Vick needs to click

Jul 17, 2007 4:48 AM

EDITORS NOTE: This is the second part of an eight-week NFL teaser of pertinent news and notes. GamingToday’s in-depth NFL preview edition featuring writers Andy Iskoe, Jim Feist, Richard Saber, Denny The Dog and a cast of thousands will be published on Sept. 4, two days prior to the start of the regular season.

This week: The NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Gone is Jim Mora, Jr., and Matt Schaub, the insurance policy in case something happened on or off the field to Michael Vick. It’s Vick’s show now and new coach Bobby Petrino has designed new schemes to better showcase the total package of No. 7.

Petrino comes from Louisville, known for one of college football’s most explosive offenses. He should certainly have the right guy at the helm, but America has waited some five years for Vick to emerge. His statute of limitations as a QB are closing.

The Falcons started well last season, scoring 17 points or more four times in the first seven games. They couldn’t reach 17 in seven of their final nine. The UNDER was 11-4 (one push).

Atlanta was an excellent 4-1 last preseason, including a win over defending Super Bowl champ Indianapolis. When winning the TO battle, the Falcons were 3-0.

Look for Atlanta’s best effort in preseason Game 3, a Monday nighter at home against Cincy — a full 10 days after the Buffalo trip.

Falcons vitals:

Last year: 7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS.

O/U: 11-4 under

Turnover ratio: +6

2006 exhibition (4-1 SU, ATS):

ATL (-1) 21-17 vs Indy (40.5);

ATL (-3) 16-3 v Baltimore (36)

ATL (-3) 21-24 (-3) v Tenn (40.5)

ATL (+3) 23-7 at Jax (37.5)

ATL (+3) 20-17 at Miami (34.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 10, at NY Jets; 17, at Buffalo; 27, CINCY; 31, BALTIMORE.

Carolina Panthers

The charmed career of Jake Delhomme took a turn south. The Panthers ranked a dismal 27th out of 30 teams in offensive, scoring just 16.9 points per game.

Carolina failed to make the playoffs as an underachieving 8-8 and was a good bet-against team (6-9 ATS). This was with the great WR Steve Smith and All-Pro lineman Julius Peppers on defense.

The Panthers were a poor -5 in TO ratio, including a brutal -9 against NFC opponents. That helped explained a 1-5 ATS in conference matchups, which the wiseguys will be sure to note come this season.

Carolina’s problems began last preseason in a 1-3 ATS mark. The NY Giants and Pittsburgh are again part of the four-game package. This time both teams come to Charlotte. Last year the Panthers were 0-2 ATS visiting the Giants and Steelers with all four games going OVER the posted total.

The roadies in preseason are at Philly and New England. Ouch!

Panthers vitals :

Last year: 8-8 SU, 6-9-1 ATS

O / U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio (Carolina): -5

2006 exhibition (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS): CAR (-3½) 28-10 v Skins (34.5)

CAR (-3) 21-27 at NY Giants (37)

CAR (-6) 23-20 at Browns (39)

CAR (-3) 17-21 v Steelers (36.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 11, at NY Giants; 17, at Philadelphia: 24, NEW ENGLAND; 30, PITT.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints come off a truly magical year, reaching the NFC title game at Chicago with stats that in many ways could be equated with a sub-500 team.

New Orleans was a horrible -9 in TO margin, 3-6 ATS at the Superdome and just 1-4 ATS in their last five contests.

Yet the Saints were one game from the Super Bowl and many experts felt were the better team in their matchup with the Bears.

The acquisition of Drew Brees and drafting of Reggie Bush re-energized a franchise whose loyal fan base clung to in trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. It didn’t hurt that Deuce McAllister had a career season in sharing the wealth with Brees and Bush.

Being America’s adopted team showed here in Vegas books, with the Saints going 7-2 ATS on the road and 2-0 both SU and ATS as road favorites.

Those who argue that preseason effort has nothing to do with the regular season can use the Saints as a blueprint. New Orleans was 1-3 both SU and ATS along with carrying a +2 TO ratio.

Maybe that’s why Sean Payton was hailed as the next coaching genius in the NFC.

There is a short five-day span between the Cincy and KC games, so it will be interesting to see how Payton decides to prepare for the two. The finale at home with Miami should be a most conservative contest.

Saints vitals:

Last year: 11-7 SU, 10-8 ATS

O/U: 10-8 over

Turnover ratio: -9

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU/ATS): Saints (-3) 15-34 v Sea (37.5)

Saints (+4½) 37-27 at NE (38.5)

Saints (-1½) 6-21 at Balt (37.5)

Saints (+6) 6-13 at Oak (40.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 10, BUFFALO; 18, at Cincinnati; 23, at Kansas City; 30, MIAMI.

Tampa Bay Bucs

If you believe in the rebound factor, this is your team. Last year, the Bucs were a dreadful -12 in TO ratio, including -7 as an dog. That would explain a 3-10 record, though the 6-7 ATS mark shows the Bucs were better than the results indicated.

Note also that in all four games with the AFC, the UNDER was 4-0. That could reflect in Jon Gruden’s knowledge of the American Conference, having coached the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl before leaving for Tampa Bay.

Gruden is confident the pickup of Jeff Garcia, who resurrected his career at QB with the Eagles, will trigger the sputtering offense and generate more production from Cadillac Williams at RB. The Caddy turned into an Edsel in fantasy leagues a year ago.

The Bucs were 2-2 in preseason last year, with three of the games decided by a field goal. TB won the other by 24 against Houston, which returns to the 2007 version with Miami and Jacksonville. New England replaces Tennessee in the opener.

Bucs vitals:

Last year: 4-12, 6-9-1 ATS

O/U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio: -12

2006 exhibition (2-2, 2-1-1 ATS):

Bucs (+3) 20-17 at Tenn (36)

Bucs (-3) 17-20 v J’ville (35)

Bucs (+3) 14-17 at Mia (34.5)

Bucs (-4) 38-14 v Hou (36.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug. 10, NEW ENGLAND; 18, at J’ville; 25, at Miami; 30, HOUSTON.

Next week: The NFC Central with Miami should be a most conservative contest.

Saints vitals:

Last year: 11-7 SU, 10-8 ATS

O/U: 10-8 over

Turnover ratio: -9

2006 exhibition (1-3 SU/ATS): Saints (-3) 15-34 v Sea (37.5)

Saints (+4½) 37-27 at NE (38.5)

Saints (-1½) 6-21 at Balt (37.5)

Saints (+6) 6-13 at Oak (40.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug 10, BUFFALO; 18, at Cincinnati; 23, at Kansas City; 30, MIAMI.

Tampa Bay Bucs

If you believe in the rebound factor, this is your team. Last year, the Bucs were a dreadful -12 in TO ratio, including -7 as an dog. That would explain a 3-10 record, though the 6-7 ATS mark shows the Bucs were better than the results indicated.

Note also that in all four games with the AFC, the UNDER was 4-0. That could reflect in Jon Gruden’s knowledge of the American Conference, having coached the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl before leaving for Tampa Bay.

Gruden is confident the pickup of Jeff Garcia, who resurrected his career at QB with the Eagles, will trigger the sputtering offense and generate more production from Cadillac Williams at RB. The Caddy turned into an Edsel in fantasy leagues a year ago.

The Bucs were 2-2 in preseason last year, with three of the games decided by a field goal. TB won the other by 24 against Houston, which returns to the 2007 version with Miami and Jacksonville. New England replaces Tennessee in the opener.

Bucs vitals:

Last year: 4-12, 6-9-1 ATS

O / U: 9-7 under

Turnover ratio: -12

2006 exhibition (2-2, 2-1-1 ATS):

Bucs (+3) 20-17 at Tenn (36)

Bucs (-3) 17-20 v J’ville (35)

Bucs (+3) 14-17 at Mia (34.5)

Bucs (-4) 38-14 v Hou (36.5)

2007 exhibition slate: Aug. 10, NEW ENGLAND; 18, at J’ville; 25, at Miami; 30, HOUSTON.

Next week: The NFC Central