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Inside the Points - Week 7
By Fritz Schlottman
October 17, 2003
 

Washington (3-3) at Buffalo (3-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
WAS 20, BUF 14

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.
WAS has lost their last two games.
The Jets bombed BUF last week.
WAS OFF +50 rushing yards per gave vs. BUF OFF.
WAS DEF gives up 48 more passing yards per game than BUF DEF.

Motivation

Both teams are coming off a bad loss.

Opinion

The Bills started out on fire, and then hit a wall. Buffalo still can't run the ball, and now injuries are beginning to take their toll on this team.

The offensive weapons that struck fear in opposing defenses are no longer there. WR Eric Moulds is hurting, and this team desperately misses WR Peerless Price and TE Jay Reimersma. Vegas isn't sure if Moulds will play or how effective he might be. If he's not in the line-up, the experts don't think Buffalo has a receiving threat that will force the Redskins into double coverage or two-deep zone, allowing the Redskins to throw eight in the box.

Without these weapons on offense, QB Drew Bledsoe is getting killed. He's not at all mobile, and when the defense knows he will drop back 50 times a game, teams are going to come after him. The Dolphins, Eagles, Bengals, and the Jets have all put the pressure on him. Because the Buffalo offense can't sustain drives, the Bills defense has been left out on the field far too long and now they're crumbling too.

Washington hasn't had much of a pass rush, but the sportsbooks think even they should get to Bledsoe. On the other hand, the Redskins can't protect their QB either, so this game may come down to the last QB standing. No love for this game in Vegas.

Philadelphia (2-3) at New York Giants (2-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
PHI 20, NYG 14

Trends

        PHI     NYG  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/28/2002 PHI 7 NYG 10 209 65 144 461 213 248
10/28/2002 NYG 3 PHI 17 422 299 123 342 103 239
12/30/2001 NYG 21 PHI 24 354 113 241 408 119 289
10/22/2001 PHI 10 NYG 9 215 96 119 238 96 142
1/7/2001 PHI 10 NYG 20 186 46 140 237 112 125
10/29/2000 PHI 7 NYG 24 192 72 120 384 152 232
9/10/2000 NYG 33 PHI 18 237 56 181 387 167 220

Six of the last seven games have gone under the total.
The home team has won six of the last seven games.

Motivation

Big divisional game. Both teams are coming off a loss.

Opinion

Neither team has played very well lately. The Eagles defense had an off week and couldn't hold the Cowboys in the second half of last week's loss. Dallas ran the ball right at their defense to get the winning field goal.

QB Donovan McNabb is having a lot of problems since coming off his injury last season. Vegas thinks he does not look like the same QB. He isn't making good decisions, he's making poor throws, and McNabb is reluctant to run the ball.

Part of the problem is that he doesn't have any weapons around him. RB Duce Staley has been a disappointment and Philadelphia's starting receivers would be 3's and 4's on other squads. McNabb also isn't getting the short fields he's used to. The other problem is a bruise on his throwing hand that is bothering him. The newspapers say he can't squeeze the ball.

The Philadelphia defense isn't turning over the opposing offense the way they did last season. But, the Eagles defense should get DBs Dawkins and Taylor this week, that may improve the offense's field position and lead to more scoring.

The Giants have been terrible. Their defense can't stop opposing passers and QB Kerry Collins is throwing way too many interceptions. NYG has had nine turnovers in the last two weeks and haven't forced any turnovers. They've taken the ball away only once in the last two games. New England's game plan was to let Collins make mistakes and it worked last week.

Vegas favors the Eagles in a low scoring game.

Dallas (4-1) at Detroit (1-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
DAL 21, DET 17

Trends

        DAL     DET  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/3/2002 DAL 7 DET 9 225 71 154 148 52 96
1/6/2002 DAL 10 DET 15 264 106 158 366 124 242

Detroit has won the last two meeting with both games going under.
Dallas has won four straight games.
Detroit has lost four straight games.
Detroit plays much better at home.

Motivation

Detroit comes off the bye week. Dallas comes off a big win against the Eagles. This looks like a flat spot for the Cowboys.

Opinion

Dallas' offense has been much better than Vegas expected. QB Quincy Carter has played much better, their receivers have dominated opposing secondaries and they've been able to run the ball. The Cowboys have also enjoyed a significant turnover margin. Then there's that Bill Parcell's magic.

Speaking of that magic, this should be a flat spot for the Cowboys. Dallas is coming off an overtime victory over the Eagles and they may have taken the Lions lightly this week, except for Parcells. The handicapper believe that Bad Boy Bill will get his team ready to play this week no matter what it takes.

Detroit is off a bye week, and as we saw again last week with the Jets, losing teams off a bye week are much more dangerous. That said, the Lions don't seem to have enough defense to stop the Cowboys. They're giving up over 4.6 yards per rush and over 60 completion percentage.

The loss of WR Charles Rodgers was a big blow to this offense. Dallas now doesn't have to double any of the remaining Detroit receivers and the Cowboys should shut down what little running game the Lions have.

San Diego (0-5) at Cleveland (3-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 45
CLE 28, SD 17

Trends

      SD     CLE  
Date Away Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/7/2001 SD 16 269 126 143 278 97 181

Both recent meetings have gone under.
The Charges come off a bye week. They have lost five straight in 2003.
The Browns are coming off back-to-back victories.
The Browns defense is giving up 98 total yards less than the Chargers defense.

Motivation

SD is still looking for their first victory of he season.
CLE is 2-0 with QB Tim Couch as QB.

Opinion

QB Tim Couch has put a little spark into this team and the defense, other than the game against the Ravens, has played very well. That defense is 7th in the league (total defense) and being led by the three-second year linebackers who are playing much better than anyone in Vegas expected.

The Chargers are a different team WR David Boston in the line-up. When he came back from suspension, he immediately caught 14 passes against Jacksonville. The Chargers had a week to put things back together and the offense may play up to their talent level this week.

San Diego's defense, however, may not be fixed until the off-season. They are simply terrible. With Cleveland operating a spread offense, the handicappers think they should score a lot of points this week.

Baltimore (3-2) at Cincinnati (1-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points =34
BAL 20, CIN 14

Trends

        BAL     CIN  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/1/2002 BAL 27 CIN 23 247 148 99 381 73 308
11/10/2002 CIN 27 BAL 38 325 162 163 372 123 249
12/23/2001 CIN 0 BAL 16 305 157 148 281 150 131
9/23/2001 BAL 10 CIN 21 382 64 318 203 67 136
11/5/2000 BAL 27 CIN 7 378 142 236 174 44 130
9/24/2000 CIN 0 BAL 37 391 176 215 94 4 90

BAL won on the road and covered last week.
CIN had a bye week

Motivation

CIN HC Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator at Baltimore during their championship season.

Opinion

The Ravens are playing their second straight road game. The Bengals have had two weeks to prepare for Baltimore RB Jamal Lewis. That make help somewhat to contain the NFL's leading rusher. Vegas looks for a low-scoring game with the Ravens grinding it out on the ground against a suspect Bengal rush defense.

Vegas thinks the opposition has an edge when a favorite wins and covers on the road then plays a second game on the road. However, if a team was to cover both games, it would be a team that plays tough defense, doesn't turn the ball over, and can run. Baltimore fits that profile, and they should win a fairly close, defensive battle.

The handicappers don't know what to expect from the Bengals this week. They have a situational advantage with Cincinnati coming off a bye week and the Ravens coming off a road victory. If RB Corey Dillon was healthy and in the line-up, the handicappers would be all over the Bengals this week. With questions still remaining on Dillon's status, most of the wise guys are taking a pass in this game.

Denver (5-1) at Minnesota (5-0)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 45.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 43
DEN 23, MIN 20

Trends

The last two meetings have played under.
No recent regular season meetings between the two teams.
Minnesota comes off a bye week.
Denver comes off a victory over PIT where they did not cover.

Motivation

Big game of the week. Denver's only loss (KC) should have been a victory. They may have looked past the Steelers last week. Bye weeks seem to hurt teams that are playing well before the bye week.

Opinion

Not having QB Jake Plummer made a big difference last week for Denver. QB Steve Buerlein was not as dynamic and took a little time to get into the offense. Now Plummer how has picked up a broken foot (drink more milk buddy) on a freak accident and will miss four or more games. That may actually be an advantage in the eyes of handicappers. The belief among the wise guys is that the Broncos will tailor their game plan to Buerlein's strengths instead of building it around the possibility that Plummer may play.

Minnesota comes off the bye week. QB Daunte Culpepper has had two weeks to sit around and heal. It's assumed that unless something drastic happens, Culpepper will play this week. Furthermore, he practiced all last week without difficulty, giving handicappers the impression that his back injury is behind him.

Minnesota has more than Culpepper going for them in this game. Their offensive line is averaging five yards a rush, but that's been against some suspect rush defenses. The Broncos defense is much better than what the Vikings have faced all season long. Denver is second in the NFL in total defense.

Both teams are in the top three in yards per pass attempt differential. If neither team can pass, both teams will pound the ball on the ground in what will probably be a low scoring game.

Tennessee (4-2) at Carolina (5-0)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 36
TEN 20, CAR 16

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.
CAR has won their opening five games.
TEN thrashed HOU last Sunday.

Motivation

Carolina should be sky high after their come from behind over time victory over the previously undefeated Colts. The Titans offense put up big numbers last week against the Texans.

Opinion

The League MVP is QB Steve McNair right now. He accounts for about 75 percent of the Titans offense. McNair's pretty much on his own; there is no running game to support him. Even so, Tennessee had 535 yards on offense last week against the Texans and the defense has played better, especially the secondary. The Titans have some injuries in their secondary, but passing the ball isn't the Panthers strong suit. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme is among the leagues least effective passers.

Carolina is 5-0 with victories over the Colts (coming off a draining Monday Night game) and Tampa Bay. There three other wins have come against the Saints, the Falcons and Jacksonville. This is very dangerous spot for the Panthers. They are coming off the big comeback win and face a very solid, very veteran team that is the best road squad in the NFL year after year. All the situational factors point to a mild upset this week and the experts agree.

New Orleans (2-4) at Atlanta (1-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
NO 24, ATL 14

Trends

        NO     ATL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/17/2002 NO 17 ATL 24 343 80 263 292 155 137
10/27/2002 ATL 37 NO 35 351 159 192 446 260 186
12/9/2001 NO 28 ATL 10 379 114 265 200 20 180
10/21/2001 ATL 20 NO 13 276 63 213 297 124 173
12/17/2000 ATL 7 NO 23 373 92 281 163 64 99
10/22/2000 NO 21 ATL 19 402 200 202 278 75 203

Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
Away team has won four of the last six meetings.
ATL has lost five straight games.
NO beat CHI last week and covered.

Motivation

Divisional game. Atlanta may already be out of the divisional race while New Orleans is hanging on by a thread. Atlanta got shutout by the Rams on Monday night

Opinion

The good news for Atlanta is that QB Doug Johnson won't be under pressure this week and can't throw any untimely interceptions this week. The Saints can't rush the passer and they probably can't get to him on the sidelines even if they want to without drawing a personal foul.

QB Kurt Kittner will be making his first start for the Falcons this week. His passer rating was an unbelievably low 7.9 and he's thrown two interceptions. Kittner's only function is to hand the ball off and not fumble it or throw interceptions until Atlanta can get to the bye week and or QB Michael Vick is ready to play.

The Falcons probably won't think they have much of a chance to win the game, and as we saw on Monday night, they have a bad habit of quitting once they fall behind. If that happens, Vegas thinks this might be the feel-good game the Saints have needed to get their own heads on straight. Up until now, the Saints can't get a big win no matter who they play. They only beat the Bears by seven last week.

New England (4-2) at Miami (4-1)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
Miami 21, NE 13

Trends

        NE     MIA  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/29/2002 MIA 24 NE 27 332 116 216 359 256 103
10/6/2002 NE 13 MIA 26 245 37 208 319 137 182
12/22/2001 MIA 13 NE 20 313 196 117 368 58 310
10/7/2001 NE 10 MIA 30 149 80 69 297 209 88
12/24/2000 MIA 27 NE 24 348 37 311 310 47 263
9/24/2000 NE 3 MIA 10 210 56 154 253 99 154

MIA owns this series at home in September/October.
NE owns the series at home in December.
Miami has won four straight games.
New England has won their last two games at home.

Motivation

Divisional game.

Opinion

New England has played reasonably well. They beat the Titans with their offense and beat the Giants with their defense. Considering they've had five or six starters out the last month, they've performed very well. The Patriots have forced nine turnovers the past two weeks.

On the other hand, the handicappers have noticed that the Patroits' offense has not played well. Tnew England had only 220 yards last week with QB Tom Brady going only 8-21. The Patriots were outgained by almost 100 yards in their victory over the Giants. Worse, the Patriots have had no running game making them throw every down.

Miami is winning with defense. They forced five turnovers last week. The Dolphins offense hasn't gotten on track (other than the ground game) however. Vegas does not like the match-up of New England QB Tom Brady against the Dolphins secondary. If he had problems last week against the Giants, this week could be a real nightmare.

Miami RB Ricky Williams had the big game against the Buffalo Bills, but QB Jay Feidler hasn't done very much. Good thing the Dolphins haven't had to win a game from behind. That advantage in the running game has Vegas favoring the Dolphins.

Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 49

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 52
GB 28, STL 24

Trends

        GB     STL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
1/20/2002 GB 17 STL 45 383 118 265 292 91 201

Under is 3-1 in the last four meetings.
Packers last three overall have played over.
GB is 0-6 ATS last six played in a Dome.

Motivation

The Packers are coming off a tough overtime loss against the Chiefs

The Rams are coming off a big victory at home on Monday night.

Opinion

The handicappers think the Rams are a nice team, but they looked better than they are on Monday. The wise guys think they may come down to earth this week. That said, this Rams team just wins games under QB Marc Bulger. They've beaten up on some bad football teams-the Falcons and the Cardinals- and lost two tougher competition, leaving may in Vegas to question how good they really are.

St. Louis are missing a lot of their pieces from their glory years. Their third and fourth receivers are invisible. WR Issac Bruce has slowed down a little. RB Marshall Faulk has been on the sidelines and QB Kurt Warner is playing caddie. The experts just don't think the Rams are as talented as they have been in recent years.

The Packers let one get away last week. That's two loses at home, in a stadium where they've been unbeatable in the past few years. The handicappers were all over the Packers last week and their 4th quarter collapse was a huge blow to the experts.

Part of the reason for the nose-dive was the loss of Green Bay's shutdown corner. DB Mike Mackenzie went out of the game with back spasms and didn't return in the second half. The Chiefs went right after his replacement, who couldn't cover anyone he was asked to cover. Mackenzie should be back for this week.

Green Bay has been horrible on the turf and in a dome, so the spot favors the Rams but the talent favors the Packers. No at all love for this game in Vegas.

New York Jets (1-4) at Houston (2-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
HOU 21, NYJ 20

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.
Jets got their first victory of the season (by a large margin).
The Titans beat up Houston.

Motivation

Not a divisional game.

Opinion

Vegas thinks this is a really good spot for the Texans. Houston is coming off a bad road loss to the Titans and the Jets go on the road fat and happy after crushing the Bills in the Meadowlands. Because Houston plays much better defense at home then on he road, this sets up to be a perfect ambush in the minds of the handicappers.

Give Jets HC Herman Edwards credit. He made changes in the off-week and put their young guys in the line-up. The result was a 30-3 win against Buffalo last week. Now those younger players go on the road. Do they have the same enthusiasm this week? Vegas doesn't think so.

Chicago (1-4) at Seattle (4-1)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
SEA 28, CHI 13

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.
Seattle is coming off a victory.
Chicago is coming off a loss.

Motivation

The Bears players and coaches are playing for their jobs. QB Kordell Stewart got the hook this week and the Bears may also play without their top runningback (Thomas) and top WR (Booker)

Opinion

Seattle has yet to play their best game on offense. The Seahawks managed to win their games by low margins, but they don't cover the point spread as favorites. As a result, Seattle has gone under the radar so far.

Vegas is now wondering if this complete game will come at all, or is this it? They got creamed against the Packers, came home, and struggled against the 49ers. They probably should have lost earlier against the Rams. They are gaining about the same number of yards on offense as they are allowing on defense. Winning the turnover battle and excelling on special teams has led the way to victory so far this season, but can it last?

The Bears are battling injuries and now there's been a change at QB. Kordell Stewart is on the bench and QB Chris Chandler will be Chicago's newest signal-caller. Chandler started a number of games last season and is familiar with the offense. He was also knocked out of three games with injuries.

And injuries is the last thing Chicago can afford. Just when their offensive line was getting a little healthy, now the Bears lose their starting running back and best wide receiver. The situation is very favorable for Chicago, but the wise guys won't pull the trigger with all the changes on the Bears' offense.

Tampa Bay (3-2) at San Francisco (2-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 35
TB 28, SF 17

Trends

        TB     SF  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
1/12/2003 SF 6 TB 31 329 121 208 228 62 166

The last two meetings have played under.

Motivation

SF is coming off a loss to Seattle on the road.
TB is coming off a win on the road over WAS.

Opinion

Bad situation this week for the 49ers. Vegas expected them to cover last week and they did. Unfortunately San Francisco suffered another defeat and lost two offensive linemen. SF may play three reserves on their offensive line this week against a very hungry Tampa defense that had six sacks last week.

SF had a good effort but came up a little short. Their two wins have come at home against the Bears and the Lions, and even if SF is playing well statistically, it isn't translating into points or victories. They are having a lot of problems with the vertical passing game. WR Terrell Owens is dropping passes and T.O and Garcia are not on the same page. Even against the poor Lions secondary, they had a stretch when Garcia went 1-10.

Now there's more trouble in the line-up. Reports are HC Dennis Erickson doesn't like QB Jeff Garcia's arm strength. He may have a point, but you can't say he's a calming influence in the locker room. Vegas continues to be dismayed at the drama. They're asking whether the 49ers are on the brink of throwing this season away.

Tampa Bay could be 5-0 with a little luck right now. They are on top of Vegas' power ratings and two points better than any other team. They are playing with passion and the defense is coming off a six-sack game against the Redskins. The 49ers injuries on their offensive line plays to the Buc's strength (front seven). This game may not be close.

Kansas City (6-0) at Oakland (2-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 47.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 45
KC 28, OAK 17

Trends

        KC     OAK  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/28/2002 KC 0 OAK 24 176 44 132 354 280 74
10/27/2002 OAK 10 KC 20 323 133 190 417 83 334
12/9/2001 KC 26 OAK 28 447 204 243 264 79 185
9/9/2001 OAK 27 KC 24 254 35 219 427 100 327
11/5/2000 KC 31 OAK 49 513 39 474 473 231 242
10/15/2000 OAK 20 KC 17 346 58 288 391 161 230

The last two meetings have played under.

Motivation

Divisional game. The Chiefs come off a thrilling come from behind victory on the road and the Raiders come off a home loss.

Opinion

The Chiefs look like the charmed team this year. Each week they seem to find a new way of pulling out a close game. Against the Broncos and the Ravens, special teams pulled out games. Last week, it was the defense that got a score on an interception return that sparked a big comeback then got a fumble that set up the winning touchdown pass.

Oakland has lost their last two against really poor competition-the Bears and the Browns. Nevertheless, this is a big rivalry game and the Raiders have an impressive record on Monday night.

The key to this game will be the Chiefs ground game. Their powerful offensive line should dominate one of the league's worst rushing defenses. Expect another huge game for RB Priest Holmes as the Chiefs go on the road and blow out the Raiders.