NFL News and Notes Week 1

Re: NFL News and Notes Week 1

Eagles TE Smith questionable vs. Packers
September 8, 2007

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Tight end L.J. Smith was downgraded to questionable for Philadelphia's opener at Green Bay following the team's walkthrough Saturday.

Smith had been bothered by a groin injury that forced him to sit out all the preseason games and kept him off the field most of training camp. He practiced this week and had been listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Packers.

If Smith can't play, veteran Matt Schobel and rookie Brent Celek would fill in. Celek, a fifth-round pick, led the team with 13 receptions for 143 yards in the preseason. Schobel had five catches for 103 yards.

"I'm working hard to get back on the field, but your body is going to tell you when it's ready," Smith said after Friday's practice. "If I can't go out there and be efficient when I'm out there then what's the point of going out there."

Smith had surgery for a sports hernia on May 31, then injured his groin early in camp. It's an important season for Smith, who enters the final year of a contract. He caught 50 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns last year.

While Smith's status is uncertain, the offense should get All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews back after he missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury. And, quarterback Donovan McNabb will start his first regular-season game since tearing a knee ligament in Week 11 last year. A.J. Feeley is expected to be the backup, despite having surgery on his hand last week.

On the other side, defensive end Jevon Kearse was hampered by a shoulder injury during the week, but is expected to see his first action in a meaningful game since going down with a knee injury in Week 2 last year.

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Re: NFL News and Notes Week 1

Jags' LB Ingram sidelined for Week 1
September 7, 2007

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without starting linebacker Clint Ingram in the season opener against Tennessee.

Ingram, a second-year pro from Oklahoma, sprained his ankle in the preseason opener at Miami on Aug. 11 and has practiced sparingly since. He was ruled out Friday. Either Pat Thomas or rookie Justin Durant will start in his place.

Thomas hasn't started a game in his two seasons and spent most of last year on injured reserve. Durant, the three-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, was a second-round pick from Hampton.

Center Brad Meester (ankle), defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee) and defensive end Kenny Pettway (quadriceps) also were ruled out for the opener.

Defensive end Brent Hawkins (illness), defensive end Reggie Hayward (Achilles' tendon), defensive tackle John Henderson (shoulder), and guard Chris Naeole (knee) were listed as probable.

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Re: NFL News and Notes Week 1

NFL cheat sheet: Week 1

Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

Why Falcons cover: Atlanta has covered in two of its last three meetings with Minnesota. The Vikings set club records for fewest touchdown passes (13) and first downs (272) last season.

Why Vikings cover: For the first time since 2003 the Falcons open the season without QB Michael Vick – for reasons we all know. The underachieving Joey Harrington, who posted a 68.2 passer rating for Miami last season, takes over.

Total (35 ½): Under is 8-1 in Falcons last nine games.

Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams (-1)

Why Panthers cover: They beat St. Louis 15-0 last season, sacking quarterback Marc Bulger seven times and rushing for a team-record 242 yards. The Rams ranked 13th in the NFC with an average 23.8 points allowed per game last season.

Why Rams cover: Ranked third in the NFC with 247.6 passing yards per game last season. Facing a Carolina side that scored only one touchdown in preseason.

Total (42 ½): Over is 4-1 in the last five games between these teams.

Denver Broncos (-3) at Buffalo Bills

Why Broncos cover: Denver seeks its fifth straight victory over the Bills – a team they haven’t lost to in 13 seasons. The Broncos offense added running back Travis Henry, who rushed for 1,211 yards in 14 games for Tennessee in 2006.

Why Bills covers: J.P. Losman completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,051 yards with 19 touchdowns in his first season as the Bills full-time starter. They’ll be looking for an even better return from their 2004 first-round draft pick this season.

Total (37): Over is 5-0 in the Broncos' last five games as a favorite.

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-3)

Why Chiefs cover: The Kansas offense boasts running back Larry Johnson, who set franchise running records in each of the last two seasons. Houston's lost four straight home openers and been outscored 87-31 in their last two home games against the Chiefs.

Why Texans cover: Houston added QB Matt Schaub and running back Ahman Green in the postseason, giving its struggling offense a big boost. Green earned a combined 1,439 yards last year.

Total (37 ½): Under is 4-1 in both teams' last five games.

Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins (-3)

Why Dolphins cover: They replaced Daunte Culpepper with QB Trent Green, who threw for 1,342 yards, seven TDs and nine interceptions in eight starts for the Chiefs last season. The Miami defense ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed last season (288.9) and fifth in points (17.7).

Why Redskins cover: Washington made Jason Campbell starting QB and he should combine well with wide receiver Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley. Moss has managed 16.2 yards per reception in his career, while Cooley had a team-high 57 catches last season for 734 yards and six touchdowns.

Total (34 ½): Under is 5-1 in the Dolphins' last 6 games overall.

New England Patriots (-6) at New York Jets

Why Patriots cover: The Patriots added power, pace and experience to their offense in the postseason when they signed wide receivers Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker, and former All-Pro Randy Moss. The Pats have won six consecutive road games against the Jets by a combined score of 160-84.

Why Jets cover: New England’s defense starts the season without two important players – Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour. That’s good news for a Jets offense bolstered by the offseason arrival of running back Thomas Jones from the Bears.

Total (40 ½): Over is 5-1 in Patriots last six games.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Green Bay Packers

Why Eagles cover: Philadelphia won last season’s meeting between the teams 31-9, holding the Packers scoreless in the second half. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb threw for 950 yards and eight touchdowns in his last three starts against Green Bay.

Why Packers cover: The Packers own a very strong defense, with two of the best cornerbacks in football – Al Harris and Charles Woodson – as well as a deep defensive line led by Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk.

Total (42 ½): Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings between these teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4 ½) at Cleveland Browns

Why Steelers cover: The Steelers are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last five games and have won four straight season openers. They are also 7-1 all-time at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Why Browns cover: Cleveland added more depth to its roster in the offseason. Jamal Lewis – who gained 1,132 yards in 2006 with Baltimore – is set to bolster last season’s second-worst rushing offense (83.4 yards per game).

Total (37): Under is 9-2 in Browns last 11 games in September.

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)

Why Titans cover: The Titans are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games. Tennessee will start with QB Vince Young on Sunday and he led the Titans to a 6-1 finish to last season.

Why Jaguars cover: Tennessee allowed a league-high 378.9 total yards per game in 2006. The Jaguars are 8-0 ATS in their last eight opening-week games.

Total (38): Over is 4-0 in Jaguars last four games.

Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers (-6)

Why Bears cover: The Bears won their first seven games in 2006, launching them into a 13-3 season that culminated with a trip to the Super Bowl. Chicago has come out on top in its last five meetings with the Chargers, covering the spread on every occasion.

Why Chargers cover: They are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a home favorite. San Diego had one of the top offenses in the league last season, averaging an NFL-high 30.8 points per game.

Total (42 ½): Over is 9-4 in Chargers' last 13 games overall.

Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders (-2 ½)

Why Lions cover: Oakland’s offense was one of the poorest in the NFL last season, with the lowest average yards (246.2) and points (10.5) per game while conceding a league-high 46 turnovers.

Why Raiders cover: While their offense struggled, the Raiders defense was solid, allowing the third-fewest yards per game (284.8) in 2006. Oakland is 6-3 against the Lions and has won four of the last five meetings. They have won all four meetings when hosting Detroit.

Total (39): Under is 5-1 in Raiders' last six home games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks (-5 ½)

Why Buccaneers cover: The Bucs are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games versus NFC opposition. They have not beaten the Seahawks, or covered the spread against them, since 1999.

Why Seahawks cover: Both quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander are fit after injury-plagued seasons in 2006. Seattle will be hoping a healthy Hassebeck can return to the form he showed in 2005 when he posted a career-high 98.2 passer rating while leading the team to a 13-3 record.

Total (41): The under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these teams.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-6)

Why Giants cover: The Giants are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven versus NFC East teams, while the Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last five season-opening games.

Why Cowboys cover: Dallas returns 10 offensive starters from the group that scored the third-most points in the NFL last season, with the only change being the addition of the talented Leonard Davis at right guard.

Total (44): Over is 9-2-1 in the Giants' last 12 road games.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2 ½)

Why Ravens cover: The Ravens are a team built around solid defense, allowing only 264.1 yards and 11.6 points per game in 2006. Their offense also received a boost with the arrival of running back Willis McGahee from Buffalo.

Why Bengals cover: Quarterback Carlson Palmer recovered from knee surgery to throw for a career-high 4,035 yards, with 28 touchdowns last season. More of the same is expected in 2007. The Bengals are 6-0 ATS in their last six games in September and have won four of the last five against the Ravens.

Total (40): The under is 4-0 in the Bengals' last four meetings as the favorite, and 6-2 in the Ravens' last eight games overall.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

Why Cardinals cover: The Cardinals are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games and have won the last four meetings with the 49ers, covering the spread in three of those wins.

Why 49ers cover: San Francisco is 6-1 ATS in its last seven versus NFC West opponents. The 49ers strengthened their offense by acquiring wide receivers Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie, and tight end Vernon Davis in the offseason.

Total (45): Over is 6-1 in these teams' last seven meetings.

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