NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

Bucs' Garcia and Brooks injured in opener
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia sprained an ankle during the Buccaneers' season-opening loss at New Orleans and is questionable for this week's home game against Atlanta.

It was unclear when Garcia was hurt. The 38-year-old finished the game Sunday, throwing an interception that halted a potential game-winning drive in a 24-20 loss.

Coach Jon Gruden did not specify which ankle was injured, but said the four-time Pro Bowl selection apparently was hurt late in the game and had some swelling. If he can't play against the Falcons, Brian Griese likely will start the home opener.

Garcia was not sharp Sunday after missing most of training camp and the preseason because of a right calf strain. His preparation for New Orleans also was affected by a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand.

''Obviously he's had the calf, the pinkie, and now he's got an ankle,'' Gruden said. ''He's going to be questionable.''

Two other players, linebacker Derrick Brooks (right hamstring strain) and backup receiver Maurice Stovall (neck strain) also are questionable for Sunday against the Falcons, who opened with a win over Detroit.

Brooks, who was injured in the third quarter Sunday, has made 192 consecutive starts, the NFL's longest streak among active defensive players. Neither he nor Garcia were available for comment.

Backups Adam Hayward and Matt McCoy filled in for Brooks against the Saints. If he's not ready to face the Falcons, one option that may be considered is moving strong side linebacker Cato June into Brooks' weak side position.

''We have the capability to move people around a little bit,'' Gruden said.

Griese led Tampa Bay to a 5-1 start in 2005 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He signed with Chicago as a free agent the following year and spent the last two seasons there, primarily as a backup.

He started six games for the Bears in 2007. The Bucs reacquired him this year in an offseason trade.

If Garcia is unable to practice Wednesday, Gruden will begin preparing both Griese and Luke McCown.

''We have to get wired in. ... We'll make sure we get all the information we need to do what gives our team a chance to get back to 1-1 and win our first football game,'' Gruden said.

The coach shrugged off questions about how much Garcia's performance in new Orleans was related to the amount of practice time he missed during camp.

Garcia completed 24 of 41 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

''I don't know what rust is, really. What can I cay? ... He just missed a couple of throws he normally hits,'' Gruden said.

Tampa Bay was 0-for-8 on third-down conversions through three quarters and finished 2-for-12. Garcia's last pass, on fourth-and-6 from the Saints 24 in the final minute, was intercepted by Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.

It might not have come down to that, though, if the Bucs had relied more on their running game.

Tampa Bay rushed for 146 yards, with Earnest Graham leading the way with 91 yards on 10 carries and Warrick Dunn gaining 54 yards on nine attempts.

But Gruden said costly penalties and an inability to convert on third downs forced Tampa Bay out of a ''running mentality.''

And, it didn't help that the Bucs played from behind much of the day.

''I'll be the first to say Earnest played well, and we've got to give it to him more. Warrick Dunn, too,'' the coach said.

''We've got to start better. It's a credit to the guys for hanging in there, coming back and answering two of New Orleans' scores with scores themselves. Then the last drive of the game was a good drive, put our team in a position to win,'' Gruden added. ''Unfortunately we just didn't get it done.''

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NFL opening line report: Week 2
By STEPHEN NOVER

Talk about a tough opening week. Tom Brady heads a list of quarterback injuries that also contains Vince Young, Brodie Croyle and maybe Jeff Garcia.

“At this rate we’ll have all new quarterbacks by the end of Week 4,” joked Mike Seba, senior linesmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

Nothing is funny right now for New England. The Patriots’ first jolt of reality going from Brady, the reigning Most Valuable Player, to untested Matt Cassel is being regular-season underdogs for the first time since 2006.

Seba said there is a 10-point line difference from Brady to Cassel, who is slated to make his first start since high school when the Patriots face the New York Jets at Giants Stadium.

If Brady were fully healthy, Seba said the Patriots would be around minus eight versus the Jets. With Brady out, LVSC sent out to their Nevada hotel clients a line of Jets minus three.

Basically that line is saying the Jets and Patriots - minus Brady - are even factoring in home-field advantage for New York.

“I still think the Patriots are the better team,” Seba said. “But that’s (Jets minus three) the right line. The Patriots are still decent. They can win the division or get a wildcard spot.

“But who is going to bet on Cassel right now? No one. That’s why the line should be three.”

Bookmakers, of course, want divided action. Maybe the Patriots could get away with being a road favorite against the Jets without Brady if New York was going with one of its starting quarterbacks from last season, Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemens.

But the position has been upgraded with the arrival of Brett Favre.

“The Patriots would have been at least a field goal favorite if the Jets didn’t have Favre,” Seba said.

Seba said LVSC probably would have recommended Tennessee as a one-point road favorite or ‘pick’ versus Cincinnati. That was before Young suffered a sprained knee. Because of Young’s injury, the Bengals opened three-point favorites.

Tennessee backup quarterback Kerry Collins is more of a downfield passing threat than Young, but he doesn’t come close to possessing Young’s big-play ability and mobility. The Titans were 15-7 against the spread as an underdog with Young under center.

“There is a difference, but Collins is one of the better backups,” Seba said. “We may have over-adjusted. I could see the line dropping down to 2 ½.”

The Bengals could manage just 154 yards and eight first downs during a 17-10 loss Sunday to Baltimore, which was starting rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. Carson Palmer may have had his worst NFL game.

“The Bengals are a train wreck,” Seba said. “They do have talent, but no heart.”

Oddsmakers didn’t really need to make an adjustment on veteran Damon Huard replacing Croyle, out at least a couple of weeks with a separated shoulder. Croyle was 0-7 as an NFL starter.

Look for the Chiefs to be favored by 2 ½ or three points against Oakland following the Raiders’ Monday game versus Denver.

“It hurts Kansas City depth-wise, but there’s no difference there,” Seba said about Huard and Croyle. “It would have been 2 ½ or three anyways.”

The adjustment would be small if Garcia can’t start against Atlanta. He probably would be replaced by veteran Brian Griese.

“I like Garcia, but the drop-off wouldn’t be huge,” Seba said.

LVSC made the Buccaneers’ minus nine at home versus the Falcons instead of 9 ½ because of Garcia suffering a sprained ankle. The number was settling in at eight by Monday afternoon.

“They should beat Atlanta easily no matter what quarterback they use,” Seba said of the Buccaneers.”

Atlanta isn’t considered the worst team in the NFC anymore by virtue of its smashing 34-21 victory against the Lions. That dubious honor goes to either the San Francisco 49ers or St. Louis Rams.

Seattle opened nine-point home favorites versus the 49ers despite a cluster injury problem at wide receiver, a rusty Matt Hasselbeck and offensive line injuries.

That’s the biggest spread on the Week 2 card, along with the New York Giants also being minus nine against the Rams on the road.

“The question is are the Giants that good and the Rams that bad?” Seba asked.

The public steamed the Giants last Thursday against the Redskins. Don’t be surprised if public money comes in on the Giants again this week.

“The Rams defense has never been any good and now their offense is just a shell of themselves,” Seba said.

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Week 1 Rewind
By Josh Jacobs

Misery needs company. New England’s golden boy quarterback, Tom Brad is already looking ahead to next season after suffering from what early reports call a torn ACL. Hands down this was the hit heard around the NFL in Week 1.

Then came the downing of “on the fly” signal caller, Vince Young and his early quest to advance Tennessee past Indianapolis and Jacksonville in 2008. Young left late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Jaguars with a sprained left knee and team sources believe it’ll be at least two to four weeks for full recovery.

Rounding the bend on the injury list worth noting includes Seattle’s WR Nate Burleson (knee), Indianapolis’ TE Dallas Clark (knee) and RB Joesph Addai (head) and Dallas’ RB Marion Barber (ribs).

But earthshaking injuries weren’t all that transpired in the opening week.

Top Performers

Kudos goes out to Pittsburgh in its introductory victory against a bewildered Texas team (38-17). The Steelers lead running back, Willie Parker rattled off 138 yards on 25 carries, while finding touchdown territory three times. QB Ben Roethlisberger was very efficient, tossing 14 balls on 13 completions for 137 yards with two scores. Both TD passes where thrown to No. 1 wide out Hines Ward who also added 76 yards to the stat book.

Atlanta’s Michael Turner emerged from the shadows of former teammate and all-pro RB LaDainian Tomlinson when he ripped off 220 rushing yards with two touchdowns in a spanking against Detroit (34-21). The Falcons have a solid professional in Turner and the future seems bright for the Northern Illinois alumni.

Stepping away from individual performances brings to light a Baltimore squad responsible for holding the high-flying Bengals to just 89 yards through the air and 65 yards on the ground. Led by linebacker Jarret Johnson (six tackles and one pick), the Ravens held Cincinnati’s QB Carson Palmer to 10-of-25 passing (3.6 yards per pass), while allowing a grand total of two 3rd down conversions in 13 tries.

Finally, New Orleans defied Week 1 jitters by tearing through a stout Tampa Bay defense for a total of 438 yards (337 passing and 101 rushing). The Saints’ starting signal caller, Drew Breese found his groove with three scores through the air attack, as RB Reggie Bush pushed his team to the victory with a 42-yard TD catch off a swing pass in the final drive.

Not Close Enough

The failure to cover in the final moments came in the same New Orleans-Tampa Bay contest. As aforementioned in the RB Reggie Bush, 42-yard TD reception, the Saints were down 20-17 after the Buccaneers racked up a 2-yard passing score from WR Ike Hilliard with 10:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The end result was New Orleans covering the three point-spread by a hair. After the window closed on all action in this contest, 70.3-percent of the betting public had their money tied up on the Saints. The total of 43 points was also a hair raiser, with the ‘over’ squeezing in at 44 after Bush maneuvered around the pylon in the final score of the game.

Total Tally

The big picture on Sunday crafted a solid 9-5 record on the ‘under’ (that is if you supported those ‘under’ games). Four games (not counting the Monday Night Minnesota-Green Bay game) closed with totals not higher then 37 ½-points. Those four predicted low scoring affairs turned out to be solid winners with the ‘under’ going 3-1.

One of the five ‘overs’ on Sunday was generated in a 34-10 pounding over Seattle by a Buffalo team who many experts believe will be a solid play this season. The Bills’ RB Marshawn Lynch helped out the ground game with 76 yards and a score, while the defense crafted five sacks for a total lose of 30 yards.

Two contests witnessed scores of exactly the same 27 total point outcome, resulting in two solid over plays. Baltimore suffocated a lost Cincinnati offense with a 17-10 victory as Tennessee was once against guided by QB Vince Young on the skin of his teeth.

Shift in Power?

We could be jumping the gun here, but non-conference matchups went in favor of the NFC this weekend with a 3-1 SU and ATS record. Leading the charge were the 10-point underdog Bears who stripped the Colts of any dignity on Sunday evening. Chicago field general, Kyle Orton’s 150 passing yard performance was surrounded by a solid running game (Matt Forte ran for 123 yard and a TD) and a stern defense which notched one takeaway, one touchdown and two sacks.

As a quick sidebar, the ‘under’ in this match squeaked through with most books setting this contest at 43 (total finished up at 42 points).

The lone AFC team to walk away with a non-conference win were the already mentioned, Bills. A runaway 34-10 win over Seattle resulted in an easy ‘over’ contest which closed the books at a low 37 ½.

Ending this recap, backers behind Carolina were given an early Week 1 treat when QB Jake Delhomme heaved the game winning TD pass into the hands of WR Dante Rosario as time expired after the snap. San Diego was installed as a chalky, 9 ½-point home favorite but was unable to execute pivotal defensive schemes. The Panthers totaled 142 rushing yards on 29 carries and kicker John Kasey added four big field goals on the scoreboard.

vegasinsider.com.

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The information you people has provided was quite helpful. For me all   this info looks like an datamine rather then an informaiton in detail.

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pranith wrote:


The information you people has provided was quite helpful. For me all   this info looks like an datamine rather then an informaiton in detail.

Glad to be of any help I can do for everyone.

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With Croyle out, Edwards weighs 2-QB system
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Coach Herm Edwards is hinting that the Kansas City Chiefs may go with some sort of two-quarterback system while Brodie Croyle is sidelined with a separated shoulder.

Backup Damon Huard will start this week against the Raiders, relieving an injured Kansas City quarterback for the third time in three years. But Edwards made clear that third-teamer Tyler Thigpen, who was waived by Minnesota last September and has attempted only six passes in the NFL, will also get on the field in the next few weeks.

Might he start the following week at Atlanta?

''He'll get to play. Whether he starts, we'll determine that,'' Edwards said. ''But he is going to play. You don't have to worry about that.''

Asked directly if he was talking about a two-quarterback system, Edwards replied, ''I'm just saying he's going to play.''

Croyle, the oft-injured third-year pro, was hurt in Sunday's 17-10 loss at New England and will be out two to four weeks.

Rather than go with two quarterbacks while Croyle is injured, the Chiefs have looked at several available backups and are expected to sign Ingle Martin off the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans if he passes a physical.

Martin was a 2006 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers. The Titans, ironically, were one of three NFL teams who lost their starting quarterbacks in their opening game on Sunday.

Huard, a 12-year veteran, came in for Croyle in the first quarter and nearly pulled out a huge upset against the heavily favored Patriots. He is a proven performer. But he's not as young, quick or mobile as Croyle and Thigpen and the Chiefs revamped their offense this year to make use of things like rollouts and bootlegs. With Huard, the offense will have to be reined in.

Thigpen, 24, is a much better fit for the Chiefs' new system. Plus, he's a second-year player, and the Chiefs are committed to rebuilding through youth.

''There are some things we do offensively that Tyler and Brodie do very well,'' Edwards said. ''There are some things Damon can do that offsets what they do. When Tyler plays, it's a little bit different than when Damon plays.''

Croyle's inability to stay on the field is becoming worrisome. Since taking over as the starting quarterback last year, he's had three injuries in seven games.

The Chiefs' patience could be wearing thin. They can hardly expect to build a championship-caliber team through youth without developing a quarterback.

''When you build your offense, you build it around that guy basically, you try to build a system that he can handle and be successful in,'' Edwards said. ''So when they miss time, that's bothersome.''

Edwards will not agree with critics who say Croyle is injury-prone. But he did concede there could be a point when the Chiefs conclude that building an offense around him would be too big a gamble.

''There's a point in time for that,'' Edwards said. ''I don't think we're at that point.''

The Chiefs went into this season hoping this would be the year that Croyle makes his breakthrough. He has an exceptionally strong arm and seems to possess the natural leadership everyone desires in a quarterback.

''You look at quarterbacks, generally when a guy's in his third year, that's kind of the year for most of these kids,'' Edwards said. ''A lot of these guys in their third year, you're anticipating he's going to be a better player. That's the outlook we have for Brodie, too. We feel we're doing some things offensively now that he can do, that he can manage. Now we've got to keep him well and he's got to go play. That's the whole key.''

Thigpen, who started 39 games at Coastal Carolina, was 2-for-6 for 41 yards in his only appearance last year after the Chiefs picked him up on waivers. He also had an interception. Apparently, the Chiefs considered giving him the start against Oakland before deciding to go with the more experienced Huard.

''It's just not fair to the kid, opening up at home. Trust me, he'll get his chances like all the rest of these young guys,'' Edwards said.

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Colston out 4-6 weeks with thumb injury
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Marques Colston, the New Orleans Saints' top receiver during the past two seasons, had surgery on his left thumb and will miss four to six weeks.

A person with direct knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning that Colston had a torn ligament resulting from a play on Sunday in which the receiver reached forward in an attempt to make a catch while taking a helmet-first hit to his hands.

The person did not want to be identified because the Saints' official injury report had not been released.

Colston tried to continue playing with the injury during the Saints' 24-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but wound up finishing the game with only three catches for 26 yards.

The injury was first reported on FOXSports.com.

Colston was a seventh-round draft choice out of Hofstra in 2006. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, he provides quarterback Drew Brees a big target and emerged as one of Brees' favorite receivers during his rookie year. Colston went on to compile 2,241 yards receiving for 19 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

His 168 catches are more than any NFL receiver has ever had through only two seasons. During the summer, Colston agreed to a three-year extension that could keep him in New Orleans through the 2011 season.

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Titans add Simms, another QB with Young out
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Chris Simms joined the Tennessee Titans' practice Wednesday after agreeing to terms to back up veteran Kerry Collins at least for one week while Vince Young's sprained left knee heals.

Simms spent the past five years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting 15 games of 19 games played. He led the Bucs to a playoff spot in 2005, throwing for 2,035 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He started the first three games of 2006 for Tampa Bay before getting hurt and having his spleen removed. He spent most of 2007 on injured reserve, and Tampa Bay waived him on Aug. 31.

''Chris has been a starter in the league and should fit into our system well,'' said Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt. ''He is a smart player who is a student of the game and has the presence in the huddle that you look for in a quarterback.''

The Titans waived tight end Dwayne Blakley and also added quarterback Preston Parsons to the practice squad to replace Ingle Martin, who signed with Kansas City. Parsons played at Northern Arizona and has been with Arizona and Denver in the NFL.

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Inside the Boxscore - Week 1
By Matt Fargo

The NFL is pretty true to form most of the time when looking at final scores and how they came about. However, it never hurts to look further and a lot of times, you can get some great information by taking a look at the boxscores. Matt Fargo is now not only providing this information for college football but for the NFL as well. Fargo takes you inside the action.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New York Giants 16 Washington Redskins 7


The Giants started the game by driving 84 yards for a touchdown and then scored on their next three possessions although those all resulted in field goals. New York was unable to generate any offense in the second half as it could not get past the Washington 47-yard line in any of its five possessions. The Giants defense held Washington to just 209 total yards and 11 first downs. The Redskins lone touchdown came on a short 45-yard drive.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Orleans Saints 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20


This was a back and forth game throughout as the Saints scored first and last to pull out the win. New Orleans outgained the Buccaneers 438-352 but needed a fourth quarter touchdown to reclaim the lead. Tampa Bay was driving on its final possession but tossed an interception at the Saints 21-yard line with just 38 seconds remaining. Tampa Bay rushed for 146 yards on 20 carries (7.3 ypc) but finished a mere 2-12 on third down.

Philadelphia Eagles 38 St. Louis Rams 3

The Eagles completely dominated St. Louis as they outgained the Rams 522-166 and held a 28-8 advantage in first downs. Philadelphia drove 80 and 82 yards on its first two possessions and never looked back. The Rams drove 52 yards to kick a field goal on their final possession to avoid the shutout. St. Louis finished 0-11 on third down and punted on its first 10 possessions, seven of which were three and outs.

New York Jets 20 Miami Dolphins 14

The Jets took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter but Miami was almost able to stage the big comeback. The Dolphins were stopped at the New York two-yard line with nine minutes remaining but forced a three and out and scored a touchdown eight plays later. They got the ball back but an interception with five seconds left ended the game. The Jets held Miami to 49 yards rushing on 17 carries (2.7 ypc).

New England Patriots 17 Kansas City Chiefs 10

The big story here was the loss of Tom Brady but New England put forth a solid team effort for the win. The Patriots defense held the Chiefs to 284 total yards including a huge stand to end the game. Kansas City had a first and goal from the five-yard line but failed to crack the endzone. The Patriots fumbled on their first two possessions, both in Kansas City territory, but drove 98 yards in the next possession to start the scoring.

Pittsburgh Steelers 38 Houston Texans 17


The Steelers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and built a 35-3 lead before the Texans made the score more respectable. Pittsburgh finished with just 305 total yards but the game was decided early and it gained just two total yards in the fourth quarter. The defense had three takeaways and held Houston to just 79 total yards through the first three quarters before the garbage yards came in the final period.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Cincinnati Bengals 10

The Ravens defense held Cincinnati to just 154 total yards and eight first downs. The lone Bengals touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a 65-yard fumble return for a score. Cincinnati drove down to the Baltimore 25-yard line on its next possession but failed on a fourth down conversion and the Ravens were able to run out the final 7:15 of the game to preserve the win. Baltimore rushed for 229 yards on 46 carries (5.0 ypc).

Atlanta Falcons 34 Detroit Lions 21

The Falcons outgained the Lions 474-308 with most of that variance coming in the running game. Atlanta finished with 318 yards rushing on 42 carries (7.6 ypc) while Detroit had 62 yards rushing on 21 carries (3.0 ypc). The Falcons needed just 13 plays to score their first three touchdowns to build a big lead. The Lions cut that lead to seven points and were driving for the tie but an interception killed the drive.

Buffalo Bills 34 Seattle Seahawks 10

Buffalo outgained the Seahawks 338-252 but it was the special teams that made the difference. The Bills scored on a punt return in the first half and also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal in the third quarter to put the game away. Buffalo forced Seattle to punt in each of its first seven possessions. Neither team was efficient on third down as Seattle went 3-16 and Buffalo went 4-16.

Tennessee Titans 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Jacksonville finished with only 189 total yards but trailed by just three points late in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars were forced to punt with 5:57 remaining and the Titans drove 80 yards in just over two minutes to ice the game. Jacksonville was hurt by a missed field goal as well as a fumble at the Tennessee 15-yard line near the end of the first half. The Titans held the Jaguars to just 33 yards rushing on 17 carries (1.9 ypc).

Dallas Cowboys 28 Cleveland Browns 10

Dallas struck first by scoring on its opening possession before the Browns were able to tie it early in the second quarter. From there it was all Cowboys as Dallas tacked on the next three touchdowns while holding Cleveland to 17 total yards in its next five possessions. The Browns tacked on a late field goal after a Dallas interception. The Cowboys outgained the Browns 487-205 and had a 30-11 first down advantage.

Carolina Panthers 26 San Diego Chargers 24

Carolina’s first five scoring plays were four field goals and a fumble return for a touchdown but it still had a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. San Diego then drove 80 yards for a touchdown, recovered a fumble three plays later and scored the go ahead touchdown six plays after that. The Panthers won on the final play of the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass as time expired after going 68 yards in 11 plays.

Arizona Cardinals 23 San Francisco 49ers 13

The 49ers actually outgained Arizona 291-285 but they were doomed by five turnovers including three fumbles and a muffed kickoff. The Cardinals took control of the game in the second half as they held the ball for 22 minutes and limited San Francisco to just three possessions. Arizona scored just two touchdowns in seven trips in the redzone as it settled for three field goals and also had a missed field goal.

Chicago Bears 29 Indianapolis Colts 13

The Bears only won the total yardage battle by 26 yards but they played much more efficient than the usually much more efficient Colts. Chicago finished with 319 total yards and was a solid 10-16 on third down. Defensively, the Bears recorded a safety, returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown and held Indianapolis on two critical fourth down attempts in the final quarter. The Colts rushed for 53 yards on 15 carries (3.5 ypc).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Green Bay Packers 24 Minnesota Vikings 19


Green Bay held off a late Vikings rally thanks to a key interception with just 54 seconds remaining. Minnesota actually outgained the Packers 355-317 but had to settle for two field goals in its first two trips inside the redzone. Green Bay had a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and returned a punt 76 yards for the ultimate winning score. The Packers were sloppy with 12 penalties totaling 118 yards.

Denver Broncos 41 Oakland Raiders 14

Denver outgained the Raiders 441-317 but a good number of the Oakland yards came when the game was well decided. The Broncos jumped ahead 27-0 heading into the fourth quarter and that is when the Raiders put together both touchdown drives, totaling 149 yards. Not counting running out the clock to end the game, Denver scored on seven of its nine possessions and finished 5-10 on third down.

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Close Calls and Covers
by Mike Merlet

NFL Fool's Gold - Week 1

Every week I will give you a report on the NFL from the previous week from a bettor’s perspective. Many times teams score “meaningless” touchdowns or field goals late in the game which to the untrained eye, might seem irrelevant. We know better. To those of us that wager on these games, we know all to well that many times those late scores are the difference between cashing in and dancing in your living room and losing late and sitting on your couch with a blank stare on your face.

My report will focus on some teams that should have covered that didn’t and vise versa. The “bad beats” or “lucky wins” of the business which we’ve all encountered many times. It also recaps some misleading finals where simply looking at the final score does not tell the entire story.

Week one didn’t offer many games that were decided late but here are a few that could have gone either way in regards to the point spread or the total. Here we go…

New England 17 – Kansas City 10 (*closing line was NE -16 with a total of 44): The Pats were favored by 16 points in this one so the fact that KC was going to cover the spread late in the game was a given. However, for any of you that had the cohunes to play the Chiefs on the money line, you had a shot at a huge payout. Down 17-10, KC moved the ball down to the New England 5-yard line with 53 seconds remaining. They had four shots at pay dirt and pushing the game into overtime. Three incomplete passes and a Larry Johnson jilt for no yardage and the dream for money line players began and ended in the shadow of the Pats goal line.

NY Jets 20 – Miami 14 (*closing line was NY Jets -3 with a total of 36):
Those of you that had the “under” 36 or the Jets were sweating it out late in this AFC East battle. New York was up 20-14 and trying to run clock with under two minutes remaining when they ran out of downs and had to punt. The Fins took over on their own 39 yard line with 1:43 remaining. QB Chad Pennington took his new team right down the field and Miami had the ball 1st and 10 on the Jets 18 yard line with 23 ticks left on the clock. Pennington threw an interception with 10 seconds left sealing a Favre win and cover. It also kept the game under the total by two points.

Pittsburgh 38 – Houston 17 (*closing line was Pitt -6.5 with a total of 43): This game was actually closer than the final score indicated. While the Steelers obviously deserved to win this game, the Texans aided them in this one. Houston coughed up three turnovers and the Black & Gold scored 10 points off those miscues. The Steelers had just 75 more total yards and one more first down.

Arizona 23 – San Francisco 13 (*closing line was Arizona -3 with a total of 42):
The “under” players here went from, “this one is in the bag” to “I can’t believe this is happening” late in this game. The posted total on this game was 42 and it sat at just 33 with just over two minutes left in the game. A full nine point cushion that late in the game and most people start counting their money. The Cards drove down to the San Fran 12-yard line with just two minutes remaining. Arizona was held on downs and kicked a field goal to make the game 23-13. Still a 6-point margin if you had the “under” so the only fear was this. Would the Arizona defense play soft and allow SF to score a “meaningless” TD late? That’s what I was thinking. Well, those fears were replaced with a different scenario rather quickly. On the first play on their final drive, the Niners fumbled at their own 15-yard line and gave the ball back to the Cardinals with a whole 1:57 left. Luckily for “under” players, San Francisco only had one time out left which prompted Arizona QB Kurt Warner to take a knee rather than hand off and maybe score a late TD pushing the game over.

Green Bay 24 – Minnesota 19 (*closing line was GB -2 with a total of 37.5): Those of you that had the “under” 38 points in this one probably deserved a better fate. The score was just 10-3 at half time and still sat well under at 10-6 with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. That’s when the Packers’ Will Blackmon put a huge dent in the hopes of the “under” players with a 76-yard punt return for a TD. Usually if a team scores on a kick or punt return and you have the “under”, you’re in bad shape. However, this one was still planted firmly under the total at 24-12 until Viking RB Adrian Peterson plunged into the end zone with just 2:43 left in the game. Those that had GB (-2) were also a bit squirmy as Minnesota moved toward mid field with just over a minute to go in their attempt to pull off the comeback win. QB Tavaris Jackson threw an interception in Packer territory to end the threat.

Denver 41 (-3) – Oakland 14 (*closing line was Denver -3 with a total of 41): This one went over the posted total of 41, however those of you that had the “under” were looking solid entering the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for just 27 points through the first three quarters before exploding for 28 in the fourth. The Broncos scored TD’s on both of their fourth quarter drives while Oakland hit the end zone two of the three times they had the ball. The two teams combined for 185 yards in the fourth quarter meaning their offensive efficiency was through the roof at 6.6 yards per point in the final stanza. That was after the team’s combined for an offensive efficiency of just 21.2 yards per point in the first three quarters.

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Griese gets starting nod over injured Garcia
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - An ankle sprain put Jeff Garcia's name on the injury report. A shaky performance in Tampa Bay's season opener cost the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback his starting job this week against Atlanta.

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday that Brian Griese will start against the Falcons on Sunday.

And it's not just because of the injury Garcia suffered during the fourth quarter of a 24-20 loss to New Orleans.

The 38-year-old Garcia was not sharp against the Saints after missing most of training camp and the preseason with a strained right calf. His preparation for the Saints also was affected by a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand.

"Jeff right now is not himself," Gruden said. "We're going to give him a week off and try to get him ready to go. Brian Griese is a guy who's had a good training camp. We're going to give Brian the ball and rally around him. Hopefully Jeff can get back ready to roll soon."

Garcia signed with Tampa Bay before last season and helped the Bucs go 9-7 and win the NFC South for the second time in three years. The Bucs lost in the first round of the playoffs, and little has gone right for him since.

During the offseason, the quarterback expressed unhappiness over the lack of progress on a contract extension. Then Gruden angered him by pursuing a trade for Brett Favre during the opening week of training camp.

He injured his calf early in camp and sat out three of four preseason games.

"It's been a very interesting last few months, obviously. He had the injury that occurred late last season, he had a prolonged calf injury," Gruden said, referring to a back injury that slowed Garcia the latter part of 2007.

"I just think right now, we've studied everything he's done. I really believe in this guy as a quarterback. Right now, he's not the same guy that he was, and I want him to be that. That's all I'm going to say until I see the ball thrown with crisp, accurate velocity, a confident swagger. We're going to let him sit out a week and hopefully he can get back soon."

Garcia was not available for comment.

It remains unclear when the quarterback was hurt against New Orleans, and the Bucs have not specified which ankle was sprained. Garcia remained in the game until the final minute, throwing an interception that stopped a potential winning drive on fourth down from the Saints' 24.

In Griese, Gruden is turning to another veteran who has had success in his offense. The 11th-year pro helped the Bucs to a 5-1 start in 2005 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

He signed with Chicago as free agent the following offseason and spent two years with the Bears, who traded him to Tampa Bay in March.

"Brian did a lot here if you consider all the elements. He did not have this offensive line when he played here. He did not have some of the offensive weapons that we possess now," Gruden said. "From a statistical and functional standpoint he did some great things here. He won a lot of games for us. He's a guy that will lead us this Sunday, and we have to rally around him."

Griese, 33, is excited about the opportunity. He started 16 of 17 games he appeared in with Tampa Bay in 2004 and 2005, throwing for 3,768 yards, 27 touchdowns and 19 interceptions before he was injured.

"When I left here in 2005 I really had unfinished business, the way I look at it. It really hurt when I was injured and didn't have a chance to come back," Griese said.

"I knew we had a good team and that stung. Ever since that point I wanted the opportunity to come back and finish that business. That's how I'm going to approach this, as a continuation of what I got started, and hopefully go out and play the best that I can play."

Gruden broke the news to him Tuesday, and Griese said he also spoke with Garcia.

"We had a frank conversation, and obviously he's disappointed. And I can understand," Griese said. "I can relate with Jeff. I've been in that position."

Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, who started 193 consecutive games, remains questionable against the Falcons. He strained his right hamstring against New Orleans and did not practice Wednesday.

He was upbeat before practice, smiling and answering questions about everything except his status for Sunday.

"Unfortunately for me, I'm under strict orders. ... I was told by my head coach not to really go into details about my situation and my injury," he said. "We'll know on game day whether I'll be ready or not."

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Week 2 NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo

A wild and wacky Week 1 of the National Football League is in the books and no one can say that it wasn't an interesting and informative weekend. From key injuries to underperforming coaches to exceptional achievements the week was full of everything beautiful and violent that we've come to know and expect from our National Pastime. Everything seemed to click into place last week, as if a strange feeling of calm has settled over our national sports gambling consciousness as the warmth, comfort, and predictable unpredictability on the gridiron returned.

The NFL season is underway. And a new season calls for a new installment of Doc's Sports Power Rankings:

1. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) - By default the Cowboys slide up to the top spot in our Power Rankings. That was a moderately impressive performance in Cleveland on Sunday, but they were basically playing against a team that did not care. Dallas's defense held a pretty good Browns offense to six (of eight) drives of five plays or less. Marion Barber's ribs are fine. Well, that's easy for me to say. He has bruised cartilage, which does hurt like hell, but he will definitely be playing Monday Night against the Eagles. The Cowboys are just 3-9 ATS at home against the Eagles.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers -The Steelers have now won six straight openers and were physically dominant against Houston. They pulled their starters after the third quarter with a 35-3 lead. I can't remember the last time I saw an NFL team do that. The offensive line played fantastic against a pretty solid Houston front four, but the real story was the energy that Pittsburgh had on the defensive side of the ball. Two youngsters - Lamar Woodley and Lawrence Timmons - have energized the linebacking corps and the return of a healthy Troy Polamalu has Pittsburgh ready to rumble. The Steelers also own the Browns and have not lost to Cleveland since the franchise was reinstated in 1999. They are 8-1 ATS against Cleveland and are 5-0 ATS in the Dawg Pound. The road team is 7-3-1 ATS in this series and the favorite is 6-1-1 ATS.

3. New York Giants - There is really no way that I believe that the Giants - even if they are the defending champions - are the third-best team in the league. However, they have quarterback stability, are physical across the offensive and defensive line, they can run the ball and have some playmakers on offense, and they have experience. That's a pretty solid mixture and they are now one of the more reliable squads in the NFL, which is harrowing considering the Giants' shaky past when they are a favorite. Eli and Co. are a solid 19-7 ATS in road games and have covered seven straight games. New York is 4-0 ATS in the Rams series.

4. New Orleans Saints -That was an important and impressive win at home for New Orleans last week. But they can ill afford a letdown on the road this week at Washington, considering how strong the Falcons and Panthers looked over the weekend. The Saints suffered a tough loss though, as run-stuffer Hollis Thomas is out of the year. The good news is that several new starters - Jeremy Shockey with his emotion, Jon Vilma with his team-leading nine tackles, and Tracy Porter with his steady play on the outside - paid big dividends for New Orleans. The road team is 4-0 ATS in their series with Washington. New Orleans is 3-8 ATS after a SU and ATS win.

5. San Diego Chargers (0-1) - Just before the final play of the game, the Fox cameras cut to Norv Turner on the San Diego sideline. He was just standing there with a stupid half-smile on his face as if he had absolutely no idea where he was or what he was doing. I knew right then this game was over, and was not going San Diego's way. And yes, I think that San Diego's poor tackling in the opening game had to do with the fact that Turner nursed his boys a little too much in the preseason. Also, Shawne Merriman finally came to his senses and will be shut down for the year. San Diego has turned to journeyman tackle L.J. Shelton to fill in for injured starter Marcus McNeil. San Diego is 19-7-3 ATS in divisional games and 44-21-3 ATS overall. They have covered four straight against Denver.

6. Indianapolis Colts - Kind of a bad omen for the Colts was the fact that defensive players admitted that they knew that running plays were coming from Chicago but they couldn't stop them anyway. They have similar problems on the offensive line, as the losses of starters Jeff Saturday and Ryan Lilja were crippling on Sunday against a fierce Bears blitz. They didn't run the ball or stop the run. That is a problem. And facing a vicious Minnesota team, with potentially dominating offensive and defensive lines, this could be trouble for Indy.

7. Tennessee Titans - On one hand, Vince Young's sprained MCL might be the best thing that could have happened to the Titans. This is a potential Super Bowl team, but Young is an absolutely awful quarterback and was only going to hold them back. The problem is that the backup plan is Kookie Collins, who is completely unreliable - even when he's sober. The thought of backing him on the road is horrifying, even if the Titans are 11-5 ATS away from home. This team is as physical as any in the league. I mean, they just WRECK people on both sides of the ball. Chris Johnson is lightning in a bottle and Pac Man Jones was expendable because Courtney Finnegan is a stud at corner. Oh yeah: and the Titans have a 35-6 loss to Cincy to avenge from last season.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars -The Jaguars offensive line was pretty poor against the Titans, and now may be even weaker heading into Sunday's action. They lost both starting guards (Vince Manuwai and Mo Williams) for the year, after already being without their starting center (Brad Meester) and backup right tackle (Richard Collier). But even with that instability up front, I can't believe this team ran for just 33 yards on 1.9 yards per carry last week. They also allowed seven sacks. Oh yeah, and now they will be facing a motivated Marcus Stroud, who the Jags released in the offseason before he signed with Buffalo. The 'over' is 16-5-2 in Jacksonville's last 23 games and they are 21-8-2 ATS after scoring 15 or less points.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -Not only did the Bucs lose a divisional game on Sunday, but they also lost the quarterback of their offense and defense. Derrick Brooks (hamstring) and Jeff Garcia (ankle) are both questionable for this week's Atlanta game. Look for more of a dedication to the running game on Sunday no matter who is under center. The Bucs rushed for 7.6 yards per carry against New Orleans but ran the ball just 19 times (to 43 passes). Jon Gruden knows he screwed up, and I look for him to overcompensate by pounding the ball on the ground this weekend. The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the Atlanta series and the Bucs are 5-2 ATS in divisional games.

10. Philadelphia Eagles -If the Eagles are somehow 5-5 after 10 games this year I guarantee you that Philly fans are going to be calling for Donovan McNabb's head - again. Yet they always seem to forget about performances like Nibbles had on Sunday, where he was the best player on the field and completely dominated the game. I swear that Dr. Z's seemingly outlandish proclamation about the Eagles has energized and reaffirmed this team's place. They certainly played like it last week. But all that good will could be washed way if they washout in Big D. The good news for Philly backers is that the underdog is 6-1 ATS in the last seven in this series and the road team has covered four of five.

11. New England Patriots (1-0) - New England is 9-0 ATS on the road against the Jets and 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings. I don't have much to say about the Patriots because, well, everyone else is covering them. The bottom line is that we have no idea what Bill Belichick is going to do. But if I had to guess, I will say that it will be the opposite of conventional wisdom. I expect to see bombs to Randy Moss and quick, no-huddle-style attacks with the passing game. They will run the ball, for sure, but I don't expect the Pats offense to be conservative at all. We will see. But if Tom Brady means 10 points on the spread he also means 10 spots on the Power Rankings!

12. New York Jets -Last week was the Favre Magic in full effect. Besides a strong effort by the front seven of their defense, the Jets did not play particularly well in any facet of the game. But Favre made some moves, pulled a couple throws out of his ass, and was good enough to work the offense, control the tempo, and earn the win. That's the bottom line. Now comes the Patriots, and Favre has to be careful. Belichick will surely stack the box and bring plenty of full blitzes, daring Favre to put the ball up for grabs. I love the speed of the Jets wideouts, and I think they have the chance to score A LOT of points this season. The favorite is 7-2-1 ATS in the New England series and the home team is just 7-19-1 ATS. Also, N.Y. signed Jay Feely to replace the injured Mike Nugent.

14. Arizona Cardinals -Wow. It was amazing to see the Cardinals on Sunday, as it looked like a trip to Bizarro World. Usually it's Arizona that is turning the ball over five times but still hanging around in a game. Usually it's Arizona that is unprepared on special teams and caught off guard by a trick play. Usually it's Arizona that allows teams to run drives of 15 and 18 plays, milking the clock while the Cardinals allow third-down conversion after third-down conversion. But no. On Sunday the Cardinals looked like a real football team, and that is a total credit to Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhut. Arizona now has to sustain that momentum and take care of business at home. Too bad they are 0-3 ATS at home against Miami and 1-8 ATS in their first home game of the year. But the are 7-2 ATS against the AFC.

15. Buffalo Bills -OC Turk Schonert and STC Bobby April may have had the two best opening games for any coordinators in the league. Schonert called a great game for the Bills. He worked a lot of draws and traps on the inside, allowing a thick Bills line to simply plow ahead in the running game in front of bruising Marshawn Lynch. He also called almost nothing but three- and five-step, quick-route passes for Trent Edwards, who found a rhythm by simply dropping back and getting rid of the ball. April is a genius and wins at least two games a season for Buffalo simply because of their incredible special teams play. After playing nearly a perfect game against the Seahawks the Bills are now on the road against a brutal Jags club. Buffalo is 8-1 ATS on the road in September against a team off a loss. They lost 36-14 in Jacksonville last year and are 10-3 ATS in Week 2.

13. Seattle Seahawks -The Seahawks offensive roster is an absolute mess right now. They lost Nate Burleson for the year, Matt Hasselbeck admitted that he's getting injections so he can play through a bulging disk in his back, and they will be without Mo Morris this weekend to backup Julius Jones. This team was completely overwhelmed in Buffalo last week and their head was spinning for all four quarters. Mike Holmgren has gone into red alert, releasing his punter and two rookie projects (Forsett and Kent). Seattle will be all business this week and I expect the defense to come out and dominate. But the problem is that they just do not have enough healthy bodies on offense to blow the Niners out. The Seahawks are 6-0 ATS at home and 7-1 ATS after a loss of 14 or more points.

16. Denver Broncos -I, like so many other prognosticators, said that I think Jay Cutler is going to have a monster year. He didn't disappoint in the season opener. The Broncos offense looked unstoppable and again showed why this team is 20-6-1 against the total in its last 27 games. Also, I will say that I am still unimpressed with Denver's defense. Yeah, they made a few plays against a pretty pathetic Oakland attack. But in general, they cannot stop elite offenses and this D will have at least a couple games in which they get absolutely shredded. At the moment, that's the only thing keeping this team out of the Top 10. Denver is 3-10 ATS in divisional games and 5-13 ATS in conference games. The underdog is just 2-6-2 ATS in the San Diego series and the 'over' is 11-1-1 in their last 13 home games.

17. Carolina Panthers - Fantastic win by the Panthers. And it was no come-from-behind fluke. They actually owned this game from start to finish and really shouldn't have been in a position to need a late TD pass. They did lose linemen Travelle Wharton and Jeff Otah to minor knee injuries, but other than that the o-line had a sensational day. Carolina actually outgained LT 139-89 and the Panthers really controlled the tempo from start to finish. That's a good sign considering that each of the NFC South defenses they will face twice this year are vastly improved against the run. Carolina has to avoid a letdown against another club off an upset win. But more importantly, Carolina needs to get back on track at home. They are just 5-12-1 ATS in Charlotte dating back to 2005.

18. Minnesota Vikings -Clearly, the idea of a "game manager" is out the window in regards to Tarv Jackson. That was a very winnable game in Lambeau, and if the Vikings had gotten absolutely anything out of the quarterback position they would have had a key divisional road win. They controlled both lines of scrimmage, and outside of two big plays (a 56-yard pass to Greg Jennings and a 57-yard rush by Ryan Grant) the Vikings shut down the Packers offense. Also, the play calling by the Vikes was questionable, at best. They are down to their third-string LT, and with Dwight Freeney on the horizon they better get that sorted out quickly. A 46-percent night by T-Jack against the Colts won't get it done. Oh, and the $60 million that the Vikings spent this offseason on Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian, and Madieu Williams earned them one tackle and three catches for 38 yards.

19. Houston Texans -Houston is now 1-7 in its last eight road games and there are troubling signs that this team might not be as good as I thought they could be. They have very few players in the prime of their careers, with most of their starters either over-the-hill or still a little wet behind the ear. Defensive coordinator Rich Smith's first game was not a good one, and I am still a little stunned by Houston not addressing their lack of playmakers in the back seven. They were completely overmatched by the more physical, more talented Steelers, and it's rare that you see an NFL team get manhandled like that.

20. Chicago Bears -Lovie must be listening. I had said all last year that the Bears defense fell apart once they decided to try to turn their defensive tackles into smaller, quicker, "disrupters" and pass rushers. When Chicago's defense has been dominant this decade it has boasted two fat, mountainous tackles. Whether it was Mt. Washington and Tractor Traylor or the underrated Alfonso Boone-Ian Scott combo, the DTs have been the real key to the Bears defense. Clearly, Kyle Orton is an NFL-caliber quarterback. It will just be interesting to see if everyone - from Matt Forte to the surprising offensive line - will keep up. Also, I don't have time to list the plays, but the Bears were very aggressive with their play calling on Sunday, going for big plays to the TEs when they could have tried to run the ball and settle for FGs. I would love to see them keep that up.

21. Green Bay Packers (1-0) - For the life of me I still can't really figure out how the Packers won that game on Monday. They were perhaps the second-least impressive of the winning teams from the weekend (Baltimore takes the cake) and other than a few of areas they did not look sharp at all. Wideouts Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are unreal, and almost uncoverable. Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher were solid, allowing zero sacks on the night. And the other area in which they had guys play out of their mind was at linebacker, where A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett (18 combined tackles) were exceptional. Green Bay is 9-2-1 ATS in road games and 15-5-2 ATS in divisional games. The Packers are 4-0 ATS against Detroit.

22. Atlanta Falcons -Wow. Can't say enough about how well Atlanta played, and let me be the first to say that I will not be surprised if they are a player in the NFC South this year. No, that's not overreaction. I have commented before about how much I like their offensive line and the nasty streak that they bring to the field. They showed it on Sunday. They physically dominated the Lions, and I can see the Falcons being able to run the ball on anyone this year. That will keep the pressure off Matt Ryan, who is proving that maybe Mike Vick did have some decent wideouts all those years. The key is for the defense to continue to scrap and claw and force turnovers. This is really a critical game for Atlanta's season this Sunday in Tampa. They are 8-3 ATS on the road but 2-5 ATS in divisional games. Atlanta has played eight straight 'over' games.

23. Washington Redskins (0-1) -I'm going to make it simple for Jim Zorn: the West Coast offense and Jason Campbell go together about as well as crab cakes and heroin. Expect to see Campbell throwing out of the shotgun more this week against New Orleans. However, that basically eliminates the play-action passing game that I thought was a real strength for Jason last year. Washington is also pretty banged up in the secondary, as both corners Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs are still questionable. Also, Carlos Rogers is still playing on a surgically repaired knee.

24. Kansas City Chiefs -I will admit it: the Chiefs impressed me this weekend. Their defense - which was the best in the league on third down last year - may be the most underrated in the league. Yes, the secondary is a little suspect. But their front four does work and will keep them in games. As I mentioned in my breakdown of the New England game, the Chiefs need to get a little creative on offense. They did a good job of putting the ball in their playmakers' hands, but they need to try to get them in some mismatch situations. Very interested to see how Kansas City plays as a favorite this weekend. The home team is 0-4 ATS in the Oakland series and the Chiefs are just 1-4 ATS against the Raiders in Arrowhead.

25. Cleveland Browns -All offseason I had said it: the Browns suck. They are the most overrated team in the league and they did not even attempt to show up on Sunday. The Browns defense had absolutely no shot at stopping Dallas' offense. I know the Cowboys are good, but that looked like a 7-on-7 non-contact drill for Dallas. Cleveland wants to play it off like they were looking ahead to the Steelers. But it's not that. They just aren't a very good team. They aren't physical, they make mental mistakes, and they did not compete on Sunday. If they had been playing Pittsburgh last week they would have lost by 50. We will see if they can bounce back against a team that owns them. Cleveland is 12-3 ATS after a loss of 14 or more.

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26. Detroit Lions -Once again, I can't believe that I believed. It wasn't the hype that I bought into. You know, the "this is Detroit's year as a sleeper" hype that's been around for about 20 years. I believe my eyes. This team looked sharp in the preseason - in all areas - but then they were completely overwhelmed by Atlanta. Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams are the most overrated skill position tandem in the league, and Jon Kitna's actions on Sunday - calling two timeouts to go scream at coaches - just sets a terrible tone for what should be a terrible season. Also, the Lions' home opener is close to being blacked out due to 4,500 unsold tickets. There will likely be a corporate buyout of the seats and the team will tout its 49th-straight sellout. But the reality is that the fan base is tired of this pathetic organization. The Lions are 8-3 ATS at home against the Packers, but 4-12-1 ATS in divisional games. The home team is 16-5-1 ATS in the last 22 meetings.

27. Miami Dolphins - After all the smack I talked about Chad Pennington last week he was absolutely awful against the Jets. He was erratic, had happy feet in the pocket, and basically reminded any Jets fan that was having second thoughts about why he drove them crazy. I understand that the Fins rushed for just 2.9 yards per carry in the game, but they gave up on the run way, way too early. This led to way too many third-and-long situations, and that's not Pennington's forte. The Miami defensive front was impressive, and in a game in which they were totally outplayed the Dolphins still put themselves within 20 yards of a win. This is a rapidly improving bunch.

28. Oakland Raiders -It's almost refreshing that the more things change the more they stay the same in Oakland: questionable play calls, turnovers, and bonehead penalties - it never changes. Oakland is 10-21 ATS in divisional games, 19-41-1 ATS in conference games, and 26-55-1 ATS overall. Basically, you should be betting against them every single week until they make it to another Super Bowl. Which should be somewhere around 2024. DeAngelo Hall got absolutely abused on Monday night. And if he isn't performing at a Pro Bowl level then the defense, which I thought would be the strength of the team, becomes shaky. Oakland can run the ball. But if they continue to fall behind early they can't expect JaMarcus Russell to throw them back into it.

29. Baltimore Ravens - For the life of me, I have no idea how the Ravens beat the Bungles on Sunday. They didn't take care of the ball, they had nine penalties, and they didn't make big plays. Actually, I do know how they won: they ran the ball and they played good defense. The Ravens posted 229 rushing yards and allowed less than 160 total yards of offense. This is not a very good team, and they won't win many games, but they play hard and earned that 'W'. Baltimore is 6-21 ATS on the road and 4-14 ATS overall.

30. St. Louis Rams -Yuk. I will say that the Rams aren't nearly as bad as they looked on Sunday. They simply ran into a buzz saw in Philly. Marc Bulger still looks completely shell-shocked, but this offensive unit can only get better. Also, completely random that Torry Holt was essentially benched for the second and third quarters of that game. The Rams are 18-37-1 ATS after a loss and 1-10 ATS against a team with a winning record.

31. San Francisco 49ers - Would you believe that San Fran actually OUTGAINED Arizona on Sunday? That was despite having the ball for 14 less minutes for the game! I was impressed by the way they ran the ball. If they can do that all year they can be competitive. That is, as long as they don't post too many more -5's in the turnover department. Justin Smith has to be shaking his head though, having left a similarly poor team in Cincinnati to come out West and lose his first game in a very Bengal-like way. Maybe it's his fault! The Niners are 3-9 ATS overall and 2-9 ATS in the NFC.

32. Cincinnati Bengals -Here's how prepared Marvin Lewis had his Bengals facing a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback: they had 154 yards of offense, were 2-for-13 on third down, they had five penalties for 40 yards, allowed 56 yards on four punt returns, and had two turnovers. This is the worst team in the league, by far, and if Marvin Lewis was a white coach I think there'd be a lot more of an outcry for him to be fired. It was as if he had no clue that they would be without Rudi Johnson and Willie Anderson and they had absolutely zero offensive adjustments. They lacked a coherent game plan, they still don't hit anyone on defense, and they were sloppy in the special teams. Again, this is the worst team in the league, and there were a few others that lost by four touchdowns.

Docsports.com

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NFL cheat sheet: Week 2
By SHAWN HARTLEN

Tennessee at Cincinnati (-1)

Why Titans cover: Are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 road games. Vaunted defense picked up where it left off last season (three turnovers, seven sacks). Cincinnati’s offense (154 total yards) looked pathetic in Week 1.

Why Bengals cover: Have won their last two games against the Titans. Kerry Collins will start at QB for the injured Vince Young. Young’s mental and physical status could be a distraction for Tennessee.

Total (37½): Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Cincinnati.


Green Bay at Detroit (+3)

Why Packers cover: Are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 road games and 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings with Detroit who allowed over 300 yards rushing in Week 1. Lions are 0-4 ATS in their last four games.

Why Lions cover: Home team is 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 meetings. Packers are undisciplined and often penalized. Green Bay is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 meetings in Detroit.

Total (45): Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Detroit.


Oakland at Kansas City (-3½)

Why Raiders cover: Are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Kansas City. Road team is 4-0 ATS in the two teams last four meetings. Chiefs are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games.

Why Chiefs cover: Damon Huard has thrown for 4253 yards and 23 TDs in 22 games (18 starts) with K.C. and will fill in for injured QB Brodie Croyle. Oakland allowed Denver to rack up 441 Yard of offense on Monday Night Football.

Total (36): Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.

 
NY Giants at St. Louis (+9)

Why Giants cover: Have won three straight over St. Louis. The G-Men are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings with the Rams and 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall. Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games and 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall. St. Louis’ defense was almost non-existent against Philadelphia.

Why Rams cover: Are 13-4 all-time at home against the Giants. Holdout running back Steven Jackson will be better prepared after having a full week of practice with his team.

Total (42): Under is 9-2 in Giants’ last 11 road games and 4-1 in their last five games overall.


Indianapolis at Minnesota (+1)

Why Colts cover: Out to avenge embarrassing Week 1 upset to the Bears. Vikings are 0-4 ATS in their last four games. Tarvaris Jackson (59.0 QB-rating) still hasn’t shown that he can be an adequate NFL quarterback.

Why Vikings cover: Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five games. Peyton Manning might not be fully healed from off-season surgery. Adrian Peterson could dominate a Colts team that gave up 183 yards on the ground in the opener.

Total (43½): Over is 6-1 in Vikings’ last seven home games.


New Orleans at Washington (-1)

Why Saints cover: Have won their last two games at Washington. Road team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings. Washington struggled with new coach Jim Zorn’s West Coast offense, managing only 209 total yards against the Giants.

Why Redskins cover: Saints will be without receiver Marques Colston and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas who are both out with injuries. Defensive backs Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs will return from injuries to face New Orleans.

Total (42): Over is 7-0 in Saints’ last seven games on turf and 6-0 in their last six games overall. 


Chicago at Carolina (-3)

Why Bears cover: Are 4-0 ATS in their last four games. Held the Colts to 13 points in huge Week 1 upset. Panthers without deep threat Steve Smith who is suspended.

Why Panthers cover: Are 4-0 ATS in their last four games on grass and 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall. Carolina is a different team with Jake Delhomme at quarterback. Running game dominant in season opener.

Total (37): Under is 6-1 in Panthers’ last seven home games.


Buffalo at Jacksonville (-5½)

Why Bills cover: Are 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games. Ex-Jaguar Marcus Stroud, who dominated in his Bills debut, will face his old team. Jags managed only 33 yards rushing against Tennessee and will be without both starting guards for an extended period.

Why Jaguars cover: Are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games. Pounded Bills 36-14 at home last season.

Total (37): Over is 4-1-1 in Jaguars’ last six home games and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games on grass.


San Francisco at Seattle (-7)

Why 49ers cover: Frank Gore looked totally healthy in the opener combining for 151 yards and a score. Seahawks’ top three receivers and starting running back all out with injuries. Inexperienced wideouts Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne will fill the void.

Why Seahawks cover: Are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games.  New Niners QB J.T. O’Sullivan turned the ball over three times in his debut. 49ers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games and have lost four of their last five meetings at Seattle.

Total (38): Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings and 4-1 in the last five meetings in Seattle.


Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-9)

Why Falcons cover: Are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games on grass. New running back Michael Turner ran for 220 yards and two scores in his Atlanta debut. Brian Griese will start at quarterback for Tampa Bay. Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games.

Why Buccaneers cover: Are 8-4 against the Falcons under Jon Gruden. Strong pass rush will pressure rookie QB Matt Ryan who only attempted 13 passes against Detroit in Week 1. Favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.

Total (37½): Over is 8-0 in Falcons’ last eight games and 6-1 in Buccaneers’ last seven games.


Baltimore at Houston  (-4)

Why Ravens cover: Have won both previous meetings with the Texans who were sloppy in Week 1. Houston without running back Ahman Green. Rookie Steve Slaton could make his first NFL start against Baltimore’s feared defense.

Why Texans cover: Are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games. Ravens are 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games. Willis McGahee is expected to be limited for Baltimore.

Total (37½): Over is 4-1 in Texans’ last five games on grass and 5-1 in their last six games overall.


New England at NY Jets (-1)

Why Patriots cover: Are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings and 9-0 ATS in their last nine meetings in New York. Have enough offense without Tom Brady to still put up points.

Why Jets cover: Favorite is 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings. Matt Cassel making first NFL start in tough pressure situation replacing Brady. Patriots are 0-7 ATS in their last seven games. Bret Favre clicking well with new teammates.

Total (37): Over is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings in New York.


Miami at Arizona (-6½)

Why Dolphins cover: Arizona hasn’t won two straight to start a season since 1991. Chad Pennington looked good in his first game as a Dolphin throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

Why Cardinals cover: Are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games on grass. Miami ground game sputtered in opener (2.8 yards per carry). Dolphins are 4-9-2 ATS in their last 15 games on grass.

Total (38½): Over is 4-1 in Cardinals’ last five home games and 4-1 in their last five games overall.


San Diego at Denver (+1)

Why Chargers cover: Are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings and 5-0 ATS in their last five road games. Won last two matchups in Denver. Favorite is 5-2-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.

Why Broncos cover: Have won last eight home openers. Get super-receiver Brandon Marshall back from suspension. San Diego will be without Shawne Merriman for the rest of the season.

Total (45½): Over is 11-1-1 in Broncos’ last 13 home games.


Pittsburgh at Cleveland (+6)

Why Steelers cover: Are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine meetings and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Cleveland. Willie Parker has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last three games against the Browns and is coming off a three-touchdown performance against Houston. Favorite is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight meetings.

Why Browns cover: Are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games. Ben Roethlisberger suffering from shoulder injury. Get special teams ace Joshua Cribbs back from the injured list.

Total (44½): Over is 5-0-1 in the last six meetings.


Philadelphia at Dallas (-7)

Why Eagles cover: Are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 meetings in Dallas. Have held Tony Romo to a 32.6 QB rating in last two trips to Dallas. Road team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings. Underdog is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.

Why Cowboys cover: Have historically contained Eagles’ offensive catalyst Brian Westbrook. Get Pro Bowl cornerback Terrance Newman back to face a Philadelphia squad who is without their two starting receivers.

Total (47): Under is 4-0 in Eagles’ last four games on grass and 4-0 in Cowboys’ last four games on grass.

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Re: NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

Early Bets - Part 1
By Josh Jacobs

The N.Y. Giants came out of last Thursday with an impressive display against the Redskins, winning 16-7. There were times that New York looked a bit ragged, allowing Washington to score with 13 seconds left in the half. So the thinking behind a wager on this week’s contest with St. Louis is, can the G-Men close the door on what many perceive as a much weaker opponent?
   
Green Bay (-3) at Detroit

Expectations of Detroit’s defense falling off a high cliff once again are feeding the fuel for a home fade play. The Lions allowed Atlanta’s RB Michael Turner to gain 220 rushing yards in last week’s 34-21debacle, while QB Matt Ryan only reached out to the air for 13 attempts.

The bottom line is that Detroit was torched on the ground. Now facing Green Bay’s speedy back, Ryan Grant, the Lions 'D' must step up on the front line with penetration being their main focus.

Detroit’s head coach, Rod Marinelli is 1-8 ATS versus opponents off a division game.

Green Bay will enter Ford Field with a 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS stint in its last five games against the Lions. Books had installed the Packers as an underdog in only one of those contests (September, 2006 as a 6 ½-point underdog).

Remember that Green Bay is coming off a short rest week after beating Minnesota on Monday night (24-19). The Packs’ signal caller Aaron Rodgers will look to continue getting comfortable in the starting role after completing 18-of-22 passes for 178 yards and one TD. His QB rating of 115.5 indicates efficient decisions on the field and if we witness the same old Detroit ‘D’ on Sunday, then expect Rodgers’ approval rating in Green Bay to continue rising.

Bodog.com has set a total of 45 1/2-points in this contest.

N.Y. Giants (-9) at St. Louis

The public is looking at St. Louis with an evil eye after getting rocked by Philadelphia 38-3. As you can imagine by the score alone, the statistical output was mind boggling. The Eagles capitalized with 522 total yards, going 8-of-14 on third-down conversions with 28 first downs recorded.

For the Rams, only eight first downs combined with eight penalties totaling 66 yards helped stunt any momentum that this team attempted to harvest with 24:50 of possession time. Running back Steven Jackson struggled with 40 yards on 14 carries, having major problems finding any support up front in terms of openings.

The Rams will have a tough schedule to maneuver through. After its contest against the Giants, St. Louis must then travel out to Seattle and then over to Buffalo in what could prove lethal to the team’s 2008 season.

On the upside for backers, the Rams are 6-1 ATS in the last seven games in September when installed as a home underdog.

New York is 12-3 ATS when playing away with the total set at 42 points or more. That’s a solid betting introduction for the defending Super Bowl Champions who impressed football advocates in the first half of last Thursday’s victory against Washington. But that script was flipped after halftime.

Big Blues’ field general Eli Manning went 9-for-15 with one interception and a sack in the second-half, a far cry from the hyped up first and second quarters.

New York is 4-0 ATS in its last four against St. Louis (installed as much as 12-point underdogs in two of the four contests). The Giants are also a hot 12-3 ATS on the road in the last 15 when the total has been set at 42 or more points.

Most books have installed a total of 42 points for this 1:00 p.m. EDT contest.

Tennessee at Cincinnati (-1)

Titans’ football will again hinge on their defense as the foundation for success. Although 2-6 ATS in its last eight Week 2 games, Tennessee has gone onto take seven of its last 10 games against Cincinnati while going 6-4 ATS in the same 10.

The Bengals looked like a complete train wreck, giving up 229 rushing yards on defense. The ‘O’ was equally as painful to watch with Cinci’s QB Carson Palmer going downfield for only 48 yards and an interception in just the first half alone. His 99 yards and 40-percent passing production could be indicative of the Bengals’ depth chart in need of some fresh air.

An 11-5 ATS record in their last 16 road trips looks refreshing for Titans’ backers but an 0-6 ATS slide in the last six following an ATS win and a 3-7 ATS report in their last 10 following a SU win could play a mathematical part at the window.

A 37-point total has been set for this contest by most books.

Chicago at Carolina (-3)

There’s no questioning that Chicago’s QB Kyle Orton will hold the key to a win against Carolina. Both teams are coming off opening wins, displaying impressive play in their own ways.

The Bears not only exercised a defense that’s been the staple of this club but rookie RB Matt Forte opened eyes with an impressive 123 yards with one TD (what does that show about the Colts’ defense?). Chicago is 1-3 SU in its last four against Carolina and 1-4 ATS in the last five head-to-heads.

Carolina will play without arguably its best player. Wide out Steve Smith will serve his second and final week of suspensions handed out by the team due to an altercation during the preseason. Reports also have said that Smith has “lingering problems” in his shoulder but at least he’ll have more time to recover if the health status is credible.

And it’ll be hard to forget the name Dante Rosario after the six-foot-four WR out of Oregon grabbed a time expiring TD pass from signal caller Jake Delhomme in the win over San Diego. Rosario will again be needed as wide outs D.J. Hackett and Ryne Robinson are “probable” and “questionable” in that order.

The Panthers are 0-12 ATS as favorites in Game one through six versus an opponent with a .500 record or better.

Bodog.com has set a low total of 37 points in this game.

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Re: NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

NFL Week Two: Five Stats You Need to Know
by: Scott Rickenbach

NFL Week Two: Five Stats You Need to Know

Heading into Week Two of the NFL please note these stats are definitely items to consider as you look at the deep NFL card. However, this does not mean these are “plays” in the true sense of the word. That said, the hope is that the information below helps you as you “traverse” the NFL card!

1) Indy 23, Chi 17 – That’s not the score you remember seeing last week, is it? Of course it’s not, those are the first downs from the game. The point we’re trying to make is that the Colts are very likely to bounce back after a sloppy week one performance where the score board was also a little bit deceiving in the Bears 16 point win. Indy’s Peyton Manning was rusty but he’ll shake that off. The key here is that when you take away the one long 50 yard run from the Bears, their other 38 carries only netted 3.5 yards per carry. The Colts defense also held Kyle Orton “in check” and this week they face a struggling Tarvaris Jackson and the Vikings.

2) Divisional Dominance – San Diego is 14-5-1 their last 20 as a divisional favorite and they certainly will be fired up after losing to Carolina on the last play of the game last week! As for the Broncos, they are just 3-8 in their last 11 as an underdog. Of course with the line move during the week, this line is currently sitting in a pick’em range but you get the point here. The fact is that the Chargers are hungry off of a frustrating loss last week. The Broncos could be feeling a little too good about themselves after blowing out Oakland on Monday night.

3) Home, Sweet Home – The Jaguars are 7-3 in their last ten as a home favorite. Their facing a Bills team that is coming off of a “head-turner” on the scoreboard that reveals much more when you scratch underneath the surface. Buffalo scored 34 points last week but they only had 13 first downs. The Seahawks actually had more first downs even though they had just ten points to show for it. The Bills game was “the blowout that wasn’t” and the Jaguars will be looking to bounce back after last week’s loss at Tennessee. However, be sure to get the latest updates on some injuries impacting the Jacksonville offensive line.

4) No Letdown Here – Believe it or not, the Titans are actually 8-3 the week after playing Jacksonville! Also, we know the whole Vince Young thing is going to get blown out of proportion. That means potential line value here with a Tennessee club that is matched up with a Bengals team that managed just eight first downs last week at Baltimore. What is particularly disturbing about that is that the Bengals and Carson Palmer normally have big games against the Ravens. They were physically manhandled last week and now, just like last week, the Bengals must deal with another physical team!

5) Road Rout – The Giants are 10-4 as a non-division road favorite. They’re taking on a St Louis team that only managed eight first downs at Philadelphia last week. Will a return home really mean things will greatly improve for the Rams this week? That is highly unlikely as the Rams haven’t fared well as a dog outside of their weak NFC West division. St Louis is now 6-17 as a non-divisional dog and, of course, they are a big dog against the Giants with good reason. New York did take on a struggling Redskins offense in Week One but credit is still owed to New York for their strong performance on the defensive side of the ball after all the questions that were being asked about their defense coming into this season. The Rams problems are unlikely to be solved in just one week!

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Re: NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

Early Bets - Part II
By Judd Hall

Week 2 in the NFL season is not exactly where you can separate the contenders from the pretenders. But we will get a much clearer idea of where some teams are head in the early games this Sunday.

The Colts officially opened their new stadiums on a sour not by losing to Chicago as 10 ½-point home favorites, 29-13. Kansas City looked much better than though with Damon Huard under center in a road loss to the Patriots. Washington looked like it was still running in the preseason on the road versus the Giants. While the Jags had a few chances to beat Tennessee. And the Raiders looked like…well, the Raiders.

All of these games will be on at 1:00 pm EDT…

Oakland at Kansas City (- 3½, 36)

If there is anything we can say about the Raiders’ home defeat to Denver last week is they avoided getting shutout. And that was because JaMarcus Russell figured out how to pass the ball forward to score two meaningless touchdowns late to lose 41-14. Oakland was dominated on both sides of the ball, giving up 441 yards and letting the Broncos move the chains 24 times to its 15.

Kansas City held its own against a Patriots’ unit that was reeling after losing Tom Brady for the year. The Chiefs lost their starting quarterback as well with Brody Croyle hurting his shoulder. That injury paved the way for Huard to complete eight of 12 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and one pick.

The outlook is bleak for Oakland in this matchup as the Chiefs are 17-7 SU and 11-10-3 ATS when at home against AFC West foes.

Indianapolis (-2, 43½) at Minnesota

People are starting to wonder how well off the Colts are going to be this season after losing to Chicago last weekend. The fans have to please that Peyton Manning completed 30 of 49 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown. Indy does have to be concerned with allowing the Bears to convert 10 of 16 third downs.

It’s not like life is any better on the other side for the Vikings. Tavaris Jackson connected on 16 of 35 passes for 178 yards for a score and an interception. Luckily Minnesota had Adrian Peterson in the backfield to run 19 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Indianapolis normally bounces back nicely from a defeat, going 15-7 SU. However, the Vikes are in a good spot to cover at least since Indy is 9-14 ATS in this stretch as well.

New Orleans at Washington (-1, 42)

The Redskins looked about as bad as I’ve ever seen a team look in any opening weekend. They gained just 209 yards against the Giants, 84 of which were on the ground. A ground game that is supposedly the same that Joe Gibbs was running last season.

New Orleans survived a thriller at home against the Buccaneers. The Saints were able to get Drew Brees to toss three touchdowns and 343 yards. And their defense was hold Tampa Bay to converting just two of 12 third downs.

The smart money is on the Saints to come out of this week 2-0 given a look back at history. New Orleans has won its last two meetings by an average margin of 10 points. Also, the ‘over’ has gone 5-2 in the last seven contests.

Buffalo at Jacksonville (-5½, 37)

The main question for the Jaguars right now is how healthy their offensive line will be for this game. Currently, Jackson has four of its starting five o-linemen on the injury report after taking a beating against the Titans.

Buffalo’s biggest concern is trying to keep the kind of momentum going after thrashing the Seahawks in Week 1. It’s hard to think the Bills will make it a 2-0 start with an offense that had fewer first downs than Seattle (13-16) and converted just four of 16 third downs.

We could see a high scoring affair here as the ‘over’ is on a 3-1 run in the last four meetings. Jacksonville has gone 3-1 SU and ATS in home openers since 2004.

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Re: NFL: Week 2 News and Notes

Total Talk - Week 2
By Chris David

Week 1 Recap

The ‘under’ posted a 9-7 mark in the first week of the NFL regular season and it actually could’ve been 11-5 if the pair of Monday Night Football games didn’t go ‘over’ their totals. Any gamblers who played the high-scoring affairs, was helped with 20 and 28-point fourth quarters in the primetime double-header on ESPN.

The Brady Factor

“Tom Brady is the only player in football worth double-digits on the betting line,” said Las Vegas Sports Consultants senior oddsmakers Mike Seba. The company that supplies the lines to the majority of casinos in Nevada sent out the Jets as three-point favorites against the Brady-less Patriots, while the ‘over/under’ was 38.5.

Currently, the total for the AFC East matchup is hovering around 37 at most shops. New England saw the ‘over’ go 12-7 last year, largely due to Brady and an offense that averaged 34 points per game. The last time head coach Bill Belichick and company saw a total under 40 (38.5) was in the 2007 when the Pats hosted the Jets in the AFC Wild Card game.

The Jets and Pats both saw the ‘under’ cash in their openers and both ran the football. New York handed off 31 times, while only tossing 22 passes against the Dolphins. New England was more balanced (29 pass/28 rush) against the Chiefs, but most are expecting a large dose of Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris on Sunday.

Shootout in Dallas?

The ‘over/under’ of 47 listed between the Cowboys and Eagles is the highest total in Week 2 and is clearly a case of public perception. Dallas lit up the Browns in a 28-10 road victory last Sunday and probably could’ve dropped 40 if needed, while the Eagles embarrassed the Rams 38-3 in wire-to-wire fashion. Both Tony Romo (75%, 320 yards) and Donovan McNabb (361 yards, 3 TDs) looked sharp in the wins, but face much stiffer tests here. You can make a serious case and say this game will feature the best defensive backs in the league, as the Eagles Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown counter the Cowboys’ Terence Newman, Adam Jones and Anthony Henry.

High totals in this NFC East divisional game have been common of late, watching 49, 46.5 and 48 posted by the oddsmakers in the previous three meetings. In the last four years (8 regular season games), the ‘over/under’ has gone 1-1 every season. If you’re a trend player, watch Monday and then go the opposite come round two in Week 17 from Philadelphia.

Forty-Something

Green Bay at Detroit (45): The ‘over’ went 2-0 in the two regular season battles last year, including a combined 63 points (37-26) on Thanksgiving Day. Detroit’s defense looked atrocious in Week 1, giving 474 total yards to Atlanta. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers was efficient (18-of-22, 178 yards, 1 TD) in last week’s win, but will the Packers try to run the ball more on the road? Last year the Packers saw the ‘over’ go 14-4 on the season, including a 7-1 mark away from home. Detroit watched the ‘over’ close the 2007 campaign on an 8-1 run.

Indianapolis at Minnesota (43.5): The Colts were held to 13 points by the Bears in their home opener last week, well below last year’s average of 27 PPG. QB Peyton Manning looked rusty, but could have a breakout performance against the Vikings’ secondary. Also, don’t be surprised to see Minnesota ground and pound like Chicago (183 yards) did last Sunday to the Colts.

San Diego at Denver (46): The Broncos posted a league-high 41 points in Week 1, racking up 441 yards of total offense. San Diego likes playing in Denver, posting 35 and 41 in their two previous trips. The ‘over’ has gone 3-1 in the last four meetings. The Broncos saw the ‘over’ go 6-2 at Invesco Field last season.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland (44.5): The Steelers and Browns have watched the ‘over’ cash in the last seven encounters. Pitt nipped Cleveland 31-28 last year, which saw the combined 59 points jump ‘over’ the closing total of 47. After watching the Steelers post 35 in three quarters and Cleveland give up 28 in the same amount of time last week, more fireworks seem probable in Sunday’s finale.

Sweet ‘n Low

The lowest total on the board in Week 2 features an AFC West rivalry game between the Chiefs and Raiders. It appears the number is based on three factors – the run-first coaching approach, the inability to pass consistently and more importantly the recent history. The ‘under’ has gone 5-1 in the last six head-to-head battles and the closing numbers on the last four games ranged from 34.5 to 36.

While a 13-10 outcome seems very doable, all you need is both clubs to get to 17 in this one and you’ve got yourself a winner. It should be noted that neither team accomplished that in Week 1 as the Chiefs lost to the Pats (17-10) and Raiders were embarrassed by the Broncos (41-14). Quarterback Damon Huard (67%, 118 yards, 1 TD) will get the start for the Chiefs, while the Raiders look to JaMarcus Russell (2 TDs).

Best of the Rest – Trends

# Jacksonville and Buffalo have watched the ‘over’ go 3-1 in the last four meetings, including a combined 50 and 51 points the last two battles.
# The ‘under’ is on a 3-1 run between Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
# Seattle and San Francisco watched the ‘under’ go 2-0 (24-0, 23-3) in both of the regular season games last year.

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