NFL Betting Recap - Week 7

NFL Betting Recap - Week 7

NFC News and Notes from Week 7
By Teddy Covers
Sportsmemo.com

Welcome to Teddy’s unique look at the NFL. Teddy watches games all day on Sunday, typing furiously on his laptop while giving you the key info that the box scores and game recaps don’t necessarily have. This week: NFC thoughts and opinions from Week 7.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The personnel here is just fine. Linebacker LaVante David was amazing, notching three tackles for loss including a sack, knocking away passes downfield and stuffing the run repeatedly. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson was unstoppable as well, developing nice chemistry with the rookie QB Mike Glennon. And after Glennon’s early pick six, he made some great throws, albeit on an inconsistent afternoon. Right now, Glennon falls into the ‘serviceable’ category, not into the ‘developing a future franchise quarterback’ category.

Dropped passes continue to kill this team; three in the first quarter alone. Penalties have been a problem, entering the contest averaging 8.6 per game (2nd worst in the NFL) and committing eleven more penalties here.

As the Bucs were trying to rally back from a two touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, they drove down the field for a first and goal at the five yard line. After a series of miscues and a TD wiped off the board via penalty, Tampa ended up settling for the field goal on 4th and goal from the 23. A stupid personal foul penalty set up Atlanta’s lone fourth quarter score, turning a one touchdown deficit into a two TD deficit. This team just can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Atlanta Falcons - Lots of very positive signs for the Falcons in this game, but I’m not convinced their troubles are solved just because they beat up on a self-destructing Bucs squad. Atlanta had a pass rush today. Osi Umenyiora and Peria Jerry ate up the Bucs offensive line. Rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant got picked on, but he also made a handful of nice plays. Still, for the umpteenth consecutive time, the defense played poorly while protecting a second half lead; allowing Tampa scores on three of their last four possessions in what was still a competitive game.

Matt Ryan looked great despite playing without his top two receivers. Harry Douglas is about to become a star in this offense. The former slot receiver has been forced into the #1 WR role, and he enjoyed a huge afternoon. Tony Gonzalez was relatively quiet, but he made a pair of big catches. Jacquizz Rodgers made people miss catching dump-offs out of the backfield. But Atlanta’s fundamental flaw on offense hasn’t changed – they still can’t run the football one iota, failing to get a single first down twice on their three ‘let’s burn some clock’ drives in the second half.

Two more problem areas reared their heads for the Falcons today. They did punch in a couple of short yardage TDs here, but they’re still converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns less than 50% of the time. And the penalties in this game were simply inexcusable, racking up more than 100 penalty yards.

Detroit Lions - This secondary had one guy to stop today – AJ Green – and they couldn't do it, allowing multiple big plays for a defense focused on him. Cornerback Chris Houston was burned for an 82 yard touchdown on the Bengals second play from scrimmage and it didn’t get any better after that. For as strong as this defensive line is supposed to be, the back seven aren't getting maximum benefit from the pressure that unit creates.

And, frankly, the pass rush wasn't that great. Over and over, Detroit put Cinci in third and longs. But the pass defense allowed the Bengals to covert on third and 7 twice, third and nine and third and twelve, their only four third down conversions of the game.

But Detroit lost this game on a shanked punt, not a defensive meltdown. With less than 30 seconds to go, the rookie punter Sam Martin barely got the ball to midfield, allowing Cinci to kick the game winning field goal after gaining only a single first down. On a day where a blocked field goal against David Akers resulted in a huge momentum swing before halftime, the Lions unstoppable passing game wasn’t good enough to overcome their miscues on their other two units.

Carolina Panthers - None of Carolina's mediocrity this year is related to poor play from Cam Newton. Newton was absolutely phenomenal today, throwing only two incomplete passes while averaging 12 yards per attempt. If he actually had some good targets to throw to besides Steve Smith, the sky is the limit for his passing ability. But because this receiving corps is so weak, St. Louis stacked the box today and all three Panthers rushers (including Newton) were held under three yards per carry.

I’m not impressed at all with Mike Shula’s playcalling, particularly in short yardage and red zone situations. And with a second half lead, Carolina showed no interest in going for the jugular; quite content burning a little bit of clock and then punting. But while the offense is mediocre, this defense has allowed the fewest touchdowns and second fewest points in the NFL this year, an elite level stop unit. They were positively dominant again here; the best unit for either team in the ballgame. Four sacks, nine tackles for loss, three turnovers forced (including a pick six on the first pass attempt of the game), and a consistent run stuffing effort. But before we get carried away, let’s not forget that no team in the league has faced a weaker slate than the Bills, Giants, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams quintet that Carolina has faced since losing to Seattle in Week 1.

St. Louis Rams - This front seven on defense is head and shoulders better than it was a month ago when they were getting gashed on every play. It looked like a significantly improved unit even after sackmeister Chris Long got tossed out of the game for fighting. There are four former first rounders in that group, along with their best defensive player, linebacker James Laurinaitis, who was an early second rounder – no shortage of talent. They blew up the line of scrimmage for a first quarter safety and spent the entire afternoon stuffing the run. The young, struggling secondary is another story entirely however, forcing only two incomplete passes while getting picked apart all afternoon.

Sam Bradford was taking shots downfield to his playmakers. Tavon Austin had a 63-yard TD grab called back on a penalty. Brian Quick had a 73-yard catch and run. Bradford has done a much better job avoiding turnovers, throwing only two interceptions in his last five games. But the offensive line couldn’t protect him here and he left the game with what looked like a very serious knee injury. Backup QB Kellen Clemens has been in the league since 2006 without ever earning a starting job and a career QB rating of 62.2. If Clemens is forced into action for the weeks and months to come, the Rams drop-off could be quite significant.

Washington Redskins - I don't think I've ever seen a team look so good on defense in August and so bad on defense once the regular season started. Not much is working right defensively for Washington these days, allowing four touchdowns and a missed field goal on the Bears last six drives. Their pass rush is anemic. Their coverage in the secondary is dismal. Their linebackers are slow. Facing a backup QB playing behind a banged up offensive line, this stop unit got gashed on drive after drive.

Brian Orakpo's pick six was the first significant play this defense has made in weeks, and, frankly, that came via a lucky bounce more than any other factor. If you can't stop the run against a team playing their backup quarterback the finger needs to be pointed at defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. And when your team allows a special teams touchdown for three consecutive games in the NFL (two punt returns and a blocked punt), that’s on the head coach!

That being said, this was the first game all year that RG3 2013 looked like RG3 2012. He was dynamic with his feet, his best rushing game of the season. He extended plays with his legs, delivering passes to his receivers after buying extra time. And he made plays in the red zone, in sharp contrast to the loss at Dallas last week, cashing in four touchdowns on five red zone opportunities.

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Re: NFL Betting Recap - Week 7

Close Calls - Week 7
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

NFL games often go down to the wire, especially relative to the spread. Here are close calls from Week 7 of the NFL season, recapping the spread-changing plays from the fourth quarters around the league. Each week there are several key plays late in games that can change the result or create a misleading final score, get the details in this weekly column.

Seattle Seahawks (-4½) 34, Arizona Cardinals 22: Seattle led 17-13 into the third quarter, but the Seahawks pulled away with back-to-back touchdown scores thanks to an interception returned to the one-yard line, leading 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. Arizona gave underdog backers hope, however, with a touchdown with less than five minutes to go to trim the lead to just 12 points, though the two-point conversion miss was costly for those chances. On their final drive, the Cardinals were to the Seattle 26, but they came up short on fourth down to end the threat. Had Arizona found the end zone, the margin would have been five points with the extra-point, giving many on the Cardinals the win as the line opened at -6 ½ before falling throughout the week.

New York Jets (+3) 30, New England Patriots 27: The Patriots led 21-10 at the half, but an interception early in the third quarter changed everything as the Jets were within four. New York would take a 27-21 lead into the fourth quarter before the Patriots cut the margin to three with a field goal early in the final frame. The Jets moved to midfield two separate times, but the New England defense held and starting on its own eight just before the two-minute warning, Tom Brady and company still had a shot. Those on the underdog Jets were in a precarious position as a touchdown and extra point would flip the spread result as well. New England moved with relative ease down the field, but eventually stalled at the New York 26, failing with three straight incomplete passes before settling for overtime. New England won the toss, but only picked up one first down and the Jets were able to move to the edge of field goal range, opting to try the long 56-yard field goal attempt. The kick was missed, but for the second time this season, the Jets were bailed out with a late penalty and the retry from 15 yards closer was true.

Kansas City Chiefs (-6½) 17, Houston Texans 16: There was no scoring in the fourth quarter of this game as the Chiefs moved to 7-0, but the Texans held on to take the cover in this game despite a couple of near touchdowns for Kansas City. Early in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs failed going for it on fourth and one at the Houston one-yard line and then midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had a rare turnover in Houston territory. Late in the game, Chiefs' backers nearly got a miracle cover as Case Keenum was sacked at the four-yard line with less than two minutes to go, the fumble was picked up by Derrick Johnson and he rolled into the end zone, but contact had brought him down at the one and the Chiefs kneeled to burn the rest of the clock.

Cincinnati Bengals (+2½) 27, Detroit Lions 24: The home favorite Lions never led in the second half of this game, but they tied the game early in the fourth quarter. Getting the ball back, the Lions stalled near midfield after a pass completion into field goal territory was brought back by penalty and overturned. Cincinnati also saw a drive stalled with a key penalty as well. The Lions were forced to punt with 30 seconds left and a marginal punt left the Bengals near midfield with 26 seconds to go. Cincinnati got 15 yards in two plays and Mike Nugent hit a 54-yard kick to seal the game without overtime.

Washington Redskins (+1) 45, Chicago Bears 41: The Redskins led by seven entering the fourth quarter, but the Bears put up quite a fight even without Jay Cutler. After trading touchdowns, the Bears had to settle for a field goal to cut the lead to four. At that point, the Bears attempted a somewhat surprise onside kick and recovered, but offsides wiped it out. They did force Washington to punt and in just four plays, the Bears found the end zone, but that score was negated with an illegal formation. Two plays later with the help of a personal foul penalty, the Bears took the lead by three with about four minutes to go. RGIII led an excellent drive and the Redskins scored with under a minute to go to take a four-point lead. The Bears got past midfield with the remaining time but needing a touchdown, the game ended with a sack.

Atlanta Falcons (-6) 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23: +8 or +8 ½ was available on Tampa Bay very early in the week, but this line fell to just +6 by Sunday. The Buccaneers had a yardage edge in the game and were within seven entering the fourth quarter, but Atlanta would find the end zone with the help of a key penalty early in the final frame to push the margin to 14. After an 18-play drive, Tampa Bay had to settle for a field goal after they were left with fourth and 23 after multiple penalties. Down 11, a touchdown would be enough to flip the spread result, but Tampa Bay was again forced to kick a field goal with the limited time remaining and needing two scores as there were stopped despite a first down at the Atlanta 21 on the next drive. Atlanta held on the onside kick attempt and the Falcons escaped with a narrow win and cover.

Green Bay Packers (-8½) 31, Cleveland Browns 13: While this line fell from opening numbers as a high as 11, the Browns did have opportunities late in this game to make a much closer final. Early in the fourth quarter with the Browns down just 17-6, the Browns curiously went for it on fourth and 15 at the Green Bay 31, failing and leaving with no points when a field goal could have made it a one-score game. On the next drive, the Packers were able to score in just five plays to push the margin to 18 points. Cleveland answered with a touchdown and twice got the onside kick, but both times it was ruled illegal. Down 11 with six minutes to go, the Cleveland defense failed again as Green Bay scored in just four plays. Cleveland's next drive went down to the Green Bay seven, but the Browns did not get in and a penalty on the final punt for the Packers left the Browns without another possession. Those on the 'under' had to greatly sweat out the wild fourth quarter after the game was on pace to play well 'under' most of the way.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) 19, Baltimore Ravens 16: Many on the Steelers were likely able to play the game at -2 ½ and the Steelers led by seven entering the fourth quarter. Baltimore added another field goal early in the final quarter and attempted an onside kick but failed. In great field position, Pittsburgh did enough to push the lead back to seven with a 38-yard kick. With 10 minutes to go, Baltimore put together a 16-play drive elapsing over eight minutes, finding the end zone to tie the game. Pittsburgh got the ball back in good field position after Emmanuel Sanders had a nice return and the Steelers moved the ball well enough with careful clock management to get into range with the game-winning field goal sailing through as time expired.

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