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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Inside The Points - Week 4
Fritze Schlottman
October 1, 2004

The Sports Books took it in the shorts last week as a number of big games went against the house. Dogs finished the week at 7-6-1 but most of the damage was done on a few games. Everyone and their cousin from Brooklyn had a Giants ticket, Ravens ticket, Texans ticket, Eagles ticket, Colts ticket, Seahawks ticket, and Raiders ticket. Had it not been for the Broncos push and the Vikings failure to cover it would have been a complete bloodbath.

As it was there was plenty of grumbling on Monday morning as the book-makers openly criticized the line put out by Las Vegas Sports Consultants, especially the short number on the Eagles’ game. Many of the sports book managers thought that an 8-9 points spread would have been more appropriate. Waiter, may I have some cheese with my wine?

Unders still outperformed the Overs by a count of 8-5-1. The three week winning streak by the Unders was another cause for unrest behind the counters as players have gotten the message that the five yards chuck rule on receivers will not be enforced this season despite all the preseason hype. It’s not that I like seeing men in tights running down a field grabbing each other, but it’s been good for the wallet so far.

The angry mobs of book-makers and the customer base happily counting their money must have registered with the Sports Gods. This week, they’ve coming back with a vengeance looking to make up for their losses. The days of easy Unders and home favorites are long gone as the Sports Gods have put up ten road favorites and the average total has moved from nearly 42 points per game in Week 2 to a stingy 39.75 total points per game for Week 4 indicating the pucker factor among the Sports Gods is getting pretty high. Okay, I can be flexible. It’s time to shift gears and start looking for live home dogs and games over the total.

Last week’s record was a very respectable 8-4-1 (66.6%) ATS on side opinions and 9-4 (69.2%) on totals. It’s nice to get back in the black on sides and more data points are increasing the forecast accuracy. I’m not sure I can keep up the torrid pace on totals, but I’ll give it the old college try.

NEW ENGLAND AT BUFFALO

Vegas Line

NE -5 TOTAL 35

Predicted Outcome

NE 17 BUF14

Records

NE

SU (2-0-0)

ATS (1-0-1), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-1-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

BUF

SU (0-2-0)

ATS (1-1-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

NE Side (1998-2003)

ROAD FAVORITE (29% ATS), 5-2 ATS OFF BYE WEEK/NON SUNDAY GAME

BUF Side (1998-2003)

VS. DIVISION (38% ATS) 3-0-1 ATS OFF BYE WEEK/NON SUNDAY GAME

NE Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

BUF Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: HOME (38% OVERS), VS. DIVISION (39%OVERS)

Recent Meetings

        NE     BUF  
      TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/27/2003 BUF 0 NE 31 321 131 190 256 82 174
9/7/2003 NE 0 BUF 31 239 105 134 319 104 215
12/8/2002 BUF 17 NE 27 275 92 183 390 78 312
11/3/2002 NE 38 BUF 7 422 114 308 331 65 266
12/16/2001 NE 12 BUF 9 335 129 206 310 98 212
11/11/2001 BUF 11 NE 21 205 134 71 241 68 173

Commentary

Both New England and Buffalo come off the bye week straight into a divisional match-up with an important sub-plot. The Patriots will be looking to tie the record for most consecutive wins (18). The Bills will have had two week’s to prepare for the game and will not want to have the dubious honor of being the host for a record-breaking performance by a hated divisional foe. Then again, I wouldn’t want to be Drew Bledsoe knowing that the Patriots HC and that New England defense has had two weeks to prepare for this game and the interior of your offensive line blocks like a turnstile. Don’t let your insurance lapse there Drew because you may need it. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to be Tom Brady either with the Bills’ defense having two weeks to prepare.

Only two games of data on these teams but there are some important trends. New England is out-gaining their opponents by a whopping 83 yards per game while the Bills’ struggling offense is averaging as many total yards (242) as Buffalo’s defense is surrendering (249) which isn’t very much. The Patriots will have worked on their rush defense during the bye week after surrendering an average of 126 rushing yards per game through the first two games of 2004. However, the Bills are only averaging 81 yards on the ground so they may not be able to grind out first downs in any case.

The Patriots are outscoring their opponents by an average of 25-18 while the Bills are being outscored 10-13. That puts the expected score at 19-14 for a total of 33 points and a spread of five. The series history would indicate an expected score of NE 21.5 BUF 12.5 for a total of 34 and a spread of nine points on a neutral field. Four of the last six games in this series have gone under this week’s total. That’s enough to put me on the Under.

I think five is too big a number for New England on the road. There are not many teams I’d lay more than a field goal with as a road favorite, and then certainly not against a defense like Buffalo. I think this number’s going up to six or six and a half by game time. If I get a good number, I may take some action and then I’ll take the Bills and the maybe the first half under as well.

PHILADELPHIA AT CHICAGO

Vegas Line

PHI -8.5 TOTAL 41

Predicted Outcome

PHI 24 CHI 16

Records

PHI

SU (3-0-0)

ATS (3-0-0), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

CHI

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (2-1-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

PHI Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (68% ATS), FAVORITE (63% ATS), GRASS (62% OVERS), ROAD FAVORITE (79% ATS), VS. CONFERENCE (74% OVERS)

CHI Side (1998-2003)

HOME DOG (67% ATS)

PHI Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: 1 ST 4 GAMES (63% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: VS. CONFERENCE (38% OVERS)

CHI Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: VS. CONFERENCE (36% OVERS)

Recent Meetings

        PHI     CHI  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/3/2002 PHI 19 CHI 13 306 114 192 260 74 186
1/19/2002 PHI 33 CHI 19 336 87 249 184 111 73

Commentary

The Eagles are just monsters away from eastern Pennsylvania covering 79% of their games as road favorites. It’s not a good spot for the Eagles as it’s their second consecutive game on the road, but am I going to buck a 79% trend with a second-string quarterback starting for Chicago? Hell, no! This is handicapping not Russian roulette.

The Eagles have crushed their first three opponents winning by an average of two touchdowns (29-15) while the Bears are breaking even by an average score of 19-19. That puts the expected score at 24-17 for a spread of seven and a total of 41. The only two recent games in this series fell in the Bears’ Cinderella 2002 year and the Eagles crushed them in the playoffs 33-19 that season.

The Bears only shot is to run the ball and keep the Philadelphia offense of the field. I’ll admit, I was one of those that doubted RB Thomas Jones, but he’s proven me more than wrong through three games. He’s going to have to carry his team this week as the Bears’ only advantage is their running game vs. the Eagles’ rush defense. Chicago is averaging 152 rushing yards per game and Philadelphia is giving up 108. If the Bears can control the clock and the line of scrimmage they can keep this game close.

Philly has next week off so I don’t expect they will let up this week. The Eagles have plenty of time to get healthy after McNabb and Owens abuse a beaten-up Bears defense that will be missing three starters in the secondary. If you want the Eagles, grab them early as this line is headed to 10. I don’t want the Eagles in this spot and I sure don’t want to go against them with my own money. I’ll take the under and the Eagles as long as it’s free.

WASHINGTON AT CLEVELAND

Vegas Line

WAS -2.5 TOTAL 36

Predicted Outcome

WAS 21 CLE 14

Records

WAS

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (0-1-0), ATS AWAY (0-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (0-0-0)

CLE

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS HOME (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-3-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

WAS Side (1998-2003)

FAVORITE (37% ATS), ROAD FAVORITE 27% ATS, 1 ST 4 GAMES (30% OVERS)

CLE Side (1998-2003)

NONE

WAS Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

CLE Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

This is a game that has me scratching my head. The Browns get blown out in the second half by a very questionable Giants squad and lose the game 27-10. Now they’re back at home, dragging their wounded with them and they play an angry Redskins team off a home loss to the hated Cowboys and Washington is only a 2.5 point favorite. Huh? It can’t be that easy, can it?

Injuries have plagued both squads. Washington’s offensive line wasn’t that great to begin with, but as you saw against the Cowboys, injuries have really limited their effectiveness (as Clinton Portis owners know painfully well). Cleveland has literally had open tryouts this week just to fill out their roster. Not only is their offensive line beaten-up, but the defensive line will be missing three key performers, two linebackers will be missing, and the defensive backfield is dinged.

Looking at the stats, I have a real hard time making a case for Cleveland. Point wise, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two teams. Washington scores 16 points on offense and gives up 17 while Cleveland scores 14 points and gives up 16. Looking at yardage, there’s a huge difference. The Browns only gain 242 yards per contest while giving up 361 for a net difference of -119 total yards. The Redskins are the other way around- they’re gaining 332 total yards per game on offense and giving up 244 for a differential of +88 yards. Were it not for the Redskins -5 turnover differential this team would be no less than 2-1 SU.

Washington isn’t healthy, but the Browns lose the injury battle. Jump the Redskins and the under in the contest and count your money after the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS AT GREEN BAY

Vegas Line

GB -7 TOTAL 44

Predicted Outcome

GB 27 NYG 17

Records

NYG

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (2-1-0), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

GB

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

NYG Side (1998-2003)

VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (40% ATS)

GB Side (1998-2003)

NONE

NYG Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: ROAD (38% OVERS), ROAD DOG (38% OVERS), VS. CONFERENCE (38% OVERS), VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (38% OVERS), 1 ST 4 GAMES (38% OVERS)

GB Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: FAVORITE (60% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        NYG     GB  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
1/6/2002 GB 34 NYG 25 524 146 378 413 105 308

Commentary

Another easy game, here we have a ticked-off Packers team off two straight losses going home to face a Giants team that’s extremely fortunate to be 2-1 SU.

Examining the statistics, both sides have nearly identical numbers. The Packers lead the yardage on offense 380-360 points per game while both teams are surrendering 353 yards per game on defense. New York is +3 in point differential winning their games by an average score of 21-18 while Green Bay has lost the scoring battle 21-26. The big difference is in turnovers were the G-men are +8 and the Cheeseheads are -1.

Curt Warner may have some success against a Packers secondary that got torched by the Colts last week. You can say he’s lost it, but Warner has only thrown one interception this season and is in the top ten in passing. New York should be able to move the football, but getting touchdowns with that weak offensive line may be difficult.

I am far more concerned with the Giants issues on defense, particularly New York’s rushing defense. Giving up 124 yards per game to the likes of Washington, Cleveland, and Philadelphia does not bode well in this game. RB Ahman Green and Green Bay’s offense will try and re-establish the run early and that success will open up the Packers’ deep play-action passing game. I think the Giants will kick field goals while the Packers score touchdowns. Give me Green Bay and I’ll pass on the total.

OAKLAND AT HOUSTON

Vegas Line

OAK -2 TOTAL 42

Predicted Outcome

OAK 27 HOU17

Records

OAK

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (2-1-0), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

HOU

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U HOME (1-0-0)

Trends

OAK Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (64% ATS)

HOU Side (1998-2003)

NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

OAK Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: 1 ST 4 GAMES (63% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: VS. CONFERENCE (36% OVERS)

HOU Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

UNDER TRENDS: NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

Recent Meetings

NO PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Commentary

I knew my under on the Raiders-Buc’s game was dead-meat when QB Rich Gannon went out and Kerry Collins came in. Not that Gannon’s a bad quarterback, but Collins is much more suited for the Raiders supporting cast and I was surprised (and a number of handicappers were as well) that he wasn’t named the starter to open the season. Now that Collins is in and Gannon’s out, barring injury, that may be the last you see of RG as a starter in the NFL.

Gannon is more accurate with the short three-step drop patterns that are a staple in the West Coast offense. Collins is the old-school kind of Raider QB, drop back seven steps and launch that sucker down the field. He throws a beautiful deep ball and as long as the offensive line can keep his uniform clean, Oakland’s deep game is back.

The Raiders’ young speedsters: Curry, Gabriel, and Porter are going to run the long outs, square ins, post patterns, and streaks you typically find in the Rams offensive package. Rice is actually going to be more valuable running underneath the opposing secondary where he won’t have to be as concerned about the location of the free safety.

Houston will still be feeling good about their road victory in Arrowhead. I don’t think that feeling will last long as the Raiders go up top early and often. Give me the Raiders and the over.

INDIANAPOLIS AT JACKSONVILLE

Vegas Line

IND -4.5 TOTAL 42

Predicted Outcome

IND 28 JAX 24

Records

IND

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (2-0-1), ATS AWAY (1-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (3-0-0), O/U AWAY (2-0-0)

JAX

SU (3-0-0)

ATS (3-0-0), ATS HOME (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-3-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

IND Side (1998-2003)

VS. DIVISION (40% ATS)

JAX Side (1998-2003)

NONE

IND Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: ROAD (72% OVERS), GRASS (72% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

JAX Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: HOME DOG (69% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        IND     JAX  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/9/2003 IND 23 JAC 28 394 47 347 353 174 179
9/21/2003 JAC 13 IND 23 289 73 216 266 152 114
12/29/2002 JAC 13 IND 20 272 126 146 266 154 112
9/8/2002 IND 28 JAC 25 307 104 203 343 118 225

Commentary

No clue where this game is going at first glance, but I’ll give it my best shot. You have two completely opposite teams in this contest. Indianapolis is all offense and no defense averaging 33 points per game on offense and surrendering 25 points per game on defense. On the other hand, Jaguars’ games are like watching paint dry. Jacksonville averages 11 points on offense while giving up nine.

Looking at the previous meetings is some help. The Colts have won three of the last four with two very high-scoring games and two very low-scoring contests sandwiched in between. Typically when these two teams meet, the Jaguars play keep-away from the high-octane Indianapolis offense by running the ball and keeping the clock running while the Colts more or less abandon the running game and throw every down against a Jacksonville defense that’s playing back in two-deep zone and giving Peyton Manning the easy stuff. If the game’s played at Jacksonville’s pace, the game goes under the total. If the Colts can score quickly, then we’re off to the races.

The games at Jacksonville are high-scoring while the games on the turf in the Hoosier Dome are more to the Jaguars’ pace. That puts me on the over here. The games in the sunshine state are also very close with the winning differential being five and three points with a split in the series. That puts me on Jacksonville ATS this week. I expect this line to go up as we get closer to kickoff, so if you like the Colts, get ‘em now and if you like the Jag’s wait until Sunday for the best number.

CINCINNATI AT PITTSBURGH

Vegas Line

PIT -4 TOTAL 38.5

Predicted Outcome

PIT 24 CIN 17

Records

CIN

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (0-3-0), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

PIT

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U HOME (1-0-0)

Trends

CIN Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (40% ATS), DOG (40% ATS), ROAD DOG (39% ATS), 1 ST 4 GAMES (30% ATS)

PIT Side (1998-2003)

NONE

CIN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: 1 ST 4 GAMES (39% OVERS)

PIT Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        CIN     PIT  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/30/2003 CIN 24 PIT 20 379 113 266 384 85 299
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

Commentary

The previous games are relatively high-scoring with four of the six contests going over this week’s rather short total line. The average score is PIT 23 CIN 17 making the total 40 and the spread six on a neutral field. The three previous contests in Pittsburgh have been 24-20 CIN, 29-21 PIT, and 16-7 PIT indicating the track in the steel city favors a high-scoring game. One bit of concern is that normally the game in Pittsburgh is played in late-November early-December while the game in September-October is played in Cincinnati. The early game in this series has been low-scoring while the late game has been an Over.

The Bengals offensive line is a mess. They could potentially be missing four starters. That’s not going to help their offensive numbers one bit as you would expect Cincinnati will struggle with running the ball and getting protection for their young QB Carson Palmer.

Both of these squads have played low-scoring games this year. Obviously, last week’s game in the hurricane has substantially effected the Steelers’ numbers, both scoring and yardage. Cincinnati’s defense has not shown they can stop any team other than Miami (and we all know about their offensive woes) from moving the ball. The Bengals are giving up an obscene 166 yards rushing per game (including the game against the Dolphins). The Jets lit them up for big numbers with Curtis Martin having a career day and even the limited Baltimore offense put up 23 on the road in Cincinnati, so Pittsburgh should be able to move the ball. Pittsburgh gave up 30 points to the Ravens and 21 to Oakland so they’re not any too tight on defense either.

I just can’t trust either defense, but the Bengals are so beaten-up they may not be able to take advantage of the holes in the Steelers defense. So reluctantly, give me the Steelers and the Over.

NEW ORLEANS AT ARIZONA

Vegas Line

NO -3 TOTAL 40.5

Predicted Outcome

NO 24 ARI 17

Records

NO

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

ARI

SU (0-3-0)

ATS (2-1-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-3-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

NO Side (1998-2003)

ROAD FAVORITE (62% ATS)

ARI Side (1998-2003)

DOG (40% ATS), 1 ST 4 GAMES (38% ATS)

NO Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: ROAD (64% OVERS), GRASS (63% OVERS), ROAD FAVORITE (69% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

ARI Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: HOME (35% OVERS), GRASS (40% OVERS), HOME DOG (31% OVERS), 1 ST 4 GAMES (39% OVERS)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

This is a really bad spot for the Saints. They come off a road win in St. Louis to go out into the desert to play a 0-3 SU Cardinals team that will be pulling out all the stops to get their first win of the season.

The Cardinals have been nothing if not dreadful on offense. Only Miami at 219 total yards per game and Jacksonville at 218 yards have lower offensive numbers than the Cardinals’ 222 per contest. It’s therefore not surprising that Arizona’s offense is averaging only eight points per game. The good news is the Red-Birds have stopped the bleeding on defense so far this season and are giving up yardage (369) but not points (15 against).

New Orleans performs the same as they always have (sloppy), both gaining yardage then giving it up in big chunks. The Saints average game is a 21-24 affair where both teams’ gain nearly 400 yards on offense and turn the ball over numerous times.

There’s no way I can lay points with a Saints team that’s been outscored by their opponents, off a big win, and on the road in an obvious flat spot. I hate taking the Cardinals three straight weeks as it violates everything I talked about in Handicapping Part I, but there I am again. I may take Saints here, but I won’t get anywhere near the window with money.

ATLANTA AT CAROLINA

Vegas Line

CAR -3.5 TOTAL 39

Predicted Outcome

CAR 17 ATL 14

Records

ATL

SU (3-0-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

CAR

SU (1-1-0)

ATS (1-1-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

ATL Side (1998-2003)

HOME DOG (33% ATS)

CAR Side (1998-2003)

FAVORITE (29% ATS), ROAD FAVORITE (30% ATS), 4-3-1 ATS OFF BYE WEEK/NON SUNDAY GAME

ATL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

CAR Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        ATL     CAR  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/7/2003 CAR 14 ATL 20 380 224 156 231 90 141
9/28/2003 ATL 3 CAR 23 267 144 123 361 193 168
11/24/2002 ATL 41 CAR 0 426 149 277 122 71 51
10/20/2002 CAR 0 ATL 30 393 187 206 205 101 104
11/25/2001 ATL 10 CAR 7 239 145 94 247 96 151
9/23/2001 CAR 16 ATL 24 377 121 256 359 89 270

Commentary

This is more like it. Give me an old-fashioned slugging match between two east-coast teams and I’ll go to the window for an under with a smile on my face. This week’s total of 39 is awfully ambitious for two teams that have averaged 32 total points in the previous six meetings. Four of the last six games in this series have gone under the total. This season the Panthers are averaging 41 points per contest in two games against the high-scoring Packers and Chiefs. The Falcons are averaging 32 points per game in 2004 including a game against the Rams. Anyway you look at it, there isn’t going to be a heck of a lot of scoring going on this Sunday in Carolina.

Atlanta has Carolina’s number, winning five of the last six games. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they do it to them again this week. But, home teams coming off a bye week are very good against the spread historically. I’ll pass on the sides and take my under in this contest.

NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI

Vegas Line

NYJ -5.5 (bid up from -4) TOTAL 35.5

Predicted Outcome

NYJ 21 MIA 10

Records

NYJ

SU (2-0-0)

ATS (2-0-0), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-0-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

MIA

SU (0-3-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS HOME (0-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-3-0), O/U HOME (0-2-0)

Trends

NYJ Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (64% ATS), OFF BYE WEEK/NON-SUNDAY GAME 12-5-1 (71% ATS)

MIA Side (1998-2003)

1 ST 4 GAMES (67% ATS)

NYJ Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: FAVORITE (38% OVERS)

MIA Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: 1 ST 4 GAMES (39% OVERS)

Recent Meetings

        NYJ     MIA  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/28/2003 NYJ 21 MIA 23 285 94 191 397 81 316
9/14/2003 MIA 21 NYJ 10 387 21 366 376 187 189
11/10/2002 MIA 10 NYJ 13 264 97 167 279 69 210
9/22/2002 NYJ 3 MIA 30 189 58 131 394 211 183
11/18/2001 NYJ 24 MIA 0 162 86 76 254 78 176

Commentary

Here we go again. Two east-coast teams, check. Four of the last five games under this week’s total, check. Average score NYJ 14 MIA 17, check. Dolphins have scored one touchdown through three games, check. Jets have obscene offensive numbers after having beaten-up on the pitiful Chargers and Bengals defense, check. All system are a go, we have an Under.

Damn tempting number here. Miami can’t score at all as their offensive line has collapsed around the quarterback before he could get into his drop. The ‘Phins left tackle situation is beyond desperate and only rushing for 47 yards per contest isn’t going to keep any defense honest. Bringing back Feidler at QB probably gives them a spark, but I just can’t make a case for Miami’s tired defense keeping a Jets’ offense that averages 32 points per game to less than 17. The Dolphins would need two touchdowns to cover the spread, and I just can’t see that happening. At best, the Dolphins will cut down on their turnovers and that should be enough to keep the score down.

NYJ is an outstanding 71% ATS off a rest and they’ve had enough time to figure out the limited Dolphins offense. I hate taking so many road favorites, but give me NYJ and the under here.

TENNESSEE AT SAN DIEGO

Vegas Line

TEN -3 TOTAL 41

Predicted Outcome

None

Records

TEN

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (1-2-0), ATS AWAY (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

SD

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (1-1-1), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U HOME (1-0-0)

Trends

TEN Side (1998-2003)

NONE

SD Side (1998-2003)

GRASS (40% ATS)

TEN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: VS. CONFERENCE (38% OVERS)

SD Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

No interest at all in this game until the health and playing status of Titans’ QB Steve McNair get clearer. The Sports Gods punted with the definitive “who the #$%^ knows” play at Titans -3 total 41 (dead average). If they don’t know enough to put out a decent line, I sure don’t have enough information to bet the game.

DENVER AT TAMPA BAY

Vegas Line

DEN -3 TOTAL 36

Predicted Outcome

DEN 17 TB 13

Records

DEN

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (1-1-1), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

TB

SU (0-3-0)

ATS (0-3-0), ATS HOME (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

DEN Side (1998-2003)

VS. NFC (68%), 1 ST 4 GAMES (61% ATS)

TB Side (1998-2003)

DOG (61% ATS), VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (61% ATS)

DEN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: FAVORITE (60& OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

TB Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: HOME DOG (80% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

This is the Broncos second trip to Florida in the past three weeks. The first trip was a disaster as Denver came out flat on offense against a very stout Jacksonville defense and then blew a late, short field goal chance at the end of the game to lose SU.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice and everyone runs laps. You wouldn’t think that a Shanahan coached football team would go on the road and come out flat in back-to-back road games, especially against a winless Tampa Bay team, but some in the handicapping community think it could happen.

The Buc’s are 0-3 SU and ATS and have only scored two touchdowns all season (both in slop-time in Oakland last week). That’s a pretty hard team to back with cash against a Bronco team that many tipped for the playoffs. But the Broncos have been very un-Denver like the last two weeks. After ripping the Chiefs week 1, the Broncos have done nothing on offense. Just six points against the Jaguars and then the offense sleep-walked through the Chargers game. The Denver rushing game has evaporated, with the rushing yards per game dropping like a rock from 200 per game level to 115.

Speaking of struggling running games, the Buc’s weak offensive line isn’t pushing anyone off the line of scrimmage. Tampa Bay is averaging just 71 yards rushing per game.

My thought is that you’d never see a line this low if Denver had not struggled at Jacksonville. If the Broncos had attempted and made that kick, the Broncos would be 3-0 against a 0-3 SU and ATS Tampa squad and you’d be laying five instead of three. Lay the points with the Broncos and give me the Under.

ST LOUIS AT SAN FRANCISCO

Vegas Line

STL -3.5 TOTAL 44

Predicted Outcome

SF 24 STL 21

Records

STL

SU (1-2-0)

ATS (0-3-0), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-1-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

SF

SU (0-3-0)

ATS (0-0-0), ATS HOME (2-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U HOME (0-1-0)

Trends

STL Side (1998-2003)

NONE

SF Side (1998-2003)

DOG (39% ATS), VS. DIVISION (39% ATS)

STL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: 1 ST 4 GAMES (65% OVERS)

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

SF Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: HOME DOG (27% OVERS)

Recent Meetings

        STL     SF  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/2/2003 STL 10 SF 30 340 9 331 389 165 224
9/14/2003 SF 24 STL 27 278 88 190 390 148 242
12/30/2002 SF 20 STL 31 263 35 228 329 193 136
10/6/2002 STL 13 SF 37 313 88 225 386 179 207
12/9/2001 SF 14 STL 27 385 115 270 220 76 144
9/23/2001 STL 30 SF 26 424 115 309 232 116 116

Commentary

Okay, okay, I give up with the game of the week shtick after picking the 49ers last week against the Seahawks and then watching them get skunked on the road. But this week’s different, really it is.

This is a game between two pretty weak teams. The Rams are 0-3 ATS and the betting public is so disgusted with this team that for the first time since the late 90’s public money is coming in on their opponents. Now they go on the road in a series where the road team never wins and have to come out with a victory or they can kiss that Divisional title good-bye.

You would think the 49ers would be content just to score. But SF knows they’re not going anywhere in the post season after a 0-3 start, and this home game against their ancient and terrible enemy takes on playoff proportions as San Francisco, no matter how badly they may fare for the remainder of 2004, can at least say they beat their rivals if they prevail in this game. Coming off a shut-out, being 0-3, and playing the Rams should be enough to motivate this 49ers club to leave everything on the field this Sunday.

Looking at the series it’s pretty apparent that this game should be high-scoring. Four of the last six contests have gone over this week’s total of 44 points with the average total in the previous games coming in at 48 points.

In 2004, scoring is down for both teams, however. St. Louis is scoring just 19 points per game and giving up 23 while the 49ers are being outscored 15-28. That makes the projected total 24-19 Rams with a spread of 5 on a neutral field and total of 43 points.

Northern California is not a neutral field so there’s no way the Rams should be laying a field goal here. I’ll take the 49ers and the Over.

KANSAS CITY AT BALTIMORE

Vegas Line

BAL -5 TOTAL 42

Predicted Outcome

BAL 24 KC 17

Records

KC

SU (0-3-0)

ATS (0-3-0), ATS AWAY (0-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U AWAY (1-0-0)

BAL

SU (2-1-0)

ATS (2-1-0), ATS HOME (1-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-2-0), O/U HOME (1-0-0)

Trends

KC Side (1998-2003)

1 ST 4 GAMES (65% ATS)

BAL Side (1998-2003)

HOME (63% ATS), FAVORITE (60% ATS), HOME FAVORITE (70%) ATS, VS. CONFERENCE (71% ATS)

KC Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

BAL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        KC     BAL  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
9/28/2003 KC 17 BAL 10 265 129 136 326 202 124

Commentary

We return to Baltimore and that 70% ATS rate home field advantage for a game between the Ravens and a Chiefs team that’s looking straight down the barrel of a 0-4 start.

To cut to the chase, the KC running game will decide this contest. If the Chiefs can run the ball, they can keep the game close. If they can’t, Kansas City is toast.

There’s absolutely no mystery to the Ravens’ game plan, they’re going to pound RB Jamal Lewis straight down the Chief’s throats. Baltimore is averaging 171 yards on the ground and Kansas City is giving up 153, so don’t expect that KC can do anything about it.

If KC can run the ball as well and give their defense a breather, they’ve got a shot. The Chiefs are averaging 148 rushing yards per game, but the Ravens defense is giving up only 95. If Priest Holmes can’t grind out first downs, the KC defense will tire in the second half and this game will get ugly quickly. The Chiefs don’t have enough of a passing game that they can come back against the Baltimore defense if they get more than ten points behind.

Money is pouring in on the Ravens early. This game has moved from -4 to -6 in some locations. I’m not bucking the trend here. It’s the Ravens and Under for me.

College Thoughts

In no particular order:
Wake Forest +10.5
Minnesota -14
New Mexico +10
Georgia Tech +14
ND +3
S. Carolina +3
LSU +3
Louisville -29
Toledo -16
Auburn -2.5
Eastern Michigan -7