Last week in the NFL may be remembered more for what happened off of the playing field with the controversy surround commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident followed by the indictment of Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges that resulted in his deactivation for the Vikings game against New England.
But on the field events also are drawing attention and creating topics for conversation with the proliferation of penalty flags that made the first half of Sunday night’s Chicago at San Francisco game tough to watch and the controversial time out near the end of the Jets at Packers game that took away a tying touchdown.
The first two weeks of the season have been filled with upsets and other surprises and have also put several playoff caliber teams in virtual “must win” situations following 0-2 starts.
Key injuries also were a major highlight of last week and continue to be a major concern across the league. There is some conjecture the seemingly greater number of injuries in the past couple of seasons has resulted from the collective bargaining agreement that reduced the amount of practice time in training camps and OTAs in the offseason.
For a second straight week there were more UNDERS (9) than OVERS (6) entering Monday night although those who played UNDER 48.5, available for much of the week heading into the Sunday night game did cash their tickets but the late move to 47 or 47.5 made the OVER the winner when Chicago rallied for a trio of fourth quarter touchdowns in their 28-20 comeback win.
Depending on the line for the game between the Jets and Packers, favorites were either 7-8 or 7-7-1 as late money on the Jets had that line close at 7 at many books. Green Bay overcame a 21-3 deficit to win 31-24.
When it was announced that Drew Stanton would start at QB against the Giants instead of ailing Carson Palmer, there was a late flurry of money that moved the line from Arizona minus 2 to Giants minus 1.5.
Ironically, the Giants were initially favored by 2.5 points last Sunday and Monday prior to their horrendous performance in a 35-14 loss at Detroit which caused Arizona to open a 1.5 point favorite when the game was reposted on Tuesday morning.
Depending on the line of that Jets/Packers game the point spread mattered in only one other game as Denver defeated Kansas City 24-17 but failed to cover as 13.5 point home favorites.
Thus, underdogs won 6 games outright as Dallas, Arizona, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Diego, and Chicago all won straight up as underdogs. This brings up the concept of playing underdogs on the money line instead of, or in addition to, taking the points. More on this topic in coming weeks.
Here’s a preview of Week 3 games.
TB +6 at Atlanta (44.5): The Atlanta offense will face a less formidable defense in the Bucs than they faced in Cincinnati. And playing back at home will be a benefit in a short week, especially with Tampa taking to the road for the first time this season as the Bucs begin a three game road trip. ATLANTA.
San Diego +1 at Buffalo (44): A bad scheduling spot for the Chargers who must cross the country before returning for a pair of home games. The Bills have two road games up next and might catch the Chargers with a bit of overconfidence following their win over the Super Bowl champs. BUFFALO.
Dallas -1 at St. Louis (44): St. Louis third string QB Austin Davis led the Rams to an upset win at Tampa last week and may start again this week if Shaun Hill is unable to go. The Cowboys have the more talented roster overall and the defense does remain a concern. The Rams’ strength is on defense. UNDER.
Washington NL at Philly: Eagles off of the Monday night game at Indianapolis and figure to be favored by just under a touchdown. Kirk Cousins may be the better fit at QB for new Skins coach Jay Gruden’s offense. Both teams are comfortable with an uptempo pace, suggesting a high scoring game. OVER.
Houston -2.5 at NYG (42): The Texans were 2-0 last season before everything fell apart, albeit under the direction of former coach Gary Kubiak and former QB Matt Schaub. Including the preseason, the Giants have shown no improvement in installing their new offense in seven games. HOUSTON.
Minny +9.5 at N. Orleans (51): Vikes’ QB Matt Cassel was picked off 4 times by New England, his former team. Throwing out the 2012 season when coach Sean Payton was suspended, the Saints were 17-0 SU and 16-1 ATS at home in 2011 and 2013. At 0-2 expect a highly motivated and intense effort from the hosts. NEW ORLEANS.
Tenn +7 at Cincy (44): Bengals wideout A.J. Green was banged up in the win over the Falcons and is questionable. Even with a healthy Green, this line may be a bit over inflated against a Titans team that is improved over last season though not a playoffs team the past five seasons. TENNESSEE.
Baltimore PK at Cleveland (42): Baltimore had won 11 in a row against the Browns prior to losing on this field in their second meeting last season. The Browns are improved but still with flaws. The Ravens’ experience, stability and continuity are edges that cannot be discounted and can ill afford to start 1-2 in division. BALTIMORE.
GB +1 at Detroit (52): Although the Packers are out to avenge a 40-10 loss on Thanksgiving Day last season to the Lions when they were without QB Aaron Rodgers the better play will be to expect an entertaining, high scoring contests. Both teams’ receivers likely to benefit from the added emphasis on enforcing pass defense rules. OVER.
Indy (NL) at Jacksonville: Although the situation calls for taking the points with the home underdog because they are facing a team capable of scoring points in bunches suggests that the Jags will, at some point, be playing from behind, a situation for which the Jags are not well suited. INDIANAPOLIS.
Oakland +14.5 at NE (46.5): Since 2007 the Patriots have won all 19 games in which they were favored by 14 points or more but have gone just 8-11 ATS. The Raiders have covered their last 4 games getting at least 14 or more points dating back to 2009. Playing such an ugly, high priced underdog has been a winning proposition long term (115-91-6 since 1988). OAKLAND.
SF -2.5 at Arizona (43): The Niners have not been sharp in the second halves of their first two games, perhaps an indication that age and an accumulation of injuries are taking a toll. Both defenses are fundamentally strong and that could lead to forcing long drives and turnovers. UNDER.
Denver +4.5 at Seattle (49): Denver has been pointing towards this game since their 41-8 humiliation administer by Seattle in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are in their best of all spots off of a loss and returning home. They still have the much better defense and, as we saw in the Super Bowl, great defense stops great offense, including in meaningful regular season games. SEATTLE.
KC -4.5 at Miami (41): After their 9-0 start last season, the Chiefs are 2-8 since. Miami may also be without its featured RB as Knowshon Moreno was injured against the Bills. With both teams’ running games downgraded we may see more of each team’s passing games. And, combined with the KC defensive injuries, is where Miami has most of the edges. MIAMI
Pittsburgh +3 at Carolina (41): Pittsburgh has played just one good half of football and it was the first half of their opening game against Cleveland. The Panthers have surprised experts with their 2-0 start Any edge the Steelers may have with QB Ben Roethlisberger is more than offset by Carolina’s defensive edge. Of the four combined games played by both teams thus far, only one has produced more than 34 points. UNDER.
Chicago +1 at NY Jets (45.5): The key to this game will be whether the Jets’ defensive front to apply constant pressure on Chicago QB Jay Cutler who has plenty of options on offense and can attack a suspect Jets secondary.
Jets new WR Eric Decker hurt his hammy and is questionable for this game. The Jets have been better balanced on offense as Chicago has rushed for just 132 yards in its first two games while the Jets have rushed for 212 and 146. NY JETS.
Last week: 9-6 Season: 15-15-1
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]