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PIGSKIN PERFECTION: The glorious ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview of NFL Week 15

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Bills-Broncos, Panthers-Packers, Browns-Giants, Eagles-Cardinals and Chiefs-Saints highlight an underrated slate of Week 15 matchups.

Four 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 programming.

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 3-7 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

SATURDAY

BUFFALO (10-3) @ DENVER (5-8)

TIME: 4:30 p.m. EST
LINE: Broncos (+5 1/2) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Clete Blakeman
TV CREW: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Lindsay Czarniak (NFLN)

FUN FACTOIDS: Bills QB Josh Allen, likely a top-4 candidate for NFL MVP, has accounted for 300 yards passing and/or multiple touchdowns in all six road games this season.

Digging deeper, Allen (3,641 yards passing, 34 total TDs, 9 INTs in 2020) has notched multiple TDs in his previous five meetings with AFC West foes.

What’s more, the Broncos have allowed the most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this year — a four-way tie with the Falcons, Chargers and Bills.

Now for the bad news: Denver has surrendered the second-fewest passing touchdowns this season, a paltry rate of 1.23 per game.

CAROLINA (4-9) @ GREEN BAY (10-3)

TIME: 8:15 p.m. EST
LINE: Packers (-8) … Over/Under: 51.5
REFEREE: Alex Kemp
TV CREW: Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner, Melissa Stark (NFL Network)
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
 It’s a simple proposition for the Packers (clinched the NFC North last week), moving forward: Win out for the final three games (vs. Denver, vs. Tennessee, @ Chicago) … and Green Bay will clinch the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs.

WHAT’S AT STAKE, PART II: The Panthers are still mathematically alive for earning a top-4 pick in next April’s draft.

However, for that to happen, it’ll likely require a finishing kick of three consecutive defeats.

SUNDAY

SEATTLE (9-4) @ WASHINGTON (6-7)

TIME: 1 p.m. EST
LINE: Seahawks (-6) … Over/Under: 43.5
REFEREE: Adrian Hill
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake (FOX)

DIAL ‘S’ FOR STINGY: Washington’s rough-and-tumble defense has been on a certifiable tear of late, yielding only 133 points over its last eight games (16.6 average); and during this span, just one club eclipsed the 24-point mark against the Woofties.

That lone offensive juggernaut: Surprisingly, it’s the sad-sack Lions (30 points in Week 10).

Which brings us to this …

BETTOR’S HUNCH: Here’s another reason to explain the super-low over/under of 43.5 points:

The Seahawks have merely averaged 24 points since Week 10, a number (artificially) bolstered by last week’s 40-3 rout of the still-winless Jets. However, it’s a noticeable departure from Seattle’s weekly average of 34.3 points in its first eight games.

CHICAGO (6-7) @ MINNESOTA (6-7)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Vikings (-3) … Over/Under: 46
REFEREE: Shawn Smith
TV ANNOUNCERS: Chris Myers, Greg Jennings, Jennifer Hale (FOX)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The winner of Sunday’s clash will remain in the NFC playoff chase.

And for the loser, you can pretty much write ’em off for the postseason, due to a poor record (6-8) and marginal-at-best conference mark.

BETTOR’S HUNCH: It’s OK to be weary of the over/under tally of 46 points. Citing their last nine head-to-head clashes in Minnesota, the Bears and Vikings combined for aggregate averages of 37.7 points per outing — significantly lower than this weekend’s gambling number.

In fact, citing the above stat, Chicago and Minnesota collectively surpassed the 46-point mark only twice during this period (when playing at the Vikings’ home).

HOUSTON (4-9) @ INDIANAPOLIS (9-4)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Colts (-7 1/2) … Over/Under: 51
REFEREE: Bill Vinovich
TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely (CBS)

BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: Colts wideout and noted Texans killer T.Y. Hilton owns robust averages of 5.7 catches, eight targets, 89 yards and 1.3 TDs in his last three outings.

What makes him a Texans killer, you ask?

Well, charting his last eight encounters with Houston, Hilton reached the elite-level threshold of 100 yards and/or one touchdown six times.

SAN FRANCISCO (5-8) @ DALLAS (4-9)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Cowboys (+3) … Over/Under: 45
REFEREE: Land Clark
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (CBS)

NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE: When the NFL schedule came out last April, 49ers-Cowboys was tagged as a potential Game Of The Year candidate.

Fast forward to the present, this matchup has been flexed downward … into the large pile of pedestrian 1 p.m. kickoffs.

FANTASY NUGGET: There’s a good news/bad news proposition involving Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott:

Citing his two career meetings with the Niners, Elliott boasts otherworldly averages of 188 total yards and two touchdowns.

On the down side, Elliott’s ongoing streak of eight consecutive games without a rushing touchdown will likely continue, given how San Francisco has given up the third-fewest rushing touchdowns to opposing tailbacks.

WEEK 15 PREP WORK

PASSING FANCY: Jackson, Mahomes, Rodgers headline the QB rankings
RUN TO GLORY: Cook, Chubb, Henry, Kamara carry the top 60 tailbacks
TARGET PRACTICE: Adams, Diggs, Hilton highlight the top 75 PPR WRs
MOUNTAIN MEN: Kelce, Waller, Hockenson lead the top 30 tight ends

PIGSKIN PARTY: The ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview of NFL Week 15
WANNA BET? Our 15 sweetest $$$$$ picks for the NFL, NCAAF weekend

NEW ENGLAND (6-7) @ MIAMI (8-5)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Dolphins (-1 1/2) … Over/Under: 41.5
REFEREE: Brad Allen
TV ANNOUNCERS: Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (CBS)

STRANGE BUT TRUE: This season, Patriots QB Cam Newton has tallied multiple efforts of 365-plus yards passing; and yet, through 12 starts, Newton hasn’t thrown for multiple touchdowns in a single game.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Dolphins currently possess the tiebreaker (over the Ravens) for the AFC’s final wild-card slot, given the club’s slightly better conference record (5-4).

Here’s some more tangible motivation: With a Sunday victory, Miami would eliminate New England (11 consecutive AFC East titles from 2009-19) from postseason consideration.

DETROIT (5-8) @ TENNESSEE (9-4)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Titans (-11) … Over/Under: 51.5
REFEREE: Jerome Boger
TV ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta (CBS)

TRIVIA TIME: Can you name the last Lions quarterback NOT named Matthew Stafford to post a regular-season victory as the starter?

On Jan. 2, 2011, Shaun Hill (258 yards passing, 1 TD) led Detroit to an uneventful 20-13 win over Minnesota, capping the Lions’ needless run of four consecutive triumphs to close out the 2010 campaign (6-10 overall).

What made it a needless run?

For April 2011, Detroit slid down to the 13th overall pick, eventually opting for a so-so performer in Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

With a top-5 pick, the Lions would have had their choice of future All-Pros, namely Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Tyron Smith, Patrick Peterson or J.J. Watt.

CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’: The Lions defense ranks dead-last in rushing touchdowns (16) and total TDs allowed to opposing tailbacks (23).

That doesn’t bode well for this week’s matchup with Titans dynamo Derrick Henry, who has amassed 170-plus rushing yards nine times in the last three seasons.

TAMPA BAY (8-5) @ ATLANTA (4-9)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Falcons (+6) … Over/Under: 48.5
REFEREE: Brad Rogers
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Burkhardt, Darryl Johnston, Pam Oliver (FOX)

FANTASY NUGGET: The older version of Bucs QB Tom Brady might be frustrating to watch every Sunday, given his propensity for missing WIDE OPEN receivers across the middle (sorry, Chris Godwin owners).

But here’s something to celebrate, relative to the fantasy playoffs: Charting his last three outings played indoors, Brady boasts stellar averages of 311 yards passing and 3.7 touchdowns.

JACKSONVILLE (1-12) @ BALTIMORE (8-5)

TIME: 1 p.m.
LINE: Ravens (-13) … Over/Under: 47.5
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers
TV ANALYSTS: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Sherree Burruss (CBS)

PLEASE, NO ‘POOP’ JOKES: Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson (six TDs since Week 13) draws a Jaguars defense that has allowed the third-most total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks.

PHILADELPHIA (4-8-1) @ ARIZONA (7-6)

TIME: 4:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Cardinals (-6 1/2) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Craig Wrolstad
TV ANNOUNCERS: Brandon Gaudin, Aqib Talib, Sara Walsh (FOX)

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH: Do you recall that famous Family Guy episode when Brian and Stewie accidentally place themselves OUTSIDE the space-time continuum, after a botched mission with their time machine?

As a result, the two characters were temporarily mired in a limbo state (for cartoon effect, an endless white background) … where nothing happens and there are no consequences for any actions.

That’s how I feel about Sunday’s matchup in Glendale:

If the Eagles win on the road, technically they’re still alive for the NFC East crown; and the Cardinals’ playoff odds likely won’t change much this weekend — win or lose vs. Philly — since the Bears and Vikings (both 6-7) go head-to-head earlier in the day.

N.Y. JETS (0-13) @ L.A. RAMS (9-4)

TIME: 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Rams (-17) … Over/Under: 43.5
REFEREE: Tony Corrente
TV ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Kugler, Brock Huard, Laura Okmin (FOX)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: It’s perfectly natural for gamblers to be skittish about covering a 17-point spread, even if the underdog has zero wins on the year.

But then again, we’re talking about the utterly hopeless Jets (minus one Herculean effort vs. the Raiders). So, here are four golden reasons to take the Rams and the points, come Sunday:

a) Eight of New York’s 13 defeats involved a final spread of double-digit points.

b) The anemic Jets are averaging 10.7 points on the road this season.

c) The opposition has scored a minimum of 27 points 10 times. (Last week’s 40-spot represents the season high.)

d) The Jets have surrendered the most passing touchdowns (28) and total TDs to opposing quarterbacks.

KANSAS CITY (12-1) vs. NEW ORLEANS (10-3)

TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST
LINE: Saints (+3) … Over/Under: 52
REFEREE: Scott Novak

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (CBS)
FANTASY FIX: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been shredding opposing defenses all year.

In fact, since Week 5, the all-world fantasy asset boasts a nine-game average 7.3 catches, 106 yards and 0.8 TDs.

DON’T EVEN SAY IT: The three worst words an NFL pundit can whisper during the months of November and December are Super Bowl Preview.

It’s an exasperating and lazy comment; and yet, without fail, we hear it pretty much every year.

Bottom line: Even if New Orleans and Kansas City were to reach Super Sunday two months from now, Sunday’s clash would likely have zero impact on the hypothetical result in February.

So, stop pretending like this week’s battle means anything … beyond the seeding consequences for the NFL postseason.

That said, we will acknowledge the enormity of quarterback Drew Brees returning to the Saints’ passing game.

From our perspective, there’s no world in which Taysom Hill can outlast Patrick Mahomes in a 60-minute shootout.

CLEVELAND (9-4) @ N.Y. GIANTS (5-8)

TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST
LINE: Giants (+6 1/2) … Over/Under: 44
REFEREE: Shawn
Hochuli
TV ANALYSTS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)
BETTOR’S HUNCH: The Giants are 0-3 against NFC West foes this season, with an average defeat margin of 18 points.

Conversely, for its other five losses, New York’s average defeat margin shrinks considerably to just four points.

Our rationale: Gleefully grab the home team for this prime-time matchup. Heck, the desperate Giants (trailing by one game in the NFC East) might even be straight-up winners.

MONDAY

PITTSBURGH (11-2) @ CINCINNATI (2-10-1)

TIME: 8:15 p.m. EST
LINE: Bengals (+13) … Over/Under: 40.5
REFEREE: Clay Martin
TV CREW: Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters (ESPN)

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Two weeks ago, there were rumblings of the Steelers becoming the first NFL team since 2007 to post a 16-0 record during the regular season.

Fast forward to the present: Pittsburgh cannot afford any more slip-ups down the stretch, or it could fall to the No. 3 seed for the AFC postseason (behind Kansas City and Buffalo).

For those with short memories, the 10-3 Bills possess the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers.

FANTASY FIX: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger gets headlines for carving up the Browns on regular basis. But don’t fall asleep on his production against the OTHER team based in Ohio.

Charting his last seven encounters with the Bengals, Big Ben holds robust averages of 293 yards passing and two touchdowns.

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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