In a rare treat, we’ve got pro football on a Saturday this weekend, and the Showstopper is here for it.
We’re breaking down everything you need to know for Raiders vs. Browns this Saturday, as well as Packers vs. Ravens on the Sunday slate.
We’ll also take a close look at the star-studded NBA showdown between the Nuggets and Nets.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
Saturday, December 18 | TV: NFL Network
Cleveland might have to scrap together a team this week with whoever’s left. After Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19, both of their availabilities for Saturday’s crucial game remains in doubt. If Mayfield doesn’t turn in two negative tests by Saturday, it’ll be up to QB Case Keenum to lead the charge. In total, the Browns have placed at least a dozen players on the COVID-19/reserve list, including a bunch of offensive and defensive starters. Among the notable names, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, tight end Austin Hooper, safety John Johnson III, and right guard Wyatt Teller.
While the NFLPA is pushing for a postponement of this game, so far it doesn’t look like the game will be moved. All that adds up to a big advantage for the Raiders, who are coming off a 48-9 defeat to the Chiefs on the road. The Raiders may have lost five of their last six games, but they’re still mathematically alive in the playoff race. With nearly half of Cleveland’s offensive line now on the shelf, Las Vegas has a sizable edge in the trenches. On the offensive end, expect quarterback Derek Carr to keep targeting his most reliable target in Hunter Renfrow, who has surpassed 100 receiving yards in three straight games.
Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, December 19 | TV: FOX
The Bears D thought they had Aaron Rodgers cornered, but the reigning MVP had the last laugh in a 45-30 victory last Sunday. Rodgers has been red-hot as he prepares to face a Ravens secondary that ranks almost last in passing yards allowed per game (266.1). The Ravens are trying to bounce back from a heartbreaking 24-22 loss to the Browns. Overall, they’ve been pretty tough at home, sporting a 5-1 record at M&T Bank Stadium. Unfortunately, their offense has also sputtered over the last five games, with an average of 16.6 points per contest.
Keep a close eye on the status of Lamar Jackson’s ankle. The Ravens QB did not participate in Thursday’s practice and he’s currently trending toward missing Sunday’s game. Six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is also dealing with a thigh injury suffered in last week’s game. Baltimore would have a tough time filling those voids. If you’re scanning for prop bets, you might want to check out Davante Adams. Over his last three games, the Green Bay wide receiver has tallied 25 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
Denver Nuggets vs. Brooklyn Nets
Sunday, December 19 | TV: NBA TV
MVP candidate Kevin Durant has been a beast on both ends of the floor for the Nets, who are 10-5 at home as they head into a showdown with the Nuggets. Durant is averaging 33 points in the month of December, with 6.5 assists and 1.5 blocks to fill out the stat sheet. Although the Nuggets have struggled with a 6-9 record on the road, center Nikola Jokic has seemingly been matchup-proof and continues to be a triple-double threat every night. The Joker is averaging 9.5 assists over his last eight games.
Brooklyn will be playing back-to-back games after facing Orlando on Saturday night, so there could be some tired legs out on the floor, as the Nuggets look to take advantage. The Nets have a total of seven players on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list, including star guard James Harden, which will likely mean even more usage for Durant, as well as point guard Patty Mills. The Aussie has bumped his scoring average to 16.6 points per game in the month of December and recently dropped a season-high 30 points on the Raptors.