Injuries in the NFL continue to be the
major reason why play is so inconsistent from week to week but unfortunately
they are a part of the game. Depth becomes even more important and difficult to
achieve within the structure of the NFL’s salary cap.
Injuries, and their often uncertain
status for much of the week, also create problems for bookmakers and anxiety
amongst bettors. It’s not uncommon for half a dozen NFL games each week to not
have lines posted on Monday mornings when we go to press.
Perhaps the reluctance to post lines
early in the week, and having low limits and more frequent line moves, is an
acknowledgment that most casual players don’t wager until the weekend while
most early week action historically has come from the so-called “wise guys”
who have more and more taken their action offshore.
Clearly the continuing rapid growth of
population in southern Nevada has made sports betting an even bigger business
than it has ever been. And the need for caution in linesmaking is as great as
Eight divisional contests highlight
this week’s schedule, including five rematches. Kansas City receives a
much-needed Bye. Here’s a preview of the action.
Sunday, Nov. 18
Colts at Saints (NL): Indy QB Peyton Manning was banged up in last week’s home loss to Miami and his questionable status keeps this game off the board as the week begins. The Saints played well in their one point loss in San Francisco, gaining almost 500 in total offense. With or without a healthy Manning this game figures to be a shootout. The Colts have struggled all season on defense and the Saints have scored at least 24 points in five of eight games this season. Take OVER.
Jets (+6) at Miami (38Â½): The
Jets’ recent domination over Miami was documented earlier this season when the
teams met up north. In that game the Dolphins built a 17-0 lead but managed once
again to blow it as the Jets won 21-17, their seventh straight win in the
series. The line is surprisingly high given this recent history and the Jets’
improved play on both sides of the ball as they become more familiar with the
new systems implemented by first year coach Herman ÂÃ‚ÂEdwards. Take JETS.
Eagles (—7) at Cowboys: The
Eagles won the earlier meeting 40-18 on a rainy Sunday night in Philly as the
Cowboys played well for a quarter and then made numerous mistakes that led to
the rout. Dallas is already starting its fourth QB of the season, Ryan Leaf, and
should have RB Emmitt Smith back for this game. Philly had their best offensive
game of the season in last week’s blowout of Minnesota and they match up well
against the Cowboys. Take EAGLES.
49ers at Panthers (NL): The
Carolina QB situation keeps this game off the board early in the week as rookie
Chris Weinke missed last week’s game and replacement Matt Lytle was
ineffective vs. the Rams. Of more concern is Carolina’s defense which allowed
over 300 rushing yards to St. Louis. The 49ers have a well-balanced offense and
will be facing a team that may have already quit on the season. San Francisco
won the earlier meeting 24-14 on the strength of their running game and
the Carolina INTs. Take the 49ERS.
Seahawks (—3) at Bills (39): Seattle
took advantage of Oakland’s flat spot last week to post an impressive Sunday
night win. Buffalo outgained New England in last week’s loss but are 1-7 and
will finish with their worst record in over a decade. Still this is a good spot
for the Bills who catch Seattle off of an emotional win and traveling to the
east coast for the second time in three weeks following more than a month a
home. Take BUFFALO.
Titans at Bengals (NL): Tennessee
hosted Baltimore on Monday night in what should have been a very physical game.
Both teams’ offensive strength is in the running game with the Titans’ Eddie
George and the Bengals’ Corey Dillon. Both are just average in quarterbacking
and defense with Tennessee allowing almost six yards per play. Tennessee has had
success recently scoring points against the Bengals and given the state of the
Titans’ defense this season the Bengals figure to have success with their
offense. Take OVER.
Falcons at Packers (NL): Atlanta
rallied to defeat Dallas last week although rookie QB Michael Vick looked
awkward and seemed unsure in starting for the injured Chris Chandler, whose
status is uncertain this week. Green Bay was efficient in winning at Chicago and
will be facing a far more generous defense here. Take
Bears (+4Â½) at Bucs (35): The
Bears’ magic finally ended last week as they were unable to fashion another
miracle finish in losing at home to Green Bay. Tampa was fortunate to defeat
winless Detroit, allowing the Lions back in the game twice. Take UNDER.
Browns at Ravens (NL): This
is a key game in the AFC Central with Baltimore having played Monday night in
Tennessee. At 4-4 the Browns have lost two straight overtime games following
their upset win over the Ravens in a game the Ravens dominated statistically but
committed three turnovers. Revenge is a key factor here but more from the
perspective of possible tie-breaker scenarios and both teams trailing Pittsburgh
in the standings. Take RAVENS.
Chargers (+9) at Raiders (44):
Oakland will be in an angry mood after losing at Seattle and face a Chargers’
team that may be running out of gas. San Diego took full advantage of a
favorable early schedule but now will be challenged by better balanced and
deeper teams. Oakland has been dominant at home over the past two seasons
although San Diego has played well over the years. Last season the Raiders could
win only 9-6 but that was on opening day, before the Raiders got on their roll.
Oakland should reassert themselves as the team to beat in the AFC. Take
Jaguars (+5Â½) at Steelers (36): Jacksonville
ended its five game skid with a solid win over Cincinnati. Despite being
outgained by the Bengals, the Jags made the key plays defensively to earn a
30-13 win. All five of Jacksonville’s losses were by single digits, the last
three by four points or less. Clearly the Jags are better than their 3-5 record
suggests. Take JAGUARS.
Redskins (+9) at Broncos (43): Washington
won three in a row following five straight losses and had last week off. At 3-5
the Redskins are still in the race in the weak NFC East. But all three wins came
at home and now Washington takes to the road for the first time in over a month.
Denver is clearly down from preseason projections but have won four of five home
games this season, all by double digits. Washington’s stats will look terrible
for a while longer because of their first three games in which they were not
competitive but even so, the situation favors the Broncos. Take
Lions (+2Â½) at Arizona (39Â½): Detroit
remains the league’s only winless team but that status will be challenged by a
Cardinal club that seems incapable of taking advantage of numerous
opportunities. Arizona could have beaten both the Giants and Eagles the past two
weeks but were done in by turnovers at inopportune times. This is their third
straight home game and the best
chance for a win. Take UNDER.
Rams at Patriots (NL): Quarterback
questions for both teams keep this game off the board although the Rams should
be favored by about a touchdown. St. Louis reclaimed their status as the best
team in the league with their impressively easy win over Carolina last week. The
Pats’ strength continues to be pass defense.
Giants (+1Â½) at Vikings (44): Much as was the case with Tennessee last Monday, Minnesota’s season is on the line here following last week’s embarrassing loss at Philadelphia. A loss would drop the Vikes to 3-6 and virtually end any hopes of making it back to the playoffs. Take VIKINGS.