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Inside the Points - Week 13
By Fritz Schlottman
November 28, 2003
 

With the short week and limited time to cover College Football, the NFL, the NBA, and College Basketball the pros were rather brief in their commentary this week. For those looking for hard-hitting analysis of Atlanta vs. Houston, my apologies. The Wise Guys covered a few of the most popular games. They may have more thoughts on Friday afternoon or evening, after my deadline. If readers have a question on a particular game, drop me an email and I'll pass their Friday commentary (if any) on.

San Francisco (5-6) at Baltimore (6-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 37

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 35
BAL 19, SF 16

Trends

SF
Points for = 22, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 3/8 (Away = 1/4)

BAL
Points for = 23, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 7/4 (Home = 3/2)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

The 49ers most likely took a fatal loss last week in Green Bay. Their inability to win on the road this season did them in and now they make their second cross-country trip in as many weeks. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in a dogfight with the Bengals for the AFC North Divisional lead and have no reason to look past the stumbling 49ers.

Opinion

Vegas loves the Ravens here. San Francisco is averaging just 12 points per game in their last four away games. In last week's contest, the 49ers were outgained by nearly 200 yards and QB Rattay went 11 for 30. Baltimore has a lot of confidence after coming from 17 points behind in the final seven minutes against the Seahawks and that confidence should spill over into this game. The team now has enough trust in QB Wright to mix up the plays rather than running RB Lewis every down. On trend Vegas knows is that last year's playoff teams that are down and out this season are terrible bets for he remainder of 2003. The pros don't think the 49ers are going across the country to light up a tough Ravens defense that was embarrassed last week.

Philadelphia (8-3) at Carolina (8-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 35
PHI 18, CAR 17

Trends

PHI
Points for = 20, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 5/5/1 (Away = 1/4)

CAR
Points for = 19, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 6/4/1 (Home = 3/2/1)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race and will be desperate for a victory.

Opinion

Philly has won six straight games by playing good defense and not making mistakes. QB McNabb hasn't thrown an interception in his last three games and only one in has last four contests. That combination makes Philadelphia a phenomenal road dog. The Eagles are 24-10-2 ATS as a dog over their last 36 games. The Eagles may get some additional help on defense if Pro Bowl player Brian Dawkins can return to the line-up this Sunday.

If Philadelphia has a weakness lately, it's their run defense. Saints RB Duce McAllister just chewed up the Eagles run D, as has Packers RB Ahman Green. That fits the Panthers' perfectly, as running the football with RB Stephen Davis is their strength. QB Delhomme did not have a good game against Dallas last Sunday (9 for 24) and Carolina would not like to rely on him to win this football game. The pros have won a lot of money from the casinos playing the Eagles on the road the past several years; they're going to the well again this week.

New England (9-2) at Indianapolis (9-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 51
NE 27, IND 24

Trends

NE
Points for = 19, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 5/6 (Away = 3/3)

IND
Points for = 28, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 7/4 (Home = 3/2)

        NE     IND  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/21/2001 NE 38 IND 17 385 123 262 484 179 305
9/30/2001 IND 13 NE 44 336 177 159 322 82 240
10/22/2000 NE 23 IND 30 386 155 231 398 130 268
10/8/2000 IND 16 NE 24 301 124 177 408 84 324

Motivation

Both teams are leading their divisions and both teams were AFC divisional foes.

Opinion

QB Manning lights up every team.except Bill Belichick's teams. For some reason, he's always struggled to put up good numbers in this spot. Now comes word that he's had a MRI on his throwing elbow and everyone down at the sports books is thinking bone chips or inflammation caused by tendentious. The last three games in this series have been high scoring affairs and all have gone over this week's total. If the Colts are going to compete this week, they will have to get another 100-yard day out of RB James.

The Patriots are another great road team, despite not running the football very well. New England throws a lot of passes, but they don't give up sacks and they don't turn the ball over despite throwing it all over the field. Last Sunday's game against the Texans was not as close as the final score would indicate. The Patriots won first downs (29-11), had more total yards (472-169) and won the time of possession (43:50-30:29). Given that the Colts defense have given up 59 points in their previous two games and 82 points in the previous two games in this series, the Pros are on the Patriots and over in this game.

Buffalo (4-7) at New York Giants (4-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 35

Predicted Outcome

Total Points =23

BUF 10, NYG 13

Trends

BUF
Points for = 15, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 1/10 (Away = 1/4)

NYG
Points for = 17, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/6/1 (Home = 1/4)

No recent meetings.

Motivation

The Giants have lost three in a row and six of the last eight games. Teams that were in the playoffs the year before and then are not likely to make the post season in the current season are terrible bets. Vegas notes these teams tend to play flat for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, the Bills have been terrible on the road this season and have lost four straight games.

Opinion

I've said this before and I'll say it again, play the Bills under for the entire season. If you've been following the pros advise you've had ten winners and one loss. Since their opening road game at Jacksonville, the Bills have scored 7 vs. Miami, 3 vs. the Jets, 5 vs. KC, and 6 points vs. Dallas. QB Drew Bledsoe now has thrown just three touchdown passes since September 14th.You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Buffalo isn't going to score a lot of points against the Giants either. If New York's defense does one thing well, it's stopping the running game and making the opposition throw the football. Expect no less in this game as the Giants will shut down RB Henry and then tee off on the Bills weak offensive line.

New York has a tendency to self-destruct. RB Tiki Barber can't hang on to the football and QB Collins, under constant pressure and playing behind a very weak offensive line, is careless with the football. Add in the 10 or so stupid penalties this team takes every week, and it's no wonder they can't finish a drive. The G-men have managed just two offensive touchdowns their last three weeks. New York has posted an abysmal 1-4 record both SU and ATS at home. Forget about the sides, Vegas is all over the Under in this game.

Cincinnati (6-5) at Pittsburgh (4-7)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 41.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 42
CIN 21, PIT 20

Trends

CIN
Points for = 22, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 4/7 (Away = 1/4)

PIT
Points for = 18, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 6/5 (Home = 4/1)

        CIN     PIT  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/21/2003 PIT 17 CIN 10 182 57 125 376 138 238
11/24/2002 CIN 21 PIT 29 352 54 298 391 156 235
10/13/2002 PIT 34 CIN 7 268 78 190 408 211 197
12/30/2001 PIT 23 CIN 26 544 141 403 313 73 240
10/7/2001 CIN 7 PIT 16 214 65 149 412 274 138
11/26/2000 PIT 48 CIN 28 309 209 100 372 185 187
10/15/2000 CIN 0 PIT 15 232 120 112 274 103 171

Motivation

Pittsburgh showed that they aren't dead and buried quite yet with. In their victory over Cleveland, the Steelers got a fist full of turnovers against the Browns to overcome their weakness on offense. With both the Ravens and the Bengals two games up in the AFC North standings, this is another elimination game for the visitors.

The Bengals will want revenge for their seven-point loss earlier this season. Being able to sink the Steelers for the season will just be icing on Cincinnati's cake.

Opinion

Vegas love the Bengals here. Cincinnati is getting a lot of support from the general public, and that makes the wise guys a little nervous, but this game is just too good to pass on. The Steelers have the 31st ranked rushing game, the one area where opposing teams have been able to hurt the Bengals.

In last week's game QB Jon Kitna was 24-of-38 passing for 243 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chad Johnson, who had 10 catches for 107 yards and three scores and Kelley Washington had five receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. RB Corey Dillon had 18 carries for 108 yards to pace the ground game. That's the definition of dominating an opposing defense. Contrast that with the Steelers' offensive production. The Steelers were on the short end of first downs (19-11), total plays (75-57), total net yards (303-168) and time of possession (32:33-27:27). QB Tommy Maddox was an unspectacular 9-of-24 passing for 73 yards with a touchdown. RB Jerome Bettis was one of the few bright spots with 24 carries for 93 yards. No wonder the pros like the Bengals plus the points in this game.

Minnesota (7-4) at St. Louis (8-3)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 51

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 53
STL 30, MIN 23

Trends

MIN
Points for = 26, Points against = 22
Over/Under = 6/4/1 (Away = 3/1/1)

STL
Points for = 27, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 7/3/1 (Home = 4/1)

        MIN     STL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/10/2000 MIN 29 STL 40 312 104 208 508 162 346
1/16/2000 MIN 37 STL 49 475 87 388 405 31 374

Motivation

A big game for both teams. Minnesota can put a nail in the Packers coffin with a victory while the Rams are battling the Seahawks for the NFC West Divisional crown.

Opinion

Vegas thinks this is one of those games that could get very ugly. The Vikings snapped their four game losing slide last week against the visiting Lions, but only managed just one offensive touchdown in that game. Their other two touchdowns came on interception returns in the 4th quarter. WR Randy Moss has an ankle injury and can't cut, limiting him to streaks, screens and stop patterns. QB Culpepper continues to read defenses like Helen Keller. Given the Vikings recent struggles in the passing game and the deafening crowd noise in St. Louis, Minnesota will want to establish the running game early in this contest.

The Rams have had their own struggles in the passing game. QB Bulger threw a career high 4 INTs last week in Arizona. Still, the Rams are averaging 33 points at home while the Vikings have given up more than 32 points in each of their four games prior to last Sunday. With Minnesota's offense struggling and St. Louis 22-12-1 ATS in the dome, the Pros are backing the Rams this week.

Denver (6-5) at Oakland (3-8)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 42.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
DEN 24, OAK 17

Trends

DEN
Points for = 23, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 5/6 (Away = 3/2)

OAK
Points for = 19, Points against = 23
Over/Under = 4/6/1 (Home = 2/2/1)

        DEN     OAK  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
9/22/2003 OAK 10 DEN 31 383 190 193 195 39 156
12/22/2002 DEN 16 OAK 28 324 81 243 322 136 186
11/11/2002 OAK 34 DEN 10 342 77 265 374 27 347
12/30/2001 OAK 17 DEN 23 231 106 125 334 51 283
11/5/2001 DEN 28 OAK 38 366 119 247 356 114 242
11/13/2000 OAK 24 DEN 27 329 71 258 411 38 373
9/17/2000 DEN 33 OAK 24 387 182 205 263 123 140

Motivation

Denver comes off a brutal home loss to the Bears while the Raiders went all out last week against the Chiefs. With Miami clocking the Cowboys on Thursday, the Broncos will be desperate for a victory.

Opinion

Somehow, the Broncos lost a game to Chicago in which they outgained the Bears 356-217 and didn't turn the ball over. It doesn't get any easier this week as Oakland has settled down to play some football the past several weeks.

No consensus among the handicappers on this game. From a motivational standpoint, the Broncos have much more to play for. A loss and they will not make the playoffs unless the Dolphins collapse down the stretch. However, the heel injury to RB Portis and the Broncos' Defensive struggles on the road are big concerns. Portis killed the Raiders earlier this season and averaged 11.8 yards per carry against the Bears. If Portis can't go or is limited, it's going to hurt the Broncos' offense big-time. And it's no sure bet that Denver's defense is going to step up and shut down the Raiders either. In the Broncos last three road games, the defense has given up 24, 28 and 26 points. In revenge games, the Raiders are 14-4 ATS while the Broncos are 2-8 ATS on the road against a team coming off a loss.