And then there were none.
After Tampa became the final team to win its initial game of the season last Monday night, Kansas City became the last one to lose its first game this past Sunday night.
The Buccaneers enjoyed winning so much they followed up with a solid 41-28 romp over Atlanta this past Sunday to tie the defending NFL top playoff seeded team with a 2-8 record. The Falcons have clearly been the most disappointing team in the NFC this season.
Not to be overshadowed by Atlanta’s futility, the Houston Texans dropped their eighth straight game to fall to 2-8 this season to cement their standing as the most disappointing team in the AFC. Much like Atlanta, the Texans were one of the top teams of 2012, starting last season 11-1 before fading late in the season. That late season swoon has carried over to 2013 and only the 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars have a worse record in the Conference.
Seattle has the best record in the NFL, 10-1, slightly better than the 9-1 records of Denver and Kansas City. The Chiefs and Broncos can tie the Seahawks with wins this week as Seattle joins three other teams to conclude the byes for this season.
Kansas City’s unbeaten season came to a not so surprising end in Denver as the Chiefs were slightly more than touchdown underdogs. The Broncos scored first and never trailed, although the Chiefs managed to keep the game competitive for much of the contest, scoring the final touchdown in the 27-17 loss.
The Chiefs and Broncos will meet again in two Sundays in Kansas City in a game that could ultimately decide the AFC West champion. But each has a tough contest this week with Kansas City hosting Division rival San Diego and Denver visiting New England Sunday night.
And the oddity surrounding the odyssey of the New York Jets’ season continued as they lost in Buffalo. The Jets have alternated wins and losses all season, yet to lose or win back to back games.
If this pattern continues the Jets are destined to win in Baltimore this week. But, as Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Kansas City have shown over the past two weeks, streaks (or patterns in this case) don’t go on forever.
Through Sunday night there were 9 OVERs and 5 UNDERs for the week, bringing the season to date results to 86 OVERs, 71 UNDERs and 4 pushes. Average total points per game is nearly 47 (46.8 to be precise). This would be a record for the NFL and represent the fourth consecutive season average points has increased over the prior season.
After dropping from 44.1 ppg in 2008 to 42.9 in 2009, the average rose to 44.1 in 2010, to 44.4 in 2011 and to 45.5 in 2012.
It is worth noting, largely due to weather issues, scoring does tend to drop over the final four games of the season, and such has been the case in three of the last four seasons. But the drop is marginal, averaging about a half point per game.
Joining Seattle for the final week of byes are Buffalo, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Here’s a look at the 14 games that will be played.
New Orleans -7½ at Atlanta (53): The Falcons are reduced to playing out the string and looking for spots to play spoiler. Playing on the national stage would be such a spot although they are off four straight double digit losses, albeit three were on the road and the fourth was on this field two weeks ago against Seattle. You may want to hold your nose when you go to the window to make your investment. But not when you return to cash your ticket. ATLANTA.
Tampa Bay +9½ at Detroit (48½): Tampa won for a second straight week, routing Atlanta 41-28 in a game not that close. But both wins were at home. The Lions had a dominant second quarter at Pittsburgh but did little else, ending up losing 37-27 as the Steelers scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. The Lions do have a huge game on Thanksgiving Day just four days later, which is a concern in looking for them to win here by a margin. DETROIT.
J’ville +10½ at Houston (43): Jacksonville reverted to form, losing for the ninth time this season with all nine losses by double digits. There can be no confidence in backing the Texans who appear to just be going through the motions or are at least not showing winning is important, considering their fourth quarter performances. The Jaguars remain an impotent team on offense so perhaps the best way to attack this game is through the Total. UNDER.
Minny (no line) at Green Bay: The uncertain status of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson have this game off the boards on Monday. It’s likely Peterson will play but less likely Rodgers will suit up as their game a few days later at Detroit on Thanksgiving is more important. The Packers would again rely on Scott Tolzein, who was unimpressive last week at the Giants, tossing a key “pick six” that could have been the difference in a 27-13 loss. But another week of reps and adjustments should mean a better effort. GREEN BAY.
San Diego +5 at KC (41½): This would normally be a flat spot but the Chargers are a Division rival the Chiefs cannot afford to take lightly as a loss here and a win next week would work against the Chiefs should they and the Broncos tie for the Division title at the end of the season. San Diego is in another tough scheduling spot, again traveling east for a second straight week and facing a top notch defense that played well in the altitude of Denver. KANSAS CITY.
Carolina -3½ at Miami (41½): Carolina is alive in the NFC South as even a loss would have the Panthers 6-4, and still to play, a pair of games against 8-2 New Orleans. Prior to facing the Patriots, Carolina had held 7 of 9 opponents to 15 points or less. Miami’s offense has been average at best and Carolina’s has been more reliant on the run than on the pass. That suggests a shortened game with fewer scoring opportunities. UNDER.
Pitt +2 at Cleveland (41): Cleveland is favored over the Steelers for the first time since 2003 and have lost 17 of the last 20 meetings, although one of those rare wins came on this field last season. The Browns have endured injuries at QB and changes in personnel at RB, making it tough to develop continuity. This has been a low scoring series going back many years with four straight and 8 of 10 producing 38 or less. UNDER.
Chicago +1 at St. Louis (46): Chicago is expected to start Josh McCown at QB as starter Jay Cutler continues to battle injuries. The Rams defense have held 3 of its last 5 foes to 14 points or less. They have also won both games in which they have been favored this season with both being at home. Chicago continues to have defensive issues with injuries, age and offseason departures all contributing to the decline. Mitey Mite Tavon Austin has given the Rams a game breaker who should become more of a factor going forward. ST. LOUIS.
NY Jets +4 at Baltimore (40): Baltimore has been a much stronger team at home than on the road, losing at home only to a healthy Green Bay. The Jets’ road win at Atlanta earlier this season has lost much luster given the fall of the Falcons. More indication of the Jets’ true abilities may be gleaned from road losses of 25, 40 and 23 points with the 25 and 23 point losses to teams not nearly on the level of the Ravens. BALTIMORE.
Tenn +1 at Oakland (41½): Oakland surprised almost everyone with its solid 28-23 win at Houston last week under the guidance of Matt McGloin, their rookie backup QB from Penn State who may start again for the injured Terrell Pryor. This is a poor spot for the Raiders who play at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The Titans are also relying on a backup QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who at least has several seasons of experience as a starter. TENNESSEE.
Indy +2 at Arizona (44½): The Cards have been solid on defense, which has led Arizona to three straight wins and a 6-4 record, making them a player in the Wild Card chase. The Colts have a few extra days of rest. Neither coach really has an edge in knowing each other’s philosophies and tendencies. The one edge may be at signal caller, and although Palmer has had a decent career, Indy’s Luck has shown the talents of an elite QB with his poise, leadership and proven ability to lead multiple game-winning drives in just a season and a half. INDY.
Dallas +2½ at NY Giants (46½): These teams opened the season with Dallas winning a wild 36-31 shootout in which the Giants committed 6 turnovers yet still were in position to win in the final minutes. High scoring games have been the norm in this series. Since 2009, 7 of 9 meetings have produced at least 53 total points. OVER.
Denver -2½ at N. England (56): This is a bigger game for the Pats who have designs on a top two seed in the playoffs, and a win would greatly aid that quest, even if the Pats are off a loss at Carolina. The Brady/Belichick combo has been dominant over the second half of the past three seasons. N. ENGLAND.
SF -4½ at Washington (48): Washington won seven straight after a 3-6 start last season to win the NFC East but that won’t happen this season as the Redskins are 3-7 entering the final six weeks of the season. Washington is 0-5 both SU and ATS as underdogs this season. San Francisco is 3-0 both SU and ATS as favorites away from home. The 49ers have the better defense and their losses have been more excusable. SAN FRANCISCO.
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]