The NFL season is off to an unusual beginning. Point spread wise that is.
Long the bastion of providing many a winning wager for the sharp handicapper and professional bettor, the winning Home Underdog is in danger of becoming a dinosaur. Well, things are not quite that bleak but consider the following. Historically, season and season out, Home Underdogs in the NFL would cover the point spread about 55 percent of the time.
Through the first two weeks of this season Home Underdogs were an imperfect 0-6 Against the Point spread (ATS). This past weekend saw five teams go off as Road Favorites. Four of them ”” Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Kansas City ”” won and covered.
The late action turned San Diego from a Home Underdog to a Home Favorite in the game (which they lost) to Baltimore. And wouldn’t you guess that one of the weakest teams in the NFL ”” the Arizona Cardinals ”” would be the team to end the Home Underdog drought. Arizona’s straight up win over Green Bay makes Home Underdogs just 1-10 ATS through three weeks of the season.
Patriots (+2Â½) at Redskins (42Â½): Additional injuries to the New England defense have caused the line to move from pick’em to make Washington almost a FG favorite, which is likely to be the case by kickoff. The Patriots had a methodical win over the Jets who could not run the ball and were held to just one conversion in 13 third down attempts. The Redskins again waited until the second half to get their offense rolling but they should have an easier time against a rebuilding Patriot defense. New England had success running the ball last week which should open up the passing game. OVER.
Chiefs (—3) at Ravens (45): Kansas City has the look of the best team in the league, and certainly in the AFC, after three games. But the Chiefs have yet to face a quality defense, something they will encounter in Baltimore. The Ravens have played well in winning their last two games behind RB Jamal Lewis who again had a good game in last week’s win over San Diego. The Raven’s top flight defense allows the offense to be conservative as rookie QB Kyle Boller continues to develop. RAVENS.
Eagles (NL) at Bills: Buffalo RB Travis Henry was injured in Sunday night’s loss at Miami in what was a very impressive effort by the Dolphins. Miami had the ball for more than 40 minutes in that win. At least the Buffalo offense will be fresh for this contest. Philly had a Bye week to tweak their offense. QB Donovan McNabb has played uncharacteristically poorly in his first two games. Expect better play from McNabb and that will be the difference. EAGLES.
Titans (+3) at Steelers (44Â½): A banged up Steve McNair showed why he is one of the NFL’s top players in leading the Titans to a fairly easy win over New Orleans. Pittsburgh had more trouble than expected in defeating Cincinnati, dominating time of possession but putting only 17 points on the board. Six of the last seven games between these former Division rivals have been high scoring, including the last four, the most recent of which was Tennessee’s elimination of the Steelers in last season’s Playoffs. OVER.
Bengals (NL) at Browns: The status of Cincy RB Corey Dillon keeps this game off the boards. The Bengals’ defense has played reasonably well but the offense has not been able to generate much. Cleveland’s defense has played much better than expected, limiting San Francisco and Indianapolis to a combined 21 points. Neither offense has been consistent. UNDER.
49ers (NL) at Vikings: An injury to Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper in the win at Detroit keeps his status for this game in question. San Francisco is smarting from a blown chance to win in St Louis two weeks ago and then blowing last week’s home game against Cleveland, allowing two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Both teams have balanced offenses and average defenses at best so we should see the teams trade points. OVER.
Falcons (+6) at Panthers (36): Carolina had a week to savor their upset of Tampa Bay despite not scoring a TD. Their special teams blocked three Tampa kicks to remain unbeaten two weeks ago and win a key Divisional contest. Atlanta is now out of favor with the public following losses to Washington and Tampa Bay. FALCONS.
Cards (+10Â½) at Rams (45): RB Marshall Faulk is out for St Louis with a broken hand and the Rams catch a confident Cardinal team off of an upset of Green Bay. Arizona’s defense chose the right time to force their first turnover of the season ”” intercepting Brett Favre in the end zone to preserve their win at the end of the game. The loss of Faulk means the Rams will pass the ball even more. RAMS.
Jaguars (—3) at Texans (39): At 0-3 the Jaguars cannot and will not take the second season expansionist Texans lightly. Jacksonville has played excellent defense against the run and Houston’s passing game, while improved, will face pressure from the Jags’ rush. The Jags have played with intensity and get new coach Jack del Rio his first win here. JAGUARS.
Chargers (NL) at Raiders: San Diego is one of the early season disappointments both on offense and defense. Oakland will either be in a foul mood if they lost at Denver on Monday or be full of confidence with a win. Either way, the Raiders have too much firepower for the Chargers and San Diego QB Drew Brees has struggled this season. RAIDERS.
Cowboys (+3) at Jets (37): Dallas has had a week to savor their entertaining win over the Giants and return to the same field to challenge the winless Jets. New York has been able to pass the ball but the running game is non existent. Almost two dozen running backs have rushed for more yards than have the Jets as a team. UNDER.
Lions (NL) at Broncos: Denver is off its huge Monday night battle with Oakland and could suffer a letdown, taking the Lions lightly. Detroit is already showing improvement under new coach Steve Mariucci and the points should be generous. LIONS.
Colts (—1Â½) at Saints (43): Indianapolis overcame a sluggish first half to handily defeat Jacksonville last week while New Orleans was badly outplayed in losing at Tennessee. The Saints have defensive injuries that should be exploited by the Colts but are also capable of creating big plays themselves with QB Aaron Brooks. OVER.
Packers (—4) at Bears (41Â½): Green Bay’s shocking loss at Arizona shows that the Packers are vulnerable on both sides of the ball. Chicago is off of their Bye week and should show some improvement after losing their first two games. The Bears did play better in their loss at Minnesota. BEARS.
Last week: 7-6