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NFL: The ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview for Week 16

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Texans-Bucs, Bills-Patriots, Saints-Titans, Cowboys-Eagles, Chiefs-Bears and Packers-Vikings highlight the cool slate of action for Week 16.

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.

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 16

SATURDAY

HOUSTON (9-5) @ TAMPA BAY (7-7)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Buccaneers (+3) … Over/Under: 50
REFEREE: Scott Novak
TV: Rich Eisen, Nate Burleson, Joe Thomas, Melissa Stark (NFLN)

AT STAKE: It’s a simple proposition for the Texans: Win on Saturday … and they’ll be AFC South champs.

That’s how momentous last week’s road upset of the Titans proved to be. With its better record and superior intra-divisional mark, Houston can ostensibly chase the South title and the AFC’s No. 3 playoff seed … without worrying about Tennessee in the rear-view mirror.

BUFFALO (10-4) @ NEW ENGLAND (11-3)

TIME: 4:30 p.m. EST
LINE: Patriots (-6.5) … Over/Under: 37
REFEREE: John Hussey
TV ANNOUNCERS: Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner, Peter Schrager (NFLN)

AT STAKE: Remember the Patriots’ indomitable 8-0 start (top 3 scoring offense/defense), evoking thoughts of the club’s undefeated regular-season run of 2007?

Fast forward to the present: New England faces a must-win situation for Week 16, since a loss would give Buffalo an edge on the third tiebreaker (conference record).

On the plus side, if the Patriots prevail in Foxboro, it’ll mean the 17th AFC East title of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era (2000-19); and while we’re at it, might as well pencil New England in for a first-round bye during the postseason.

L.A. RAMS (8-6) @ SAN FRANCISCO (11-3)

TIME: 8:15 p.m. EST
LINE: Niners (-6.5) … Over/Under: 44.5
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (NFLN)

HOW WILL IT END? The Niners have been limping to the finish line, posting a middling 3-3 mark over the last six weeks.

And yet, they remain in decent shape for winning the NFC West and earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

The recipe for success: Just sweep the remaining outings (vs. Rams, @ Seahawks) and the 49ers would be strong bets for home-field advantage — and perhaps being the only NFC squad with 13 victories.

But ay the rub: San Francisco doesn’t have much wiggle room here. Given how Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans and Minnesota are also candidates for 12 or more wins, the Niners are likely boom-or-bust candidates for enjoying a first-round bye.

As in, it’s either the No. 1 seed … or opening the postseason on the road (at Dallas/Philadelphia).

SUNDAY

NEW ORLEANS (11-3) @ TENNESSEE (8-6)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Titans (+2.5) … Over/Under: 50
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Sara Walsh (FOX)

FUN FACT: The red-hot Drew Brees has absurdly averaged 276 yards passing and 3.6 touchdowns in his last five starts (four indoors).

However, there still remains a shred of fantasy-related doubt here, in advance of this weekend’s trip to Nashville:

Charting his last 12 starts played outdoors, covering three full seasons, Brees eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark just once; and for cumulative tallies, the Saints quarterback merely averaged 235 yards passing and 1.7 TDs per outing.

PITTSBURGH (8-6) @ N.Y. JETS (5-9)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Jets (+3) … Over/Under: 37
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (CBS)

WHAT UBER-HYPE? When the NFL schedule came out in April, pundits immediately circled the Steelers-Jets clash for Week 16, believing it would have massive playoff ramifications, while also serving as Le’Veon Bell’s revenge date with Pittsburgh.

Technically, the above points are still relevant, but the buzz surrounding Sunday’s clash has totally dissipated, given how neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Antonio Brown will be suiting up in Steelers black-and-gold.

What’s more, citing his last five outings, Bell holds middling averages of 87 total yards and 0.4 TDs — despite logging roughly 24 touches per week.

CAROLINA (5-9) @ INDIANAPOLIS (6-8)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts (-6.5) … Over/Under: 46.5
REFEREE: Walt Anderson
TV ANNOUNCERS: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (FOX)

FANTASY GOLD: Go ahead and bet the over on Colts running back Marlon Mack logging 20-plus carries this weekend.

The free-falling Panthers (1-7 in their last eight games) rank 31st in rushing yards allowed and dead-last in rushing touchdowns surrendered to opposing backs (23) … by a long shot.

BALTIMORE (12-2) @ CLEVELAND (6-8)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Browns (+10) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)

AT STAKE: It’s weird to see how the 12-2 Ravens (10 straight victories) have likely clinched a higher playoff seed than the Patriots (11-3 overall) … but not over the 10-4 Chiefs.

How is this possible, with only two weeks left of the regular season?

By virtue of its Week 3 home win over Baltimore, Kansas City owns the head-to-head edge between the clubs, in the event of an unforeseen tie at 12-4 overall.

Under this hypothetical, with New England, Baltimore and Kansas City deadlocked at 12-4, the Chiefs would possess the AFC’s No. 1 seed (home-field advantage) … given their head-to-head victories over both teams.

CINCINNATI (1-13) @ MIAMI (3-11)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Dolphins (+1) … Over/Under: 46
REFEREE: Brad Allen
TV ANNOUNCERS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Michael Grady (CBS)

AT STAKE: Back in October, NFL fans started building hype for the first December clash of winless clubs in NFL history.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, with the Dolphins exploding for three victories since Week 9 … and the Bengals upending the listless Jets for their only victory of the season (Week 13).

Is there anything left to play for, aside from elite-level positioning with April’s NFL draft?

Here’s something to celebrate:

**Bengals tailback Joe Mixon has averaged 118 total yards and 0.6 touchdowns in his last seven games, putting him in the running for Fantasy Playoff MVP.

**The Oklahoma product also draws a Dolphins defense that owns bottom-10 tallies with rushing yards allowed (dead-last) and rushing touchdowns/receiving TDs yielded to opposing backs.

JACKSONVILLE (5-9) @ ATLANTA (5-9)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Falcons (-7) … Over/Under: 47
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Jenny Taft (FOX)

FUN FACT: There’s a good news/bad news scenario with Falcons QB Matt Ryan encountering the Jaguars:

a) Charting his last seven outings against AFC foes, Ryan holds remarkably clean averages of 314 yards passing and two touchdowns.

b) On the flip side … dating back to 2016, the Falcons have inexplicably dropped seven straight home games to AFC competition.

N.Y. GIANTS (3-11) @ WASHINGTON (3-11)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Redskins (-1.5) … Over/Under: 41
REFEREE: Ron Torbert
TV: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (FOX)

CHECK THIS OUT: Citing his two career outings with the Redskins, Giants tailback Saquon Barkley boasts otherworldly averages of 154 total yards and 0.5 TDs.

DETROIT (3-10-1) @ DENVER (5-9)

TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Broncos (-7) … Over/Under: 38
REFEREE: Craig Wrolstad
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (CBS)

FANTASY GOLD: Here’s a good window into Detroit’s unspeakably bad pass defense:

Citing the Lions’ last five games, a staggering collection of eight receivers (Breshad Perriman, Chris Godwin, Stefon Diggs, Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Terry McLaurin) possess robust averages of 6.5 catches, 111 yards and 0.6 TDs versus Detroit. Ugh!

OAKLAND (6-8) @ L.A. CHARGERS (5-9)

TIME: 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Chargers (-7) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Clay Martin
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (CBS)

FUN FACT: The Chargers have scored double-digit points in 33 straight meetings with the Raiders, dating back to September 2003.

Last week, the Chargers tallied 10 points against the Vikingsbarely maintaining their streak of 67 consecutive outings with double-digit points.

DALLAS (7-7) @ PHILADELPHIA (7-7)

TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Eagles (+1.5) … Over/Under: 46
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (FOX)

AT STAKE: FOX Sports, ESPN’s First Take and the NFL are hyping up Sunday’s Cowboys-Eagles clash as a winner-take-all scenario for both clubs, but that’s not necessarily the case.

With Dallas owning a better division mark right now (4-0), Philadelphia (7-7 overall, 3-1 division) must sweep its remaining outings with the Cowboys (7-7 overall) and Giants (road) to claim the NFC East crown.

The upside here: This unrelenting pressure to win would hopefully lead to a 9-7 division champion … as opposed to a sad-sack 8-8 team hosting a 12-4 club on Wild Card Weekend.

ARIZONA (4-9-1) @ SEATTLE (11-3)

TIME: 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Seahawks (-9.5) … Over/Under: 51
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Darryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (FOX)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: Five of Arizona’s nine defeats involved a point spread of a touchdown or more; and yet, Seattle’s home money line barely exceeds that threshold.

Is this smart business for the Vegas experts? Here are four affirmations in the Cardinals’ favor:

a) Ten of Seattle’s 11 victories entailed a final spread of eight points or less.

b) The Seahawks rank 21st in scoring defense, yielding an average of 24.6 points per outing.

c) Seattle has fumbled 13 times this year, currently the NFL’s third-highest tally.

d) The Seattle defense has recorded just four sacks over the last five weeks (second-worst rate in the NFL).

KANSAS CITY (10-4) @ CHICAGO (7-7)

TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Bears (+6) … Over/Under: 44.5
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers
TV: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)

CHECK THIS OUT: The Bears have given up the second-most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs this season (14).

On the plus side, they haven’t surrendered a single rushing score to the Chiefs since 2003.

MONDAY

GREEN BAY (11-3) @ MINNESOTA (10-4)

TIME: 8:30 p.m. EST
LINE: Vikings (-5.5) … Over/Under: 47
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV ANNOUNCERS: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (ESPN)

AT STAKE: It’s a textbook proposition for the Packers (7-1 at home this year), heading into the final stretch:

**Post road victories over Minnesota and Detroit, and Green Bay will collect a first-round bye for the NFC playoffs.

**Win either matchup … and the Packers shall become NFC North champions — based on a superior intra-division record, compared to the Vikings.

The biggest drama moving forward? It could easily involve the Packers and Saints going through many tiebreakers to determine the No. 2 and 3 seeds (presuming division titles for both).

Something like this:

OVERALL RECORD: 12-4 for both
HEAD-TO-HEAD TIEBREAKER: Not applicable
CONFERENCE MARK: 9-3 for both
RECORD vs. COMMON OPPONENTS: Saints 3-1 (vs. Bears, Cowboys, Panthers Vikings) … and Packers 4-1

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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