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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Inside The Points - Week 5
Fritze Schlottman
October 8, 2004

Time to count the dead and bayonet the wounded. I knew last week was going to be a bad one for the players and I hate it when I’m right. The Sports Gods got their revenge for the public’s nice Week 3 and then some. Any time all the money comes in on popular road favorites and home dogs like San Diego, Arizona, Houston, and Cleveland cover there’s going to be plenty of pain to pass around. The Hilton contest saw any number of high-profile handicappers get an 0 for collar. Well-known handicapper such as Steve Fezzik, Bryan Leonard, Ted Sevransky, and Andy Iskoe all had that dubious distinction this week. So if you didn’t fare very well, join the crowd; you have plenty of company.

Unders still had a decent week at 9-5 despite the low totals put out by the Sports Gods and the Dogs came biting as the underdogs went 7-6-1. As for myself, the Totals continued on their winning ways with a 8-3-2 mark and my sides went down the toilet at 4-7-1. It’s weeks like that this that remind me why I don’t bet many sides. The good news is that we now have enough data points to begin using the handicapping formula, so I should have a better handle on my side bets beginning this week.

The Sports Gods have put up some low numbers, and considering there’s a 53 total on the board, some of the rest of the contests are really low. The Average is 39.92 points or a point less than the long-run statistical average. Some of the spreads are getting excessive as well. There are four games with point spreads of a touchdown or more and only four games with a spread of a field goal or less. This means you’re going to pay a premium to bet on public teams like the Colts and Patriots this week and you’re paying a premium to bet against bad teams as well. So, if you like big favorites, you might be better to bet on the totals this week. At some point, the dregs of the NFL have some line value, but I’m not positive we’re there quite yet.

CLEVELAND AT PITTSBURGH

Vegas Line

PIT -6 Total 37.5

Predicted Outcome

PIT 17 CLE 16

Records

CLE

SU (2-2-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (0-4-0), O/U AWAY (0-2-0)

PIT

SU (3-1-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (3-1-0), O/U HOME (2-0-0)

Trends

CLE Side (1998-2003)

NONE

PIT Side (1998-2003)

TURF (39% ATS), 2 ND GAMES (65% ATS)

CLE Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

PIT Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: 2 ND 4 GAMES

Recent Meetings

        CLE     PIT  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/23/2003 PIT 13 CLE 6 303 90 213 168 109 59
10/5/2003 CLE 33 PIT 13 324 124 200 209 60 149
1/5/2003 CLE 33 PIT 36 447 38 409 432 89 343
11/3/2002 PIT 23 CLE 20 193 36 157 391 136 255
9/29/2002 CLE 13 PIT 16 245 123 122 358 93 265
1/6/2002 CLE 7 PIT 28 173 68 105 376 221 155
11/11/2001 PIT 15 CLE 12 187 74 113 428 247 181

Commentary

The Browns have very quietly gotten a little bit healthier over the past few days. Three starters have returned including both starting cornerbacks and RB Lee Suggs. With that, the Browns are a much better team and I expect them to give the Steelers all they can handle this week.

Looking at the handicapping formula, I make the Steelers seven points better than the Browns on a neutral field. The Browns took big hits for having a -13.55% total play differential and a -24.67% total yardage differential. Cleveland also got dinged for having a low (3.96) plays per first down ratio. What that tells me is that the Browns offense has had a lot of problems making first downs, putting together drives, and scoring points which is no great insight if you’ve watched Cleveland play this season. The Browns need a special team’s play or a turnover to give their offense enough field position to score. Defensively, Cleveland has bent but not broken and received points for their very positive yards per point scored ratio.

Pittsburgh was solid, but not spectacular across the board, especially on offense which was a little surprising to me. The Steelers got bonus points for their running game both for their running play ratio and for their expected yards per rush. However, there’s late word that RB Deuce Staley may be dinged and the Steelers may not be the same team with Bettis starting. Pittsburgh’s passing game has done well enough to get a few bonus points for yards per pass attempt and total yardage differential.

Considering that Cleveland is getting players healthy while the Steelers are losing teammates, I’m not that comfortable laying six points here. On the other hand, I’m sure not in love with putting money on Browns when my formula says there’s line value with Pittsburgh. I think the Under is the way to play this game with Cleveland averaging 14 points for and 15 points against while Pittsburgh’s scoring 19 on offense and giving up 17. That gives me an expected score of 17-16 on a neutral field, well under this week’s total line.

DETROIT AT ATLANTA

Vegas Line

Falcons -6.5 Total 40.5

Predicted Outcome

ATL 21 DET 10

Records

DET

SU (2-1-0)

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

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

ATL

SU (4-0-0)

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

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

Trends

DET Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (39% ATS), 62% OFF A BYE WEEK/NON-SUNDAY GAME

ATL Side (1998-2003)

NONE

DET Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

ATL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        DET     ATL  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/22/2002 DET 15 ATL 36 208 87 121 533 197 336

Commentary

Michael Vick gets a lot of attention, but that Falcons defense has done the damage this season. Pop the numbers into the handicapping formula and its easy to see which team should be favored in this contest and why (hint: it may have something to do with that Atlanta defense).

I did a double take when I got the result: Detroit -1, Atlanta 14 making the Falcons nearly a two touchdown favorite on a neutral field. Looking a bit closer, the Lions are very similar to the Browns in that their offense can’t stay on the field. Detroit has a -21.25% total play differential and a -30.62% total offense differential. So, how come the Lions are scoring as many points (20) as they are giving up? The answer is turnovers and special teams play. Detroit has won two football games (Chicago and Houston) on kick returns and punt blocks. The Lions offense really had very little to do with it. Taking that into consideration, Detroit is very lucky to be 2-1 and just as easily could be 0-3 with these numbers.

Vick’s ability to run the ball and that nasty blitzing Falcons defense generated a lot of bonus points. The computer thinks Atlanta and Vick will have no problems running the ball against the Detroit defense. The model predicts that the Falcons will average about 4.4 yards per carry on offense while the Lions will average on only 3.25 yards per rush. That ability to run the ball should open up Detroit’s secondary and the computer expects Atlanta to average over seven yards per passing attempt or more than a full yard per attempt more than Detroit is expected to have. Finally, the Falcons got a whopping six bonus points for that 25.81 yards per point ratio indicating that Atlanta doesn’t permit teams to score in the red zone. Not surprisingly then, the computer doesn’t like the Lions chances of scoring touchdowns either.

No way I can argue with those numbers, but laying a nearly a touchdown against a Detroit team off a bye week gets me nervous. Still, I must do the will of the great and all-mighty electronic box and take Atlanta and the Under this week.

MIAMI AT NEW ENGLAND

Vegas Line

NE -13.5 Total 35

Predicted Outcome

NE 20 MIA 3

Records

MIA

SU (0-4-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (0-4-0), O/U AWAY (0-1-0)

NE

SU (3-0-0)

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

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

Trends

MIA Side (1998-2003)

2 ND 4 GAMES (68% ATS)

NE Side (1998-2003)

HOME (61% ATS)

MIA Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

NE Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        MIA     NE  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/7/2003 MIA 0 NE 12 134 68 66 228 78 150
10/19/2003 NE 19 MIA 13 326 97 229 332 59 273
12/29/2002 MIA 24 NE 27 359 256 103 332 116 216
10/6/2002 NE 13 MIA 26 319 137 182 245 37 208
12/22/2001 MIA 13 NE 20 368 58 310 313 196 117
10/7/2001 NE 10 MIA 30 296 209 87 149 80 69

Commentary

New England going for the record for straight wins (19) against a very proud Miami franchise that owns the one undefeated season in the modern history of the NFL. Then again, you rarely get this one-sided a game for this kind of record.

What happens when the handicapping software gets one of the best teams against one of the worst? Trust me, its ugly man. Miami came out at -14 while New England was given an eight rating making the spread 22 on a neutral field (which New England definitely won’t be).

The ‘puter nearly choked on the ‘Phins offensive numbers: Miami can’t run the ball and the Dolphins go away from the rushing game early when it fails miserably, then they can’t generate any first downs, and their yards per point scored is so bad it’s off the charts. The Miami turnover situation is so ugly, we won’t even go there. If it wasn’t for the Dolphins defense that’s only allowing 15 points against, you’d be looking at a college spread in this game.

No way can I put money on Miami. In method one, I said you have to bet with winning teams and bet against the dregs of the NFL. If the Dolphins manage to score a touchdown, I don’t think the Patriots cover. That’s too little margin for me in what I think will be a slugging match. I’ll pass on the sides and hit the Under in this contest.

MINNESOTA AT HOUSTON

Vegas Line

MIN -4 Total 49.5

Predicted Outcome

MIN 27 HOU 24

Records

MIN

SU (2-1-0)

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

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

HOU

SU (2-2-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (3-1-0), O/U HOME (2-0-0)

Trends

MIN Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (39% ATS), ROAD FAVORITE (38% ATS), 64% OFF A BYE WEEK/NON-SUNDAY GAME

HOU Side (1998-2003)

NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

MIN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: ROAD, ROAD FAVORITE, 2 ND 4 GAMES

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

HOU Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

UNDER TRENDS: NO LONG-TERM TRENDS

Recent Meetings

NO MEETINGS

Commentary

Minnesota comes off the bye week and they are still hurting. Prior to the bye week, the Vikings were missing a starting tackle and a tight end and now Minnesota is down to their 4 th string runningback. Having a rotating cast of characters at runningback and on the offensive line may account for some of Minnesota’s inconsistency in the red zone. Of course, Minnesota’s tendency to play sloppy football, turning the ball over carelessly, seems to always catch up with them on the road and may overshadow any injury issues this week. Watch for the Vikings to pass the ball more this weekend against a very questionable Texans secondary.

Houston has their own issues, especially at runningback. It may well be runningback by committee again this week. So, this sets up to be a passing game where both teams look to get the ball to their play-making wide receivers.

The handicapping formula thinks four points is just about right here. Minnesota came out a 12 while Houston came out a five for a four point spread in Texas…right on the number posted. These two teams are very similar, they are strong on offense (especially the passing game) and they struggle on defense. Both teams received bonus points for yards per pass attempt, yards per rush attempt, yardage differential, and plays per first down reflecting that offensive capability, and both teams got dinged for giving up first downs too easily on defense. That’s enough to put me on the over in a contest where both teams have to score to win.

N.Y. GIANTS AT DALLAS

Vegas Line

DAL -3.5 Total 37.5

Predicted Outcome

NYG 21 DAL 20

Records

NYG

SU (3-1-0)

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

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

DAL

SU (2-1-0)

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

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

Trends

NYG Side (1998-2003)

VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (40% ATS)

DAL Side (1998-2003)

HOME (62% ATS), VS. DIVISION (65% ATS)

NYG Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: ROAD, ROAD DOG, VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS

DAL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: FAVORITE

Recent Meetings

        NYG     DAL  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/21/2003 NYG 3 DAL 19 213 54 159 326 104 222
9/15/2003 DAL 35 NYG 32 309 53 256 403 107 296
12/15/2002 DAL 7 NYG 37 377 157 220 241 104 137
10/6/2002 NYG 21 DAL 17 316 104 212 340 91 249
12/9/2001 NYG 13 DAL 20 245 125 120 289 102 187
11/4/2001 DAL 24 NYG 27 358 93 265 324 86 238

Commentary

The weakness for the Cowboys is that pass defense. Expect QB Kurt Warner to guide a very balanced Giants offense that will continue to mix it up. Dallas will respond by sending a lot of Blitzer’s, but I think the G-men have enough diversity to keep those Cowboy defenders guessing. Unlike most NFC East wrestling matches, these teams may go at each other this week with the passing game.

Looking at the numbers generated by the spreadsheet, the Giants come out as a 14 based on all those obscene rushing yards they got last week against Green Bay while the more conservative Dallas team generated a five making the game a NYG -5 in Dallas.

The computer thinks the wrong team’s favored based on the strength of the G-men’s running game. NYG got big bonus points for 5.03 yards per rush average on offense, and while the box thinks the Cowboys defense can slow them down a little, it still expects that New York is going to average 4.8 yards per rush. The computer thinks that Dallas will respond by throwing the football, and that seems a pretty good guess as the Cowboys are throwing the football on two out of every three downs already. That’s enough to put me on the Giants and the Over in this contest. OAKLAND AT INDIANAPOLIS

Vegas Line

IND -9.5 Total 53

Predicted Outcome

IND 31 OAK 24

Records

OAK

SU (2-2-0)

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

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

IND

SU (3-1-0)

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

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

Trends

OAK Side (1998-2003)

TURF (63% ATS), VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (36%)

IND Side (1998-2003)

NONE

OAK Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: VS. CONFERENCE, 2 ND 4 GAMES

IND Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        OAK     IND  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/14/2001 OAK 23 IND 18 317 101 216 352 118 234

Commentary

Is Indianapolis good enough to get out to a 16-17 point lead and then have their defense hold on to cover nearly a 10 point spread? This sets up to be very similar to the Packers game where the Colts got out to a big lead and then tried and hold on and withstand a furious comeback. Indianapolis covered the touchdown spread in that game, but I’m having a little heartburn laying nearly ten points in this game.

The ‘puter agrees with the lines-maker however, making the spread nine points here…right on the line once again. The box’s big issue was with the Colts defense and every time it generated bonus points for Indy’s high-powered offense, the spreadsheet turned around and took them away the Colts’ inability to prevent first downs. The computer thinks the Raiders will be able to run the ball, and if Oakland can avoid (ahem) turnovers they can stay in this game. But if the Raiders turn it over like they did last week, Indy may win the game by six touchdowns. Given that the box thinks Manning will have no problems picking apart the Raiders secondary and the Colts defense can’t hold back Oakland’s offense, the Over seems like the play.

TAMPA BAY AT NEW ORLEANS

Vegas Line

NO -3 Total 36

Predicted Outcome

NO 17 TB 16

Records

TB

SU (0-4-0)

ATS (0-3-1), ATS AWAY (0-2-0)

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

NO

SU (2-2-0)

ATS (1-3-0), ATS HOME (0-2-0)

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

Trends

TB Side (1998-2003)

NONE

NO Side (1998-2003)

ROAD FAVORITE (62%)

TB Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: ROAD DOG, TURF

NO Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: 2 ND 4 GAMES

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        TB     NO  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/7/2003 TB 14 NO 7 314 107 207 292 90 202
11/2/2003 NO 17 TB 14 352 56 296 257 124 133
12/1/2002 TB 20 NO 23 283 34 249 238 102 136
9/8/2002 NO 26 TB 20 333 72 261 368 118 250
12/23/2001 NO 21 TB 48 364 157 207 271 41 230

Commentary

Well, we know that Brad Johnson isn’t going to be the starting QB this week. Whether QB Chris Sims or QB Brian Griese starts isn’t the issue that’s being tossed around the sports books this week. What’s being asked is whether Tampa Bay is building for the future or packing it in? If this is the end of the line, TB is a bet against team the rest of the way.

With a new QB, look for the Buc’s to try and establish the running game again this week. Getting Pittman back did spark a Tampa running game that went over 100 rushing yards last week against a pretty good Denver defense. Whether that running game will generate enough offense against a really inconsistent Saints squad to get the Buc’s their first win is really debatable.

The Saints are nothing if not inconsistent. One minute they look like they can contend with the best teams, the next the Cardinals are blowing them out. There’s just no way I want any part of either of these football teams. The computer looked at both squads and laid an egg. Tampa got no bonus points at all (because they can’t score) while the box was busy taking points away from the Saints for pure stupidity. If faced with the choice between the unable and the incompetent, I’ll pass on the sides and take the under.

BUFFALO AT N.Y. JETS

Vegas Line

NYJ -7 Total 37.5

Predicted Outcome

NYJ 20 BUF 10

Records

BUF

SU (0-3-0)

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

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

NYJ

SU (3-0-0)

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

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

Trends

BUF Side (1998-2003)

VS. DIVISION (38% ATS)

NYJ Side (1998-2003)

VS. DIVISION (65% ATS)

BUF Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: VS. DIVISION

NYJ Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: HOME, FAVORITE, HOME FAVORITE

Recent Meetings

        BUF     NYJ  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/7/2003 NYJ 6 BUF 17 256 203 53 215 88 127
10/12/2003 BUF 3 NYJ 30 193 53 140 233 118 115
11/24/2002 BUF 13 NYJ 31 258 88 170 325 155 170
9/8/2002 NYJ 37 BUF 31 384 142 242 266 73 193
12/30/2001 BUF 14 NYJ 9 368 192 176 375 140 235
10/7/2001 NYJ 42 BUF 36 473 162 311 335 162 173

Commentary

Buffalo defensively is really solid. But it has to be frustrating to see the mistakes on offense kill this team. The Bills have the talent on offense to move the football; Buffalo’s execution just leaves me shaking my head.

The ‘puter thinks the Jets and the Under are the play here. Buffalo is all defense and no offense and the computer forecasting reflects that with a -1 result with all the defensive categories getting bonus points and all the offensive categories losing points. The Jets were the opposite. The box awarded bonus points in every offensive category and was neutral on New York’s offense. Of course, the Jets have had a pretty easy schedule so far and I have some concerns after the NYJ offense did nothing in the second half against Miami. That’s probably enough to get me off laying a touchdown with real money here, but the Under seems the more attractive bet in any case.

JACKSONVILLE AT SAN DIEGO

Vegas Line

JAX -2.5 Total 37

Predicted Outcome

JAX 17 SD16

Records

JAX

SU (3-1-0)

ATS (3-1-0), ATS AWAY (2-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-4-0), O/U AWAY (0-2-0)

SD

SU (2-2-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (3-1-0), O/U HOME (2-0-0)

Trends

JAX Side (1998-2003)

NONE

SD Side (1998-2003)

GRASS (40% ATS), 2 ND 4 GAMES (38% ATS)

JAX Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

SD Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        JAX     SD  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/5/2003 SD 21 JAC 27 436 123 313 346 69 277

Commentary

Two teams that have exceeded expectations, and now the Jaguars have to go on the road and have to show the betting public they deserve to be road favorites. Considering how many good bounces they’ve received so far this season, I’m not entirely convinced Jacksonville is a team to beat.

This game comes down to whether the Chargers can run the ball against a very tough Jaguars defense. If QB Drew Brees has to win the game for San Diego, the Chargers are in deep trouble. But as we saw in the Monday night game, if a good running game can move the ball, the underdog (and especially a home dog) has a chance to cover if not win the game outright.

The spreadsheet isn’t exactly getting on the Jaguars bandwagon either. It has both teams rated at -1 making SD a favorite in the game. On the face of it, that doesn’t make a lot of sense as the public thinks the Jaguars are a good team while the Chargers are thought of a one of the bottom-feeders. But Jacksonville is a few bad bounces in Buffalo and against Denver from being winless so perhaps the all-mighty box is on to something after all. This is one of the games where I don’t like the sides, but the Under is the more attractive play.

ARIZONA AT SAN FRANCISCO

Vegas Line

SF -1.5 Total 36.5

Predicted Outcome

SF 16 ARI 13

Records

ARI

SU (1-3-0)

ATS (3-1-0), ATS AWAY (2-0-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-3-0), O/U AWAY (0-2-0)

SF

SU (0-4-0)

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

OVER/UNDER (1-3-0), O/U HOME (0-2-0)

Trends

ARI Side (1998-2003)

ROAD (36% ATS), DOG (40%), ROAD DOG (38%), VS. DIVISION (37%)

SF Side (1998-2003)

VS. DIVISION (37%),

ARI Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: GRASS, 2 ND 4 GAMES

SF Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        ARI     SD  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/7/2003 ARI 14 SF 50 217 66 151 496 232 264
10/26/2003 SF 13 ARI 16 314 221 93 255 106 149
12/21/2002 SF 17 ARI 14 184 108 76 358 106 252
10/27/2002 ARI 28 SF 38 420 151 269 357 105 252

Commentary

Really, how can you bet on either team? Even the computer threw up its hands and made the game a pick and I can understand the sentiment. The Cardinals showed some signs of life last week by punting the inconsistent Saints at home while the 49ers did their usual disappearing act on offense and threw up another doughnut on the scoreboard in their 24-0 first-half drubbing by the Rams at home.

Neither team can score. Between them they are averaging 14.5 points on offense. The Cardinals have the edge on defense as they are averaging only 15 points against while the last two beatings by the Rams and Seahawks have blown up the 49ers points against to nearly 27. Somehow, I just can’t see Arizona off a big win going on the road and putting up 27, but that’s just me, I’m funny that way.

This is the Alamo for the 49ers. They will have no better chance of winning a football game this entire year and they are looking down the barrel of a winless season with a loss. My brain says take the Cardinals, my heart tells me take the 49ers, my wallet tells me to take the under. CAROLINA AT DENVER

Vegas Line

DEN -5 Total 38

Predicted Outcome

DEN 21 CAR 14

Records

CAR

SU (1-2-0)

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

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

DEN

SU (3-1-0)

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

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

Trends

CAR Side (1998-2003)

DOG (60% ATS), VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS (65%)

DEN Side (1998-2003)

VS. NFC (38%)

CAR Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

DEN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: HOME, FAVORITE, 2 ND 4 GAMES

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

Carolina looks like the bounce back team this year. They bounced back off a loss to the Packers to go on the road and beat the Chiefs, and now the Panthers come off a loss to Atlanta at home to go on the road to Denver where they are five-point road dogs.

I like the match-up on the line of scrimmage between a Panthers defensive line and a Bronco offense that has struggled to run the ball. If Denver can’t run, QB Jake Plummer is going to be under all kinds of pressure in what should be a field-goal game.

The computer says go with the Denver defense. The Broncos’ tough defense got big points for total play differential, total yardage differential, and plays per first down against. The Broncos offense got nothing, which is my dilemma. No matter what the ‘puter says about a defense, if an offense can’t score, the spread is still zero. Because the box says the Broncos defense is the difference in the game any yet the Denver offense isn’t a lock to score either, I’ll go with Denver here, but my money is going on the Under once again.

ST LOUIS AT SEATTLE

Vegas Line

SEA -7 Total 43.5

Predicted Outcome

SEA 31 STL 13

Records

STL

SU (2-2-0)

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

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

SEA

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

STL Side (1998-2003)

ROAD DOG (31% ATS)

SEA Side (1998-2003)

NONE

STL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

SEA Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: FAVORITE

Recent Meetings

        STL     SEA  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/14/2003 SEA 22 STL 27 316 86 230 366 135 231
9/21/2003 STL 23 SEA 24 308 82 226 316 96 220
12/22/2002 STL 10 SEA 30 271 17 254 392 100 292
10/20/2002 SEA 20 STL 37 478 218 260 290 50 240

Commentary

Seattle has to be feeling pretty good about where they are now. The Seahawks started with two wins on the road and then came home and thrashed the 49ers. San Francisco and Arizona don’t look like factors in the divisional race, so it’s down to the Rams and the Seahawks. With a win at home, Seattle takes a commanding lead in the race for the playoffs.

Offensively the Seahawks have balance on offense and that may be the difference in this game. The Rams defense is very vulnerable, but can be effective when a team is one-dimensional. St. Louis is giving up over five yards per carry and if the Rams load up to stop Alexander, the Seahawks have the weapons to throw down the field.

The computer say blow-out city. It crunched those impressive Seattle numbers on defense and came up with a 23 point spread in this contest. Ouch! Can’t argue with that, I’ll take Seattle and the over.

BALTIMORE AT WASHINGTON

Vegas Line

PICK Total 34

Predicted Outcome

WAS 17 BAL 13

Records

BAL

SU (2-2-0)

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

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

WAS

SU (1-3-0)

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

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

Trends

BAL Side (1998-2003)

FAVORITE (60% ATS)

WAS Side (1998-2003)

NONE

BAL Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: ROAD, VS. NFC

WAS Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: NONE

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

Defensive battle all the way here. Both teams really struggle on offense with Baltimore getting nothing from their passing game while the Redskins can move the ball…they just can’t score.

The computer gives Washington the edge based on their better offensive numbers. At least the Redskins can keep their offense on the field as the Ravens total play differential of -25.47% and total yardage differential of -18.88% were not looked upon favorably by the mother board. The Redskins got dinged for their yards per point scored ratio which gives you a pretty good idea about why this team only averages 15 points per game, these guys can’t do anything in the red zone. I’m far more comfortable taking an obvious Under than going to the window with either of these sides, so once again my cash is on the Under.

TENNESSEE AT GREEN BAY

Vegas Line

GB -3 Total 43.5

Predicted Outcome

Records

TEN

SU (1-3-0)

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

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

GB

SU (1-3-0)

ATS (1-3-0), ATS HOME (0-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (1-3-0), O/U HOME (0-2-0)

Trends

TEN Side (1998-2003)

NONE

GB Side (1998-2003)

NONE

TEN Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: VS. NFC

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

GB Total (1998-2003)

OVER TRENDS: VS. AFC, 2 ND 4 GAMES

UNDER TRENDS: NONE

Recent Meetings

        TEN     GB  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
9/3/2004 GB 7 TEN 27 417 304 113 530 327 203
12/16/2001 GB 20 TEN 26 423 167 256 225 29 196

Commentary

No idea who is going to play QB here as both teams have dinged signal callers. Not a game I want any part of until the injury situation gets clearer.