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Rams (0-4) @ Packers (5-0)-- Not only is St Louis off to horrific 0-4 start, its fifth year in row starting 0-2, their top seven CBs are all out hurt, so good luck stopping prolific Packer passing attack that saw 12 different guys catch passes in comeback win at Atlanta Sunday nite. Green Bay scored 42-49 points in its two home games so far- they're 4-1 vs spread and converted 18 of last 28 third down plays. Rams covered last four post-bye games but have been useless so far this season, with three losses by 12+ points- they've scored one TD in each game this year. NFC West non-divisional underdogs are 5-8-1 against spread. In their last four games, Pack outscored opponents 73-23 in second half.
Jaguars (1-4) @ Steelers (3-2)-- Pittsburgh is banged up, have turnover ratio of minus-11 (only two takeaways in five games), but they're still 3-2, with wins by 25-21 points in only home games- they're 6-3 vs spread in last nine games as home favorite. Jacksonville lost its last four games, scoring four TD's on 48 drives, with 20 3/outs- they lost road games 32-3 at the Jets and 16-10 on rainy day in Charlotte. Jags are actually 4-1 in last five series, 5-1 in last six visits here, with last visit a 31-27 win in '97 playoffs. Steelers are 6-13 vs spread last 19 games as double digit favorite. AFC South non-divisional underdogs are 4-6, 2-4 on foreign soil. Jaguars are 0-5 against the pointspread this season.
Eagles (1-4) @ Redskins (3-1)-- Road team won seven of last nine series games; Iggles won four of last five visits here, including 59-28 Monday night thrashing LY when Vick ran amuck, but that seems like long time ago now. Philly is 3-7 in last ten pre-bye games; they're 3-8 as pre-bye favorite. Washington are off to good start thanks to solid defense; they've allowed only two TDs on foes' last eight red zone drives. Redskins lost their last three post-bye games by average score of 35-18. Struggling Philly allowed 29.8 ppg in losing last four ballgames (15 TDs on 45 drives) but part of that is failures by offense (11 turnovers last three games, minus-9 TO ratio). Over is 4-1 in Eagle games this season.
49ers (4-1) @ Lions (5-0)-- Two Cinderellas bang heads here, with Lions off of first Monday night home game in 10 years. 49ers are +10 in turnovers, Lions +7, but Detroit's win Monday when they were -1 in turnovers is good sign for them. SF allowed only two TDs on 34 drives in last three games. Detroit won its two home games, 48-3/24-13, with nine TDs on 24 drives. NFC North clubs are 9-5 vs spread in non-division games, 4-2 as home favorites. NFC West dogs are 5-8-1. 49ers are 12-1 in last 13 series tilts, winning last seven, all by 6+ points. Niners are 1-6 in last seven pre-bye games, with five of six losses by 8+ points. Both teams are playing with supreme confidence-- interesting game.
Bills (4-1) @ Giants (3-2)—Huge red flag for Giants are 177-156-145 rushing yards they’ve allowed in last three games. In their three wins, Giants converted 16 of 40 (40%) on 3rd down- in their two losses, 2-22 (9.1%). Buffalo has won turnover battle in every game, and is +11 for season; none of their five games have been closer than 11 points at half, with trailing team winning three of last four. Giants are 7-10 vs spread in last 17 games vs AFC teams, 7-3 in last ten games as single digit favorite. Buffalo lost its last 11 pre-bye games (3-8 vs spread); Giants won six of last eight pre-spread tilts, but are just 1-4 in last five games as pre-bye favorite. Over is 4-1 in Buffalo games this season, 3-1-1 in Giant games.
Panthers (1-4) @ Falcons (2-3)— Disappointing Falcons are 1-4 vs spread, with only wins by 35-31/30-28 scores- they’re 15-6-1 vs spread in last 22 games as home favorite, 16-4-1 in last 22 as single digit faves. Atlanta won four of last five series games, with all wins by 8+ points; Carolina lost last three visits here, by 17-8-21 points, as Falcons won both series meetings 31-10 LY. Carolina covered three of its four losses, with no setbacks by more than 7 points; Panthers lost road games 28-21/34-29- this is their first game on artificial turf. Falcons were outscored 40-6 in second half the last two weeks; they’ve lost field position struggle four games in row. Average total in Panthers’ last four visits here, 52.3.
Colts (0-5) @ Bengals (3-2)—Since 2006, Bengals are 7-19-1 vs spread as single digit favorite. Cincy scored 22+ points in four of five games, winning field position battle in all five. Colts’ last four losses are all by 8 or less points- they led at half in last three games, but were outscored 44-14 in second half. Painter has played better than expected in his two starts, averaging 7.5/10.3 yards/pass attempt. Indy allowed 192-194 rushing yards last two games. Bengals are 3-6 SU in last nine pre-bye games; since 1990, they’re 3-5 as pre-bye favorite. Indy is 12-3 in last 15 series games, winning last seven, all by 6+ points- they’ve won eight of last visits here, a short 114-mile drive southeast on I-74.
Texans (3-2) @ Ravens (3-1)—Since 2000, Baltimore is an amazing 33-9 vs spread as a non-divisional home favorite, which they are here. Houston allowed 7-13-10 points in its wins, 40-25 in losses- they’ve got tough task here vs Raven squad that scored 35-37-34 points in its three wins, although defense did score three TDs in last game, while QB Flacco floundered vs Jet defense. Baltimore won eight of last nine post-bye games, covering last six as a post-bye favorite; they’re 4-0 in this series, with three wins by 4 or less points, or in OT; they won 34-28 in OT at Reliant in LY’s meeting. Texans lost 16-15 in only visit here six years ago. All four Raven games went over total; four of five Houston games stayed under. Texans have only four TDs on last 14 red zone drives.
Browns (2-2) @ Raiders (3-2)— Oakland is favored for first time this season; Browns are underdog for first time this year- they’ve scored 17 or less points in three of four games this year- their two losses are by 10-18 points. Over last decade, favorite is 9-1 vs spread in Cleveland’s post-bye games, with Browns 1-5 as post-bye underdog. Over last 6+ years, Browns are 14-11-1 as non-divisional road dogs; over last 4+ years, they’re 14-9 as single digit underdogs. Over last 8+ years, Oakland is 23-42-1 vs spread at home, 6-17 when favored. Raiders are 3-10-1 vs spread in game following their last 14 wins. AFC North non-divisional underdogs are 4-1 vs spread; AFC West home favorites are 1-3. Three of four Cleveland games went over the total.
Cowboys (2-2) @ Patriots (4-1)—All four Dallas games were decided by 4 or less points, with Pokes splitting pair of 27-24 decisions on road. Cowboys are 5-3 in last eight games as road underdog. Patriots scored 30+ points in every game so far (20 TDs on 53 drives, no TDs on defense/special teams)- they’re 11-6-1 in last 18 games as home favorite, 16-9-1 in game following their last 26 wins. Cowboys are 15-4 in last 19 post-bye games, winning five of last six, covering three of last four as post-bye dog. New England is 8-3 as pre-bye favorite, winning 35-7/41-14 in game before last two byes. Patriots have four TD’s on five game-opening drives, Dallas has two TDs and FG on four opening drives. Overall, over is 4-1 in Patriot games, 3-1 with Dallas.
Saints (4-1) @ Buccaneers (3-2)—Third week in row on road for Saints, who are 6-3 in last nine visits here, winning 38-7/31-6 in last two. Road team won five of last seven series games. NO scored 30+ points in four of five games this year, and won the fifth game by 13 points, only time this year they lost field position. Bucs are 4-14-1 vs spread in last 19 home games; what do you make of a team that lost 48-3 last week? They’re 1-10 vs spread in last 11 games as home underdog. Home dogs are 5-3 vs spread in divisional games this season. Saints converted 44 of 75 (58.7%) on 3rd down this year, big reason why they score lot of points- they either scored TD or tried FG on 33 of 52 drives this season, Bucs only 18 of 51. New Orleans is 4-1 and they haven’t won turnover battle in any game yet this year.
Vikings (1-4) @ Bears (2-3)— Minnesota had double digit lead at half in four of five games, but only finished one of the four games out- they were outscored 87-22 in second half of games. Bears lost three of last four games, and needed TDs on special teams and defense to get the one win, 34-29. Chicago won last three series games, taking 27-13/40-14 decisions LY. Vikings lost nine of last ten visits to Windy City, losing last three by 7-6-14 points. Chicago is 3-9-1 vs spread in its last 13 games as home favorite; home side covered four of their five games this year. Minnesota big win last week needs context; the three first quarter TDs they scored came on drives of 18-24-25 yards, with two of three drives set up by takeaways. Three of Bears’ last four games stayed under total.
Dolphins (0-4) @ Jets (2-3)— Former Panther QB Moore gets first Miami start with Henne out. Gang Green is off 0-3 road trip; offense has bullseye on chest via fans after WRs complained about playcalling, then Mason was traded away. Visitor won six of last seven series games; Miami won four of last five in series, including last three here by 7-5-4 points. Dolphins are 18-8 vs spread in last 26 road games, 19-9-2 in last 30 games as road underdog. Jets are 9-16-1 in last 26 games as a home favorite. Miami is 4-9 in last 13 post-bye games, 4-3 in last seven as post-bye underdog. Average total in last four series games is 45.8. Dolphins’ losses this year are by 14-1-10 points; they have only three TDs on 30 drives in last three games.
FORGET MONEYBALL WE NOW HAVE MILLENBALL
THE RECENT HISTORY OF THE DETROIT LIONS
When you’re currently 5-0, and own the NFL’s longest active winning streak at 9 games dating back to last year, it’s a lot easier to look back and laugh at some of your darker days. And I mean really dark. Like, 0-16, drafting three wide receivers in a row with your first overall pick dark.
That’s the kind of luxury Detroit Lions fans are afforded these days, and that’s exactly what they’re doing with this nice little parody of the critically acclaimed, baseball business-focused hit Moneyball.
Here, of course, former Lions General Manager Matt Millen plays the pivotal, Billy Beane-like role in shaping a franchise from the ground up via some rather unorthodox strategies. The results are vastly different, obviously, but, as Millen says at one point, it was still a team that could have changed the game forever (if they could have just won one game with those players back in 2007).
As expected there are a handful of historical inaccuracies. For instance, I think we all know the Lions would have been MUCH better a few years back if Matt Millen was actually relying on EA Sports/Madden for scouting/talent evaluations. There may also be a handful of jokes in here that will only register with Lions fans, but overall it’s pretty damn good.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday......
13) Michigan State has beaten Michigan four years in a row for first time in almost 50 years, and now Wisconsin visits East Lansing next week, in what should the week's featured game.
12) Ohio State handed Illinois its first loss, but Buckeyes were 1-4 passing for 17 yards; the only completion was a TD pass, but what a red flag as they move forward. Their passing game is a shambles.
11) Oklahoma State is first team in 100 years to beat Texas in Austin two years in a row; Cowobys got a solid road win, 38-26.
10) Utah came east and beat Pitt 26-14; Panthers were 9-30 passing and had only 120 total yards. At home. Awful.
9) Oregon got pretty banged-up late Saturday night, but pulled away in the second half and beat Arizona State 41-27. These teams could meet again in the first Pac-12 title game.
8) Kansas State has pulled upsets four weeks in a row, getting a defensive TD and a kick return TD in a 41-34 win at Texas Tech. Tech passed ball for 461 yards but were minus-4 in turnovers and lost at home.
7) UConn beat South Florida 16-10, second year in row they beat USF without benefit of an offensive touchdown. Football's a weird game.
6) Hawai'i/San Jose State both had six turnovers Friday night; don't think I've ever seen a game that sloppy before, when both teams turned the ball over so much. Plus San Jose blocked a PAT and ran it back for two points that turned out to be the difference in the game.
5) SMU had a dreadful record as a home favorite and Central Florida had a great record as a road underdog, but Mustangs avenged their loss to UCF in LY's C-USA championship game, beating the Knights 38-17.
4) Florida lost its third game in a row because you can't win SEC games if you don't have a quarterback who's played college football. These teams used a combined seven QBs- QB play in the SEC is sub-par this year.
3) Northern Illinois had a ridiculous 494 rushing yards in a game they were losing 15-13 at the half; Huskies crushed Western Michigan in the second half, pulling away to a 51-22 win. Wisconsin is the only team to hold the Huskies under 40 points this season.
2) If you bet South Carolina -3 Saturday, please stop reading. Gamecocks took an intentional safety on last play of the game in Starkville, avoiding a punt with 0:04 left to play when they led Mississippi State 14-10. This is known as quite possibly one of the worst football beats I've ever seen. Although the Express had Mississippi State. :)
1) Clemson was down 28-10 at Maryland; not only did they win, they covered the spread, winning a wild 56-45 game over the Terps. Tigers are now 7-0, and seemed poised for a magical season 30 years after they won the national title back in 1981.