Sunday Service Plays
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
Play:New England Patriots -15
Okay, so the Patriots were 0-4 straight up and against the points during the preseason, son the played four playoff games including the Super Bowl last year and they didn't 'cover' once, okay so they only got the money only once in their last five regular season games. That means that they have gone 10 straight regular and post season gams without covering the pointspread. As a matter of fact they have only covered the number once in their last 13. So why am I on them this opening week? Well, first off they are playing the Kansaas City Chiefs and Tom Brady will be playing. Take the PATROITS and lay the heavy wood!
Re: Sunday Service Plays
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Prediction: New York Jets
This NY Jets at Miami match-up has trap game written all over it. The Jets (4-12) acquire QB Bret Favre and only open up favored by a field goal against a Dolphins team that won only 1 game last season! While the public will jump on Brett and the Jets, well take the points here with Miami, who brought in Bill Parcells to help new Head Coach Tony Sparano plug the holes on both sides of the ball. Miami plays this with double revenge after dropping both meetings to the Jets last year- Theyll get it as these Jets lost their only game as road chalk OUTRIGHT last year, 14-17, against another Division foe Buffalo.
7* Play On Miami
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Selection: Kansas City/New England Under 44
Today we see a low-scoring game as the Kansas City Chiefs do battle with the New England Patriots. Here we have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a market that has set the total way to high for this game. Last season, the Patriots had the betting community in awe with their unyielding passing game. Last year was a very special season for New England as we saw high energy from the Patriots in their determination to reach the top. But that momentum is about to change this year with Coach Bill Belichick taking the team on a slower paced season. They are going save their best performances for the playoffs while attempting to get through situations like these with minimal risk and injury. This is not a new concept for New England. There were a few times last season when the patriots played Under as home favorites. This game will be similar because they wont have any issues controlling the game flow. But even if they wanted to, speeding up this game would be difficult since Kevin Faulk, Patriots key 3rd down back wont be in this one. Plus, Tom Brady hasnt spent much time with the Wide Receiving corps. Belichick will also be making sure that they are saving their best for next weeks game vs. Brett Favre and the Jets as they travel to the Meadowlands. Chiefs coach Herm Edwards also wants to see a slow paced game, in fact he really doesnt have much of a choice. With QB Brody Croyle having yet to prove his worth in the NFL, Edwards has to minimize the pressure. He'll do that by navigating Larry Johnson left, right and up the middle. The Chiefs have had 5 games were they were road underdogs by more than one touchdown since Edwards took over the team. Those 5 games played Under at 4-1. Combined, they ended with a total of 57 points below what was predicted; ending with 11.4 per game. This, in part, is due to the way that Edwards slows the pace as well as the fact that they are unable to open up the offense, making a back door challenge unattainable for Kansas City. To say the least, we should see a low-scoring game today. Take the Kansas City Chiefs/New England Patriots Under 44
Re: Sunday Service Plays
N.Y. Jets -3 at MIAMI
This might be the easiest road play on the board, and could very well be a premium play, but I am giving it to you for free so you get some quality on this first week of NFL action.
It’s the game that ends up being the storyline of Week 1. Brett Favre against Chad Pennington. And the question will be which quarterback has learned his new offense faster? I’d have to give the edge to Favre, a much-better veteran obviously than Pennington, who occasionally looked lost when he was with the Jets. And he supposedly knew that offense. Can Pennington help out Miami’s defense by alerting it to certain schemes the Jets may run?
It’s possible, but I’d think with a guy like Favre, there will plenty of new things in place as well. And let’s be real here, the Jets own the better offensive line, and will be able to give Favre plenty of time to perform in this one. They also have the more stable defense as new Miami head coach Tony Sparano and team vice prez Bill Parcells rebuild the team.
The Jets have dominated this series of late, 7-1 straight up the last 8 meetings and 8-0-1 versus the line in the last nine games against Miami. Take the road flyers in this one.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
N.Y. Jets -3 at MIAMI
Today we open the NFL season with a comp winner on the Jets as they take on the Dolphins in Miami.
Labeled as the most intriguing game of the NFL Sunday, but we think this is an easy call. The Jets have absolutely dominated the Dolphins over the last decade. It doesn't matter who QBs either team or how good or bad the other side is. New York owns Miami and will get a season-opening win today - rather easily.
We all know the Jets have hall-of-famer Brett Favre at QB now and he threw for 4,155 yards, 28 TDs and 15 INTs last season in Green Bay. He's looked good in limited action in the preseason and we expect him to be sharp today.
Ironically, the Dolphins have given the starting QB job to former Jet Chad Pennington who in nine games thre for 10 TDs and nine INTs. He doesn't have the strongest arm in the league and might just have the weakest. Miami is coming off a one-win season that didn't offer much hope and they got rid of two of their defensive starts in Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor.
This rivarly has been owned by the Jets, winning seven of eight overall and going 8-0-1 ATS in the last nine. New York is 5-0 ATS in Miami and 19-4-2 ATS in the last 25 clashes overall. The Jets are 6-2 ATS on the road in AFC East games the last couple seasons. Meanwhile the Dolphins are on ATS slides of 0-5-2 in September, 5-21-2 against AFC East teams, 10-27-1 at home and 17-35-2 against AFC squads.
Play the Jets to get this one, pulling away in the second half for an easy win.
3♦ N.Y. JETS
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Cincinnati at Baltimore
Two AFC North rivals looking to put disappointing seasons behind them square off when the Ravens host the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore (5-11, 3-13 ATS in 2007) had a train wreck of a 2007 season, posting the league’s worst mark against the number. The Ravens have struggled for years at the quarterback position, most recently behind Kyle Boller, so they drafted Delaware’s Joe Flacco in the first round – and with Boller going on injured reserve this week to end his season, Flacco will start against the Bengals.
The consistently stingy Baltimore defense was sixth in the league in yards allowed in 2007, but it came in 22nd in points allowed (24.0), and the offense was 24th in scoring at an anemic 16.8 ppg.
Cincinnati (7-9 SU and ATS) averaged 348 ypg last year (10th in the league) and 23.8 ppg (11th), but the defense finished 24th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed. QB Carson Palmer completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 4,131 yards with 26 TDs and 20 INTs, but the Bengals’ running game was 24th in the league, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and less than 100 yards per game.
The Bengals have owned this rivalry lately, going 6-1 SU and ATS in the last seven clashes, winning and covering both meetings last year. The favorite is on a 5-1 ATS run, and the Ravens are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 contests in Baltimore.
Baltimore is on ATS slides of 3-17 overall, 2-11 against the AFC, 1-5 in division play and 1-5 in its last six season openers. On the flip side, the Bengals are on pointspread runs of 8-1 in September and 4-1 against the AFC.
The under cashed in five of Cincy’s last six games in 2007 and is on a 4-0 run inside the division. For Baltimore, the under is 8-2 in its last 10 season openers and 8-3-3 in its last 14 September contests.
ATS ADVANTAGE: CINCINNATI and UNDER
N.Y. Jets at Miami
The Brett Favre era begins in earnest for the Jets when they travel to South Beach to open the season against the Dolphins, who are coming off a miserable one-win season.
New York (4-12, 6-9-1 ATS) wasn’t much better than Miami last year, finishing 26th in the league in total offense (294.7 ypg) and 25th in points (16.8 per game), which led the team’s decision to trade for Favre and release Chad Pennington. Favre, the all-time TD passing leader with 442, was sterling last year in leading the Packers to the NFC title game, completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 4,155 yards and 28 TDS (against 15 INTs) in the regular season.
The Dolphins (1-15 SU, 5-9-2 ATS) were 26th in points (16.7) and yards (267) per game last season, prompting the late-season hiring of Bill Parcells to run the organization, with Parcells tapping his former Cowboys assistant, Tony Sparano, as head coach. And in a rather intriguing circumstance, they’ll now hand the QB reins to Pennington, who was less than spectacular last year in nine games (eight starts) for the Jets, throwing for 1,765 yards, with 10 TDs against nine INTs.
The Jets have dominated this rivalry in recent years, winning seven of the last eight games straight up and posting an 8-0-1 ATS mark in the last nine meetings. Furthermore, New York is on a 5-0 ATS run in Miami and is 19-4-2 ATS in the last 25 clashes overall.
New York coach Eric Mangini’s troops have also cashed in six of their last eight road division contests. On the flip side, the Dolphins carry negative ATS streaks of 0-5-2 in September, 5-21-2 in AFC East play, 17-35-2 within the conference and a paltry 10-27-1 at home.
The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams and is on additional streaks of 8-2-1 for New York in season openers, 11-5 for the Jets in division play, 4-1 for Miami overall and 6-2 for the Dolphins at home.
ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. JETS and OVER
Kansas City at New England
The Patriots, looking to a bounce back from a stunning Super Bowl loss that derailed a perfect season, open defense of their AFC crown against the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.
New England (16-0, 10-6 ATS) held off Jacksonville and San Diego in the playoffs to run its record to 18-0 and reach the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. But the Pats’ prolific offense never got going in the big game in Glendale, Ariz., and they lost 17-14 as 12½-point favorites. Prior to that, the Patriots hadn’t scored less than 20 points all year and had averaged a whopping 36.8 ppg in the regular season, while also easily leading the league in total yards at 411.2 per game.
Tom Brady, who sat out the entire preseason with a foot injury, is expected to be in the lineup today as he aims to build on a career year in which he completed nearly 69 percent of his passes for 4,806 yards and a record-setting 50 TDS, with just eight INTs.
Kansas City (4-12, 6-9-1 ATS) got off to a 4-3 start last year, then proceeded to drop nine straight games to close the season. The Chiefs finished a putrid 31st in the league in scoring offense (14.1 ppg) and total offense (226 ypg). QB Brodie Croyle took over as the starter for the last six games and played in a total of nine, completing 56.7 percent of his passes, but for just 1,227 yards, with six TDs offset by six INTs.
New England is 4-2 SU and ATS in the last six meetings with the Chiefs, but these two teams haven’t met since November 2005, when K.C. prevailed 26-16 laying three points.
The Patriots have cashed in 13 of their last 19 regular-season games. However, they went 0-6 ATS (including playoffs) to close out last year and are on further ATS slides of 0-5 at home and 0-4 in conference play. Meanwhile, despite their poor record last year, the Chiefs are 6-1 ATS in their last seven on the highway.
The over has cashed in nine of New England’s last 11 season openers and is on further runs for the Patriots of 4-1 in September and 17-8 overall, dating to late 2006.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER
Houston at Pittsburgh
The Steelers, whose 9-3 start last year netted only a first-round playoff loss, open the year at Heinz Field against the up-and-coming Texans.
Pittsburgh (10-6, 8-8 ATS) lost three of its final four regular-season contests, forcing the team to play a playoff game on wild-card weekend. The Steelers then lost to Jacksonville 31-29, yet got the cash in the unusual role of being a 2½-point home underdog. QB Ben Roethlisberger had a solid season, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 3,154 yards and a sterling 32-11 TD-to-INT ratio in 15 regular-season starts.
Houston (8-8 SU and ATS) is coming off the best season in the young franchise’s history, doing so in the extremely competitive AFC South. The Texans finished the year on a 5-3 run (5-2-1 ATS), but they lost their last two games, costing them any shot at the playoffs. QB Matt Schaub (2,241 passing yards, 9 TDs, 9 INTS in 11 games) is back as the starter for an offense that was in the top half of the league in points (12th) and yards (14th).
These two teams haven’t met since 2005 and have only two regular-season clashes against each other, splitting the two games SU and ATS.
The Steelers are on a 2-6 ATS slide within the conference, but they have covered in four of their last five season openers and sport additional pointspread streaks of 9-4 at Heinz and 7-3 as a non-division home chalk. The Texans, meanwhile, went 2-6 ATS in roadies last year and are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 on the highway under coach Gary Kubiak.
The over is on a 19-5-1 tear at home for Pittsburgh since 2005 and is 40-15-2 in the last 57 games at Heinz Field, and the total has gone high in six straight season openers for the Steelers. For Houston, the over is on runs of 7-2-1 on the road, 5-1 in September and 4-1 overall.
ATS ADVANTAGE: PITTSBURGH and OVER
Jacksonville at Tennessee
An AFC South rivalry is quickly renewed when the Jaguars head to Nashville for a clash with the Titans at LP Field, with both teams coming off playoff appearances.
Jacksonville (11-5 SU and ATS) rode first-year starter David Garrard to the playoffs last year, winning six of its last eight regular-season games (7-1 ATS) to get a wild-card berth. They opened the playoffs with a 31-29 win at Pittsburgh as an unusual 2½-point road chalk, then became the Patriots’ 17th victim of 2007 in a 31-20 road loss in the divisional round, still cashing as a 13½-point ‘dog.
Garrard was steady and efficient in 2007, posting an 18-3 TD-to-INT ratio while completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,509 yards in just 12 games. The Jags had the league’s sixth-best offense (357.4 ypg), bolstered by the second-best rushing attack (149.4 ypg), and their defense yielded just 19 ppg (10th).
Tennessee (10-6, 8-7-1 ATS) also got a wild-card spot last year by winning six of its last eight games (3-5 ATS), then fell at San Diego 17-6 as a 10½-point pup in the opening round. The Titans made it that far despite QB Vince Young, who in 15 regular-season starts threw nearly twice as many picks (17) as TDs (9) for an offense that averaged just 18.8 ppg (22nd). Tennessee’s defense made up for it, finishing fifth in yards allowed (291.6) and eighth in points allowed (18.6).
These two squads split last year’s meetings, with the road team winning and taking the cash in each case. Jacksonville is 4-2 SU (3-3 ATS) in the last six clashes, and the underdog is on a 9-2 ATS run.
The Jaguars went 7-3 ATS (including playoffs) on the highway last year and are 8-1 ATS in their last nine season openers and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 conference games. The Titans are on ATS runs of 8-1 inside the division and 6-0 as a division ‘dog, but they are on pointspread dives of 3-7 against the AFC and 2-5 at LP Field.
The over has cashed in five of the last six meetings in this rivalry, and the over for Jacksonville is on tears of 10-1-1 on the highway, 13-3-2 in AFC play and 4-1 in division games. On the flip side, the under is 11-5-1 in Tennessee’s last 17 overall.
ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE
Detroit at Atlanta
The Falcons will trot out another new QB when they open the year at the Georgia Dome against the Lions, who folded in the second half of the 2007 season to once again miss the playoffs.
Atlanta (4-12, 8-8 ATS) drafted Boston College QB Matt Ryan in the first round and has given him the keys to an offense that averaged a mere 16.2 ppg (29th) and 259 ypg (23rd) last year. On the bright side, the Falcons finished last season on a 5-1 ATS run (3-3 SU), despite scoring 17 points or less in each of their last four games, and the offense has added former Chargers super sub Michael Turner at RB.
Detroit (7-9, 7-8-1 ATS) got out of the gate with a 6-2 start, then fell apart with a 1-7 SU and ATS finish. QB Jon Kitna returns under center after throwing 14 of his 20 INTs in the last eight games, including a dismal five-INT effort in a 51-14 blitzing at San Diego. And the Lions didn’t help Kitna’s cause by fielding the league’s worst defense, allowing 377 ypg and 27.8 ppg.
These two teams met once each year from 2004-06, with Detroit going 2-1 SU and ATS.
The Falcons, who went 3-5 ATS at home last year, are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 at the Dome and 4-16 ATS in their last 20 as a home underdog. Meanwhile, the Lions have taken the cash in five straight season openers, but they are 4-12 ATS on the road the past two seasons (0-4 ATS in their last four as visitors) and are 1-5 ATS in their last six conference games.
The over for Detroit is on a 6-0 tear and is also on streaks of 4-0 on the road and 5-1 in September. The over for Atlanta is on runs of 7-0 overall, 6-0 in conference play and 4-0 at home.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER
Seattle at Buffalo
The Seahawks, who bowed out in the second round of the playoffs last year, cross the country to open the season at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a non-conference tilt against the Bills.
Seattle (10-6, 9-7 ATS) lost two of its last three regular-season games in 2007 to land in the wild-card round, where it dispatched Washington 35-14 as a three-point home chalk. But the Seahawks then got thumped in the snow at Green Bay, losing 35-14 while catching nine points. QB Matt Hasselbeck returns this year after a strong 2007 in which he completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 3,966 yards, with 28 TDs against 12 INTs.
The Seahawks averaged 348.9 yards and 24.6 points per game in 2007, good for ninth in the NFL, while fielding the league’s sixth-best scoring defense (18.2 ppg).
Buffalo (7-9, 9-7 ATS) dropped its final three games last year (1-2 ATS), playing musical QBs with Trent Edwards (5-4 as the starter) and J.P. Losman (2-5 as the starter). The Bills, who wil lgo with Edwards to start this season, finished a dismal 30th in the league in total yards (277.1) and points per game (15.8).
These two squads haven’t met since 2004, when Buffalo took a 38-9 road win getting 4½ points. The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
The Bills have taken the cash in four of their last five season openers and are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 home games (6-2 last year). The Seahawks are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 starts overall, but the ATS trends turn downward from there, including 6-14-1 outside Seattle, 0-3 in their first road game the past three seasons and 2-10 on the highway versus the AFC.
The over is 19-9 in Seattle’s last 28 road games and is on runs of 4-0 for the Bills at home and 6-0 in this rivalry. But the under is 11-4-1 in Seattle’s last 16 September starts and 11-3 in Buffalo’s last 14 September games.
ATS ADVANTAGE: BUFFALO
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Two NFC South rivals collide when the Buccaneers travel to the Superdome to meet the Saints, who are looking to regain the form that got them to the NFC title game two years ago.
Tampa Bay (9-7, 8-7-1 ATS) lost three of its last four regular-season games, yet still captured the NFC South and hosted a wild-card game – a 24-14 loss as a three-point favorite against the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants. The Bucs, who were in the race to land Brett Favre this summer, will instead be sticking with veteran Jeff Garcia, who was steady but not spectacular last year (2,440 yards passing, 13 TDs, 4 INTs). Tampa relied more on one of the league’s stingiest defenses in yards allowed (278.4, 2nd) and points allowed (16.9, 3rd).
New Orleans (7-9, 6-10 ATS) dropped its last two games SU and ATS last season, potentially losing a return trip to the playoffs in the process. QB Drew Brees was solid, completing 67.5 percent of his passes for 4,423 yards and 28 TDS, against 18 INTs, for the league’s fourth-best offense (361.2 ypg). But without starting RB Deuce McAlister (now back after a knee injury), New Orleans – which started out 0-4 in 2007 – were 28th in rushing yards per game (91.6).
Tampa won both meetings with the Saints last year both SU and ATS and is on a 7-2 ATS run (6-3 SU) in this rivalry, getting the cash in the last five games at the dome. In addition, the road team has cashed in eight of the past 10 contests, and the underdog is on a 9-3 ATS run.
The Bucs went just 3-5 ATS on the highway last year, but they carry positive pointspread streaks of 7-3 as a division road ‘dog, 5-1 in division play and 4-1 in September. Conversely, the Saints are in ATS funks of 6-13 overall, 1-10 as a home chalk, 2-5 in the NFC South, and 17-36-2 at home.
The over is on a 5-0 spree in the last five meetings between these two teams and is on additional runs of 5-1 for the Bucs overall, 4-0 for the Bucs on the road, 5-0 for New Orleans overall and 5-0 for New Orleans at the Superdome.
ATS ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY and OVER
St. Louis at Philadelphia
The Rams, with star RB Steven Jackson healthy and signed to a new six-year deal, look to put a rough 2007 season behind them when they head to Lincoln Financial Field for a date with the Eagles.
St. Louis (3-13, 5-11 ATS) lost its first eight games last season (1-7 ATS) and finished on a four-game slide (1-3 ATS). Jackson missed all of four games and parts of two others, yet still rushed for 1,002 yards (4.2 ypc). QB Marc Bulger (2,392 passing yards, 11 TDs, 15 INTs) also missed four games and wasn’t particularly effective in the other 12 for an offense that averaged just 16.4 ppg (28th).
Philadelphia (8-8, 9-7 ATS) was the only NFC East team to miss the playoffs last year, despite winning its last three games (2-1 ATS). QB Donovan McNabb (3,324 passing yards, 19-7 TD-to-INT ratio) finally had a relatively healthy year, with 14 starts for an offense that was middle-of-the-pack in scoring (21 ppg), though the defense was ninth in the league in points allowed (18.8).
The Rams and Eagles have split six meetings since 2000, with Philly going 4-1-1 ATS. Philadelphia is also 4-0-1 ATS at home in this rivalry.
The Rams are on a 3-9 ATS slide catching points and are on further pointspread declines of 0-4 in September, 1-6-1 in season openers and 6-14-1 in non-division road games. The Eagles aren’t much better, though, having gone 2-6 ATS at home last year, and they carry additional negative ATS trends of 9-16 at the Linc since 2005 and 5-10 as a home chalk since 2006.
The under is 13-5 in the Rams’ last 18 road games, including 6-2 last year, and the under is on further runs of 7-0 in September for St. Louis, 4-1 in Week 1 for the Eagles and 7-3 for Philly at home.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Dallas at Cleveland
Dallas, which earned, and then blew, home-field advantage in the playoffs last year, opens its run for redemption on the Lake Erie shore in a non-conference contest against the Browns.
The Cowboys (13-3, 9-7 ATS) got out of the gate 12-1 last year (9-4 ATS) and seemed a sure bet for the Super Bowl, but they were upset 21-17 by the eventual champion Giants in the divisional playoff round as a seven-point home chalk. Including the playoff defeat, Dallas finished the year on an 0-5 ATS slide (2-3 SU). QB Tony Romo broke out in his first full year as a starter, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 4,211 yards and 36 TDs (against 19 INTs) in an offense that was second only to New England at 28.4 ppg.
Cleveland (10-6, 12-4 ATS) had by far its most successful season since coach Romeo Crennel took over, but lost out on the playoffs because of a tiebreaker despite winning eight of its last 11 games (9-2 ATS). QB Derek Anderson (3,787 passing yards, 29 TDs, 19 INTs) put first-round draft pick Brady Quinn on the back burner and will return as the starter after powering a Browns offense that finished eighth in points (25.1) and yards (351.3) per game.
These two teams have met just once this decade, a 19-14 Dallas win as a 5½-point home favorite in 2004.
Dallas, which split the cash in eight road games last year, is 5-13 SU in its last 18 roadies against the AFC. Cleveland, meanwhile, went 7-1 SU and ATS at home last season – winning and cashing the last seven in a row -- and is 4-1 ATS in its last five September starts.
The under is on a 6-0 spree for Cleveland, but the over has been the play in five straight season openers for Dallas and is also 13-4-2 in the Cowboys’ last 19 road games and 4-1-1 in Cleveland’s last six in September.
ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND and OVER
Carolina at San Diego
The Chargers, aiming to take that final step to the Super Bowl after falling one game short last year, go outside the AFC in their season opener against the Panthers at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Diego (11-5 SU and ATS) ripped off a 6-0 SU and ATS streak to cap the 2007 regular season. The Chargers then beat Tennessee on wild-card weekend 17-6 laying 10½ points at home and stunned Indianapolis 28-24 catching 10½ points on the road to reach the AFC final. However, with star RB LaDainian Tomlinson limited by a knee injury and QB Philip Rivers playing on a torn knee ligament, the Chargers fell at New England 21-12 – yet covered once again as a 14-point pup.
Rivers (3,152 yards passing, 21 TDs, 15 INTs) led the league’s fifth-best scoring offense (25.8 ppg), and Tomlinson rushed for a league-leading 1,474 yards (4.7 ypc), putting him over the 10,000-yard career mark in just seven seasons.
Carolina (7-9, 8-8 ATS) had a five-game SU and ATS midseason losing streak sabotage its 2007 campaign, though the Panthers finished on a 4-1 ATS surge. QB Jake Delhomme got off to a blazing start, with eight TDs and just one INT in the team’s first three games, before having to undergo season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery. He returns as the starter for an offense that averaged just 16.7 ppg (26th) and 284.9 ypg (29th).
These teams haven’t met since 2004, and there have been just two meetings this decade, with each squad winning and cashing on the road.
The Chargers have cashed in nine straight games (playoffs included) and are on further pointspread streaks of 8-1 at home, 11-3 laying points and 44-20-2 overall. The Panthers are in ATS slumps of 1-5-2 against the AFC, 2-6 in September and 1-4 in season openers.
The under has cashed in 11 of Carolina’s last 12 season openers and is on runs of 9-4 for the Panthers overall and 5-2 for San Diego at home.
ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN DIEGO
Arizona at San Francisco
Two division rivals looking to end long playoff droughts hook up at Monster Park in San Francisco, where the 49ers host the Cardinals in an NFC West clash between teams with high-profile, former first-round draft picks at QB – neither of whom will start today.
Arizona (8-8, 8-7-1 ATS) got just five starts out of Matt Leinart last year before he broke his collarbone, and the 2006 first-round choice threw for just 647 yards, with two TDs and four INTs. Veteran Kurt Warner (3,417 yards, 27 TDs, 17 INTs) made the last 11 starts, then beat out Leinart in the preseason to get the starting nod this year from second-year coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The 49ers (5-11, 5-10-1 ATS) had 2005 No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith for just seven games before Smith suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Smith completed a lowly 48.7 percent of his passes for 914 yards, with two TDs and four INTs. Then in the preseason, Smith was beaten out for the starting job by J.T. O’Sullivan, who was a backup last year with the Lions – where he worked under new Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
San Francisco won both clashes against the Cardinals last year, though Arizona got the cash on the road. In fact, the road team is on a 5-0 ATS streak, and the underdog is on a 4-0 ATS run.
The Cardinals are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 as a division chalk, but they are on positive ATS runs of 4-0 in September and 10-4 playing on grass. Meanwhile, the 49ers are on a bevy of negative ATS streaks, including 2-8 against the NFC, 4-9 on grass, 3-7 at home and 2-5 in NFC West play.
For Arizona, the over is on streaks of 5-0 inside the division, 25-9 against the NFC, 38-14 on the highway and 41-20 overall, and the over is 7-2 in the last nine contests in this rivalry.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER
Chicago at Indianapolis
The contestants in the Super Bowl two seasons ago square off when the Colts inaugurate the new Lucas Oil Stadium for a prime-time season opener against the Bears.
Indianapolis (13-3, 9-7 ATS) won six of its last seven regular-season games in 2007 (3-4 ATS) and appeared poised to at least give New England a battle in the AFC Championship Game. But after getting a playoff bye, the Colts – as 10½-point home favorites – were stunned in the divisional round 28-24 by San Diego. QB Peyton Manning is coming off a typically sterling season (65.4 completion percentage, 4,040 yards, 31 TDs, 14 INTs), and he will start tonight despite not playing a down in the preseason after undergoing minor knee surgery over the summer.
Indy had the league’s third-best scoring offense last season (28.1 ppg), churning out 358.7 ypg (fifth), and its defense yielded a league-best 16.4 ppg.
Chicago (7-9 SU and ATS) didn’t fare nearly as well last year coming off its Super Bowl loss to Indianapolis, failing to string together consecutive wins until the last two weeks of the season. Consistently inconsistent QB Rex Grossman played in eight games (seven starts) last year, coming up with just four TDs against seven INTs while throwing for 1,411 yards. Kyle Orton (478 yards passing, 3 TDs, 2 INTs in three starts in ‘07) beat out Grossman last month and will start for the Bears, who finished 27th in total offense and 28th in total defense last year.
Not counting a 2007 preseason tilt, these two teams last met in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007, with Indianapolis posting a 29-17 victory as a 6½-point chalk in the rain in Miami.
The Colts are on a 1-4 ATS slide at home (including playoffs), but they are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five season openers and are on further ATS streaks of 11-6 as a home favorite and 20-8-1 in 29 September. The Bears, who split the cash in their eight road games last year, are on pointspread skids of 0-5 in September and 2-5 in season openers.
The over is 5-2 in the last seven games for both these teams, but the total has stayed low in four straight season openers for Chicago and is 4-1 in Indy’s last five Week 1 contests.
ATS ADVANTAGE: INDIANAPOLIS
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Buffalo Bills -1
This game sets up extremely well for the Bills. They get to face a depleted Seattle team with little talent remaining from the offense of earlier this decade and injuries and suspensions taking more starters away for this long distance road game, covering three time zones and with a 10am Seattle time start, to boot. The Seahawks had to finish preseason with two games in five days and travel for a second straight time, but the bigger issue is that starting QB Hasselbeck has been limited with injury and he will be without his top wideouts in Branch and Engram. His WR core lacks experience and his OL is a shell of what it used to be. Defensively, the 'Hawks will be without two suspended key elements in Rocky Bernard and Jordan Babineaux from the secondary. They also have new athletes at TE, RB, WR and along to O-Line. Not having time to work these parts together in live game action will hurt.
The Buffalo Cover-2 defense will be in it's 3rd season and gets back some key personnel that were injured and missed most of last year (Posluzny, Simpson, Webster) and they have added some bulk to the defensive front in Marcus Stroud from Jacksonville. They also boast a tremendous special teams group, possibly the best in the league. Seattle doesn't see the Cover-2 in the NFC West and has not practiced against it. The Bills offense is pedestrian but RB Marshawn Lynch is a player and was rested through most of preseason. The Bills fans bought the 2nd most season tickets ever this year, over 56,000 and are anticipating a much improved team. Even without Jason Peter on the line, this team should control the line of scrimmage against the smaller and lighter Seahawk front seven. Their defense gave up over 230 rushing yards to Green Bay in the playoffs, setting up a template for the Bills running game. The Hawks have not made any improvements since that time.
Considering all the injuries that Buffalo had last year, they still covered the spread in every home game except the two against the Super Bowl participants, NE and the G-Men. This team plays hard for all 60 and has a strong home field, especially against the weaker conference (AFC home teams are 131-59 SU vs. the NFC since 2002). These two teams are heading in opposite directions, with a young and tough Bills group facing an aging Seattle team from the weakest division in the NFL... and that will be apparent today. I am not a huge believer in technical trends but they al favor Buffalo. Bills win the opener rather comfortably.
Buffalo 27, Seattle 13.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Kevin O’Neill The Max
Erik Scheponik NFL (0-0, 0%)
Jets (-3 –115) over @Dolphins
Dave Fobare NFL (0-0, 0%)
New England (-16½) over Kansas City
Kevin O’Neill NFL (0-0, 0%)
Texans (+6½) over @Steelers
Lions @Falcons under 41
Matty Baiungo NFL (0-0, 0%)
Eagles (- 7½) over Rams
Panthers (+9) over @Chargers
Re: Sunday Service Plays
THE SPORTS MEMO
SEATTLE AT BUFFALO PK
The NFL season kicks off in Buffalo with an early wake-up call for the Seahawks.The Bills certainly fit the label of an up and coming team in the ranks of the NFL after fighting their way to a 7-9 record in 2007. There were a couple games that slipped away from the Bills, including one-point heartbreaking losses to Dallas and Denver. Finally, it looks as if this young team is making strides with experience and their defense is primed to take a big step forward. In the offseason, the Bills added Marcus Stroud to man the middle of what has been a porous run defense, while adding Kawika Mitchell at linebacker. In addition, last year’s first round rookie Paul Posluszny is healthy after missing the bulk of last season. With the defense upgraded, the offense looking to make strides in the red zone and arguably the best special teams in the NFL, the Bills are live when we ask them to win on their home turf. Meanwhile, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who rarely played in the preseason, will lead a banged up offense to start the season. Look for the Bills to turn the tables and nail a victory in their home opener.
HOUSTON AT PITTSBURGH -6.5
There figures to be an overwhelming amount of firepower on the field in this one as each side has explosiveness that the defenses will have trouble stopping.Houston’s woes on pass defense create a solid advantage for the Steelers, who can exploit them with emerging deep threat Santonio Holmes and their strong group of receivers. The Texans will attempt to apply pressure with their defensive front led by sack artist DE Mario Williams but Pittsburgh has more than enough capability on the ground and in the quick passing game to keep them honest. For Houston, QB Matt Schaub’s accuracy should allow him to carve up a questionable Steelers secondary. The Texans’ receiving corps, with home run hitting WR Andre Johnson and sure handed complement Kevin Walter, are dangerous threats as is TE Owen Daniels. Look for the ball to be moved through the air consistently all game long as neither side has the pass rush or secondary to prevent it. The Steelers seem to always open it up more offensively at home and expect Ben Roethlisberger to post solid numbers.The Scoreboard changes rapidly in this one which is likely to total 50+.
SEATTLE AT BUFFALO PK
The Seahawks are a team heading in the opposite direction of Buffalo with aging veterans and a lame duck head coach. Fundamentally, I have a ton of question marks for Seattle and at the forefront of those questions is the receiving corps. DJ Hackett was dealt in the offseason leaving Deion Branch (injured), Bobby Engram (injured) and Ben Obamanu (IR) as its main targets. Only Nate Burleson is healthy enough to make an impact and I’m not willing to bet on Burleson showing up in the clutch at all. The offensive line was no good last year and neither was the ground game and both areas leave me with more questions than answers even with the addition of TJ Duckett, Julius Jones and Justin Forsett. Buffalo’s defense looks much improved with the additions of Marcus Stroud and Kawika Mitchell to help the front seven lock down the run and the Bills’ secondary, with so many high level draft picks and talent to burn, is finally healthy. Trent Edwards can manage a game, Marshawn Lynch can chew away the clock and Lee Evans can still be a gamebreaker. Throw in the best all around special teams in the NFL and Buffalo is the clear choice at home.
DETROIT -3 AT ATLANTA
Detroit is 8-48 SU on the road over the last seven seasons, including a 0-3 mark as road chalk. The Lions certainly aren’t a team that most bettors are interested in putting their money on as a road favorite in Week 1, giving us the value we need to pull the trigger here. This is a confident team once again, following their 4-0 preseason. Remember, the Lions started out the 2007 campaign with a 6-2 mark (including road wins at Oakland and Chicago) before their season collapsed. Both their offensive line and their defense have been upgraded, and with Mike Martz out of the picture, look for talented receivers Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams to flourish. Detroit has come out of the gate strong in each of Rod Marinelli’s previous two opening games. They’ll be facing a rebuilt Falconssquad coming off a truly dismal 4-12 season, breaking in a new coach, new systems on both sides of the football, and a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut. The Falcons are on a 4-16 ATS run as home underdogs dating back to the Jim Mora Jr. era. Don’t expect that trend to end here – these are two teams headed in opposite directions, making this price rather cheap.
BRENT CROW - NFL OUTLOOK
One thing that I have learned over the years is to not take the preseason results very seriously when it comes to the regular season. Obviously, preseason wins are not important in the NFL, as demonstrated by the Indianapolis Colts. They have the worst preseason record in the NFL over the past three years, yet also have the best regular season record. They were terrible again this year at 1-4, but no one expects them to falter over the next 17 weeks.
There are some things that can be gleaned from the preseason that will carry over into the regular season, however, and I will share some of the notes I made from watching this year’s exhibition games. Among the teams that are not expected to be playoff bound, I was most impressed with the Buffalo Bills’ overall talent level. Buffalo had numerous injuries last year and still was able to remain competitive in most games. A solid draft and the return to health of several starters should result in a team capable of making the playoffs this season. They were fast and deep on defense in the preseason and have some playmakers on offense as well. In addition, it seems like Trent Edwards and JP Losman have made strides at quarterback, so they should be ok if Edwards gets hurt.
Another team that showed lots of depth was the Carolina Panthers, who like the Bills, suffered through an injury-plagued 2007 season. Carolina played without a full deck at wide receiver for most of the preseason, yet still had some solid performances on offense. Included was the most dominant game of the entire preseason; their 47-3 win over Washington in week three. The running back tandem of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams will take some pressure off of quarterback Jake Delhomme and the passing game. The additions of receivers Muhsin Muhammad and DJ Hackett and rookie offensive tackle Jeff Otah will help Delhomme and Steve Smith as well.
On the other end of the spectrum, if the preseason is any indication, points are going to be hard to come by in Baltimore, St. Louis, Kansas City and Oakland. The Ravens’ quarterback situation is the worst in the league with Kyle Boller injured and Troy Smith or Joe Flacco looking like the starter. Throw in one of the worst receiving corps in the league and the retirement of tackle Jonathan Ogden and the Ravens have solidified their hold on the title of worst offense in the NFL. St. Louis is in better shape at quarterback with Marc Bulger, but the offensive line is a trouble spot and there is no speed outside.
Steven Jackson missed the entire preseason with a successful holdout, but the Rams may not get the numbers they are used to from Jackson. Kansas City was also putrid on offense this preseason, as the only success for the first-stringers came in the last week against the Rams’ backup defenders. Brodie Croyle has struggled in his time in the NFL at quarterback, but he really has just one legit wideout in Dwayne Bowe. I think the Chiefs will be better than they showed in the preseason, but not by much.
Oakland is another team that didn’t do much on offense in the preseason, but have more talent than the teams listed above on that side of the ball. Their preseason seemed to have less of a game plan than any other team as Lane Kiffin worked on different things without regard to the situation. He didn’t kick the ball one game, then passed on every down in another. In the final game, he sat all of his starters to avoid further injury. All in all, we never really saw what the Raiders are going to be like in the regular season. One thing is certain, running back Darren McFadden is the real deal and will have a huge impact. If Jamarcus Russell becomes a legit NFL quarterback, they will have a solid offense.
FAIRWAY J - PERCEPTIN vs REALITY
Fairway’s Followers may recall season’s past when I provided some college football writeups that featured analysis called “Perception vs. Reality”. The public will often perceive a strong football program to be superior, or a team to play to a higher level of its most recent score. The reality is often quite different. It’s a good way to analyze a game from a public perception and line value standpoint while recognizing the reality of the situation and provide statistical support.We’ve netted plenty of profits on these plays in last year’s Sportsmemo Newsletter, posting a 9-4 record with mostly college plays. We’ll chip-in and kickoff this season with an NFL forecast.
CINCINNATI -1 at BALTIMORE O/U 39
Perception - Two AFC North teams clash in week one and revenge-minded handicappers will note that the Ravens lost both contests to the Bengals last season. They’ll also point out the stronger Ravens’ defense that ranked sixth in total yards allowed. The Bengals’ defense has been poor and ranked in the bottom quartile of the league for five consecutive seasons. Cincinnati also suffered a number of injuries in the preseason, including WR Chad Johnson (shoulder) and QB Carson Palmer (broken nose). The talent rich Cincinnati offense was sub-par in the preseason, and there are perceived problems along the offensive line following their lackluster performances. Unproven running back Chris Perry takes over for Rudi Johnson (waived), but will that help the Bengals’ first-team offense that failed to score a point in its last 10 preseason possessions through games two and three?
Reality - The Ravens are entering the regular season with more questions than when they began training camp. This looks like a challenging season for new head coach John Harbaugh, who will likely endure some early struggles with a new offensive coordinator and system along with inexperienced quarterbacks. Baltimore was a three-point home underdog to Cincinnati last season, and they were beaten soundly, 21-7. In fact, the Ravens scored in the final two minutes to avoid the shutout while the Bengals had seven trips inside the red zone and settled for seven field goals. Cincinnati features far superior talent on offense with a huge mismatch at quarterback between Carson Palmer and either Troy Smith or rookie Joe Flacco. Smith has not practiced in a week due to illness, and neither quarterback is equipped or has the poise or presence to be an effective NFL quarterback just yet. Baltimore was a league worst 3-13 ATS and minus (-17) in turnover differential last season, and the Bengals are 29-4 SU under head coach Marvin Lewis when they win the turnover battle. Baltimore’s frequent blitzes could be burned badly, as they featured the league’s No. 30 pass defense last year and a scoring defense that was second-worst in the AFC in yards per point. All-Pro safety Ed Reed is out with a nerve injury in his neck, and the Ravens’ defensive line is banged-up and thin. Baltimore’s perceived strength on defense is now a group of aging veterans that are not nearly as strong as recent editions. Cincinnati is a road favorite for a reason, and securing the win means a point spread cover.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Key Selections are graded 1 to 4, with 1 being the highest rating. "5" rated games are considered "best of the rest"
3--PHILADELPHIA over St. Louis 27-16
4--ny jets over MIAMI 27-16
4--INDIANAPOLIS over Chicago 27-13
5--ATLANTA (+) over Detroit 27-26
5--Houston (+) over PITTSBURGH 26-24
New York Jets 27 - MIAMI 16 - (1:00) -- The era of Brett begins anew with the
Jets, for however short it logically figures to be. He, of course, brings a much
needed winning attitude, with such targets as Coles & Cotchery available. The
Jets' offensive line is improved, as is NY's defense. So things looking up for
the faithful. Dolphs have dropped 18-of-19 SU, & failed to reach 18 pts in 9
games LY, but Pennington is a huge plus at QB for new coach Sparano. The
Jets are 9-1 ATS in their last 9 trips to Miami, as well as 8-2-1 in ROs. Dolphs
shocked Denver, 34-10 in Saban's debut 2 years ago, but not about to repeat.
Houston 26 - PITTSBURGH 24 - (1:00) -- It may seem daffy in bucking Pitt in
this situation. Afterall, Roethlisberger is in off a team record 32 TD passes
with only 11 picks, & the Steelers finished 1st in the NFL, defensively. But age
& loss of LG Faneca to the Jets, taking a toll on the "O" line (allowed 47 sacks
LY). The Texans improved to 8-8 LY, & are no doubt a coming power, especially
with a healthy Schaub at QB. The "O" line is improved, with coach Gibbs
coming over from Denver. Steelers just 5-10 ATS in HOs. Note that Kubiak
was OC for the Broncos, when they won the '97 AFC title game at Pittsburgh.
ATLANTA 27 - Detroit 26 - (1:00) -- Yes, we are aware of the fact that the Lions
opened the '07 season with a 36-21 road whipping of the Raiders, but this isn't
a role that Detroit cherishes, namely a RF. Check an 0-6 ATS log as RF of <4
pts. Lions also just 14-25 as non-division chalks. Falcons welcome new HC
Mike Smith from J'Ville, as well as new franchise QB Matt Ryan. Lions can
move it with bevy of talented receivers (Johnson, Williams, etc), but finished
with worst "D" in NFL year ago, allowing 35.3 ppg in final 6 games. Mild upset.
PHILADELPHIA 27 - St Louis 16 - (1:00) -- That once vaunted Ram offense has
slipped by the year, ranking a lowly 24th in '07, with little improvement, despite
some notable "O" talent, such as RB Jackson. The "O" line is hardly among
the elites, altho DE Long should bolster its "D". The Eagles are relying less on
McNabb, which has to be a plus, & its "D" should put the clamps on the aging
Rams. StLouis just 3-12 ATS lately, & 11-28 ATS on the non-division road.
Eags 7-1-1 ATS in the series, altho the visitor is 10-1-1 ATS in Philly tilts lately.
INDIANAPOLIS 27 - Chicago 13 - (8:15 - NBC) -- Rematch of '06 Super Bowl,
which wasn't as close as the 29-17 final. Bears now going with Orton over
Grossman. It was just a matter of time. But the departure of Benson, Berriman,
& Muhammad sure doesn't make matters easier for the Chicago "O", despite
moving Hester to WR. The Colts, believe it or not, finished as the 15th rated
"O" team a year ago, so improvement is a must, with the return of Harrison of
utmost importance. The Bears are just 5-10 vs the AFC, while Indy is a paltry
15-22 ATS play as Sept host, but 19-9 overall in Sept, & 15-5 fav vs the NFC.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Northcoast Power Sweep:
4* Carolina + 20-21
3* Jax Under
2* Houston + 24-26
2* NYG 27-13
3* Cowboys Under 49
3* Bengals Under 39
2* Carolina Over 41
2* Texans Over 44
PRO ANGLE PLAYS
4* Carolina (+) over SAN DIEGO - SD comes into the season as the runaway favorite for the AFC West while CAR, behind a healthy Delhomme, is expected to mount a serious challenge in the NFC South. SD is 6-0 ATS as a HF of 7+ while CAR is 18-9-2 ATS as an AD. CAR susp Steve Smith the 1st 2 games & the WR is struggling w/injs. CAR is returning to a power rushing attack & upgraded the OL with a new face at each spot. They showed just how serious they are in the preseason as CAR posted 107 rush att’s (4.8) in the first 3 preseason games. LY before his elbow injury Delhomme avg’d 308 ypg (64%) with an 8-1 ratio & CAR scored 27, 21 & 27 pts. From 2004-2006 SD was in the top 3 for rush def & allowed just 16 100 yd games but LY teams spread the defense out & SD allowed 7 100+ yd games. SD allowed 102 yds rushing on STL 1st 16 rush att’s & looked sloppy vs SEA with 162 yds (5.1). SD is also dealing w/injs as C Hardwick (knee) is out & LT McNeil (stinger) didn’t practice at all in preseason. Rivers is just 7 months removed from having his ACL replaced & TE Gates is only at 85%. While Tomlinson will get his yards here, CAR has shifted its defensive strength to the back 7 &
look for Peppers to announce his return here.
FORECAST: Carolina 20 (+) SAN DIEGO 21
3* Jaguars/Titans: UNDER - The Titans upset the Jags 13-10 as a 7 pt AD by playing the Jags’ type of smashmouth football (282-75 rush edge) in the 2007 season opener. In the 2nd meeting JAX beat TEN 28-13 as a 4.5 pt AD in their 3rd straight road game & were without Garrard for the 3rd straight game. TEN turned the ball over 3 times & were SOD twice deep in JAX territory. TEN has some major questions concerning their passing game as their WR’s couldn’t gain separation in the preseason in
returning OC Heimerdinger’s offense. QB Young only tallied 150 yds (50%) with an 0-1 ratio vs an ATL team whose secondary looks to be worse than LY’s #23 ranking. JAX also has issues with its WR unit as big FA signing Jerry Porter has missed virtually all of TC with a torn hamstring, slot WR Northcutt (44 rec 13.7 LY) is the #1 WR & the #2 option is either troubled Matt Jones (24 rec 13.2 LY) or Reggie Williams (38 rec 16.6 LY) who has missed most of TC with a right knee inj. Both teams rely on powerful ground oriented offenses & with neither team having a dropoff in their defenses (JAX #12 TEN #5 LY) this should be a physical, hard fought lower scoring game. TEN is a strong HD (7-1 ATS) with a solid crowd & the Under is the play.
FORECAST: Jaguars/Titans: UNDER THE TOTAL
2* Houston (+) over PITTSBURGH - While this is the 1st meeting since PIT beat HOU 27-7 as a 4.5 pt AF in 2005 the Steelers have faced a similar type of offense the L2Y vs DEN. PIT is, however, 0-2 SU & ATS vs a Kubiak-oriented offense. PIT is 8-4 ATS as a non-div HF while HOU is 3-6 ATS as an AD. HOU matches up well with their talented 4-3 DL in its 2nd season together featuring DE Mario Williams (14 sacks LY) vs an OL that allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked 47 times LY. While PIT had the #3 pass def LY HOU only had Schaub & WR Johnson together for 4 full games (3-1 SU & ATS w/24-15 avg score). In those, Schaub passed for 250 ypg (66.4%) with a 7-3 ratio & Johnson had 23 rec (18.2). PIT has a big edge with their #3 run game from LY reinforced by Mendenhall vs a HOU team that still lacks a solid feature back to balance out the offense. Look for this to be a higher scoring affair as both teams are pass oriented with quality receiving targets. We are aware that HOU had 6 road losses by a 16 ppg margin LY but that was without their QB/WR tandem, lack of depth at RB & a beaten up secondary. HOU is our 1st NFL “Ugly Dog” Play for 2008 which is currently at 17-8 (68%). FORECAST: Houston 24 (+) PITTSBURGH 26
Re: Sunday Service Plays
The Sports Reporter
SUPER BEST BET
*BUFFALO over SEATTLE by 21
Obomanu is out of the race!…to be the Seahawks’ go-to receiver in this game. The inexperienced guy was the #1 candidate among a young group of Seattle wideouts being called upon to pick up the slack in the absence of injured veterans Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. We’ve always insisted that wide receivers are the easiest to lose, plug in, and move forward with. However, considering the transition occurring on Seattle’s offensive line, at running back and at tight end, Engram stood as one of the ‘’sure things’’ for a revamped unit. Where does this leave the Seattle offense other than up the Erie Canal without a paddle, in a game they can afford to lose as long as they get ’er done vs. NFC West rivals coming up in Weeks 2 and 3? Matt Hasselbeck played in only one pre-season game at quarterback, wasn’t practicing with his usual receivers, won’t be playing with ‘em, either. To add to the degree of difficulty, the opposing Bills are in the third season of a gradual transition to a Cover-2 defense, which has a history of stopping West Coast offenses like Seattle’s. Defensive linemen provide all the pressure, reducing the need for blitzes. When the front four play its gaps correctly, they clog up running lanes and force the running backs to run outside (not where Julius Jones excels), where the corners, linebackers, and safeties all help. If Seattle’s defense was ever meant to bail them out here, the one-game suspensions to starting defensive back Rocky Bernard and nickel back Jordan Babineaux just made that task harder as the Marshawn Lynch-powered running game triggers an upsiding Bills’ offense. BUFFALO, 30-9.
*TENNESSEE over JACKSONVILLE by 9
The Titans embarrassed the Jaguars last season, running all over their defensive line for over 300 yards and ultimately motivating the Jacksonville defense to get their act together. Despite an incredibly successful regular season and a better than usual showing in the playoffs, the Jaguars made wholesale changes to their defensive line, including the drafting of Derrick Harvey in the first round and finally signing him to a slot-level contract a few days ago. With Fred Taylor getting arrested for disorderly conduct a few nights ago (just what you want from a “veteran leader,” right?) and the Jaguars seemingly sharing in the over-inflated sense of self that many elite level teams succumb to, there’s good reason to think that Jeff Fisher and his conservative, but successful, ground-based attack will once again stymie an overconfident Jaguars squad who must adapt to a new defensive coordinator. That didn’t work out too well for, say, the NY Giants against a mobile QB and a strong offensive line when the Giants faced a division rival in last year’s opener, did it? Jags might be behind a similar 8-ball. TENNESSEE 29-20.
DALLAS over *CLEVELAND by 17
Why did Wade Phillips hire Cleveland’s three-season defensive coordinator Todd Grantham away from the Browns prior to this season? Could it be that he knows that the NFC East games have a good chance to be 3-3, and that he is attempting to secure an edge in the four non-conference games against the AFC North? Hey, after Arizona’s new coaching staff came over from Pittsburgh last year, the Cardinals – the Cardinals, mind you – eventually went 4-0 ATS vs. AFC North opponents. So, there you have a little unseen potential for Dallas, on top of all the offensive firepower that everybody knows about. Grantham oversaw a 3-4 defense in Cleveland, the same style that the Cowboys have been attempting to become better at playing since Phillips arrived. He knows where the many holes are in Cleveland’s front – new DT Shaun Rogers notwithstanding – and Dallas’ big offensive line is good at creating holes on its own to begin with. Adam Jones in Dallas’ secondary, and on punt returns, has the potential to create instant momentum swings for the Cowboys. If they didn’t already know who Derek Anderson was after the nice things Cleveland’s offense did last season, then the Cowboys know it now with Grantham there to help attack the immobile young dude while Romo is dancing around and keeping the Browns off balance. The Browns were 7-1 SU on this field, 12-3-1 ATS overall last year. Big whoopity whoop. It’s not last year. DALLAS, 27-10.
HOUSTON over *PITTSBURGH by 3
Without inferior showings across the board against their AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans could have been a playoff level team. Achieving an 8-8 record, despite their poor divisional play and overreliance on Sage Rosenfels, shows just how far the Texans have come under Gary Kubiak. Houston is clearly a team on the rise and only injuries will slow their ascent. Meanwhile, the Steelers are a team that has yet to prove themselves to be as good as they can be with Mike Tomlin as head coach instead of Bill Cowher. After a dominating start to the season, the Steelers petered out as the schedule progressed and made very little changes in the off-season to make you think that they can gear up for another extended playoff push. Their o-line might be a little down, while Houston’s d-line might be on the rise. Expect the unexpected, as the Texans take advantage of balmy weather in Pittsburgh to exact an upset. HOUSTON 20-17.
DENVER at OAKLAND UNDER 41.5
We all know Mike Shanahan has long held an axe to grind against Al Davis’ skull for past transgressions, but does his team have the personnel to fulfill his blood grudge against the silver and black? Oakland experienced yet another offseason full of turmoil, but unquestionably upgraded their team. Coach Lane Kiffin finds himself with nothing to lose, knowing that if he is fired he will collect the full balance remaining on his contract – giving him the rare freedom to do as he pleases without fear of reprisal. That might mean the traditionally high-flying Raiders run the ball more than most teams in the NFL, featuring great depth at running back, including top draft pick Darren McFadden – this year’s version of Adrian Peterson. Denver is hoping to unveil a high-flying aerial attack to complement shaky depth at running back, but will be held back in the first game due to Brandon Marshall’s suspension and an improved Raiders’ secondary. Will any of Denver’s slow-footed back-up receivers be able to find room to manuever against Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall? Look for a game decided on the ground and by the respective defenses. DENVER, 16-13
Re: Sunday Service Plays
Third-year head Houston coach Gary Kubiak prefers a balanced offense with a strong running attack, like he had in Denver, and brings in assistant coach Alex Gibbs. The new offensive coordinator is Kyle Shanahan, whose father Mike runs those balanced Denver offenses. The Texans do have an accurate QB in Matt Schaub, plus ace WR Andre Johnson. The talented young defensive front has LB DeMeco Ryans, DE Mario Williams and second-year DT Amobi Okoye. Pittsburgh has deadly balance on offense, with QB Ben Roethlisberger (32 TDs, 11 picks, 3,154 yards in 2007), speedy RB Willie Parker, WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, plus TE Heath Miller. The Steelers kept seven defensive linemen on their final roster rather than the normal six, and the reason for that might reflect the age of the group. Only one will be younger than 30 when September ends, and that's backup end Nick Eason, 28. Houston's passing game and emerging young defense should allow them to keep this game close.
Re: Sunday Service Plays
NYJ Jets at MIA Dolphins
Take NYJ Jets
The Dolphins were clearly the worst team in the NFL last year. They're a little better to start this season, but not a whole lot. The Jets have a chance to be at least respectable with the expected upgrade at QB with Favre, and they certainly should be the better team at this point in the campaign. I'll go with the Jets as road chalk for Sunday.