Start of 2013 NFL season full of second guessing

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If you have been thinking the first part of the 2013 NFL season has been marked by great inconsistency week to week, the following statistics will partially validate your thinking.

Through this past Sunday there have been 54 instances of a team playing on the road following a win (be it at home or on the road). Of that number, 25 have been road favorites following their win. Those teams have gone just 13-12 straight up (SU) and just 9-15-1 against the spread (ATS)

There have been 27 teams as road underdogs, who have gone just 6-21 SU and 10-16-1 ATS. Two games have been pick ‘em and those road teams have gone 1-1 both SU and ATS.

Sports books love the inconsistent week to week play as the public likes to back the teams that won for them a week earlier. But with winners one week becoming losers the next – and vice versa – a large part of the wagering public is put into a second guessing mode, hemming and hawing before making their decisions.

And with so much wagering being invested in parlay and teaser cards, the books benefit even more from the week to week inconsistency.

Even the wise guys – the sharpest of the sharp – have, to a great extent, found the start to the 2013 season a bit baffling. A number of tried and true historical situational spots have not fared as well as in recent seasons.

A major factor that only partially contributes to the week to week inconsistency is a factor that has greatly influenced the fate of many teams. And that factor, of course, is injuries. But not just injuries that sideline players for a few to several weeks or months. There have been an inordinate amount of season-ending injuries to key players.

Just this past weekend Reggie Wayne, Doug Martin, Sam Bradford and Brian Cushing, among others, suffered season-ending injuries. Chicago suffered a pair of injuries that are expected to sideline QB Jay Cutler and LB Lance Briggs for at least a month.

Philadelphia suffered another QB injury with backup Nick Foles suffering a concussion and joining starter Michael Vick on the sidelines. Vick may be able to return this week and Eagle fans certainly hope so as rookie Matt Barkley tossed 3 interceptions in relief of Foles in Sunday’s loss to Dallas.

The OVERS hold a 56-48-2 edge through last Sunday in projected totals. The average points per game are 46.2. Note: The gap is widening between OVERs and UNDERs, thus the value starts to be on the UNDER as the bookmakers generally do a very good job of getting results to end the season reasonable close to 50-50.

Actually, it’s not so much the lines makers as the teams themselves that do the evening out as it is difficult for teams to maintain the same pace and level of play throughout a the 16 game schedule.

There are just 13 games on this week’s schedule including a second game in London as Jacksonville and San Francisco make the trek across the pond. Six teams – Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee – have Byes.

Here’s a preview of those baker’s dozen games.

Thursday

Carolina -6 at TB (40): Tampa Bay remains winless but did show some positives in rallying against Atlanta to make things interesting in the final minutes. Carolina seems to found its rhythm winning 3 of its last 4 all by double digits. Aside from playing on the road on a short week, Carolina has all the edges against a team that continues to be embroiled in turmoil. CAROLINA.

Sunday

SF -17 vs. Jacksonville (41): Jacksonville remains an inept team on a historical level and has yet to score a TD in three home games. The scene this week is London. San Francisco is playing at last season’s level with 4 straight double digit wins in which they’ve scored over 30 points. That makes it hard to feel comfortable in taking points with the Jaguars’ limited offense. Perhaps the long travel will work against the 49ers offense enough to keep this game low scoring. UNDER.

Dallas +3 at Detroit (51): Dallas deserves credit for its road win at Philadelphia in a turnover marred game that depressed scoring. Detroit lost to a solid Cincinnati team and plays a second straight home game before next week’s Bye. Dallas is off of a pair of divisional games and there is still concern about their ability to string together good efforts on a consistent basis. The Lions have the offensive balance to take advantage of Dallas’ defensive vulnerabilities and an aggressive defense capable of forcing error prone Cowboys QB into poor decisions. DETROIT.

NY Giants (NL) at Philly: The Giants are off of Monday night’s game against Philadelphia in which they were seeking their first win of the season. Philadelphia has QB concerns with backup Nick Foles banged up last week and starter Michael Vick’s status still questionable. Both teams have issues on defense, especially against the pass. Despite the injuries, both teams’ strengths are more on offense than on defense. OVER.

Cleveland +7 at KC (39½): Kansas City is the NFL’s lone unbeaten team at 7-0. They run a low risk, error free offense directed by capable game managing QB Alex Smith. The defense is top notch and continues to make big plays in the second half. Cleveland’s offense is its weakness as the defense has been top tier all season. On a yards per play basis the two offenses rank 25 and 30 whereas the two defenses rank 2 and 5. Those are ingredients for a defensive struggle. UNDER.

Buffalo +12 at New Orleans (50): Saints have had a week to stew about its last second loss at New England before its Bye. Buffalo is off of a pair of games decided in the final minute, losing at home to Cincinnati and then winning at Miami. First year coach Doug Marone has infused positive energy into the Bills who have been directed by a pair of rookie QBs. The Saints’ resurgent defense has been a major factor in the 5-1 start. Their potent offense will be the strongest that the Buffalo defense will have seen. NEW ORLEANS.

Miami +6½ at N. England (45½): The Pats were making defensive adjustments against the Jets due to injuries and often it takes a game for those adjustments to have the desired impact. TE Rob Gronkowski made his season debut last week and he should be more effective as we go forward. Despite their penchant for close games this season the preference is to back the long term proven team off its second loss in three games. NEW ENGLAND.

NY Jets +6½ at Cincinnati (41): This is a quick pit stop at home before another two game road trip to Miami and Baltimore. This could be a flat spot for the Jets after the big win over the Pats and hosting New Orleans next week. The Bengals are considered as having one of the most talented teams in the league on both sides of the football and have finally started to play consistent football. Their defense should have success in forcing Jets’ rookie QB Geno Smith into mistakes. CINCINNATI.

Pittsburgh -3 at Oakland (40½): The Raiders are off of their Bye week and that should have enabled QB Terrelle Pryor to become familiar with an even greater part of the playbook. Both teams have been much better on defense than on offense and have combined to play 3 OVERs and 9 UNDERs. With below average offenses, defenses that have not forced many turnovers and both teams averaging under 18 points per game, the Total seems more attractive than either side. UNDER.

Wash +13 at Denver (58½): The steady improvement of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III in recent weeks paid off with a wild 45-41 last minute home win over Chicago. Clearly, the defense remains a concern and that does not bode well heading to Denver. The Broncos are averaging 42.6 points per game and are off of Sunday night’s loss at Indianapolis in which it appeared the hype and distractions leading up to the game affected the play of Denver QB Peyton Manning. The Broncos have been dominant at home in the second half of games all season. DENVER.

Atlanta +2½ at Arizona (45): Arizona has extra rest following their home loss to Seattle last Thursday. They catch Atlanta in a Divisional sandwich between Tampa Bay and Carolina. Despite several key injuries on offense, the Falcons has success passing the football last week with receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones sidelined. Both teams have negative statistical profiles in many areas and this matchup features Arizona’s weak offense and above average defense against Atlanta’s solid offense and below average defense. Atlanta has a huge edge at QB. ATLANTA.

GB -6 at Minnesota (49½): Green Bay’s offense, limited by injuries to wide receivers, did fare well last week led by Jordy Nelson against a solid Cleveland defense. They do host Chicago next Monday night and could take the Vikings lightly. Minny RB Adrian Peterson has had some big games against the Pack and this spot sets up well for an inspired effort from the Vikes facing their top rival. MINNESOTA.

Monday

Seattle -10½ at St. Louis (42½): This is not a good spot for the hosts as Rams starting QB Sam Bradford is out for the season after tearing his ACL in last week’s loss at Carolina. Backup Kellen Clemens has had an undistinguished career with multiple teams. Seattle has perhaps the NFL’s most physical defenses and has had extra rest after winning at Arizona last Thursday, Cnsidering the matchups and the unsettled nature of the Rams’ offense the Total may be the better way to prefer Seattle. UNDER.

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]

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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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