We have almost reached the midpoint of the regular season as those teams yet to have their bye weeks have each played eight games. Through Monday night 120 of the 256 game regular season schedule will have been played.
Kansas City remains the lone unbeaten team with its win on Sunday over Cleveland pushing the Chiefs to 8-0. But are the Chiefs really as good as their record would suggest?
The Chiefs do not own a win over a team that is currently over .500. Using that standard Kansas City’s best win would be their 17-16 home win over Dallas in Week 2. In fact, Kansas City’s opponents this season have won less than a third of their games, going 20-41 straight up. And even if you eliminate the 8 losses those teams have lost to the Chiefs, Kansas City’s foes are just 20-33 against the rest of the NFL, winning less than 40 percent of those games.
Still, you can only defeat the teams that are on your schedule and Kansas City should not be criticized for beating so many weak teams. At the same time, however, let’s not anoint the Chiefs as the team to beat on the road to the Super Bowl.
History has been kind to the team that has been the last to lose its first game of the season. Such teams make the Playoffs in excess of 80 percent of the time, reaching the Super Bowl about 40 percent and winning it all about 20. With half a season remaining the chances are excellent the Chiefs will at least make the Playoffs and host at least one Playoff game.
Beyond that, it remains to be seen just how far they can go. After this week’s game in Buffalo the Chiefs have the bye from which they return a week later to face the 7-1 Broncos in Denver. They will host their Division rivals two weeks later. If the Chiefs can win at least one of those two games they should be a main contender for the best record and top Playoff seed in the AFC.
Jacksonville and Tampa Bay remain winless and Jacksonville will have to wait another week before getting a chance break its maiden, with a bye this week.
Tampa Bay dropped to 0-7 with its home loss last Thursday to Division rival Carolina but this week must travel cross country to Seattle and will be close to a three touchdown underdog as the Bucs attempt to win their first game.
Although highly unlikely it is possible both teams could end the season 0-16 as Tampa Bay and the Jaguars do not face one another.
Though highly unlikely in this era of parity and free agency that a team could not go winless over an entire 16 game schedule we need look back no further than five seasons ago when the Detroit Lions did just that. Although the Lions did go winless they were almost break even at the betting windows, going 7-9 ATS.
As to the chances of either Tampa Bay or Jacksonville going winless there is some sobering news when comparing this pair to the 2008 Lions. Through its first eight games Detroit was at least 3-5 ATS. Jacksonville has started 2013 1-7 ATS and Tampa Bay, already having its Bye, stands 1-6 ATS.
The “wise guys” will maintain there will still be “perceived value” in backing both the Bucs and Jags in coming weeks at inflated underdog prices.
History suggests either or both of these teams should turn things around from a pointspread perspective over the second half of the season. But we may be witnessing a pair of historically bad football teams.
There are six teams enjoying byes this week – Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, the New York Giants and San Francisco.
Here’s a look at the 13 games to be played this week.
Cincinnati -2½ at Miami (42½): Cincinnati has won four in a row with last week’s 49-9 home win over the Jets one of the most impressive wins in franchise history. That win followed back to back road wins by identical 27-24 scores at Buffalo and Detroit. Miami is headed the other way, dropping four in a row following a 3-0 start. Aside from the 38-17 loss at New Orleans that started this streak, the Dolphins’ other three losses have been competitive games. MIAMI.
Atlanta +7½ at Carolina (43): Carolina QB Cam Newton is playing as well as he did in his rookie season. And the Panthers have added rest. The Panthers defeated the Falcons on this field late last season that snapped a five game losing streak to Atlanta and started that four game winning streak (both SU and ATS) with which Carolina ended last season. CAROLINA.
Minnesota +10½ at Dallas (47): After going 11-13 SU and 6-18 ATS at home the past three seasons the ‘Boys have started 2013 with 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS marks at home this season, including a pair of double digit wins as favorites. Minnesota continues to have issues on both sides of the football, especially with its one dimensional offense geared greatly to the run with RB Adrian Peterson. After several competitive losses to open the season, the Vikes have followed their week 4 win in London over Pittsburgh with three straight double digit losses. DALLAS.
New Orleans -5½ at NY Jets (45½): The Jets continued their pattern of alternating wins and losses, in line with rookie QB Geno Smith’s inconsistent performances. This is the week for the good Geno to show up and the Jets should play with added energy and attitude following their 40 point blowout at Cincinnati. NY JETS.
Tennessee -4 at St. Louis (42): The Rams are off of Monday night’s home game vs. Seattle as Rams coach Jeff Fisher welcomes his former team. The Titans are off of a Bye. The Rams have much new and untested talent surrounding Kellen Clemens and it’s easy to see why the Titans are favored. The Titans are road favorites for just the fifth time under coach Mike Munchak. They lost three of the previous four SU and are 0-4 ATS in those games. At a FG or more the preference is to hold our noses while taking the points. ST LOUIS.
KC -3½ at Buffalo (40½): Ex Syracuse coach Doug Marone has gotten his players to “buy in” to his concepts and the Bills continue to play with energy and purpose, even in losses. Kansas City does have next week off before playing at Division rival Denver. But if there is a spot that could spell the end of the unbeaten season a non-Division road game against a capable foe would be an excellent candidate. BUFFALO.
San Diego PK at Washington (51): The Chargers have won 2 of 4 road games but the first was a struggle in Week 2 in Philly and the other was a 24-6 win just prior to the bye at lowly Jacksonville. Although the Chargers are rested the spot sets up very well for the hosts as QB Robert Griffin III, banged up in Denver, is probably for this game, with capable backup Kirk Cousins also available. WASHINGTON.
Philly (NL) at Oakland: Both starter Michael Vick and backup Nick Foles are injured, leaving rookie Matt Barkley, who has been most unimpressive thus far, as the potential Eagles starter. Oakland has been aggressive on both sides of the football. Teams have caught on to the up tempo pace that new Eagles coach Chip Kelly sprung on the NFL in September and the Philly offense has been mostly ineffective in recent weeks. OAKLAND.
TB +17 at Seattle (41): Only two of Tampa’s losses have been by more than 17 points although, to be fair, the lines in Tampa’s first seven games have been a TD or less, including twice when the Bucs lost as favorites. Given the situation in Tampa it’s hard to pull the trigger on the Bucs, even at this price. Yet it’s just as hard to lay such a high number as well. Favorites of 16 points or more are 2-2 ATS this season although all 4 games have gone OVER the Total. OVER.
Baltimore -2½ at Cleveland (41): Baltimore won the first meeting at home 14-6 in Week 2 with the game staying UNDER for a sixth straight meeting and for the eighth time in nine matchups dating back to 2009. Collectively the Ravens and Browns have been held to under 100 yards rushing in 12 of their 15 games. Even in an era of flying footballs the lack of a running game usually renders the passing game ineffective. This game handicaps as more of the same. UNDER.
Pittsburgh +7 at New England (44): The Steelers were ineffective in losing 21-18 at Oakland, held to just 3 points through three quarters. Five of Pittsburgh’s seven games have produced fewer than 40 points. Although New England’s games have been a bit higher scoring five of their eight games have also stayed UNDER. Both defenses have been the more consistent units. UNDER.
Indy -1 at Houston (45): The Texans finally got their first ATS win of the season in a 17-16 road loss at Kansas City just prior to the Bye. On fundamentals and talent there is every reason to back the Texans. But that’s been the case all season and Houston has disappointed its backers all but once. INDIANAPOLIS.
Chicago +11 at Green Bay (49): This is one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries and Green Bay has dominated the series recently, winning six straight and 9 of 11 with the line not coming into play in any of those games. Still, Chicago’s bye week came at the right time and the time off will have given the coaching staff sufficient time to make needed adjustments as they seek to stay competitive against theirbitter rival who may be just a bit overconfident. CHICAGO.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]