cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/09/2012 12:57 PM

NFL Preseason Betting Trends for Thursday, August 9, 2012

Washington at Buffalo, 7:00 ET
Washington: 5-1 ATS vs. non-conference opponents
Buffalo: 1-5 ATS as an underdog

New Orleans at New England, 7:30 ET
New Orleans: 25-12 Over off an ATS win
New England: 3-0 ATS vs. NFC South opponents

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 7:30 ET
Pittsburgh: 6-1 ATS vs. non-conference opponents
Philadelphia: 13-28 ATS with a line of +3 to -3

Baltimore at Atlanta, 7:30 ET
Baltimore: 10-0 Under vs. NFC South opponents
Atlanta: 1-3 ATS as a favorite

Green Bay at San Diego, 8:00 ET ESPN
Green Bay: 7-1 Over last 8 preseason games
San Diego: 1-3 TSR in home games

Denver at Chicago, 8:30 ET
Denver: 17-11 ATS as an underdog
Chicago: 11-18 ATS as a favorite

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/09/2012 12:57 PM

NFL Preseason Week 1 Dunkel

New Orleans at New England
The Patriots look to open their preseason schedule with a win over the Saints. New England is the pick (-2 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Patriots favored by 4 1/2. Dunkel Pick: New England (-2 1/2). Here are all of this week's picks.


Game 251-252: Washington at Buffalo (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Washington 125.206; Buffalo 121.193
Dunkel Line: Washington by 4; 32
Vegas Line: Washington by 2; 35
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-2); Under

Game 253-254: New Orleans at New England (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Orleans 120.604; New England 124.922
Dunkel Line: New England by 4 1/2; 44
Vegas Line: New England by 2 1/2; 40
Dunkel Pick: New England (-2 1/2); Over

Game 255-256: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 126.748; Philadelphia 123.603
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 3; 37
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 1 1/2; 33 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-1 1/2); Over

Game 257-258: Baltimore at Atlanta (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore 119.302; Atlanta 122.674
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 3 1/2; 38
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 2 1/2; 34
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (-2 1/2); Over

Game 259-260: Green Bay at San Diego (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Green Bay 124.503; San Diego 124.698
Dunkel Line: Even; 35
Vegas Line: San Diego by 2 1/2; 37
Dunkel Pick: Green Bay (+2 1/2); Under

Game 261-262: Denver at Chicago (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Denver 119.203; Chicago 124.312
Dunkel Line: Chicago by 5; 30
Vegas Line: Chicago by 3; 33
Dunkel Pick: Chicago (-3); Under


Game 263-264: Tampa Bay at Miami (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay 122.223; Miami 125.433
Dunkel Line: Miami by 1; 31
Vegas Line: Miami by 2 1/2; 33 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Tampa Bay (+2 1/2); Under

Game 265-266: NY Jets at Cincinnati (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Jets 117.120; Cincinnati 120.154
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 3; 38
Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 1 1/2; 34
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-1 1/2); Over

Game 267-268: Cleveland at Detroit (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland 122.304; Detroit 123.421
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 1; 33
Vegas Line: Detroit by 3; 36
Dunkel Pick: Cleveland (+3); Under

Game 269-270: NY Giants at Jacksonville (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Giants 117.241; Jacksonville 120.543
Dunkel Line: Jacksonville by 3 1/2; 37
Vegas Line: Jacksonville by 2 1/2; 33 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Jacksonville (-2 1/2); Over

Game 271-272: Arizona at Kansas City (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona 121.406; Kansas City 117.322
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 4; 39
Vegas Line: Kansas City by 3; 34 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Arizona (+3); Over

Game 273-274: Minnesota at San Francisco (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 118.302; San Francisco 123.799
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 5 1/2; 39
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 3 1/2; 33
Dunkel Pick: San Francisco (-3 1/2); Over


Game 275-276: Houston at Carolina (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Houston 117.306; Carolina 121.786
Dunkel Line: Carolina by 4 1/2; 40
Vegas Line: Carolina by 2 1/2; 35 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Carolina (-2 1/2); Over

Game 277-278: Tennessee at Seattle (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Tennessee 120.122; Seattle 124.540
Dunkel Line: Seattle by 4 1/2; 37
Vegas Line: Seattle by 3; 34
Dunkel Pick: Seattle (-3); Over


Game 279-280: St. Louis at Indianapolis (1:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis 121.202; Indianapolis 115.403
Dunkel Line: St. Louis by 6; 32
Vegas Line: Pick; 34 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Louis; Under


Game 281-282: Dallas at Oakland (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Dallas 119.351; Oakland 123.163
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 4; 38
Vegas Line: Oakland by 1 1/2; 35
Dunkel Pick: Oakland (-1 1/2); Over

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/09/2012 01:01 PM


Thursday, August 9

Game Score Status Pick Amount

Washington - 7:00 PM ET Buffalo +2 500
Buffalo - Under 35 500

Pittsburgh - 7:30 PM ET Pittsburgh +1.5 500
Philadelphia - Over 34 500

Baltimore - 7:30 PM ET Baltimore +2.5 500
Atlanta - Over 34 500

Green Bay - 8:00 PM ET San Diego -2.5 500
San Diego - Under 37 500

Denver - 8:30 PM ET Denver +3 500
Chicago - Under 33 500

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/11/2012 10:20 AM

Saints Could Have Final Laugh With Goodell

The New Orleans Saints look to put their bounty scandal behind them and make another Super Bowl run this upcoming NFL season.

The oddsmakers have made their feelings known on this team, putting the regular season win total at 9½ and shaded to the ‘over,’ or 10 and shaded to the ‘under.’ The Saints remain the even-money favorite to win the NFC South, but their Super Bowl odds have jumped to 20/1 after starting at 8/1.

Don Best Sports analyst Brian Blessing weighed in and believes the Saints are great value at those Super Bowl odds. His reason is they will play with a chip on their shoulder and bountygate sanctions won’t be felt too much at home.

New Orleans went 13-3 last year in the regular season, so there is plenty of talent remaining even with the current suspensions. There is certainly a question of how much they’ll miss coach Sean Payton, especially as a play-caller.

Quarterback Drew Brees had an acrimonious contract dispute in the off-season before signing for the big bucks. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league by all measures, but at least some of his success was due to the presence of Payton. We’ll find out much soon.

The Saints did lose wide receiver Robert Meachem to free agency, but they are still loaded at wide receiver as well as running back. The latter category doesn’t get a lot of play in the media, but the balance is important with Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas all capable of carrying the rock and taking pressure off Brees.

It is safe to say that New Orleans will not have many problems with the offense again this season.

Turning the attention to the defense, linebacker Jonathan Vilma is currently suspended by the league for the entire season, although that could end up being reduced (likely) or even overturned (unlikely).

There have been some stop-gap solutions on ‘D’ with middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive lineman Brodrick Bunkley coming over. David Hawthorne is another linebacker addition.

Don Best NFL analyst Bruce Marshall thinks the Saints did pretty well in plugging in these players, but the real upgrade is bringing in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who excels at that role despite troubles as a head coach.

Blessing and Marshall both agree that the Washington Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III will be walking into a hornets nest during opening week.

The NFL regular season is starting soon and you need the Don Best Pro Odds for unmatched wagering info. A free trial is all you need to get started!

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/11/2012 10:22 AM

Are Panthers Ready For Return To Playoffs?

Without fail, there’s a “team du jour” in every NFL season that catches the fancy of the masses and becomes a chic pick to make the playoffs and perhaps advance deep into the postseason.

Meet the 2012 flavor of the season...the Carolina Panthers.

Of course, they could use some excitement in Charlotte after the Bobcats produced the worst win percentage in NBA history this past year. But prospects appear considerably brighter for the pro football team in town, and not just because the front-office damage Michael Jordan can cause is limited to the hoops side.

Rather, a city and region have been energized by one player in particular, QB Cam Newton. Already being hailed as a savior for the franchise, and indeed the first marquee player in Panthers history, the former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner is being expected to guide Carolina back to the postseason for the first time in four years.

Las Vegas oddsmakers, however, are not quite convinced about the Panthers making the big jump to playoff contention this fall. Carolina’s season-win total of 7½ suggests the sports books have yet to catch Panther fever. Ron Rivera’s side is also picked a distant third behind the Saints and Falcons in the NFC South, priced at 6/1 to win the division.

Prices are correspondingly higher at Nevada wagering outlets on NFC (25/1) and Super Bowl (40/1) win odds. Although it must be noted that the Panthers seem better value at those bomber prices than many other sides quoted in the same price ranges.

The Don Best NFL odds screen already has posted opening regular-season weekend numbers and notes that Carolina is priced as a 3-3½ point favorite for the September 9 opener at Tampa Bay. Totals on the game hover between 46 and 46½ throughout the Silver State.

Rarely have we seen a 6-10 team generate similar buzz. Part of that anticipation might also be due to NFC South history in which no team has repeated as the division winner since the NFL realigned for the 2002 season. That stretch includes a couple of defending Super Bowl champs (Bucs in 2003 and Saints in 2010, each after winning the big one the previous season) also failing to defend their division crowns.

After collapsing to 4-12 in 2010 and ending the John Fox regime on a downer, defensive specialist Rivera was summoned to pick up the pieces a year ago and was fortunate that Newton arrived in Charlotte at the same time. More good news for Rivera came in the offseason when he was able to retain in-demand offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who interviewed for several jobs but will remain in Charlotte for another season to mold an offense that hinted at better things to come during Cam’s rookie campaign.

Chudzinski’s challenge was to harness Newton’s deer-passing ability and fit it into the traditional bounds of an NFL offense while also making concessions for the unique skill set that Cam brings to the table. The result is an intriguing offensive mix with elements of the old Air Coryell offense sprinkled with a dash of the spread option.

And now, anticipation has grown for Phase II of the Chudzinski offense after Cam looked irresistible at times a year ago. When the smoke cleared, Newton had passed for 4,051 yards and also run for 14 TDs, setting an NFL record for a QB in the latter.

The challenge this fall will be for Chudzinski to progress the offense while trying to outfox opposing defensive coordinators who will be devising their own anti-Cam packages.

But some NFC South observers believe the Panthers gambled a bit when not seeking upgrades at the receiver spots that last season featured veteran Steve Smith (79 catches in 2011) and little else. (Smith ended up with more than twice as many catches as any other Panther in 2011.) While still productive, Smith is also 33 and entering his 12th NFL season, but Carolina brass seems to believe that ex-LSU star Brandon LaFell – over 17 yards per catch on his 36 receptions a year ago – is due for a breakout campaign. Arkansas rookie Joe Adams, a 4th-round pick after a very productive career for the Razorbacks, will likely be utilized more in kickoff and punt return roles this fall.

Cam’s presence, of course, lent extra bite to the Panthers’ ground game that led the NFC a year ago at 151 ypg (plus a smashing 5.4 ypc, helped by Newton’s scrambles) and still features the “double trouble” combo of RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But Chudzinski has even more depth this fall with the addition of ex-Charger FA Mike Tolbert, a punishing slammer who adds a more-physical dimension to the backfield mix. “Triple threat” might be a more appropriate label for the RB corps this season.

If there are some concerns offensively, they likely involve replacing a couple of departures along the OL, including C Mackenzy Bernadeau who moved to Dallas in free agency. Kicker Olindo Mare was also uncharacteristically inconsistent a year ago, and the return game could use some upgrades after the punt and kick-return units ranked low.

While the makings of a playoff offense are certainly easy to identify, they are less apparent on the stop end side after the Panthers struggled to a 27th rating in total defense stats. Although some observers believe ex-Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott should be commended for cobbling together a platoon that lacked playmakers at the LB spots and was jerry-rigged with usual third and fourth-stringers, plus special teams performers, a year ago.

Perhaps that changes this fall if the LB corps can get MLB Jon Beason (off of a torn Achilles tendon) and OLB Thomas Davis (three different torn ACLs) in a healthy state, and if Boston College rookie LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina’s first-round pick and ninth overall selection in the draft, is as impactful as he was for Frank Spaziani’s Eagles, or as good as he looked in pre-draft workouts. Early reports from camp at Spartanburg have also been positive.

McDermott, a disciple of the late Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, would prefer his platoon to blitz often, but needs a reliable crew of linebackers to make it work. In that regard, Kuechly’s addition could be invaluable.

Along those thought lines, McDermott is also hell-bent to find more pass rush from his defensive front that has missed the contributions of Julius Peppers since he left town for Chicago after the 2009 season. Charles Johnson has been somewhat productive from his DE spot, registering nine sacks each of the past two seasons, but no other lineman has recorded more than four. There might be room for Oklahoma rookie DE Frank Alexander (4th-round pick) to make an impact.

It is also hoped that the secondary will benefit from the added depth provided by SS Harkin Nakamura, the ex-Raven who arrived in free agency and at Spartanburg has been taking most of the snaps with the first string ahead of holdover Sherrod Martin, who struggled a year ago.

Spread-wise, Cam’s presence also helped forge a turnaround vs. the line after the Panthers had dropped 12 of 16 vs. the spread during Fox’s final season of 2010. Carolina improved five full games vs. the number in 2011 (from 4-12 to 9-7), and the offensive upgrades due to Cam’s presence understandably contributed to a 10-5-1 ‘over’ mark last season.

Summary: The Panthers intrigue on a variety of levels this season. The potential upside for the offense is unlimited with Cam Newton at the controls, and the history of the NFC South suggests a stealth entry such as the Panthers could rise and contend as have many unsuspecting sorts in recent memory (the 2006 Saints and 2008 Falcons immediately coming to mind).

We would be careful about talking playoffs in Charlotte, however, until the defense exhibits similar upgrades. Indeed, we suspect it will be the stop unit, and not the Cam-led strike force, that will determine if the Panthers get back to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/11/2012 10:25 AM

Will Tennessee Titans Regress In 2012?

All things considered, the Tennessee Titans ought to feel pretty good about what they accomplished last season. After all, it was hardly a smooth ride last year with the franchise making some significant adjustments on the fly and not having a normal offseason to work out some of those kinks due to the spring and summer lockout.

Remember, the Titans switched coaches after the 2010 campaign, as Jeff Fisher was relieved of duties that he had held since the franchise was still based in Houston. Mike Munchak was promoted in Fisher’s place, but the ex-Penn State lineman was embarking upon his first head-coaching assignment. Tennessee was also going to breaking in a new QB, whether it be recently-acquired vet Matt Hasselbeck from Seattle or rookie first-round draft pick Jake Locker from the University of Washington, neither having the normal offseason routine to indoctrinate themselves into new systems.

Moreover, there were distractions related to star RB Chris Johnson’s well-publicized holdout, which endured through almost the entirety of preseason, and WR Kenny Britt was lost for the season to a torn ACL in September.

Despite all that, the Titans did pretty well to finish at 9-7. But at the risk of sounding a bit snarky, let’s see Tennessee do it again.

Oddsmakers are taking a similar approach, as the Titan season-win total is being quoted at a very modest seven at the majority of Las Vegas wagering outlets. Although Tennessee is the second choice in the AFC South (priced at 5/1 to win the division), the Titans are still rated far behind prohibitive division favorite Houston.

The Titans are also being quoted long shot prices to win the AFC (28/1) and Super Bowl (60/1). In other words, expectations are not too high in Nashville.

Prices are also posted for opening week regular-season action, and the Don Best NFL odds screen notes that Tom Brady and visiting New England are currently 6½-point favorites for the September 9 opener, with a total hovering between 47½ and 48.

Why aren’t the Titans being taken seriously after their encouraging performance a year ago?

Many AFC South insiders still have questions about the strike force, which could be looking at more unwanted distractions after WR Britt found himself in more off-field trouble during the offseason, this time for a DUI. Consensus among league insiders is that Britt has used up his mulligans with commissioner Roger Goodell, who is expected to soon announce punishments that will likely include game suspensions, perhaps severe.

Britt’s most recent run-in with the law was his eighth such incident since being drafted in 2009, and he was spared punishment by Goodell after a meeting a year ago that followed repeated police incidents that occurred during the NFL lockout. Don’t expect Goodell to be so lenient this time around.

Even if Goodell displays additional mercy (which, as the climate of the times would suggest, is unlikely), Britt is still on the “PUP” (Physically Unable to Perform) list in camp as he rehabs last year’s knee injury. So it is unlikely that the Titans, at least at the outset of the season, are going to line up with their top-flight wideout combo of Britt and Nate Washington, who delivered a 1,000-yard season a year ago. Baylor rookie Kendall Wright will apparently be given every opportunity to step in for Britt and join Washington in the starting lineup.

Former South Carolina tight end Jared Cook (49 catches last year), however, appears to be emerging as a legit star on the attack end.

Meanwhile, there’s the matter of RB Chris Johnson, whose subpar (by his standards) 2011 should not, according to many AFC insiders, be simply chalked up to his long summer holdout. Johnson, who rushed for 2,006 yards in '09, might have already started the downside of his career, which isn’t always too long for RBs. Johnson has gained just 2,411 yards rushing combined the past two seasons and saw his per carry dip to a career-low 4.0 yards in 2011.

Then, there’s the QB situation, which could become awkward as Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer weigh the dynamics of the pending transition from Hasselbeck to Locker. Though no longer among the league’s elite QBs, Hasselbeck still enjoyed his most-productive season a year ago since 2007 at Seattle, completing 61 percent of his passes. Locker flashed considerable upside in limited work a year ago but still doesn’t appear ready to take over the offense on a full-time basis, and Hasselbeck’s history of injuries is another concern.

The quarterback spot thus looms as a delicate one for Munchak and Palmer to figure out this fall, which is a bit concerning for an offense that has adjusted into a pass-first mode for 2012. Along with Britt’s status and Chris Johnson’s apparent decline, and camp injuries to Andre Johnson and C Eugene Amano (perhaps lost for the season with a torn triceps muscle), there are some questions to be answered on the strike force.

Moreover, there have been other distractions in the summer related to the apparent suicide of WR O.J. Murdock at the outset of training camp.

The Titans held their own defensively a year ago, ranking eighth in total defense stats with a platoon that squeezed more than they could have imagined out of last year’s rookie class. Especially along the front seven, where rookie DTs Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey plus LBs Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy, all fared much better than expected.

Still, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray would like to locate a few more big-time playmakers, especially from the DE spots that produced just 11 sacks in 2011. The offseason addition of ex-Browns and Raiders LB Kamerion Wimbley, who is slated to put his hand on the ground and line up as a pass-rush DE in the Gray defense, will be an important development in the progress of the stop unit this fall.

A disconcerting early camp development has been the demotion of former first-round pick DE Derrick Morgan to second string. The team is reportedly losing patience with Morgan, slow to develop as the sort of force the Titans envisioned when investing highly in him two years ago.

The departure of veteran CB Cortland Finnegan via free agency (to the Rams) leaves the “D” very young on the corners, where Alterraun Verner and Jason McCarthy will be expected to hold up this fall. The safety combination of Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux, however, is a veteran one.

Special teams remain a solid constant, especially with Rod Bironas a field-goal threat whenever the Titans cross midfield; Bironas was a near-perfect 29-of-32 on FG tries a year ago, including six of seven conversions from 50 yards or more. Punter Brett Kern also dropped 31 parachutes inside of the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Although the Titans slightly overachieved to get to 9-7 a year ago, they were underachievers vs. the spread, covering just six of 16 on the board. Munchak’s first edition was also especially unreliable as a favorite, recording a subpar 2-6 chalk mark a year ago.

The Titans were also 'under' 10-6 for Munchak in 2011.

Summary: Despite finishing above .500 last season, the Titans still have the look of a team in transition. Although the pieces seem to be present on offense, where they fit remains a concern with lots of “ifs” at all of the skill positions; the QB situation, Chris Johnson’s waning effectiveness and Kenny Britt’s status are all potential concerns. Meanwhile, the defense, while overachieving a year ago, is still quite young. We suspect the Titans are going to be hard-pressed to match last year’s nine wins or make a run at a playoff berth this fall.

No matter, Titans fans will still be able to enjoy the best buckwheat pancakes in the country at Nashville’s Pancake Pantry, located near Vanderbilt.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/11/2012 10:27 AM

Colts Start 2012 After Offseason Housecleaning

If making a connection between professional sports housecleanings and earthquakes, what happened to the Indianapolis Colts following last season would probably rate a 9.1 on the Richter scale.

Indeed, the tectonic plates moved beneath Lucas Oil Stadium.

Just two seasons after an appearance in the Super Bowl, the Colts organization was turned inside out. And, according to NFL insiders, the litmus test was apparently who believed Peyton Manning should be retained as the quarterback, and who favored turning the reins immediately to Stanford rookie Andrew Luck, due to be the first pick in last April’s NFL Draft.

In the end, all that mattered was the opinion of owner Jim Irsay, who apparently didn’t deliberate too long on which path he wanted his team to take. Andrew Luck was going to get the call; Peyton Manning would be released. Those in the organization still partial to Manning were deemed expendable, which included long-serving team prexy Bill Polian, his assistant, son Chris, and three-year head coach Jim Caldwell.

Indy fans aren’t sure what to think, because minus Manning (sidelined by serious neck issues) a year ago, the Colts had gone from playoff regulars and Super Bowl contenders to just a few games shy of matching the Detroit Lions’ winless 0-16 nightmare from 2008. And even if Luck proves an upgrade from Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky, there’s a long way to go between Indy’s 2-14 record in 2011 and playoff contention.

Las Vegas sports books are not expecting the Colts to be quite as bad as a year ago, although they apparently believe the only connection between this season’s Colts and the playoff teams from the Manning years will be the familiar uniforms and the horseshoe on the side of the helmet. Indianapolis' season win total has been posted at a very modest five at almost all Nevada wagering outlets, and prices are among the longest on the board for the Colts to win their division (28/1), AFC (60/1), or Super Bowl (150/1).

The Don Best NFL odds screen also notes that Indy has been posted as an early 10-point underdog for opening week regular-season action, when the Colts travel to Soldier Field to face Jay Cutler and the Bears. Totals on the opener range between 40½-41, depending upon the outlet.

Outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers post-LeBron James, seldom have we recalled a pro sports team going from championship contender to heavy long shot in such short order, mainly due to the departure of one key component.

As for that “new look” for the Colts, it includes GM Ryan Grigson, who most recently had been the Eagles’ director of player personnel, and head coach Chuck Pagano, hired away from the Baltimore Ravens where he had been defensive coordinator.

And, of course, Andrew Luck.

There are many NFL insiders who believe Luck is the most precooked quarterback prospect to hit the league since Manning 14 years ago. And there have been instances in recent years of rookies taking their teams into the playoffs (Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton come to mind) or making otherwise big splashes (such as Cam Newton last year with Carolina).

But everything is new at Indy, from the QB to the coaches to the offense and defense. Given all of the changes at Lucas Oil, even Manning in his prime might have had problems doing much with this particular situation.

Not only is the “O” minus Manning, but other recent linchpins such as WRs Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, C Jeff Saturday, TE Dallas Clark and on the defensive side, LB Gary Brackett, have all departed since the conclusion of last season as well.

The new Colts strike force will be coordinated by Bruce Arians, a onetime head coach at Temple and longtime Steelers offensive coordinator who tutored another QB of some repute, Ben Roethlisberger, during his wildly-successful rookie campaign of 2004. The thought in Indy is that Arians’ experience with rookie QBs could be invaluable as he stewards the offense with the rookie Luck at the controls this fall.

The draft is likely to provide most of the replacement parts for the strike force. Tight ends Coby Fleener (one of Luck’s favorite targets at Stanford) and Dwayne Allen (via Clemson and last year’s John Mackey Award winner) arrived in the second and third rounds, respectively, to take the places of Clark and Jacob Tamme, who left via free agency. Smallish wideouts T.Y. Hilton (Florida International) and LaVon Brazill (Ohio U) were also added later in the draft, ostensibly as replacements for Garcon and Gonzalez.

Veteran receiving targets Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie remain in the fold, but both are going to have to learn new ways to runs their routes (not to mention getting used to a new QB) in Arians’ multiple-look schemes, which have several different variations from the old offense. Former Big East RBs Donald Brown (ex-UConn) and muscle-bound Delone Carter (ex-Syracuse) form a serviceable but hardly flashy backfield duo that could be augmented by Mississippi State rookie Vick Ballard and ex-Viking and Steelers journeyman Mewelde Moore.

Offense won’t be the only platoon undergoing changes at Lucas Oil this fall. Pagano will be transitioning the “D” to the hybrid 3-4 alignments he used in Baltimore, although the Colts will still line up in a 4-3 scheme at times.

With those changes in mind, Pagano recruited three former Raven defenders – DE Cory Redding, NT Brandon McKinney and SS Tom Zbikowski – to help fast-track the deployment adjustments.

An issue for Pagano, however, is that not only that the Colts haven’t been using a 3-4 package since the early ‘90s, but that most of the inherited defensive personnel fit the previous defensive philosophy which stressed smaller, quicker and more athletic personnel.

To properly play the sort of 3-4 that Pagano envisions, the linemen and linebackers should be big and physical, which the Colts partially addressed in adding those pieces from the Ravens in free agency, plus ex-Eagles Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd in a subsequent trade, but were mostly unable to augment in the draft as offense took priority in April at Radio City Music Hall.

One draftee in particular, thick, 316-lb. ex-Alabama NT Josh Chapman (5th round), has the sort of size that Pagano likes, although Chapman’s rehab has been slow from a torn ACL that ended his 2011 Crimson Tide season early last October.

But at 29th vs. the run last season and 28th in overall defense, the Colt “D” could use whatever upgrades Pagano deems appropriate.

Of course, Pagano enters 2012 with a clean coaching slate, including vs. the pointspread. The magnitude of the task in front of him is not only reflected in last year’s 2-14 mark, but an extended pointspread downturn that extends back into Manning’s last active season at Indy in 2010. The Colts enter 2012 having covered just eight of their last 23 games on the board, all the more revealing since oddsmakers had stopped placing any sort of pointspread premiums on Indy, indeed replacing them with discounts, by early in the 2011 campaign.

Lucas Oil Stadium also stopped being a fortress late in the 2010 season, as the Colts have covered only four of their last 14 at home as well.

Like we said, Pagano has his work cut out for him this fall.

Summary: This is the first time since the late ‘90s that Indy has been flying this much under the radar heading into a season. But given the front office, coaching and personnel changes, it is hard to view the Colts as being anything other than in heavy rebuild mode this fall.

We would nonetheless be sensitive to Luck’s progress on the learning curve, which sources say has looked good in the early days of training camp. At best, the Colts might emerge as a live underdog if Luck hits the ground running with the new offense in September. Otherwise, we suggest checking back next summer to see how close Pagano might be to getting Indy into the playoff mix...for 2013.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/12/2012 12:14 PM

NFL Season Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

To get you prepared for the upcoming NFL season, we continue our run of all 32 team previews, rolling out one per day from August 1 to September 1. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Up next is the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose odds are set at 6/5 to win the AFC North division.


2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-5
ATS Record: 7-10
Over/Under: 7-10
Points Scored: 20.3 PPG (T-21st in NFL)
Points Allowed: 14.2 PPG (1st in NFL)
2012 Odds:
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Odds to Win AFC North: 6/5
Odds to Win AFC Championship: 7/1
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII: 14/1
Regular Season Wins Over/Under: 10

2012 Preview:
Much was made about former coordinator Bruce Arians’ aversion to the running game, and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley (who was the head coach of the run-heavy Chiefs) seems to have been brought in to correct that. The Steelers have a big, man-blocking line and Haley prefers the committee approach. With Rashard Mendenhall recovering from a torn ACL, Isaac Redman will get a heavy workload early in the season. Jonathan Dwyer figures to take a chunk of the early down reps. Redman can handle third down duties, though Baron Batch could push him for that role. Batch might have held that role a year ago had he not torn his ACL.

Haley used to oversee the Cardinals’ offense, so he’s not lost in the passing game. Expect a lot of three-receiver sets and spread principles, with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown on the outside and Emmanuel Sanders in the slot. Ben Roethlisberger’s trademark is improvising and stretching out plays. Wallace might more often be the primary target, but Brown has shown more of an ability to shake open once the play breaks down. Sanders will be the primary target in the middle of the field. Tight end Heath Miller often stays in to protect. When the Steelers throw near the goal line, it’s often play-action to someone in the middle of the field (Miller or the slot receiver, possibly Sanders now). Wallace’s and Brown’s roles are usually minimized once the Steelers drive deep into opponent territory, unless Roethlisberger is buying time on a broken play.

The Steelers were tied for ninth in the league in sacks despite a rash of injuries to their linebackers. Although they forced an NFL-low 15 turnovers in 2011, Pittsburgh still led the league in scoring defense and yardage defense—the schedule is kind enough to allow for a repeat of these numbers. Lawrence Timmons’ numbers were down last year because of a move to outside linebacker for about a third of the season. He’ll play inside full time in 2012, and his numbers could revert closer to where they were in 2010. Troy Polamalu, meanwhile, looked a half-step slow by the end of last season due to all the nagging injuries he’s been dealing with. He appears to finally be on the decline.

Key Offseason Moves:
TE Leonard Pope (from Chiefs)
LB Brandon Johnson (from Bengals)

RB Mewelde Moore (Colts)
WR Hines Ward (retired)
WR Arnaz Battle (released)
T Jamon Meredith (Buccaneers)
T Jonathan Scott (Lions)
G Chris Kemoeatu (released)
DE Aaron Smith (released)
LB James Farrior (released)
CB William Gay (Cardinals)
CB Bryant McFadden (released)

2012 Schedule:
2012 Schedule Strength: 19.69 (24th toughest in NFL)
Week 1 - at Denver
Week 2 - New York Jets
Week 3 - at Oakland
Week 4 - BYE WEEK
Week 5 - Philadelphia
Week 6 - at Tennessee
Week 7 - at Cincinnati
Week 8 - Washington
Week 9 - at New York Giants
Week 10 - Kansas City
Week 11 - Baltimore
Week 12 - at Cleveland
Week 13 - at Baltimore
Week 14 - San Diego
Week 15 - at Dallas
Week 16 - Cincinnati
Week 17 - Cleveland

StatFox Take: Pittsburgh has some question marks, especially on the offensive end with the injury rehab for RB Rashard Mendenhall, and WR Mike Wallace holding out for a long-term contract. However, this team always finds a way to produce, outgaining their opponents by more than 100 yards per game last season and winning a dozen games despite scoring just 20.3 points per game. The defense will win a few games single-handedly, and if Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy, his career 80-33 record (.708) as a starter speaks for itself.
Prediction: OVER 10 wins (-115)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/12/2012 12:15 PM

NFL Season Preview: Houston Texans

To get you prepared for the upcoming NFL season, we continue our run of all 32 team previews, rolling out one per day from August 1 to September 1. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Up next is the Houston Texans, whose odds are set at 1/5 to win the AFC South division.


2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-7
ATS Record: 12-5-1
Over/Under: 6-12
Points Scored: 23.8 PPG (10th in NFL)
Points Allowed: 17.4 PPG (4th in NFL)
2012 Odds:
(For the latest Odds, connect to
Odds to Win AFC South: 1/5
Odds to Win AFC Championship: 6/1
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII: 12/1
Regular Season Wins Over/Under: 9.5

2012 Preview:
The Texans run the league’s premier zone-blocking scheme, and they utilize it early and often. Last year, only the Tim Tebow Broncos were more run-heavy than Houston, who kept it on the ground even when quarterback Matt Schaub was healthy. When he’s under center, Arian Foster still takes about 70 percent of the reps despite the emergence of Ben Tate. The Texans keep it run-heavy in the red zone, but they’re much more likely to spell Foster with Tate in red zone situations.

The Texans use a West Coast passing game that doesn’t take a lot of chances downfield. Andre Johnson is the focal point, and they’ll play him at numerous spots and are especially effective putting him in motion and creating mismatches. Owen Daniels should be healthier in his second year back from a torn ACL and is essentially the No. 2 receiver in this offense. Foster is used frequently in the screen game. Jacoby Jones had been used as a deep threat, but that role could go to rookie DeVier Posey following Jones’ departure. When the Texans throw in the red zone, there is no clear-cut top option. Johnson usually draws a lot of attention, and Daniels led the team in red zone targets and catches. They’ll go with two tight ends often near the goal line, and the second tight end (possibly Garrett Graham) will be targeted on the occasional play-action.

Wade Phillips made dramatic improvements to this defense last year, but he also had better personnel to work with, especially in the secondary with newcomers Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning. Youngsters J.J. Watt and Connor Barwin are relentless pass rushers who create turnovers, and the team really didn’t miss Mario Williams after he went down with a season-ending injury in October. Brian Cushing had a big year after moving inside in Phillips’ 3-4 defense. With the amount of blitzing Houston does, he’ll continue to make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

Key Offseason Moves:
QB John Beck (from Redskins)
RB Justin Forsett (from Seahawks)
FB Noran Morris (from 49ers)
LB Bradie James (from Cowboys)
LB Keyaron Fox (from Redskins)
CB Alan Ball (from Cowboys)
K Shayne Graham
P Donnie Jones (from Rams)

QB Matt Leinart (released)
RB Derrick Ward (retired)
FB Lawrence Vickers (Cowboys)
WR Jacoby Jones (Ravens)
TE Joel Dreessen (Broncos)
T Eric Winston (Chiefs)
G Mike Brisiel (Raiders)
DE/LB Mario Williams (Bills)
DE Tim Bulman (Patriots)
LB DeMeco Ryans (Eagles)
CB Jason Allen (Bengals)
PK Neil Rackers (Redskins)

2012 Schedule:
2012 Schedule Strength: 19.44 (26th toughest in NFL)
Week 1 - Miami
Week 2 - at Jacksonville
Week 3 - at Denver
Week 4 - Tennessee
Week 5 - at New York Jets
Week 6 - Green Bay
Week 7 - Baltimore
Week 8 - BYE WEEK
Week 9 - Buffalo
Week 10 - at Chicago
Week 11 - Jacksonville
Week 12 - at Detroit
Week 13 - at Tennessee
Week 14 - at New England
Week 15 - Indianapolis
Week 16 - Minnesota
Week 17 - at Indianapolis

StatFox Take: The Texans represent the best Over bet in the entire NFL, which is why they, along with Buffalo, are hefty 1-to-2 prices for the Over. Houston has the seventh-easiest schedule in the NFL, thanks to a terrible AFC South division and three easy non-divisional home games against the Dolphins, Bills and Vikings. Although all five non-AFC South road games will be tough (at Broncos, Jets, Bears, Lions and Patriots), the Texans have a great opportunity to earn a first-round bye this season by racking up at least a dozen wins.
Prediction: OVER 9.5 wins (-200)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33145 Followers:38
08/12/2012 12:17 PM

NFL Season Preview: Indianapolis Colts

To get you prepared for the upcoming NFL season, we continue our run of all 32 team previews, rolling out one per day from August 1 to September 1. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Up next is the Indianapolis Colts, whose odds are set at 15/1 to win the AFC South division.


2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-14
ATS Record: 6-10
Over/Under: 7-8-1
Points Scored: 15.2 PPG (28th in NFL)
Points Allowed: 26.9 PPG (28th in NFL)
2012 Odds:
(For the latest Odds, connect to
Odds to Win AFC South: 15/1
Odds to Win AFC Championship: 50/1
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII: 100/1
Regular Season Wins Over/Under: 5

2012 Preview:
There’s been a lot of turnover with the Colts, and it should be evident in the new look of their running game. Offensive line coach Harold Goodwin, who came over from Pittsburgh with new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, is versed in more of a power man-blocking scheme. Indy will try to be much more physical up front as opposed to past years. It will be a huge adjustment for their smallish o-line. Delone Carter would seem to be a better fit for their new style than Donald Brown, but Brown’s more well-rounded skill set will likely make this at least a time share. Carter seems likely to get the first crack at goal-line carries.

Andrew Luck essentially ran his own offense at Stanford and did it with surprising balance. This offense will feature a lot of timing routes and the Colts figure to install a two-tight end base after drafting Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen in the top 70. Fleener may be their top deep threat, stretching the middle of the field for Reggie Wayne (who will be Luck’s No. 1 target). Arians ran a lot of deep crossing routes in Pittsburgh, but Donnie Avery and rookie T.Y. Hilton are Indy’s only WRs with speed. Luck figures to get a little more freedom in the red zone than the typical rookie quarterback. The Colts don’t have the line to really get a push in a short field, so they’ll have to get creative. Fleener and Wayne are both capable red zone targets.

The Colts defense was atrocious in 2011, and they could be just as bad this season. Andrew Luck might lower Indy’s time on the defensive end of the field (NFL-high 33:46 per game last year), but this is a unit with a bunch of holes to patch up, and Indy focused more on offensive improvements in the draft. Dwight Freeney will shift to outside linebacker this season with Indy switching to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano—although it will be adjustment for the veteran, he should be an effective pass rusher as long as he remains healthy. The undersized Pat Angerer made a lot of tackles last season after moving to middle LB in Week 2, and he’ll be the team’s primary run-stopper in Pagano’s 3-4. Antoine Bethea is more effective in run support than he is in pass coverage, and his contributions will be key playing behind an undermanned front seven that will be transitioning to a new scheme.

Key Offseason Moves:
QB Drew Stanton (from Jets)
RB Mewelde Moore (from Steelers)
RB/KR Deji Karim (from Jaguars)
WR Donnie Avery (from Titans)
T Winston Justice (from Eagles)
T George Foster (last played in 2008)
C Mike McGlynn (from Bengals)
C Samson Satele (from Raiders)
DE Cory Redding (from Ravens)
NT Brandon McKinney (from Ravens)
LB Greg Lloyd (from Eagles)
LB Moise Fokou (from Eagles)
CB Justin King (from Rams)
CB Cassius Vaughn (from Broncos)
S Tom Zbikowski (from Ravens)

QB Peyton Manning (Broncos)
QB Curtis Painter (Ravens)
QB Dan Orlovsky (Buccaneers)
RB Joseph Addai (Patriots)
FB Chris Gronkowski (Broncos)
WR Pierre Garcon (Redskins)
WR Anthony Gonzalez (Patriots)
TE Dallas Clark (Buccaneers)
TE Jacob Tamme (Broncos)
C Jeff Saturday (Packers)
C Jamey Richard (Patriots)
C Mike Pollak (Panthers)
T Quinn Ojinnaka (Rams)
T Ryan Diem (retired)
G Jaimie Thomas (released)
G Ben Ijalana (released)
DE Jamaal Anderson (Bengals)
LB Zac Diles (Titans)
LB Philip Wheeler (Raiders)
LB Gary Brackett (released)
CB Jacob Lacey (Lions)
CB Kevin Thomas (Eagles)
S Stevie Brown (Giants)
S Melvin Bullitt (released)

2012 Schedule:
2012 Schedule Strength: 20.31 (15th toughest in NFL)
Week 1 - at Chicago
Week 2 - Minnesota
Week 3 - Jacksonville
Week 4 - BYE WEEK
Week 5 - Green Bay
Week 6 - at New York Jets
Week 7 - Cleveland
Week 8 - at Tennessee
Week 9 - Miami
Week 10 - at Jacksonville
Week 11 - at New England
Week 12 - Buffalo
Week 13 - at Detroit
Week 14 - Tennessee
Week 15 - at Houston
Week 16 - at Kansas City
Week 17 - Houston

StatFox Take: Five wins for any team on an over/under looks enticing, but who are the rebuilding Colts really going to beat? They’ll be significant road underdogs all year, having gone 0-8 last year, losing by an average score of 31-13. Even if they miraculously win a couple of road games, they’ll still need to go 4-4 at home to hit the Over. Expect a slight uptick from a 2-14 season, but don’t count on this club to triple its win total in 2012.
Prediction: UNDER 5 wins (+105)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: