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Old 12-10-2004, 03:54 AM   #5
Anthony
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Last week: 8-7-1. Season totals: 88-98-6, Pct. .474. Best Bets: 18-20-1, Pct. .474.

Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team.


SUNDAY

BALTIMORE 23, N.Y. Giants 13 (+9) - Tom Coughlin would be well advised to swallow his pride and go back to Kurt Warner at quarterback, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Even so, the Ravens are risky business unless Jamal Lewis does come back this week so we're advising financial discretion even with the Giant defensive line literally plowed under with injuries.

PITTSBURGH 24, N.Y. Jets 10 (+5) - Chad Pennington kept it simple and looked okay in his return last week, but the Jets have never won in Pittsburgh (0-5 and outscored 130-58) and Ben Roethlisberger is due to break out of his mini-slump, being aided in his bid to do so by the knee injury to top Jet pass rusher John Abraham (9 1/2 sacks) that will keep him out of this game and perhaps beyond.

NEW ENGLAND 27, Cincinnati 13 (+10) - The Patriots ran their winning streak in outdoor, natural-grass games to an even 20 last week - and more important from the standpoint of what we try to do here, ran their spread record in those 20 games to 17-1-2. One can only wonder what kind of record the Bengals would have right now if Marvin Lewis had stuck with Jon Kitna.

ATLANTA 17, Oakland 14 (+7) - The Falcons may have peaked too early, and the last five times they were shut out once they had a bye the following week and on the other four occasions they lost 45-17, 30-14, 35-7 and 38-3. Raiders have won back-to-back road games after having lost 13 such outings in a row prior and rate a slight edge at this number despite dropping their last five on rugs (covering only once, and that by half a point) and losing and non-covering their last three in domes.

DALLAS 28, New Orleans 7 (+6) - The "Fire Haslett" chants could be heard from the Superdome crowd at the end of last Sunday's cosmetically-close 11-point loss to Carolina, and the "Move to L.A." chants won't be far behind; of course the Saints won't have to hear it this week, but they will have something else to deal with: They have never won in Dallas (0-9 lifetime), and they won't even come close to winning there this time.

JACKSONVILLE 16, Chicago 13 (+7) - Chad Hutchinson pitched four strong innings - I mean quarters - in his first start for the Bears (18 out of 30 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions) and the return of Brian Urlacher, also last week, was encouraging as well; and the Jaguars haven't won by more than six points since this same week exactly one year ago (27-0 over Houston); definitely taking.

MINNESOTA 41, Seattle 17 (+5 1/2) - Both the Vikings and Packers should win out until they meet Christmas Day at Triple H and the home team owns three straight blowouts in the series (34-7, 48-23 and 42-23). And after what we witnessed Monday night, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot become four.

HOUSTON 35 (+10), Indianapolis 34 - Super Upset Special! In the first meeting four weeks ago the RCA Dome almost turned into Auburn Hills when the Colts kept throwing long bombs with a five-touchdown lead and taunted the Texans after returning a David Carr interception for a TD that made the final score 49-14. This week they will learn a bitter lesson in professionalism - and it's big balloons!!

CAROLINA 23, St. Louis 0 (+5 1/2) - One of the Rams' worst offensive performances in the Greatest Show On Turf Era came in a late-season game at Carolina - a 16-3 loss on December 3, 2000. And with Marc Bulger confirmed out for this game due to a sprained shoulder this one could be - and in fact should be - even worse. Mark this down as one of this week's three "Eight in the Box Specials."

BUFFALO 27, Cleveland 0 (+10 1/2) - And here's number two: The Gospel According to Luke was hardly a tale of salvation for the Browns, as Luke McCown (Josh's younger brother) displayed a strong arm but also very poor judgment in last week's 42-15 loss to New England. He also starts again this week - and this one's on the road where Cleveland hasn't won or covered all year, and it's also on the carpet, where the Browns have dropped six straight both ways by a combined 86 points.

GREEN BAY 62, Detroit 14 (+9 1/2) - It was 38-10 Green Bay at Pontiac in Week 6 and Detroit has lost 13 consecutive road games to the Packers (ten at Lambeau and three in Milwaukee), also non-covering in the last seven and getting outscored therein by a collective margin of 209 to 85. Plus it's been moved to the late time slot. This could be the biggest blowout in recent memory.

DENVER 38, Miami 13 (+10) - We all know how the Bush Administration feels about weapons of mass destruction in what it deems to be the wrong hands, but what about weapons of self-destruction - like A.J. Feeley, who has generated six touchdowns for the opposing team (on five interceptions and one fumble) in only eight games this year? What's more, the entire Dolphin team has been positively suicidal in cold weather for a long time: 5-19 against the line since 1995. Denver snaps out of it this week - in a big way.

ARIZONA 10, San Francisco 0 (+3 1/2) - The third "Eight in the Box" game: One team benefits from an injury at quarterback (John Navarre's broken finger forcing Dennis Green to do the right thing and go back to Josh McCown), the other doesn't (Tim Rattay's foot injury means that the dreadful Ken Dorsey starts, plus RB Kevan Barlow is also out with a concussion) - and lately there has been no benefit at all from betting on the road team in this series: It has non-covered six straight times.

SAN DIEGO 24, Tampa Bay 13 (+4 1/2) - Letdown dangers lurk for both teams, but the Bucs still have to prove they can win on the road, where they have only one victory this year (20-17 at New Orleans in Week 5). Overall, the home team is 7-0 straight up and 6-0-1 against the spread in Tampa Bay's last seven games, and the tough San Diego run defense (second in the league behind only Pittsburgh) could be the deciding factor, as the idea of Brian Griese throwing 40 passes and winning holds little appeal.

Philadelphia 33, WASHINGTON 17 (+9) - The Cardiac Eagles? NOT! They've won nine times by 10 points or more this year and five by 20 or more, including in each of the last four weeks. And their final record for this season might closely resemble the career record on prime time Andy Reid brings into this game: 15 wins, one loss (also against the spread), with 425 points scored and 198 allowed.

MONDAY NIGHT

TENNESSEE 13, Kansas City 7 (+2) - It is with matchups like this in mind that the NFL's recently-signed contract with the networks includes a "flexibility clause" allowing the league to move a Sunday afternoon game to Monday night starting in 2006.

BEST BETS: DALLAS, GREEN BAY, DENVER

N.Y. Giants at Baltimore is in a circle because Ravens running back Jamal Lewis is questionable, and Kansas City at Tennessee is in a circle because Chiefs running backs Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock are doubtful and questionable, respectively, and Titans quarterback Steve McNair is questionable.

Last edited by Anthony; 12-10-2004 at 06:56 AM.
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