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Old 11-04-2004, 04:57 AM   #4
Anthony
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Last week: 9-5. Season totals: 49-63-4, Pct. .440. Best Bets: 10-13-1, Pct. .438.

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


SUNDAY

BUFFALO 17 (+3), N.Y. Jets 14 - Jet offense finally took off Monday night but is still underachieving for the season overall, and home underdogs have gone 6-1 against the spread the past two weeks. Getting three points, we'll take a chance on this game going into overtime, which in all likelihood means a push if the Jets win and obviously a Bills cover should Buffalo win.

N.Y. GIANTS 20, Chicago 0 (+9) - The Giant defense held Daunte Culpepper scoreless for nearly 51 minutes on the road. Imagine what they will do to Craig Krenzel at home.

PITTSBURGH 37 (+2), Philadelphia 34 - Now I know how the voters in those swing states must have felt, as I have gone back and forth on this game all week long. Sure, T.O. figures to have a big day against a Steelers secondary missing its top cover cornerback, but 6-foot-5 Plaxico Burress may do just as well taking on the vertically-challenged Philly corners and ex-Eagle Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis will run for joy unless Andy Reid inserts Jeremiah Trotter at middle linebacker, which has about as much chance of happening as those provisional ballots had of altering the outcome in Ohio. And home underdogs are just too hot to go against at this time - and why is Pittsburgh one at all after thoroughly dismantling New England?

DETROIT 20, Washington 10 (+4) - Being stubborn and inflexible ended up not costing George W. Bush but it's costing Joe Gibbs big time: Until Gibbs wises up and makes the switch to Patrick Ramsey at quarterback it's just about impossible to pick the Redskins - and it's absolutely impossible in this spot where the home team has won eight in a row (covering in seven) and given Washington's poor form on the artificial carpet (9-22 straight up and 12-18-1 against the line since 1997). Only Roy Williams' continuing injury woes keep the Lions out of best-bet territory.

CAROLINA 27, Oakland 14 (+6) - The Raiders are on the road again this week, and Kerry Collins is still their starting quarterback. That's all you need to know.

MIAMI 20, Arizona 13 (+3) - How does a team lose 38-14 in a game where they outgained their opponents by four yards and without turning the ball over even once? The answer is with perhaps the worst single-game performance on special teams in living memory, as the Bills ran a kickoff back for a TD and started four other drives at or inside the Arizona 30-yard line in sending the Cards to their 17th consecutive loss on the road. Don't know what it will be this week, but it will surely be something facing a team they have never beaten, losing all eight prior meetings (and covering only once) by a combined 148 points.

CINCINNATI 24 (+1 1/2), Dallas 13 - The Bengals got what amounted to a free pass last week when Jeff Fisher held Steve McNair out of the game, yet they couldn't take advantage of it - but Cincy should make amends here in a series where the home team has covered four in a row and seven out of eight lifetime, and with Dallas sporting records of 3-14 straight up and 5-11-1 against the line since 1995 as a visitor in cold weather. Chalk up another win and cover for the home underdog - and in this case a comfortable one at that.

TAMPA BAY 20 (+3), Kansas City 17 - The Bucs are even bigger money-burners coming off a bye week than the Steelers (4-11 against the spread), but if the Patriots couldn't buck the home-underdog trend how can you expect the unreliable Chiefs to do it?

ST. LOUIS 45 (+2), New England 24 - New England's bubble really burst last week. True, they had to lose some time, but Ty Law didn't have to break his foot and miss at least a month and two other defensive backs and Corey Dillon didn't have to get hurt either. This could be a 500-yard game for Marc Bulger, and it looks like another sure cover for a home underdog, especially in light of the Rams having won their last six post-bye games (tied with the Eagles for the longest current streak) by a staggering 221 to 74.

DENVER 23, Houston 20 (+5 1/2) - Since an impressive win over Kansas City on opening day the Broncos are 1-5-1 against the spread, and since opening day last year they're 2-8 against the spread as home favorites. The Texans have been a competent cold-weather team in their brief existence (2-2 both ways) and can be trusted to keep this one close.

New Orleans 34 (+6), SAN DIEGO 21 - Ricky Nelson, 1961: Hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart. San Diego Chargers, 1997 to the present: Hello November, goodbye season (they're an NFL-worst 12-48 in November and December over that period). San Diego is also 3-10 straight up in fatigue games (the Saints had a bye last week). Best bet.

Seattle 14, SAN FRANCISCO 10 (+6) - Right now you can't lay a number like this on the Seahawks against anybody, and certainly not on the road. Though officially questionable at this writing, word out of San Francisco is that Tim Rattay will participate in some practices the rest of the week and start on Sunday, and if he does the 49ers should stay close enough to cover.

BALTIMORE 23, Cleveland 7 (+6) - America's Most Wanted returns to the airwaves Saturday night after a month-long absence due to Fox's coverage of postseason baseball - and one of AMW host John Walsh's favorite expressions is "closure," which is essentially a euphemism for revenge - something the Ravens will be seeking here (they lost their opener 20-3 at Cleveland) in Jamal Lewis' return from his two-game suspension. And with the road team still yet to cover in a Browns game this year, mark this down as capture - I mean victory - number five this season for Baltimore.

MONDAY NIGHT

INDIANAPOLIS 63, Minnesota 35 (+5 1/2) - Is it my imagination or are the Monday night games getting more one-sided every week? And talk about one-sidedness: The visiting team has not won a game in this series since 1966 - and the Vikings have never beaten the Colts on the road (0-1 at Indy and 0-8 in Baltimore). Randy Moss may not play (still hobbled by the hamstring he pulled three weeks ago at New Orleans) but even if he doesn't this game could wind up closely resembling that fabled 72-41 win by the Redskins over the Giants of 38 years ago. Forget about seeing any punts - and if Moss does play I'll be surprised if either team has to even settle for a field goal!

BEST BETS: CINCINNATI, ST. LOUIS, NEW ORLEANS

New England at St. Louis is in a circle because Patriots running back Corey Dillon is questionable, Seattle at San Francisco is in a circle because 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay is questionable, and Minnesota at Indianapolis is in a circle because Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss is questionable.

Last edited by Anthony; 11-04-2004 at 10:17 AM.
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