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NFL: Gameday News and Notes

NFL: Gameday News and Notes

Early Action Preview
By Josh Jacobs

Continuing our coverage of Week 9 in the NFL, four 1:00 p.m. EDT quarrels will get underway. Whether or not you have money tied up on these contests is obviously your prerogative. Regardless of your financial interests or a fan based connection this is what we can expect from the continuing saga in professional tackle football.

Jets (+5½, 42) at Buffalo

Turnovers were the name of the game for both teams last week. Buffalo’s quarterback Trent Edwards was able to transform a positive turnover record into a frustrating day at the office when one fourth quarter interception thrown, one fumble on a third and one play plus a safety setting up Miami for a field goal all came together for the second loss of the season.

Now the Bills must recover when it hosts a Jets’ team that was loose with the pigskin in Week 8. Again, signal caller Brett Favre showed reckless abandonment with the football by tossing three picks, increasing his seasonal INTs to 11 on the season. Ok, so New York grabbed the close 28-24 win, but with Kansas City starting third string QB Tyler Thigpen and without its No. 1 running back, Larry Johnson the feelings were more subdued then expected. Add this up with Favre being sacked for a total of 16 times this season and a ground game looking unpredictable from week-to-week, the feeling in New York can best be described as insecure at best.

The Bills will have a problem with WR Josh Reed out with a sprained ankle and strained Achilles tendon. This means that wideouts, Roscoe Parish (who’s very capable of stepping it up), James Hardy and Steve Johnson must make the extra effort. And watch TE Robert Royal become more of a factor even though two fumbles this season should be reason for concern. Look for RB Marshawn Lynch (450 rushing yards, six TDs) to become the main focus for the Bills in this one. 

Buffalo has taken the last three victories straight up and against the spread, outscoring the Jets, 61-30. The Bills are also 7-3 ATS in the last 10 head-to-head games.

Detroit (+12½, 43) at Chicago

With Chicago forcing a league-high 16 turnovers and allowing a tight 85.9 YPG on the ground, Detroit faces one uphill climb. There shouldn’t be any reason why the Bears don’t come into this game with one mission, blowing the doors off the Lions that are ranked 29th in offense (288.9 YPG) and last in the NFL on defense (421.6 YPG allowed).

Take into account that Detroit slinger, Dan Orlovsky has passed the ball around for some decent numbers (638 passing yards, three TDs with no picks) but was creamed in his last spot against the Bears during Week 5 for only 97 passing yards on 23 attempts.

And that’s where we come full circle. Chicago took an easy 34-7 win in Detroit already this season with signal caller, Kyle Orton going air for 334 yards with two scores. The defense rose to the occasion by holding the Lions’ RBs Kevin Smith and Rudi Johnson to 54 yards. And the cherry on top of that ice cream Sunday was Bears’ CB Charles Tillman’s 26 yard interception return for a TD. Again, Chicago has been able to put the hand on ‘skin for 10 interceptions this season, so look for that to be a continuing trend when 1:00 rolls around.

Detroit has been a no show at the counter with a 3-12 ATS return in the last 15 games and 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.

Baltimore (+1, 36.5) at Cleveland

It was back on Nov. 21 that Baltimore running backs accounted for 151 yards (averaging 165.5 YPG on the ground this season) in an effort to bring down the then struggling Browns, 28-10. It may be a different story this time around as Cleveland is attempting to earn its fourth win in five games.

With all due respect, the Browns have defended the pass to perfection, allowing only 195 YPG, while 17.6 PG scored by the opposition isn’t anything to sneeze at (seventh best in the league). The problem emanates from the run stop ‘D’. Teams on the opposite side of the field have been like a wet paper bag (141.6 YPG allowed). And this is where Cleveland could be trounced on.

The Ravens have opened up their offense purse with RBs now contributing to 142.4 YPG. Then again, promising wideout Demetrius Williams will have season ending surgery on a bone spurt near his Achilles. Williams ranked right behind Derrick Mason with 13 catches.

The Browns are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 home games. The ‘under’ has been a lock with an 11-2 record in Cleveland’s last 13 games overall.

The home team is 7-2 ATS in its last nine meetings.

Arizona (-3, 48) at St. Louis

If you’re looking to back the Rams this week then there could be some value to be had in this contest. St. Louis is anywhere from three to 3 ½-point home underdogs after coming off a tough, 23-16 loss in New England last week. There is reason for optimism since Jim Haslett took over head coaching duties.

The Rams QB Marc Bulger has thrown for 603 yards with two scores and one pick in the last three games (last week’s loss witnessed Bulger go down field for 304 yards) and rookie WR Donnie Avery exploded onto the scene last week for 163 receiving yards and one TD.

Opposing arguments include the Cardinals veteran slinger, Kurt Warner having one of his best seasons in recent memory. This is a field general completing 70.2-percent of his passes, finding the end zone 14 times and holding down his turnovers to just six INTs.

And in goal line situations keep your eye on the Cardinals RB Tim Hightower as six scores on only 133 rushing yards indicates.

Trend wise, Arizona is 5-2 SU in the last seven meetings with St. Louis and 6-3 ATS in their last nine get-togethers. The Rams have been able to cover their last three games, while the ‘Cards are 4-0 on the ‘over’ in the last four.

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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes

Week 9 Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

**Texans at Vikings**

-Caesars Palace installed Minnesota as a five-point home ‘chalk’ over Houston, with the total set at 47. CBS Sports will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Houston (3-4 straight up, 2-4 against the spread) is riding a three-game SU winning streak after throttling Cincinnati last weekend as a nine-point home favorite, 35-6. The combined 41 points went ‘under’ the 45-point closing total, ending a six-game ‘over’ streak.

-The Texans enjoyed advantages in first downs (23-16), passing yards (280-148), turnovers forced (3-0) and time of possession (35:11-24:49). Quarterback Matt Schaub was 24-of-28 passing for 280 yards with three touchdowns, while favorite target Andre Johnson caught 11 passes for 143 yards.

-Minnesota (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) had its modest two-game winning streak snapped after falling to Chicago October 19 as a three-point road underdog, 48-41. The combined 89 points soared past the 38-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 3-1 the previous four games. The Vikings enter this contest fresh off their bye week.

-Minnesota finished the contest with advantages in first downs (28-20), passing yards (284-274), rushing yards (155-53), and time of possession (35:07-24:53), but the team was unable to overcome a 5-1 turnover disadvantage. Signal caller Gus Frerotte completed 25-of-40 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions, while Adrian Peterson had 22 carries for 121 yards and two scores.

-The Vikings upended the Texans in overtime during the last meeting back in 2004 as a 3 ½-point road ‘chalk,’ 34-28. The combined 62 points eclipsed the 50-point closing total.

-Houston running back Ahman Green (leg), tight end Mark Bruener (hamstring) and safety Dominique Barber (hamstring) are ‘questionable’ against the Vikings.

-Minnesota safety Madieu Williams (neck) is ‘probable’ versus the Texans, while wide receiver Sidney Rice (knee) and linebacker David Herron (hip) are ‘questionable.’

**Jaguars at Bengals**

-Caesars Palace opened Jacksonville as a 7½-point road favorite over Cincinnati, with the total listed at 39. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, with CBS Sports providing coverage.

-Jacksonville (3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS) has alternated SU wins and losses the past four games after falling to Cleveland last weekend as a seven-point home ‘chalk,’ 23-17. The combined 40 points failed to topple the 42-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the second consecutive contest.

-The Jaguars led in almost every category except turnovers forced (1-0) and final score. Quarterback David Garrard was 25-of-42 passing for 283 yards with two touchdowns, while rushing seven times for 59 yards in the setback.

-Cincinnati (0-8 SU, 2-6 ATS) is still searching for its first victory of the year after falling to Houston last weekend as a nine-point road underdog, 35-6. The combined 41 points went below the 45-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 5-3.

-Signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20-of-32 passing for 155 yards with two interceptions, while rushing seven times for 42 yards. Running back Cedric Benson paced the ground game with 13 carries for 49 yards in the setback, while wideout TJ Houshmandzadeh contributed with eight receptions for 54 yards.

-The Jaguars upended the Bengals during the last meeting in 2005 as a three-point home favorite, 23-20. The combined 43 points went ‘over’ the 38 ½-point closing total.

-Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Walker (knee) is expected to miss this matchup with the Bengals.

-Cincinnati cornerback Jamar Fletcher (hamstring), linebacker Corey Mays (ankle) and tight end Ben Utecht (chest) are ‘probable’ against the Jaguars, while wide receiver Jerome Simpson (ankle) is ‘doubtful.’ Defensive tackle Domata Peko (ankle) and wide receiver Glenn Holt (shoulder) are ‘questionable.’

-Sunday’s forecast calls for Cincinnati, Ohio partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain, projecting a high of 69 degrees and a low of 46.

**Buccaneers at Chiefs**

-Caesars Palace lists Tampa Bay as an eight-point road ‘chalk’ over Kansas City, with the total set at 36½. FOX Sports will provide coverage of this matchup starting at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Tampa Bay (5-3 SU and ATS) takes the field for the first time since falling to Dallas last weekend as a 1 ½-point road underdog, 13-9. The combined 22 points never seriously threatened the 40½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash its fourth game in a row.

-Quarterback Jeff Garcia completed 27-of-43 passes for 227 yards, while Earnest Graham ran 17 times for 42 yards. Wideout Antonio Bryant contributed with six receptions for 45 yards in the setback. Kicker Matt Bryant provided all the points by connecting on 3-of-4 field goal attempts.

-Kansas City (1-6 SU, 3-4 ATS) fell to the New York Jets last weekend as a 14-point road underdog, 28-24. The combined 52 points toppled the 40 ½-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to improve to 4-1 the past five games.

-The Chiefs kept the game close by picking off New York’s Brett Favre three times. Signal caller Tyler Thigpen was 25-of-36 passing for 280 yards with two touchdowns, while Jamaal Charles paced the ground game with five carries for 45 yards.

-The Bucs beat the Chiefs during the last meeting back in 2004 as a three-point home underdog, 34-31. The combined 65 points soared ‘over’ the 45-point closing total.

-Tampa Bay defensive tackle Jovan Haye (foot), fullback B.J. Askew (hamstring) and wide receiver Maurie Stovall (hamstring) are ‘questionable’ versus the Chiefs, while offensive guard Arron Sears (concussion) and running back Warrick Dunn (back) are ‘doubtful.’

-Kansas City running back Larry Johnson (disciplinary) is ‘doubtful’ against the Bucs, while safety Jarrad Page (groin), cornerback Patrick Surtain (quad), running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) and punter Dustin Colquitt (groin) are ‘questionable.’

-Sunday’s forecast calls for Kansas City, Missouri partly cloudy skies with a 20 percent chance of rain, projecting a high of 75 degrees with a low of 60.

**Packers at Titans**

-Caesars Palace opened Tennessee as a 5½-point home favorite over Green Bay, with the total listed at 41. FOX Sports will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Green Bay (4-3 SU and ATS) has put together back-to-back victories SU and ATS after pounding Indianapolis Oct. 19 as a home ‘pick,’ 34-14. The combined 48 points slithered ‘over’ the 47-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 5-2. The Packers followed that victory by going on their bye week.

-Green Bay intercepted the Colts’ Peyton Manning twice, including a 99-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter that iced the game. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was 21-of-28 passing for 186 yards with a touchdown, while Ryan Grant had 31 carries for 105 yards with a score.

-Tennessee (7-0 SU and ATS) remains the lone unbeaten team in the league after topping Indianapolis on Monday Night Football as a four-point home favorite, 31-21. The combined 52 points eclipsed the 41-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 4-1 the past five games.

-Quarterback Kerry Collins completed 24-of-37 passes for 193 yards, while Chris Johnson paced the ground game with 19 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.

-The Titans throttled the Packers back in 2004 as a 3 ½-point road underdog, 48-27, while the combined 75 points soared ‘over’ the 45-point closing total.

-Green Bay defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring), strong safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), cornerback Al Harris (spleen) and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (back) are ‘probable’ against the Titans, while wide receiver James Jones (knee) and defensive end Michael Montgomery (ankle) are ‘questionable.’

-Tennessee linebacker Colin Allred (groin), running back Quinton Ganther (concussion), defensive end Dave Ball (concussion), defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and cornerback Reynaldo Hill (hamstring) are ‘questionable’ versus the Packers.

-Sunday’s forecast for Nashville, Tennessee calls for mostly sunny skies with a 20 percent chance of rain, projecting a high of 72 degrees and a low of 45.

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Some midway odds and ends
Associated Press

Bill Belichick was asked this week about Peyton Manning's subpar performance against Tennessee last Monday night.

``He looked pretty good to me,'' replied the New England coach, whose team will face Manning and the Colts on Sunday night. ``I don't think he is injured. He hasn't been on the injury report, so I am assuming he is not hurt.''

Pure coachspeak and probably a shot at the Tony Dungy/Bill Polian/Colts injury report. When Tom Brady was healthy, Belichick, who always has played his own games with the report, listed him as ``probable-shoulder.''

In any language, Manning is clearly not Manning this season after missing camp following what we now know were two procedures on his knee. He is 22nd in the passer rating at 79.0, about 25-30 points below his usual mark, and about 20 spots in the rankings from where he's been for the last half-dozen seasons. Even Matt Cassel, Brady's replacement, is above him.

But numbers are only part of the story. On Monday night, he looked like a pitcher on a day when he's just missing the corners and his 95 mph fastball is down to 88 - Pedro Martinez with the Mets compared to Pedro Martinez with the Red Sox. He wasn't totally ineffective, but a dozen of his throws seemed off. Not by a lot, but by enough to make a difference.

Yes, the Colts have a lot of injuries. Yes, the old Marvin Harrison isn't the young Marvin Harrison. But let's not pretend that Peyton is Peyton.

He's only 32, so it's probably the knee. Or another injury that no one's telling us about.

Some other odds and ends as the NFL reaches the halfway mark:

IT'S WHAT'S UP FRONT THAT COUNTS: This used to be an advertising slogan for a cigarette brand back in the days when smoking was widespread and television advertising was permitted. It's always been the perfect slogan for winning football teams.

Here's the best example.

The Tennessee Titans have 18 sacks and have allowed two, the fewest in the NFL. The New York Giants have 26 sacks, most in the league, and have allowed six. Those two teams are a combined 13-1 and lead their respective conferences. Yes, glamour stats by skill-position players are all the rage with fantasy football players. But guys in the trenches win games.

To that end, will someone outside Tennessee please acknowledge Michael Roos, the Titans' left tackle, who could end up being another example of what a farce the Pro Bowl has become. Unless he makes it.

Roos, who absolutely stoned Dwight Freeney on Monday night, is one of the reasons the Titans have allowed just two sacks, even with the immobile Kerry Collins at quarterback. The Titans recognized him in the offseason with a six-year, $43 million contract, then gave David Stewart, who plays on the other side, $38.9 million.

That's a demonstration of a team spending its money the right way. But it doesn't guarantee fame.

Roos, who was born in Estonia and moved to the United States when he was 10, was never a glamorous college star, like Alabama's Andre Smith, a left tackle who is likely to be a top five draft pick if he comes out next April. He was a second-round choice in 2005 from Eastern Washington, which doesn't quite get the amount of national TV time as the Crimson Tide get.

So he may be the best left tackle in the NFL right now and one of the league's least recognized stars.

THE CONVERSE: Pittsburgh's offensive line, hurt by free-agent defections and injuries, has allowed 24 sacks. The Steelers lost to the Giants because they allowed five sacks and had none themselves after coming in leading the league in that category. At 5-2, they should win the AFC North and certainly have the talent elsewhere to advance in the playoffs.

But the OL is making Ben Roethlisberger vulnerable; he rested with a sore shoulder again this week. It's hard to win a Super Bowl when your quarterback is constantly taking a beating.

JIM HASLETT: The NFL has voided the section of the contract he signed when he was appointed interim coach of the Rams that would automatically make the job permanent if he won six games. That's because of the Rooney rule, which requires that a team interview minority candidates before making a permanent hire.

In the long run, it probably doesn't matter. If Haslett isn't rehired by the Rams after they do their due diligence, he should be hired by someone else in a year where coaching vacancies could reach double digits.

Rule out only the Lions because:

-His surname doesn't start with ``M.''

-He's a winner: 2-1 in St. Louis and was 43-39 in New Orleans until his final 3-13 2005 season, when he had to act as owner, general manager, coach, travel coordinator and everything else as the Saints tried to survive the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But he's fair game for anyone else, including the Rams.

It would be a shock if he doesn't land somewhere after so quickly turning around a demoralized team with marginal talent. Although someone in St. Louis knew what he was doing by making Donnie Avery the first wide receiver taken in the draft.

SINGLETARY'S RANT: Mike Singletary got a lot of praise in his debut as a head coach with the 49ers. First for calling out the underachieving Vernon Davis and sending the tight end off the field, then for going public on it.

But he also was questioned for criticizing a player in public rather than in private. And for carrying on like a high school coach rather than one in the NFL.

On balance, Singletary did the right thing.

It gave him credibility with fans who are tired of highly paid prima donnas who don't perform and probably with those players who are tired of working hard and watching others slack off. It's one way to assure those players who want to continue to work hard that you won't tolerate other guys mailing in their performances.

But Singletary's best chance of keeping his team's attention - and in the long run keeping his job - might be to loosen up after the first barrage. Most head coaches learn that a carrot and stick approach works only for so long, and that it's better to get to know 53 individuals and learn what motivates each one.

Singletary was a fiery player and a vocal leader on the Bears of the '80s. But he's in a different position now, a rare one in any sport. Few Hall of Fame players have the patience to tutor those to whom the game comes less easily.

Singletary might take a lesson from Tom Coughlin, a tough disciplinarian who saved his job at age 60 by changing some of his inflexible rules and went on to win a Super Bowl with a team full of strong personalities.

His approach is selective. He still fines Plaxico Burress on a regular basis and suspended him for a game for not showing up for a bye-week session. But he also has formed a leadership council of a dozen players as a bridge between him and the rank-and-file.

In the long term, it's important that Singletary succeeds. Because if he does, some ``me-first'' players will get the signal - not only in San Francisco but around the NFL.

If not, they may shrug him off as just another loser trying to tell millionaires what to do.

DIRTY DOZEN: The top six and bottom six teams in the NFL based on current level of play:

1. Tennessee (7-0). Two sacks allowed all season. Dull wins.

2. New York Giants (6-1). Dave Tollefson, Madison Hedgecock and Domenik Hixon, all productive, were picked up on waivers from Oakland, St. Louis and Denver. Like extra draft picks.

3. Carolina (6-2). Everyone gets to throw out a bad game. In this case, the Panthers' loss in Tampa.

4. Pittsburgh (5-2). Nobody shut down the Giants' run game like the Steelers did last week.

5. Washington (6-2). Clinton Portis is the first half MVP.

6. New England (5-2). For people who thought the Patriots would disappear.

27. Seattle (2-5). Beating the 49ers doesn't really count.

28. San Francisco (2-6). Singletary can rant, but he needs players, specifically a QB.

29. Oakland (2-5). The Bay Area has been barren for a long time.

30. Kansas City (1-6). Maybe Tyler Thigpen has a future.

31. Cincinnati (0-8). Pointing toward the final-week showdown with the Chiefs.

32. Detroit (0-7). When will Calvin Johnson start suggesting that his immense talent might fit better elsewhere?

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NFL line-shifting injuries: Week 9

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-9)

The Cowboys have dropped from a half-point to two points for this week’s crucial battle against their NFC East rivals from New York. Pro Bowl TE Jason Witten is questionable with a broken rib. Witten is the team’s leading receiver, and with starting pivot Tony Romo already on the bench, this is the worst thing that could have happened to the Cowboys. Also, Felix Jones was held out of practice with a hamstring problem, which would place more pressure on Marion Barber.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-6)

The Colts have been docked a half-point by most books, even though they should have defensive leader Bob Sanders back from ankle and knee problems. Reggie Wayne’s knee has the wide receiver listed as questionable, while tailback Joseph Addai’s status is still up in the air because of an ailing hamstring. The Indianapolis offense has struggled all year because of injuries, and this week could be another tough outing for Peyton Manning and Company.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins (-1.5)

Oddsmakers have given the Redskins (-1.5) a half-point due to a lingering shoulder injury to Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben had an awful four-pick game against the Giants last week, and his shoulder may be a reason for that (as well as the successful New York pass rush). The Steelers should have Willie Parker in the backfield as the running back’s knee is almost fully healed. Washington has their own problems, with defensive players Jason Taylor and Shawn Springs still bothered by calf injuries. Santana Moss (hamstring) is questionable while Clinton Portis (ankle) is probable despite missing practice this week.

Other notable injuries:

Willis McGahee - The Ravens running back is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cleveland.

Larry Johnson - Kansas City's powerful back has been suspended for this week's contest against Tampa Bay.

Steven Jackson - St. Louis' franchise RB will be a game-time decision again after missing last week because of a leg injury.

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Houston (3-4, 2-5 ATS) at Minnesota (3-4, 2-5 ATS)

The Texans gun for their fourth straight victory when they travel to the Metrodome for a non-conference clash with the Vikings.

Houston pounded Cincinnati 35-6 last week as a nine-point home chalk, getting their third consecutive SU win while halting a three-game ATS slide. QB Matt Schaub (24 of 28, 280 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) was nearly perfect as the Texans had no turnovers, forced three and finished with a more than 10-minute edge in time of possession. Houston also outgained Cincy 384-253.

Minnesota, which had its bye last week, lost to Chicago in a 48-41 shootout as a three-point road underdog two weeks ago, giving the SU winner a 19-2-2 ATS mark in the Vikes’ last 23 games dating to the 2007 season opener (6-1 ATS this season). Minnesota outgained the Bears 439-327 and had a 10-minute time-of-possession edge, but had five turnovers – including four Gus Frerotte INTs – and the Bears had a fumble-return TD and recovered a muffed punt for a score.

These franchises have met only once, with Minnesota taking a 34-28 overtime win in 2004 laying nine points on the road.

The Texans carry several negative pointspread streaks, including 2-5 overall, 3-8 in roadies against the NFC, 1-5 overall on the road and 1-6 on artificial turf. The Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following the bye, but otherwise they’re on ATS skids of 2-8 overall, 0-4 against losing teams, 1-4 at the dome and 2-5 after a non-cover.

The over for Houston is on runs of 8-1 overall (6-1 this season) and 5-0 on the road, and the over for Minnesota is on tears of 10-1-1 following the bye, 12-3-1 after a pointspread defeat and 7-2-1 after a SU loss.


Jacksonville (3-4, 2-5 ATS) at Cincinnati (0-8, 2-6 ATS)

The hapless Bengals, still seeking their first win, welcome the underachieving Jaguars to Paul Brown Stadium.

Cincinnati got pelted 35-6 at Houston as a nine-point pup for its third straight double-digit loss and its third straight non-cover. In fact,  the Bengals’ margin of defeat has increased in each of the last six games. Cincy remains without QB Carson Palmer (elbow), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (20 of 32, 155 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 lost fumble) was simply overwhelmed by the Texans. The Bengals finished with just 253 total yards, while allowing 384.

Jacksonville was stunned by Cleveland 23-17 as a seven-point home chalk for its third ATS setback in the last four games. The Jags dominated statistically, with a 380-327 yardage edge and 10 minutes more in time of possession, but special teams sealed their fate, as they had a field goal blocked and fumbled a fourth-quarter kickoff, leading to the Browns’ go-ahead field goal.

Jacksonville is on a 4-0 SU run (3-0-1 ATS) against Cincinnati, but these two haven’t faced each other since 2005, when the Jags took a 23-20 home win laying three points. Jacksonville is on ATS runs in this rivalry of 7-2-1 overall and 4-1 in Cincy, and the favorite is 10-4-1 ATS in the last 15 clashes.

The Bengals are on ATS downfalls of 1-4 overall, 9-20-1 at home (0-3 this year), 0-6 against the AFC, 1-6 against losing teams and 4-8 as a non-division home ‘dog. The Jaguars are in ATS ruts of 2-5 overall and 4-9 as a road chalk, but they are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 on the highway and 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a SU loss.

The over is 5-2-1 in the last eight games between these two in Cincinnati, and the over for Jacksonville is on tears of 13-4-2 overall, 5-1 against losing teams and 8-2-1 on the road. However, for Cincinnati, the under is on stretches of 10-4 overall and 5-1 at home.


Tampa Bay (5-3 SU and ATS) at Kansas City (1-6, 3-4 ATS)

The Buccaneers, who had a two-game winning streak snapped last week, look to bounce back at Arrowhead Stadium in a non-conference contest against the struggling Chiefs.

Tampa Bay is coming off a 13-9 loss at Dallas, failing to cash as a one-point road pup for its second consecutive ATS setback after five straight spread-covers. QB Jeff Garcia chucked the ball 43 times but really didn’t get much bang for his buck, completing 27 passes for just 227 yards with no TDs or INTs. The Bucs gained just 262 total yards and committed the game’s only turnover, losing despite holding the Cowboys to 172 total yards.

Kansas City put up a fight last Sunday but still fell short in a 28-24 loss to the New York Jets, though it did cash as a heavy 14-point road ‘dog, halting a two-game ATS hiccup. Tyler Thigpen (25 of 36, 280 yards, 2 TDs), the latest entrant in the Chiefs’ musical QBs contest, had a solid day, and K.C. won the turnover battle 3-0 – all Brett Favre INTs – but the Chiefs let Favre get his second TD pass of the day with just over a minute remaining to decide the game.

These teams have met just twice in the past 10 years, with Tampa going 2-0 SU and ATS. Most recently, the Bucs earned a 34-31 home win as a three-point underdog in 2004.

The Buccaneers are 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS in their last seven as a non-division road favorite, but they are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a SU setback. Meanwhile, despite cashing last week, the Chiefs are on nothing but negative ATS runs, including 2-8-1 at home, 1-4 after a spread-cover, 1-4 against winning teams and 3-9 on grass.

The under is on a 4-0 run overall for Tampa Bay, but the total has cleared the posted price in six of the Bucs’ last eight road games, and the over for Kansas City is on streaks of 4-1 overall and 7-2 at home.


Baltimore (4-3, 5-2 ATS) at Cleveland (3-4, 5-2 ATS)

The Ravens will go after their third straight victory when they head to Ohio for an AFC North battle with the Browns.

Baltimore rolled over Oakland 29-10 laying nine points for its second consecutive win and cover, giving the SU winner a 16-2 ATS mark in the Ravens’ last 18 contests (6-1 ATS this year). Rookie QB Joe Flacco (12 of 24, 140 yards, 1 TD, no turnovers) still isn’t being asked to do much, though he did have a 43-yard reception on a trick play to help set up a field goal. Baltimore rushed for 192 yards and dominated on defense, allowing just 234 total yards, no first-half points and recording a safety.

Cleveland pulled off a 23-17 upset at Jacksonville catching seven points, moving to 4-0 ATS (3-1 SU) in its last four games. QB Derek Anderson (14 of 27, 246 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) was serviceable enough, and the Browns made up for a 10-minute deficit in time of possession by blocking a field goal and recovering a fumbled kickoff – both in the fourth quarter.

Cleveland is on a 5-1 ATS run (3-3 SU) in this rivalry, but in Week 3 this season, Baltimore scored a 28-10 home win giving one point. The host is 7-2 ATS in the last nine matchups, with the Browns cashing in the last four meetings in Cleveland.

The Ravens are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games and 4-0 ATS in their last four division tilts, but they’re still on pointspread slides of 8-22 overall on the highway and 5-11 in division road games. The Browns, meanwhile, sport a plethora of positive ATS trends, including 17-5 overall, 9-1 at home, 14-3 against winning teams and 6-2 inside the division.

The over for Baltimore is on streaks of 10-4 overall, 8-2-1 in division play and 5-2 in roadies, but the under for Cleveland is on runs of 11-2 overall, 7-1 against the AFC and 5-1 at home.


N.Y. Jets (4-3, 3-4 ATS) at Buffalo (5-2, 4-3 ATS)

The Bills, who have dropped two of three after a 5-0 start, will try to get back on track at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a crucial AFC East battle against the Jets.

Buffalo tumbled to Miami 25-16 as a one-point road ‘dog, giving the SU winner a 6-1 ATS mark for the Bills this season. QB Trent Edwards (21 of 35, 227 yards, 0 TDs) had a miserable fourth quarter, throwing an INT, losing a fumble, then getting sacked for a safety on three consecutive drives. Buffalo added another turnover on its final drive, finishing with a 4-1 deficit in that category in an otherwise evenly played game.

New York barely got past Kansas City 28-24, but never threatened to cash as a healthy 14-point chalk for its second straight ATS defeat, marking the first time the SU winner hasn’t covered in the Jets’ seven games this year. QB Brett Favre (28 of 40, 290 yards, 2 TDs) threw three INTs and now has a league-worst 11 picks, but he hooked up with Laveranues Coles late on the game-winning TD pass. The Jets D failed to force a turnover.

Buffalo is on a 3-0 SU and ATS run in this series – all as an underdog – including a 17-14 home win last year as a 3½-point pup. The Bills are 7-2 ATS in the last nine clashes (4-1 ATS in Buffalo), but the underdog has pulled off five straight upset victories in this rivalry.

The Bills are on ATS streaks of 4-0 after a non-cover, 4-1 after a SU loss, 14-4 on turf, 12-4 at home and 7-2 as a division home chalk. The Jets have cashed in six consecutive games as a divisional road underdog, but they are mired in ATS funks of 1-4 against the AFC, 2-7 after a SU win and 2-6 on turf.

The under is 8-3 in New York’s last 11 overall and is 4-1 in the Jets’ last five on the road, but the over for Buffalo is on runs of 7-1 on turf and 6-1 at home, and in this rivalry, the over is on streaks of 5-2 overall and 6-2 in Buffalo.


Arizona (4-3 SU and ATS) at St. Louis (2-5, 3-4 ATS)

Two NFC West rivals that have performed well lately at the betting window get together when the Cardinals travel to the Edward Jones Dome to take on the Rams.

Arizona had Carolina on the ropes last week, taking a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter before getting outscored 24-6 the rest of the way in a 27-23 setback. However, the Cards cashed as a five-point pup cashed for its third straight spread-cover. The SU winner is still 14-2 ATS in Arizona’s last 16 contests (6-1 ATS this year). QB Kurt Warner (35 of 49, 381 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) had a monster day as Arizona abandoned the run, but the Cardinals’ two turnovers – a fumble and an INT, both in the second half – were ultimately converted into 10 Carolina points.

St. Louis gave New England all it could handle a week ago before losing 23-16, but as a nine-point pup, the Rams covered for the third consecutive week. Prior to last week’s result, the SU winner had been 9-0 ATS in St. Louis’ previous nine outings. QB Marc Bulger (18 of 34, 304 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) had a solid game, but his lone INT ended the Rams’ potential game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.

Arizona has won three in a row in this NFC West rivalry (2-1 ATS), though St. Louis covered at home in a 34-31 loss as a 3½-point pup last year. The Redbirds are 5-2 ATS in their last seven trips to St. Louis, but the underdog is on an 8-1 ATS roll in the last nine clashes.

The Cardinals are on ATS runs of 6-2 overall, 4-1 against the NFC, 7-3 inside the division and 11-4 after a SU loss. Meanwhile, despite their current 3-0 ATS streak, the Rams are on pointspread dips of 3-7 overall, 2-8 in home division contests, 1-4 overall at the dome, 3-10 against winning teams and 19-40-1 after a SU loss.

In this rivalry, the over is on runs of 4-1 overall and 5-1 in St. Louis. Furthermore, the over for Arizona is on tears of 36-17 overall, 39-15 on the highway and 4-0 on turf, and for St. Louis, the over is on stretches of 7-3 overall and 6-0 at home.


Detroit (0-7, 2-5 ATS) at Chicago (4-3, 4-2-1 ATS)

The Bears, who had their bye last week, should be well-rested for arguably the league’s worst team when the Lions roll into Soldier Field.

Chicago fended off Minnesota in a 48-41 shootout two weeks ago as a three-point favorite, giving the SU winner a 19-1-1 ATS mark in the Bears’ last 21 games. Chicago was dominated in total yards, allowing 439 while gaining 327, and had a 10-minute time-of-possession deficit, but QB Kyle Orton (21 of 32, 283 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) had a strong outing. The Bears also forced a whopping five turnovers (4 INTs) and scored off a blocked punt and a botched Vikings punt return.

Detroit lost to Washington 25-17 last week, coming up just short as a seven-point home underdog to halt a two-game ATS surge. The Lions, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15 going back to last year (3-12 ATS), actually led 10-6 at halftime, then got outscored 19-7 in the second half, allowing two big plays from Santana Moss – a 50-yard TD catch and an 80-yard punt return for a TD. QB Dan Orlovsky (21 of 25, 233 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) helped Detroit avoid any turnovers, but the Lions were outgained by a whopping 439-274 margin and lost the time-of-possession battle by nearly a quarter.

Chicago pounded Detroit 34-7 four weeks ago as a 3½-point road chalk, ending a 3-0 ATS run by the Lions in this NFC North rivalry. However, the underdog is still 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings.

The Bears are on a 2-7 ATS plunge coming off the bye, but they carry several positive ATS trends, including 7-2-1 overall, 4-1 at Soldier Field, 4-0 inside the division and 7-3 in home division games. Conversely, in addition to their ongoing 3-12 ATS freefall, the Lions are on spread slumps of 0-4 against winning teams, 4-10-1 against division foes, 6-14 on the road and 3-9 after a SU loss.

The over for Detroit is on runs of 9-3-1 overall, 4-1 on grass and 6-2 on the highway, and for the Bears, the over is on streaks of 18-5 at home, 5-1 on grass and 25-9-1 against NFC opponents.


Green Bay (4-3 SU and ATS) at Tennessee (7-0 SU and ATS)

The scorching-hot Titans, who remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten squad, will try to keep their perfect SU and ATS records intact when they welcome the Packers to LP Field for a non-conference affair.

Tennessee got off to a slow start Monday night against Indianapolis, then rolled up 25 second-half points to breeze to a 31-21 win and cover as a four-point home chalk. The SU winner is now 15-1-1 ATS in the Titans’ last 17 outings. Against Indy, QB Kerry Collins (24 of 37, 193 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) was far from spectacular, but he led an offense that committed no turnovers. The defense, meanwhile, picked off Peyton Manning twice and stifled Indy on consecutive fourth-down attempts in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay, which had its bye last week, is also coming off a win over Indianapolis, posting a 34-14 rout as a one-point home pup two weeks ago for its second straight win and cover. QB Aaron Rodgers (21 of 28, 186 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) was steady, and the Packers defense picked off Manning twice – with Aaron Rouse returning the second one 99 yards for a TD late in the game.

The SU winner is 15-1-1 ATS in Tennessee’s last 17 games overall and 24-0-1 in Green Bay’s last 25 contests dating to the 2007 season-opener.

These teams have met in each of the past four preseasons, but they haven’t had a regular-season tilt since 2004, when Tennessee rumbled to a 48-27 road win catching 3½ points. In this past preseason finale for both squads, the Titans won 23-21 in Green Bay, but the Packers cashed as a 6½-point home pup.

Along with their season-long 7-0 ATS run, the Titans are on several more pointspread streaks, including 15-4 hosting an NFC team, 7-0 after a SU win and 4-0 at LP Field. The Packers also sport a pack of positive ATS trends, including 20-8-1 overall, 11-3-1 on the highway, 6-3 against AFC foes and 13-5 after a SU win.

The over for Tennessee is on streaks of 4-1 overall and 5-2-1 at home, but the under is 6-1-1 in the Titans’ last nine against winning teams. Green Bay is on “over” streaks of 22-8-1 overall, 7-1 against winning teams and 37-18-2 in road games.


Miami (3-4, 4-3 ATS) at Denver (4-3, 1-5-1 ATS)

The Broncos, who had a bye last week but whose defense has seemingly been on hiatus all season, return to action at Invesco Field at Mile High in a matchup with the Dolphins.

Denver got blasted 41-7 two Mondays ago at New England as a three-point pup for its fifth straight non-cover. The Broncos had four first-half turnovers that led to a 20-0 halftime deficit, and they finished with five turnovers – including two INTs from QB Jay Cutler – while forcing none. Cutler (17 of 26, 168 yards, 1 TD) had a poor showing, and the porous Denver defense gave up a whopping 257 rushing yards, including 138 to Sam Morris in just the first half.

Miami topped Buffalo 25-16 as a one-point home chalk last week, halting a two-game SU skid while covering for the fourth time in the past five games. QB Chad Pennington (22 of 30, 314 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) had a clean, efficient game, and the Dolphins won the turnover battle 4-1. In fact, on three straight Bills possessions in the fourth quarter, Miami’s defense got an INT, recovered a fumble and forced a safety. The Dolphins, who scored the game’s final 18 points, capped things with a fumble recovery on Buffalo’s final drive.

Miami is on a 5-0 ATS run (4-1 SU) against Denver, though these two teams haven’t met since 2005, when the Fish rolled 34-10 as a six-point home pup. In fact, Miami has been the underdog in four of the last five outings.

The Broncos are 6-0 ATS the last six years when coming off a bye, but the pointspread trends spiral downward in a hurry from there, including a dismal 7-23-1 overall, 4-13-1 at Mile High, 2-12 as a home chalk and 5-16-1 against AFC foes. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are 9-22-1 ATS in their last 32 games after a spread-cover, but they are on positive spread streaks of 6-1-1 in November, 5-1 against winning teams and 18-9-1 as a non-division ‘dog.

The over for Denver is on tears of 20-6-2 overall, 10-2-2 after a SU loss, 9-2 against losing teams and 13-3-1 at home, and the total has gone high on four of Miami’s last five road trips.


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Atlanta (4-3 SU and ATS) at Oakland (2-5, 3-4 ATS)

The Falcons, who had their two-game winning streak snapped last week, aim to get their surprising season back on track with a trip to McAfee Coliseum to face the Raiders.

Atlanta lost to Philadelphia 27-14 as a 9½-point road ‘dog. The Falcons took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter, but gave up 10 points in the last 2:30 before halftime and didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. Rookie QB Matt Ryan (23 of 44, 277 yards, 2 TDs) was forced to pass a lot with Atlanta playing from behind, and he paid by getting picked off twice – including once in the end zone. The Facons also let Eagles RB Brian Westbrook go off for 167 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.

Oakland followed up a 16-13 overtime home win over the Jets with last week’s 29-10 defeat at Baltimore, failing to cover as a nine-point road underdog. QB JaMarcus Russell (15 of 33, 228 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) had yet another uninspired outing, and the Raiders couldn’t run the ball, finishing with just 47 rushing yards while allowing 192. For the game, Oakland got outgained 375-234.

The SU winner is 16-1 ATS in Baltimore’s last 17 games (7-0 this year) and 14-2 in Oakland’s last 16 (6-1 this year).

These clubs have met just twice this decade, with each winning and cashing at home. In the most recent battle in 2004, Atlanta coasted 35-10 giving 7½ points.

The Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their last seven roadies, but they are on positive pointspread runs of 6-1 against the AFC on the road, 4-0 after a SU loss and 11-5 on grass. The Raiders are 0-5 SU and ATS in their last five against NFC foes, and they are on further ATS slides of 9-19 overall, 9-24 at home, 17-37-1 after a non-cover and 20-43-1 after a SU loss.

The under is 19-7 in Atlanta’s last 26 road games. On the flip side, the over is 10-4 in the last 14 games overall for both teams.


Dallas (5-3, 3-5 ATS) at N.Y. Giants (6-1, 5-2 ATS)

A classic NFC East confrontation is on tap when the Cowboys, still without starting quarterback Tony Romo, travel to East Rutherford, N.J., to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in the first meeting of the season between these rivals.

Dallas held off Tampa Bay 13-9 in a defensive struggle last week to get the cash as a one-point home chalk, ending a two-game SU skid and a four-game ATS plunge. Aging backup QB Brad Johnson (19 of 33, 122 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) had a weak effort, and the Cowboys mustered just 172 total yards, but they didn’t turn the ball over and were able to stop Tampa’s last-minute drive for a potential game-winning score.

New York dropped Pittsburgh 21-14 getting three points on the road for its second consecutive win and cover, pushing the SU winner to 17-2 ATS in the Giants’ last 19 outings (6-1 ATS this season). In a defensive battle – neither team cracked 300 total yards – but Eli Manning (19 of 32, 199 yards, 1 TD) was turnover-free, while the Giants picked off Ben Roethlisberger four times.

New York stunned Dallas 21-17 as a seven-point road ‘dog in a divisional playoff game last January, ending a 3-0 SU run (2-0-1 ATS) by the Cowboys in this rivalry. That included a pair of regular-season wins and covers by the Cowboys in 2007 (45-35 at home, 31-20 in New York). The Giants are 5-2-2 ATS in the last nine clashes (playoffs included).

The Cowboys are on several ATS slides, including 3-9 overall, 2-5 on the highway 0-6 in division play (0-2 this year), 2-6 after a SU win and 2-5 against winning teams. On the flip side, the Giants sport a bevy of positive ATS trends, including 19-7 overall, 7-0 versus winning teams, 8-3 in home division contests and 10-4-1 inside the division.

For Dallas, the over is on stretches of 4-1 overall, 15-6-2 on the road, 9-4-3 against NFC East foes and 15-7-1 against winning teams. The over for New York is 7-3 in its last 10 home starts, and in this rivalry, the over is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings at Giants Stadium.


Philadelphia (4-3, 5-2 ATS) at Seattle (2-5, 3-4 ATS)

The Eagles will try to run their winning streak to three when they make the cross-country trek to Qwest Field to face the Seahawks.

Philadelphia beat Atlanta 27-14 as a 9½-point home chalk, winning and cashing for the second straight week. QB Donovan McNabb (19 of 34, 253 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) was mediocre, losing a fumble for Philly’s lone turnover, but RB Brian Westbrook returned from an injury and rushed for 167 yards and two TDs, and the Eagles’ defense forced three turnovers.

Seattle drilled San Francisco 34-13 as a five-point road pup last Sunday, ending a three-game losing skid (1-2 ATS). The Seahawks were outgained 388-261 and had an eight-minute time-of-possession deficit, but backuup QB Seneca Wallace (15 of 25, 222 yards, 2 TDs), continuing to sub for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, led a turnover-free offense, and Seattle converted two 49ers turnovers into 10 points, including a 75-yard INT return for a score.

The SU winner is 24-1 ATS in the Seahawks’ last 25 games dating to last season (6-1 ATS this year) and the winner has cashed in six of Philly’s seven contests in 2008.

Seattle has won and covered in the last two meetings between these teams, following a 2-0 SU and ATS run by Philadelphia, and the road team has cashed in the last five head-to-head clashes since 1998. Last December in Philadelphia, the Seahawks won 28-24 getting three points, ending a 4-0 ATS run by the favorite in this series.

The Eagles sport ATS streaks of 5-2 overall, 8-1 on the highway, 6-2 against the NFC and 7-3 outside the NFC East. On the flip side, the Seahawks are in ATS slumps of 3-6 as a non-division home pup, 0-5 after a SU win and 1-5 after a spread-cover, but they’ve cashed in seven of their last nine home starts.

The over for Philadelphia is on runs of 4-0 on the road and 4-1 on field turf, and the over for Seattle is on tears of 8-1-1 overall, 4-0-1 on field turf, 7-1-1 against NFC foes and 5-1-1 at home. Lastly, the last three meetings between these squads have hurdled the total.


New England (5-2, 3-4 ATS) at Indianapolis (3-4 SU and ATS)

The Colts, who are in the surprising role of being desperate for a win at the season’s midway point, gear up for a prime-time battle with the archrival Patriots at Lucas Oil Field.

Indianapolis tumbled at Tennessee 31-21 last Monday night as a four-point road ‘dog for its second consecutive SU and ATS defeat. The SU winner has now taken the cash in each of the Colts’ last 10 games. QB Peyton Manning (26 of 41, 223 yards, 2 TDs) threw two INTs and now has nine picks against just 10 TDs so far this season. The Colts took a 14-6 lead early in the third quarter, but they then failed on fourth-down attempts on two consecutive drives, helping the Titans go on a 25-0 scoring run to put the game out of reach.

New England held off St. Louis 23-16 but failed to cover as a nine-point chalk, continuing the Pats’ season-long trend of alternating ATS wins and losses. QB Matt Cassel (21 of 33, 267 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) was a bit unsteady but led New England to 10 fourth-quarter points. The Patriots forced just one turnover, but it came at a critical time as Deltha O’Neal picked off Marc Bulger with the Rams driving late in the fourth quarter.

These squads, perhaps the top two teams in the league this decade, have had a bundle of critical matchups the past few years. Indianapolis is on a 4-0 ATS run (3-1 SU) in this rivalry, though New England got the SU win last year in a 24-20 decision as a five-point road chalk. The Patriots are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 battles in Indy, and the underdog is 10-3-1 ATS in the last 14 series clashes (playoffs included).

The Colts are on ATS slides of 0-4 against winning teams, 1-4 at home, 2-5 after a SU loss and 2-5 on turf. The Patriots are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 roadies, but they are on pointspread downturns of 3-10 overall, 0-6 against losing teams, 1-9 after a SU win and 2-7 against AFC opponents.

The over is on runs of 4-1 for Indy overall, 10-5 for New England on the road, 6-2 for the Colts after a non-cover and 4-1 in the last five meetings between these rivals in Indianapolis. However, New England enters this contest on a 9-3-2 “under” tear overall.


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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes

Steelers at Redskins
By Brad Young

Two of pro football’s marquee teams collide under the Monday Night Football primetime lights when Washington hosts Pittsburgh. The two teams enter this Week 9 matchup with a combined 11-4 record, and are second and first in their respective divisions.

Pittsburgh’s two losses this season have occurred against NFC East teams, falling to Philadelphia in Week 3 and the New York Giants last weekend. The Steelers remain atop the AFC North standings as they are outscoring teams, 155-110.

Washington sports a 3-1 home ledger this season, and is 1-0 against the AFC North after beating Cleveland in Week 7 as a touchdown favorite, 14-11. The Redskins are currently second in the NFC East standings by outscoring opponents, 165-145.

Caesars Palace installed Washington as a 1½-point home ‘chalk’ over Pittsburgh, with the total set at 36 ½. The Redskins opened as a two-point favorite, with the total listed at 37. ESPN will provide coverage of Monday Night Football beginning at 8:35 p.m. ET.

Pittsburgh (5-2 straight up, 3-4 against the spread) is facing its second consecutive NFC East team after falling to the New York Giants last weekend as a 2½-point home ‘chalk,’ 21-14. The combined 35 points went ‘under’ the 41½-point closing total, ending a string of three straight ‘over’ outings for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh appeared to be in control of the contest before getting outscored in the fourth quarter, 12-0. Most of the game stats were pretty even except that the Giants led in turnovers forced (4-0) and time of possession (34:24-25:36).

Signal caller Ben Roethlisberger struggled by completing 13-of-29 passes for 189 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. Running back Mewelde Moore paced the ground game with 19 carries for 84 yards and a score.

Washington (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) has won back-to-back games SU after beating Detroit last weekend as a seven-point road favorite, 25-17. The combined 42 points landed directly on the closing total, ending a string of three consecutive ‘under’ outings. The Redskins had failed to cover their past two games before facing the Lions.

Washington finished the contest with advantages in first downs (22-13), rushing yards (135-57), passing yards (328-217) and time of possession (35:45-24:150). Quarterback Jason Campbell was 23-of-28 passing for 328 yards with a touchdown, while running back Clinton Portis had 24 carries for 126 yards.

The Steelers toppled the Redskins during the last meeting back in 2004 as a 10-point home ‘chalk,’ 16-7. The combined 23 points went ‘under’ the 34½-point closing total.

Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker (knee), offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu (ankle), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (disciplinary) are ‘probable’ versus the Redskins, while punter Mitch Berger (hamstring), defensive tackle Casey Hampton (toe) and linebacker Keyaron Fox (hamstring) are ‘questionable.’ Offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back), free safety Ryan Clark (shoulder) and cornerback Bryant McFadden (forearm) are ‘out.’

Washington running back Clinton Portis (ankle), quarterback Jason Campbell (calf), offensive tackle Chris Samuels (knee) and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder) are ‘probable’ against the Steelers, while wide receiver Santana Moss (hamstring) is ‘questionable.’ Cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and defensive end Jason Taylor (calf) are ‘doubtful,’ while running back Ladell Betts (knee) and wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (knee) are ‘out.’

Pittsburgh follows this contest with home games against Indianapolis and San Diego. Washington has its bye week after this matchup.

Monday’s forecast for Washington, DC calls for partly cloudy skies, with a high of 67 degrees and a low of 51.

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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes

Patriots-Colts preview
By Chris David

Sunday Night Football returns to the gridiron after taking a one-week hiatus due to the World Series with an intriguing battle on tap between Indianapolis (3-4 straight up, 2-4-1 against the spread) and New England (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) from Lucas Oil Stadium.

A lot of pundits said the Colts faced a must-win situation last week against Tennessee but after the team lost on Monday it’s safe to say that this week’s battle for head coach Tony Dungy’s club is even more important.

Indianapolis owned a solid 14-6 lead late in the third quarter on MNF but the club fell apart after come costly turnovers and questionable pair of fourth-down calls by quarterback Peyton Manning and the offense. The Titans scored 25 unanswered points en route to a 31-21 victory and improved their record to 7-0.

Manning finished the game with 223 yards and two touchdowns, but the two interceptions were costly. The Colts’ offense put up 317 yards of offense and the defense limited the Titans’ attack to 281 yards, including 88 yards on the ground. The loss to the Titans was the second straight to the Colts and it also marked the second straight contest that they gave up 30-plus points.

Indy’s offense could get a boost to its running game this week with the return of Joseph Addai to the lineup. Addai (hamstring) has missed the last two games and the Colts’ rushing attack is averaging a league-worst 73.4 YPG.

Other key players that are ‘questionable’ for Indianapolis this weekend are WR Reggie Wayne (knee), SS Bob Sanders (ankle/knee) and DB Kelvin Hayden (knee/hamstring).

While the Colts have been slumping, the Patriots are starting to heat up. New England notched a 23-16 win against St. Louis last Sunday, but failed to cover as an 8½-point favorite. Quarterback Matt Cassell connected with Kevin Faulk on a 15-yard touchdown pass last in the fourth quarter to hold off the Rams.

New England’s running game has been hampered by injuries this season and it showed up in the stats against the Rams. The Pats ran the ball 29 times and only mustered up 98 yards. Cassel finished with 250 yards through the air but was picked off twice and sacked three times. Cassel has been sacked 28 times this season, which is the second most in the league.

Look for rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Faulk to get the bulk of the carries this week, since Sammy Morris (knee) is listed as ‘doubtful’ and LaMont Jordan (calf) ‘questionable’.

The Patriots have gone 2-1 both SU and ATS away from Foxboro but the lone loss did come in a SNF battle on Oct. 12 at San Diego, 30-10. The ‘under’ has gone 2-1. Indianapolis has only notched one victory (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) in its new digs, easily handling Baltimore 31-3 on Oct. 12 as a four-point favorite.

The Colts’ schedule doesn’t get any easier, with road trips to Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland upcoming. After this game, the Patriots begin a stretch that features three straight games against AFC East opponents.

Indianapolis has won three of the last four meetings against Patriots and has covered four in a row. Last year, New England rallied past the Colts with a 24-20 road victory but didn’t cover as a five-point road favorite. The combined 44 points never threatened the closing total of 56. The ‘under’ has gone 3-2 in the last five head-to-head battles.

If you follow systems and trends in pro football then perhaps you’re aware of the Super Bowl loser. It’s been a great fade through the years and VI handicapper Marc Lawrence has been tracking it in his database with other angles as well. “Prior to this year, defending Super Bowl losers are a miserable 25-50 ATS (33%) on the road versus non-division opponents that are seeking revenge,” said Lawrence.

Oddsmakers at opened the Colts as 5 ½-point favorites but the number has moved to 6. According to the Betting Trends, the majority of users are backing the Patriots even though the number is going in the opposite direction. Dare we say sharp action?

Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. EST, with NBC providing national coverage.

Games played in this SNF primetime battle have been pretty split for gamblers this year. Home teams have gone 4-4, but underdogs own a slight edge with a 5-3 ledger. The ‘under’ has cashed in two straight and six of the eight games hosted by Al Michaels and John Madden.

The only side/total parlay combination that hasn’t hit on SNF is the favorite/over, which is considered the most obvious choice by the betting public.

Considering the Colts/Over combination hasn’t cashed all year, it’s safe to say that we’re overdue.

Place your bets!

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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes

NFL poolies' cheat sheet: Week 9

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo (-5.5)

Why Jets cover: Underdog is 5-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last five meetings. Brett Favre has thrown nine TD passes in his last five games against Buffalo.

Why Bills cover: Have won three of last four contests. Jets are 2-7 ATS in their last nine meetings and 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings in Buffalo. Bills have only allowed one 100-yard rusher this season.

Total (42): Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings and 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Buffalo.

Detroit at Chicago (-13)

Why Lions cover: Underdog is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings. Rumour of Daunte Culpepper signing could push Dan Orlovsky to perform better.

Why Bears cover: Are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and have won five of last seven meetings with Detroit. Kyle Orton had the best game of his career in Week 5 against the Lions, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

Total (43): Over is 6-2 in Lions’ last eight road games and 18-5 in Bears’ last 23 home games.

Jacksonville at Cincinnati (+9)

Why Jaguars cover: Have won nine of last 10 meetings. Are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings and 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Cincinnati. Favorite is 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 meetings. Solid rushing attack should dominate Cincy’s 27th ranked rush defense.

Why Bengals cover: T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson could exploit Jacksonville’s 22nd ranked pass defense. Jaguars are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games on grass.

Total (40): Over is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings in Cincinnati.

Baltimore at Cleveland (-1)

Why Ravens cover: Are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games. Holding opponents to just over 15 points per contest. Joe Flacco has a QB rating of 101 in his last two games compared to 60.1 in his previous five.

Why Browns cover: Get Kellen Winslow back from suspension. Home team is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings. Ravens are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings and 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings in Cleveland. Baltimore has lost nine of its last 11 road games.

Total (36.5): Under is 11-2 in Browns’ last 13 games.

Tampa Bay at Kansas City (+9.5)

Why Buccaneers cover: Are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. Have won last two meetings. Chiefs will be without Larry Johnson again, due to suspension.

Why Chiefs cover: Bucs will be without starting safety Jermaine Phillips who broke his arm last week. Tyler Thigpen (280 yards, two TDs) is coming off his best game as a pro last week and hasn’t thrown an interception is his last three. Tony Gonzalez has stepped up his game with 176 yards receiving in the last two weeks after averaging 38.6 yards in his previous five games.

Total (36.5): Over is 7-2 in Chiefs’ last nine home games and 6-2 in Buccaneers’ last eight road games.

Houston at Minnesota (-4.5)

Why Texans cover: Andre Johnson has almost 600 yards receiving in his last four games and has really gelled with QB Matt Schaub. Minnesota is vulnerable through the air, allowing 219.4 yards per game. Vikings are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games.

Why Vikings cover: Adrian Peterson gets to face the NFL’s 20th ranked rush defense allowing 119 yards per game on the ground. Texans are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.

Total (47): Over is 5-0 in Texans’ last five road games and 8-1 in their last nine games overall.

Arizona at St. Louis (+3)

Why Cardinals cover: Have won three of last four meetings. Are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings in St. Louis. Rams’ 26th-ranked pass defense will have a hard time stopping the likes of Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

Why Rams cover: Are 3-0 ATS since firing head coach Scott Linehan. Expected to get running back Steven Jackson back from injury. Underdog is 8-1 ATS in their last nine meetings.

Total (48): Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings and 5-1 in the last six meetings in St. Louis.

Green Bay at Tennessee (-5.5)

Why Packers cover: Are 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 road games. Aaron Rodgers has six TD passes and only one interception in his last three games. With 278 yards rushing in his last three games, Ryan Grant is starting to regain his 2007 form.

Why Titans cover: Have won last two meetings. Are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games and 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall. Stifling defense and power running game allows Titans to control the clock and keep the other team's offense off the field.

Total (41.5): Over is 4-1 in Titans’ last five games.

Miami at Denver (-3)

Why Dolphins cover: Are 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings winning four of those games. Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings. Denver’s backfield is a mess with Michael Pittman (ribs), Selvin Young (groin), Andre Hall (wrist) and Ryan Torain (shoulder) all battling injuries. The Broncos will also be without both Champ and Boss Bailey who were injured prior to Denver’s bye week.

Why Broncos cover: Are 6-0 ATS in their last six games following a bye week. Own the NFL’s second best offense and could punish the Dolphins 25th ranked pass defense.

Total (49): Over is 4-1 in Dolphins’ last five road games and 13-3-1 in Broncos’ last 17 home games.

Dallas at N.Y. Giants (-9.5)

Why Cowboys cover: Have won last three regular season meetings. Defense held the Buccaneers to only three field goals last week and was especially strong in their own half of the field.

Why Giants cover: Dallas will stick with Brad Johnson (60.3 rating) at QB despite his inability to thrown the ball downfield.  Cowboys are 2-5-2 ATS in their last nine meetings. Should be able to exploit Dallas secondary that should be without Terrence Newman, Adam Jones and Anthony Henry. Cowboys could be without leading receiver Jason Witten, who has a broken rib.

Total (41): Over is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings in New York.

Atlanta at Oakland (+3)

Why Falcons cover: Michael Turner is the league’s third leading rusher and gets to face an Oakland team that ranks 27th against the run. Raiders are 9-24 ATS in their last 33 home games.

Why Raiders cover: Have won seven of 11 all-time meetings. Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games. Tom Cable wants to start opening up the passing game with JaMarcus Russell. Could get running back Darren McFadden back from a toe injury.

Total (41): Over is 10-4 in Falcons’ last 14 games and 10-4 in Raiders’ last 14 games.

Philadelphia at Seattle (+7)

Why Eagles cover: Favorite is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings. Road team is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings. Brian Westbrook showed no ill effects from his rib injury totalling 178 yards and two TDs last week. Seattle is expected to be without injured quarterback Matt Hasselbeck once again.

Why Seahawks cover: Have won last two meetings. Are 7-2 ATS in their last nine home games. Mike Holmgren wants to open up the offense with Seneca Wallace at quarterback.

Total (43): Over is 4-0 in Eagles’ last four road games and 8-1-1 in Seahawks last 10 games overall.

New England at Indianapolis (-5.5)

Why Patriots cover: Are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning is playing well below his normal standards and is sporting his worst QB rating since his rookie season. Underdog is 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 meetings.

Why Colts cover: Have won three of last four matchups. Patriots are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings. Dominic Rhodes has rushed for over 70 yards in each of his last three games with three TDs and could beat up New England’s 20th-ranked rush defense.

Total (44): Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh at Washington (-1)

Why Steelers cover: Have won last three meetings. Will get deep threat Santonio Holmes back from suspension. Mike Tomlin has never lost on Monday Night Football.

Why Redskins cover: Are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. League’s leading rusher Clinton Portis is carrying the Redskins offense and has 260 more rushing yards than the next closest player. Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their last six Monday games.

Total (37): Under is 4-1 in Redskins’ last five home games and 4-1-1 in their last six games overall.

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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes

Four at Four

**Dolphins at Broncos**

--Most books are listing Denver (4-3 straight up, 1-5-1 against the spread) as a 3 ½-point favorite with the total in the 49-50 range. The Dolphins are available for money-line wagers at a plus 160 return (risk $100 to win $160).

--Miami (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS) is off a 25-16 home win over Buffalo in a pick ‘em affair.

--When you think about the fact that Chad Pennington didn’t even arrive in South Florida until about a month before the start of the regular season, then you have to be impressed with his play in his short time with the Dolphins. The Marshall product has completed 69.3 percent of his passes with a 7/3 touchdown-interception ratio.

--The ‘Fins are 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS in three previous road games (each as underdogs).

--Denver had an open date to recover from a 41-7 shellacking it took at New England on Monday Night Football. Jay Cutler injured his finger on the first play of the game, but he has practiced this week and will get the starting nod.

--Cutler has a TD/INT ratio of 13/7, and he has passed for 1,861 yards and completed 64.2 percent of his passes.

--The ‘over’ is on an extremely lucrative 13-3-1 run in Denver’s last 17 home games. In addition, the ‘over’ is 6-3 in the last nine head-to-head meetings between these clubs.

--The ‘over’ is 4-3 overall for the ‘Fins, 3-0 in its road games.

**Falcons at Raiders**

--Most spots are listing Atlanta (4-3 SU, ATS) as a 2 ½-point road ‘chalk’ with a total of 41. The Raiders are plus-140 on the money line. 

--Atlanta rookie OT Sam Baker is “out” with a hip injury. He’ll be replaced by veteran OT Wayne Gandy, who was signed this week. Gandy started for the Falcons last season before going down with a season-ending injury in Week 4.

--Oakland (2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS) has an atrocious 9-24 spread record in its last 33 home games.

**Cowboys at Giants**

--Most books are listing the Giants in the 8-9 range, while the total is 41. The Cowboys are plus-300 on the money line.

--New York (6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS) has won back-to-back games since its lone loss Oct. 13 at Cleveland. The Giants rallied for a 21-14 victory at Pittsburgh last week as three-point underdogs. The 35 combined points fell ‘under’ the 41-point total.

--Eli Manning found his tight end Kevin Boss on a two-yard scoring strike with 3:11 left that proved to be the game winner. New York’s defense picked off Ben Roethlisberger four times and sacked him five times. Mathias Kiwanuka had three sacks.

--Dallas (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS) has watched the 'under' go 4-3 overall, 3-1 in its road assignments.

--The Cowboys won both regular-season meetings against the Giants by double-digit margins last year, but Tom Coughlin’s team avenged those defeats by going into Texas Stadium and capturing a 21-17 win as a seven-point underdog.

--The ‘over’ is 4-3 overall for the Giants, 2-2 in their home games.

**Eagles at Seahawks**

--Most spots are listing Philadelphia (4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) as a 6 ½-point favorite with a total of 43. The Seahawks are plus-250 on the money line (risk $100 to win $250).

--Andy Reid’s team is coming off a 27-14 win over Atlanta as an eight-point favorite. Brian Westbrook broke loose for a long touchdown run just under the two-minute warning to give Philly backers an extremely fortunate cover.

--Seattle (2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS) has watched the 'over' cash at an amazing 8-1-1 clip in its last nine games.

--The Eagles own an outstanding 8-1 spread record in their

--The 'over' has cashed in three straigt head-to-head meetings between these squads.

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Re: NFL: Gameday News and Notes


NFC East

Dallas vs. Giants

The Giants quickly moved up from a -7.5 and now have become -8.5 favorites for this game. The total has also come down from 42 down to 41. The Cowboys are struggling in the sense with injuries and Dallas note has got to step up at some point here as the division seems to be getting further and further out of reach for this team considering the Giants are pulling away. Lord behold, they have an opportunity to make a big upset here. But, having said that, folks, the Giants are here to say. They have seen any injury you can throw at them besides Quarterback and have done well with all their backups including losing Tiki and several defensive ends. And, guess what? They won the Super Bowl right after. Lean on the Giants here as I think they will look to make a statement. In short, I can see the Giants winning this game by double-digits.

NFC South

Atlanta vs. Oakland

Atlanta is a 60% public favorite on the road at Oakland. Note, that the Falcons are 4-3, 3-0 at home but do have one road win under their belt from the win at Green Bay. Oakland comes off a tough loss at Baltimore and they return home fired up. Of course, Atlanta comes off a road loss at Philly. I just can't go against the better team in the Falcons here, but they are also the public favorite as well, so no thanks.

Tampa Bay vs. Kansas City

I respect Tampa Bay - note, that they get on my nerves because my Falcons have to put up with them every year to even have a shot at going to the Playoffs. I love Gruden as a coach though and note that there are plenty of rumors in the blogosphere that the Tennessee Volunteers are interested in hiring him and bringing him to the SEC. As per this game, the line has gone up from -7.5 to -9.5 and let's be really frank here, to give the Chiefs this may points I think might be too much. After all, Arrowhead is still one of the toughest places to play in the NFL year in and year out. Although the Bucs come off a loss to the Cowboys, the Chiefs played well enough against the Jets to lose by just 4 points and considering they were dogged by 14 points, this was impressive. Lean on the Chiefs here as well as the over for your active dog/over principle.

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