NFL: Week 1 News and Notes

NFL: Week 1 News and Notes

Fisher mum on Titans QB Young's right hand

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Vince Young had his right hand taped as he left the Tennessee Titans' offices Friday. His head coach isn't talking much about the injury, now that the season opener is so close.

Young bruised his throwing hand in the first half of Thursday night's 23-21 preseason finale win over Green Bay, and he didn't return for the first series of the third quarter as originally planned. But Young had thrown 27 passes, completing 13 for 134 yards without an interception.

Asked if the Titans planned to X-ray or run other tests on Young's right hand, coach Jeff Fisher said only that the quarterback was doing well.

''We'll have a full injury report for you (next) Friday,'' Fisher said. ''He'll be designated as whether he practiced or did not practice. At this point, I would expect he would practice.''

Fisher said he felt good about Young's performance against the Packers, particularly the quarterback's three runs for 57 yards. Young also had his longest completion of the preseason - a 50-yarder to Justin McCareins.

The Titans' first-team offense made four trips inside the Green Bay 20 in the first half - including three inside the 10 - but couldn't avoid finishing the preseason without a touchdown. The Titans settled for four field-goal attempts, missing one.

Such failings are familiar to the Titans, who finished 2007 last in the NFL in offensive efficiency inside the 20. That helped make kicker Rob Bironas an All-Pro with a league-high 35 field goals, including a record eight in one game against the Houston Texans.

''A lot of guys on the sideline, we wanted to get in the end zone bad, but they play good defense,'' Young said of the Packers, who sat five defensive starters and pulled the rest early. ''We don't want to throw an interception or things like that. We reserve the right to kick. You don't want to force something in there.''

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Opening Line Report - Week 1
By Stephen Nover

John McCain and the Republicans putting up a woman for vice-president. What’s next, the Detroit Lions being a road favorite?

Yep, it’s true. Detroit is laying three points at Atlanta opening week. It’s just the fourth time this decade the Lions are road chalk. The Lions haven’t been favored during their last 23 road games.

It’s not that the Lions are supposed to be any good. They aren’t. But Atlanta is terrible. That’s why linesmakers assigned the Falcons the lowest regular-season ‘over/under’ win total at 4 ½.

Rookie Matt Ryan is expected to start at quarterback for Atlanta. That could be a factor why early money has moved Detroit from minus one to a field goal favorite.

“I don’t agree with the move,” said Mike Seba, a senior linesmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants. “I don’t think Detroit should be laying three on the road to any team.”

Several underdogs look tempting to Seba. LVSC, for instance, opened New England minus 14 ½ at home against Kansas City. The line is at 16½ and headed for 17. Seba admits his company, which supplies the betting lines to many of Nevada’s hotels, opened the Patriots short.

But Tom Brady didn’t play during the entire preseason. He could be rusty and perhaps not 100 percent because of a knee injury. New England lost all four of its exhibition contests.

“I can’t argue with taking a big ‘dog in Week 1,” Seba said.

Carolina is another such big ‘dog. The Panthers are traveling to San Diego. They will be without suspended star wide receiver Steve Smith. However, the Chargers most likely won’t have injured center Nick Hardwick and suspended linebacker Stephen Cooper.

Plus tight end Antonio Gates and linebacker Shawne Merriman, their best defensive player, are each playing through a debilitating injury.

San Diego currently is a 9½-point favorite. Seba believes the line will close nine, although it had reached 10 at one prominent Internet book.

The Minnesota Vikings are one ‘dog early money has come on. The Vikings opened plus 3 1/2 at Green Bay. Currently the Packers are minus three and even 2 ½ at some places.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Seba said about the Packers being less than a field goal favorite at Lambeau Field. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers. I’d hate to be him.”

Dallas has drawn early money, too. The Cowboys are up to minus four after opening a 3-point road favorite against Cleveland.

“I can see that because Cleveland’s defense has looked terrible,” Seba said.

The Cowboys-Browns total of 48½ is the highest Week 1 ‘over/under.’ The lowest is 36 on the New York Jets-Miami matchup. Guess oddsmakers aren’t anticipating a Brett Favre-Chad Pennington shootout.

All of the early totals moves have been to the ‘under.’ The biggest line adjustments have been on Cincinnati-Baltimore going from 42½ to 39 and Detroit-Atlanta going from 44 to 41.

Another early significant totals move is on Kansas City-New England dropping from 48 to 46.

Early money showing on ‘unders’ isn’t surprising to Seba. He said LVSC anticipated this, so they purposely shaded a number of totals lower.

“We can’t make totals low enough for Week 1,” he said pointing out that his company first made opening-week numbers back in the early spring.

The combination of new quarterbacks, the perception of defenses being ahead of offenses at this stage and superstars who could be rusty such as Brady and Peyton Manning, all account for the early ‘under’ action.

“I’d imagine most totals will be bet down this first week,” Seba said. “That trend already has emerged.”

We’ll find out soon enough if betting ‘unders’ is the right opening-week approach.

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Anderson, Edwards back on field for Browns
September 1, 2008

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -After huddling around coach Romeo Crennel and kneeling in prayer, the Cleveland Browns lined up for stretching drills as they began practicing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards went to his usual spot, looked up and greeted his teammates.

``I missed y'all, man,'' he said.


Edwards, sidelined since Aug. 9 with a severely cut right foot, and Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Anderson, out for two weeks with a concussion, were both back at practice Monday for the banged-up Browns, who only have a few days left to get as healthy as possible for their high-profile opener and a season of great expectations.

Crennel said as long as Anderson doesn't have any setbacks during the workout, the second-year QB will start against the Cowboys. The same is true for Edwards, whose foot was sliced open when teammate Donte' Stallworth accidentally stepped on his heel during post-practice sprints Aug. 9.

Edwards was running in his socks at the time. He has yet to speak with the local media about his injury and the Browns said he would not be available for interviews until Wednesday. However, during the time Cleveland's locker room was open to reporters, Edwards sat at his stall and rubbed the area where his heel was stitched up following his encounter with Stallworth's cleats.

Anderson, too, was unavailable for comment because the Browns coaching staff wanted him to practice first.

Crennel said Anderson, who got hurt when he was sacked by New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in an exhibition game Aug. 18, will have to pass a medical evaluation before he's cleared for the opener.

``The doctors need to see that he can handle the sunlight, which is pretty bright out today, that he can handle the verbiage of the offense, be able to handle the checks and do the things that a quarterback has to do,'' Crennel said. ``If he can do those things and doesn't have any headaches afterwards then chances are they will let him go.''

Anderson appeared to be himself during the 30 minutes of practice open to the media. He wasn't wearing glasses on a beautiful, sun-splashed holiday and the fun-loving 25-year-old joked around with tight end Steve Heiden as he warmed up by throwing to third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey.

After stretching, Anderson sprinted over to the far side of the field and worked with the first-team offense during the initial phases of practice.

But while Edwards and Anderson seem ready for Sunday, the Browns could be missing other key players against the Cowboys.

Running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring) and safety Brodney Pool (concussion) were kept indoors and Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs (ankle) only took part in special teams walkthrough drills before heading inside with trainers after 25 minutes.

Safety Sean Jones (knee) was also back but limited and linebacker Willie McGinest (groin) practiced. While McGinest, Jones and Lewis will likely play, Pool and Cribbs appear to be longshots for the opener.

Cribbs was in a walking boot until a few days ago. He said his left ankle, which he sprained during a pileup against the Giants, has responded well to treatment. The Browns, though, may be overly cautious with the versatile Cribbs, who returned two kickoffs and one punt for TDs last season.

They'd rather have Cribbs as close to 100 percent as possible for their Week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

``I'm doing everything I can do to get back out there on the field,'' said Cribbs. ``But it's not up to me. They're going to do what's best for me and the program. I want to be out there with my team. It was so hard in preseason sitting down watching. Where they're coming from is we've got 15 other games after this. If you're not ready, you're not ready, if you are, you are. They're going to make an assessment as the week progresses.''

On a positive note, guard Ryan Tucker was back in pads for the first time since undergoing offseason hip surgery.

Tucker's return gives the offensive line some depth following an injury to right guard Rex Hadnot (knee). Hadnot will be replaced by Seth McKinney, who started eight games before a shoulder injury ended his 2007 season.

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Week 1 betting news and notes

The NFL preseason is over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn anything about the upcoming season. Quite the opposite. There were plenty of changes that took place that required notice.

For instance, the Colts defensive line was thin in preseason with the retirement of Quinn Pitcock, creating a void at defensive tackle. They gave up 153 rushing yards in the opener to Washington. Raheem Brock, a 27-game starter at tackle the past two seasons, has been moved to left end in the base defense and apparently will remain there even with Pitcock's decision. As the season gets going, keep an eye on the Colts run defense.

In New York, new QB Brett Favre has created some excitement coming aboard for the Jets. Jets coach Eric Mangini and OC Brian Schottenheimer like to spread the field on offense, throw the ball deep downfield to keep secondaries honest, which will create bigger gaps on the defensive line with which to run. In theory, this makes sense as Favre has a stronger arm than departed QB Chad Pennington. Favre also admitted the Jets offense 'is totally different' from the Packers system he was in the last 16 years.

However, Favre is past his prime and has had a reputation the last few years of throwing it up for grabs downfield too often. He had an impressive 2007 campaign, but that was with a trio of young, talented and fast Green Bay wideouts. The Jets don’t have that. Let’s see what Favre brings to the offense in September and if the Jets running game finds bigger holes – or if Favre returns to his turnover prone ways. Whom do the Jets face in September? Back-to-back games against stellar defenses New England and San Diego.

Stopping opponents on their first possessions of halves was a consistent problem last season for the Arizona Cardinals, and it continued through the first two games of the preseason. The Saints and Chiefs each scored on their first drives of the game and of the second half. In all, the Cardinals yielded touchdowns on the two possessions against the Saints, and field goals against the Chiefs. Poor tackling, penalties and a bad kickoff have all contributed to the Cardinals problems. They got better in Week 3, though, on ‘defense.

Baltimore has the same problem as last year – no QB. Second-year QB Troy Smith showcased his mobility in preseason, but is still raw. In one game, he rushed for 35 yards, or 10 more than he passed for. He threw just five passes - and one interception - in four series. On the pick, he threw behind Mark Clayton, who deflected the ball to Minnesota's Darren Sharper.

Kyle Boller, meanwhile, didn’t have a good preseason and the third alternative is rookie QB Joe Flacco. No matter how much talent on the field a coach is given, so much hinges on the man behind center.

Seattle became a passing team first in the second half of last season behind QB Matt Hasselbeck. However, Hassellbeck had back spasms in preseason and missed time. Plus, they also have WR concerns: WR Bobby Engram will miss six more weeks with a cracked bone in his right shoulder and WR Deion Branch is seven months into what is typically a nine-month rehabilitation following reconstructive knee surgery.

All this cropped up in preseason and is worth watching. Remember that one year ago the Jacksonville Jaguars changed their offensive philosophy in preseason.

Head coach Jack Del Rio junked the old offense by adding offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the former Boise and Arizona State head coach. Koetter brought in a wide open spread offense and improved the attack considerably. The Jags were a good bet over the total last preseason and that carried right over into the regular season.

The Carolina Panthers have made changes on offense. They asked their offensive linemen to bulk up this offseason, as coach Jon Fox is a proponent of a power running game. They are loaded in the backfield and the Panther running game was dominant this preseason. A year ago they changed to zone blocking under first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson, but it’s clear they are returning to a more smash-mouth style in 2008. Changes and shifts in August can help handicappers with keen eyes at the betting windows in September.

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Season over for Ravens QB Boller
September 3, 2008

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -Quarterback Kyle Boller was placed on injured reserve by the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, ending his season and perhaps his stay with the team.

Boller hurt his shoulder in Baltimore's second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and has not played since.

Coach John Harbaugh described the injury as either a torn labrum or other damage that would render Boller unable to play this year.

Boller was to enter his sixth NFL season, all with Baltimore. He is in the final year of his contract. Boller entered the preseason competing for the starting job with Troy Smith and top draft pick Joe Flacco, who ultimately won the job because of Boller's injury and Smith's lengthy battle with infected tonsils.

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Bears at Colts
By Judd Hall

It seems like we waited for an eternity for the NFL season to begin and we’re about to close out the first week of the regular season. Before we do that though, let’s finish off the first Sunday of play with a rematch of Super Bowl XLI.

The oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants have made the Colts 9 ½-point home favorites in the regular season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. Meanwhile the total has held steady at 44 for the past few days after opening at 45 back in May.

Despite such a high line, bettors are taking a shot for the upset as the Bears are listed plus 425 (risk $100 to win $425) on the money line. Not a bad return on investment, but what could 46 percent of the folks wagering at on the outright shocker be thinking?

Maybe they’re under the impression that Indianapolis’ field general, Peyton Manning, isn’t at full strength after his knee injury during the offseason. It’s a fair assumption to make seeing as he has never been injured to this degree in his 10 years in the league. Yet Manning has completed 67 percent of his passes for 513 yards and six touchdowns in two career starts against Chicago.

What will be more pressing for the Colts and their backers is how the offensive line will fare this week. That’s because of All-Pro center Jeff Saturday will be “out” for six weeks with a bad right knee. Normally that is not a big deal since they’d just move Mike Pollak over from the guard position and plunk him at center. The problem with that now is Pollak is also “out” with a bad knee.

These injuries mean the remainder of the o-line must shore up against a Chicago defense that had 41 sacks. It also means running back Joseph Addai will have to be on his toes when facing a unit that looks to improve on giving up 122.9 yards per game on the ground in 2007.

Now it’s not all questions marks for the Colts alone. No sir, the Bears have their own issues…particularly under center.

Chicago will be sending out Kyle Orton once again to lead the offensive attack. The former Purdue standout is 12-6 as a starter in the Windy City. What Bears head coach Lovie Smith will be expecting out of him is to not make mistakes.

Sounds simple enough, but Orton hasn’t been solid on the road for his career as we can see in his connecting on just 53 percent of his passes for 1,203 yards with four scores and five picks. He’s also coughed up the ball eight times, losing three of them when playing away from Soldier Field.

Orton’s issues will be complicated by a speedy Indy defense. Of particular interest to the Bears’ faithful will be how well can Dwight Freeney be contained on the edge, while keeping Bob Sanders led secondary out of the game.

Gamblers appear to be taking the ‘under’ to come through on this match given the movement we’ve seen thus far. Recent history between these clubs contradicts the public’s thinking as the ‘over’ has hit in the last three regular season tilts between these two franchises.

Don’t be shocked to see Indianapolis come through big here as it is 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS in its last 10 home openers.

NBC will be broadcasting this contest nationally at 8:00 pm EDT.

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Late-Games Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

Gamblers have just three games to choose from in the four o'clock Eastern slot, highlighted by the Cowboys' trip to the Dog Pound. Let's take a look at all three matchups.

**Cowboys at Browns**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Dallas (13-4 straight up, 9-8 against the spread) as a three-point favorite with a total of 48 ½. However, as of early Friday night, most books had the Cowboys at either 5 ½ or six. The Browns are plus 200 on the money line (risk $100 to win $200).

--Dallas failed to cover the number in each of its last five games last season. The Cowboys lost three of their last four games outright, including a 21-17 loss to the Giants in the playoffs.

--Cleveland (10-6 SU, 12-4 ATS) posted an outstanding 7-1 spread record at home last season. The Browns were 2-1 ATS in three games as home underdogs.

--Dallas added three key pieces in the off-season. First, the ‘Boys brought in a veteran linebacker in long-time Dolphin Zach Thomas. Secondly, they added a big-time playmaker in running back Felix Jones from out of Arkansas. Jones is a threat both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. He can line up in the slot or even at receiver if needed. Finally, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones was acquired (and reinstated), giving Dallas depth in the secondary and a home-run threat in the return game.

--The ‘Boys might also get contributions from rookies Mike Jenkins (CB from USF) and Tashard Choice (RB from Ga. Tech).

--Romeo Crennel’s squad was one of last season’s biggest surprises, especially for our purposes. The Browns’ best off-season additions were DT Shaun Rogers and WR Donte Stallworth. They didn’t have a draft choice until the fourth round.

--Dallas went 3-3 ATS as a road ‘chalk’ last year.

--The ‘under’ cashed in each of Cleveland’s last six games of 2007.

--Cleveland RB Jamal Lewis was downgraded to “questionable” on Friday.

**Panthers at Chargers**

--Most spots are listing San Diego (13-6 SU, 14-5 ATS) as a 9 ½-point favorite with a total of 41 ½. Bettors can back the Panthers to win outright for a plus 400 payout.

--The Chargers took the cash in each of their last nine games last season, including the 21-12 loss at New England in the AFC title game. They closed as 14-point ‘dogs against the Patriots.

--Norv Turner’s club finished 2007 with an 8-1 spread record at home. The Bolts went 11-3 ATS as favorites, 7-1 ATS as home ‘chalk.’

--Carolina (7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS) is coming into a make-or-break campaign, both for head coach John Fox and the team’s nucleus. (Remember, former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher has relocated to Raleigh, N.C., so this job would likely appeal to him should he choose to return to coaching.) The Panthers’ season fell apart last year when QB Jake Delhomme went down with a season-ending elbow injury. Nevertheless, they did manage a 4-1 ATS mark in their last five outings.

--The Panthers posted a 3-3 spread record as road underdogs in 2007. However, dating back to 2004, they own an excellent 15-6-1 ATS mark as road ‘dogs.

--Carolina had a good bit of turnover in the off-season. The goners include DT Kris Jenkins, DE Mike Rucker, LB Dan Morgan, WR Drew Carter and WR Keary Colbert. Also, gamblers should keep in mind that perennial Pro-Bowl WR Steve Smith is “out” for the first two games due to suspension.

--The Panthers have brought back veteran WR Muhsin Muhammad. Other additions include RB LaBrandon Toefield, DT Darwin Walker and OG Milford Brown. In the draft, they got a pair of first-rounders in RB Jonathan Stewart (Oregon) and OT Jeff Otah (Pitt).

--San Diego used its first-round pick on CB Antoine Cason from out of Arizona. Jacob Hester, a bruising RB from LSU, might have an even bigger impact as a rookie.

**Cardinals at 49ers**

--Most books are listing Arizona (8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS) as either a 2 ½-point favorite or a three-point ‘chalk’ (albeit at even money or possibly a small ‘plus’). The total is 42, while the 49ers are plus 125 on the money line.

--San Francisco (5-11 SU, 5-11 ATS) appears to have given up on former No. 1 pick Alex Smith, who won’t be the starter in his third season. Instead, the 49ers are going with J.T. O’Sullivan, who spent the last few years in Detroit with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

--Mike Nolan’s team went 3-4 ATS as a home underdog in 2007.

--The Cardinals were a road favorite only once last year, winning outright but failing to cover in a 34-31 triumph at St. Louis as four-point ‘chalk.’

--I thought Arizona got great value with both its second and third-round draft choices, grabbing DE Calais Campbell (Miami) with the 50th selection and WR Early Doucet (LSU) at 81.

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Home Underdog Notebook
By Josh Jacobs

The momentum continues to build in Week 1 of the NFL season. With the entire staff at manning all stations, it’s time to take an alternate route on how your money can begin stacking high for a profitable 2008 campaign.

Underdogs have been a horrible investment when looking at the overall picture for the last five seasons. Glancing back at 2003 ‘dogs have gone a total 635-644-8 (49.1%) against the spread, with the 2005 season witnessing a 106-146-8 (42%) record representing a financial crash if you would have wagered on the underdog in every game.

With seven home ‘dogs hitting the turf this week is there any value in backing these perceived losers?

N.Y. Jets (-3) at Miami – 1:00 p.m. EDT

The first home ‘dog to look at is the Dolphins playing host to the N.Y. Jets. This is a Dolphins team whose been waxed by New York for a 1-7 SU record. The Jets have also rewarded bettors with a fired up 7-0-1 ATS run in those same eight meetings.

In 2007, Miami was a pitiful 2-4 ATS at home as an underdog and since 2005 has gone 5-7 ATS in the same position on the board. The Dolphins have struggled against fellow AFC East clubs with a 5-21-2 ATS financial dive in the last 28 games.

Backing up a possible fade on the home underdog is the Jets’ record of 19-4-2 ATS in their last 25 head-to-head meetings against Miami.

If there’s any predictions coming from this writer it’s that the Dolphins will look to hit New York’s stout defense with a double running attack. A bit of concern hangs over the head of ‘Fins RB Ronnie Brown, who’s coming off a torn ACL from last season.

Detroit (-3) at Atlanta – 1:00 p.m. EDT

While 74-percent of the betting public has their money locked up on the Lions and the Falcons predicted to fall flat on their face this season, we can’t overlook some quick facts.

Detroit is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games (granted it’s a new season) and has amassed a disappointing 8-24 SU and 14-18 ATS record since 2004.

Some numbers that might support reasoning to lay money on the home ‘dog Falcons is an 8-2 ATS report in the last 10 games played in Week 1 and the team’s ability to cover the spread five times in the last six games. Then again, Atlanta is a financially depleted 3-9 ATS in their last 11 home games.

Dallas (-5 ½) at Cleveland – 4:15 p.m. EDT

In the last three years, the Browns have faired less then average when installed as the underdog with a 14-16-1 ATS report. The good news for backers is that Cleveland excelled at home with a 7-1 ATS record, but books had also installed them as favorites five times when playing inside their own building (5-0 ATS).

We all know the high expectations coming out of Dallas this season, but its been the complete opposite for the Browns who will be penning QB Derek Anderson into Sunday’s lineup despite still recovering from a concussion sustained in a 37-34 loss against Giants this preseason.

Some other doubts about Cleveland rewarding backers is a 1-7-1 ATS record in its last nine Week 1 games.

The last time these two teams collided was in 2004 with Dallas walking away as a winner in the standings and ATS department with a 19-12 victory. Most books had installed the Cowboys as 5 ½-point favorites, coincidently the same spread facing this contest on Sunday.

Denver (-3) at Oakland – Monday at 10:15 p.m. EDT

There’s a good reason why many bettors may want to walk away from a wager on Oakland. Trend wise, the Raiders are 8-22 ATS in their last 30 home games and have dropped 28 of their last 39 home games. But what sounds like a solid angle to nail is Denver’s inability to cover the spread in its last four games versus Oakland.

Last season the Raiders went 2-2 ATS as the home underdog, was 3-3 ATS in 2006 and completely wiped out backers with an 0-4 ATS slide in 2005. But then again, the Broncos have been the red headed step child when pitted against the AFC West, going 2-10 ATS in their last 12.

Oakland has gone on to cover the spread four straight times in the last four head-to-head games with Denver, despite generating a 1-3 SU performance.

Shifting gears, pay attention to Raiders’ wide out Javon Walker who’s been limited in practice after reports of a tight hamstring has been linked as the culprit. While Walker says he’ll be ready for the Monday nighter, the team staff will ultimately make the call. Remember that Walker only played in eight games last season (for Denver), hauling in 26 catches for 287 yards and no touchdowns.

With Oakland very shaky at the wide receiver position, expect newly acquired Ashley Lelie to receive playing time if Walker is designated to the bench. Lelie has posted just one season of receiving over 1,000 yards (back in 2004).

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Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans

Note, that in the first week of the NFL, is a lot of about public percentages and injuries that are going on. Having said that, over 72% favor New Orleans at home against Tampa Bay, but note that this is a huge NFC South Battle here and this is for the early jockeying position within the conference. Whenever you usually see a +3 on a road team and well over 70% are riding on the home favorite, that typically means trouble. The Bucs won the Division last year and their defense is significantly better than the Saints defense, granted the Saints have the better offense clearly - but having said that, defense is always better than offense in my book. Lean on the Bucs for an upset and a public burial.

St. Louis vs. Philadelphia

There was a sharp jump in the line when this opened up. Note that over 66% of the public are riding Philly at home here and the line actually jumped from -7 to all the way to -9.5. Do I think Philly can win this ballgame by double-digits - sure. But, giving up nearly 10 points to an NFL team is never typically good - Remember, St. Louis still has quite an offense with Bulger, Jackson and Holt. Plus, I don't trust the Eagles in any case to cover the spread at home as they were one of the worst teams in the league in covering home spreads last year and one can assume that Vegas won't be kind to the Eagles, a huge public team in their first game of the season, a lean on the Rams in fact. Note that Stephen Jackson, Drew Bennett (fantasy gem under the radar) are both listed as probable and Curtis is out for the Eagles.

Jets vs. Dolphins

What a game this will be. You have Favre with his new team in a division game on the road against Pennington who faces his old team and the new looked Dolphins. Note, that the line opened up at -2.5 for the Jets and it has gone up to -3. Well over 70% favor the Jets on the road as well, but don't give up on the Dolphins at home as this team is on a mission to return to a sound ballclub and Parcells has a sharp eye on their overlook. Take a look at their preseason for what it's worth, Miami and the Jets both went 3-1 in the preseason. I can see this game going either way frankly.

KC vs. New England

New England opens up with a spread of -14.5 here, and of course, it has gone up to -15.5 and to -16 in some books currently, note that though that the public is half way on both teams so it is roughly 50/50. Frankly, I love the Crimson Tide and past Tide alumni and this includes Brodie Croyle and I hope he gets the start here, but if he doesn't, either way, I don't want to go against the Pats at home in their home opener, and I certainly don't want to give this many points to an NFL team for a possible backdoor cover, I think there are more games of value elsewhere.

Houston vs. Pittsburgh

Houston can very well give Pitt all they can handle. I am actually a fan of Houston in many ways, I love their offense, their coaching as well as their gutsy pick to take Williams over Reggie Bush in an effort to build this defense and to make a stand at some point, the need to build a core of a defense and they have done a decent job at that. The public is about 2/3rds in favor of Pitt here but the line has taken a bit, These 2 teams haven't met since 2005, I think Pitt is going to be in for all they can handle and more importantly, I wouldn't be surprised to see this game go over.

Cincy vs. Baltimore

This line originally opened up at Baltimore -1 and has quickly shifted to Cincy -2.5 and why not, Cincy has looked significantly better in preseason as it relates to their offense and Baltimore's new look offense has look at shaky at best. Of course, this is also b/c more than 2/3rds of the public favor Baltimore as well, I don't like taking road public favorites period, but on top of that, I don't trust Cincy and if you would have trusted that team last year you would have been burned.

Detroit vs. Atlanta

You know no one is giving my Falcons a chance in this game as they are favored by just 26%, in fact, the Lions are the biggest public play on the board. It's just amusing. The Falcons have a defensive minded coach, they have a new quarterback who makes his first start, but is a quality starter, they have a great lightning and thunder combination with Turner and Norwood. Granted, I could be a biased Falcons fan, but the Lions were not sound last year on the road and their defense was ranked one of the worst in the nation (check the NFC preview thread) as they were simply horrible. The Falcons note still have some holes on defense and the Lions are likely to get their fair share of points and I wouldn't be surprised if both teams put up 40 points in this game as the Falcons are likely to be an active dog, and who knows, maybe even win outright.

Seattle vs. Buffalo

This is a game that Seattle can win on the road here. Note, that Buffalo is a solid team but Seattle comes in with so much veteran experience including a Hass, and although this line opened up at a pick-em for Buffalo, it has moved to -1 in favor of the Bills. The public is in favor of 53% for the Bills but at the end of the day, I can see Seattle winning this game outright on the road given their veteran experience, of course, is this saying that Buffalo can't win at home with a late field goal, no, I don't think this overwhelming evidence in favor of the Seahawks, but they are my lean.

Jacksonville vs. Tennessee

This is going to be a great game. Jacksonville is a field goal favorite on the road and this is a ballgame that Tennessee can very well win outright. The Titans are a home dog despite looking impressive in the preseason and note that each team won at the opposing team's field last year as they each won outright on the road at each others stadium. Frankly, I don't want to go against Jacksonville here, but at the same time the Titans are solid at home and the Titans will be rocking for a big uspet at home as Tennessee always plays Jacksonville tough - heck, ol' Boomer from ESPN agrees with me as well.

Dallas vs. Cleveland

This could be a barn burner in scoring, note that Dallas played the over to a tune of 6-1 last year (check my NFC Research) and they were pushed to the limit as they underperformed on defense and Cleveland was splendid on offense. Thus, games consequently went over on a regular basis for the Cowboys on the road. Franky, I had this game going over with Dallas winning by a field goal late. This line opened up at -6 and has quickly gone up all the way to -6 and -6.5 in some books and if you wait long enough, you can probably get this game at +7 Cleveland which would be my lean. The Browns and the over would be my lean here.

Carolina vs. San Diego

The line opened up at -9.5 for San Diego and this is similar to the St. Louis vs. Philly line. In fact, there are many lines this week that I simply don't like and I think the public is going to get buried taking all of these public favorites. San Diego has looked great at home and this is a Charger team that you don't bet against on the road but I don't know if you saw the Panthers this preseason, they have a lot to prove from last year, a lot of necks are on the line including Coach Fox's and on top of all, they have returned back a ton of injured players from last year. no thanks.

Arizona vs.San Francisco

Arizona is a 57% public favorite here on the road and this is a Cardinals team that came on strong last year as Warner was exceptional for them while Leinart was out. In fact, he was so exceptional, he will get the starting nod for the team this year. San Francisco is a team that will surprise a lot of folks this year in my opinion, heck, it was San Fran that won on the road in OT against Arizona in their last game. Don't be surprised to see this game tip over here as San Fran can put up some points this year and Arizona can give up some points on the road this year.

Chicago vs. Indianapolis

This is the Sunday Night Ballgame on NBC and note that the Colts are now a 10 point favorite in most books. Kyle Orton will get the season start and Manning is back. Once again, I hate taking any ballclub as double-digit favorites in the NFL and this is a rematch of a recent Super Bowl. The Colts Center Jeff Saturday is out for this ballgame but Manning should be fine given his veteran play, I'm likely just going to be a bystander in this game as I hate DD spreads, if I hate to take a side it would be the Colts, but no thanks.

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