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NFL: The ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview for Week 15

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Texans-Titans, Bears-Packers, Patriots-Bengals, Rams-Cowboys, Bills-Steelers and Colts-Saints highlight the cool slate of games for Week 15.

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.

So, without further ado, here’s a print doppelganger to the best 60 minutes in sports radio — Hour #3 of Czabe’s NFL-heavy Friday show (heard daily from 4-7 p.m. in Washington D.C).

As such, it makes perfect sense to include Brent Musburger and Joey Porter into the presentation, via YouTube:

WEEK 15

SUNDAY

HOUSTON (8-5) @ TENNESSEE (8-5)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Titans (-3) … Over/Under: 51
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)
FUN FACT:
The Titans have been on fire since installing Ryan Tannehill at quarterback (supplanting Marcus Mariota), posting a 6-1 record and averaging 34.3 points during the seven-game stretch.

Tennessee has also been a balanced unit, relative to fantasy star power:

**Tannehill has superbly averaged 285 total yards and 2.6 touchdowns during the seven-game flurry.

**Tailback Derrick Henry has averaged 133 total yards and 0.7 TDs since Week 7.

**Charting his last seven games, rookie wideout A.J. Brown has modestly accounted for six catches, 80 yards and/or one touchdown six times. However, for the last three weeks, Brown has enjoyed elite-level averages of four catches, 111 yards and one TD.

Here are two more tidbits worth celebrating:

a) The Texans (this week’s opponent) have surrendered the second-most receiving touchdowns to opposing backs. These same playmakers also have a robust catch-to-target rate of 87 percent versus Houston.

b) For the season, Houston ranks in the bottom 10 for receiving touchdowns yielded to opposing wideouts.

CHICAGO (7-6) @ GREEN BAY (10-3)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Packers (-4) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Scott Novak
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (FOX)

FANTASY NOTE: Mitchell Trubisky has accounted for 13 touchdowns (11 passing) over the last five games — the second-highest tally among quarterbacks during this stretch (trailing only Lamar Jackson … and tied with Drew Brees).

NEW ENGLAND (10-3) @ CINCINNATI (1-12)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Bengals (+10) … Over/Under: 41.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Amanda Balionis (CBS)

AT STAKE: Gee, you think the Patriots want this one on Sunday?

With all the ‘Spygate’ talk surrounding this matchup, it’s safe to say New England’s top-ranked defense will be hyper-focused on keeping Cincinnati below its wretched average of 15.2 points per game.

PHILADELPHIA (6-7) @ WASHINGTON (3-10)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Redskins (+5) … Over/Under: 39
REFEREE: Shawn Smith
TV: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (FOX)
FUN FACT:
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz could be in line for great numbers this weekend, citing five distinct factors:

a) Since Week 10, Ertz leads all tight ends in catches (33) and targets (44).

Of equal importance, the Stanford product boasts top-5 rankings with receiving yards (300) and positional TDs (3) during this vital stretch.

b) The Eagles wideouts have been wrecked by substantial injuries, with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson done for the season … and Nelson Agholor (knee) and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (hamstring) reportedly playing at less than 100 percent.

This presumably portends more targets for Ertz, tailback Miles Sanders and fellow tight end Dallas Goedert.

c) The Redskins (this week’s foe) hold bottom-12 rankings with catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs allowed to opposing tight ends.

d) Since January 2017, Ertz has collected 11 touchdowns against NFC East competition.

e) Charting that same period of January 2017 to the present, spanning 49 total games (including the playoffs), Ertz absurdly tallied seven-plus targets 36 times.

DENVER (5-8) @ KANSAS CITY (9-4)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Chiefs (-10) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (CBS)

AT STAKE: The Chiefs claimed the AFC West title last week, but they’re hardly locks for the No. 3 seed during the playoffs.

The reason for that: The Texans and Titans (both 8-5 in the AFC South) both own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas City.

MIAMI (3-10) @ N.Y. GIANTS (2-11)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Giants (-3.5) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, Otis Livingston (CBS)

SAY HELLO TO THE … Smashed Windshield Game of the Week!

For those not familiar with the bit, it’s simple:

Hypothetically speaking, if a random Giants or Dolphins fan left two tickets for Sunday’s game on the dashboard of their car, upon returning to the vehicle, the driver/fan might be startled to see a broken front windshield … along with two additional tickets left on the dashboard. 

HIIIII-YOOOOO!

SEATTLE (10-3) @ CAROLINA (5-8)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Panthers (+6.5) … Over/Under: 49
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Lindsay Czarniak (FOX)
FUN FACT:
Chris Carson owners couldn’t have asked for a more blessed playoff matchup than the free-falling Panthers (five straight losses), who rank 31st in rushing yards allowed and dead-last with rushing TDs surrendered to opposing backs (by a large margin).

What’s more, opposing rushers are averaging 5.3 yards per carry versus Carolina.

Can Carson (1,299 total yards/7 TDs this year) handle the pressure of being a top-5 fantasy back this week?

**Citing his last six road outings, Carson carries rock-solid averages of 107 total yards and 0.5 TDs.

**Charting his last eight games played on natural grass, Carson holds similarly stellar averages of 108 total yards and 0.5 scores.

TAMPA BAY (6-7) @ DETROIT (3-9-1)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Lions (+3.5) … Over/Under: 46
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV ANNOUNCERS: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (FOX)

CHECK THIS OUT: Since Week 3, Jameis Winston has eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark nine times; and during this 11-game stretch, the Bucs quarterback owns stellar averages of 338 yards passing and 2.3 touchdowns.

MINNESOTA (9-4) @ L.A. CHARGERS (5-8)

TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Chargers (+1.5) … Over/Under: 45.5
REFEREE: Ron Torbert
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, John Schriffen (CBS)

CHECK THIS OUT: Since Week 10, Austin Ekeler has accrued the third-most PPR points among tailbacks (88).

Not bad for a guy who sits behind Melvin Gordon (675 total yards/6 TDs this year) on the Chargers’ depth chart … and has registered only 52 touches over the last four games (excluding the bye).

JACKSONVILLE (4-9) @ OAKLAND (6-7)

TIME: 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Raiders (-6.5) … Over/Under: 45.5
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (CBS)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: Sure, the Jaguars have lost five straight games, eliminating all hopes of earning a wild-card slot.

But should Jacksonville really be near-touchdown underdogs versus Oakland, which has averaged 11 points during its current three-game skid?

We don’t think so, either. Take the Jaguars … plus the points.

CLEVELAND (6-7) @ ARIZONA (3-9-1)

TIME: 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Cardinals (+3) … Over/Under: 49
REFEREE: Brad Allen
TV ANNOUNCERS: Tom McCarthy, Jay Feely (CBS)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: The above over/under seems a tad high, since the Browns and Cardinals have cumulatively averaged 46.5 points in their last four outings (separate opponents).

But we’re still willing to take the old Nestea Plunge on this one, citing four factors:

a) The Cardinals have surrendered the most passing touchdowns this season (32).

b) Cleveland’s defense owns bottom-10 tallies with rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

c) Arizona’s defense ranks 26th overall in receiving yards yielded to opposing backs.

d) Yes, the Browns are still eligible for playoff contention, but it’s quite the long shot. As such, neither team should have any qualms about letting things hang out on Sunday.

The message here: Keep attacking on offense … and maybe, just maybe, the first one to 35 claims victory.

L.A. RAMS (8-5) @ DALLAS (6-7)

TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Cowboys (+1.5) … Over/Under: 49
REFEREE: Walt Anderson
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (FOX)
FUN FACT:
Forget about the Cowboys and Rams having middle-of-the-pack rankings with rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed to opposing backs.

Recent history begs for us to believe in tangible star power for this week’s matchup:

For example:

**Dallas tailback Ezekiel Elliott has stealthily averaged 103 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns in two career meetings with the Rams.

**Todd Gurley owns excellent averages of 116 total yards and one score for his two encounters with the Cowboys.

The above numbers don’t even tell the whole story, either.

For last year’s Rams-Cowboys playoff clash, Gurley’s 118 total yards/1 TD … could hardly compare to backup Malcolm Brown’s out-of-nowhere deluge, racking up 123 total yards and multiple touchdowns.

ATLANTA (4-9) @ SAN FRANCISCO (11-2)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Niners (-11) … Over/Under: 48
REFEREE: Craig Wrolstad
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Darryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (FOX)

LETDOWN ALERT: After three straight high-profile clashes with 10-win clubs, the Niners come home as big favorites against the disappointing Falcons.

On paper, this should be a rout in San Francisco’s favor, especially with Atlanta being shorthanded with its receiving corps (Calvin Ridley on season-ending IR; nicked-up Julio Jones could be a game-time decision).

However, we’re not taking the bait here. The Falcons have been very competitive over the last seven games (just one double-digit defeat).

Plus, for its last five road outings, Atlanta holds strong averages of 29 points.

BUFFALO (9-4) @ PITTSBURGH (8-5)

TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Steelers (-1.5) … Over/Under: 35.5
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)

AT STAKE: If the Bills want to bring value to their Week 16 showdown with the Patriots, in terms of making it a de facto winner take all scenario for the AFC East crown, then Buffalo must leave Pittsburgh with a victory on Sunday night).

Anything short of a win at Heinz Field, and the Bills could end up missing the playoffs altogether. The AFC standings are that tight … and the situation has slowly become that dire.

It’s an odd thing to say, considering the Bills were riding high at 9-3 just six days ago.

But with four teams (Houston, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo) vying for three realistically open playoff spots, a 10-6 overall record might doom Buffalo … when it comes to the tiebreaker scenarios after overall record, head-to-head, conference mark, etc.

MONDAY

INDIANAPOLIS (6-7) @ NEW ORLEANS (10-3)

TIME: 8:30 p.m. EST
LINE: Saints (-9) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (ESPN)
FUN FACT:
Saints wideout Michael Thomas (121 catches, 1,424 yards, 7 TDs) has a decent shot at breaking the NFL single-season record for receptions (143 — Marvin Harrison), needing just 23 more catches over the next three weeks.

Can Thomas reach the hallowed 144 mark?

Here are four reasons why it’s eminently doable:

**The Colts (this week’s opponent) own bottom-12 tallies with receiving yards and receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing wideouts … but also possess strong rankings with catches and targets surrendered.

**Quarterback Drew Brees has accounted for 300 yards passing and/or three-plus touchdowns in four of five home games this season.

**Thomas has collected nine-plus targets in 15 of his last 19 games (including the postseason).

**Counting his last 11 outings at the Superdome (including the playoffs), Thomas boasts supreme averages of 9.7 catches, 113 yards and 0.6 TDs … and that includes a pair of clunkers resulting in less than 40 yards apiece.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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