Sunday Service Plays

Sunday Service Plays

Ben Burns

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Prediction: Under

Better late than never! It's true. Detroit finally pulled the plug on General Manager Matt Millen's brutal and seemingly never-ending career. Millen's final record as president and CEO of the Lions was an awful 31-84. The Lions were 9-7 the year before he arrived and they were never better than 7-9 with him.

For now, Rod Marinelli remains the coach. When he was asked why he thinks he and his staff are the right people to coach the Lions, Marinelli responded: "I just know what I want. I see it. I just stay the course. I just keep working at it, keep evaluating what we're doing, how we're doing. I've been in these situations before. Like I've said, the two words - poise and panic. I believe in what I'm doing."

What Marinelli "believes in" is running the ball and controlling the clock. The Lions haven't been able to do that so far this year though, as they've fallen behind in each of their first three games. With Millen finally out of the picture and having had an extra week to prepare, I expect them to be more competitive this week though. If so, that will mean that they won't have to abandon the running game. Note that the last time the Lions faced the Bears (10/28/07) the teams combined for just 23 points. The Lions ran the ball effectively in that game (28- 119) and held the ball for more than 34 minutes.

This week, the Lions will face a Chicago defense which is usually very tough to run against. Note that the Bears limited the Eagles to six second half points in their most recent game, while scoring only three themselves. Additionally, note that Chicago has allowed an average of just 16.5 points in it's first two road games, both of which stayed below the total. Looking back to last season and we find that six of Chicago's last seven road games have produced fewer than 43 combined points.

It's true that the Lions have been poor on defense. Indeed, through the first three weeks, they had given up 113 points. Only the Rams (at 116) had given up more. That has helped cause their over/under numbers to be extremely generous though. They struggled again defensively in their most recent game. That game (vs. SF on 9/21) still finished below the total though, due largely to the fact that the number was so high. I successfully played on the 'under' in that game and I believe that this week's number is extremely generous once again.

The 'under' was 2-0 the last two seasons when the Lions were coming off a bye. The 'under' is also a profitable 11-5-1 the last 17 meetings in this series, which were played here at Detroit. Consider the UNDER

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Dr. Vegas

Cincinnati vs Dallas

Here is a game of teams going in opposite directions. Cincinnati is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS, while Dallas is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS.

The Cowboys thus far have fared better on the road than at home. They managed a 4-point home win against Philly on 9/15 and lost by two to rival Washington last week. Of course being at home against one of the few remaining winless teams promises to give the Cowboys a bit of relief after last week’s loss. What’s worse than being 0-4 for Cincinnati is that they lost to the 0-3 Browns last week.

Looking at the exclusive Dr. Vegas Power Ratings, we find Cincinnati with a dismal -26.1 mark. Their opponents’ rating is +16.9. Dallas comes into the game is +2.7, with an opponent rating of +11.6.

The Bengals have nothing going for them, ranking at or near the bottom of the NFL in numerous categories, such as total offense (31st in the NFL). It also remains to be seen if QB Carson Palmer will return, and will his elbow allow him to be effective if he does. The only thing they have going for them is that they have nothing to lose, and Dallas could be thinking ahead to next week’s game against Arizona.

The line on this game is 17, which of course can change. But looking at that number and going back to 1985, there have been 22 games with a line of 17. The ATS record on those games is 9-9-4. But the total has gone over 16 times, nearly 73%.

So we’ll pass on the side, but take this game over the total of 44.

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Totals 4 U

Buccaneers @ Broncos

Tampa Bay (3-1) tallied its third consecutive victory with a 30-21 win over the Packers last week at the Disney ride that is Raymond James Stadium, controlling the ball for 36:50 while forcing 4 turnovers and topping Green Bay 327 yards to 181. The Buccaneers’ line is young with only 6’3” 291 C Jeff Faine entering 2008 with more than a pair of NFL seasons under his belt but trap and pull extremely well, consistently keeping opponents off balance long enough for the running back duo of 5’9” 225 Ernest Graham (57 for 334 yards and 2 TD) and 5’9” 180 Warrick Dunn (42 for 97 and TD rushing, 10 for 82 receiving) to slip and slide for a ground attack that has averaged133.8 yards per game at a brisk 5.0 yard per carry clip. RG Davin Joseph has been battling through a foot injury but has practiced and his unit has given 6’3” 214 QB Brian Griese (71 of 128 for 716 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT) the time with just 4 sacks allowed through 4 games to get the ball down field to receivers 6’1” 205 Antonio Bryant (17 for 220 yards), 5’11” 210 Ike Hilliard (18 for 264 and 2 TD), and 6’4” 215 Michael Clayton (9 for 88) but his accuracy has been spotty at best so – especially with Galloway still sidelined with a foot injury – expect Offensive Coordinator Bill Muir to continue to rely on Tampa’s tight ends in the mid-range. When the running game is working, the trio of 6’4” 258 Alex Smith (9 for 98 and TD), 6’7” 260 Jeremy Stevens (5 for 61 and TD), and 6’5” 257 John Gilmore (4 for 53 and TD) create major match up problems in multiple tight end sets and are the guys you must focus on in the red zone.

Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffen’s unit has been superb this season in all facets of the game, including posting 3 defensive scores off their 8 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. Starting ends Kevin Carter (10 T, 2 ½ S) and Gaines Adams (8 T, 3 S, INT) have been sharp against the run and in pass rush but the beauty of this line is found in the middle where a pair of underrated players, 6’2” 296 LT Chris Hovan (18 T) and 6’2” 285 RT Jovan Haye (10 T), gobble up blockers as well as bigger men and use their quickness to split their gaps. Hovan, who was little more than an undersized clown early in his career, has matured into one heck of a pro and keep your eye out for rush specialist 6’3” 268 DE Greg White (10 T, 3 ½ S) who has proved himself invaluable in substitution for the 13-year veteran Carter. By the numbers, the Buccaneers allow 98.0 rush yards per game at 3.6 yards per carry plus 216.5 yards passing at 7.2 yards per attempt and by the plays made, 6’2” 241 4th-year MLB Barrett Ruud (30 T, S, 2 INT) is clearly the heart of this stopper group. 14th-year WLB Derrick Brooks (13 T, FF, INT) is slowing down and currently fighting a hamstring injury while SLB Cato June (17 T) has been playing below his best and Ruud brings a ton of energy and has shown good ball skills, snaring picks over his shoulders where other players may get bat-downs. To beat this crew, you’ve got to keep your quarterback upright (11 sacks) long enough to go after this defensive backfield. 5’11” 186 LCB Phillip Buchanon (14 T, INT) and 12th-year 5’10” 184 RCB Ronde Barber (17 T, S) can be pushed around while safeties 6’0” 200 Tanard Jackson (14 T) and 6’2” 200 Jermaine Phillips (16 T, FR) are only average. When he’s ready, 6’1” 206 rookie CB Aquib Talib (4 T, INT) will certainly get his shot at one of these jobs. Tampa’s not an elite team but they’ll grind opponents into consistently playing below their abilities.

Denver (3-1) was stunned by the Chiefs last week in a 19-33 loss in which the Broncos allowed Larry Johnson to run over them for 198 yards and his team to better than double their totals points on the season while earning their first victory in 11 months. Of course, for Defensive Coordinator Bob Slowik’s squad this isn’t anything new. Denver’s stoppers have picked up right where they left off in 2007. So far in 2008, they rank 29th in points (29.2) and 30th in yards (408.8) allowed per game while ranking 24th against the run (132.8 yards per game at 5.0 yards per carry) and 31st against the pass (276.0 yards per game at 8.4 yards per attempt). On the good news front, 6’1” 308 Dewayne Robertson has been fully participating in practice and should be back at left defensive tackle where Kenny Peterson (7 T, 2 S) has been holding his place but now 6’4” 260 LDE John Engelberger (14 T, S) is missing practice time with a knee injury which may push under-achieving Ebenezer Ekuban into the starting role while 5’11” 260 starting RE Elvis Dumervil…just…plain…sucks. Two totals tackles (never mind the bloated figures for all players according to the team) through 4 starts without a single sack for a guy that gets thrown around against the run is not good. WLB DJ Williams (34 T, S) and MLB Nate Webster (30 T) are good players trying to wade through the wash while 6’3” 232 SLB Boss Bailey (23 T) has been less than 100% with a nagging ankle issue and Denver’s secondary is aging fast. Safeties Marquand Manuel (25 T) and Marlon McCree (15 T) are decent but 6’0” 192 10th-year LCB Champ Bailey (16 T, INT) and 5’10” 188 10th-year RCB Dre Bly (20 T) have never been big on contact and need help if the front 7 doesn’t get more pressure than the current level of 2 amassed team sacks.

As porous as the Bronco defense has been, Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison’s crew has been explosive. Aside from the out-of-character 3 interception performance against the Chiefs, 6’3” 233 QB Jay Cutler (102 of 157 for 1275 yards, 9 TD, 4 INT) has been shelling defenses to his young receivers 6’4” 230 Brandon Marshall (31 for 398 yards and 3 TD) and 5’10” 182 rookie Eddie Royal (27 for 298 and 2 TD, 16.6 yards per punt return) with veteran Brandon Stokley (15 for 181) doing the dirty work in the slot. Give safety help and Denver will shred you with dynamite depth at the tight end position. Nate Jackson (4 for 12 yards and TD) and Daniel Graham (6 for 72) are solid performers but 6’5” 250 3rd-year TE Anthony Scheffler is breaking out as a serious weapon, racking up 194 yards with his 12 catches and adding 3 scores. With Tom Nalen on the IR, Mike Shanahan’s offensive line has been a mix and match affair but the squad of 6’6” 325 rookie LT Ryan Clady, LG Ben Hamilton, C Casey Weigmann, RG Chris Kuper, and RT Ryan Harris has acquitted themselves reasonably well in pass protection with 6 sacks surrendered over some 170 drop-backs and have pounded out the holes for running backs 5’11” 215 Selvin Young (37 for 228 yards and TD), 5’10” 212 Andre Hall (27 for 131), and 6’0” 225 Michael Pittman (23 for 80 and 4 TD rushing, 3 for 53 receiving) to thrive. The Broncos attack is among the leagues best, ranking 2nd in points (33.2) and 1st in yards (435.5) per game while holding the NFL’s 2nd-best passing offense at 314.2 yards per game at a whopping 8.1 yards per attempt.

SELECTION: So just how many points could the Broncos’ offense rack up against the Broncos’ defense? Alas, we’ll never find out but we think they can make some hay with Scheffler, Marshall, and Royal against the Buccaneers’ secondary. Shanahan at Mile High is a tough task and we just don’t think Tampa’s conservative offensive can properly expose Slowik’s defense. Take Denver –3!

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Nevada Sharpshooter

New England vs San Francisco

The New England Patriots travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers.  The 2-2 49ers have a new look with QB JT O’Sullivan and OC Mike Martz.  In the upcoming game vs. the Patriots the 49ers need to take some lessons from the Dolphins on how to play the Pats.  One player to watch will be Frank Gore and how many touches he is given by the pass happy Martz.

The Patriots are coming off a much needed by after being humiliated by the Dolphins.  QB Cassell will have an opportunity in the passing game against a 49er secondary that was unable to stop New Orleans last week.  If the Pats can move the ball through the air in the first half, they should have success running the ball in the second.

The blueprints for beating the Patriots are now public, attack their defense with the running game and defensively take away the run and short passes, daring Cassell to go deep.  The Patriots on the other hand need to get the deep passing game going in order to free up the underneath routes and running game.  With a week to prepare I like the Patriots to have found at least a short term solution to their problems and come away with a win by at least 7.  Take the Patriots -3.5 over the 49ers.

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Mike Wynn Sports

Washington @ Philadelphia

Who’d of thunk that the Redskins would be 3-1 and sitting in the second spot of the NFC East after their opening night debacle against the NY Giants. Washington is coming off 3 straight wins including the big upset of Dallas in big “D” Sunday. The Eagles off a frustrating Sunday night loss at Chicago in which they missed 2 field goals and failed to punch it in from point blank late in the game. Despite this loss the Eagles are from out of any race at this point of the season and a win here over  a divisional opponent would be big. So let’s take a closer look at both these teams and we’ll start as always with the visiting Redskins.

Washington has won 3 straight games and a lot of the credit has to go to the maturation Jason Campbell. Campbell looks like he has command of this Jim Zorn offense and his confidence and demeanor on the field have his teammates believing they can win with this guy at the helm. Campbell is completed 65% of his passes, but more importantly his 6 touchdowns without an interception. He’s making the right choices and delivering the ball and defenses can no longer key on Clinton Portis and the running game. Speaking of the running game, Clinton Portis is having a nice season. Portis is averaging a solid 4.3 yards per carry this season, and that’s good news for Washington if they can keep him healthy for 16 games. Defensively the Redskins have been OK ranking fourteenth in the league overall. They did do a terrific job Sunday against the Cowboys as their banged up secondary (no Springs or Smoot in the fourth quarter) kept Dallas out of the end zone until the final two minutes. First year head coach Jim Zorn has his team believing in his system right now and their going to be a contender this season despite playing in the toughest division in all of football.

The Eagles come into this one off a Sunday night game that they probably felt they should have won. Usually reliable kicker David Akers missed two field goals and the Eagles failed to get in the end zone from 1 yard out twice with 5 minutes remaining. Starting RB Westbrook sat out Sunday night and is once again questionable for this match up Sunday, and that’ll be a huge loss for the Eagle’s if he can’t go. Buckhalter is a solid back up but he’s no Westbrook and without that big threat out of the backfield, Washington can expect a lot of pass from McNabb and company. Unlike recent seasons McNabb has more weapons to go to this season. Rookie WR Jackson looks like he’s going to be a good one, and third year man Baskett is solid on the other side. McNabb is still nursing a chest contusion he sustained against Pittsburgh, but he’s a warrior and will definitely play in this one. McNabb the heart and soul of this Eagles team already has 1100 yards passing this season with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Defensively Jim Johnson’s unit can bring it. Eagles have the number 3 defense in the league and they’re number 1 against the run allowing just 54 yards per game on the ground. Philadelphia has forced 10 turnovers already this season and they’ve sacked the opposing QB 17 times.

Looking at some of the history and trends in this series we find that it’s been fairly close, as they’ve split their last 6 games straight up with the Redskins holding a slight 3-2-1 ATS edge. 20 of the last 31 in this series have gone under the total including the last 2 in Philadelphia where the Eagles are a terrific 24-7 under in October since 1992. Philadelphia is also a solid 17-7 under in the favorite role while Washington is 1-5 under as a road dog of 3½-7 points the last 3 seasons. With Westbrook iffy for this game Sunday it’s tough to go with a side here, but we’ll look for this one to follow the trends and stay under the total of 43.

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Razor Sharp Sports

Tennessee @ Baltimore

Wow, I guess it is try what they say, “Any Given Sunday!”  Last week we saw 2 huge upsets with 0-3 KC knocking off 3-0 Denver and the 3-0 Cowboys getting beat at home by rival Washington.  All season long we will continue to see upsets as we do every year.  It the match-up that we are going to talk about this week, I don’t think anyone would truly call it an upset if either team came up with the victory.  Both the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens are pretty good football teams.  As a matter of fact, I expect both of these teams to be right in the playoff hunt in the AFC all season long.  This may be the most up in the air season that we have seen in a long time.  Right now there is no real #1 in either conference.  So lets take a look at both of these teams a bit.

First we will start with the 4-0 Titans.  Tennessee is one of only 3 teams remaining undefeated.  How have they done it?  Their defense unit is one of the best in football and their offense is one of the most underrated.  Defensively, the group up front is one of the best!  Albert Hayneworth (5 sacks) , Jevon Kearse (1.5 sacks) , Kyle Vanden Bosch (3 sacks), and Tony Brown (3.5 sacks) can do it against the run or the pass.  Plus behind them, LB Keith Bullock is everywhere and DB Cortland Finnegan (4 ints.) and S Michael Griffin (3 ints) are patrolling the defensive backfield.  This unit is allowing just 11.5 points per game (leading the league), 263 yards per game (3rd in the AFC), had 16 turnovers (1st in the league) & 15 sacks (2nd overall).  On offense, Kerry Collins stepped in for an injured Steve McNair in week one and had the offense clicking.  The offense is scoring 25.5 points per game.  The running back tandem of Chris Johnson and LenDale White make up the perfect Thunder & Lightning combination.  Johnson has 337 rushing yards and 2 scores and White has 161 yards and 5 TDs.  Through the air, Collins has plenty to throw to.  Collins spreads things around to plenty of weapons.   They have 6 different recievers that have caught the ball at least 5 times this year.  No one has more than 13 catches and no one has more than 1 receiving TD.  Special teams has also been solid.  Kicker Rob Bironas is 6 for 6 in FGs and 11 for 11 in extra points. Punter Craig Hentrich is averaging 44.7 yards per punt with 8 punts inside the 20.  Returnman Chris Carr has done a good job on both kickoffs (27.1 yd/return) and punts (10.6).

On the other side of the field, we have the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens.  When you talk about the Ravens you have to talk about the defense first.  The names are all still there (Ray Lewis (22 tackles) , Ed Reed (1 int. for TD), Chris McAlister (2 ints), & Terell Suggs (3 sacks).  This unit ranks 1st in the NFL in yards allowed at 186.7.  They are 2nd behind Tennessee in points allowed at 14.3 and they are 1st versus the pass and 2nd against the run!  The offense has a few questions, but they are quickly being answered.  Question #1 is at QB.  Rookie Joe Flacco has taken over the starting job and has done a pretty nice job so far.  He hasn’t been flashy, but with a defense like the Ravens have, he just needs to be solid and not turn the ball over.  RB Willis McGahee has been banged up all year.  Bowling Ball LeRon McClain (215 yards & 3 TDs) has filled in for McGahee and shown some good power.  Veteran WR Derrick Mason looks to be Flacco’s favorite target. He has 16 catches for 223 yards including 8 catches for 137 yards last week against Pittsburgh.

So you put all the numbers together and you have to look for a defensive struggle, right?  Well the total is only 35 and if you look at what has happened so far, I expect this one to get over that total.  The Ravens are scoring 21.7 points per game and their games average 36.  The Titans as we mentioned before score over 25 points per game and their games are averaging 37 points per game.  Both teams have defenses and special teams that can and will score even if the offenses struggle. As your free winner take the Tennessee/Baltimore game OVER the total of 35. 

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Doc's

Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals
PICK: Over 44.5 Belmont

The Bills enter this game undefeated facing a Red Birds team that is looking to get back on track after suffering two straight defeats on the east coast. We expect a lot of points to be scored in this affair evident by the fact that the Cardinals gave up 56 points to the Jets last week. Buffalo beat the Rams last week, the worst team in football and even they managed 14 points in the first quarter meaning the Cardinals will be able to move the football up and down the field. This is a must win game for Arizona and thus we will not worry about the final score and just easily collect with the over.

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Info Plays

3* on San Francisco 49ers +3

Reasons why the 49ers will cover the spread Sunday:

1.) New England is getting too much credit here. How can the Patriots possibly be favored after getting their asses handed to them last game 38-13 at home by the Dolphins of all teams? Miami ran wild on the Patriots, and we expect Frank Gore and company will be able to do the same Sunday against this elder defense. New England simply isn’t the same team that made the Super Bowl last year, not only offensively but defensively, too.

2.) No Tom Brady. Matt Cassel has done nothing to impress us this season. He is no Tom Brady, and the fact is that this offense can’t be run like it’s supposed to be with Cassel at quarterback. An injury to RB Lawrence Maroney puts even more pressure on Cassel to make plays with his arm. The Patriots are scoring just 16.3 points/game this season. They really haven’t even played a good defense, either. New England has faced the Chiefs, Dolphins and Jets. Any team in the league would love to go up against those three defenses, but the Patriots have yet to score more than 19 points in a single game. The 49ers have a better defense than all three of those squads.

3.) We’ll Play On - Underdogs or pick (SAN FRANCISCO) - with a good offense - averaging 5.4 or more yards/play, after being outgained by opponents by 100 or more total yards last game. This is a 68-36 ATS System hitting 65.4% over the last 10 seasons. The 49ers’ offense is averaging 6.3 yards/play. Mike Martz is a genius as he’s utilizing all his weapons in San Francisco this season. Look for the 49es to cut back on their mistakes this week and take it to the Patriots. Bet San Francisco at home.

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DUNKEL INDEX

Indianapolis at Houston

The Colts look to bounce back from their last-second loss to Jacksonville two weeks ago and build on their 15-6 ATS record as a road favorite of 3 points or less.  Indianapolis is the pick (-3) according to Dunkel, which has the Cots favored by 6 1/2.  Dunkel Pick: Indianapolis (-3).  Here are all of this week's picks.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5

Game 405-406: Indianapolis at Houston
Dunkel Ratings: Indianapolis 136.065; Houston 129.455
Dunkel Line: Indianapolis by 6 1/2; 51
Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 3; 47
Dunkel Pick: Indianapolis (-3); Over

Game 407-408: Tennessee at Baltimore
Dunkel Ratings: Tennessee 139.916; Baltimore 133.8555
Dunkel Line: Tennessee by 6; 30
Vegas Line: Tennessee by 3; 33 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tennessee (-3); Under

Game 409-410: San Diego at Miami
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego 133.430; Miami 128.483
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 5; 42
Vegas Line: San Diego by 6 1/2; 45
Dunkel Pick: Miami (+6 1/2); Under

Game 411-412: Kansas City at Carolina
Dunkel Ratings: Kansas City 125.465; Carolina 132.557
Dunkel Line: Carolina by 7; 35
Vegas Line: Carolina by 9 1/2; 38
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (+9 1/2); Under

Game 413-414: Washington at Philadelphia
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 131.820; Philadelphia 141.327
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 9 1/2; 48
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 6; 42 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-6); Over

Game 415-416: Chicago at Detroit
Dunkel Ratings: Chicago 132.570; Detroit 125.489
Dunkel Line: Chicago by 7; 50
Vegas Line: Chicago by 3 1/2; 44 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-3 1/2); Over

Game 417-418: Atlanta at Green Bay
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta 125.243; Green Bay 137.767
Dunkel Line: Green Bay by 12 1/2; 47 1/2
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 419-420: Seattle at NY Giants
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle 131.439; NY Giants 135.582
Dunkel Line: NY Giants by 4; 40
Vegas Line: NY Giants by 7; 43 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (+7); Under

Game 421-422: Tampa Bay at Denver
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay 129.301; Denver 135.412
Dunkel Line: Denver by 6; 52
Vegas Line: Denver by 3; 48
Dunkel Pick: Denver (-3); Over

Game 423-424: New England at San Francisco
Dunkel Ratings: New England 132.655; San Francisco 124.763
Dunkel Line: New England by 8; 37
Vegas Line: New England by 3; 41 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New England (-3); Under

Game 425-426: Buffalo at Arizona
Dunkel Ratings: Buffalo 131.410; Arizona 128.577
Dunkel Line: Buffalo by 3; 50
Vegas Line: Arizona by 1; 44
Dunkel Pick: Buffalo (+1); Over

Game 427-428: Cincinnati at Dallas
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati 125.477; Dallas 139.598
Dunkel Line: Dallas by 14; 42
Vegas Line: Dallas by 17; 44
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+17); Under

Game 429-430: Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 135.658; Jacksonville 137.065
Dunkel Line: Jacksonville by 1 1/2; 40
Vegas Line: Jacksonville by 4; 36
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (+4); Over

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6

Game 431-432: Minnesota at New Orleans
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 128.342; New Orleans 134.667
Dunkel Line: New Orleans by 6; 49
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 3; 46 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New Orleans (-3); Over

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Steve Zukiel

San Diego Chargers vs Miami Dolphins

In this contest, my money is on the Miami Dolphins. It's a West Coast team going East Coast for a 1:00 EST game, which means this is like a 10:00 am game for the Chargers. I look for them to be a little flat for this one, especially in the early going. The Chargers are also in a tough spot here. They are off a 1 point loss to the Denver Broncos, a Monday Night football game, a road game versus Oakland and they are playing a Sunday Night football game next week versus New England. I like the points here. Take the Dolphins. STEVE ZUKIEL TAKES THE MIAMI DOLPHINS OVER THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AS AN EZ FREE WINNER

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Masterbets

Bet on the RAVENS to cover the spread

Respect is given and warranted to the Titans who are a perfect 4-0, defying most handicappers' expectations. They are coached by one of the best in the business, but this is a very tough spot to move to 5-0. Tennessee must rely on Kerry Collins, playing above his ability level so far, against a brutal Ravens defense that is coming off a tough OT loss at the Steelers. The Ravens match up very well here and are typically very tough at home. The line has moved in Baltimore's favor as they are now +2.5 points and even though they're coming off a short week they could easily upset the Titans today. A small wager on BALTIMORE + the points is worthwhile.

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Stephen Nover

Buffalo Bills @ Arizona Cardinals
PICK: Arizona Cardinals

At first glance, the Buffalo Bills might seem like the right play. They are 4-0 with outstanding special teams, excellent team chemistry and an improving offense, while the Cardinals are coming off a game where they gave up 56 points and probably will be without Anquan Boldin.

First looks can be deceiving, though.

The Cardinals are going to win this game, which is all you need to cash since Arizona is in the pick'em to minus one range.

The Bills are making their third long road trip in four weeks. They are a carpet team playing on grass.

Buffalo is improved. However, the Bills' schedule has laid out extremely well up to this point.

The Bills hosted a crippled Seattle squad opening week when the Seahawks weren't ready. Buffalo then drew Jacksonville, which was struggling with a cluster injury problem in its offensive line.

Buffalo barely nipped Oakland, winning by one point at home. Then last week the Bills beat maybe the worst team in the NFL, the St. Louis Rams. So the Bills' 4-0 mark isn't as strong as it may look.

The Cardinals return home after being out East for two straight weeks. They are anxious to put the embarrassement of last Sunday's loss to the New York Jets behind them. The Bills last played in Arizona in 1999.

Despite a boatload of turnovers against the Jets, Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner is having a strong season ranking third in passing yards and fifth in quarterback ratings.

Yes, the Cardinals probably aren't going to have Boldin. However, they still have an "A" wideout in Larry Fitzgerald and young, talented wide receivers to attack a youthful Bills secondary that most likely is going to be without injured starting cornerback Terrence McGee.

The Bills are limping into their bye, which comes up next week. In addition to probably missing McGee, they will be without Roscoe Parrish. These losses hurt their vaunted special teams.

Buffalo's two best defensive lineman, Marcus Stroud and Aaron Schobel, also are banged-up.

Arizona should be able to put up at least 21 points at home against the Bills. The Cardinals are 10-5 when scoring 21 or more points.

A lot is being made of Boldin getting hurt. But beneath the radar screen is the news that the Cardinals should get back two key defensive players. Nose tackle Gabe Watson is set to make his season debut after being out with a knee injury and strong safety Adrian Wilson is expected to play after missing last week's game because of a hamstring injury.

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Scott Ferrall

BALTIMORE +3 from Tennessee--Ravens show the Titans who's boss. Tenn isn't going to the Super Bowl like everyone is thinking. I like Flacco and that Baltimore defense, particularly at home

CAROLINA -9.5 to Kansas City--The Panthers aren't going to let Larry Johnson go off for 198 like he did last week against Denver in KC. The Chiefs still blow and will lay down in Charlotte--Steve Smith has a big game in this one

PHILLY -5.5 to Washington--The Eagles bounce back from the loss at Soldier Field and work over the Skins, who everyone will be pouncing on after they beat Dallas in Big D. They aren't winning two straight on the road. The Eagles D is the difference in this game

DENVER -3 to Tampa--The Bucs have been pretty tough, but not in the thin air at Mile High. Cutler has a field day with Marshall and Royal

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Matt Fargo

New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers    
Play: New England Patriots -3

The 2008 Patriots are far from the 2007 Patriots and this line certainly backs it up. The loss of Tom Brady has probably put an end to New England trying to get back to the Super Bowl but this is still an above average team from the AFC playing a below average team from the NFC. This line will no doubt bring a lot of public action to the Patriots and that is why the units are relatively low here. I don’t like backing the public but there are too many factors favoring New England to pass up on it.

The 49ers return home after getting beat pretty soundly in New Orleans. They were outgained 467-312 as the defense was exposed badly. Yes, a return back home is good but let’s not forget the lone home victory this season came against the lowly Lions. San Francisco is a team on the rise but rising in the NFC West is nothing to be too excited about. The 49ers have dropped their last six games against the number after allowing 30 points last time out.

The Patriots offense is far from what it was last season but with two weeks to prepare following an embarrassing loss, they could find their stride here. Against the struggling defense of San Francisco, that helps even more. The 49ers are 22nd in the NFL in total defense, allowing 335.8 ypg including 124.5 ypg on the ground which is 21st in the NFL. New England needs to establish the run to take some pressure off Matt Cassel who had a rough game against the Dolphins.

On the other side, the 49ers offense has been up and down but the offensive line remains a huge concern. New Orleans had just four sacks entering last week's game and it added six to its total. New England has just six sacks on the year, but its defensive line is good enough to penetrate this weak line. San Francisco quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan has been sacked a league-high 19 times. The 49ers will be looking to establish the run as well with Frank Gore. The Patriots are better against the run that what they showed last week.

The loss last week was a big one for New England and the line swing here is enormous. The Patriots fall into a solid situation based on that setback. Play on road teams that are coming off a loss by 14 or more points as a favorite, in weeks five through nine. This situation is 25-6 ATS (80.6 percent) over the last 10 seasons with the average point differential being +6.9 ppg. New England bounces back on the west coast before heading home to face San Diego next week. Play New England Patriots 1.5 Units

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Wunderdog

Buffalo at Arizona
Pick: OVER 44.5

We were on the OVER last week in the Cardinals game vs. the Jets and they exceeded the total - twice! One look at Arizona last week shows something of interest. They turned the ball over seven times meaning they had seven possessions interupted, but still manged 35 points! That is hard to ignore, especially playing at home. Kurt Warner is a savvy veteran, and I would expect he gets redemption here, and moves the offense as he has with less mistakes. The Bills have turned very offensive behind a developing Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch and WR Lee Evans. Arizona has a QB rating against their defense of 102.4, so look for the pass happy Bills to chew up yardage just like the Favre and the Jets did last week. The Cards, after putting up 350 yards or more in their previous game, have been an astounding 42-17 to the OVER in their next game. They are also 16-6 OVER as an underdog the past three seasons. This one should have plenty of scoring and again go OVER.

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Sports Insights

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Or, have they? The Indy Colts have stumbled out of the gate this year, going just 1-2, after being one of the NFL's elite teams the past few years. However, with a spread of just -3 over the Houston Texans, the Colts are collecting a huge 80% of all bets. The powerhouse days of the Colts are engrained in many bettors' brains and the three points don't seem like much.

To some, this game looks like a "trap." It seems too easy to take the Colts -3. However, these are normally the games that have value going the other way. We'll "bet against the public" and take a solid Houston Texan team at home. Amazingly enough, even with the Public pounding the Colts, the line has edged slightly in the direction of the Texans! The line opened at Houston +3.5 at CRIS (or +3 with "plus vig" at Pinnacle) -- but is currently more centered at +3. This gives us comfort in knowing that "big, smart money" is on Houston, as well.

The Texans had to play their first three games on the road but come home to friendlier ground, where they were a solid 6-2 last year. Overall, the Texans were a very competitive team in 2007 and we look for them to get back on track. We'll grab one of the scariest-looking-games on the board and take a live home dog against a wounded former champ, plus the points. If you shop around, you can find +3.5.

Houston Texans +3.5


Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos

When we were discussing the games with our offshore contacts, the Tampa Bay-Denver game came up immediately. Our friends alerted us to "early sharp money" immediately pushing the line from TB +4.5 all the way down to TB +3 at some books. That's a huge move right near the key-three number. This is particularly noteworthy because SportsInsights.com's betting percentages show that three out of every four bets are landing on Denver! Some "big money" took TB and drove the line down.

We'll join the Sharps and "bet against the public." Many bettors love the Broncos at Mile High -- but 3.5 points between two of the early playoff contenders looks like a lot of points. As a side-note, Denver was 7-9 last year, while Tampa Bay was a playoff team via their division-leading 9-7 record. You can still get Tampa Bay +3.5 at some books.

Tampa Bay Bucs +3


Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles

You don't often see us give points -- let alone six -- but the Philadelphia Eagles get the pick this week. The Philadelphia Eagles stand at the bottom of the fierce NFC East Division, with a 2-2 record. The two losses were for a combined eight points, on the road, at Dallas and at Chicago. Not too shabby. On top of that, Philly lost last week, in a showcase game on Sunday Night Football. We'll "buy" the Eagles off of their disappointing loss last week and a misleading 2-2 record.

On the other hand, we'll "sell" the Washington Redskins at a relative high, after beating the powerhouse Cowboys, in Dallas. The Redskins have put together a three game winning streak, and the public is jumping on Washington. We'll grab the contrarian value and "buy low, sell high." The selling pressure has lightened the line to Philly -5.5, at decent vig, at Tradesports.

Philadelphia Eagles -6

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Lenny Del Genio

Game: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Prediction: Over

The Houston Texans are finally back home following a brutal three-game road trip to start the season.The scheduled home opener in Week 2 vs. Baltimore was moved due to Hurricane Ike and as a result, the team has been forced to take on Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Jacksonville ? all on the road. Not surprisingly, the Texans lost all three games Straight Up while cashing at the betting window just once  last week vs. the Jaguars in a 30-27 overtime loss (+7). This weeks opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, will also be eager to take to the field following a bye and a subpar 1-2 start. Right now, the Colts are looking up at both the Titans and Jaguars in the AFC South, so another loss, particularly in a division game, is out of the question for Peyton Manning and company.Therefore, we take a look at the total for this matchup. Houston certainly has to go Under in one of these AFC South games, right We misfired on an Under call last week against the Jags as the two teams lit up the scoreboard in the 4th Quarter. The Texans have now gone Over in eight straight division games. Furthermore, these teams have gone Over in each of the six prior meetings. Even further, Indy has gone Over in eight of nine following a bye. All those trends just seem a bit Over the top to us. Eventually, things have to go the other way. Take Over

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Michael Alexander

Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants   
Play:NY Giants -7

The Giants come out of ther bye week today as the only unbeaten NFC team at 3-0 and are a top the tough NFC East Division. The Giants got into this one minus their start receive Burress who was suspended for his off field actions. The Giants offense has started the season in good fashion averaging 27.7 points per game on 400 yards of total offense. Although the defense lost two of their top defensive players (one to retirement and one to injury) their defense has still remained tough giving up only 14.3 points per game and 252 yards of total offense.

The Seattle Seahawks travel to the "Big Apple" off their bye week as well but, unlike the Giants, have struggled in the early going. They come in with a 1-2 mark and trail both San Francisco and Arizona in the NFC West Division. Their offense hasn't been lacking however as they are putting up an average of 25.7 points per game on 337 yards of total offense. It's their defense that has caused them problems, especially when they have been on the road, giving up a whopping 34 points per game.

SUPPORTING ANGLES: SEATTLE is 1-10 ATS (-10.0 Units) off a blowout win by 21 points or more over a division rival since 1992. NY GIANTS are 20-9 ATS (+10.1 Units) against conference opponents over the last 3 seasons. NY GIANTS are 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) after playing a game at home over the last 2 seasons.

The Seahawks have had trouble protecting Hasselback this season and their offense has been minus WR's Engram and Branch. They might play in this one but it won't help as rust will show versus a tough NY defense who will keep them out of the endzone. I'm taking the Giants in this one.

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Nelly

Arizona - over Buffalo

The Bills are a shocking 4-0 but they have needed comebacks against bad teams in the last two games. Buffalo will face long travel and an offense that can put up huge numbers. Arizona lost in two East coast games but back at home the story should be different. The Cardinals have strong numbers at home the past three seasons and Buffalo is not used to this role and may start to feel the pressure and weight of elevated expectations.

Nelly’s dominated early season NFL action in 2007, getting off to a 16-4 start through the first seven weeks. We are off to another strong start at 9-3, highly ranked at the Sports Monitor, and we have won this weekly Guaranteed 2/3 package all four weeks it has been offered! That’s right, this package is 4-0 on the season and we are ready to make it 5-0 with three more great Sunday selections. There is no charge unless you profit and we are expecting a great chance at a 3-0 day!

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Cincinnati Bengals

It's a battle of America's Most Wanted team (Bengals) against America's team (Cowboys) in the Big 'D' on Sunday. While Cincinnati is winless and Dallas is mad about last week's debacle at home against the Redskins, the fact of the matter NFL double-digit favorites are 0-6 ATS this season. Toss in Dallas' 0-9 ATS mark as a favorite of 7 or more points in games off a SU home favorite loss and we'll gladly garb the generous points in this overlay today. Back the Bengals here today.

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