage when Harden or Paul is double-teamed. That tweak didn’t yield early results since the Rockets trailed the Blazers 19-10 when Paul was replaced by James Ennis midway through the opening quarter in Tuesday’s eventual 111-104 Rockets win, but we should see him stay in the lineup anyway since Ennis is out at least a week after straining his hamstring. Gerald Green and rookie Danuel House are expected to get more minutes off the bench as a result.”

In the first meeting between the pair on Oct. 20 from the Staples Center, the Rockets captured a 124-115 road win over the Lakers as 3 ½-point favorites. The game was marred with a late scuffle between Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram. No drama should be expected tonight, on the court at least, since Rondo and Ingram are both nursing injuries. Including that victory, Houston has won eight of the last 10 against the Lakers while going 6-4 ATS. Total bettors should note that the ‘over’ is on an 8-2 run in this series.

Along with the big matchup tonight from Houston, we have three other games on Thursday and below is my quick handicap.

L.A. Clippers (17-10 SU, 11-15-1 ATS) at San Antonio (14-14 SU, 14-13-1 ATS)

These teams met just under a month ago in Los Angeles and the Clippers captured a 116-111 win but the Spurs managed to cash as six-point road underdogs. Since that loss, San Antonio has gone 7-7 while Los Angeles has posted an 8-5 record but it limps into this game with losses in three of its last four.

San Antonio opened as a short favorite (-2) for the rematch and I thought the number should be a little bit higher knowing the Spurs have been much stronger at home (10-4 SU, 9-5 ATS). Plus, the Clippers are starting to show some flaws and they just lost the best bench player in the NBA in Lou Williams (hamstring) for at least a couple weeks. The Spurs have also shown more fight defensively at home (106.6 PPG) compared to their awful road numbers (118.1 PPG) and the Clippers (115.3 PPG) have shown less fight on the road as well.

Last season, the Spurs won and covered both games at the AT&T Center against the Clippers with the margins coming by 18 and 13 points. Since getting run by Houston (136-105) on Nov. 30, San Antonio has won and covered all four of its home games in December and every win was by double digits.

Chicago (6-22 SU, 13-15 ATS) vs. Orlando (12-15 SU, 15-12 ATS) – (Mexico City, Mexico)

The NBA Global Games will head to Mexico for this matchup and remain in the country for another game on Saturday when the Magic host the Jazz. Orlando opened as a four-point favorite and the early action moved the number up to 4 ½ at most books. It’s a tough game to bet due to the venue and even though the Magic are the more talented and deeper team, they’re not in great form (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) recently.

However, Chicago is a mess and they’re coming off back-to-back blowout losses at home by 56 and 19 points. They actually played well for the first 24 minutes in Monday’s loss to Sacramento (108-99) but they couldn’t buy a bucket in the second-half as they were outscored 63-33. The Bulls are ranked last in scoring offense (101.8 PPG) and maybe a change of scenery will change things up. It’s been reported that the Bulls are the second most popular team in Mexico behind the Lakers, largely due to many of the fans falling in love with the team during the Michael Jordan championship era.

This will be the first meeting between the pair this season but the recent encounters have leaned heavily to Orlando, who is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in the last eight games against the Bulls.The total on this game opened 207 ½ and jumped to 209 ½ quickly. The high altitude could play a factor and looking back at the past six games played in Mexico, we’ve seen an average combined scored of 207.3 PPG.

Dallas (15-11 SU, 17-9 ATS) at Phoenix (4-24 SU, 9-19 ATS)

Even though the Mavericks have been the best team for bettors this season, most of their damage has come at home (13-2 SU, 12-3 ATS) although they got squeezed late on Wednesday in a 114-107 win over Atlanta as a 10-point favorite. On the road, the Mavericks have been awful (2-9 SU, 5-6 ATS) and a lot of the covers have come in the role of an underdog. As a road favorite, Dallas is 1-2 and one of the losses came on opening night at Phoenix (121-100).

A lot has changed for the Suns since then and they’re still not expected to have Devin Booker (hamstring) available. Phoenix (+9 ½) did show some fight on Monday in a 123-119 overtime loss at home to the Clippers but that setback dropped them to 3-11 SU and 6-8 ATS at Talking Stick Resort Arena this season. Including the loss to L.A. and Tuesday’s 111-86 defeat to the Spurs on no rest, the Suns have dropped 10 straight games (1-9 ATS) headed into this matchup and the only cover during this skid came in the aforementioned contest to the Clippers.

If you’re looking for another angle to pass the game altogether or fade Dallas, you can point to its 0-3 record (1-2 ATS) when playing on no rest this season. Make a note that the Mavs defense has allowed 120.6 PPG in those games, which has led to a perfect 3-0 ‘over’ mark.

NFL-Week 14- Sunday football-Betting preview

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5/49.5), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: If Lamar Jackson is still unbeaten as a starting QB in the NFL when this one is over, Joe Flacco better get used to wearing a baseball cap on the sidelines. The 11-year starter has been out the past few weeks after injuring his hip in a Nov. 4 loss to Pittsburgh but has practiced enough that he’d ordinarily be starting this game if it weren’t for the rookie sporting the 3-0 record as the fill-in. The Ravens are averaging 4.4 points more with Jackson under center than with Flacco, racking up 28.5 more yards per game. The 21-year-old has completed 39 of 65 passes while running for 88 yards per game b ut has done his damage against three teams with sub-.500 records.

To pull off an upset over the Chiefs, Jackson will need to extend drives with his legs and complete enough passes to keep pace with the league’s highest-scoring offense (37.0 ppg). Safety Eric Berry won’t return for the Chiefs but is getting closer. The Ravens defense is likely to be without starting safety Tony Jefferson, which would be a significant loss if he can’t make it back from an ankle injury. Standout corner Marlon Humphrey should play, but Patrick Mahomes is likely to have a number of matchups to exploit due to the pressure Travis Kelce will put on the defense. Temperatures will warm up to just above freezing and hang around the mid-30’s.

Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5/49.5), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Texans won’t be able to clinch the AFC South since the Titans won on Thursday, but they can move to the brink of capturing a third division title in four years by winning their 10th straight game. Houston has won its last three home games by at least 16 points and square off against the team they saved their season against back in Week 4. After starting 0-3, the Texans finally managed to get on the board this season after surviving blowing a 28-10 lead in a game where Andrew Luck threw four TD passes.

The Colts are now the team in must-win mode, looking to bounce back from being blanked by Jacksonville last Sunday to drag them down into a pack of AFC teams on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned. Center Ryan Kelly is out with a knee injury and has been a major asset when out there, so the fact Indy’s offensive front got soundly beat down by the Jags last week is disconcerting. WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) and TE Eric Ebron (back) will be in the mix if Luck is given time to find him. The resurgent quarterback had thrown for at least three touchdowns in eight straight games before being held to under five yards per completion in Jacksonville. Luck completed 40 passes for 464 yards in the first meeting, both season-highs. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney each sacked him twice.

Carolina (-1/47.5) at Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Cam Newton participated full and deemed himself ready to play. His shoulder issue is obviously a concern. The four interceptions he threw against the Bucs last week may be one indication it’s really bothering him, but his miscues were also made due to questionable decision-making. After not throwing for a few days this week, we’ll know early how healthy he looks. With Myles Garrett on the hunt and Gregg Williams’ set to attack despite the absence of prized rookie safety Denzel Ward, this is set to be one heck of a chess match. Newton will have to make due without one of his top targets with TE Greg Olson done after breaking his foot again.

The Browns will have center J.C. Tretter snapping to Baker Mayfield and calling out signals, so there’s a good chance they can rebound after being held to just 13 points by Houston last week, snapping a run of three straight games topping 20 following the firing of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Nick Chubb got just nine carries last week after gaining 345 yards on 70 carries during the surge, so the expectation is that Freddie Kitchens will go out of his way to get him going early. That might set up some nice play-action opportunities. Wind isn’t expected on the southern shore of Lake Erie, but Sunday’s high temperature “may” climb above the freezing point. Still, compared to what it can feel like this time of year, Newton might arrive in beachwear.

Atlanta at Green Bay (-4/50), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: The first game of the post-Mike McCarthy era finds the Packers hosting one of the few teams in the conversation with them for most disappointing. While Aaron Rodgers has played most of the season limited by a knee injury, he’s still got a 21-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. Matt Ryan has thrown for 25 scores and only been picked up five times but hasn’t won since Nov. 4, dropping four straight. One of these quarterbacks will only have four wins after Week 14.

Truth be told, Rodgers is probably far more concerned that he’s not going to have tackle Bryan Buluaga more than he’s bemoaning the fact McCarthy won’t be out there calling plays. Interim head coach Joe Philbin will get those honors, although Rodgers will obviously run what he thinks will work best against a defense that will have LB Deion Jones back for his second game since Week 1. After being forced to deal with Baltimore’s Jackson last week, this more conventional matchup should help him get his feet under him. The defense may have to do the heavy lifting since the Falcons haven’t reached the 20-point mark since Nov. 4. Snow isn’t expected but the frozen tundra will be enveloped by temperatures that aren’t likely to reach 30 degrees. Wind gusts won’t be substantial but are expected to be in the 10-15 mile per hour range.

New Orleans (-9.5/54.5) at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: The Saints will look to avoid getting swept by a Bucs team that up until November’s final Thursday, handed them their only loss. Drew Brees has been intercepted in consecutive games for the first time this season and was stuck running for his life often by the Cowboys, so not having left tackle Terron Armstead again due to a pectoral injury could prove troublesome since the Bucs were able to get after Newton in last week’s upset and have a healthier front seven than they’ve had in weeks. Michael Thomas (ankle) will be around to serve as his top target and will be working against a banged-up secondary that can at least count on veteran corner Brett Grimes being out there despite a knee issue.

Jameis Winston watched from the sideline as Ryan Fitzpatrick racked up four touchdown passes in the season opener, throwing two deep balls to Desean Jackson, who will miss this contest with a thumb injury. O.J. Howard caught two balls for 54 yards but is out with an ankle injury, so the Saints defense will get a decidedly different look from Winston, who engineered a fourth-quarter comeback in Week 17 of the ’17 season in his last outing against New Orleans. He was intercepted three times. Tampa Bay hasn’t swept a season series from the Saints since 2007. Although the high is expected to be 75 degrees, inclement weather is also a possibility since a threat of thunderstorms exists and wind gusts as high as 14 miles per hour could factor in.

New England (-9/48.5) at Miami, 1 p.m. ET, CBS: The Dolphins won five of six from the Patriots in Miami from ’07-’12 but have only won once in the past five years, making the “Pats struggle in South Florida” narrative a little stale. Most of the games have indeed been close, which is what bettors taking points and fading Tom Brady in December will be clinging to. The future Hall of Famer is 86-37 in all road games this month but is just 1-5 in South Florida and has a losing record there over his career (7-9). He’ll have his full complement of weapons in place against a Dolphins defense that will be missing corner Xavien Howard (knee). There are still excellent playmakers to be wary of in LB Kiko Alonso and safety Reshad Jones, but Miami ranks in the league’s top four in fewest sacks with just 20, so Brady should have time to dissect.

The Patriots have only 19 sacks – tied with the Giants for second-fewest behind Oakland’s 10, so there’s a good chance that Ryan Tannehill can also have success since he’s thrown five touchdowns since returning two weeks ago, pushing the Colts to the brink in Indy and holding off Buffalo at home last week. He’ll have Brady favorite Danny Amendola to throw to and is expected to deal with a secondary at full strength since Stephon Gilmore (ankle) made the trip and is expected to play. Wind gusts could reach 20 miles per hour but temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s, the warmest of the day around the NFL.

N.Y. Giants (-3/40) at Washington, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Mark Sanchez won’t face the Jets this season, so this is the closest New Yorkers will get to reconnecting with the former Jets’ starter charged with trying to extend Washington’s star-crossed season. The first two guys who have played the position for the ‘Skins this season have suffered broken legs, leaving Sanchez in the unlikely position of taking over a .500 team in December despite sitting out most of the season. He failed to lead the offense to a single point in Philadelphia’s Monday night win after replacing an injured Colt McCoy, throwing for just 100 yards and an interception. Jamison Crowder returns to give him another quality target to work with and the absence of standout safety Landon Collins makes it easier to imagine him having some success against New York given the zip he put on his throws.

Leading Washington to a win could be as simple as avoiding mistakes and putting his defense in bad positions since they’re likely to do the heavy lifting against an offense that will be missing Odell Beckham, Jr. due to a quad injury. His absence could mean that Eli Manning won’t try force-feeding him the ball, giving the offense a better flow with Saquon Barkley as the bell cow. The rookie No. 2 pick has picked up at least 100 yards of total offense in all but one game this season.It’s expected to be a great day weather-wise in Landover, light on wind despite temperatures in the high-30s.

Denver (-3/45.5) at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS: The Broncos pulled off their third consecutive win last week, winning convincingly in Cincinnati to cover a spread for the sixth time in seven games. They’ve been a road favorite three times this season, losing at the Jets while blowing out the Cardinals and beating the Bengals last week. Since the 49ers have been crushed by a combined score of 70-25 over the past two weeks and have only covered once in their last six outings, seeing how small this spread is has sounded off “trap game” alarm bells.

Rookie Phillip Lindsay hasn’t been as productive as Barkley but has been exceptional in his own right, racking up five touchdown runs over the past three weeks while coming off his best performance of his young career, gaining 157 yards on 19 carries. He gained 65 of those yards in one chunk and faces a 49ers defense that has been effective against the run but has struggled since releasing LB Reuben Foster.

San Francisco won’t have to deal with WR Emmanuel Sanders, who tore his Achilles in practice, leaving Case Keenum without his top target as he looks to rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton to fill prominent roles. The Broncos will look to set the tone on defense, a task made it easier by not having to face 49ers top rusher Matt Breida, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury. An overcast day with temperatures topping out around 60 degrees should make for excellent football weather, especially since winds are expected to be scarce.