Welcome to this week’s edition of NFL Breakdown. We focus on three games you need to check out and all the info that you’ll need ahead of the contests. This week we will look at the matchups between the Steelers and Browns, Cardinals and Rams, and Dolphins and Bills.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Browns -9.5 (-112)
- Point Total: 42
The Steelers have locked down the AFC North division title. Mason Rudolph gets the start at quarterback in what can only be described as head coach Mike Tomlin trying to get him killed. Maybe the week off will be good for the team that started so hot but ended so poorly. Surely Rudolph would love to knock the Browns and Myles Garrett out of playoff contention, but that seems unlikely.
Cleveland finds itself sitting at 10-5 in the final wildcard spot. A win or an Indianapolis loss gets them in. Last week they abandoned the run against the Jets and set themselves up for a huge finale. They hold their fate in their own hands at home. Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and the fourth-ranked rushing offense face a similar task this week. Pittsburgh allows the 8th-fewest rushing yards overall on the year.
Several Steelers starters are sitting this week and even more will likely only play a handful of minutes. As much as everyone has said what happened last season is water under the bridge, Garrett is primed and has “no hesitation” to go after Rudolph. Pittsburgh sits at 9-6 against the spread and 7-7-1 in over/unders. Cleveland is 6-9 and 8-7 respectively. They may have looked past the Jets to this matchup, take the Browns in a big way and the over.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
- Spread: Cardinals -3.5 (-110)
- Point Total: 40.5
Los Angeles won these teams’ previous matchup by ten points a month ago. They are currently on a two-game losing streak. The season hangs in the balance on the back of backup QB John Wolford. At what could not be a worse time, running back Cam Akers is once again listed as questionable. How much McVay magic is left in the tank this year?
Kliff Kingsbury has his own injury concerns in the desert. Safety Budda Baker, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, running back Chase Edmonds, and several others are questionable with injuries. Arizona is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and this divisional game is all that stands in their way.
The Rams are 8-7 against the spread and in over/unders, while the Cardinals are 7-8 and 5-9-1 respectively. Both teams can make the playoffs with a tie and a Chicago loss. The Bears play Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this week, and the money is on Green Bay. Most likely, this game will not end in a tie, but should the Rams and Bears both lose, the two NFC West teams will be in the final two wildcard spots. Love a good confusing scenario, take the Cardinals to cover and the under here.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
- Spread: Bills -3.5 (+102)
- Point Total: 42.5
What a week for the Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Tua Tagovailoa against the Raiders and did enough for the late win. Head Coach Brian Flores will not have Fitzpatrick as a backup option as he is out after a positive COVID-19 test. This game, and potentially Miami’s playoff hopes, lie with Tua. No one had the Dolphins finishing 10-6 or possibly 11-5 so this season is absolutely a win for all involved. It is up to Tagovailoa and whether or not he is ready to lead his team into and through a deep playoff run.
Buffalo has nothing to play for this week. They cannot secure a bye at this point and have already locked up their first AFC East title for the first time in 25 years. Even if they beat Miami, they would still need Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Cleveland to win to eliminate them. Still, there is no indication they will rest their starters. Expect them to treat this contest as a preseason game, however, as it is doubtful the likes of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs play the entire contest.
A lot has to happen to knock Miami out of the playoffs, however, a win would secure their spot. No team enjoys backing into the postseason so expect a full-scale attack from the lesser team. Miami still tops the league at 11-4 against the spread, yet an unimpressive 6-9 in over/unders. Buffalo is second in the league at 10-5 against the spread and a slightly better 9-4-2 in over/unders. Take Miami to get the win and the over as it will take everything they have.
Week 16 Recap: Knew Cincinnati would get it done, but my God was I wrong about Tampa Bay. Hopefully, end the year on a high note.
- Last Week Against the Spread: 2-1
- Last Week Over/Under: 1-1-1
- Season Against the Spread: 20-19
- Season Over/Under: 18-8-1
*Odds via DraftKings