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Bettors Guide: Playoff contenders still could have bumps in road

Even with just five weeks left in the National Football League regular season, it's not easy doping out how the race for the 12 postseason playoff positions will turn out.

There are just too many teams involved, even those with 5-6 records. And even front-runners like the Chiefs, Texans, Chargers, Saints, Rams, Bears and Seahawks have at least two potential stumbling blocks looming.

After today, Kansas City (9-2) has Baltimore, Los Angeles Chargers and at Seattle. Houston (8-3) has Indianapolis and games at Philadelphia and Jacksonville. The Chargers (8-3) have Kansas City, Baltimore and at Denver left after Sunday's showdown with the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

In the NFC, (9-2) the Saints have two games with division rival Carolina (6-5); the Rams (10-1) have to go to Chicago. The Bears (8-3) have Green Bay at home and have to go to Minnesota the last week.
A capsule look at the Week 13 games:

Game of the day

Chargers (8-3) at Steelers (7-3-1)
TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Steelers -3 1/2.
ATS: Chargers 6-5; Steelers 6-5.
Over/under: 51 1/2.
Times over/under: Chargers 6/5; Steelers 5/6.
The scoop: Chargers went over last week after going under four games. L.A. recovered from disastrous home loss to Denver by routing lowly Cards. ... This one pits Philip Rivers, who completed first 25 and 28 of 29 against Arizona last week against Ben Roethlisberger who passed for 462 at Denver, but threw two disastrous interceptions. Roethlisberger did connect on 97 yard TD pass with JuJu Smith-Schuster, making him one of three in NFL history with two TD plays of 97 yards or longer on scrimmage plays. Today's favorite trivia: First was Gaynell Tinsley of Chicago Cards in 1937. Tinsley was last coach at LSU before Paul Dietzel and Chinese Bandits arrived in the 1950s.
Outlook: Pittsburgh has lost only three regular season games in December-January last five seasons. Steelers 31-24.

Top attractions

Vikings (6-4-1) at Patriots (8-3)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Patriots -4 1/2.
ATS: Vikings 6-4-1; Patriots 7-4.
Over/under: 48 1/2.
Times over/under: Vikings 5/6; Patriots 4/7.
The scoop: Whose more accurate passer in this one? Tom Brady or Kirk Cousins? Minnesota's Cousins is right up there with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan with a completion percentage of better than 70. ... Patriots games have gone under last four games.
Outlook: It's Brady. It's Foxborough. It's New England. Patriots 28-20.

Colts (6-5) at Jaguars (3-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Colts -4.
ATS: Colts 5-5-1; Jaguars 4-6-1.
Over/under: 47 1/2.
Times over/under: Colts 7/2/2; Jaguars 5/5/1.
The scoop: Jaguars found scapegoats for disappointing season: offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and QB Blake Bortles. ... Colts have won five in a row starting with rout of Bills.
Outlook: In the year of the quarterback, comeback player of the year Andrew Luck (32 TDs-11 INTs) has thrown three TD passes eight games in a row. Colts, 24-13.

Redskins (6-5) at Eagles (5-6)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:15 p.m.
The line: Eagles -6 1/2.
ATS: Redskins 7-4; Eagles 3-8.
Over/under: 44.
Times over/under: Redskins 5/6; Eagles 5/5/1.
The scoop: Washington playoff hopes seem doomed by season-ending injury to QB Alex Smith, Colt McCoy will have to take over. Eagles did not cover last three.
Outlook: Philadelphia's championship dynasty is not quite up there with Yankees, Celtics, Canadiens. Eagles 30-16.

Broncos (5-6) at Bengals (5-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Broncos -4 1/2.
ATS: Broncos 6-4-1; Bengals 5-6.
Over/under: 42 1/2.
Times over/under: Broncos 4/7; Bengals 7/3.
The scoop: Broncos covered last four as underdog. Don't overlook Denver as AFC Wild-Card team. Remaining road games are at 49ers and Raiders and home games after today are Browns and Chargers. With Andy Dalton on IR (thumb surgery), Jeff Driskel starts at QB for Bengals and he never has started an NFL game.
Outlook: Broncos see opportunity to inject themselves into playoff picture. Denver, 27-21.

Best of the rest
Bills (4-7) at Dolphins (5-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Dolphins -5.
ATS: Bills 5-6; Dolphins 6-4.
Over/under: 40 1/2.
Times over/under: Bills 5/5/1; Dolphins 5/5/1.
The scoop: Bills covered last two. Believe it or not, if they had one more win, Bills might be alive for another playoff miracle because four of remaining five games look winnable.
Outlook: Bills followers like to mock Miami QB Ryan Tannehill, but he is 7-0 in last seven as starter at home. Dolphins 23-21.

Ravens (6-5) at Falcons (4-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Pick'em.
ATS: Ravens 5-6; Falcons 3-8.
Over/under: 49.
Times over/under: Ravens 4/6; Falcons 6/5.
The scoop: Joe Flacco (hip) hasn't been medically cleared so rookie Lamar Jackson gets the start again. He's impressed more as runner (190 yards total) than passer in two starts so far. ... Consider the season Matt Ryan (24 TDs-5 INTs, league leading 3,683 passing yards) and Julio Jones (league leading receiving yards (1,305) are having and it's hard to understand why Atlanta isn't at least a .500 team. ... In a league that supposedly has gone entirely over to offensive fireworks, defense (league best 295.4 ypg) has kept Baltimore in playoff hunt.
Outlook: Unless Falcons have quit, can't see Ravens holding them down. Atlanta, 24-20.

Rams (10-1) at Lions (4-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Rams -9 1/2.
ATS: Rams 5-6; Lions 5-5-1.
Over/under: 54 1/2.
Times over/under: Rams 7/3/1; Lions 6/5.
The scoop: After another midwest trip, to Chicago, and home game with Eagles, it's laughers at Cardinals and home versus Niners for Los Angeles. ... Rams did not cover last four as favorite.
Outlook: Matthew Stafford takes another beating against pass rush that includes league sacks leader Aaron Donald (14.5). Rams, 31-27.

Cardinals (2-9) at Packers (4-6-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Packers -14.
ATS: Cardinals 5-5-1; Packers 3-8.
Over/under: 44 1/2.
Times over/under: Cardinals 5/6; Packers 5/4/2.
The scoop: Josh Rosen of Cards has passed for a TD in six straight but has 11 INTs and 68.9 rating. ... Green Bay could go 4-1 down the stretch, losing only at Chi but that won't get Aaron Rodgers and Co. to playoffs.
Outlook: Packers have been unable to get it done and there are rumbling that Mike McCarthy might be finished in Green Bay. Packers, 30-21.

Browns (4-6-1) at Texans (8-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Texans -6.
ATS: Browns 7-3; Texans 4-4-2.
Over/under: 48.
Times over/under: Browns 6/5; Texans 5/5.
The scoop: Hard to believe that Bills were two Nathan Peterman telegraphed interceptions from beating Texans in Houston. Now Texans have won eight in a row against a soft schedule (no Steelers, no Chargers, no Chiefs, no Rams, no Bears, no Saints, no Seahawks). Baker Mayfield of Browns leading Rookie QB Derby so far with 17 TD passes, 7 INTs. He's passed for three TDs with no interceptions in last three games.
Outlook: Just think: if the Browns win this for their third in a row they might get stuck with Gregg Williams as their head coach. Texans, 20-17.

Bears (8-3) at Giants (3-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Bears -4 1/2.
ATS: Bears 8-3; Giants 6-5.
Over/under: 45.
Times over/under: Bears 6/4/1; Giants 7/4.
The scoop: Storied rivalry that goes back to famous "Sneakers Game" in the 1930s, but old-line franchises have met only 50 times in regular season. ... Considering schedule and Redskins' injury issues, some figured a scenario where Giants could have gotten into NFC playoff picture if they hadn't blown 19-3 lead and lost at Philadelphia last Sunday. ... Bears have covered as favorite in last four. Giants have covered last three
Outlook: Barkley and Beckham make Giants dangerous but Bears are rolling even if Chase Daniel has to start at QB. Chicago, 24-16.

Panthers (6-5) at Buccaneers (4-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Panthers -3 1/2.
ATS: Panthers 5-6; Bucs 4-7.
Over/under: 50.
Times over/under: Panthers 7/4; Bucs 9/2.
The scoop: With their high-flying offense and porous defense, Bucs games went over first eight weeks. But they've been under of two of last three. Panthers have lost last two as favorite, including Seahawks at home last week. ... Jameis Winston passed for 312 yards, two TDs with no INTs for Tampa Bay last week. Bucs have held last two home opponents to 16 and 9 points, but only Bengals have allowed more points per game.
Outlook: Carolina in danger of missing playoffs if they lose this one with two with Saints left on schedule. Panthers 31-24.

Chiefs (9-2) at Raiders (2-9)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Chiefs -15.
ATS: Chiefs 8-3; Raiders 2-8-1.
Over/under: 55 1/2.
Times over/under: Chiefs 7/4; Raiders 5/6.
The scoop: Al Davis would never believe what his Rai-dahs have become. Oakland games have gone over last two. ... Have NFL defensive coordinators begun to unlock the secret to beating KC QB Patrick Mahomes? His 14-0 TD-INT ratio is now 37-10.
Outlook: Chiefs had a week of rest to get ready for this one. As if they needed it. KC, 33-20.

Jets (3-8) at Titans (5-6)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Titans -8.
ATS: Jets 3-8; Titans 5-5-1.
Over/under: 40 1/2.
Times over/under: Jets 6/5; Titans 5/5.
The scoop: New York gets rookie Sam Darnold back at QB after Josh McCown had to start last two. ... Overshadowed last week in loss to Texans was fact that Marcus Mariota became second QB in Week 12 to surpass Kurt Warner's NFL record for completion percentage (92.3) in a game. Mariota completed 22 of 23 (95.7) after Rivers' 96.6 the day before.
Outlook: Titans have four games left at home where they are 3-1 including wins over Patriots, Texans and Eagles. Tennessee, 20-10.

Dog of the day
49ers (2-9) at Seahawks (6-5)
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.
The line: Seahawks -10.
ATS: 49ers 3-7-1; Seahawks 7-3-1.
Over/under: 46.
Times over/under: 49ers 6/5; Seahawks 5/6.
The scoop: Seattle begins closing stretch with four home games in last five, but two are against Vikings and Chiefs. Seahawks covered last three. ... Kicker Robbie Gould is biggest name on San Francisco team that will start QB Nick Mullens and top RB is Matt Breida. Those are not marquee names.
Outlook: This one looks easy for Seattle after facing Chargers, Rams, Packers and Panthers last four weeks and surviving. Seattle, 28-13.
Last week: Favorites covered in nine of 15 Week 12 games. Eight games went over the number, six under and the Colts-Dolphins ended up as a push.
Last week's record: 8-4 straight up; 6-6 against the spread.
Season's record: 84-61-3 straight up; 73-70-5 against the spread.#

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