At 3-3, will somebody please lead NFL’s AFC East!

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Just over a third of the regular season has been played and the 2012 season is shaping up as one of both change and parity.

Heading into Monday night’s game between the Broncos and Chargers, exactly one half of the NFL’s 32 teams had records at or within one game of .500.

All four teams in the AFC East are tied with 3-3 records.

No teams remain winless after Cleveland came up with a solid 34-24 win over rival Cincinnati, avenging a Week 2 loss in this season’s first rematch.

And only one team remains perfect after Green Bay impressively won at Houston on Sunday night, dropping the Texans to 5-1 and in a tie with Baltimore for the best record in the AFC.

Atlanta survived a close call for the third week in a row, but improved to 6-0 with a last second field goal to edge Oakland 23-20. The Falcons rallied from behind in the second half for the third week in a row to remain unbeaten.

For evidence of change one need look no further than the NFC West. This has been, top to bottom, the weakest in the NFL since division realignment in 2002.

Yet in 2012 this is the only division that does not have a team with a losing record. Three teams are tied at 4-2 and St. Louis, 2-14 a season ago, sits in last place but with a 3-3 record. Two of the 4-2 teams, Seattle and San Francisco, will face one another this Thursday.

Arizona is also 4-2 after dropping its last two games. The Cardinals travel to Minnesota this week to face the surprising Vikings. At 4-2 the Vikes have already surpassed their three wins of last season.

Chicago, at 4-1, has the second best record in the NFC as they return from their bye week to host division rival Detroit on Monday night.

Underdogs were a remarkable 11-2 ATS prior to Monday night and now stand at 55-31-4 ATS for the season, hitting at 64 percent. And of the 55 underdogs that have covered the spread, 39 have won outright (71%) with 17 of the 39 by more than a field goal!

It continues to be worth making part of your play on the money line when considering playing an underdog.

Six teams have byes this week – Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego will be on the sidelines.

Here’s a look at the 13 games that make up the Week 7 schedule.

THURSDAY

Seahawks +7 at 49ers (37½): For the second time in three weeks an NFC West Divisional game is featured on Thursday Night Football. Two weeks ago then unbeaten Arizona suffered its first loss at St. Louis. Here the other two NFC West members face off and each is 4-2. Both the 49ers and the Seahawks rely much more on their defenses than their offenses to win games. UNDER.

SUNDAY

Titans +3 at Bills (46½): Tennessee has extra rest following last Thursday’s home upset of struggling Pittsburgh. Buffalo rebounded from back-to-back losses of 28 and 42 points with an overtime win at Arizona. After back-to-back road games this is the Bills’ lone home game in a – week stretch. And they have a bye next week. BILLS.

Cards +5½ at Vikings (40½): There are many similarities between the two. Each has a rather pedestrian offense although the Vikings do have a solid rushing attack. Both teams’ strengths are their defenses with each ranking in the top ten in total defense, passing defense and scoring defense. They also rank fourth and fifth in yards per play allowed with each under 5.0. UNDER. 

Browns +3 at Colts (44½): Both teams are among the weakest in the league but each has shown signs of improvement as the season continues to unfold. The Colts have the more high profile rookie QB, Andrew Luck, but Cleveland rookie Brandon Weedon is also developing nicely. Colts rank last in the NFL with just 3 takeaways all season. The Browns have forced an average of 2.3 per game. BROWNS.

Ravens +5½ at Texans (47): In edging Dallas last week Baltimore suffered significant injuries to key defensive players including the heart and soul of the unit, Ray Lewis. The offense remains solid and the Ravens rank third by gaining 6.3 yards per play. Houston’s defense was picked apart by Green Bay, but has played well against weaker offenses. The usually stout Baltimore defense is allowing a surprisingly high 397 total yards per game. OVER.

Packers -5½ at Rams (44½): The Rams are 5-1 ATS, covering in two of their three road losses. Given the great success of underdogs this season the Rams are worth a play, especially if the line moves up as the public believes the Pack is back. RAMS.

Cowboys -2 at Panthers (45½): After winning at the Giants to open the season Dallas has lost its next two road games, at Seattle and Baltimore. The Panthers have lost three straight, but all have been to winning teams and their last two losses have been by 4 and 2 points. Carolina has had two weeks to prepare for the Cowboys. PANTHERS.

Redskins +6½ at NY Giants (49½): The Redskins defeated the Giants twice last season. Washington rookie QB Robert Griffin III’s mobility makes him less susceptible to the Giants’ pass rush than most QBs. The Giants are playing to avenge last season’s sweep but there’s plenty of room for the improved visitors to stay competitive. REDSKINS.

Saints -2½ at Bucs (49½): The Bucs have defended the run very well but have a leaky pass defense. That plays to the strength of the Saints’ offense, directed by record setting QB Drew Brees. But the Saints have defensive issues of their own, ranking last in total yardage. This has the makings of an entertaining shootout. OVER.

Jets +10½ at Patriots (47): New England has won 4 of the last 5 regular season games against the Jets with 3 of the wins by at least 17 points. There’s a bit of a rivalry between the head coaches and Pat’s coach Bill Belichick has always placed a great emphasis on Divisional games. Despite the great success of underdogs this season, double digit favorites are 3-2 ATS this season. PATRIOTS.

Jaguars +4 at Raiders (43): The Raiders’ defense has held three of five foes to under 60 yards rushing. Oakland’s defensive weakness has been against the pass. But Jacksonville has a very limited passing attack and has netted less than 150 passing yards in each of its last four games. Now they take to the road for the first time in a month. Although both teams are an identical 1-4, Oakland is the much better team. RAIDERS.

Steelers -2½ at Bengals (46): Pittsburgh has dominated this series of late, winning and covering four straight and are 9-2 both SU and ATS since 2006 with the game winner covering the line each time. The Bengals do have their bye next week. Pittsburgh has been outstanding after a loss in recent years, including 2-0 this season. STEELERS.

MONDAY

Lions +5 at Bears (47½): The Bears are 7-1 against Detroit since 2008 although just 4-4 ATS. They have a huge edge on defense and an offense that is much improved and with greater depth than last season. Detroit’s relatively one dimensional offense that lacks a consistent running game does not bode well against elite defenses. Chicago leads the league in allowing just 14.2 points per game. BEARS.

Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach is one of the most popular statistical breakdowns in sports betting. Andy is also a longtime baseball and football columnist at GT. Contact Andy at Andy­[email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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