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Inside the Points - Week 8
By Fritz Schlottman
October 24, 2003
 

This is a weekly view of the upcoming games considering the perspective of the sportsbooks to see how their information about teams and trends can be relevant to your fantasy football team. There are probably a few of you who feel that the gaming industry should give to you for a change. This view is interesting and different from fantasy football since it considers the teams and games as a whole first considering trends and motivations and only later the players - almost the exact opposite from when you decide your weekly starting players.

Click here for an interesting note from Fritz this week.

Cleveland (3-4) at New England (5-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
New England 21, Cleveland 20

Trends

        CLE     NE  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/9/2001 CLE 16 NE 27 277 50 227 290 81 209
11/12/2000 NE 11 CLE 19 272 139 133 286 102 184

CLE is 10-2 against the spread in road games in their last 12 and 2-1 as a road dog this season.

Motivation

Not a divisional game. A sandwich game for the Patriots; they are coming off an overtime victory over their divisional rivals (Miami), home this week against a Browns team that played poorly last week, and next week they go on the road to Denver. They may get caught looking past the Browns this week.

Opinion

The Browns are a strong underdog this week, as are all underdogs in all games involving Cleveland. The underdog in Browns games is 16-8 (67%) over this season and last. During HC Butch Davis' tenure, the underdog is 26-14. Why? Because 22 of the 40 games have been decided in the last minute of the game-13 on the last or the next to last play of the game.

The Browns conservative approach leads to close games. Further, New England is banged up and coming off a big victory over the Dolphins. All the trends and motivations line up behind the Browns this week.

Denver (5-2) at Baltimore (3-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 36
Denver 23, Baltimore 13

Trends

        DEN     BAL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/30/2002 DEN 23 BAL 34 403 97 306 230 84 146
9/30/2001 BAL 20 DEN 13 228 61 167 333 112 221
12/31/2000 DEN 3 BAL 21 177 42 135 240 122 118

Motivation

Two teams that are coming off bad road losses and now have to deal with injuries. The Ravens QB (Boller) and RB (Lewis) are banged up while the Broncos will be starting their third quarterback of the season (Kanell).

Opinion

Injuries are killing both these teams. Ravens QB Kyle Boller has a non-throwing shoulder injury and his off hand/arm has been taped to his chest during practice this week. The Broncos QB problems are better known with QB Danny Kanell being the third Broncos QB to start this season. Ravens RB Jamal Lewis also has a shoulder problem that will not get better this season.

Denver is typically a 50-50 pass-run balance team. Look for them to come out with a conservative offense featuring RB Clinton Portis. Likewise, the Ravens will try and protect Boller by running the ball more.

That would be well and good, but both of these teams feature outstanding rush defenses. This figures to be a low-scoring game where both teams runs the ball, pass from quick three and five step drops, and kick a lot of field goals. A lot of handicappers like the under and the more sophisticated Denver offense in this game.

St. Louis (4-2) at Pittsburgh (2-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 46

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
Steelers 24, Rams 17

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.

Motivation

A sandwich game for the Rams this week. They are coming off three consecutive home wins, and the big win against the Packers. St. Louis are on the road this week against a Steelers team off a loss and a bye week, and next week they're on the road against their hated rivals (SF).

The Steelers are off three losses and a bye week. They should be motivated to win this game.

Opinion

The Steelers haven't played well, yet at 2-4 straight up they aren't out of the playoffs in the very week AFC North. Pittsburgh's defense played well at home this season. They played well against the Broncos even in a 17-14 loss. Pittsburgh held the Broncos to just 242 total yards. Two weeks prior to that, the Steelers held the Titans to just 198 total yards, but lost 30-13 due to turnovers. Pittsburgh held Cincinnati to 182 total yards and 11 first downs.

Look for more balance on the Steelers offense. RB Jerome Bettis will get the start and Vegas expects Pittsburgh to pound him at the Rams defense even with all the injury problems on Pitt's offensive line. The Steelers rank 26th in rushing offense. The lack of balance has put a lot of pressure on the pass protection. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in sacks against.

The Rams are much better at home, in the dome, and then they are on the road and on grass. St. Louis scored more than 17 points on the road once last year. There's a 60% chance of rain, and playing half their games in the dome, the Rams aren't accustomed to playing in bad weather. The pros like the Steelers and the under in this game.

Seattle (5-1) at Cincinnati (2-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 44
Cincinnati 24, Seattle 20

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.

Motivation

Seattle's having troubles getting up for their games against lesser opponents. Last week's cupcake was the Bears, this week's opponent are the Bengals, and the next opponents are the Steelers, Redskins, Lions, Ravens, and Browns before they play the Vikings on December 7th. Seattle should be the favorite for the rest of October and November.

The Seahawks and HC Mike Holmgren cut Bengals QB Jon Kitna in 2001. The Bengals signal-caller just might have some lingering bad feelings towards the opposition this week.

Opinion

The Bengals are coming off a convincing home victory over the Ravens. Even at 2-4, Bengals fans are talking playoffs, and it's possible in an AFC North Division where 8-8 is probably good enough to make the playoffs. Seattle hasn't gotten up for a lesser opponent yet this season, the experts look for Cincinnati to get the home upset or get the cover.

Detroit (1-5) at Chicago (1-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 39
Chicago 23, Detroit 16

Trends

        DET     CHI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/24/2002 DET 17 CHI 20 301 102 199 422 75 347
10/20/2002 CHI 20 DET 23 362 192 170 224 89 135
12/30/2001 CHI 24 DET 0 332 64 268 326 83 243
12/2/2001 DET 10 CHI 13 295 67 228 232 108 124
12/24/2000 CHI 23 DET 20 240 100 140 286 105 181
9/24/2000 DET 21 CHI 14 274 80 194 401 147 254

Motivation

Divisional game both teams need to win. Both the Lions and the Bears are not playing well and are under pressure from the fans, media and team management. Both teams have yanked their starting QBs to light a fire under the team and both squads have numerous injury problems.

Opinion

How do you bet on either team? The Lions have been dreadful including a blowout loss to the Cowboys at home off a bye week last Sunday. They have no secondary, no pass rush, can't run the ball, and QB Joey Harrington has played like a rookie this season and may get the hook again this week if he struggles. To top it all off, they've lost 17 straight games on the road

On the other hand, how do the Bears lay points to anyone? Any motivated, competent NFL team would blow Chicago out of the stadium any time they wanted to. The Bears have a lot of injuries on their offensive line and at the wide receiver position, and their offensive game plan was lifted off cave drawings painted in berry juice.

Obviously, everyone around the sportsbooks is taking a pass on this game.

New York Giants (2-4) at Minnesota (6-0)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 44
Minnesota 24, N.Y. Giants 20

Trends

The Giants went into the Metrodome this year and beat the Vikings 27-20. RB Tiki Barber had 169 rushing yards in that game and QB Kerry Collins only threw 10 incompletions in that game. Giants are 8-2 as road dogs in their last 10 games. MIN is 6-0 straight up and against the spread.

        NYG     MIN  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/10/2002 NYG 27 MIN 20 460 169 291 356 224 132
11/19/2001 NYG 16 MIN 28 358 61 297 359 96 263
1/14/2001 MIN 0 NYG 41 518 138 380 114 54 60

Motivation

A sandwich game for the Vikings. They come off the big home win last week against the Broncos, host the struggling Giants this week, and then QB Brett Favre and the hated Green Bay Packers come to town next week. They may have overlooked this game, except for the fact that the Giants beat them at home in a similar situation last season.

The Giants have to feel snake-bit. The lost last week's game against the Eagles on a punt return in the final minutes and this week they go on the road against a very opportunistic Minnesota defense. The Giants are -8 in turnover margin while the Vikings are a +12.

Opinion

The Giants have not lost four straight games since 1995. A lot of other technical trends also favor New York in this game. However, you can find handicappers that are willing to look past all of that.

Some of the wise guys have a real bad feeling about this Giants team. The Vikings are the better team on offense and have a decided advantage on special teams. Further, the Vikings just know how to win games while the Giants self-destruct every week. The Vikings offensive line is much better than the injury plagued Giants and Minnesota is getting a lot more pressure on the quarterback this year. New York's defense has played their hearts out in the past three games, dominating the Eagles, Miami, and New England. None of these teams are as good on offense as the Vikings. Minnesota is going to score some points, but New York hasn't shown they can get the ball in the end zone enough to get into a scoring contest with the Vikings.

The other handicappers look at all the motivational and situational factors that support the Giants. Minnesota is in between tough games; last week's against the Broncos and next week's against the Packers. One of these two sides has to be right, but without a consensus, it's a game that's too close to call.

Tennessee (5-2) at Jacksonville (1-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 51
Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 21

Trends

        TEN     JAX  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/22/2002 TEN 28 JAC 10 298 175 123 214 75 139
10/13/2002 JAC 14 TEN 23 370 152 218 198 130 68
11/4/2001 JAC 24 TEN 28 362 146 216 309 70 239
9/23/2001 TEN 6 JAC 13 264 87 177 329 119 210
11/26/2000 TEN 13 JAC 16 334 117 217 334 111 223
10/16/2000 JAC 13 TEN 27 407 173 234 304 143 161
1/23/2000 TEN 33 JAC 14 289 177 112 360 144 216

Motivation

The Jaguars still feel aggrieved for the 1999 season. Tennessee gave the Jaguars their only three loses of that year, including one in the playoffs that ended the Jaguars chances of getting a Super Bowl ring.

To make matters worse, Tennessee HC Jeff Fisher has referred to Jacksonville as the Titans other home field, something that has stuck with the Jaguars. Both Fisher and the Jaguars HC have made some additional careless/motivational remarks.

Opinion

Perhaps a letdown game for the Titans this week. They come off a big victory over the previously undefeated Panthers, this week they play a rebuilding Jaguars team, next week is a bye followed by a home game against the Dolphins.

The pros would like the Jags a lot more if they had an experienced QB. The Titans secondary is hurting, but it would take a cool, experienced QB to stand in the pocket under that heavy Tennessee rush and deliver the ball. Titans' QB McNair is that kind of QB, the Jaguars QB Leftwich isn't there quite yet. Tennessee has scored an average of 32 points in their last five games. If the Jaguars can get their passing game going, this game should go over the total.

Dallas (5-1) at Tampa Bay (3-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
TB 20, Dallas 17

Trends

        DAL     TB  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/9/2001 TB 10 DAL 6 127 96 31 263 71 192
12/3/2000 DAL 7 TB 27 266 113 153 301 250 51

Motivation

Tampa Bay is in a rut. The lose a game, then come back and cover the next week, lose a game, and then come back and cover again. They lost last week against the 49ers so this week should be their bounce-back game. They should be in a nasty mood this week after the embarrassing lost to the 49ers.

The Cowboys showed Vegas a lot last week. In an obvious let down game, they fell behind the Lions early 0-7, but stuck with it and buried the Lions in the second and third quarters. Credit HC Bill Parcells for willing this team to a victory.

Opinion

The Cowboys seem to have it all on offense. Their speedy receivers are making big plays, the running game is steady, the offensive line has avoided injuries, and QB Quincy Carter is playing within the offense.

That said, the Cowboys haven't played a serious opponent yet this year. Their biggest victory came against the Eagles who have struggled early in 2003. Their other victories have come against the teams with losing records. Dallas' opponents' combined records are 10-27.

The public is solidly behind the Cowboys. Bettors will pay a premium to back them the rest of this season.

The Buccaneers (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) are off an alarmingly lackluster effort in San Francisco, where they took a 24-7 beating from the 49ers as 4 1/2-point favorites. Even worse, SS John Lynch suffered a shoulder injury in addition to his neck injury that has kept him out of practice all week. He is listed as "doubtful," along with WR Joe Jurevicius. CB Brian Kelly is gone for the season.

Carolina (5-1) at New Orleans (3-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
Carolina 20, NO 14

Trends

        CAR     NO  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/5/2003 NO 13 CAR 19 309 185 124 344 155 189
12/29/2002 CAR 10 NO 6 273 85 188 244 125 119
11/10/2002 NO 34 CAR 24 396 100 296 345 97 248
12/2/2001 CAR 23 NO 27 150 49 101 432 125 307
10/14/2001 NO 27 CAR 25 218 34 184 358 198 160
11/12/2000 NO 20 CAR 10 311 53 258 322 157 165
10/15/2000 CAR 6 NO 24 141 10 131 397 215 182

Motivation

The Panthers are coming off a big loss that ended their undefeated run. The Saints are perhaps the worst 3-4 team in the league; their victories have come against the Texans, Falcons, and Bears. Off victories over the Bears and the Falcons, they are feeling really good about themselves going into this game. This week, the Saints take a big step up against the Panthers.

Panthers' QB Jake Delhomme comes back to the Super Dome. Delhomme was the back up to NO QB Brooks last season.

Opinion

When the Panthers win in this series, the games are close, low-scoring affairs. When the Saints win, the games go over the total. That puts the experts on the side of the Panthers and the under in this game.

The Panthers won the earlier meeting this year 19-13 and ran the ball effectively. Their running game matches up very well against the Saints rush defense because the New Orleans front seven isn't very good. The pros like the Panthers and the under a lot in this game.

San Francisco (3-4) at Arizona (1-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
SF 24, Arizona 14

Trends

        SF     ARI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/21/2002 SF 17 ARI 14 358 106 252 184 108 76
10/27/2002 ARI 28 SF 38 357 105 252 420 151 269
10/1/2000 ARI 20 SF 27 345 130 215 365 126 239

Motivation

Big sandwich game for the 49ers. Last week they got a home victory over the Super Bowl champs by a big margin, this week, they go on the road at Arizona who is coming off a bye week, and next week they host their greatest rivals (St. Louis). Arizona may catch them looking past this game.

Opinion

The 'Niners finally got it together on offense last week. The rolled out the running game and kept with it for the first time this season. The result was a lop-sided victory over the Super Bowl Champs. SF had 458 net total yards against one of the league's best defenses last week, 212 on the ground. Arizona has been a terrible home dog over the years, just 6-12 over the last 3+ years. Vegas likes the 'Niners and the under in this game.

N.Y. Jets (2-4) at Philadelphia (3-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 27
Philadelphia 14, Jets 13

Trends

No recent regular season meetings between these two teams.

Motivation

Both teams are coming off victories. The Jets have beaten Buffalo and Houston the last two weeks and the Eagles have beaten the Giants. Neither team is moving the ball on offense.

Opinion

The Eagles aren't doing anything on offense right now at a lot of this starts and ends with QB Donovan McNabb. Vegas still maintains that he's never really recovered from his leg injury last season. The Eagles QB is having a truly horrible season. McNabb isn't getting the ball to his receivers and he isn't taking off and running like he used to. The Eagles QB completed just one pass to a wide receiver last week. His total passing against the Giants was 47 yards.

McNabb isn't the only problem on this offense. His receivers aren't getting open, the running backs are struggling and the offensive line isn't as good this year. Last year, they were 6-2 at this time last year with big wins against Tampa Bay and the Giants on Monday night. In 2002, they started the season by scoring 27 at Tennessee, 37 against the Redskins, 44 vs. Dallas, 35 against the Texans, and 25 against the Jaguars. This year, they've scored 0 against Tampa, 10 against New England, 23 against Buffalo, and 14 points last week.

The Jets have their own quarterback controversy going. QB Chad Pennington may get into the game this week and that may upset the rhythm the Jets have going on offense right now. Having a possible QB change during the game has the handicappers off New York in this game. Looks like another pass by the wise guys.

Houston (2-4) at Indianapolis (5-1)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 50
Indianapolis 30, Houston 20

Trends

        HOU     IND  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/1/2002 HOU 3 IND 19 165 65 100 278 88 190
9/22/2002 IND 23 HOU 3 204 126 78 339 88 251

Motivation

The Colts may get caught looking past the Texans this week. IND is coming off a bye week, this week they host the Texans, and next week they go on the road to South Florida to play the Dolphins. The Texans are coming off a home loss to the Jets, a game they probably should have won.

Opinion

Houston has yet to show they can handle the Colts offense. In the previous two meetings, they've been bombed by a combined score of 42-6. Houston's defense isn't very good on the road, but their offense has shown some ability. QB David Carr and WR Johnson have made big plays all season long. It looks like RB Domanick Davis is the real deal, adding another weapon to the Texans armory.

Unfortunately, the Texans don't have enough talent yet to keep up with the Colts if Indy makes this game into a scoring contest. Look for a higher scoring game than many would expect.

Buffalo (4-3) at Kansas City (7-0)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
Kansas City 21, Buffalo 20

Trends

If you've been on the Bills and under, you are 6-1 this season.

       

BUF

   

KC

 

Date

Away

Home

Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/17/2002

BUF 16

KC 17

344 133 211 320 128 192
11/19/2000

BUF 21

KC 17

299 74 225 378 103 275

Motivation

Bad situation for the Chiefs this week. They made it through a difficult patch in their season undefeated and now they have to avoid a letdown against the cupcakes with a bye week sandwiched in between games. This week, they are home to Buffalo, then a bye week, then games against the Browns, Bengals, and Raiders (home). Kansas City may get caught looking past the Bills this week.

Opinion

Kansas City is the public's favorite team to bet on, but continue to get nothing but scorn from the handicappers. The way Vegas sees it, this team shouldn't be any better than 3-3 this season.

The wise guy's point to several of their shortcomings. In their last three games, they've barely won the game and covered. Against Baltimore it was 10-10 before KR Daunte Hall took a kick back to save them. Denver outplayed the Chiefs and outgained them by 200 yards on offense and lost the game on another kick return. The Packers had this team beat by 17 points, but failed to close the deal.

It's unusual for a 6-0 football team to have the fourth worst defense in the league. They are last in rushing defense, and they've given up 202, 176, and 183 yards on the ground in their last three games. Buffalo has finally gotten their running game off the ground. RB Travis Henry had a bounce back game last week and should have some success against the Chiefs and that will take the pressure off Buffalo QB Drew Bledsoe.

Miami (4-2) at San Diego (1-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 35
Miami 21, San Diego 14

Trends

        MIA     SD  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/24/2002 SD 3 MIA 30 413 222 191 144 64 80
11/12/2000 MIA 17 SD 7 244 84 160 238 82 156

Motivation

Another bad sandwich game for Miami. The Dolphins are coming off an overtime loss to a divisional foe, this week they take on the 1-5 Chargers on Monday Night (Junior's homecoming), and next week they are home against the Colts. Junior didn't do his team any favors by making an ill-advised remark about San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson that's sure to get his former teammate's attention.

Opinion

Miami has just killed the Chargers in this series, winning both recent games by a combined score of 47-10. San Diego's strength (running the football) doesn't match up well with the Dolphins defensive strength (stopping the rush). On the other hand, the Dolphins strength (again, running the ball) matches up well against a San Diego defense that struggles to contain opposing rushers. Look for Miami to win a low scoring game by a touchdown or more as the Dolphins have won their last three road games by ten points or more.