Patriots at -25 show some weakness

November 27, 2007 5:16 AM
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LAST WK SEASON PCT
5-10 80-90-5 45.7

It was a close call. New England showed some signs of mortality last Sunday night when they were taken to the wire by Philadelphia.

At their best the Eagles do not compare to the Indianapolis Colts, the only other team to really challenge New England. But their aggressive play on both sides of the ball threw a scare into the Patriots and their fans, while giving some hope to members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins that maybe 16-0 is not a sure thing.

The Patriots are now clear favorites to complete that perfect regular season but they still have to face some talented playoff bound teams, including Pittsburgh and the New York Giants. Even this week’s opponent Baltimore has the talent to at least, on paper, give New England a game.

You just never know about turnovers, although Patriots QB Tom Brady has been adept at avoiding them all season. Still, last week’s game reinforced the notion that you never know what might happen "on any given Sunday" — or at least "almost" happen.

The sports books took a huge hit on Thanksgiving Day as the public feasted on favorites and OVERs. Slightly favored Green Bay along with heavily favored Dallas and Indianapolis covered on Turkey Day with two of the three games going OVER the total. The public likes to parlay favorite/OVER. With the lone college game on Thursday also featuring that combination (USC defeated Arizona State 44-24) the only non-public bet that cashed was the 34-3 Dallas win over the Jets staying UNDER the total.

The books recouped some of those losses over the next few days. Sseveral key underdogs rose up to play well, including the Eagles. Minnesota’s upset of the New York Giants and San Francisco’s overtime win at Arizona killed a lot of teaser and parlay cards to help out the books. And, the failure of New England to cover both the point spread and the teaser on Sunday night also helped.

So despite Thursday’s successful assault by the public, the Sports Books are open again for business as usual and ready for more of our action.

Here’s a look at this week’s full schedule of 16 games.

THURSDAY

Packers +6½ at Cowboys (51): Both teams are 10-1 and enter fully rested after having last played on Thanksgiving. Both quarterbacks will likely be in the Pro Bowl as Dallas’ Tony Romo and Green Bay’s Brett Favre are having outstanding seasons. This game should feature plenty of passing with both going downfield often. OVER.

SUNDAY

Falcons +4½ at Rams: The status of St. Louis QB Marc Bulger is in doubt. Backup Gus Frerotte filled in capably, but his costly mishandling of the game’s final snap may well have cost them a win against Seattle. Atlanta has several extra days of rest but the Falcons are in disarray. RAMS.

Bills +5½ at Redskins (37½): Both teams are 5-6 and on the skids after losses the past few weeks. Buffalo’s been outscored 92-24 in losses to New England and Jacksonville, but steps down in class here. Washington is conservative and not a team that wins big. Three of their five wins are by a FG or less. BILLS.

Lions +3 at Vikings (44 ½): The promising 6-2 start is a distant memory as Detroit has dropped three straight including a pair of home games. Minnesota played its best game last week in routing the Giants 41-17, returning three interceptions for touchdowns. Rookie RB Adrian Peterson may be back. VIKINGS.

Texans +3½ at Titans (43): The Titans have lost three straight following their 6-2 start. QB Vince Young has been struggling despite posting big numbers. After allowing 124 points in the first eight games, Tennessee’s defense has allowed 97 in the last three. The OVER is 7-2 in the last nine matchups with at least 46 scored. OVER.

Jaguars +7 at Colts (45): This has the potential for being a great game and legitimizing Jacksonville as a contender. A win here would tie the Jaguars for the division lead and cancel out their Monday night home loss to the Colts. After laying a FG on the road in Indy’s earlier 29-7 lopsided win, the price is reasonable. COLTS.

Jets +1 at Dolphins (NT): Miami lost the first meeting to the Jets 31-28 but was trailing throughout the contest. The Dolphins have turned to rookie QB John Beck and reinstated RB Ricky Williams. The Jets are rested following their Thanksgiving Day loss in Dallas. Expect another wide open game with each team loose. OVER.

Chargers -4½ at Chiefs (38): Few teams have been as inconsistent as San Diego. Earlier this season Kansas City came from behind to win at San Diego 31-16. San Diego’s play calling remains a mystery, going four straight games without rushing for 100 yards despite having LaDanian Tomlinson in the backfield. CHIEFS.

Seahawks +3 at Eagles (43): Seattle was fortunate to escape St. Louis with a win last week. Philly gave the Patriots their toughest test of the season, losing by a FG on Sunday night with backup QB A.J. Feeley. Philly’s defense matches up well against Seattle, which has not run for more than 106 yards since Week 1. EAGLES,

49ers +3 at Panthers (35): Carolina has had all three QBs banged up. San Francisco’s offense has regressed since offensive coordinator Norv Turner left for San Diego. The defense has been unable to carry the burden. This could be a game of field position with neither offense having great success converting third downs. UNDER.

Bucs +3 at Saints (42): Tampa Bay continues to play well as the offense grinds it out and doesn’t make mistakes. New Orleans got a much needed win at Carolina. Tampa Bay won the earlier meeting 31-14 despite being outgained in New Orleans. If the Saints are to turn things around they must win here. SAINTS.

Browns +1½ at Cards (52): Cleveland finally played a game that went UNDER the total in the win over Houston. Cleveland has now scored at least 27 points in six straight games. Arizona has scored at least 30 points in each of its last three outings despite a running game that has been almost invisible since Week 2. OVER.

Broncos -3½ at Raiders (41½): Denver failed for the second time this season to win a third straight game. Oakland finally got a well deserved win after several close losses. Despite a 3-8 record the Raiders are being outscored by just 3.7 points per game. They lost earlier this season at Denver 23-20. RAIDERS.

Giants -2 at Bears (43): The Bears are trying to win back to back games for the first time this season but will be without RB Cedric Benson. With the "other" Adrian Peterson, Chicago put together its first consecutive 100 yard rushing efforts. The Bears have won the last two meetings against the Giants. BEARS.

Bengals +8 at Steelers (NT): Cincinnati is off its best game of the season after routing Tennessee. Pittsburgh won the earlier meeting 24-13. The Cincy defense has held their last three foes to under 70 yards rushing. The Bengals are a playoff-caliber team when playing their best. Pittsburgh plays high scoring games at home. OVER.

MONDAY

Patriots -20 at Ravens (51): This line is ridiculous, yet defensible considering how New England has been blowing past opponents. The Patriots will be out to reassert their dominance. Baltimore’s offense has been a mess, but there is talent on that defense. The Ravens figure to play loosely and aggressively. RAVENS.