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Bettors Guide: Some teams need a little help from their foes

"You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on." — lyrics from No. 1 single written and sung by Bill Withers in 1972.
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Fourteen of the 16 games on the Week 16 schedule involved at least one team still in contention for the playoffs. But only four teams can clinch playoff eligibility or a line in the bracket without help.

First off, the New England Patriots will clinch their 10th straight AFC East championship by defeating the Bills Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

The Houston Texans can clinch a playoff berth, but not necessarily the AFC South, by winning their game at Philadelphia.

The New Orleans Saints can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win at home over Pittsburgh.

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East title with a win at home over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The rest of the contenders need help. They can't do it on their own. Even the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, who have been frontrunners all season.

A win at Seattle Sunday night by itself won't clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye for the Chiefs unless the Los Angeles Chargers already have lost their home game on Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens in Carson, Calif.

The Rams need a win and a Chicago loss or tie to clinch a first-round bye even though they have the NFC West all wrapped up. Chicago, of course, completed its worst-to-first climb in the NFC North with its home win over the Green Bay Packers last Sunday.

Seattle, Minnesota, Pittsburgh all need outside help to get where they want to go. And, of course, 10 other teams that are mathematically alive don't have their fate in their own hands. There are a myriad of possibilities, though.

Only 12 of the 32 teams have been mathematically eliminated from playoffs. Even the Cleveland Browns are still alive.

A capsule look at the Week 16 NFL games:

Game of the week
Chiefs (11-3) at Seahawks (8-6)
TV: NBC, Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Chiefs -3.
Record ATS: Chiefs 8-6; Seahawks 9-4-1.
Over/under: 54 1/2.
Times over/under: Chiefs 9/4/1; Seahawks 7/7.
The scoop: Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs needs five TD passes to become the third in NFL history with 50 or more in a season. The record is 55 by Peyton Manning in 2013 when he was with Denver. ... Each team is coming off a loss last week. Chiefs lost at home to Chargers. Seahawks were upset at 49ers. ... Seattle had beat the spread five straight before last week. ... Travis Kelce of the Chiefs needs 127 receiving yards to equal Rob Gronkowski's record 1,327 for a tight end in one season.
Outlook: Chiefs have not covered in last three. They started season 6-1 ATS. KC passing game trumps Seattle's league-leading running attack (154.9 per game). Chiefs, 24-20.
Top attractions

Steelers (8-5-1) at Saints (12-2)
TV: CBS, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Saints -5 1/2.
Record ATS: Steelers 7-7; Saints 10-4.
Over/under: 53.
Times over/under: Steelers 6/8; Saints 6/8.
The scoop: Last five Saints games have gone under which is surprising after they way the started season. New Orleans defense has taken over for under-producing offense in recent weeks. Pittsburgh shut down Tom Brady and Co. to get badly needed win over nemesis Patriots last week.
Outlook: Grit and desperation on the side of the Steelers. Pittsburgh, 24-21.

Texans (10-4) at Eagles (7-7)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Eagles -1.
Record ATS: Texans 5-5-3; Eagles 5-9.
Over/under: 46.
Times over/under: Texans 6/7; Eagles 7/6/1.
The scoop: If they win and Bills somehow upset Pats, Houston would clinch first-round bye in AFC playoffs. A win or a loss by Indy wraps up division for Texans. Nick Foles back at QB for Eagles, who are staging closing rush to get back to playoffs.
Outlook: Eagles showing Super Bowl form of 2017. Philadelphia, 21-13.

Ravens (8-6) at Chargers (11-3)
TV: NFLN, Saturday, 8:20 p.m.
The line: Chargers -4.
Record ATS: Ravens 8-6; Chargers 8-6.
Over/under: 43.
Times over/under: Ravens 4/8/1; Chargers 8/6.
The scoop: Biggest AFC game on the schedule. Ravens trying to stay on trail of Steelers in AFC North and Bolts are tie with Chiefs for first in AFC West although tiebreaker favors KC. ... Chargers have beat the spread seven of last 10 games.
Outlook: Ravens league-leading defense (290.1 ypg) carries the day against Chargers, who always seem to slip up in the end. Baltimore, 17-13.

Vikings (7-6-1) at Lions (5-9)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Vikings -6.
Record ATS: Vikings 8-6-1; Lions 7-6-1.
Over/under: 42 1/2.
Times over/under: Vikings 6/8; Lions 7/7.
The scoop: Minnesota sacked Matthew Stafford 10 times in 24-9 win in first meeting. ... Kicking miscues cost Lions in 14-13 loss to Bills last week. ... Vikings scored last 17 points in 41-17 win over Miami last week. First game after change at offensive coordinator, the Vikings ran for 220 yards against Dolphins.
Outlook: Lions have won five of last eight over Vikings at Ford Field. Vikings, 17-13.

Buccaneers (5-9) at Cowboys (8-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Cowboys -7 1/2.
Record ATS: Bucs 5-9; Cowboys 7-6-1.
Over/under: 48 1/2.
Times over/under: Bucs 9/5; Cowboys 6/8.
The scoop: Shutout at Indianapolis last week stalled Dallas drive toward NFC championship. Now they must deal with unpredictable Tampa Bay team and an offense that averages 416.6 yards per game.
Outlook: League rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott (1,349) leads Dallas win. Cowboys, 31-21.

Giants (5-9) at Colts (8-6)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Colts -9.
Record ATS: Giants 8-6; Colts 8-4-2.
Over/under: 47.
Times over/under: Giants 9/5; Colts 7/5/2.
The scoop: Interesting that the teams that played in "Greatest Game in NFL History" have met only 15 times. with Colts leading all-time series, 9-6. Giants haven't visited Indy since 2010. With Andrew Luck (34 TD passes), Marlon Mack (4.8 rushing average), T.Y. Hilton (16.0 yards per catch) and TE Eric Ebron (12 TD catches), Colts have sneaked up on the NFL. ... Rookie head coach Frank Reich should be strong candidate for NFL Coach of the Year along with Anthony Lynn of Chargers. Both were passed over for Bills coaching job.
Outlook: Three of Giants' wins were on the road. Colts, 23-17.
Best of the rest
Redskins (7-7) at Titans (8-6)
TV: NFLN, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
The line: Titans -10 1/2.
Record ATS: Redskins 8-6; Titans 7-6-1.
Over/under: 37.
Times over/under: Redskins 6/8; Titans 6/7.
The scoop: Wounded Redskins were counted out but they stayed alive with road win at Jacksonville. Now they go to Tennessee to take on a team that posted a road shutout at the Giants last week.
Outlook: Titans are 5-1 at home and host Indy next week with perhaps a playoff berth on the line. Duel of defenses is story with Titans coming out on top, 17-10.

Bears (10-4) at 49ers (4-10)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Bears -4.
Record ATS: Bears 10-4; 49ers 5-8-1.
Over/under: 43 1/2.
Times over/under: Bears 7/6/1; 49ers 8/6.
The scoop: Bears, who are only 3-3 on road, finish regular season away from Soldier Field. Road wins were over Cards, Bills and Lions. Not impressive. Niners QB Nick Mullens passed for 275 yards and completed 20 of 29 in home upset of Seahawks last week.
Outlook: Niners beat Bears at Soldier Field last December. They throw another scare but Chicago, 17-10.

Falcons (5-9) at Panthers (6-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Falcons -3 1/2.
Record ATS: Falcons 4-10; Panthers 6-8.
Over/under: 43 1/2.
Times over/under: Falcons 8/6; Panthers 7/7.
The scoop: Before season, this looked like late-season matchup that might decide NFC South. Both are out of contention. Schedule maker had Carolina closing with division games of Saints, Falcons and at Saints. Julio Jones of Falcons leads league with 1,511 receiving yards. He has six receiving touchdowns after slow start. Bills as a team have only nine TDs through the air.
Outlook: Panthers have collapsed in style, six in a row. Falcons, 30-20.

Bengals (6-8) at Browns (6-7-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Browns -9 1/2.
Record ATS: Bengals 7-7; Browns 9-4-1.
Over/under: 44.
Times over/under: Bengals 8-5; Browns 6/8.
The scoop: Browns going for first season sweep of downstate rivals since 2002. Cincy is 22-9 against Browns since then. ... Baker Mayfield easily wins rookie QB sweepstakes with 21 TD passes, 11 INTs and 3,065 passing yards.
Outlook: Browns better watch out. If they keep winning, they will have no choice but to give coaching job to Gregg Williams. Cleveland, 27-24.

Bills (5-9) at Patriots (9-5)

TV: CBS, 1 p.m.
The line: Patriots -13 1/2.
Record ATS: Bills 5-8-1; Patriots 8-6.
Over/under: 44 1/2.
Times over/under: Bills 6/7/1; Patriots 5/9.
The scoop: Believe it or not, Bills have won two of last four at Gillette Stadium. Not much significance though. One was meaningless run-for-the-bus game in 2014 finale and other was 2016 when Tom Brady was serving his suspension. Brady has 8,122 passing yards and 68 TD passes in 32 career games against Bills. TE Rob Gronkowski has 12 TD catches in 14 career games against his hometown team.

Outlook: Lot of skepticism building about Patriots after road losses at Miami and Pittsburgh last two weeks. Bills haven't cashed in but they lack firepower to win on road against Brady offense. Patriots, 27-17.

Packers (5-8-1) at Jets (4-10)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Packers -3.
Record ATS: Packers 4-10; Jets 5-8-1.
Over/under: 47.
Times over/under: Packers 6/6/2; Jets 8/6.
The scoop: Packers are only 2-6 as favorite this season. Jets (3-7) have been underdogs in 10 of 14 games. Despite 23-2 TD-INT ratio, Aaron Rodgers of Packers has only 97.2 passer rating.
Outlook: Packers have a little too much offense for Jets. Green Bay, 20-14.

Rams (11-3) at Cardinals (3-11)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Rams -14.
Record ATS: Rams 6-8; Cardinals 6-7-1.
Over/under: 44.
Times over/under: Rams 8/5/1; Cardinals 6/8.
The scoop: Even if they win over lowly Cards, Rams will need a Chicago loss to clinch a first-round bye.
Outlook: Rams could repeat earlier 34-0 win over Red Birds. L.A., 42-10.

Broncos (6-8) at Raiders (3-11)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:15 p.m.
The line: Broncos -3.
Record ATS: Broncos 7-6; Raiders 4-9-1.
Over/under: 43.
Times over/under: Broncos 4/10; Raiders 7/7.
The scoop: Oakland coach Jon Gruden only 1-10 in career against Denver. That's a $100 million coach?
Outlook: If Broncos can lose at home to Browns, they can lose in Black Hole. Raiders, 17-14.
Dog of the week
Jaguars (4-10) at Dolphins (7-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Dolphins -4.
Record ATS: Jaguars 5-8-1; Dolphins 7-5-1.
Over/under: 38.
Times over/under: Jaguars 6/7/1; Dolphins 7/6/1.
The scoop: NFL's three Florida teams are a combined 16-26. Fish had second collapse at Minnesota last week, just about ending their playoff pipe dream. ... Jacksonville observers believe Doug Marrone will survive despite disastrous season for a team that almost made it to Super Bowl last season.
Outlook: Dolphins have some playmakers. Miami, 20-10.

Last week: Favorites covered seven of the 16 Week 15 games. Seven games went over, nine under.

Last week's results: 4-11 straight up; 6-8-1 against the spread.
Season's record: 105-87-2 straight up; 94-92-7 against the spread.#

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