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Browns (0-3) @ Ravens (2-1)—Short week for both teams; Ravens playing with heavy hearts after burial of Torrey Smith’s brother, and with possible letdown after emotional revenge win over Patriots- they’ve beaten Cleveland eight times in row and 19 of 26 overall, with six of those eight wins by 10+ points. Browns lost last four visits here by average score of 26-11. Since 2007, Ravens are just 4-8-1 vs spread as a divisional home favorite; they’re 1-7 in last eight games as double digit favorite. Last two Baltimore games were both decided by a single point. Browns lost Weeden’s first three starts by 1-7-10 points; they were down 7 at half in all three games. Cleveland is 7-4 vs spread in last 11 games as divisional road dogs. Average total in last six series games, 32.0. All three Baltimore games this season went over total. Divisional home favorites are 4-2 vs spread, so far this season.
Patriots (1-2) Bills (2-1)—Since 2004, New England is 30-16-1 vs spread as road favorites- they’re 22-7 vs spread in game following their last 29 losses. Buffalo’s 34-31 upset win here LY was their only win in last 17 series games; New England won 10 of last 12 visits to western NY, with seven of last eight wins by 13+ points, but Pats are under .500 (1-2) for first time in decade after giving up 508 yards in last-second loss at Baltimore. Red flag is NE is 1-2 start, despite being plus in turnovers all three games. Bills have run ball for 195-201-138 yards, so offense has decent balance (178 ypg rushing, 193 passing)- they’re 15-32 on third down and Fitzpatrick has only been sacked once. Favorites are 6-1 vs spread in AFC divisional games so far this season. Since ’05, Bills are 3-8-1 vs spread as a divisional home dog. Average total in last four series games, 60.0.
Vikings (2-1) @ Lions (1-2)— You screw up a game the way Lions did last week (allowed two special teams TD’s, a defensive score, then butchered end-game when center didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to snap ball on 4th down in OT), it tends to have lingering effects. Only Detroit win so far was in last 0:10 vs Rams- they’ve allowed four odd TDs, and half of six TDs the defense gave up came on drives shorter than 60 yards, so they’ve been shooting themselves in foot. Health of Lions’ QB Stafford (hamstring) in question here, although backup Hill is one of league’s better #2 QB’s. Detroit won last three series games by 7-3-6 points, after losing 20 of previous 22 vs Minnesota; Vikings lost last two visits here, 20-13/34-28. Lions are 7-4 vs spread in last 11 games as home favorites. Minnesota is 2-6 in last eight games as divisional road dogs, but they’ve outgained all three opponents this year, as OC Musgrave has worked wonders with young QB Ponder.
Panthers (1-2) @ Falcons (3-0)—Carolina had three extra days to prepare after hideous home loss to Giants; they’ve lost four in row and six of last seven to Atlanta, giving up 31 points in each of last four series games. Panthers lost last four visits here by average score of 29-19, with three of four losses by 14+ points. Carolina scored 10-7 points in two losses, running ball 33 times for 70 yards; they scored 35 in only win, running ball 41 times for 219 yards. Atlanta allowed 152-118-116 rushing yards in its three wins, all vs AFC West opponents. Falcons are 11-2-1 vs spread in last 14 games as divisional home favorite; they’re 25-10-1 as single digit favorites under Smith. Atlanta is already +8 in turnovers this year; they’ve had 20 points at halftime in all three games. Carolina is 3-7 vs spread in last 10 games as divisional road underdog- they’ve allowed 11 plays of 20+ yards in their last two games.
49ers (2-1) @ Jets (2-1)—Niners lost turnover battle in only 4 of Harbaugh’s 21 games as HC, but they’re 1-3 in those games (15-2 in others); loss of defensive ace Revis leaves Gang Green crippled, since four of six TDs offense has scored came on drives of less than 55 yards. Jets rely on defense to set up the offense; they’ve completed just 31-72 (43.1%) of passes last two games, and were lucky to escape Miami (Bush got hurt, Fish led by 10 at one point) with win. NFC West teams are 7-2 vs spread in non-divisional games, 1-1 when favored. AFC East teams are 6-3 vs spread, 2-2 as dogs. Since ’09, Niners are 15-4-2 in game following a loss, 3-0 under Harbaugh. Since ’05, Jets are 9-6 as home dogs, 2-0 under Ryan; they’re 20-15 vs spread in game following their last 35 wins. 49ers won nine of 11 series games, winning five of six played here, with only loss 22-14 in last visit here, back in ’04.
Chargers (2-1) @ Chiefs (1-2)—KC was 0-2 and down 24-6 in Superdome when Charles ran 91 yards for TD and turned their season around; home side won last five games in this series, with Chargers losing 21-14/23-20ot in last two visits here. Chiefs ran ball for 152-160-273 yards in three games (195 ypg) but don’t have TD drive of less than 73 yards, thanks to minus-6 TO ratio (lost four fumbles last two games). Turner is 7-5-1 vs spread in last 13 games where spread was 3 or less points; he’s 11-6-1 vs spread in last 18 AFC West road games. Chiefs allowed 40-35-24 points this season (avg 33 ppg), giving up 11 TDs on 33 drives, despite outgaining all three foes. Last two games, KC has one TD, five FGs on seven drives in red zone, that’s a red flag. Chiefs covered twice in last nine AFC West home games. All three San Diego games this year stayed under total.
Titans (1-2) @ Texans (3-0)—Tennessee won one of wildest games in NFL history last week, scoring TDs on PR-KR-FR, but still needed OT to win, after failing to cover onside kick and allowing two TDs in last 0:18 of regulation. Titans, who used to be Houston Oilers, won five of last seven visits here, but lost first meeting with Texans last three years (20-0/41-7 last two years)- they’ve run ball for just 39 ypg so far, a red flag against terrific Houston offense that is scoring 32.7 ppg. You could make case for Texans as NFL’s #1 team right now; they’ve scored 10 TDs on 36 drives, with only two turnovers. Since ’07, they’re 16-11-1 as home favorites, 6-2 in AFC South games. Titans are 5-9 vs spread in game after their last 14 wins; Locker has been shaky in red zone (one TD, five FGs in six trips). Sometimes tough to pay double digits with team making rare showing on Monday Night Football next year, but locals’ dislike of Titan owner Bud Adams should keep Texans engaged here.
Seahawks (2-1) @ Rams (1-2)—Humungous trap game for Seattle, after beating Cowboys/Packers at home, travelling 2,126 miles on short week to face lowly division rival they’ve beaten 13 of last 14 times, including six of last seven visits here. Seahawks won last three series games by average score of 23-9, but these Rams aren’t those Rams under Fisher- they’re more competitive, more pugnacious (trailed Chicago 13-6 with 9:00 left before fatal pick-6 ended game). Biggest “IF” for Rams is can they block aggressive Seattle front-7 that sacked Rodgers eight times in first half Monday (none in second half). St Louis gained 451 yards in only home game this year, coming back from down 21-6 to beat Redskins. Seattle didn’t turn ball over in either win, and they got gift from referees to win Monday’s game. If Rams’ front can keep Bradford upright, he’ll hit enough plays to spring minor upset here, as two of three Seattle games have come down to last play.
Dolphins (1-2) @ Cardinals (3-0)—Redbirds are 3-0 for first time since ’74, when Ford was President/Coryell was coach; this is first time Arizona is favored this season; since 2009, Cardinals are 4-8-2 vs spread as home favorites- they’re 7-10 vs spread in last 17 games vs AFC squads. Cardinals won last two series games after losing previous eight; seven of 10 games were decided by 13+ points. Miami split its previous two visits to desert. Dolphins have committed to running ball (263-185 rushing yards last two games), to protect rookie QB Taneyhill (just 34-66 passing last two games), but Bush got hurt last week, which cost them against Jets. Fish are 19-36 on 3rd down last two games. Former Indy GM Bill Polian praised their coaching staff, that’s good enough for us. Underdogs are 7-1-1 vs spread in Arizona’s last nine games. All three Cardinal games stayed under the total.
Raiders (1-2) @ Broncos (1-2)—Since 2006, Denver is unspeakably bad 6-24-1 vs spread as home favorites, 1-11-1 in AFC West games, so this is big game for Fox/Manning regime, vs Oakland coach Allen, who was Denver’s DC LY. Huge upgrade at QB for Broncos since then; Denver has six TDs, three FGs in nine red zone trips, and figure to improve as schedule softens (opened with Pitt-Atl-Hst) and Manning gets better chemistry with WRs. Oakland allowed 27-31 points last two games, and has yet to hold opponent under 6.1 yards/pass attempt; they’re 19-13 vs spread as road dog last 4+ years. Raiders won four of last five series games, winning last four visits to Mile High City; seven of last nine series games were decided by 14+ points, with average total in last four, 60.0. Denver outscored opponents 52-26 in second half of games, but they trailed all three at halftime. Oakland is 16-27 vs spread in game after its last 43 losses.
Bengals (2-1) @ Jaguars (1-2)— Cincy OC Gruden threw WR pass for 71-yard score on first play of game last week; aggressive Bengal approach posted 34-38 points last two games, with minimal help (one takeaway in each game) from defense. Cincy had four plays of 20+ yards on first down last week, after not having one in first two games. Jaguars pulled first win out of hat last week, scoring on 80-yard pass one play after Colts had taken lead with last-minute FG. Jax is 11-7 vs one-time division rivals, but lost last two meetings, 21-19/ 30-20; home team won 12 of 18 series games, with Bengals losing seven of nine visits here. Four of last seven series games were decided by 7 or less points. AFC North teams are 3-5 vs spread outside the division (1-3 as favorites); AFC South teams are 5-3, 3-3 as underdogs. Bengals are now 17-10 vs spread in game following their last 27 wins; am thinking we’ve underestimated the coaching job Lewis has done working for cheapskate Mike Brown.
Saints (0-3) @ Packers (1-2)— Green Bay on short week after chaotic last-minute loss in Seattle, game where Rodgers got sacked eight times in first half; Pack covered 14 of last 19 tries as home favorite- they’re 10-3 vs spread in game following last 13 losses. Rudderless Saints allowed 3rd-most yards in history of NFL in first three games- they’ve allowed 34 ppg in 0-3 start, blowing 24-6 lead at home to 0-2 Chiefs last week, giving up 273 rushing yards- they’ve giving up average of 215 rushing yards/game. NO is underdog for first time this year; since ’07, they’re 5-8-1 vs spread as road dogs. Teams split four meetings (average total, 64) over last seven years; Saints lost three of four visits here (before that, all their visits to Wisconsin were played in Milwaukee). Guessing its been while since team (Saints) scored 83 points in first three games, but didn’t cover any of them. Safe to say Roger Goodell won’t be attending this game.
Redskins (1-2) @ Buccaneers (1-2)— Not sure Washington is better with RGIII but they sure as hell are more exciting, scoring 45-28-31 points in its 1-2 start; problem is, defense has had attrition, allowing 8.1/12.8 yards/pass attempt to Rams/Bengals last two games. Redskins have run ball for 153-176-213 yards, but are just 11-40 on 3rd down, part of why they’ve lost field position by 12-8 yards last two games. All three Buc games were decided by 7 or less points; of their four TDs in last two games, only one came on drive longer than 29 yards. Bucs have 8 takeaways already (+4) but only one win, not a good sign. Tampa won three of last four series games, all decided by 6 or less points; since 1994, Redskins lost seven of eight visits here. Average total in last five series games is 29.6. Underdogs are 6-0 vs spread in NFC East teams’ non-divisional road games (2-0 as road dogs). NFC South home favorites are 1-3 outside their division. Former Buc coach Morris is Skins' secondary coach.
Giants (2-1) @ Eagles (2-1)—You can’t turn ball over three times a game and win for any length of time; Eagles are 2-1 despite 12 giveaways (6 INT, 6 fumbles) already, include horrific mishap before half in desert last week, when time/score blunder turned what should’ve been 17-3 deficit into 24-0 debacle. Giants had three extra days to prepare after crushing Panthers last week; they’ve scored 61 points in last five quarters, averaging 10.0/7.2 yards/pass attempt in last two games. Both Eagle wins this year are by single point, when Vick led winning drive in last 2:00; they’re 6-10 in last 16 tries as home favorite, 15-13 in last 28 games where spread was 3 or less points. Giants covered five of last seven as road dogs; they’re 4-1-1 in last six where spread was 3 or less points. Philly won seven of last eight series games, with visitor winning four of last five; Giants are 3-2 in last five visits here- they’ve won first meeting with Iggles in five of last seven years.
Bears (2-1) @ Cowboys (2-1)—Dallas struggling mightily on offense, scoring 23 points in last two games, with only one TD drive longer than 23 yards; they’ve run ball 39 times for 87 yards vs Seattle/Tampa, neither of which reminds us of ’85 Bears. Cowboys started 3 of 12 drives in Tampa territory, still scored only 16 points last week. Dallas has now covered only three of last 15 games as home favorite, though they’ve been better home favorite outside the division (13-10 since ’07, compared to 3-11 vs NFC East foes). Cutler is 28-58 passing last two games; he just looks bad when pressured, moreso than most QBs. Since ’07, Chicago is 6-10-2 vs spread as non-divisional road underdog- they’ve converted only 13 of 41 on 3rd down, but they do have 11 sacks in last two games. Underdogs are 10-0 vs spread in non-divisional games involving NFC East teams; NFC East squads are 0-7 as non-divisional favorites, 0-4 at home.
Saturday's Lucky 11: Random stuff with the weekend here.....
11) NFL TV analysts have become suck-ups; I don’t care, Joe Flacco is not yet an elite QB, if elite still means what I think it means. Elite would be top 5: is Flacco better than Brady-Brees-Rodgers or either Manning brother? Roethlisberger? Matt Ryan? Rivers? Didn’t think so.
10) We all complain about TV announcers, but Mike Tirico does football-basketball-golf and is really good at all three, probably better than Jim Nantz at all but golf.
9) If you’re on Twitter and you want to laugh a few times a day, follow pro wrestler Al Snow (@therealAlSnow). The man is clever.
8) Good news from the NBA: referee Greg Willard, who was diagnosed with cancer last June, plans to work this season. We need all the good news we can get.
7) If you like to gamble and lets face it, who doesn’t, West Virginia QB Geno Smith is a 24.5-yard favorite over Baylor QB Nick Florence in passing yardage for this week’s game in Morgantown.
6) 62% of bettors took the American side in the Ryder Cup, even though the Europeans usually win. Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Americans do lead 5-3 after the first day.
5) Are individual players’ records in the Ryder Cup random or meaningful? If they’re meaningful, why is Jim Furyk (8-15-4 career in Ryder Cup) on the team? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.
4) 7-11 stores gave away coffee for four hours Friday morning, which would’ve been better for me, if I actually drank coffee. I basically am a espresso, cappaccino guy with an occasional cup of coffee when all else fails.
3) NFL players can get fined serious money for wearing unlicensed gear to press conferences. Tom Brady has been covering up the Nike swoosh on his workout gear with tape during meetings with the press. Brady has a deal with Under Armour.
2) Friend of mine tweeted a Ryder Cup question to Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated Thursday: “Do Ryder Cuppers ever request not to be paired with a certain player?”
His reply: “Hell to the yes. No one wanted Wetterich.” There you go. Wonder why no one likes Brett Wetterich?
1) Two weeks until college basketball practice starts. Calendar year seems to be condensing, college hoop starting nine days after baseball ends.
Big week here next week, with A's trying to make the playoffs and then packing my bags as BTB and Spooky Express head to Punta Cana in the D.R. and stay at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday...........
13) I don't give a rat's ass about what other people think, people who are too cool to show enthusiasm or outwardly enjoy what they do. When all is said and done about this baseball season, one of the A's biggest weapons is their camaraderie and enthusiasm, their refusal to ever, ever quit.
If that rubs some people the wrong way, then so be it.
12) College football has gone mad with offense; Baylor scored 63, Akron 49, Tennessee 44, UAB 42, NC State 37, Marshall 41, Ball State 43 and Virginia 38 points. THEY ALL LOST!!!!
Somewhere, Woody Hayes is up in football heaven cursing up a storm.
11) Baylor gained 700 yards but gave up 807; somehow, they're allocating too many of their best athletes/scholarships to offense. Arena football guys had to be turning this game off, thats how bad the defense was.
10) Oregon State scored with 1:09 left to win 38-35 win at Arizona; led by Mike Riley, who also coached in NFL (Chargers) and CFL (Winnipeg), the Beavers have a top 5 in nation resume, if only that resume belonged to a media darling team. They've beaten Wisconsin-UCLA-Arizona, with two of the three on the road. Benny the Beaver is a happy rodent today.
9) Texas was outgained by 136 yards at Oklahoma State, but they ran a kick back for a TD, and scored with 0:29 left to escape Boone Pickens Stadium with a 41-36 win over the high-powered OSU Cowboys. Looks like Mack Brown has the Longhorns back in the top 10.
8) Georgia hung 51 on Tennessee in a wild 51-44 home win where Dawgs averaged 7.2 yards per rush, 11.1 per pass and still only won by a TD. I mean, this game was 30-30 at the half, and Vince Dooley had to be shaking his head, watching his son's team battle his beloved Dawgs.
7) Derek Dooley played WR at Virginia, was HC at Louisiana Tech; his old team is loaded- Tech beat the Cavaliers 44-38 in Charlottesville, and is now 4-0, despite being outgained 625-385 by Virginia, which was flagged 16 time for 145 yards (Tech had 10 for 109). Officials had to ice their arms after this one-- too many flags were thrown.
6) Maybe Tech coach Sonny Dykes becomes a candidate at Arkansas, which lost 58-10 at Texas A&M; interim coach John L Smith has lowered the bar as to what Razorback fans will be happy with.
At this point, not wrecking a motorcycle (with your girlfriend on the back) and going 7-5 sounds pretty good in Little Rock.
5) Apparently, the guy who hosts Kentucky's pre-game radio show was going over candidates to replace HC Joker Phillips after this season. Not a lot of class there, seeing as its still September and all; Wildcats played their butts off, leading Gamecocks 17-7 at the half, before reality set in and South Carolina won, 38-17.
Remember, 14 years before he won a Super Bowl coaching the 49ers, George Seifert was fired as head coach at Cornell. Sometimes the coach is just fine, its the job that sucks.
4) There are 21 unbeatens left in I-A and eight winless teams.
3) UL-Monroe hung 63 points on poor Tulane, crushing the beleaguered Green Wave 63-10; Warhawks are going to have their first winning season in I-A and hopefully, they'll go to a bowl game. They're pretty good, losing at home, 47-42 to Baylor and in OT at Auburn.
2) Boise State was up 25-0 at the half in Albuquerque, but it was 32-29 with 7:36 left, and the Broncos had to hang on to beat Bob Davie's Lobos, who are showing increased spunk under their new coach.
1) Northwestern is 5-0, Duke is 4-1; what the hell's going on out there?
Its amazing how many games come down to the last few plays in these games. Kind of enjoying and excrutiating all at the same time. Here are a couple to get our excrutiating day started. Buy point where needed
Truly do not like the card at all today. So buyer beware. Probably will sweep since I am so undecided. lol GL
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers -3
NEW JERSEY JETS/SAN FRANCISCO 49ers OVER 40 POINTS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS +3
KANSAS CITY/SAN DIEGO CHARGERS UNDER 45 POINTS
GREEN BAY PACKERS/NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OVER 52 POINTS
Oh yeah forgot my staple weekly play. Gonna ride with them one more time. Just dont see how they lose this game coming
off back to back road games and Minny coming off a big upset.