Close Calls - Week 16
December 27, 2017
By Joe Nelson
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Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the NFL with several result-changing scores in the final minutes of Week 16.
Baltimore Ravens (-13½) 23, Indianapolis Colts 16 (41): The Ravens led by 10 and 12 at points in the early Saturday game to start Week 16 but never got past the heavy home favorite spread. Those on the ‘under’ got a late scare however as after a Colts field goal with just over four minutes to go left no margin for error, Indianapolis blocked a Ravens punt to get the ball back at the Baltimore 27-yard-line with more than two minutes remaining. A field goal wasn’t in play but the Colts went backwards after reaching the 10-yard-line and ultimately failed on a final 4th down play to keep the scoring to just 39 to stay just ‘under’ a total around 41.
Minnesota Vikings (-9) 16, Green Bay Packers 0 (41): The ‘under’ was a clear winner in frigid conditions in Green Bay Saturday night even with a 10-0 first quarter for the Vikings. For the entirety of the game, one touchdown would have put the underdog Packers in position to cover or push on a spread that was as high as +9½. Green Bay had chances, including eschewing a field goal with 10 minutes remaining and failing on 4th-and-3 from the Minnesota 13-yard-line. The Packers also had a red zone interception early in the game and failed on another 4th down try in long field goal range, ultimately out-gaining the Vikings but featuring two turnovers. Had Green Bay scored late they certainly would have gone for two down by 16 with a conversion attempt that would have made or broken the spread result for everyone involved.
Los Angeles Chargers (-7) 14, New York Jets 7 (42½): Sitting even with the road favorite spread the Chargers endued a late drive that threatened to end the team’s long shot playoff hopes for good. The Jets had a 10-play drive into the red zone but failed on four tries inside the Los Angeles 20-yard-line looking for the tying score. Los Angeles held on defense but couldn’t get a clear cover despite a 379-295 yardage edge while +3 in turnovers.
Kansas City Chiefs (-11) 29, Miami Dolphins 13 (44): Looking to lock up the AFC West the Chiefs never trailed but struggled to pull away from Miami settling for six field goal attempts in the game with five makes. Leading by 10 heading into the fourth quarter on a spread that hit 10½ and 11 at times the Chiefs took advantage of a fumble near midfield to add three points for a 13-point edge. Miami had a chance to answer but missed a 48-yard field goal with 10 minutes remaining. The Chiefs added another three points following a six-minute drive and the defense stopped Miami on downs on the two final possessions for the Dolphins. Kansas City missed a 46-yard kick at the two-minute-warning, three points that could have shifted the total ‘over’.
New England Patriots (-11) 37, Buffalo Bills 16 (47): In a critical game for both teams for different reasons the Bills led 16-13 well into the second half. New England tied the game with just over 20 minutes remaining, sitting well short of the double-digit home favorite spread. After a Buffalo punt the Patriots went 65 yards in four plays to take a seven-point edge into the fourth quarter. Buffalo responded with a productive drive but missed a 50-yard field goal try and the Patriots quickly struck the end zone again to suddenly lead by 14. Another Bills punt followed and New England put the favorite cover and the ‘over’ away with another touchdown drive for a misleading 37-16 final result.
Philadelphia Eagles (-10) 19, Oakland Raiders 10 (45½): After opening at -9 the line on this Monday night game dipped to as low as -8 briefly before climbing to -10. Most of the way it didn’t appear likely to matter as the Raiders and Eagles slogged through a sloppy game and late in the third quarter Oakland led 10-7. The Eagles tied the game heading into the final frame where the score still stood until 22 seconds remaining as Jake Elliott connected for a 48-yard field goal. With a win locking up home field advantage in the NFC playoffs the Eagles had the Raiders down to a final play and as has occurred a few times this season, a desperation lateral play wound up with a defensive touchdown that impacted the spread for many. Philadelphia took a knee instead of attempting a conversion to leave the margin at just nine points.
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