NFL Betting Recap - Week 9

NFL Betting Recap - Week 9

NFC News and Notes from Week 9
By Teddy Covers

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 9.

Dallas Cowboys – Dallas had faced four top notch QB's this year heading into the game: Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford. All four threw for more than 400 yards against Monte Kiffin's defense. Here, Christian Ponder had consistent success throwing downfield. This defense just can't stop the pass, especially with DeMarcus Ware out again, negating any semblance of a pass rush. And there were no shortage of defensive breakdowns either – missed tackles, missed assignments and blown coverages.

Not impressed with the offensive line play today one iota. The Vikings got pressure on Tony Romo all afternoon. They signed former pro bowl guard Brian Waters out of retirement a few weeks ago as a desperation move, but he couldn’t stay healthy; already on IR. Back-to-back sacks killed a red zone chance here, forcing Dan Bailey's legs to get points, not Romo's arm.

The Cowboys completely gave up on the run, giving DeMarco Murray only four carries; with only eight rushing attempts on their 63 snaps. Dez Bryant had another on-field meltdown on a day where he had multiple drops. Terrence Williams poor route running was the key factor in a fourth quarter interception from Romo. Yes, the Cowboys currently have a tenuous hold on first place in the NFC East, but they’ve yet to beat an opponent with a winning record and their schedule toughens considerably down the stretch.

St. Louis Rams – The Rams in this game make me want to quote Charles Dickens. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” There were so many positives for Jeff Fisher’s squad here. The Rams ran the football effectively all afternoon for the second straight week against a solid stop unit, with Zac Stacy bulling his way to another 100+ yard game on the ground. The much maligned offensive line blew open holes for Stacy, and gave Kellen Clemens solid protection.

Clemens was accurate and played mostly mistake free football; all you can ask from a backup QB. They scored touchdowns, not settling for field goals. Their pass rush was tremendous, forcing Jake Locker into numerous poor throws while notching four sacks. And coming off a disheartening loss on Monday Night, the Rams bounced back positively from adversity on several occasions, immediately responding to Tennessee touchdowns with TD drives of their own.

But for all the positives, there were nearly as many negatives. For as good as the Rams were against the pass, they were awful against the run, allowing Chris Johnson to match his season total of six 10+ yard rushes in one game. They didn’t get a red zone stop all afternoon: four tries on defense, four touchdowns. Kicker Greg Zuerlein missed his first attempt from inside 50 yards all year; something that’s not supposed to happen in the home dome.

Clemens lone big mistake came at the absolute worst time, fumbling the ball away deep in Rams’ territory with less than three minutes left in the game. And, for the second straight week, with a chance to score a late TD, the Rams crapped out after a promising drive got them in position to score. With the Colts, Bears, 49ers, Seahawks and Saints still ahead on their schedule, if the Rams can’t win on a day where they had so many positives, imagine what could happen on a day when they don’t play as well as they did here.

Washington Redskins – Has any team in the NFL had worse special teams than the Redskins this year? First year special teams coach Keith Burns has seen everything go wrong, with his units allowing punt return touchdowns, kickoff return touchdowns, getting called for penalties every week – the works. Today, they allowed a pair of field goal blocks from a team that hadn’t blocked a field goal in eleven years; another shoddy showing.

RG3 didn’t throw a touchdown or run for a touchdown, but it was his best game of the year; including that Bears game three weeks ago where he put up gaudy stats despite a bevy of mistakes. Griffin was accurate with his downfield throws. He was savvy when scrambling out of the pocket. He was gutsy, making huge plays on Washington’s game winning drive in overtime. He was at his best on third down – Washington converted a dozen third down tries on the afternoon. And he produced touchdowns on each of his last four red zone tries. It certainly helped that Alfred Morris looked great running the football today, his best game of the year too!

Washington’s defense has talent, but they’ve been getting gashed all year. They didn’t force a three-and-out all afternoon. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, they couldn’t get a stop. The mainstream media will be sure to highlight the ‘Skins goal line stand to save the game in the final seconds, but frankly, that was more about poor play calling and poor execution from the Chargers than it was about anything Washington’s defense did right.

New Orleans Saints – This offense is clearly built for domes, not for outdoor venues. They were completely out of sync offensively early, using all three timeouts and getting a pair of delay of game penalties in the first quarter alone. And this high octane ‘can’t stop ‘em’ offense was held to just two field goals and one third down conversion after halftime, reminiscent of their road showing at Tampa Bay (only one offensive touchdown) and Chicago (also only two field goals in the second half).

Jimmy Graham is pretty much an unstoppable receiving threat, with a Calvin Johnson type performance again here – get the ball near him and he’ll find a way to catch it. But he’s the only elite receiver on the team with Marques Colston unable to suit up and Darren Sproles knocked out of the game early with a concussion.

The Saints came into the game with the worst yards per carry differential in the NFL; -1.4 yards per rush between what they gain and what they allow. Today it was even worse, with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combining for on 43 yards between them, while the Jets had three 25+ yard gainers on the ground as part of a 198 yard rushing afternoon. After their hot start in September, Rob Ryan’s defense seems to be getting worse by the week.

Minnesota Vikings – The biggest difference between last year's playoff squad and this year's 1-7 bottom feeder has nothing to do with the Vikings offense. Yes, their quarterback play has generally been lousy, but guess what – Christian Ponder didn't exactly light up opposing defenses in 2012. And yes, Adrian Peterson hasn't come close to matching last year's record setting season, but it's not like AP has morphed into a second tier back in 2013. Both Ponder and Peterson enjoyed great games this week.

Minnesota had a quality stop unit last year, holding foes under 20 points per game. This year, their D has allowed more than 30 points and 400 yards per game. Quite simply, they can't stop anybody. And that was on full display against Dallas. The Vikings struggled to get off the field on third downs. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, they dropped into a ridiculous three pass rusher ‘prevent’ type defense, allowing Tony Romo to pick them apart; a disheartening loss for a struggling team.

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Re: NFL Betting Recap - Week 9

Close Calls - Week 9
By Joe Nelson

NFL games often go down to the wire, especially relative to the spread. Here are close calls from Week 9 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.

Miami Dolphins (+3) 22, Cincinnati Bengals 20: Taking advantage of turnovers, the Dolphins led 17-3 late in the third quarter Thursday night, but Cincinnati stormed back to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. With a long field goal, the Bengals took the lead for the first time in the game since a 3-0 lead early, leading 20-17 with just over a minute to go. The Dolphins only had one timeout left and after a first down sack, things did not look good, but Ryan Tannehill led Miami into field goal range with the Dolphins getting the tying kick with 11 seconds left to force overtime. The Dolphins had a three-and-out in overtime and saw Cincinnati move to the Miami 39-yard line, but the Bengals were forced to punt. Pinned back, Miami caught a break with a pass interference call giving them 38 yards, just to the edge of field goal range, but the Dolphins went backwards and had to punt again. From the Cincinnati 8-yard line on third down, Cameron Wake came up with a huge sack just inside the end zone for a game-winning safety. On review it was close, but the play stood.

Carolina Panthers (-9) 34, Atlanta Falcons 10: The Falcons trailed Carolina by just seven points well into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers found the end zone to go up by 14 and then 30 seconds later, an interception return touchdown sealed the win for the Panthers. Late drama came with regards to the total as a game that had already seen a touchdown called back for a penalty and an interception in the end zone just before the half was sitting just 'under' with the Panthers on the doorstep to add another touchdown. There was too much time left to take a knee with the Panthers eventually getting first and goal from the Atlanta seven, but after three straight runs, the Panthers kicked a field goal rather than try to punch the ball into the end zone again. The kick put the total at 44, past some of the early week numbers, but short of the late week totals while a touchdown would have put the game 'over.'

Tennessee Titans (-3) 28, St. Louis Rams 21: The Rams and Titans were locked in a very even battle as dead even total yardage counts can attest. With the game tied 14-14 entering the fourth, both teams added touchdown drives to put the score locked at 21-21 heading into the final minutes. The Titans had the first shot to score as a big play put them in St. Louis territory, but Jake Locker was intercepted to end the threat. The Rams gave the ball right back, however, as Tennessee took over with less than three minutes to go after Kellen Clemens fumbled while being sacked. On first down, Chris Johnson ran 19 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Rams would get two more shots, they quickly punted on the first possession, but getting the ball back at their own 39 after a nice punt return, St. Louis had 50 seconds to work with. They moved to the Tennessee 26, but failed on fourth down needing seven.

Kansas City Chiefs (-4½) 23, Buffalo Bills 13: The Chiefs have had some close calls in the 9-0 run, but they appeared doomed in Buffalo with the Bills on the doorstep to score in the third quarter, holding a 10-3 lead. Sean Smith delivered a 100-yard interception return for a 14-point swing that changed the game completely. Buffalo continued to move the ball well with eventually 470 total yards in the game against a highly regarded defense and the Bills still were tied with the Chiefs, 13-13 entering the fourth quarter as a home underdog. Lightning struck again as a fumble deep in Buffalo territory was also returned for a touchdown to put the Chiefs up by seven in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs added a field goal to go up by 10, but a late touchdown would still give Buffalo the cover. The Bills moved into Kansas City territory on their final possession, but they failed on fourth and short from the Kansas City 35.

Washington Redskins (-2) 30, San Diego Chargers 24: The Redskins closed as a slight favorite, but this was basically a 'pick-em' game all week. A 14-7 halftime lead evaporated for the Chargers in the fourth quarter as the Redskins scored 17 consecutive points to lead 24-14 with less than seven minutes to go in the game. San Diego finally answered with a touchdown drive and they forced a punt on defense to get another shot. Starting from their own 8-yard line, the Chargers moved down to first and goal from the Washington 1-yard line in the closing seconds, but after a run and two passes, San Diego was forced with a fourth down decision. They opted for the 19-yard field goal and overtime. The Chargers would not get a chance in overtime as Washington went down the field in 10 plays with a personal foul penalty on the Chargers proving costly, eventually rushing into the end zone for the win.

New England Patriots (-5½) 55, Pittsburgh Steelers 31: The final score and statistics make this game look like a blowout, but it was a tie game late in the third quarter. New England added a field goal to take the lead by three entering the fourth, still short of the spread. The wheels fell off for the Steelers in the fourth, as a questionable Aaron Dobson touchdown withstood review to put New England up by 10. The Steelers had to punt the ball back after two incomplete passes and a sack and New England was in the end zone again a few plays later, leading 41-24. Pittsburgh left some hope for the underdog with an 80-yard touchdown drive to get back within 10, but the Patriots also remained aggressive on offense and scored again. An interception set the Patriots up for another late score as eventually the Patriots posted four touchdowns in the final frame.

Indianapolis Colts (-1) 27, Houston Texans 24: The late game magic for the Colts continued as the Texans led 21-3 at the half sitting in complete control in a game they needed to turn the season around. The collapse of Coach Gary Kubiak put a big shadow over the second half, but Houston still led 24-12 entering the fourth quarter. Early in fourth, Randy Bullock missed his second field goal of the night and the Colts hit a 58-yard touchdown play on the second play of the next possession. That left the Colts within five with plenty of time on the clock. Houston appeared to convert a key third down play on the next drive to get near midfield, but the Andre Johnson catch was surprisingly overturned on a challenge and Houston had to punt. It only took the Colts six plays to get the lead as they scored again and got the two-point conversion to lead by three. On its final possession, Houston had a crack at a long field goal to tie the game, but Bullock missed again to continue the miserable season for the Texans.

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