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Inside the Points - Week 12
By Fritz Schlottman
November 21, 2003
 

Indianapolis (8-2) vs. Buffalo (4-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
Colts 21, Bills 17

Trends

IND
Points for = 29, Points against = 20
Over/Under =7/3 (Away = 4/1)
Seven straight games have gone over the total.

BUF
Points for = 15, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 1/9 (Home = 1/4)
Seven straight games have gone under the total

        IND     BUF  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/4/2001 IND 30 BUF 14 305 144 161 232 84 148
9/23/2001 BUF 26 IND 42 555 137 418 374 145 229
12/11/2000 BUF 20 IND 44 237 121 116 294 66 228
10/1/2000 IND 18 BUF 16 265 81 184 385 170 215

Motivation

Manning is 5-1 SU & ATS against the Bills throwing for an average of 224 yards and leading his team to an average victory 28-20. On the other hand, Buffalo just can't score on anyone right now. They had five trips inside the Texans 35 yard line and came away with just two field goals last week. The Bills, barring a miracle, are out of the playoffs this year and it's doubtful that they're injured players will be busting down the HC's door to get into this game, so don't hold your breath that either Moulds or Henry will see much action.

Opinion

Buffalo offense last week was very unusual. They had five drives inside the Texans' 35 yard line on Sunday and got only two field goals out of it. It's been three straight games since the Bills have scored a touchdown. RB Travis Henry had a great first half, but he was slowed in the second 30 minutes after suffering an ankle injury. Henry may not be available this week. Without WR Eric Moulds in the line-up (and he's not likely to play), the Bills don't have enough weapons to challenge defenses.

Indianapolis is red hot on offense, but their defense is having problems in recent weeks. Last week, the Colts offense was missing a couple of offensive linemen, WR Marvin Harrison, and TE Marcus Pollard. That didn't slow Manning down at all as he went to WR Troy Walters to put up huge numbers on the Jets. Indianapolis may get Harrison back this week and the line will certainly change if he's available.

The Pros would love to support the Bills in this spot if there was any signs of life in Buffalo. But given the play of Buffalo's offense and the overwhelming Indy advantage in this series, the handicappers are behind the Colts in a fairly low scoring game.

Jacksonville (2-8) at New York Jets (3-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 51
NYJ 28, JAX 21

Trends

JAX
Points for = 17, Points against = 24
Over/Under = 7/3 (Away = 3/2)

NYJ
Points for = 19, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 5/5 (Home = 1/3)

        JAX     NY  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/29/2002 NYJ 3 JAC 28 383 223 160 345 78 267

Motivation

Last year, the Jaguars beat the struggling Jets 28-3. New York QB Chad Pennington won the starting job by coming off the bench and throwing for 281 yards. Pennington has been great since his return from injury this season, throwing for 240 yards per game with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Jacksonville is coming off a good effort (albeit a losing one) in Tennessee. Jacksonville had more first downs (16-13) and outgained the Titans 271-246.

Opinion

Vegas thinks the Jaguars are playing hard, they just aren't playing that well. QB Leftwich has struggled and the offensive line hasn't given him the protection he needs. RB Fred Taylor is questionable this week, and whether it's Taylor or Toefield Jacksonville should be able to run against a Jets defense that can't stop anyone. Signing WR Kevin Johnson should give the Jag's passing game a boost this week.

The Jaguars don't have as many problems on defense. Jacksonville's run defense is rock solid, and if they could get any kind of pass rush, their secondary wouldn't be as bad. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the Jets offense has been on fire since the return of QB Chad Pennington. New York's offense has scored 27 or more points in each of their three games since his return.

You can find handicappers support both sides of this game. However, they are in agreement that the final score will go over the total.

Seattle (7-3) at Baltimore (5-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 33
BAL 17, SEA 16

Trends

SEA
Points for = 24, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 4/5/1 (Away = 3/1)

BAL
Points for = 21, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 6/4 (Home = 2/2)

No recent meetings between these teams.

Motivation

If you liked last week's thrilling Dolphins-Ravens tilt, you'll love this game as well. The Raven will again rely on RB Jamal Lewis and their defense to win this game. In last week's game, QB Anthony Wright had just 102 yards passing for no touchdowns and two interceptions, so don't expect HC Brian Billick to ask him to win this week's game.

Seattle isn't a very good road team. They are 5-12 away and 6-11 ATS against non-winning teams and have dropped their last three games SU and ATS on the road. This will be only the third top 10 defense the Seahawks have faced all season.

Opinion

Tough scheduling spot for Seattle. It's their third cross-country trip in five weeks. The Seahawks also haven't been that good on the road, getting beat in Green Bay 13-35, they lost in Cincinnati by three points, and Seattle lost by seven in Washington. Each of these loses have gone over the total.

Lots of early money on the Ravens. This line started at Ravens -1 and was all the way up to Ravens -3 by Tuesday, a huge line move. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which team Vegas likes this week. Only a lot of serious money early will make the line move that much.

Vegas thinks the Ravens will give RB Jamal Lewis 30+ carries this weekend and rely on their defense to shut down the Seahawks' offense. The handicappers wouldn't be surprised in Lewis didn't have 160 plus rushing yards this week. Given the line movement, the cash is behind the Ravens this week.

New Orleans (5-5) at Philadelphia (7-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 39

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 40.5
PHI 23, NO 17

Trends

NO
Points for = 21, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/6 (Away = 1 /4)

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

No recent meetings between these teams.

Motivation

Both teams have been beating up on some pretty sorry opponents lately. This week will be a different story as both teams are winning and playing well.

New Orleans has not shown in the past that they can beat good teams on the road in bad weather. They come off a come-from-behind over time victory over the lowly Falcons and now go on the road against an improving Eagles team off a big victory over the Giants.

This is a sandwich game for the Eagles, however. They played a hard fought game against the Packers on a Monday Night and then got back up against the Giants to win that game easily. Now Philadelphia plays an injured Saints team few observers respect, then gets the Panthers, Cowboys, and Dolphins on a Monday night.

Opinion

The Eagles have gone from the doghouse to the Penthouse this year. Their season began with an 0-2 start were Philadelphia was getting nothing from their offense. However, since coming off their bye week, this Eagles team has gotten hot going 7-1 over their past eight games. Now the Eagles are thinking Divisional Championship and home field advantage.

The Eagles streak has not been pretty. They've not beaten a team with a winning record during that period and until last Sunday, they haven't beaten these losing teams by very much. They've beaten the Giants (twice), the Falcons, the Packers, and the Jets. The winning margins have been 4 points, 3 points, 7 (twice), and 18 points last week.

The Eagles offense has been better. McNabb's thrown for 300 plus yards two out of the last three games. Philadelphia's running game is also improved, averaging over 4.5 yards per carry.

New Orleans has also gotten hot, beating some pretty bad teams of late. They've won four of their last five games, beating the Falcons (twice), the Bears, and the Buc's. Only one of these wins have been by more than a touchdown. They've won their last two road games straight up and the last three ATS.

Vegas thinks this will be another close game, but the Eagles are getting healthy on defense and getting a rhythm on offense. Saints QB Brooks is too unreliable for the pros to support in a big game. The wise guys are behind the Eagles or sitting on the sidelines in this spot.

Pittsburgh (3-7) at Cleveland (4-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 40.5
CLE 24, PIT 16

Trends

PIT
Points for = 19, Points against = 24
Over/Under = 6/4 (Away = 2/3)

CLE
Points for = 17, Points against = 17
Over/Under =5/5 (Home = 2/3)

        PIT     CLE  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/5/2003 CLE 33 PIT 13 209 60 149 324 124 200
1/5/2003 CLE 33 PIT 36 432 89 343 447 38 409
11/3/2002 PIT 23 CLE 20 391 136 255 193 36 157
9/29/2002 CLE 13 PIT 16 358 93 265 245 123 122
1/6/2002 CLE 7 PIT 28 376 221 155 173 68 105
11/11/2001 PIT 15 CLE 12 428 247 181 187 74 113
10/22/2000 CLE 0 PIT 22 248 143 105 104 49 55
9/17/2000 PIT 20 CLE 23 346 159 187 377 61 316

Motivation

This is the second road game for the Steelers, and the first leg of their journey didn't go very well. Pittsburgh got pounded by the 49ers in San Francisco and now they go back on the road to face their most bitter rivals in a game that means everything in the AFC North Divisional race. Teams coming off a Monday night road game are 1-5 ATS the next week.

On the other hand, Cleveland HC Butch Davis is 4-1-1 ATS against the Steelers and beating Pittsburgh 33-13 already this season. In that game, the Browns had more first downs (22-11) and a 324-209 yardage advantage. In last week's victory over the Cardinals, QB Holcomb threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns without an interception even without WR Kevin Johnson. The Steelers secondary has been brutal, so Holcomb will be motivated to have back-to-back 300 yard passing games and secure his spot as the Browns' starter for the remainder of 2003.

Opinion

Both teams (playoff teams last season) have been disappointments this year, but still have a shot at the playoff in an AFC North division where 8-8 record and a couple of tiebreakers will likely produce a Champion.

The Pros like the Browns this week. The Steelers traveling on a short week and off a road loss will most likely not be sharp. On the other hand, last week's firing of their number one WR seems to have sparked this Browns football team.

That said, your not going to see a lot of professional money on this game given that Cleveland has been very inconsistent at home this year. Every three weeks, the Browns have one of those games where they put up six points. It's that point in the cycle again, so the wise guys will not be pushing a lot of cash across the window on this game.

San Francisco (5-5) at Green Bay (5-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 44
GB 24, SF 20

Trends

SF
Points for = 23, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 3/7 (Away = 1/3)

GB
Points for = 26, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 6/4) (Home = 3/2)

        SF     GB  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/15/2002 GB 20 SF 14 263 107 156 302 104 198
1/13/2002 SF 15 GB 25 290 71 219 368 106 262
10/15/2000 SF 28 GB 31 414 95 319 378 132 246

Motivation

The Packers are off a big road victory over the Buc's and now face a 49ers team they've dominated in the past. In last year's game, Green Bay won 20-14 in bad weather. Favre is 9-1 SU and 7-2-1 ATS against the 49ers averaging 259 passing yards per game. He's thrown twice as many touchdowns (16) as interception (8) and the average GB victory is 27-17. Further, Green Bay plays well after facing the Buc's. They are 11-0 SU and 9-2 ATS O/U in Wisconsin the week after playing Tampa.

On the other hand, San Francisco isn't a good away team, nor are they very good after a Monday night game. The 49ers are 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS (7-1 O/U) the week after a Monday night game.

Opinion

No line as of yet. Looks like Tim Rattay this week, as the 49ers will go with the hot hand in Wisconsin. Rattay played very well against the Steelers and also the Rams.

However, San Francisco does not play very well on the road and not won a game. They lost at Arizona, at St. Louis, at Minnesota, and at Seattle.

The Packers have been nearly invincible in Wisconsin.until this year. They've already lost three games on the frozen tundra. Vegas is concerned about Favre's thumb, he whacked it on a helmet last week and now gripping the football is painful again. The wise guy's remember the Eagles game where the weather conditions made gripping the football impossible for the Packers signal-caller. Vegas is going to sit this one out until someone assures them the weather will be good and Favre can grip the football.

Detroit (3-7) at Minnesota (6-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 46.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 45
MIN 28, DET 17

Trends

DET
Points for = 16, Points against = 24
Over/Under = 4/6 (Away = 2/3)

MIN
Points for = 26, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 6/3/1 (Home = 3/2)

       

DET

   

MIN

 

Date

Away

Home

Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/21/2003

MIN 23

DET 13

302 77 225 414 127 287
12/29/2002

MIN 38

DET 36

386 93 293 450 154 296
10/13/2002

DET 24

MIN 31

354 53 301 402 111 291
12/16/2001

MIN 24

DET 27

369 167 202 314 80 234
10/14/2001

DET 26

MIN 31

457 129 328 343 145 198
11/30/2000

DET 17

MIN 24

352 139 213 305 145 160
10/1/2000

MIN 31

DET 24

355 129 226 439 178 261

Motivation

The Vikings won the first game in Detroit this year 23-13, but that was when their defense was playing well. In that game, Detroit had a 10-0 lead and had more first downs (22-14) than Minnesota. Some of that advantage may have had something to so with knocking Vikings QB Culpepper out of the game with a back injury. The dog in this series is 6-3 ATS and Minnesota is 3-10 ATS and 11-2 O/U vs. teams with a losing record.

The Lions were crushed (again) on the road last week in Seattle. They somehow now have to get off the mat and go into the Metrodome against a Vikings' squad that has lost four straight games.

Opinion

Minnesota got off to a 6-0 start and now is in free fall-losing their last four games. QB Daunte Culpepper had a horrible game against Oakland and their defense can't stop opposing running games. WR Randy Moss had his first eruption of the season, blasting the coaching staff for not getting him the ball in the second half of last Sunday's game.

HC Mike Tice was in the same position last year. The team was struggling and Moss was getting frustrated. That was the exact moment Tice reigned this team in and righted the ship. The defense tightened up and the running game came to life. It would be a pretty good time to go back to that strategy with the Packers breathing down the Vikings' necks.

Who better to get well against than the Lions? Detroit lived up to their terrible away reputation again last week, getting stomped in Seattle. The Lions secondary is among the league's worst, Detroit has absolutely no running game (something the Vikings can be thankful for) and their skill position players aren't going to challenge the Viking's tacklers.

Laying 10 points is a big margin for a team that's lost four straight and not playing very well. To make matters worse, the Vikings have not covered that large a number against Detroit in quite a while. Vegas is in a jam, they sure don't like laying double digits with the Vikings, but there's no way they're taking the Lions either. So, another pass by the wise guys.

Carolina (8-2) at Dallas (7-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 34

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 31
CAR 17, DAL 14

Trends

CAR
Points for = 19, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 5/4/1 (Away = 2/2)

DAL
Points for = 18, Points against = 14
Over/Under = 4/6 (Home = 2/3)

        CAR     DAL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/13/2002 CAR 13 DAL 14 308 116 192 311 138 173

Motivation

The Cowboys come off a huge Sunday night loss and now face another good defense in Carolina. It was obvious to Vegas observers that HC Bill Parcells does not trust QB Quincy Carter to win ball games against good defenses, and the pros don't think he'll trust Carter to win this game either.

Dallas beat Carolina 14-13 last season, not a lot of offense in that game and not a lot expected here. The Cowboys are a much better home team this season 4-1 SU and 3-1-1 ATS.

Opinion

Dallas has played pretty well at home. After their opening day loss to Atlanta, the Cowboys have beaten Arizona, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Washington. But a lot of these games have gone right down to the wire. They got a lot of breaks to go 8-2, but in the second half of seasons those breaks seem to against teams.

Dallas does the things that lead to victories: they have good special teams, make their field goals, they've stayed healthy, and the Cowboys don't turn the ball over. That said, when the Cowboys have to rely on QB Quincy Carter to win ball games, they're in a lot of trouble. The key to this game is WR Joey Galloway. If he's able to play, the Panthers secondary will give the Cowboys a couple of chances for big plays, and that may be all Dallas needs to win this game. The pros are sitting on the fence waiting to see who's going to suit-up for the Cowboys before they put money on this game.

New England (8-2) at Houston (4-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 35.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
NE 20, HOU 17

Trends

NE
Points for =19, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 4/6 (Away = 2/3)

HOU
Points for = 17, Points against = 25
Over/Under = 7/3 (Home = 2/2)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

This could be a let down spot for the Patriots. They are coming off an emotional Sunday night victory over the Dallas Cowboys and HC Bill Parcells, now they go on the road against the Texans before a game the following week against the Colts.

Opinion

Vegas concurs that this is a terrible spot for the Patriots. They come off a maximum effort against Bill Parcells and the Cowboys and now they come back off a short week and have to play an overmatched Texans teams. Can they get back up off their effort on Sunday night for this game? New England doesn't blow teams out and their offense may struggle this week.

Injuries are a problem again. Richard Seymour left the game with a leg injury and is questionable this week. The Patriots had to sign WR J.J. Stokes off the street because of all the injuries at wide receiver. Given the short week, New England probably won't play many three and four WR sets limiting their offense further.

Vegas doesn't have a lot of faith in Houston QB Tony Banks. That said, he hasn't turned the ball over like he's done in the past either. Even with Banks on the field, the pros think Houston probably has enough offense to keep this game close and the Patriots don't have enough to run away and hide. Vegas looks for the Texans to cover this week.

Chicago (3-7) at Denver (6-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 39
DEN 24, CHI 15

Trends

CHI
Points for = 17, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 5/5 (Away = 1/4)

DEN
Points for = 24, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 5/5 (Home = 2/3)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Perhaps only because Detroit's road struggles have been so widely reported, the public has not been focused on the Bears' inability to win road games. Rest assured, Vegas has noticed. It's been since 9/15/02 since Chicago had a road victory and they are 2-10 (1-4 this year) ATS during that period. In these road games, they have been out first downed 20-13 and outgained 331-203 while being outscored by an average of 26-12.

Denver came back to life last week with the return of QB Jake Plummer. The Broncos QB led the team to a 26-5 first down advantage and outgaining the Chargers 448-96 total yards.

Opinion

If you had any doubts what QB Jake Plummer means to the Denver Broncos, last week was proof that Jake's a great fit for this offense. Denver is able to spread the field, use little screen passes, and roll him out on the corners. With Plummer giving the Chargers defense fits, the Broncos got off to a great start against SD and then the defense locked down the victory, giving up less than 100 yards to the Chargers.

Vegas thinks Denver will not lose another game this season, so long as Plummer stays healthy. Further, the pros have said that when we look back on this regular season a few weeks from now, the Broncos may be the best team heading into the playoffs.

Some handicappers doubt whether the Bears have enough offense to keep close in this game. RB Anthony Thomas has played better and QB Chris Chandler has been solid, but the Bears' offense is going to be under a lot of pressure this week. However, Chicago has outscored their opponents in the seven games since Chandler became the starting QB. Moreover, the Bears have kept games close, losing the last two by only two points.

While a few of the experts still like the Broncos, most of the pros think Denver are looking past Chicago and won't have enough to cover the spread.

St. Louis (7-3) at Arizona (3-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 46.5
STL 27, ARI 20

Trends

STL
Points for = 26, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 6/3/1 (Away = 2/2/1)

ARI
Points for =13, Points against = 27
Over/Under = 5/5 (Home = 1 /4)

        STL     ARI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/28/2003 ARI 13 STL 37 401 133 268 161 36 125
12/15/2002 ARI 28 STL 30 366 66 300 378 129 249
11/3/2002 STL 27 ARI 14 415 192 223 235 64 171

Motivation

Rams won the first meeting this year 37-13. In that game, the Rams had a 34-7 first down margin and outgained the Cardinals 401-161 total yards. Cardinals QB Jeff Blake was held to 88 passing yards and Arizona (not surprisingly) was 0-8 on third downs.

Opinion

The Cardinals have knocked-off several good teams at home this campaign. Green Bay, San Francisco, and Cincinnati have all lost in the desert this year.

The Rams have struggled the last two weeks, beating the Bears on a last minute field goal and struggling to beat the Ravens at home. St. Louis have struggled on the road and on grass, something they will have to overcome again this week.

Vegas still has no respect for the Cardinals. They're a bottom of the barrel team, down there with the Lions and the Falcons. In their back-to-back victories, Shipp has run for over 300 yards in those two games combined. Those were the only games in which the Cardinals have rushed for over 100 yards.

This game may come down to the Arizona defense. The Cardinals have been decent, holding opponents to 3.5 yards per rush and 14 points or less in their two victories. Arizona's pass defense has been weak, and the Rams took advantage of them in this year's previous meeting. Expect the Rams to put the ball up early and often in this game.

Given the Rams struggles away from home and on offense lately, there's no way Vegas is going to lay more than a touchdown with this team. Reluctantly, this week's play is on the Cardinals.

Tennessee (8-2) at Atlanta (2-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 49
TEN 35, ATL 14

Trends

TEN
Points for = 26, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 4/6 (Away = 3/2)

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

No recent meetings.

Motivation

The Falcons are coming off a crushing overtime defeat on the road to the Saints, while the Titans got a scare from the Jaguars at home. After getting a wake-up call last week, the Titans will be motivated to stomp a Falcons team that have performed well the last two games.

Opinion

Last week's disappointing loss to the Saints may have pushed the Falcons over the edge. Doug Johnson gets another shot at QB, but even with the change, the Falcons will be hard pressed to keep up this week.

Don't be fooled by last week's lackluster victory over the Jaguars, the Titans are a very good team. Now they're a focused team as well. The pros expect that Tennessee will come out and challenge that bad Falcons pass defense early. This contest may be done by half time as Vegas thinks Tennessee gets no less than 20 first half points.

Oakland (3-7) at Kansas City (9-1)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 45.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 45
KC 31, OAK 14

Trends

OAK
Points for = 19, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 3/6/1 (Away = 1/4)

KC
Points for = 30, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 5/5 (Home = 3/2)

       

OAK

   

KC

 

Date

Away

Home

Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/20/2003

KC 17

OAK 10

357 100 257 319 125 194
12/28/2002

KC 0

OAK 24

354 280 74 176 44 132
10/27/2002

OAK 10

KC 20

417 83 334 323 133 190
12/9/2001

KC 26

OAK 28

264 79 185 447 204 243
9/9/2001

OAK 27

KC 24

427 100 327 254 35 219
11/5/2000

KC 31

OAK 49

473 231 242 513 39 474
10/15/2000

OAK 20

KC 17

391 161 230 346 58 288
1/2/2000

OAK 41

KC 38

408 106 302 429 189 240

Motivation

The Chiefs are coming off their first loss of the season while the Raiders come off a home victory over the Vikings. The Raiders are not very good on the road (0-5 SA and ATS) while the Chiefs are 8-3 SU and ATS when hosting Oakland in the ninth level of Hell called Arrowhead. Nice to see those proper Midwestern grandmothers can get out of church early to stand by the roadside for their chance to flip off the Raiders team bus. Normally a team coming off a winning streak may be flat for a week or two before getting back up to speed, but these are the hated Raiders and Vegas thinks that the Arrowhead crowd won't be satisfied until Oakland QB Rick Mirer's head is paraded around the stadium or kicked through the uprights.

Opinion

Oakland has showed a little more lately. QB Rick Mirer hasn't been the disaster most handicappers anticipated. A Raiders' running game that had nearly 200 yards rushing against the Vikings has helped him. Who's going to carry the ball this week is anyone's guess right now. The most likely suspect is Wheatley, but he's grown into more of a fullback and no longer has breakaway speed. Nevertheless, he's the man this week as Oakland will try and duplicate the Bengals rushing success by pounding the ball between the tackles and playing keep away from KCs offense.

That's a big point spread to cover, but given the injuries to the Raiders ball carriers, the pros think the Chiefs have enough to cover the spread.

Cincinnati (5-5) at San Diego (2-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41.5
SD 21, CIN 20

Trends

CIN
Points for = 21, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 3/7 (Away = 0/4)

SD
Points for = 18, Points against = 28
Over/Under = 6/4 (Home = 2/2)

        CIN     SD  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/8/2002 SD 34 CIN 6 203 36 167 401 241 160
9/30/2001 CIN 14 SD 28 237 111 126 245 133 112

Motivation

Big flat spot for the Bengals. Coming off the huge victory over the previously undefeated Chiefs, now they go on the road to So Cal against a Chargers team that was destroyed in Denver last week. The last time the Bengals beat a first place team (Seattle) they laid an egg in Arizona they next week.

San Diego have played very well against the Bengals. In last season's opener, the Chargers beat the Bengals 34-6 in Cincinnati. In that game, San Diego had a 27-13 first down edge and outgained the Bengals 401-203.

Opinion

Like I said... a big flat spot for the Bengals this week. Cincinnati comes off the big win over the previously undefeated Chiefs and now they go on the road to San Diego to play the struggling Chargers. The last time they were in this position, they couldn't get the running game going in the desert and lost to the Cardinals by a field goal.

Cincinnati is 1-3 on the road with losses to Oakland, Buffalo, and Arizona. The Bengals covered the spread in the Oakland game and the Buffalo game. All three of these road losses have gone under the total.

The Bengals are winning games by running the ball. RB Rudi Johnson has been huge for this team. In the last three victories, Cincinnati has rushed for 194, 200, and 240 yards on the ground. Can the Chargers rush defense shut Johnson down?

The Chargers rush defense hasn't been that pretty this year. They've given up 100 + yards in 9 of their 10 games and 4.3 yards per carry. Last Sunday against the Broncos, they gave up 200 yards on the ground. As bad as their rush defense has been, their pass defense has been much worse.

The Pros like the under in this game a whole lot more than they like either side. Perhaps the sportsbooks are getting wise to flat spot games and shaving a couple of points off the spread, but now you have handicappers on both sides of this game.

Washington (4-6) at Miami (6-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 35

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 35.5
MIA 21, WAS 14

Trends

WAS
Points for = 19, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 5/4/1 (Away = 2/2/1)

MIA
Points for = 17, Points against = 14
Over/Under = 2/8 (Home = 2/3)

       

WAS

   

MIA

 

Date

Away

Home

Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
1/2/2000

MIA 10

WAS 21

270 105 165 389 119 270

Motivation

Spurrier returns to Florida for a Sunday night game. Washington was all but eliminated from the wild card race last week and with both the Eagles and the Cowboys ahead of the in the standings, an NFC East title looks beyond their reach as well. Vegas expects the Redskins to roll over and play dead for the rest of the season while Miami is racing the Broncos for the last playoff spot.

Opinion

The question around the sportsbooks this week is who's going to score? The Redskins may be without Ramsey this week. The Washington signal-caller has been playing with a broken foot. If Ramsey can't go, stick a fork in the Redskins, they're done.

Miami isn't any great bargain either. They can't protect their QB and they can't run the ball. Vegas is passing on this game until they get more definitive news on Ramsey's status.

New York Giants (4-6) at Tampa Bay (4-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 38

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 38
TB 21, NYG 17

Trends

NYG
Points for = 18, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/5/1 (Away = 3/1/1)

TB
Points for = 20, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 4/6 (Home = 1/4)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Both teams are off near-fatal losses. Both teams would have to run the table and get some help to make the playoffs.

Opinion

The preseason talk about Tampa Bay going undefeated this season seems ridiculous right now. Their defense has not lived up to the preseason hype and their offense has sputtered all season. Teams are running the ball right between the tackles and that has to be demoralizing for the Super Bowl champs. Green Bay's huge, in your face drives on the ground late in the 4th quarter may have taken the heart of this defense.

The question is will the Buc's throw in the towel? This week's inactivation of WR Keyshawn Johnson looks like a message sent by HC Jon Gruden to the entire locker room: play hard or else. However, Vegas isn't sure that if Tampa gets behind in this game, fingers won't be pointed and heads will go down. Five and a half is a lot of points to lay with a team that's struggling.

The Giants aren't worthy of a bet either. Vegas has grown tired of all their penalties, mistakes, and turnovers. New York isn't consistent enough to risk money on. The pros are passing on this game.