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Inside the Points - Week 11
By Fritz Schlottman
November 14, 2003
 

Houston (3-6) vs. Buffalo (4-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
BUF 23, HOU 14

Trends

HOU
Points for = 18, Points against = 27
Over/Under = 7/2 (5/0 away)

BUF
Points for = 16, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 1/8 (0/4 home)

No previous meetings between these teams.

Motivation

Buffalo still has a slim shot at the playoffs.  Realistically, they need to win six of their last seven games to win their division or get a wildcard berth.  A home loss to Houston with Indianapolis, NYG, Tennessee,

Miami and New England still on the schedule would be devastating.

Houston isn't playing for much but pride at this point.  The Texans still have Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Tennessee on the schedule to end the season so it's win now or forget about getting to the .500 mark in their second season.

Opinion

Buffalo is in desperation mode.  There's only one wild card opening in the AFC with either the Titans or the Colts getting the first slot and the Bills haven't won since October 19th.  Playing on the road and a bye week during that time period may have had something to do with it.

The Bills offense is in another slump.  Over the past four games they've managed to score 3 points against the Jets, 5 against the Chiefs, and 6 against the Cowboys.  QB Drew Bledsoe isn't getting enough protection to go down the field and the running game isn't working.  Against the Cowboys and the Chiefs, the Bills starting QB averaged only 5 yards per completion even when they were playing from behind.

But Buffalo has been a better home team.  They're averaging 22.5 points scored in Buffalo and only 9 points against including a shutout over the Patriots and seven points against by Washington.  Only the Eagles have managed to score more than 16 points against the Bills defense in Buffalo.

The Texans are having a much better time on offense this season Defense is another matter.  Over their past three road games Texans opponents have averaged 30 plus points: 38 to Tennessee, 30 to Indianapolis, and 34 to Cincinnati.  In Houston's away games they defeated the Dolphins 21-20, lost to the Saints 31-10, lost to the Titans 38-17, lost to the Colts 30-21, and lost to the Bengals 37-27 for an average of 19 points for and 31 points against. 

The Bills don't have a great offense, but they're good enough.  Given the Bills home record and the Texans away scores, the handicappers are behind the Bills this week.

New York Giants (4-5) at Philadelphia (6-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 38

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 36
PHI 20, NYG 16

Trends

NYG
Points for = 19, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/1 away)

PHI
Points for = 17, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/1 home)

        NYG     PHI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/19/2003 PHI 14 NYG 10 339 180 159 134 87 47
12/28/2002 PHI 7 NYG 10 461 213 248 209 65 144
10/28/2002 NYG 3 PHI 17 342 103 239 422 299 123
12/30/2001 NYG 21 PHI 24 408 119 289 354 113 241
10/22/2001 PHI 10 NYG 9 238 96 142 215 96 119
1/7/2001 PHI 10 NYG 20 237 112 125 186 46 140
10/29/2000 PHI 7 NYG 24 384 152 232 192 72 120
9/10/2000 NYG 33 PHI 18 387 167 220 237 56 181

Motivation

A big divisional game for both teams- if Philadelphia wins they still have a good chance of chasing down Dallas and claiming the divisional crown, if the Giants win, they even their record and have a much better shot at a wildcard slot.

Clearly, the Giants have much more to play for in this game.  Should they lose, they will be 4-6 with six games remaining and will need to beat Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Carolina to make the playoffs. 

The Eagles can afford a loss and still have a great shot at participating in the post season.  Plus they are coming of a tough and emotional victory over the Packers on Monday night.  They may be a bit tired and emotionally drained this week.

This is also a revenge game for New York.  The Giants were beaten by the Eagles back in October on a late punt return for a touchdown.  Philadelphia has won 47% of revenge games during the 200-2002 period after winning the first game.

Opinion

The Giants have all kinds of turnover problems.  That said, this is a classic Giants spot.  Their backs are against the wall and they always seem to perform when they're under the gun.

The Eagles have been this year's cardiac kids.  They've come from behind in each of the last three games.  Philadelphia have lost most of their games statistically, and they've been outscored for the year, but they're three games above .500.

How?  The Eagles win close games.  All their wins have come by 10 points or less.  Philadelphia had a two-point win at Washington, a two-point loss at Dallas, a four-point win against the Giants, seven point wins against the Jets and Falcons, and a three pointer this past Monday night against the Packers.

The last five games they've been vulnerable against a run.  The Eagles have given up 100 yards or more rushing in each of their past five games including 241 against the Packers on Monday night.

You can find handicappers on either side of this game.  That's not surprising given the Eagles tendency to play close games and the Giants tendency to self-destruct.  The series history and the situation certainly point to a low scoring game and Under may be the way to go this week.

Arizona (3-6) at Cleveland (3-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 38

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
CLE 23, ARI 14

Trends

ARI
Points for = 14, Points against = 26
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/1 away)

CLE
Points for = 15, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 4/5 (1/3 home)

        ARI     CLE  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/8/2000 CLE 21 ARI 29 315 146 169 240 104 136

Motivation

Cleveland got ripped by the Chiefs' offense last week and now they come home where they haven't played well.  Just their luck, the Browns desperately need a win at a place where winning (or even scoring) hasn't been easy all season.

At 3-6 both teams are on the outside of the playoffs looking in.  In the weak AFC North Division, the Browns, even at 3-6, probably aren't out of the playoff hunt yet, but one more loss and they might as well make their off-season travel reservations.

Opinion

The Browns are on life-support.  Cleveland should be desperate to win this game, but Vegas finds it very difficult to support the Browns as a home favorite, where their offense is only averaging 13 points per game. Given that they can't score on their home field, the Browns just don't cover spreads as a favorite.  The only game they've covered at home this year was against the Raiders and Oakland outplayed the Browns and had plenty of chances to score.

Vegas doesn't know how the release of WR Kevin Johnson and the suspension of RB William Green is playing in the Browns locker room.  It certainly shook it up, especially the Johnson move that has upset some of the veterans.  The timing is odd in that Cleveland doesn't save anything on their salary cap, so Vegas suspects that it's a message sent by Cleveland HC Butch Davis to the rest of the team.  That message is play hard this week, or be prepared to hit the road.

On the other hand, the Cardinals are just dreadful on the road.  They have not covered a point spread this year in a game they have not won outright.and they've not won as a visitor.  Their losing margin has been eight points or more in each of these road games.  They gave up 42 points to the Lions, 37 to the Rams, 24 to the Cowboys, and 28 points to the Steelers.

The wise guys want no part of this football game.  One even remarked that if your betting on either team this week, you need help with your gambling problem.  Some games can't be handicapped and the pros just don't know what's going to happen in this contest.

Kansas City (9-0) at Cincinnati (4-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 46.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 44
KC 24, CIN 20

Trends

KC
Points for = 31, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 5/4 (2/2 away)

CIN
Points for = 20, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 3/6 (3/2 home)

No recent meetings between these teams.

Motivation

Kansas City still has the perfect season going.  The Chiefs coaching staff, on one hand, probably would love to have a loss before the playoffs just to bring this team back to earth and get them focused for the playoffs.  On the other hand, Vegas knows that the Chiefs owner and a lot of the team's greats still remember their wars against the Dolphins back in the early 70's including a three overtime playoff ordeal the Chiefs lost on a field goal.  The thought of those undefeated Dolphins popping open another bottle of champagne at Kansas City's expense has to be driving their organization and especially owner Lamar Hunt towards a perfect season.

The Bengals, at 4-5 are the favorites to win the AFC North right now, given the season-ending injury to Ravens QB Kyle Boller.  Cincinnati, with everything to play for, has suddenly become a very difficult place for opposing teams to get a victory and the Bengals may be laying in the weeds for the Chiefs this week.

Opinion

It's pretty much a given that KC has been impressive.  They've won all nine games and covered eight of nine. They've now outscored the opposition in the past two games 79-25.  QB Trent Green looks more comfortable, passing for over 400 yards against the Packers and over 350 against the Browns last week.

If the Chiefs have struggled, it's come on the road.  Aside from the 42-14 victory over the Texans in Houston, Kansas City has beaten Baltimore 17-10, Green Bay 40-34, and Oakland 17-10 for an average winning margin of a touchdown and the Chiefs are favored by six points-no help from the linesmaker here.

Cincinnati has been very dangerous at home.  Since the opening 30-10 loss to Denver, the Bengals have a seven-point loss to the Steelers 10-17 and three straight wins over Baltimore 34-26, Seattle 27-24, and Houston 34-27.  Each of these victories have been high scoring games going over the total.

The Bengals may decide to pound away on offense.  Last week they ran the ball 43 times.  RB Rudi Johnson finished with nearly 200 yards and Cincinnati had nearly 240 total rushing yards.  Look for them to run the ball and eat up the clock early in this football game.  That may work as the Bengals have scored early in their games and the Chiefs offense has taken some time to warm up.  But if the Bengals get behind early, Vegas wouldn't be surprised if Cincinnati turned the offense loose and tried to outscore the Chiefs this week.

St. Louis (6-3) at Chicago (3-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
STL 20, CHI 17

Trends

STL
Points for = 27, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 5/3/1 (1/2/1 away)

CHI
Points for = 16, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/1 home)

        STL     CHI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/18/2002 CHI 16 STL 21 388 61 327 220 103 117

Motivation

After the loss at Detroit last week, the Bears are dead and buried for 2003.  Knowing that the coaching staff will be fired after the season's end, Vegas just can't see the Bears coming out motivated for this game.

St. Louis, however, is desperately searching for answers on offense.  Their offense has struggled mightily the last two weeks even with the return of RB Marshall Faulk to the line-up.  The Rams interior offensive line woes have limited their running game and the pressure on QB Marc Bulger to perform is growing unbearable.  The Rams are not a cold weather team and playing conditions on the grass in Chicago will probably not be to their liking.

Opinion

The sportsbooks know that when the Rams win the turnover battle, they win the game and cover.  When they don't they lose.  They were +2 against the Cardinals and they won 37-17; +1 against the Falcons, they won 36-0; +2 against the Packers and they won by 10; at Pittsburgh they were +4 and won 33-21.  In their loss to San Francisco, they lost the game 30-10, the turnover battle, and had nine yards rushing.  St. Louis also struggles on the road, outside, on the grass, and in bad weather.

The Rams were terrible last week, going six consecutive possessions without a first down.  The handicappers find it very hard to support the Rams as touchdown favorites when they struggle to make first downs at home.  On the other hand, how can you bet on the Bears after their resounding thud in Detroit last week?  Vegas has no guarantee the Bears will score enough points to cover even if the Rams offense continues to struggle.

Chicago has only scored 9 points in the first quarter this season, all on field goals.  That's not a good match up against the Rams 9th ranked defense.  The Pros think that the Rams will have some success early in this game and the Bears will do their damage in the second half for a backdoor cover.

Washington (4-5) at Carolina (7-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 34
WAS 20, CAR 14

Trends

WAS
Points for = 19, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 5/4 (2/2 away)

CAR
Points for = 19, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 5/4 (3/2 home)

        WAS     CAR  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/21/2001 CAR 14 WAS 17 443 98 345 342 124 218
9/3/2000 CAR 17 WAS 20 396 162 234 236 112 124

Motivation

Big letdown spot for the Panthers.  They come off a last minute come-from-behind victory over the Buc's at home and now face the struggling Redskins before going on the road to Dallas. At 7-2, Carolina can afford a loss here and may very well get one if they're not sharp this week.

 RB Stephen Davis, if healthy, would love to get in this game and beat the stuffing out of the Redskins.  Davis was discarded during the off-season after never finding a role within Spurrier's offense.

Washington finally looks like a team that wants to play a little football.  After losing four straight games, Washington got a win at home against the Seahawks last Sunday.  At 4-5, the Redskins are right there with the Packers, Giants and Buc's battling to catch the Rams or the Seahawks for the final playoff spot.  Losing is no longer an option in Washington.

Opinion

Last week was the first time Vegas observers remember WAS HC Steve Spurrier with a smile on his face.  The Redskins are still mathematically in the playoff race, but their chances are hanging by a thread.  However, there are signs of life in Washington.  Last week was the first week Washington was able to protect QB Ramsey.  The Redskins signal-caller wasn't sacked in a game for the first time this season.  Finally getting a little protection for his quarterback has to make the old ball coach a little happy.  That pass protection will get a major test this week against Carolina.

If Ramsey gets the same kind of pass protection this week as he got against Seattle, he can do some damage to the Panther's secondary.  Carolina is solid against the rush and they have one of the league's best pass rushes, but if Peppers and company can't get to Ramsey, then the Redskins receivers will get open down the field.  If Carolina's rush does get to the Redskins QB before the ball comes out, it's going to be an ugly game.

Carolina is winning games, just not buy much.  They've scored 15 more points than their opponents have all year.  At home, they've beaten the Jaguars 24-23, the Falcons 23-3, the Saints 19-13, and lost to the Titans 17-37 and beaten Tampa 27-24.  None of these teams, other than Tennessee, throws the football well nor do they protect their quarterback, and the Titans game was a loss.

Vegas thinks this may be one of those sandwich games where a good football team gets ambushed after a big victory.  It's not often that the pros like the Redskins, but this situation is too good for Vegas to pass up.

Jacksonville (2-7) at Tennessee (7-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 52
Tennessee 31, JAX 21

Trends

JAX
Points for = 19, Points against = 25
Over/Under = 7/2 (3/1 away)

TEN
Points for = 28, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 4/5 (1/3 home)

        JAX     TEN  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/26/2003 TEN 30 JAC 17 297 54 243 320 133 187
12/22/2002 TEN 28 JAC 10 214 75 139 298 175 123
10/13/2002 JAC 14 TEN 23 198 130 68 370 152 218
11/4/2001 JAC 24 TEN 28 309 70 239 362 146 216
9/23/2001 TEN 6 JAC 13 329 119 210 264 87 177
11/26/2000 TEN 13 JAC 16 334 111 223 334 117 217
10/16/2000 JAC 13 TEN 27 304 143 161 407 173 234

Motivation

This series is all Titans and the Jags don't like it very much.  Tennessee has won five of the last seven meetings and the last four straight.  To make matters worse, these games haven't been that close with Tennessee dominating Jacksonville both home and away.

Opinion

It's hard to go against the Titans right now.  QB Steve McNair is the league's MVP at this point in the season, their defense is playing well, and their receivers are very under-rated.  They don't have a running game, but don't seem to need one-the Titans have scored thirty or more points in each of their last six games.

Part of their success is the Titans physical play.  They just hit harder than other squads.  And that physical play wears down opponents.  Tennessee just beat up the Dolphins last week on their way to a 31-7 victory.

That's a problem for the Jaguars.  Jacksonville can stop the run, but they're very vulnerable against the pass.  Jacksonville battled the Titans earlier in the year and hung in there through three-quarters, even though they were not exceptionally crisp.  The Jaguars should play better this week-not good enough to win, but good enough to cover the 10 ½ point spread.

Baltimore (5-4) at Miami (5-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 33.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 29
BAL 16, MIA 13

Trends

BAL
Points for = 22, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 6/3 (4/1 away)

MIA
Points for = 10, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 2/7 (2/2 home)

        BAL     MIA  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/17/2002 BAL 7 MIA 26 97 66 31 337 116 221
1/13/2002 BAL 20 MIA 3 347 226 121 151 46 105
9/17/2000 BAL 6 MIA 19 262 118 144 258 106 152

Motivation

Both teams are about as low as you can go right now.   The good news is someone has to win this game.

Baltimore was leading the AFC North Division and looking really good in their game against the Rams when disaster struck.  QB Kyle Boller was lost for the season with a knee injury.  Reserve QB Chris Redmond looked totally unprepared to go into the game and Baltimore's offense ground to a halt in the second half.  Redmond's performance was bad enough to move him further down the Ravens depth chart and Anthony Wright will be Baltimore's new starting QB, and perhaps the signal-caller for the remainder of 2003.

On the other hand, the Dolphins were dreadful against the Titans.  Miami's offensive line was dominated by the Titans front seven.  Miami couldn't run the ball and couldn't protect QB Brian Griese.  Just their luck, the play Baltimore and their stingy defense this week.

Opinion

The sportsbooks are daring bettors to play under this week.  A 35.5 total is a take-out play by the house- at that level gamblers don't dare take the Under (there's no margin for error and the chances of fumbles or interceptions deep in a team's own territory that result in touchdowns is just too great to gamble serious money on) and players don't dare take the over either.

The handicappers think the best play this week is on the Dolphins.  A five point spread in what is likely to be a very low-scoring game is a lot of points for a team as one-dimensional as Baltimore to lay.  Miami is very good against the run and they're much better when they have eight and nine players on the line of scrimmage waiting on RB Jamal Lewis.

Vegas doesn't like either team, but getting five points in this situation is just to good to pass up.  Reluctantly, the pros are on the Dolphins this week.

Atlanta (2-7) at New Orleans (4-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 42
NO 28, ATL 14

Trends

ATL
Points for = 17, Points against = 27
Over/Under = 5/4 (1/3 away)

NO
Points for = 21, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/1 home)

        ATL     NO  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/19/2003 NO 45 ATL 17 238 130 108 507 165 342
11/17/2002 NO 17 ATL 24 292 155 137 343 80 263
10/27/2002 ATL 37 NO 35 446 260 186 351 159 192
12/9/2001 NO 28 ATL 10 200 20 180 379 114 265
10/21/2001 ATL 20 NO 13 297 124 173 276 63 213
12/17/2000 ATL 7 NO 23 163 64 99 373 92 281

Motivation

Atlanta has to feel good about finally getting another victory, their first since Week 1.  The Falcons ambushed the Giants by inserting RB Warrick Dunn back into the line-up and running the ball on virtually every down.  That strategy would not have worked so well, but the Giants were in a giving mood and tossed that game away.

New Orleans is off a bye week and much healthier than they've been all season.  At 4-5, the Saints have been under the radar. Now with six games left in the season, they have just as good a chance of making the playoffs as Green Bay and Tampa Bay.

Opinion

Vegas thinks this game is the no-brainer of the week.  The Saints have had two weeks to get ready for this contest and get healthy.  It wasn't that long ago (October) that a beat-up New Orleans squad hammered the Falcons 45-17.  The Saints are much healthier now than they were then and with something to play for, there's no reason (in the handicapper's minds) that New Orleans shouldn't lay another hurt on Atlanta.

New York Jets (3-6) at Indianapolis (7-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = no line

Trends

NYJ
Points for = 18, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 4/5 (3/2 away)

IND
Points for = 28, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 6/3  (2/2 home)

        NYJ     IND  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
1/4/2003 IND 0 NYJ 41 396 180 216 176 52 124
12/23/2001 NYJ 29 IND 28 451 166 285 393 133 260
9/9/2001 IND 45 NYJ 24 327 135 192 376 154 222
12/3/2000 IND 17 NYJ 27 491 211 280 375 49 326
11/12/2000 NYJ 15 IND 23 367 96 271 358 148 210

Motivation

All the intangibles on the Colts side this week.  Indianapolis comes off an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars, they were whipped in last season's playoff loss to the Jets 41-0, and by all accounts, the team is in an exceptionally foul mood this week.  On the other hand, the possible loss of WR Marvin Harrison has to play on the Colts' minds.  2002's best receiver has seemingly always been on the field, and no one knows with any certainty how Indy will react if he can't go this week.

Opinion

Vegas is taking a big pass on this game.  If Harrison was probable, the handicappers would have been all over the Colts and the Over in this game.  With the Colts leading receiver doubtful, no one around the sportsbooks wants to even take a guess as to how the Colts will respond.

San Diego (2-7) at Denver (5-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
DEN 24, SD 14

Trends

SD
Points for = 19, Points against = 27
Over/Under = 5/4 (3/2 away)

DEN
Points for = 23, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 4/5 (1/3 home)

        SD     DEN  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/14/2003 DEN 37 SD 13 303 121 182 382 197 185
12/1/2002 DEN 27 SD 30 434 220 214 417 156 261
10/6/2002 SD 9 DEN 26 314 79 235 417 117 300
11/11/2001 SD 16 DEN 26 243 96 147 338 127 211
10/21/2001 DEN 10 SD 27 379 107 272 263 81 182
11/19/2000 SD 37 DEN 38 385 86 299 536 93 443
10/8/2000 DEN 21 SD 7 277 65 212 304 96 208

Motivation

The Chargers are sky-high after the return of QB Doug Flutie and a convincing victory over the Minnesota Vikings.  The Broncos return from their bye week still in the AFC playoff race, but knowing that they have plenty of work to do.

Opinion

Love doesn't last long in Vegas.  A week after the Flutie's return sparked an offensive explosion in San Diego; the sportsbooks think Flutie-mania has run its course.

The return of QB Jake Plummer has the handicappers salivating.  With a healthy Jake the Snake in Denver's line-up, the Broncos won and covered their first three games of the season easily.  They beat the Bengals 31-10, the Chargers 37-13, and Oakland 31-10 during that period. 

Now, coming off a loss and a bye week to get themselves healthy and prepared for this game, the Broncos get a Chargers team they pummeled 37-13 on the road in San Diego at home in the cold and altitude of the Mile High city.  The Pros are expecting nothing less than a terrible beating for the visiting Chargers on Sunday.

Green Bay (4-5) at Tampa Bay (4-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 40

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
TB 21, GB 20

Trends

GB
Points for = 27, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 6/3 (3/1 away)

TB
Points for = 20, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 4/5 (1/3 home)

        GB     TB  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/24/2002 GB 7 TB 21 267 96 171 246 93 153
11/4/2001 TB 20 GB 21 352 184 168 194 61 133
10/7/2001 GB 10 TB 14 322 69 253 253 99 154
12/24/2000 TB 14 GB 17 319 135 184 272 67 205
11/12/2000 GB 15 TB 20 302 97 205 272 108 164

Motivation

This will be an emotional game for the Packers who have circled this game ever since the 2003 schedule was announced.  Green Bay still has hard feelings over Tampa DE Warren Sapp's hit on T Chad Clifton and Sapp's confrontation with GB HC Sherman after the game.  Tampa may not have the same passion for this rematch.

Opinion

Desperation.  The loser here would go to 4-6 and would have to run the table to get into the playoffs; the winner still has a shot at playing in the post season.

Despite QB Brett Favre's thumb problem, the Packers have all the tools to cause Tampa's defense fits.  RB Ahman Green has torn up opposing defenses the year and Favre has shown that he can throw the ball even with that cast, but not in the rain and ice of Wisconsin.

The Buc's have all sorts of problems on both sides of the ball.  The offense is erratic-Tampa can't run the ball at all and QB Brad Johnson is holding the ball to long.  The defense isn't the same either.  Injuries in the secondary makes the Buc's defense predictable.  When Tampa brings up a safety to put eight in the box and their corners play off, the opponent's are throwing quickly to their wide receivers and forcing Tampa's corners to make tackles in space-something they've struggled with this season.  If Tampa doesn't put an extra defender near the line of scrimmage, teams run the ball on them.

No doubt the Packers have seen what Vegas has seen and will use it to their advantage this week.  Vegas likes Green Bay to cover in a tight, hard fought game.

Detroit (3-6) at Seattle (6-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
SEA 24, DET 17

Trends

DET
Points for = 16, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 3/6 (1/3 away)

SEA
Points for = 23, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 3/5/1 (0/4/1 home)

No recent meetings between these teams.

Motivation

The Seahawks are coming off a loss and the Lions are coming off back-to-back victories.

Opinion

Not a game Vegas likes very much.  The Seahawks have not shown that they can cover a 10-½ point spread against anyone, including the Lions.  In their previous five home games, Seattle has won by more than seven points only once, and that was the opening week of the season.  In their last four home victories, opponents are averaging 19 points while Seattle is scoring 23-a four-point spread.  You have to stretch four points a long way to get to 10 ½.

On the other hand the Lions are playing much better on defense recently.  Over the last two games (both home victories) they've only surrendered 23 points total. Seattle is better on offense than either the Bears or the Raiders, but the pros doubt whether they can cover that many points.  However, given Detroit's road reputation, it will take a brave handicapper to step up to the widow for a Lions ticket this week.

Minnesota (6-3) at Oakland (2-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 45

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 48
MIN 28, OAK 20

Trends

MIN
Points for = 27, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 6/3 (3/1 away)
Over is 5-0 in Vikes last five games.

OAK
Points for = 18, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 3/6 (2-2 home)

No recent regular season meetings between these teams.

Motivation

The Vikings are in free-fall after their defense imploded the last three weeks.  Opponents are gaining over 450 yards on offense during this period.  Minnesota is desperate to stop the bleeding this week against a pretty unmotivated Raiders squad.

Opinion

One word.OVER!  The last five weeks, Minnesota's defense has given up 26 points to Atlanta, 20 points to a beat up Denver squad, 29 points to the Giants, 30 to the Packers at home in the dome, and 42 to the Chargers last Sunday.  Every one of these five games has gone over the total.

Oakland's defense isn't stopping anyone either.  Only two Raiders opponents have scored less than 20 points this year.  Teams as bad as the Jets, Lions, and Bears are getting 23-24 points per game.  Oakland's games have gone under simply because the Raiders offense hasn't been able to score, and that doesn't seem to be a problem against the Vikings right now.

The pros like Minnesota and the Over in this game.

Dallas (7-2) at New England (7-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 35.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 31
NE 17, DAL 14

Trends

DAL
Points for = 20, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 4/5 (2/2 away)

NE
Points for = 20, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 4/5 (2/2 home)

No recent regular season meetings between these teams.

Motivation

Plenty of history between Cowboys HC Bill Parcells and the Patriots.  Big Bill and the Kraft family didn't part as friends and Parcells would like nothing better than to look up at New England's owner's box and smile after a victory.  The Kraft family probably feels the same way and would like to beat their old coach (literally) this week.  Add in that most of the Patriots coaching staff has worked for the Cowboys' boss in the past and you have yourself a good-old family feud.

Opinion

You can find good handicappers on both sides of this game.  Whichever side they're on, all agree that this game will be a low-scoring chess match.

There's a group that thinks Dallas is due to play poorly, but they have a good enough coach and defense to avoid a slump. 

This is not a great match-up on offense for the Cowboys.  The last time they faced a good defense on the road, they were shut out by the Buc's.  Last week against Buffalo, they had just over 300 yards on offense.  The Patriots have a very solid defense and they should limit the Cowboys plus have a few new wrinkles and gimmicks they've worked on the past two weeks.

New England is coming off a bye week.  Normally good teams are not very sharp coming off a week off.  The exceptions last week were the Chiefs who destroyed the Browns and the Titans who rolled.  Can New England do the same against the NFL's number one defense?  Others don't think the Patriots have the horsepower to get it done.

Pittsburgh (3-6) at San Francisco (4-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
SF 31, PIT 10

Trends

PIT
Points for = 19, Points against = 24
Over/Under = 5/4 (1/3 away)

SF
Points for = 22, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 2/7 (1/4 home)

No recent regular season meetings between these teams.

Motivation

The Steelers, as bad as they've been, are not out of the AFC North divisional race.  Pittsburgh will be desperate for a win this week as a loss will surely eliminate them from the wildcard race, leaving only the AFC North crown within their grasp.

San Francisco at 4-5 is also desperate.  They're in the same place as the Packers and Buc's this week, win or pack your bags.

Opinion

Vegas is all over the 49ers this week.  Four points is a short number to cover for a 49ers team that is 4-1 at home this season.  The last two victories have been especially impressive- a 24-7 victory over Tampa Bay and a 30-10 beating administered to the Rams. 

Pittsburgh isn't as good as either the Rams or Buc's.  The Steelers have lost three of their four away games this year: 20-41 to KC, a 17-10 victory over the Bengals, a 14-17 defeat at Denver, and a 16-23 loss at Seattle.  In only one of these games did the Steelers offense score more than 17 points.  With two weeks to prepare for this game, the sportsbooks like the look of the 49ers this week.