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Battle of the Beatens
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If you don’t have the NFL Network on your TV system this week, that might be a good thing. It would be difficult to come up with a worse matchup than Jacksonville hosting Houston.

Because every team must play a Thursday game under NFL scheduling rules, this AFC South snoozer is on the docket. The loser will have the inside track to the top overall draft pick next spring, particularly if it’s Houston (2-10, No. 32 in the AP Pro32). The Texans are the only team with just two wins.

Jacksonville (3-9, No. 29 AP Pro32) has won three of its last four after starting 0-8 but is a 3-point underdog to a team that has dropped a franchise-record 10 straight games.

“It’s the NFL. You’re going to win or lose each week,” Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts said after hearing belittling comments from vanquished opponents. “You’ve got to bring your best that week. For us, we’re getting better. We’ve been 3-1 since the bye week, so if they’ve got a problem with it, come see us. That’s how I feel about it.”

Here’s how we feel about it: JAGUARS, 19-17

No. 12 Dallas (pick-em) at No. 16 Chicago, Monday night: What’s more dangerous than trusting Dallas? How about making Cowboys the best bet?


No. 28 Oakland (plus 2½) at No. 23 New York Jets: Don’t think Jets should be favored over anybody.


No. 3 (tie) Carolina (plus 4) at No. 5 New Orleans: Angry Saints get some home cooking to soothe them.

SAINTS, 24-21

No. 1 Seattle (plus 3) at No. 6 San Francisco: Already in playoffs, Seahawks can grab NFC West with victory. Nope ...

49ERS, 21-20

No. 9 Indianapolis (plus 5½) at No. 8 Cincinnati: Colts can grab AFC South with win. Nope ...

BENGALS, 26-20

No. 11 Detroit (plus 2½) at No. 10 Philadelphia: Hard to trust Lions on the road, but they will scare Eagles. EAGLES, 30-28

No. 7 Kansas City (minus 3½) at No. 31 Washington: Chiefs get back to winning ways after rugged run. CHIEFS, 23-17

No. 25 Minnesota (plus 7) at No. 14 Baltimore: Vikings fitting spoiler role well. But Ravens smell playoffs.

RAVENS, 21-13

No. 15 Miami (plus 3) at No. 18 Pittsburgh: Last gasp for Steelers to stay relevant. STEELERS, 21-20

No. 22 Tennessee (plus 12) at No. 2 Denver: Broncos need to win out to secure home-field advantage in postseason, for what it’s worth.

BRONCOS, 37-27

No. 19 (tie) St. Louis (plus 6½) at No. 13 Arizona:  If Cardinals can protect Carson Palmer, they are dangerous.


No. 19 (tie) New York Giants (plus 3) at No. 17 San Diego: Remember that Eli Manning was dealt for Philip Rivers? Rivers having much better year.


No. 24 Buffalo (plus 2½) at No. 26 (tie) Tampa Bay: Two teams playing out the string. Go with the home squad.


No. 30 Atlanta (OFF) at No. 21 Green Bay: Packers still have a glimmer of hope for playoffs.

PACKERS, 22-21

No. 26 (tie) Cleveland (OFF) at No. 3 (tie) New England: Too bad there’s no spread here because of Browns QB situation. Could have been best bet.