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Old 12-23-2004, 05:06 AM   #6
Anthony
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Last week: 6-10. Season totals: 100-118-6, Pct. .460. Best Bets: 18-26-1, Pct. .411.

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


FRIDAY

MINNESOTA 31, Green Bay 24 (+3) - Both teams are 8-6 but the Packers have clinched a playoff spot while the Vikings haven't, which could give Minnesota an emotional edge; and Green Bay seldom holds any kind of edge on artificial turf (12-31 against the spread since 1994) and/or indoors (5-15-1 against the spread since 1997). Siding with the home team in this NFC North championship game.

SATURDAY

KANSAS CITY 45, Oakland 41 (+7) - The weather-advantage angle hasn't been productive this season, going 9-11 for the year, including 1-4 last week; and this one figures to go back and forth with the last team in possession winning.

Denver 33, TENNESSEE 31 (+4) - Billy Volek has the Steve DeBerg thing down pat - 918 yards the last two games and the Titans lost them both! Still, the Broncos are showing little in the way of guts and haven't beaten Bud Adams' team on the road since 1983 so you gotta take it.

SUNDAY

CINCINNATI 27, N.Y. Giants 24 (+6) - Eli Manning finally showed something last Saturday, and despite the Bengals being one game ahead of the Giants Cincinnati is already eliminated from playoff contention in the AFC while the Giants are still alive in the NFC, albeit barely. Carson Palmer did not practice on Wednesday and Jon Kitna hasn't exactly set the world on fire in Palmer's absence; lean toward the underdog despite the home team's spotless 6-0 straight-up mark in the series.

N.Y. JETS 23 (+3), New England 13 - Instead of winning out, the Patriots may end up spinning out; and I wouldn't advise anyone to walk into a bar in the Boston area and start singing the Notre Dame fight song.

PITTSBURGH 34, Baltimore 3 (+6) - If not for the Ravens, the Steelers would be pursuing the '72 Dolphins. After this game, you'll be able to say that if not for the Steelers, the Ravens might have made the playoffs. Best bet.

JACKSONVILLE 30, Houston 14 (+6 1/2) - The 20-6 final score by which Houston won the first meeting is highly misleading because the Jaguars were driving toward a game-tying touchdown in the final minute when the Texans picked Byron Leftwich off and ran it back for a TD. Assuming the Steelers do win, Jacksonville will make the playoffs by winning here and then next week at a half-empty stadium in Oakland.

DETROIT 27, Chicago 13 (+6) - Brian Urlacher has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season; in the five games Urlacher did not play in this year the Bears allowed more than 26 points per game, compared with less than 17 per game in the nine that he did. Chicago has also lost seven in a row in domes, and the Lions will be well motivated with an opportunity to evade the division cellar for the first time since 2000 on the line.

INDIANAPOLIS 28, San Diego 24 (+7) - San Diego's 26th-ranked pass defense means Peyton Manning most likely breaks Marino's record, but San Diego's 18-6-1 spread record inside NFL domes since 1992 means the Chargers most likely cover.

NEW ORLEANS 17, Atlanta 0 (+2) - Did you see Michael Vick hurt his shoulder at any time during Saturday night's game? Well Jim Mora Jr. insists that he did, so someone named Matt Schaub will start at quarterback for the Falcons, who are locked into the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. So now a number of other NFC teams will be locked out of the playoffs.

Carolina 23 (+3 1/2), TAMPA BAY 10 - The Bucs have been hosed! This game has been moved to the late time slot, and if the Saints do beat Atlanta's junior varsity in their early game Tampa Bay is eliminated from the playoff chase before this one even kicks off, or only a few minutes after; then Gruden probably gives some new faces a look (most notably Chris Simms at quarterback), and you know the rest.

DALLAS 28, Washington 14 (+3) - The Cowboys are Washington's daddy! What else do I have to say?

SEATTLE 24, Arizona 20 (+7) - The Seahawks eliminate the embarrassing possibility of a sub-.500 team winning a division title, but this number is impossible to lay.

Buffalo 28, SAN FRANCISCO 13 (+9 1/2) - In their last eight games, seven of which they won, the Bills have scored a mind-boggling 103 points as the result of their opponents' blunders on offense and special teams. This run of luck has to end sooner or later, but even if it comes to a complete halt this week they should be able to scratch out a cover even with Willis McGahee possibly missing the game as the 49ers move one step closer to becoming the first team to go through an entire non-strike season without a non-overtime victory since the 0-14 expansion Buccaneers of 1976.

MIAMI 35, Cleveland 10 (+6) - The Browns stay on track to go both winless and coverless on the road for the season. But this is not as rare as one would think: The Cardinals did it last year, for example.

MONDAY NIGHT

Philadelphia 20, ST. LOUIS 13 (+2 1/2) - The Rams are showing absolutely no character whatsoever and are 0-9-1 against the line in their last ten games outside the NFC West; they have also burned the money seven consecutive times against the Eagles, who are 16-1 straight up and 15-2 against the spread on prime time under Andy Reid (who won't have to put on those tights after all) and might actually win this even without T.O. and with other starters making cameo appearances if that.

BEST BETS: PITTSBURGH, JACKSONVILLE, NEW ORLEANS

N.Y. Giants at Cincinnati is in a circle because Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is questionable, Atlanta at New Orleans is in a circle because the Falcons may rest some players, Arizona at Seattle is in a circle because Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is questionable, Buffalo at San Francisco is in a circle because Bills running back Willis McGahee is questionable, and Philadelphia at St. Louis is in a circle because the Eagles may rest some players.

Last edited by Anthony; 12-23-2004 at 05:29 AM.
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