September 26, 2011
Three weeks into the NFL season has given us many surprises, including the unlikely 3-0 starts by both Detroit and Buffalo, who were last-place teams in 2010. On the flip side, the Eagles, Falcons, and Bears - all playoff squads from last season - have stumbled to a 1-2 start out of the gate.
Each week we compare the opening numbers from the M Resort in July to this past Sunday's openers for Week 4 of the NFL. Some of the following lines will be shocking considering the state of several of these teams after three weeks.
Vikings at Chiefs - 1:00 PM EST
July opener: Kansas City -5
Sunday opener: Minnesota -1
It's never easy to start an NFL preview with a pair of winless teams going at it, but Kansas City and Minnesota have started 0-3 in very different ways. The Vikings squandered a pair of substantial leads in home losses to the Buccaneers and Lions, while the Chiefs finally lost a game by less than five touchdowns in Week 3 at San Diego.
Minnesota has scored a grand total of six points in the second half/overtime in three games, even though the Vikings are 2-1 ATS. The Chiefs are already without Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry due to knee injuries, but Kansas City cashed as 14-point underdogs in a 20-17 defeat to San Diego for its first ATS win of the season. Since starting 5-1 ATS last season, Todd Haley's team is just 5-9 ATS the previous 14 contests.
Panthers at Bears - 1:00 PM EST
July opener: Chicago -12
Sunday opener: Chicago -6 ½
The Bears shocked many people with a resounding opening week thumping of the Falcons, but Chicago has crashed back to Earth following a pair of double-digit setbacks to New Orleans and Green Bay. The Panthers invade Soldier Field after finally breaking through the win column in a 16-10 triumph over the Jaguars, cashing as 3 ½-point favorites.
The number released in July seemed fair since Cam Newton was going to struggle, assume he would start for the Panthers. However, the top pick from Auburn ranks third in the NFL in passing yards (1,012), while already eclipsing the 420-yard mark in two games. Now, the Bears' defense has to worry about Newton after ranking 26th in the league in pass defense through the first three weeks. Meanwhile, Chicago is second-to-last in the NFL in rushing following a 13-yard effort against the Packers.
Bills at Bengals - 1:00 PM EST
July opener: Cincinnati -4 ½
Sunday opener: Buffalo -3
The Bills became the first team to ever overcome consecutive 18+ point deficits and pick up victories, fresh off Sunday's shocker over New England. Buffalo goes for its fourth straight win against a Cincinnati team that fell short in an ugly 13-8 home loss to San Francisco. The Bengals haven't been a great home favorite under Marvin Lewis by compiling a 2-12 ATS record since 2008, but as a home 'dog is a different story.
Thankfully, the line has swung so great that the Bengals are getting points in this contest. Cincinnati owns a 9-3 ATS mark as a home 'dog since 2008, including outright wins over Baltimore and San Diego last season. Surprisingly, Buffalo is 3-1 ATS as a road favorite in its last four opportunities, including a 31-14 blowout of St. Louis is 2008, moving the Bills to 4-0 that season.
Giants at Cardinals - 4:15 PM EST
July opener: New York -6
Sunday opener: New York -1 ½
The Giants return to the site of their dramatic Super Bowl XLII triumph over the undefeated Patriots as New York battles Arizona on Sunday. Tom Coughlin's club knocked around the Eagles in a 29-16 bashing in Week 3, easily cashing as nine-point underdogs. The Cardinals return to Glendale after a disappointing 13-10 defeat at Seattle as three-point 'chalk,' dropping Arizona to 1-2.
Arizona rallied for a win in its only home contest against Carolina, 28-21, but the Cards have allowed the sixth-most yards (397/game) through three weeks. Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cards have put together a 9-3 ATS record as a home 'dog, even though one of those losses came to the Giants in 2008. New York is a very profitable 16-9 ATS since Coughlin took over when the Giants are listed as a road favorite, despite an opening week loss at Washington.
Colts at Buccaneers - 8:30 PM EST (Monday)
July opener: Indianapolis -1 ½
Sunday opener: Tampa Bay -10
We'll be seeing the Colts on this list quite frequently throughout the season with Peyton Manning out. Indianapolis put up a valiant effort in a 23-20 home defeat to Pittsburgh, but the Colts managed a cover as double-digit home 'dogs. The Bucs have bounced back nicely following a Week 1 loss to Detroit with solid victories over Minnesota and Atlanta. Now, Raheem Morris' club is a double-digit favorite for the first time in his tenure as head coach of Tampa Bay, while trying to improve on a 4-12-1 ATS record at Raymond James Stadium.
Teams laying at least 10 points through the first two weeks of the season haven't been very successful against the number by covering just once in four tries. History is tough to judge with Indianapolis since Manning is out, but the Colts don't bounce back well following a loss by three points or less with a 1-7 ATS mark since 2006.