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 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:
SEATTLE (8-2) @ PHILADELPHIA (5-5)
TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Eagles (-1) … Over/Under: 48
REFEREE: Walt Anderson
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (FOX)
DID YOU KNOW … this game was originally scheduled to air on NBC’s Sunday Night Football package?
However, due to the flex-scheduling amendment rules, it got bumped for the potential NFC Game of the Year … Green Bay @ San Francisco.
OAKLAND (6-4) @ N.Y. JETS (3-7)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Jets (+3) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (CBS)
FANTASY NUGGET: On a per-game basis, the Raiders have surrendered the third-most PPR points to opposing tight ends.
This bodes well for Jets tight end Ryan Griffin, citing two prime reasons:
a) Chris Herndon’s lost season, which began with a league suspension and ended with hamstring and rib injuries, has cleared a rest-of-season path for a new Jets playmaker to emerge.
b) Griffin has accounted for four touchdowns in his last six games; and during this productive stretch, the UConn alum owns a sterling catch-to-target rate of 87 percent.
PITTSBURGH (5-5) @ CINCINNATI (0-10)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bengals (+6.5) … Over/Under: 38.5
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANNOUNCERS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Jim Schiffren (CBS)
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY-ISH: The Bengals might be the NFL’s worst team to date — a stunning admission to make in November, considering where the Dolphins were in September — but they’re also not strong candidates to finish 0-16 on the year.
Why is that?
Outside of the Patriots in Week 16, five of Cincinnati’s final six matchups (vs. PIT, vs. CLE, @ CLE, vs. NYJ, @ MIA) are eminently winnable — especially if the Steelers are already plotting for next week’s titanic rematch with the Browns (but without Myles Garrett).
DETROIT (3-6-1) @ WASHINGTON (1-9)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Redskins (+3.5) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Lindsay Czarniak (FOX)\
AT STAKE: As a Detroit native (and former Lions employee) who listens to Washington D.C. radio every day (hence the inspiration for this VERY column), I need plenty of outside motivation to watch Sunday’s game.
**The actual crowd at FedEx Field might not hit the the 50-percent-occupancy mark midway through the first quarter.
**Neither franchise seemingly has a bona fide plan for the future … or at least consistently making the playoffs.
(Remember, all NFL front offices are not created equal.)
**Both teams could end up with with top-5 draft picks next spring … and still pass on taking a quarterback high — even though the 2020 class (Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm) could produce five QBs in the first 15-20 selections.
The reason for this: The Redskins need extra time to see if 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins could be a long-term fixture … and right now, Matthew Stafford’s the only star worth watching in Detroit.
TAMPA BAY (3-7) @ ATLANTA (3-7)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Falcons (-3.5) … Over/Under: 51.5
REFEREE: Clay Martin
TV ANNOUNCERS: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (FOX)
FUN FACT: Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley has quickly established himself as one of the streakiest assets in fantasyland.
Charting his 26 total games in the pros, Ridley has notched at least one touchdown in back-to-back outings six times; and that bodes well for Sunday, factoring in last week’s eight-catch, 143-yard, one-TD explosion against the Panthers.
Here are two more reasons to presume another Ridley breakout:
**The Buccaneers defense owns bottom-5 tallies with opposing receivers, citing the crucial categories of targets (31st overall), catches, receiving yards (dead-last) and touchdowns allowed (dead-last).
**Charting his last 10 games versus Tampa Bay, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan boasts strong averages of 296 yards passing and 1.9 TDs.
DENVER (3-7) @ BUFFALO (7-3)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bills (-3.5) … Over/Under: 37.5
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (CBS)
BETTOR’S HUNCH: There’s something stinky about the Bills being only 3 1/2-point favorites on Sunday.
Yes, the Broncos probably deserved to win their last two road games (last-second losses to the Colts, Vikings), but that shouldn’t be enough to dismiss Buffalo’s chances of posting a clean victory of 7-12 points in front of the home folks.
Especially with Bills quarterback Josh Allen accounting for 14 touchdowns and a completion rate of 60.2 percent in his last six outings.
MIAMI (2-8) @ CLEVELAND (4-6)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Browns (-10.5) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Darryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (FOX)
FANTASY CONJECTURE: Baker Mayfield has been a major disappointment in the fantasy realm, cracking the 300-yard passing mark just twice and collecting multiple touchdowns in only four games.
On the plus side, Mayfield has racked up five scores in his last two outings; and this week’s matchup comes dipped in chocolate:
The Dolphins rate 29th in passing touchdowns surrendered … despite ranking fourth overall in completions allowed. Yikes!
N.Y. GIANTS (2-8) @ CHICAGO (4-6)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bears (-6) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (FOX)
FUN FACT I: Bears wideout Allen Robinson tallied only six targets last week against the Rams, breaking a 13-game streak of seven-plus targets.
But we’re willing to bet a new run of robust targets begins Sunday, with Robinson encountering a Giants defense which ranks 29th in receiving yards allowed to opposing wideouts … and 30th in touchdowns yielded to the same position.
In fact, check this out: Charting the Giants’ last three games, the other team’s No. 1 receiver (Jamison Crowder, Amari Cooper, Kenny Golladay) has enjoyed supreme averages of five catches, 95 yards and 1.3. TDs.
FUN FACT II: There are minimal worries about Saquon Barkley this week, on the heels of his major clunker against the Jets (1 rushing yard, 31 total).
Why is that? Let us count the ways:
a) The Bears defense ranks in the bottom-3 with targets and receptions allowed to opposing backs.
(Barkley has averaged 5.2 catches, 6.6 targets and 42 receiving yards in his last five outings.)
b) Granted, it’s a small sample size, but Barkley has averaged 145 total yards and 0.5 TDs in two career outings versus the NFC North.
c) Barkley has tallied 18-plus targets in each of his last four games.
d) Prior to the Jets debacle, Barkley had amassed fewer than 90 total yards and/or zero TDs just twice … and one of the outings involved a semi-serious ankle injury (against Tampa Bay).
CAROLINA (5-5) @ NEW ORLEANS (8-2)
TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Saints (-9.5) … Over/Under: 47
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)
FUN FACT: There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes … and Michael Thomas shredding opposing cornerbacks at the Superdome.
Charting his last 15 home games, including the playoffs, the remarkably consistent Thomas (seven-plus targets in 15 straight outings) holds staggering averages of 9.2 catches, 120 yards and 0.7 touchdowns.
In other words, feel free to pull a Clark W. Griswold (from Christmas Vacation fame) … and pre-invest this year’s Christmas bonus on Thomas enjoying a monster afternoon versus the Panthers — who rank dead-last with catches and targets allowed to opposing wideouts.
And keep in mind, Carolina has yet to face New Orleans this season.
JACKSONVILLE (4-6) @ TENNESSEE (5-5)
TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Titans (-3) … Over/Under: 41.5
REFEREE: Shawn Smith
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (CBS)
FUN FACT: Charting seven career meetings with the rival Jaguars, Titans tailback Derrick Henry owns stellar averages of 97 total yards and 1.1 touchdowns … and this includes a 35-yard, zero-TD clunker from his rookie campaign.
DALLAS (6-4) @ NEW ENGLAND (9-1)
TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Patriots (-6.5) … Over/Under: 45.5
REFEREE: Scott Novak
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (FOX)
ONE-SIDED RIVALRY: In the Tom Brady era (2000-present), the Patriots possess a spotless 4-0 record against the Cowboys … with an average final score of 27-12.
GREEN BAY (8-2) @ SAN FRANCISCO (9-1)
TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Niners (-3) … Over/Under: 47.5
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers
TV: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)
FUN FACT: It’s difficult to justify the Packers’ 8-2 record, considering Green Bay has surrendered the second-most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs (11) and fourth-most rushing yards (1,144 … or 4.9 yards per carry) to the same position.
You know what’s easy to explain? Tevin Coleman’s seamless fit into the Niners offense, anchoring a three-headed attack (along with Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert) that has collected nearly 1,300 rushing yards through 10 games.
Sunday should be another stat-sheet-stuffing day for Coleman, from a heavyweight clash that could ultimately decide home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs. Here’s why:
a) Coleman has racked up 563 total yards and six TDs this season, despite logging 20-plus touches only twice.
b) Citing his last five outings against non-NFC West defenses, dating back to his Falcons days, Coleman owns robust averages of 77 total yards and one TD.
c) With the Niners, Coleman has a superb catch-to-target ratio of 77 percent.
d) For the year, Coleman has recorded one touchdown for every 20.2 touches … and one score for every 20.8 carries.
BALTIMORE (8-2) @ L.A. RAMS (6-4)
TIME: 8:30 p.m. EST
LINE: Rams (+3) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Craig Wrolstad
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (ESPN)
FUN FACT: Here’s a number that could be eclipsed by halftime Monday night:
The Rams have surrendered the fewest rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season … a grand total of 45 yards.
For better context, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (and likely the front-runner for NFL MVP) has averaged 86 yards rushing and 0.7 TDs in his last nine games.