Denny the Dog by Dennis Ball |
Home dogs: You might have won a ton of money on those home puppies over the last month.
Or, even though they’ve been red-hot, you might have picked the wrong doggies and they may have picked your bankroll clean. Win or lose, whatever your experience has been, one thing is for sure. The home pups are 14-5-1 over the last four weeks.
So you have to respect and fear those homies, right?
There is little or no chance of any home teams on Wild Card Weekend being placed in the category of underdog. The bookies would be afraid to put up a take number on a home dawg, correct?
Have no fear, your favorite bookies are here to save the day. All four home teams are dogs, at least as far as the opening numbers go. Say what? As unbelievable as it may sound, that’s exactly what happened. The Vikes, Cards, Dolphins and Chargers have been dubbed dirty dogs! Not by much mind you, but they are the takers of points, not the layers.
Let’s take a closer look and see if any of these puppies will have any punch. Because at second glance, I think the bookies got the numbers right! I think the visitors are the teams with the most momentum and overall balance heading into the playoffs.
Eagles -2½ at Vikings: The Vikes have won seven of their last nine games. Philly only dropped one of its final five contests. However in Week 16 just two weeks ago, neither team looked like they wanted to earn their way into the playoffs. The Vikings turned the ball over plenty and were knocked off 24-17 by Atlanta. The Eagles could only muster a field goal at Washington and lost 10-3 with their postseason hopes seemingly out the window.
But both clubs took the bull by the horns last Sunday and wrestled their way in the playoffs with big home wins. The Vikes fell behind the G-Men, but booted a last-second field goal to grab the division title. The Eagles leveled the Cowboys and in my opinion were much more impressive than Minnesota. The Giants rested several starters during the game and allowed Brandon Jacobs to take a breather with a big two week holiday vacation. The Vikes should have won this game more easily and covered the point spread. Instead, they struggled for the win and did not win the money for their backers.
McNabb’s experience should pay dividends over the inexperienced Tavaris Jackson. Adrian Peterson is tough to stop, but no one has been running very effectively lately on Philly. Westbrook and Buckholter might not match Peterson’s ground speed, but when you combine what the pair can do through the air as well you might even get a slight edge for the Eagles. Philly on the other hand hosted a desperate Cowboys team and sent them packing back to Dallas to watch the playoffs on TV. Bottom line, I think the Eagles defense is the key to victory. I highly respect the home underdog role, but I think Philly as the slight fave is the right side. EAGLES.
Falcons -2 at Cards: I think the bookies did another good job with the line on this game. The Cards beat up on a Seattle team last Sunday that had nothing to play for after an emotional home win for Holmgren in his final home game. But Arizona lost four of their last six games! That’s how you go into the playoffs when the outcome is usually a first round elimination.
Atlanta won five of its last six games (three of their last four on the road). Plus, the Falcons have a much more balanced attack on offense. Michael Turner gives Atlanta the threat of a rushing attack. That’s an attack missing from the Cardinals’ arsenal most of the year. On the defensive side of the ball there is no question who has the upper hand. In three of last five the Cards gave up 48 to Philly, 35 to the Vikings and 47 to the Patriots. The Falcons countered with 16 to San Diego, 10 to Tampa Bay and 17 to the Vikings.
Just like the Philly game above, I think the Falcons with the small number to cover is the right side all the way. The M and M boys get the money. Michael Turner, Matty Ice and Mike Smith! FALCONS.
Ravens -3 at Dolphins: Could I possibly pass on three straight home dogs? I’m afraid so. I started dreaming early on about Miami winning this game. But the Ravens defense turned those sweet dreams into a big nightmare for Chad Pennington. The Ravens defense has been scary. I don’t care how smart Pennington is, he’s going to have some heavy duty pressure in this game. It should be similar to the heat that was applied in Week 7 at Miami when the Ravens flew out with a 27-13 victory.
I’ve waited for the rookie Joe Flacco to crack all season long, but it just hasn’t happened. I’m not sure it will ever happen this season. The defense won’t allow it and neither will McGahee, McClain, or any of the other running backs the Ravens might show. Flacco couldn’t have accomplished the playoff mission without a great defense and a solid running game. But there is no doubt he is unflappable beyond belief.
The Fish had a great swim. In fact, you might say The Tuna swam the English Channel by turning a 1-15 season completely around to 11-5 in one season. But the swim ends right here. These Fish will be fried by a super hot and scary defense! RAVENS.
Colts -1 at Chargers: Passing on three straight home dogs was easy, a piece of cake. But a fourth? I still can’t believe four home underdogs all on the same weekend. I can’t remember the betting lines ever falling all in favor of the visitors. My mind is completely blank on when I can take the other side, the dark side I might add. This game was the toughest for me to select.
Both teams are on big winning streaks. The Lightning Bolts have won four straight. The only negative thing I can say about that streak is that the competition was weak. The wins came against Oakland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Denver. Enough said. The Colts have nine straight wins on the line. Some of the competition was about the same as I just mentioned. However, along the way were wins over New England, Pittsburgh and Houston.
And, you can’t ignore the Colts big three-point win over San Diego in Week 12. I like the fact that the Colts were able to rest a little last weekend. The Chargers had to come with all their firepower to win the division. The extent of Tomlinson’s apparent strained groin is unknown at this early time. I’m constantly nervous about backing the notorious Norv Turner. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Denny The Dog is barking out for an all-favorites weekend! COLTS.