Looking for tide to change this weekend

By Brent Musburger  (VSiN managing editor) 

Funny how all that gossip about Alabama’s Nick Saban being pursued by several NFL franchises was buried alongside his football team after the Clemson beatdown.

I am still licking my financial wounds from the Tide’s debacle, not to mention Da Bears’ “Pinball Wizard” field-goal kicker. I should have listened to my bookmaker friend Jimmy Vaccaro, who taught me a long time ago, “Brent, tease up, not down.” Even former mayor Oscar Goodman chided me for leading him in the wrong direction last weekend.

But let’s listen to the command of a losing horseplayer. Turn the page.

Saturday 4:35 p.m. EST – NBC

Indianapolis (11-6 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) o/u 57

at Kansas City (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) –5½

The forecast calls for up to three inches of snow. We can’t overlook the fact that the Colts are a dome team headed into the teeth of that weather, although they did practice out of their comfort zone in the cold outdoors this week. History still leads us to the Colts, who have beaten the Chiefs four straight times in the playoffs. However, a quarterback named Patrick Mahomes was not part of that history. Despite the weather there are two Colt players besides Andrew Luck who could be difference makers. Running back Marlon Mack, who put up 148 yards last week at Houston, and linebacker Darius Leonard, who leads the NFL in tackles, should keep the Colts within five points.

Saturday 8:15 p.m. EST – Fox

Dallas (11-6 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) o/u 49½

at L.A. Rams (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) –7

The Cowboys can win this game outright, so the seven points are just a bonus. It won’t be easy, especially if Todd Gurley is back to 100 percent for the Rams. But the L.A. attack has not been the same since the loss of Cooper Kupp. All the gushing about Sean McVay’s revolutionary offense overlooks the fact that Jared Goff has not won a playoff game. Remember, the Rams were eliminated at home last year by Atlanta 26-13. The Cowboys have become a much more dangerous offensive team since they picked up receiver Amari Cooper in mid-season. But this game will revolve around running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas offensive line’s ability to control Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. There is certainly enough there for the Cowboys to at least stay within the seven.

Sunday 1:05 p.m. EST – CBS

L.A. Chargers (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) o/u 47½

at New England (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) –4

Like the sharps and the public, I, too, believe that the Patriots are not as good as they have been over the last decade. I would love to see Philip Rivers finally make a Super Bowl, but you all know that I have a time-zone bias. I think this is the toughest road trip of the weekend for any team. The Chargers have been great away from home, but this is three straight weeks – two in a row to the Eastern time zone – and now they have to play in sub-freezing weather. The Chargers may indeed be the better football team, but I’m going to pass simply because I think they have too much to overcome. The Patriots have not lost a playoff game at Gillette Stadium in six years, not since the Ravens upset them in the AFC title game.

Sunday 4:40 p.m. EST – Fox

Philadelphia (10-7 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) o/u 51½

at New Orleans (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS) –8

This is a rematch of a game that was dominated by the Saints 48-7 on Nov. 18, also at the Superdome. But both these teams are far different now than they were then. Saint Nick – not Carson Wentz – is quarterbacking the Eagles, and the Saints attack simply was not the same down the stretch. They covered only one spread in their last five games, and that was a 28-14 win at Tampa Bay on Dec. 9. It says here that the Eagles can stay within the eight.

This weekend I have a pair of two-team, seven-point teasers. On Saturday take the underdog Colts up to plus 12½ and the Cowboys up to plus 14. On Sunday let’s take the Patriots to plus 3 and go up with the Eagles plus 15.

Remember, cashin’ tickets is what it’s all about.

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