The annual Army-Navy game assumes the spotlight on Saturday before Week 15 of the NFL season takes center stage on Sunday. This is your Weekend Primer.
FIVE HOT TOPICS
1. Until next year: A host of big-name players were shut down this week with injuries. Bucs receiver Mike Evans, Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley, Bengals receiver Auden Tate, Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny and Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery are all done for the season.
2. Coaching hot seats: There are plenty of coaches feeling the heat — including Jason Garrett in Dallas — but none may be toastier than Doug Marrone in Jacksonville. Off a humiliating home loss to the Chargers, the Jags may need to get it done against the Raiders for Marrone to survive another week.
3. Lost season in Cleveland: The Baker Mayfield Experiment has veered wildly off track in 2019, and things are only getting worse with Mayfield accusing the Browns staff of mishandling Odell Beckham’s health. Barring a miracle finish, there could be major changes coming in Cleveland.
4. Miami via Baltimore: By dismantling the Jets on Thursday night for their 10th straight win, the Ravens have virtually assured that the path to Super Bowl LIV in Miami will run through Baltimore. With a win in Cleveland next Sunday, the Ravens will formally lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
5. Heisman a formality: Four players will attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York on Saturday night, but it’s pretty much a certainty that Joe Burrow will grab the hardware. The LSU quarterback just polished off one of the greatest seasons in history, throwing for 4,715 yards with a 48/6 TD/INT ratio and a 77.9 completion percentage.
Saturday’s annual Army-Navy game has seen sharp action on both the under at 43 and 42.5 (total down to 40.5) as well as Army +10.5. The NFL card has generated professional interest on the Rams at multiple price points vs. the Cowboys (number has moved from Rams +3 to -1.5) and the Chargers +2.5 vs. the Vikings (number down to 1.5). The total in the Texans-Titans game has also been hit by sharp money, with over money fueling an adjustment up to 51 from 48.
Army (+320) vs Navy: Army has won the last three against Navy and these games are traditionally tight. The underdog has covered the last eight in this matchup, with the dog winning two of the last three outright.
Texans (+145) at Titans: The AFC South title will be decided by these two teams, who will meet twice in the final three weeks. Houston has enjoyed the upper hand in the series the past few years, winning seven of the last 10. Last week’s no-show at home vs. the Broncos would indicate the Texans were looking ahead to this game.
Saturday — Army (+10.5) vs. Navy: The traditional regular-season finale of the college campaign sees the armed forces square off in Philadelphia. The Black Knights have won the last three, but No. 23 Navy has put together a 9-2 season, their best since 2015. None of the last seven Army-Navy games have topped 41 points.
Sunday — Bills (+1.5) at Steelers: The AFC wild card race will come down to these two teams and the AFC South runner-up. The winner of this game will have the inside track to the No. 5 seed in the AFC and a likely date with the winner of the AFC South. That would mean avoiding the Chiefs or Patriots in the wild card round, which makes this game even more important.