Three years ago, we began honoring radio legend Steve Czaban — who was surprisingly booted from the SB Nation Radio morning lineup in 2016, despite having perhaps the most engaging program in the radio marketplace — with a “You Are Looking Live!” preview of each NFL weekend.
The bit was so well-received, so roundly praised by media pundits (including a few SB Nation writers) and Czabe’s legion of fans alike, that we decided to make You Are Looking Live! a permanent Friday (or in this case, Thursday) staple of the BATSBY Sports Network blog.
As such, it makes perfect sense to include Brent Musburger and Joey Porter into the presentation, via YouTube:
HOUSTON (6-3) @ BALTIMORE (7-2)
TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Ravens (-4) … Over/Under: 51.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Wasburn (CBS)
FUN FACT: Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins (68 catches, 665 yards, 4 TDs) has been on a stealth run in recent weeks, averaging 9.3 catches, 12 targets, 80 yards and 0.5 touchdowns over his last four games.
Here’s another thing to celebrate: Citing his last nine outings played outdoors, Hopkins notched 100 yards receiving and/or one TD seven different times; and during this stretch, the Clemson alum cumulatively tallied 7.3 catches, 85 yards and 0.8 scores.
Now for the bad news: Charting the Ravens’ last six games, the opposing team’s No. 1 wideout (Julian Edelman, Tyler Lockett, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyler Boyd twice) posted so-so averages of 5.5 catches, 53 yards and 0.3 TDs.
DALLAS (5-4) @ DETROIT (3-5-1)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Lions (+3.5) … Over/Under: 47.5
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (FOX)
FUN FACT: Don’t expect a repeat of Ezekiel Elliott’s pedestrian performance against the Vikings last week, racking up only 63 yards on 22 incidental touches.
Prior to Week 10, Elliott possessed a supreme track record versus the NFC North, reaching the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown in all eight outings (including the playoffs).
In fact, the three-time NFL rushing champion had previously enjoyed robust averages of 141 total yards and 0.6 TDs against the Bears, Vikings, Packers and Lions (Sunday’s opponent).
BUFFALO (6-3) @ MIAMI (2-7)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Dolphins (+6.5) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Scott Novak
TV ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta (CBS)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Bills have lost back-to-back games just once during Josh Allen’s tenure as the club’s starting quarterback — falling to the Dolphins and Jets last December.
JACKSONVILLE (4-5) @ INDIANAPOLIS (5-4)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts (-3) … Over/Under: 43.5
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV ANNOUNCERS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Michael Grady (CBS)
FUN FACT: For his three-year pro career, Jaguars tailback Leonard Fournette (averaging 125 total yards per game in 2019) has never incurred a five-game drought of reaching the end zone … an ignominious feat that could be accomplished this weekend in Indy.
ATLANTA (2-7) @ CAROLINA (5-4)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Panthers (-4) … Over/Under: 49
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANNOUNCERS: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (FOX)
FUN FACT: Sunday could be a long one for the Panthers defense, which has yielded the third-most targets to wide receivers.
Charting his last eight meetings with Carolina, Jones owns sterling averages of 6.5 catches, 118 yards and 0.4 TDs; and for what it’s worth, the two-time All-Pro has collected nine-plus targets six times during this four-year stretch.
On the down side, Jones hasn’t found the end zone in six games — similar to his drought of September/October 2018.
But here’s the good news: Jones has a track record of catching fire with touchdowns, immediately after snapping ugly streaks.
DENVER (3-6) @ MINNESOTA (7-3)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Vikings (-10.5) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Clay Martin
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (CBS)
SAME, BUT DIFFERENT: The Vikings are one of three NFL clubs to surrender 15-plus touchdowns to opposing wideouts.
In the interest of symmetry, the anemic Broncos offense (28th in scoring) has accounted for 15 total TDs all season.
NEW ORLEANS (7-2) @ TAMPA BAY (3-6)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Buccaneers (+5.5) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (FOX)
STRANGE BUT TRUE: There’s a good news/bad news proposition with Saints wideout Michael Thomas (NFL leader in receptions), heading into this week’s battle with the all-over-the-map Buccaneers.
On the plus side, Thomas (averaging 10 catches, 12 target, 127 yards, 0.5 TDs in his last six games) has averaged 9.7 catches, 119 yards and 0.5 touchdowns in six career meetings with Tampa Bay.
On the down side, Thomas hasn’t found the end zone in his last five outings played on natural grass.
N.Y. JETS (2-7) @ WASHINGTON (1-8)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Redskins (-2.5) … Over/Under: 38.5
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Sara Walsh (FOX)
HISTORY LESSON: The Jets and Redskins have squared off 11 times, dating back to 1972; and during this span, the competing clubs failed to produce at least a touchdown just once — the eminently forgettable, but somehow memorable 3-0 snoozefest in 1993 … played under ideal weather conditions for mid-December.
ARIZONA (3-6-1) @ SAN FRANCISCO (8-1)
TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Niners (-10.5) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Walt Anderson
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Darryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (FOX)
BETTOR’S HUNCH: There’s no tangible explanation for the shockingly low over/under number posted in the above text.
The Cardinals’ 10 games for the season have produced a combined tally of 49.3 points per game … and the 49ers (No. 4 overall in scoring) have amassed 103 points in their previous three outings.
In other words, this line stinks!!!
Roll with the over.
NEW ENGLAND (8-1) @ PHILADELPHIA (5-4)
TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Eagles (+3.5) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)
FUN FACT: There are only three guarantees in life: Death, taxes … and Tom Brady carving up the Eagles secondary.
Charting his six career outings versus Philly (including two Super Bowls), the three-time MVP and six-time world champion holds staggering averages of 342 yards passing and 2.7 touchdowns.
CINCINNATI (0-9) @ OAKLAND (5-4)
TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Raiders (-11.5) … Over/Under: 48.5
REFEREE: Shawn Smith
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (FOX)
BETTOR’S HUNCH: BATSBY Sports has an unofficial over/under of 3.5 tailback TDs for Sunday’s Bengals-Raiders clash; and here’s why:
**Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs has been superb for all of October/November, proffering a five-game run of 115 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns.
(HUMBLE ADMISSION: I was absolutely wrong about Jacobs back in August, foolishly suggesting his preseason fantasy hype might have been exaggerated … but I was dead wrong.)
**The Bengals have yielded 4.8 yards per carry this season, while also ranking 30th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
**Cincy rusher Joe Mixon has accounted for 100 total yards and/or one touchdown in four of his last five outings, indicating the Cincy coaches are finally finding comfort with Mixon-related play-calling.
**Mixon also has top-15 potential over the next six weeks, among running backs, thanks to a super-friendly slate of the Raiders, Steelers, Jets, Browns, Patriots (OK, that might be tough) and Dolphins.
**The Chiefs, Lions and Raiders have given up five receiving TDs apiece to opposing backs. For good measure, the same opposing running backs are on a pace for one receiving score … with every 10.6 receptions.
CHICAGO (4-5) @ L.A. RAMS (5-4)
TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Rams (-6.5) … Over/Under: 40
REFEREE: John Hussey
TV: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)
AT STAKE: Sunday night’s loser might as well kiss their playoff dreams goodbye, with the Niners, Packers, Vikings and Seahawks all on track for 12 or more victories.
Adding to the prospective misery, the losing club would be doomed in the unforeseen event of a head-to-head tiebreaker, involving the wild-card race.
KANSAS CITY (6-4) vs. L.A. CHARGERS (4-6)
TIME: 8:30 p.m. EST
VENUE: Estadio Azteca (Mexico City)
LINE: Niners (-6) … Over/Under: 47
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (ESPN)
MADE IN THE USA: BATSBY Sports doesn’t have any record of quarterback Patrick Mahomes playing on foreign soil, given his shallow sample size of starts (27, including the playoffs) and the NFL’s quick-turnaround decision to relocate last year’s Chiefs-Rams game from Mexico City (shoddy field) to Los Angeles (the teams combined for 105 points — the highest tally in Monday Night Football history).
However, here’s something of substance: Mahomes has logged multiple TDs in seven straight complete games against AFC West foes; and for this prolific stretch, the reigning MVP holds absurd averages of 304 yards passing and 3.1 touchdowns.
Adding to the prospective fun, for 2019, opposing quarterbacks have enjoyed a princely completion rate versus the Chargers.