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NFL Gameday News and Notes

NFL Gameday News and Notes

Week 8 Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

**Chargers at Saints**

-Caesars Palace installed San Diego as a three-point (-120) favorite over New Orleans, with the total set at 45. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET from London, England’s Wembley Stadium, with CBS Sports providing coverage.
-San Diego (3-4 straight up, 3-3 against the spread) has alternated SU and ATS wins and losses its last four games after falling to Buffalo last weekend as a road ‘pick,’ 23-14. The combined 37 points failed to eclipse the 44½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the third consecutive contest.

-The Chargers trailed the Bills in first downs (22-15), rushing yards (109-72), passing yards (261-191), turnovers forced (3-0) and time of possession (35:29-24:31). Quarterback Philip Rivers was 22-of-29 passing for 191 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson had 14 carries for just 41 yards in the setback.

-New Orleans (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS) has also alternated SU and ATS wins and losses its last four games after falling to Carolina last weekend as a three-point road underdog, 30-7. The combined 37 points failed to topple the 44½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the second straight game.

-Signal caller Drew Brees completed 21-of-39 passes for 231 yards with an interception, while running back Deuce McAllister had nine carries for 47 yards. The Saints enjoyed an advantage in passing yards (228-193), but trailed in turnovers forced (2-0) and time of possession (33:01-26:59).

-The Chargers and Saints haven’t met since 2004 when San Diego rolled as a 6½-point home favorite, 43-17. The combined 60 points went ‘over’ the 49½-point closing total.

-San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) is ‘probable’ against the Saints, while wide receiver Craig Davis (groin) is ‘doubtful.’ Linebacker Jyles Tucker (hamstring) and wide receiver Chris Chambers (ankle) are ‘questionable.’

-New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey (hernia), defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (knee) and offensive guard Jamar Nesbit (suspension) are ‘probable’ versus the Chargers, while center Jonathan Goodwin (knee) is ‘doubtful.’ Defensive tackle Brian Young (knee), defensive tackle Antwan Lake (groin), wide receiver David Patten (groin) and cornerback Aaron Glenn (ankle) are ‘questionable.’

-Sunday’s forecast for London, England calls for rain and wind, with a high of 62 degrees and a low of 46.

**Buccaneers at Cowboys **

-Caesars Palace opened Dallas as a 2½-point home favorite over Tampa Bay, with the total listed at 40 ½. FOX Sports will start its coverage at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Tampa Bay (5-2 SU and ATS) has recorded back-to-back SU victories after doubling up Seattle last weekend as an 11½-point home ‘chalk,’ 20-10. The combined 30 points failed to eclipse the 39½-point closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to occur the third game in a row.

-The Buccaneers enjoyed advantages in first downs (22-7), passing yards (305-73), turnovers forced (2-1) and time of possession (41:41-18:19). Quarterback Jeff Garcia was 27-of-36 passing for 310 yards with a touchdown, while running back Earnest Graham had 23 carries for 52 yards and a score.

-Dallas (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS) has dropped two games in a row SU and four consecutive ATS after getting throttled by St. Louis last weekend as a 7½-point road ‘chalk,’ 34-14. The combined 48 points toppled the 45-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ cash the fourth consecutive contest.

-Most of the game stats were pretty even, but the Cowboys were unable to overcome four turnovers. Quarterback Brad Johnson was 17-of-34 passing for 234 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, while Marion Barber had 18 carries for 100 yards and a score.

-The Cowboys beat the Bucs back in 2006 as a 12 ½-point home favorite, 38-10, while the combined 48 points went ‘over’ the 38½-point closing total.

-Tampa Bay guard Arron Sears (knee) is ‘probable’ versus the Cowboys, while fullback B.J. Askew (hamstring) and wide receiver Ike Hilliard (concussion) are ‘doubtful.’ Running back Warrick Dunn (back), quarterback Brian Griese (arm) and wide receiver Joey Galloway (foot) are ‘questionable.’

-Dallas quarterback Tony Romo (finger) is expected to not play until mid-November, while safety Pat Watkins (neck) is ‘probable’ against the Bucs. Linebacker Anthony Spener (hamstring) and guard Kyle Kosier (foot) are ‘doubtful.’

-Sunday’s forecast for Dallas, Texas calls for sunny skies, with a high of 83 degrees and a low of 54.

**Rams at Patriots**

-Caesars Palace lists New England as a 7½-point home ‘chalk’ over St. Louis, with the total set at 42½. FOX Sports will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-St. Louis (2-4 SU and ATS) has recorded back-to-back SU and ATS victories after upending Dallas last weekend as a 7½-point home underdog, 34-14. The combined 48 points toppled the 45-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 4-1 the past five games.

-Quarterback Marc Bulger completed 14-of-19 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown, while running back Steven Jackson had 25 carries for 160 yards and three scores.

-New England (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) got back on the winning track by routing Denver Monday as a three-point home ‘chalk,’ 41-7. The combined 48 points landed directly on the closing total.

-The Patriots led the Broncos in first downs (25-19), rushing yards (257-106), turnovers forced (5-0) and time of possession (33:57-26:03). Signal caller Matt Cassel was 18-of-24 passing for 185 yards with three touchdowns, while Sammy Morris ran 16 times for 138 yards and a score.

-The Patriots upended the Rams the last meeting back in 2004 as a two-point road underdog, 40-22. The combined 62 points went ‘over’ the 49 ½-point closing total.

-St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (thigh), offensive tackle Orlando Pace (quad) and running back Antonio Pittman (leg) are ‘probable’ against the Patriots, while defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle) and wide receiver Dane Looker (concussion) are ‘questionable.’ Cornerback Tye Hill (knee), safety Todd Johnson (kidney) and wide receiver Derek Stanley (concussion) are ‘doubtful.’

-New England wide receiver Kelley Washington (ankle) is ‘probable’ versus the Rams, while running back LaMont Jordan (calf) is ‘doubtful.’ Linebacker Shawn Crable (shin), cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (flu), offensive tackle Nick Kaczur (ankle), defensive end Jarvis Green (abdominal) and linebacker Eric Alexander (calf) are ‘questionable.’

-Sunday’s forecast for Foxboro, Massachusetts calls for partly cloudy skies and a 20 percent chance of rain. The high is predicted to be 59 degrees with a low of 43.

**Cardinals at Panthers**

-Caesars Palace installed Carolina as a four-point home favorite over Arizona, with the total set at 43. FOX Sports will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Arizona (4-2 SU and ATS) is riding a two-game SU and ATS winning streak after upending Dallas in overtime October 12 as a five-point home underdog, 30-24. The combined 54 points slithered past the 53-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ cash the third consecutive contest.

-Quarterback Kurt Warner was 22-of-30 passing for 236 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while the ground game managed just 50 yards on 19 carries.

-Carolina (5-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) is off a victory over New Orleans as a three-point home favorite, 30-7. The combined 37 points failed to topple the 44½-point closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash the fifth game in a row.

-Signal caller Jake Delhomme completed 14-of-22 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns, while running back Jonathan Stewart had 17 carries for 68 yards and a score.

-Carolina is 3-0 SU and ATS the past three meetings with Arizona after winning in 2007 as a six-point road underdog, 25-10. The combined 35 points went ‘under’ the 38 ½-point closing total.

-Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin (head) and safety Aaron Francisco (thigh) are ‘probable’ against the Panthers, while linebacker Travis LaBoy (groin) and tight end Leonard Pope (ankle) are ‘doubtful.’ Tight end Jerame Tuman (hamstring) and tight end Ben Patrick (knee) are ‘questionable.’

-Carolina linebacker Adam Seward (thigh) is ‘questionable’ versus the Cardinals, while wide receiver D.J. Hackett (knee), center Ryan Kalil (ankle) and offensive tackle Jeff Otah (ankle) are ‘doubtful.’

-Sunday’s forecast for Charlotte, North Carolina calls for sunny skies, with a high of 69 degrees and a low of 45.

**Redskins at Lions**

-Caesars Palace opened Washington as an eight-point road ‘chalk’ over Detroit, with the total set at 42½. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, with FOX Sports providing coverage.

-Washington (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) beat Cleveland in a defensive struggle last weekend as a seven-point home favorite, 14-11. The combined 25 points never seriously threatened the 43½-point closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash the past three games.

-Quarterback Jason Campbell was 14-of-23 passing for 164 yards with a touchdown, while running back Clinton Portis had 27 carries for 175 yards and a score.

-Detroit (0-6 SU, 2-4 ATS) continued its downward spiral by losing to Houston last weekend as an 11-point road underdog, 28-21. The combined 49 points went ‘over’ the 47½-point closing total, ending a string of three consecutive ‘under’ outings.

-The Lions were on the short end of first downs (29-15), rushing yards (150-77) and time of possession (40:04-19:56). Quarterback Dan Orlovsky was 12-of-25 passing for 265 yards with a touchdown, while running back Kevin Smith had 10 carries for 61 yards and a score.

-The Redskins are 2-0 SU and ATS the past two meetings with the Lions after winning last year as a 3 ½-point home favorite, 34-3. The combined 37 points went ‘under’ the 45-point closing total.

-Washington quarterback Jason Campbell (groin) and cornerback Fred Smoot (groin) are ‘probable’ versus the Lions, while defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) and running back Ladell Betts (knee) are ‘doubtful.’ Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (ankle) is expected to miss this matchup.

-Detroit defensive tackle Chuck Darby (calf) is ‘probable’ against the Redskins, while safety Dwight Smith (foot) is ‘doubtful.’ Cornerback Travis Fisher (knee) and defensive end Corey Smith (hamstring) are ‘questionable.’

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Re: NFL Gameday News and Notes

Total Talk - Week 8
By Chris David

Week 7 Recap

How many of you have the ‘over’ in the Minnesota-Chicago matchup last week? The combined 89 points (48-41) between the two teams was a season-high for points this year and obviously unexpected, considering the total for the game was listed at 38. There’s nothing like cashing a ticket midway through the second quarter, right? The ‘over’ went 8-5-1 in Week 7 and pushed the season totals lean to the ‘over’ with a 54-45 (55%) mark. Another trend that stood out last week was how the low totals all went ‘over’ as well. Four games had numbers listed below 40 and all four cashed, including the aforementioned NFC North battle. Two ‘over’ tickets that probably shouldn’t have cashed were the Titans-Chiefs and Colts-Packers. Tennessee and Kansas City put up a 24-spot in the 4th quarter after posting 20 points through the first 45 minutes. And, Peyton Manning added a meaningless touchdown in the final minutes against the Packers to help the combined 48 points slide ‘over’ the closing total of 47.

Across the Pond

The NFL heads back to London for the second straight season, when San Diego and New Orleans go head-to-head from Wembley Stadium. Last year the Giants stopped the Dolphins 13-10 in a very sloppy gain that was affected by a steady rainstorm throughout the day. The latest weather reports are expected to have more rain this weekend, which could create another mud-fest. The Chargers saw the ‘over’ cash in their first four games, but the ‘under’ is on a 3-0 run. The Saints also watched the ‘over’ go 4-0-1 in their first five before two straight ‘under’ tickets. Both teams have the ability to make big plays and they do have explosive attacks, yet the rain could put a damper on the scoreboard. Despite the possibility of precipitation, oddsmakers opened the total at 47 yet that number has dropped to 44 ½ at some offshore outfits.

Vice Versa

In our Total Talk – Week 3 column, we talked about a solid total system that should be followed throughout the year. Anytime you see a total go ‘over’ or ‘under’ by 10 points of the closing number in a divisional game, bet the opposite in the second meeting of the regular season. This week, Seattle and San Francisco meet for the second time from the Bay Area. In Week 2, the 49ers edged the Seahawks 33-30 in overtime on the road. The combined 63 points easily jumped ‘over’ the closing total of 38. This Sunday’s matchup has watched the total jump from 38 to 41 and it would probably be closer to 46 if the ‘Hawks Matt Hasselbeck was starting at quarterback. Since the first game went way ‘over’ and the books have adjusted, the system says to go ‘under’. Seattle’s offense has scored 6, 17 and 10 in its last three games and most would expect the 49ers to run the football and play better defense under new head coach Mike Singletary on Sunday.

Key Trends for Week 8

-- Houston has seen the ‘over’ go 6-0 on the year.

-- The Bills and Dolphins have both seen the ‘over’ go 4-2 this year.

-- Dallas has given up 26, 22, 30 and 34 points in its last four games, which has helped the ‘over’ go 4-0.

-- The Eagles have watched the ‘under’ go 3-0 in their home games this season.

-- Carolina has seen the ‘under’ 5-1, including 3-0 at home.

Monday Night Magic

Depending on when you placed your total wager on Monday’s battle between the Patriots and Broncos, you could’ve easily been a winner or a loser. New England led 20-0 at the break and then outscored Denver 21-7 in the final 30 minutes, including a meaningless BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown plunge late in the fourth, helping the Pats win 41-7. The closing number was 47 ½ points but it was as high as 48 ½ points throughout the day and a lot of books had it the number stuck on 48. Middle players certainly benefited.

This week, the Colts and Titans knock heads in the primetime affair. Oddsmakers opened the total at 42 and it has since dropped to 40. The last six meetings between these two teams have gone ‘under’ the total. Tennessee owns the third best defense in the league, averaging 11 points per game. We haven’t seen a clear-cut ‘under’ on MNF, but this one definitely has all the makings.

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Four at Four
By Brian Edwards

With no prime-time game Sunday due to the World Series, bettors have to put an extra emphasis on a quartet of games starting shortly after 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Let’s take a look at all four matchups.

**Browns at Jaguars**

--Most books are listing Jacksonville (3-3 straight up, 2-4 against the spread) as a seven-point favorite with a total of 42. Bettors can back the Browns on the money line for a plus-250 return (risk $100 to win $250).

--Jack Del Rio’s team is coming off an open date after winning 24-17 at Denver as a 3½-point underdog. Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard were the catalysts against the Broncos. Jones-Drew ran for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Garrard completed 25-of-34 passes for 276 yards, one TD and zero interceptions.

--For the season, Garrard hasn’t been as efficient as he was in 2007. He has a 4/4 touchdown-interception ratio. As for Jones-Drew, he’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has five rushing touchdowns.

--The Jags are in a second-place tie with Indianapolis in the AFC South. Both teams are three games behind the division-leading Titans, who take an unbeaten record into Monday’s home game against the Colts.

--Cleveland (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) saw its two-game winning streak snapped last week in a gut-wrenching 14-11 defeat at Washington. However, the Browns took the cash as seven-point underdogs, hooking up their backers for the third straight game.

--Like Garrard, Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson isn’t meeting the standards he set for himself in 2007. Anderson has connected on less than 50 percent of his throws and has a 6/6 TD-INT ratio.

--Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. is suspended for this game after making critical remarks about the organization stemming from the staph infection that led to his hospitalization two weeks ago.

--Jacksonville WR Matt Jones has been suspended for three games by the NFL, but he is expected to play this week while appealing the suspension.

--The Browns have been underdogs in every game this season. They are 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS on the road.

--The Jags are 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS at home this year.

--The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for the Browns, 2-1 in their road games. Meanwhile, the Jags have watched the ‘over’ go 2-1 in their home outings.

**Giants at Steelers**

--Most spots have installed Pittsburgh (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS) as either a 2½ or three-point favorite. Books are forcing bettors backing the Steelers at 2 ½ to pay double juice, while they can have the Steelers at even money if laying three. The total is 42, while the G-Men are plus-130 on the money line (risk $100 to win $130).

--Pittsburgh RB Willie Parker will miss his fourth consecutive game after it appeared he might play earlier in the week. WR Santonio Holmes is also “out” after getting arrested for possession of marijuana this week. In Parker’s absence, veteran RB Mewelde Moore has played well, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Moore had 120 rushing yards and three TDs (2 rushing, 1 receiving) last week against the Bengals. Holmes is Ben Roethlisberger’s second-favorite target, as he has 22 receptions for 360 yards and one TD this year.

New York (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS) bounced back from its lone defeat last week and blasted San Francisco 29-17. The Giants got a late cover as 10 ½-point favorites thanks to a safety late in the fourth quarter. Brandon Jacobs ran for a pair of touchdowns in the victory.

--Jacobs is enjoying a stellar season. He is seventh in the NFL in rushing yards with 516, but he has the best yards-per-carry average (5.4) of any of the league’s top 20 in rushing yards. Jacobs also has six rushing TDs. Tom Coughlin has an incredible 1-2 punch in the backfield that includes back-up Derrick Ward, who is averaging an eye-opening 7.2 YPC.

--Other than a brutal performance in the loss at Cleveland on MNF a couple of weeks ago, Eli Manning has picked up where he left off in the Giants’ improbable run to a Super Bowl title last year. Manning has the best QB rating of his career (89.1) and an 8/4 TD-INT ratio.

--Roethlisberger has really carried his team this season, particularly in narrow victories over Baltimore and Jacksonville. For the season, he has a 9/3 TD-INT ratio. Roethlisberger threw for 216 yards and a pair of TDs in last week’s 38-10 win at Cincinnati.

--Mike Tomlin’s team is 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS at Heinz Field this season. The Steelers went 6-3 ATS at home during Tomlin’s first season in 2007.

--Pittsburgh is No. 1 in the NFL in total defense and pass defense.

--The ‘over’ is 4-2 overall for the Steelers, 2-0 in their home games. The ‘over’ has hit in three straight games for Pittsburgh regardless of venue.

--The ‘over’ is 4-1-1 overall for the Giants, 2-0 in their road games.

**Seahawks at 49ers**

--Most books are listing San Francisco (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) as a five-point favorite with a total of 41. Bettors can back the Seahawks to win outright for a plus-190 payout (risk $100 to win $190).

--After losing four consecutive games both SU and ATS, the 49ers fired Mike Nolan seven games into his fourth season at the helm. Associate head coach Mike Singletary, the legendary Hall of Fame linebacker who led the Bears to the 1985 Super Bowl, has been named the interim coach and will have a better-than-decent chance to keep the job on a full-time basis if he can get this team back on track.

--Seattle (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS) has a lame-duck coach in Mike Holmgren, who might be a candidate either in the front office or as the future coach of the 49ers, who he spent many years with under Bill Walsh before taking the Green Bay head-coaching job.

--The Seahawks have lost three in a row, but they did manage to produce a backdoor cover for their backers in a 20-10 loss last week at Tampa Bay. Seneca Wallace’s two-yard TD pass to John Carlson with 1:55 left allowed Seattle to take the cash as an 11 ½-point underdog.

--Seattle veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck is going to miss his third straight game with a back injury. The Seahawks are hoping he can return for next week’s home game vs. Philadelphia.

--San Francisco’s totals have been a complete wash, as the ‘over’ is 3-3-1 overall, 2-2 in its home games.

--The ‘over’ cashed in Seattle’s first four games, but the ‘under’ has now hit in back-to-back outings. The ‘over’ is 2-1 in the Seahawks’ three road assignments.

--Seattle is 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS on the road this year. Meanwhile, the 49ers are 1-3 both SU and ATS at home.

**Bengals at Texans**

--Most books are listing Houston (2-4 SU, 1-4-1 ATS) as a 9½-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 45. Gamblers can take the Bengals to collect their first win for a plus-325 return (risk $100 to win $325).

--Gary Kubiak’s squad has won back-to-back contests after starting the season with four straight losses. However, the Texans have failed to cover the number in both recent victories. They beat Detroit 28-21 last week, but allowed the Lions to rally for a backdoor cover as 11-point underdogs.

--Cincinnati (0-7 SU, 2-5 ATS) is still without its franchise QB Carson Palmer, who continues to put off season-ending Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. The procedure seems to be inevitable, though, and bettors shouldn’t expect to Palmer in uniform again in 2008.

--Marvin Lewis’s team will also be without starting LB and first-round pick Keith Rivers, who went on injured reserve this week after sustaining a broken jaw on a nasty, albeit legal, crack-back block by Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward.

--Houston is 2-1 SU but just 0-2-1 ATS at home. On the flip side, Cincy is 0-4 SU and 2-2 ATS on the road.

--The ‘over’ is a perfect 6-0 in Houston games. On the other hand, the ‘under’ is 4-3 overall for the Bengals, 2-2 in their road outings.

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What bettors need to know: Giants at Steelers

New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 42)

The line

The line has stayed close to -3 for most of the week probably a clear signal oddsmakers think these two teams are evenly talented. The total dropped a point and most books have the number set at 42.5.

Steelers sans two offensive stars

Two of Pittsburgh’s best offensive players are expected to miss Sunday’s game between two of the past three Super Bowl champions.

WR Santonio Holmes, easily Pittsburgh’s top big-play threat, was deactivated after he was pulled over on Thursday with marijuana in his car. Nate Washington, who has TD catches of 48 and 50 yards in his past two games, will start in Holmes’ place.

"His situation has created somewhat of a distraction and we want to minimize that as much as we can and remain focused on the task at hand," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said.

Then there’s “Fast” Willie Parker, who hasn’t been moving too fast in recent weeks and hasn’t played since Week 3. Pittsburgh’s No. 1 running back had a setback with his troublesome knee this week, apparently stepping in a divot on the practice field. Parker, the NFL’s leading rusher after two games, didn’t practice Thursday or Friday and is officially listed as doubtful.

Mewelde Moore, who has 219 yards and two TDs in his last two games, should start at running back again this week.

What about Plax

Giants WR Plaxico Burress will play Sunday despite visiting the hospital on Thursday to find the cause of his lingering shoulder soreness.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Burress sustained a muscle injury and the injury isn’t too serious. The star receiver was listed as questionable on Thursday but did practice Friday and is now probable.

New York will need Burress’ talents going against the No .1 pass defense in the NFL.

Burress will return to Pittsburgh for the first time since signing with the Giants as a free agent following the 2004 season - the Steelers basically chose to extend Hines Ward over Burress back then and won a Super Bowl the following season.

By the numbers

Giants QB Eli Manning has been sacked just six times in 191 pass attempts, while the Steelers defense has 25 sacks this season. Linebackers James Harrison (8.5) and LaMarr Woodley (7.5) have totaled 16 sacks, tops among any teammate tandem.

Opponents are averaging just 2.9 yards per rush against Pittsburgh and haven't had a run longer than 15 yards. The Steelers are the only team to not have allowed a run longer than 20 yards this season.

The Giants, on the other hand, rank first in the NFL in rushing at 169.7 yards per game (including 5.7 yards per carry) and have an NFL-best 11 runs of 20 or more yards.

New York is 6-1 all-time when Brandon Jacobs rushes for 100 yards.

The Giants second-ranked offense may be inflated by the quality of opponents. New York has faced bottom-tier defenses (29th, 27th, 23rd, 19th and 18th) in five of its first six games. Pittsburgh’s No. 1 overall defense will be a better test for Eli and Co.

Pittsburgh has won nine in a row at home against NFC opponents.

The Giants are 6-0 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record, while the Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. winning teams.

The weather

It’s expected to rain Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, so field conditions could be better suited to a grind-it-out game. The winds may be upwards of 20 mph on Sunday afternoon.

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Five stats you need to know

1) The Philadelphia Eagles are 7-2 when coming off of their bye week. Philly is the healthy has been all season with a full stable of wideouts available for Sunday’s game. The Eagles should be rejuvenated after gaining ground in the NFC East over the last two weeks.

2) The Baltimore Ravens are 15-6 when favored at home against a non-divisional opponent. The points may seem a little big here against the Raiders this week but helping to encourage you to lay the wood is the fact Oakland is coming off of an exhausting OT win at home. The club’s fatigue should be heightened by having to travel across country for this game. The Raiders are just 6-12 in their last 18 games played in the Eastern Time zone. Additionally, the Raiders are only 8-16 in their last 24 games as a road dog facing a non-divisional opponent. The Ravens offense got rolling a bit at Miami last week and that should help if they’re going to cover the large number.

3) The Kansas City Chiefs are on a 4-11 ATS run. It may seem scary to lay the big points with the Jets off of an overtime loss to Oakland last week. However, even with a coast to coast trip, the Jets are happy to be back home and they have covered five of their last six as a home favorite against a non-divisional foe. Also, the Jets have fared well as a big fave having covered six of their last eight when giving six points or more. Statistically, Kansas City is easily one of the worst teams in the league while the Jets are better than many realize.

4) The Washington Redskins are 5-2 in their last seven as an away favorite. They had the game covered at Cleveland until a late score by the Browns stole the cash. This week the Redskins will take advantage of a weak Lions team. History is also on the Redskins’ side here. Detroit has covered just nine of its last 29 games when facing a conference foe. Detroit has covered just four of its last 14 games.

5) The Buffalo Bills are 8-2 in their last 10 games against divisional opponents. Miami has covered just twice in its last fifteen home games against divisional opponents. The Bills bring some momentum into this contest with last week’s domination of San Diego while Miami still could be reeling a bit after last week’s home loss.

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NFL cheat sheet: Week 8

Oakland at Baltimore (-7)

Why Raiders cover: New coach Tom Cable has opened up the passing offense. JaMarcus Russell is averaging 34 pass attempts and 213 yards per game in his last three compared to 20 attempts and 130 yards in his first three games.

Why Ravens cover: Have won four of five meetings. Home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups. Joe Flacco (232 yards, TD) is coming off his best game as a pro. Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against Baltimore.

Total (36): Under is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings.

Arizona at Carolina (-4)

Why Cardinals cover: Are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. Could get standout wide receiver Anquan Boldin back from sinus injury. Kurt Warner has passed for 922 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last five games versus Carolina.

Why Panthers cover: Have won four in a row over the Cardinals. Jake Delhomme has never lost to Arizona. Are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven home games.

Total (43.5): Under is 6-0 in Panthers’ last six games.

Tampa Bay at Dallas (-1)

Why Buccaneers cover: Have won three of last four meetings. Are 5-1 ATS in their last six games. Cowboys are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games. NFC’s sixth-ranked defense should have no problem pressuring immobile QB Brad Johnson.

Why Cowboys cover: Home team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings. DeMarcus Ware has been a beast with sacks in 11-consecutive games and nine so far this season.

Total (40.5): Over is 6-1 in Buccaneers’ last seven road games and 4-0 in Cowboys’ last four games overall.
Washington at Detroit (+9)

Why Redskins cover: Have won 18 of last 20 contests. Are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings. Jason Campbell has yet to be intercepted this season. Jim Zorn’s revamped offense is ranked seventh in the NFL.

Why Lions cover: Home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings. Clinton Portis will play with hip, ankle, shin and neck injuries. Rookie running back Kevin Smith is averaging close to five yards per carry. Campbell is dealing with a sore groin that could limit his mobility.

Total (42.5): Under is 5-0-1 in the last six meetings.

Buffalo at Miami (+1)

Why Bills cover: Are 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight meetings and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six in Miami. Have won seven of the last eight contests. Favorite is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight matchups. Trent Edwards appears fully recovered from his concussion.

Why Dolphins cover: Have covered in three of last four games. Chad Pennington is completing an incredible 68.6 percent of his passes.

Total (42): Over is 4-1 in Dolphins’ last five games.

St. Louis at New England (-7)

Why Rams cover: Are 2-0 straight up and ATS under new coach Jim Haslett. Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings. Patriots are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games. If Sammy Morris can’t play due to a knee injury suffered on Monday night, unproven Benjarvus Green-Ellis would get the nod at running back for New England.

Why Patriots cover: Have won last two meetings. Matt Cassel seems to be getting better each week. Rams are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games. Steven Jackson will play with a strained quad.

Total (43.5): Over is 4-1 in the Rams’ last five games.

San Diego at New Orleans (+3)

Why Chargers cover: Have won four of last five meetings. Saints will be without Reggie Bush who has a knee injury.

Why Saints cover: Will be Drew Brees’ first game against the team that drafted him. LaDainian Tomlinson (3.6 yards per carry, 4 TDs) has not been the force he was in past seasons.

Total (46): Over is 9-2-1 in Saints’ last 12 games.

Kansas City at N.Y. Jets (-13)

Why Chiefs cover: Are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games. Jets could be without Jerricho Cotchery (328 yards, 3 TDs) who is a game-time decision with a leg injury. Brett Favre has a sore shoulder and it could affect his downfield passing.

Why Jets cover: Chiefs will play again without suspended RB Larry Johnson. Tyler Thigpen (44.3 QB rating) will start for K.C. if Damon Huard (hand injury) can’t go. Thomas Jones is coming off a 159-yard performance and could have a big day against a Kansas City defense that allowed Tennessee to rush for over 300 yards last week.

Total (39): Under is 5-1 in Jets’ last six home games and 8-2 in their last 10 games overall.

Atlanta at Philadelphia (-9)

Why Falcons cover: Are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games. QB Matt Ryan has shown poise and composure in his rookie season. Have the NFL’s second best rushing attack.

Why Eagles cover: Have won three of last four meetings. Coming off bye week that allowed both RB Brian Westbrook and WR Kevin Curtis to recover from injuries. Falcons are 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine meetings.

Total (45.5): Under is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings.

Cleveland at Jacksonville (-7)

Why Browns cover: Are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games. Have won two straight games at Jacksonville. After a slow start, Braylon Edwards has 212 yards receiving in his last two games.

Why Jaguars cover: Have won eight of 10 meetings. Road team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings. Get center Brad Meester back from injury. Browns will play without suspended tight end Kellen Winslow.

Total (42): Under is 5-1 in Browns’ last six road games and 10-2 in their last 12 games overall.

Cincinnati at Houston (-9.5)

Why Bengals cover: Have won all three meetings. Texans are 1-5 ATS in their last six games. Houston is allowing close to 30 points per game.

Why Texans cover: Andre Johnson is on fire with 450 yards receiving and two TDs in his last three games. Cincinnati QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been sacked 15 times in his three starts this season. Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games.

Total (44): Over is 4-0 in Texans’ last four home games.

N.Y. Giants at Pittsburgh (-3)

Why Giants cover: Are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 road games and 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games overall. Have the league’s second best rushing attack averaging almost 170 yards per game.

Why Steelers cover: Have won two of last three meetings. Mewelde Moore has proven to be a solid replacement for the injured Willie Parker. Plaxico Burress is dealing with a sore shoulder and stiff neck.

Total (42): Over is 8-2 in Steelers’ last 10 games and 4-1 in Giants’ last five.

Seattle at San Francisco (-5)

Why Seahawks cover: 49ers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games and have allowed the most sacks in the league. Could have QB Matt Hasselbeck back under center. Have won six of last seven games against the NFC West.

Why 49ers cover: Playing first game under new coach Mike Singletary. Seattle running back Julius Jones lashed out at head coach Mike Holmgren after last week’s loss to Tampa Bay. Seahawks are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.

Total (41): Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.

Indianapolis at Tennessee (-4)

Why Colts cover: Have won eight of last 10 meetings. Are 5-0 ATS in their last five Monday games winning seven straight overall. Dominic Rhodes (146 yards, 3 TDs) has filled in admirably in the last two games for injured Joseph Addai.

Why Titans cover: Coming off franchise record with 332 rushing yards last week. Indianapolis has the league’s 28th ranked rush defense. Colts are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings. Holding opponents to 11-points per game.

Total (41): Under is 6-0 in the last six meetings.

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Re: NFL Gameday News and Notes

NFL Week 8 line-changing injuries

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets (-13.5, 39)

The Jets are giving an additional three points in this week to Chiefs because of injuries to Kansas City's quarterbacks. The shift means that New York is now a half point short of being two touchdown favorites despite losing to Oakland last weekend. Kansas City lost its top two quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last week and star running back Larry Johnson will not play again because of a prolonged suspension.

That means Tyler Thigpen will make his second start of the season behind center following his three-pick performance against Atlanta earlier this season. Not good news for an offense already ranked 29th.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (-1, 40.5)

Most sportsbooks have the Cowboys as 1.5-point favorites, but some have them as high as 2.5 points even after Tomy Romo announced that he could be out until mid-November with his finger injury. The Cowboys have also lost defensive backs Terence Newman and Roy Williams in recent weeks giving Buccaneers’ pivot Jeff Garcia an extra leg up and a chance to build on his massive passing performance from last week against Seattle.

The Tampa Bay defense is ninth in the league, meaning former Buc Brad Johnson, who led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl win in 2002, could be in for a long day.

Other key injuries bettors should monitor:

- RB Steven Jackson (Rams +7.5 vs. Pats). St. Louis says Jackson has a 50-50 chance of playing against New England.

- QB Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks +5.5 vs. 49ers). Mike Holmgren ruled out Hasselbeck so bettors should expect to see more Seneca Wallace.

- WR Anquan Boldin (+3.5 vs. Panthers). Reports indicate Boldin should play, but in limited action.

- RB Willie Parker (-3 vs. Giants). Parker practiced for most of the week but couldn't go on Friday. He's not expected to play and should miss his fourth-straight game.

- RB Brian Westbrook (-9.5 vs. Falcons). Westbrook practiced all week without any set backs. He listed as probable and should be a major factor in Sunday's game.

- WR Santonio Holmes (-3 vs. Giants). The Steelers deactivated Holmes after a marijuana misdemeanor earlier in the week. He will not play against the Giants.

- TE Jeremy Shockey (+3 vs. Chargers). The Saints tight end has been battling injuries all year. He is listed as probable for Sunday's contest in London.

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