NFL Week 4 Analysis
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.
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