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NFL Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Saints-Falcons, Pats-Dolphins, Bills-Jets, 49ers-Rams, More

NFL Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Saints-Falcons, Pats-Dolphins, Bills-Jets, 49ers-Rams, More article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Colts RB Jonathan Taylor, Steelers RB Najee Harris

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions

Click on a matchup to skip to that preview
Saints-Falcons
4:25 p.m. ET
Panthers-Bucs
4:25 p.m. ET
Seahawks-Cardinals
4:25 p.m. ET
49ers-Rams
4:25 p.m. ET
Jets-Bills
4:25 p.m. ET
Patriots-Dolphins
4:25 p.m. ET

Note that all defensive pressure stats are courtesy of Pro Football Reference, all DVOA starts are via Football Outsiders, and all other stats are courtesy of PFF unless otherwise noted.



Saints at Falcons

Saints Odds -3.5
Falcons Odds +3.5
Over/Under 40
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

As Stuckey points out in his excellent piece on final-week motivation, teams that need to win in the final week of the regular season to get into the playoffs (or would need help with a loss) have gone 16-26 (38.1%) ATS when playing teams with zero incentive since 2003.

The Falcons probably shouldn’t even be underdogs at all at home against a team they beat outright as 6-point dogs on the road earlier in the season. The Saints’ biggest strength is their run defense, which doesn’t really factor in here, as the Falcons average the fifth-fewest rushing attempts per game (23.8). Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore is having one of his worst seasons, and Matt Ryan had one of his best games of the season in the first meeting despite Lattimore splitting time on the Falcons’ two best receivers, Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage.

The Saints’ incentive is way overpriced here, as the Falcons will likely be just as motivated to end their division rival’s season just as their own was ended by the Bills last week.

Kyle Pitts can break Mike Ditka’s rookie tight end receiving yardage mark with 59 yards, so I would also look to bet the over on his yardage prop. Pitts’ prop is around 60-61 and he posted 62 yards in the first meeting, but I bet an alt market at 58.5 just to be safe.

Picks: Falcons +3.5 (bet to +3); Kyle Pitts Over 58.5 Rec Yards (bet to 61.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Taysom Hill has posted a reliable floor as a starter, topping 17 fantasy points in three of four games started. Facing a Falcons defense that is ranked 29th in overall DVOA, Hill is a top-five QB option this week and is the ideal cash game play, as the Saints are fighting for their playoff lives.

The Falcons rank 20th or worse in DVOA against every position except RB, which is the position the Saints need to be throwing the most to with Alvin Kamara. With that said, the Falcons’ ranking of 13th in DVOA on targets to RBs is not prohibitive, and they clock as a bottom-three run defense, so this is an excellent spot to play Kamara at what is projected to be a single-digit roster percentage.

The return of Deonte Harris and potentially Tre’Quan Smith will put a dent into Marquez Callaway’s target share and cut into Lil’ Jordan Humphrey’s snaps. There’s no way to reliably predict which Saints WR will go off, and the most likely outcome is that none of them do, as Hill is averaging just 203.8 passing yards in his four starts. The same is true at TE, where Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett and Juwan Johnson will split work.

Dennis Allen’s defense plays man coverage at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. Kyle Pitts’s 2.57 YPRR versus man would be a major asset if he is able to suit up after practicing Thursday and Friday despite a hamstring injury. This type of coverage should also lead to success for Russell Gage, who is averaging 2.57 YPRR versus man compared to 1.69 against zone. No other WR or TE averages even one yard per route in single coverage.

Russell Gage
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Falcons WR Russell Gage

Marshon Lattimore split his time between Gage and Pitts when these teams met back in Week 9, but he has not been a cornerback to fear this season, allowing a passer rating above 100 for just the second time in his five-year career while surrendering a career-high 16.5 yards per reception. Olamide Zaccheaus popped for two TDs in the first meeting but still totaled just three catches for 58 yards. It stands as his only fantasy-relevant game of the season and is highly unlikely to repeat. Tajae Sharpe has been a on-factor despite playing over Zaccheaus most weeks.

Matt Ryan completed 23-of-30 passes for 343 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in the first meeting. In what amounts to Atlanta’s Super Bowl, I like Ryan as a contrarian dart throw against a pass-funnel Saints D.

Cordarrelle Patterson was used heavily as a WR in the first matchup, catching six passes for 126 yards. Unfortunately, he has been used as more of a true between-the-tackles runner as of late, making him a fade against the league’s best run defense. Mike Davis is averaging 10.8 touches per game and has scored just four times all year. He is also an easy fade in this matchup.

  • Cash Plays: QB Taysom Hill
  • GPP Plays: QB Matt Ryan, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Russell Gage, TE Kyle Pitts

Panthers at Buccaneers

Panthers Odds +8.5
Bucs Odds -8.5
Over/Under 41.5
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV CBS
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

Two weeks ago, the Bucs beat the Panthers 32-6 at less than full strength. Bruce Arians has come out and stated that he will be playing to win in order to get the Buccaneers a franchise-record 13 wins. I’m not willing to play -8 after the shaky performance against the Jets last week, but I love teasing the Bucs down under a field goal.

There’s also a major prop angle in this game, as Rob Gronkowkski can make $500,000 with seven more catches, another $500,000 with 85 more yards, and another $500,000 with three more TDs. I haven’t seen a reception prop for him as of writing, but his yardage prop is still more than 15 yards short of 85 — smash it.

I may also look to bet on Gronk in the alt-TD market, so be sure to follow me in the app.

Picks: Tease Bucs from -8 down to -2 (bet to -8.5/-2.5); Rob Gronkowski Over 66.5 Rec Yards (bet to 84.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Tom Brady has seemingly taken a liking to Cyril Grayson, a fifth-year undrafted free agent out of LSU. Grayson has played four games this season, and has recorded 80-plus yards and/or a TD in each of the past three. With Antonio Brown no longer on the team, Grayson will likely start alongside Mike Evans and Tyler Johnson. Grayson makes sense as a cash-game punt play with more upside than usual for players of the sort.

The Panthers are a top-five team in DVOA versus TEs, but I expect Brady to force-feed Rob Gronkowski here, especially down another top pass catcher in the wake of Brown’s release. Seven catches, 85 yards and three TDs will each unlock contract incentives for Gronk, who is expected to be in fewer than 5% of entries. Evans’ only known incentive in this game is that he could post his eighth straight 1,000-yards season with 54 yards. He has an easy matchup to boot, as the Panthers are ranked 26th in DVOA versus opposing No. 1 WRs. Like Gronk, Evans projects for a sub-5% roster percentage.

Brady has an outside shot to set the all-time passing yardage mark if he throws for 488, so I wouldn’t hesitate to fire him up in GPPs.

James Gilbert/Getty Images, Pictured: Tom Brady

After suffering a rib injury in Week 17, Ke’Shawn Vaughn practiced in full all week and was not listed on the final injury report. With Ronald Jones out, Vaughn will lead the backfield and has an outside shot at seeing Leonard Fournette-like usage. Le’Veon Bell will likely mix in, but the Bucs want to win this game, so I doubt a washed Bell plays a substantial role with Vaughn healthy. Vaughn is a strong GPP play at what is expected to be sub-5% rostership.

The Bucs held D.J. Moore to 5/55/0 on 12 targets two weeks ago. He is expected to be one of the most highly-rostered WRs on the slate, making him an easy fade. Robby Anderson (5/58/0) was just as unproductive on 10 targets. Brandon Zylstra had been sharing the WR3 role with Terrace Marshall, who has since been placed on IR, but played just three snaps last week. With Shi Smith not activated off the COVID list, Zylstra will likely be an every-down player with Anderson (questionable-quad) iffy after not practicing all week.

Tommy Tremble is back off the COVID list and will continue to split irrelevant reps at TE with Ian Thomas.

Scam Darnold has been exposed for the player we thought he was in New York, topping two TDs in only one of his 10 starts. Unfortunately, the Bucs DST is too pricey on DraftKings at $4,000 and projected to be too highly rostered on FanDuel at 14-15%.

Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah are mired in a near-even committee, with Hubbard logging 52% of the snaps last week while Abdullah handled the remaining 48%. Neither have a 20-point ceiling against a Bucs defense that is allowing 91.4 yards per game, third-fewest.

  • Cash Plays: WR Cyril Grayson
  • GPP Plays: QB Tom Brady, RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Mike Evans, WR Brandon Zylstra, TE Rob Gronkowski

Seahawks at Cardinals

Seahawks Odds +5.5
Cardinals Odds -5.5
Over/Under 48.5
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

A.J. Green can unlock a $250,000 incentive with 75 yards and another $250,000 with 10 catches. The former is doable, especially since he is facing a Seahawks defense that lives in zone, playing it at the NFL’s second-highest rate. Green leads all Cardinals pass catchers with 2.32 yards per route run versus zone coverage (min. 5 targets). There’s a nice 20-yard cushion between the incentive and his yardage prop.

D.K Metcalf’s yardage prop is also in play here, as he is 91 yards short of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Despite a strong pass defense, the Cardinals rank just 22nd in DVOA on passes to the offensive left, which is where Metcalf sees the majority of his targets.

Picks: A.J. Green Over 54.5 Rec Yards (bet to 74.5); D.K. Metcalf Over 56.5 Rec Yards (bet to 90.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

The Seahawks are 27th in DVOA against the pass but eighth versus the run, so this is a week to fade James Conner as potentially the most highly-rostered RB on the slate. Kyler Murray is expected to be in only two-thirds as many lineups and makes for an excellent leverage play.

Seattle plays zone coverage at the league’s third-highest clip, which should lead to a big day for A.J. Green, who leads the team’s active pass catchers with 2.32 YPRR versus zone. It’s also worth noting that Green could unlock contract incentives with another 10 catches and 75 yards. Christian Kirk is second with 1.94 yards per route against zone, but he’s expected to be one of the most highly-rostered WRs on the slate. Zach Ertz is averaging a better YPRR mark versus zone (1.45) than man (1.26), and the Seahawks are 23rd in DVOA versus TEs, but is an easy fade as the TE projected to be in the most tournament lineups on the slate. Antoine Wesley is better against man (1.20 YPRR) than zone (0.96) and will likely be the odd man out in this matchup.

In what could possibly be his last game as a Seahawk, Russell Wilson is projected to be in just 5% of lineups. The Cardinals are third in defensive passing DVOA overall but 22 on passes to the left, which is where D.K. Metcalf sees the majority of his targets and leads Seattle with 57. Metcalf is 91 yards short of his second straight 1,000-yard season. The Wilson-Metcalf stack is a prime Week 18 play. Even in a tougher matchup, Tyler Lockett is still in play, as he is projected for rostership in the single digits. The Cardinals are third in DVOA versus TEs, so this is not the week to play Gerald Everett (it almost never is).

The Cardinals rank fifth in rushing DVOA, so this is a week to fade Rashaad Penny, whose price has jumped $1,000+ over the past two weeks.

  • Cash Plays: None
  • GPP Plays: QB Kyler Murray, QB Russell Wilson, WR D.K. Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett, WR A.J. Green

49ers at Rams

49ers Odds +3.5
Rams Odds -3.5
Over/Under 44.5
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

Kyle Shanahan simply has Sean McVay’s number.

Shanahan is 6-3 ATS against McVay, covering by an average of 4.8 points per game. The 49ers have won each of last five straight up, including a 31-10 beatdown in the first meeting this season. In that game, the 49ers out-gained the Rams 335-278 and scored on four of eight drives (excluding kneel-downs) while the Rams scored on just two of 10 drives. The 49ers won despite committing nine penalties to the Rams’ five, and with Cooper Kupp going off for 122 yards on 11 catches.

Despite the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., Matthew Stafford has been indecisive as of late and has struggled over the second half of the season, perhaps due to the loss of Robert Woods.

  • First eight games: 68.9% completion rare, 9.1 YPA, 118 rating, 22 TD, 4 INT, 2.53 time to throw
  • Last eight games: 65.9% completion rate, 7.3 YPA, 90 rating, 16 TD, 11 INT, 2.76 time to throw

Shanahan made a cagey move with his own QBs, forcing the Rams to prepare for both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Regardless of which one starts, I expect Shanahan to keep up his success against McVay with a playoff berth on the line.

Speaking of Kupp, he is 136 yards away from Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season receiving mark. According to Football Outsiders, San Francisco’s defense allows the most schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers (87.1).

Everything is lining up for the over in his yardage prop to cash.

Picks: 49ers +3.5 (bet to +3); Cooper Kupp Over 118.5 Rec Yards (bet to 135.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Cooper Kupp is 136 yards away from breaking Calvin Johnson’s receiving yardage record and 12 catches away from Michael Thomas’ all-time receptions mark. Kupp should be locked into cash game lineups this week.

The 49ers play zone at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL, which reveals a clear second-fiddle option to Kupp:

  • Van Jefferson: 1.77 YPRR vs. zone, 0.66 YPRR vs. man
  • Odell Beckham Jr.: 1.47 YPRR vs. zone, 2.04 YPRR vs. man

Matthew Stafford has a top-four ceiling projection and has a chance to land in the single digits in rostership percentage. He’s one of the top plays on the board at QB. Tyler Higbee is in a tough spot against the league’s second-best defense against TEs by DVOA; he’s a fade.

Cam Akers is expected to make his return from an Achilles injury he suffered in camp. Akers was not listed on the injury report, so it begs the question of just how much he will cut into Sony Michel’s role. Michel is expected to draw double-digit rostership against a 49ers defense that is ranked second in DVOA against the run, so it makes sense to fade him this week.

sony-michel-fantasy-football-start-sit-darrell-henderson-covid-19-week-14
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: Sony Michel #25 of the Los Angeles Rams

Elijah Mitchell has at least 17 DraftKings points in each of his past three games and has been held to single digits only three times all season. He’s way too cheap at $6,000 and is cash-viable there. The Rams are ranked fourth in defensive rushing DVOA, but that didn’t stop the 49ers from piling up 156 yards on the ground when these teams met in Week 10.

The Rams play zone coverage at the second-highest rate in the league, behind only the Raiders. Among 103 WRs with at least 24 targets, Deebo Samuel ranks No. 1 with 3.59 YPRR versus zone coverage; no other WR has more than 2.93. George Kittle’s 2.83 YPRR versus zone also ranks tops among the 41 TEs with at least 15 targets this season. Kittle is also 91 receiving yards shy of 1,000. Brandon Aiyuk’s 1.95 YPRR versus zone is sold, but he hasn’t caught a TD in zone while Samuel has four and Kittle has two.

Jimmy Garoppolo (questionable-finger) will be an intriguing option at sub-1% rostership if he gets cleared to play. Trey Lance will draw a much higherrostership percentage if he starts, but is still worth playing given his salary.

  • Cash Plays: RB Elijah Mitchell, WR Cooper Kupp
  • GPP Plays: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (if starting), WR Deebo Samuel, WR Van Jefferson, TE George Kittle

Jets at Bills

Jets Odds +16.5
Bills Odds -16.5
Over/Under 40.5
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV CBS
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

Winds upwards of 15mph and rain or snow is in the forecast — conditions we’ve already seen the Bills offense struggle in: Josh Allen completed just 15-of-30 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown in the wind against the Patriots in Week 13, and was even worse in the snow against the Falcons last week, going 11-of-26 for 120 yards, no TDs and three interceptions.

Allen is ranked 21st with a 74.5% in adjusted completion rate — a PFF metric that removes drops, throwaways, etc. — and his inaccuracy has hurt the Bills in inclement weather. Zach Wilson is 35th in adjusted completion rate, so offense will be tough to come by for both teams.

According to our Action Labs data, since 2003, divisional unders with a total of 39.5 or more in Week 10 or later have hit at a 58.2% rate (432-310-15).

Pick: Under 40.5 (bet to 39.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Devin Singletary has seized control of the Bills backfield late in his Year 3 campaign, totaling 235 rushing yards on 57 carries with four TDs over his past three games. Singletary is a locked-in cash game play against a Jets run defense that has been shredded for an NFL-high 27 TDs while allowing 136.3 yards per game, fourth-most.

The top play in the Bills passing game is Stefon Diggs, who needs six catches to reach 100 and unlock contract escalators for 2022 and 2023. Diggs has positive Leverage Plus Minus scores on both sits in our models, meaning that he ranks higher in projected ceiling than projected rostership.

Despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh, talent deficiencies have caused the Jets to be abysmal in pass defense against every position – none more so than TE, where they rank dead last in DVOA. I think this is a sneaky bounce-back spot for Dawson Knox, who projects for sub-5% rostership.

The Jets are 12th in man coverage rate, so this doesn’t profile as a Cole Beasley game, as he is averaging 1.13 YPRR versus man compared to 1.71 against zone. Given that this is the final game of the regular season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Beasley cedes snaps to Isaiah McKenzie, who likely won’t see enough snaps for consideration on the main slate but is an excellent option for one-game slates and a solid contrarian dart in afternoon-only contests.

Gabriel Davis leads the Bills in YPPR versus man (2.32), but the weather could limit his production downfield. Davis is also expected to push for 20% rostership on FanDuel and 10% on DraftKings, putting him in fade territory.

nfl-pick-em-picks-straight-up-ats-win-probabilities-week-12-2021
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images. Pictured: Bills WR Gabriel Davis

Josh Allen’s two worst games this season have come in inclement weather. Coupled with the fact that he is the most expensive QB on the slate and is expected to also be one of the most highly-rostered QBs, it makes sense to lay off him this week.

Michael Carter had 20 touches for 82 yards and a TD in the first meeting between these two teams, but that type of ceiling isn’t high enough to warrant rostering him as a double-digit road underdog. Despite registering a solid rookie campaign, Carter has cracked 20 fantasy points just once.

The Bills play man coverage at a top-10 rate, which does not bode well for Jamison Crowder, who is averaging just 0.79 yards per route versus man coverage this season. With Crowder out last week, Jeff Smith played 59-of-61 snaps (97%) – more than Keelan Cole (50; 82%). Smith is worth a dart throw at near minimum price based on usage; he was one of the cheapest sources of pass routes on the slate.

The Bills are annually one of the top teams versus TEs and rank 13th in DVOA this year, so this will be a tough matchup for Tyler Kroft.

Zach Wilson has just one three-TD game all season. He is not in consideration with his team implied to score fewer than 13 points by the Vegas odds.

The Bills DST is obviously in a great spot but is projected to appear in roughly a quarter of entries, making it an easy fade on the 13-game slate.

  • Cash Plays: RB Devin Singletary
  • GPP Plays: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Jeff Smith, TE Dawson Knox

Patriots at Dolphins

Patriots Odds -6
Dolphins Odds +6
Over/Under 40
Time 4:25 p.m. ET
TV CBS
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Betting Pick

The Patriots are still playing for seeding and should handle an overrated Dolphins team. Yes, the Dolphins won seven straight before losing 34-3 to the Titans last week, but six of those wins came against Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Mike Glennon, Zach Wilson and Ian Book.

The Patriots out-gained the Dolphins 393-259 when these teams met in Week 1 but lost on a fluky Damien Harris fumble while setting up for the winning score.

I’m not willing to lay six points on the road, but I love teasing the Patriots down to anything under a field goal.

Pick: Tease Patriots from -6 down to 0 (bet down to -8.5/-2.5)


Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis

DFS Plays

Only the Broncos play man coverage at a higher rate than the Patriots. Jaylen Waddle leads the Dolphins with 1.95 YPRR versus man (min. 5 targets), but is likely to get the Bill Belichick treatment — the Patriots clock in with the second-best DVOA against No. 1 WRs. DeVante Parker goes from 1.84 against zone to 1.56 against man. Mike Gesicki goes from 1.69 against zone to 1.19 versus man. Overall, Dolphins pass catchers are averaging just 5.9 yards per target in single coverage.

Tua Tagovailoa is likely to struggle against this defense, which is second in the league in passer rating allowed (72.4).

The Patriots DST are a smash GPP play given the matchup and their sub-5% projected rostership.

Myles Gaskin has officially sunk into the frozen pond as the Dolphins backfield has devolved into a three-way committee featuring Gaskin, Duke Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. Last week, Johnson led the way with a 58% snap rate, followed by Gaskin at 24% and Lindsay at 11%. All three are liable to bust against a Pats defense that ranks seventh in DVOA against opposing ground games.

Myles Gaskin
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Gaskin

The Dolphins play nearly as much man coverage as the Patriots, ranking third in the league. In terms of YPRR versus man, Kendrick Bourne (2.19) edges out Jakobi Meyers (1.75), Kristian Wilkerson (1.67), Hunter Henry (1.25) and Nelson Agholor (0.78). Meyers, however, will have the best matchup against Nick Needham in the slot while Bourne and Co. have to contend with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, who both rank in the top-42 in PFF’s cornerback grades. Projected for a sub-5% rostership, Meyers is a solid GPP option. Henry is also an option, as the Dolphins are ranked 29th in DVOA versus TEs and Henry is expected to garner a sub-5% rostership. You’re better off playing either of them solo rather than stacked with Mac Jones, who has thrown just five TDs in seven road games.

Patriots backs ran 29 times for 119 yards in the first meeting between these two teams back in Week 1. That’s not enough production to warrant rostering Damien Harris or Rhamondre Stevenson, who will likely split early-down will while Brandon Bolden handles passing situations. The Dolphins also pose a fairly tough matchup, clocking in at 13th in defensive rushing DVOA.

  • Cash Plays: None
  • GPP Plays: WR Jakobi Meyers, TE Hunter Henry, DST New England Patriots

DFS Cash Lineups For Week 18

DraftKings

  • QB Taysom Hill $6,200 at ATL
  • RB Devin Singletary $6,000 vs. NYJ
  • RB Samaje Perine $5,300 at CLE
  • WR Cooper Kupp $9,700 vs. SF
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown $6,800 vs. GB
  • WR Cyril Grayson $4,400 vs. CAR
  • TE John Bates $3,000 at NYG
  • FLEX Elijah Mitchell $6,000 at LAR
  • DST Cleveland Browns $2,600 vs. CIN

FanDuel

  • QB Taysom Hill $7,700 at ATL
  • RB David Montgomery $7,600 at MIN
  • RB Devin Singletary $6,700 vs. NYJ
  • WR Cooper Kupp $10,000 vs. SF
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown $7,500 vs. GB
  • WR Cyril Grayson $5,600 vs. CAR
  • TE John Bates $4,600 at NYG
  • FLEX Samaje Perine $6,500 at CLE
  • DST Minnesota Vikings $3,700 vs. CHI

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