NFC betting tidbits: Week 10
NFC betting tidbits: Week 10
NFC betting tidbits: Week 10
By TED SEVRANSKY
Every week, Covers Expert Ted Sevransky spends his Sundays typing furiously at his laptop as he watches the games, giving you the key bettor’s info that the box scores and recaps simply don’t.
Rex Grossman led a well executed touchdown drive to open up the ball game, looking as good as the guy he replaced, Kyle Orton. But on his next drive, Grossman threw the ball into coverage and voila – a bad interception setting up the Titans in prime field position.
After that, the Bears offense went ‘three and out’ on six of their next eight possessions and were held scoreless during that span. With Orton likely out for another week or two, Bears backers better get used to this type of inconsistency at quarterback once again.
Chicago’s run defense was truly top notch, facing one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL, rendering them ineffective. Too bad the pass defense didn’t live up to its end of the bargain, notching only a single sack and no interceptions.
Matt Ryan is significantly better now than I expected him to be. The rookie looks comfortable in the pocket, calmly going through his progressions. Atlanta is not handling the play calling with kid gloves.
But the real story here is not the rookie quarterback excelling – it’s the Falcons’ defense, top to bottom. The secondary broke up 11 passes in the first three quarters. The pass rush was relentless.
It’s one thing to completely shut down a bad Raiders offense like they did last week, but it’s another thing entirely to hold the Saints to a pair of field goals through three quarters of football.
Daunte Culpepper recognizes the type of weapon that Calvin Johnson can be in the passing game, taking several shots down the field toward his big-play receiver. But the coaching staff put Drew Stanton in behind center in a first and goal situation – Stanton is better versed in the Lions short yardage and goal line situations than his quarterbacking counterpart.
With Stanton throwing a first quarter touchdown pass, the Lions managed only their second touchdown of the year in the first quarter after getting outscored 67-7 in the first quarter prior to this game.
But we’re still talking about a team with the lowest third down conversion percentage in the league. We’re still talking about a defense that has been downright awful, unable to stop the run or the pass. And, with Culpepper, we’re talking about a quarterback with a penchant for throwing interceptions; just like he did Sunday, setting the stage for yet another ugly Lions defeat.
Even at his advanced age, Charles Woodson still might be the best cover cornerback in the league. He picked off his fifth pass of the year here, completely changing the momentum of the game.
The pick was one of three on the afternoon for Green Bay, now with 16 picks by the secondary this year, a legitimate group of ball hawkers. Then we look at the fact that opposing quarterbacks are barely completing 51 percent of their passes against this defense, the lowest completion percentage allowed by any defense in the league. Green Bay still can’t stop the run – it cost them the game here – but their pass defense is rock solid.
Whatever limited momentum St Louis got when Scott Linehan was fired, replaced by Jim Haslett, is long gone now. This team has looked lifeless in each of their last two ball games, coming out flat and losing the ‘effort war’ big time. The defense was never good to begin with; but the offense is the real culprit these days.
When a team can’t run, can’t pass, can’t block and can’t catch, it makes for a long season. The only word to describe this offensive performance is ‘inept’.
Sean Payton’s kicking problems may finally have been solved. They’ve gone through a pair of kickers before bringing in rookie Garrett Hartley during the bye week and Hartley nailed a couple of first half field goals, keeping the Saints in the game. After cutting their punter as well, rookie Glenn Pakulak nailed a 56 yard punt in his first try.
Still, when we talk about quality special teams units, the Saints don’t merit much discussion, especially with Reggie Bush and his punt returning acumen out of the picture.
This offense is difficult to get off the field on third down. Bring pressure on Brees and he’ll hit his hot route just about every time. Drop back into coverage and Brees will find the seam in the zone. But in the red zone, where the field shrinks, the Saints’ passing game is limited by the team’s inability to gain tough rushing yards between the tackles.
Every time this team travels east, they seem to sleepwalk through extended portions of the game.
Mike Holmgren’s squad didn’t seem to wake up until the second quarter, when it was already trailing by two touchdowns, a deficit that proved insurmountable. It really seems as if it is an effort issue – the defensive personnel is virtually the same as last year, when this stop unit was a force to be reckoned with, carrying the team to a division title.
Once somebody made a play – in this case, a huge interception return touchdown from Jordan Babineaux, they got a burst of momentum and played competitively after that.
What on earth happened to Seneca Wallace, one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league in recent years?
Wallace needed 23 pass attempts to reach 100 passing yards, barely averaging four yards per attempt, failing to complete a single pass longer than 20 yards all game.
Gus Frerotte is no better now than he was a month ago, unable to get acclimated in the Vikings offense.
Minnesota has some semblance of a downfield passing game now that simply didn’t exist earlier in the season, with a healthy Bernard Berrian providing the deep threat. But Frerotte still throws some really ugly passes and his footwork is awful. He is constantly throwing his passes off balance.
He threw at least a dozen truly terrible passes, three of which were intercepted; others that hit the feet of his receivers or sailed over their heads. Combine that with a penchant for holding the ball way too long and Minnesota once again is being held back by sub-par quarterback play.
And when a defense has held an offense under 100 total yards through three quarters of football, they shouldn’t be trailing, nor should they have allowed 24 points.
Maybe Brad Childress should have worked on his special teams – they’ve allowed four punt returns for touchdowns this year, including one here that nearly cost them the game.